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what happens when you follow Jesus and he leads you out of evangelicalism?

June 22, 2014

I guess it’s time to “come out”: I don’t identify as an Evangelical anymore.

That’s hard to write and put down in words, considering that I’ve grown up in the evangelical church and worked in evangelical ministries and churches for my entire adult life, but it’s something that I’ve been feeling and thinking for awhile now. I think it really crystallized during the whole World Vision debacle earlier this year, when thousands of Christians (primarily those who identify as evangelicals) dropped sponsorship of over 10,000 kids in poverty because they didn’t agree with a policy change that would’ve recognized the rights of Christian employees who were in gay marriages. I stayed away from blogging and engaging the issue on social media due to my penchant for getting in over my head in online debates and, honestly, because I wasn’t ready to come out as an ally of the LGBTQ community and marriage equality. I know that I’ll need to write a follow-up to this blog on my allied stance, but that’s not what this blog is about. (UPDATE: see more on my allied stance here.)

This blog is about how I’ve dedicated my life to following Jesus and I feel like Jesus has led me out of Evangelicalism. Eek. That brings up a lot of questions.

journey

Let me state unequivocally that I still identify as a follower of Jesus, or, if you will, a Christian. I hope to frame my life and my will in light of the life of Jesus. However, there are certain decisions that I have come to about my faith in the past number of years that I feel remove me from the evangelical strain as it is currently being practiced in America. I understand that there have been statements and manifestos written, trying to untangle Evangelicalism from the political and cultural assumptions that have been created in the past decades, however, I feel that there are stereotypes and experiences of how modern evangelical is currently practiced that make me want to break my personal ties with the movement.

Some people might see my shifting faith perspective and identification as the product of a compromised moral compass or my secular, liberal education. And they might be right on the latter point a little bit. But I honestly believe that my shift out of conservative Evangelicalism is a result of my pursuit of truth as I follow the way of Jesus – to see the people around me, love them deeply, and work towards greater reconciliation and restoration of all things.

While I don’t have time in this blog to go as deep as I would like to on all the issues I have with modern evangelicalism, I would like to address a few of the biggies. These include an intense tie with the Republican party, a literal/fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible that ignores historical context, a view of women that I believe is misogynistic and repressive, and the earlier stated opposition to equal marriage rights.

First, I think that the evangelical church has been co-opted by Republicanism (and nationalism) to the point where I think Christian values have been supplanted by political conservatism and the church is no longer able to function in its prophetic calling in society. (To be fair, I feel that much of the church on the left has had the same thing happen with liberal politics.) This is most clearly seen to me in relation to patriotism, militarism, and harmful economic practices.

Second, I have long had trouble with a literal reading of the Bible that deliberately ignores the historical, sociological, and religious contexts in which the various Biblical texts were written. This reading leads to an ignorant church, unable to intellectually or thoughtfully come to terms with how to interpret the text in light of modern scholarship. (NOTE: my father pointed out that my use of the word ignorant may lead to some thinking that I think that biblical literalists are ignorant. This would not be true. I know there are many thoughtful, intelligent people who choose to read the Bible in more literalist ways.) As a religion minor in college, I found myself unable to deal with the questions lobbed at me by my secular friends in relation to biblical inconsistencies and started doing my own wrestling with how to read and interpret the Bible in light of the religious theories that I was learning. Unfortunately, this caused my faith to be called into question by my friends and my then church community, and was one of the big reasons for me leaving that life/work situation.

Third, as a leader and as a woman, I found evangelicalism’s overwhelming complementarian view of male/female relationships to be less than adequate. I firmly believe that women are equally loved by God, called into ministry, and able of contributing to societies and families as their male counterparts. The repression of women in the church is something I think that is baseless when looking at the life of Jesus and even when looking at the rest of the New Testament in its historical context. The way I was treated as a female leader in my previous churches was another large reason for my split with them.

Finally, the LGBTQ issue. This is a change that largely came during my time at Colorado College. Attending a secular liberal arts college afforded me the opportunity to be around a population where I was able to interact with more from the queer community than ever before. I know many of my right-wing friends will tell me that just because you have friends who are sinners doesn’t mean you have to justify their sin. Well sure. However, I came to understand that my friends were not gay because they chose it or because they had been molested or any of the other things that I had heard growing up. It was because they were gay. As much as I was straight and white and had blue eyes, my friends were gay. And I just can’t imagine being told that I couldn’t love Jesus and walk in his way or get married or get a job or rent an apartment just because I had blue eyes. So, yeah, that changed me.

A number of months ago I applied for a position at a large Christian ministry in the Springs (to remain nameless) and was asked to write my own personal statement of faith as a part of the application process. I found this to be an exciting and challenging project as it required me to really think through and process the past number of years and the journey of my faith ideas. I based my statement loosely on a short faith motto that I had written down years ago, in an attempt to give my faith some structure as I was wrestling through doubts and confusion. This motto has come to shape my journey.

If I am to err in interpreting the Bible, which I probably will since I’m a human being, I would rather intentionally err on the side of more inclusion, acceptance, and generosity. I really can’t imagine Jesus saying to me, “You were too kind and loving and you didn’t put your foot down enough,” but I could definitely see him saying, “You didn’t take care of those around you and you alienated those that I love.”

To be forthright, I think that if I hadn’t come to a deliberate decision like this, I may have walked away from my faith entirely, like many in my generation of evangelicalism have. I think that making the decision for inclusivity has helped me keep my love for Jesus and the church. From that decisive core, I wrote this more expanded statement of faith that, while it will probably shift and change a bit, I can see myself holding on to for a long time.

My personal statement of faith is fairly simple. I base it on the commands as simplified by Jesus – loving God with every part of my being and loving my neighbors as I love myself. As Jesus defined it in the story of the Good Samaritan, my neighbor is anyone in need, anyone who I find myself in proximity to, anyone who bears the image of the Creator – so essentially everyone. This love compels me to be proactive in justice, mercy, reconciliation, and restoration as these are the things that I see God doing in the person of Jesus.

My faith is dynamic and progressive. I believe that in being called to use my mind to love the Lord, I am called to continual progress in how I think about life and the world around me. My heart is called to be more and more compassionate towards my friends and enemies. My soul is called into great spiritual depth and intimacy with God. My body is called into greater wholeness and health so that I can effectively be an ambassador of reconciliation wherever I may be called.

My faith is communal. Because I believe in the mystery of the Trinity, I understand that at the core of the universe is a community of mutual submission and eternal love. This compels me to live life in community, caring for those around me as siblings in the faith, a part of the same body of Christ, without whom I cannot know the wholeness of God.

I do think that this statement of faith removed my chances of getting a job that I was highly qualified for, but that is what it is. I know that there is much more to be explored and discussed in the coming weeks and months about my faith journey and what it means for the way I live my life now. (This is my commitment to blogging on a more consistent basis, at least once every two weeks.) It is something that I am still wrestling with, especially what it means for the kind of church community that I want to be a part of in the future. But this I know for sure: sometimes the places that Jesus leads you to are exactly the opposite of what you expected or imagined, and sometimes those places find you identifying in new and different ways. All we can do is continue to say, “Where you lead us, we will follow.”

Where is Jesus leading you? Is it anything like you expected it to be? If not, how are you dealing with the change and the transition from what is known to what isn’t?


Hat tips to Jars of Clay for this song that inspired me to write this blog this week, and to Rachel Held Evans for saying a lot of what I want to say all the time, but especially in this blog. (UPDATE: many people asked very good questions after this blog. Read here for some clarifications.)

 

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259 Comments leave one →
  1. Raincloud permalink
    June 22, 2014 10:31 pm

    Love, love, love this post! Candace, my journey shares a lot in common with yours, and the four issues you described are also biggies for me (a fifth is science denial on the part of Evangelicalism). After much wrestling with my faith and doubting over the past few years, I finally realized I wasn’t an Evangelical anymore a while back and that’s ok–to acknowledge and accept that has given me a measure of much-needed internal peace. I identify much more with the Friends and mainstream Christians than I do with Evangelicals, and it’s liberating to find out that there are ways to follow Jesus that are not conflated with destructive ideologies. Evangelicalism is so loudly dominant in our culture that it can be hard to see or find out about the other flavors of Christians out there, but they are there! Thanks for sharing your thoughtful post with us! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 22, 2014 11:26 pm

      Thank you so much for commenting! Science denial is a big one for me too that I didn’t mention, especially in the realm of the environment. It is comforting to know that this road we walk is not one that we’re alone on!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lena permalink
    June 23, 2014 6:56 am

    We are with you!
    Lena and Justin

    Like

  3. June 23, 2014 8:39 am

    Wow! Everything you wrote defines the journey I am now on in my spiritual life. Having moved back to Oklahoma, a deeply conservative and baptist community, I find myself even more driven to seek God in a new way. I left this state as a non-denominational, charismatic Christian. I believe even then that I was moving further away from the ideals I had learned and practiced. But no matter how spiked the hair was on my charismatic preachers, how “hip” they dressed, the $100 jeans they flaunted, or the rock n roll sound of worship…there was still an “us against them” mentality. There was still an “exclusion” attitude. I couldn’t understand it then, and I don’t understand it now. There is no “us against them.” There is only “Us against Us.” To practice true unconditional love, you must be willing to learn about other people who don’t share your same ideals, who were raised differently than you, who were born in a different place than you, who is attracted to different things than you. Humanity will be the only common thing you share….which is the most important thing to share. If you can’t recognize the humanity in others, you certainly don’t recognize the humanity in yourself. I love, love, love you for sharing this with the world. What a refreshing thing to read this morning. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2014 9:24 am

      Wow, thank you so much for happening upon my blog and commenting! I’m so grateful this resonated with you this morning!

      Like

    • Nale Benavides permalink
      June 23, 2014 11:34 am

      Reading this post and comments made me feel more loved and understood than alone and misunderstood. Thank you for voicing what I felt I couldn’t….. Born and baptized Presbyterian, welcomed into the Catholic Church at age 8, practising Catholicism with many unanswered questions and theories until age 45. Searched for answers during a short stint in a modern, up beat Christian Church that really proved the “us against them syndrome.” Finally found my Faithful place at age 50… right next to my Lord and Savior….. where I’ve always been without the added distractions of biased priests, prejudiced pastors and cocky congregations. I am my brother’s keeper and will continue my journey in the ways of Jesus Christ….

      Like

    • Lisa permalink
      June 23, 2014 2:03 pm

      Whoa Angela you have expressed EXACTLY how I feel – that juxtaposition of preachers getting hipper, more technology on display, rock instruments being played…against an increasingly hostile “us against them” mentality – that’s what finally drove me out of my network of baptist churches and to look beyond my identity as a baptist, and then even as an evangelical at all.
      Thanks to Candace for starting this conversation and to Angela for continuing it.

      Like

  4. buggzero permalink
    June 23, 2014 8:45 am

    I do hope you continue to write about your journey. I find it very intriguing, even to a layman.

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    • June 23, 2014 9:25 am

      I will. I’m finding that I have to. It becomes more real when I write about it and let others in.

      Like

  5. Emily Catalano permalink
    June 23, 2014 9:44 am

    Nice post. I went through a similar journey in ywam and post ywam, but ultimately came to a different conclusion. I should write a blog post called “What Happens When You Follow Jesus and He Leads You to Atheism?”

    If I may ask, what is your reason for throwing out evangelicalism but holding on to God/Christianity? I understand this is a personal question, so don’t feel like you have to respond. I guess I just don’t see what loving other people, being communal, seeking justice, etc has to do with a deity. When those types of values are associated with a “faith in God,” what does that say about people who don’t believe in a god? They can’t know love? I don’t think that’s what you’re saying, but I think that type of wording leads to more exclusion between theists/non-theists.

    Anyway, it’d be fun to talk to you in person. I miss you!

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 12:42 pm

      I think that would be a fascinating post Emily!! I have to say that I don’t have specific reasons at this moment (but probably will soon) but that God still makes sense to me and more specifically, Jesus still makes sense to me. Maybe not in the “I understand everything” way, but that there’s an emotional sensibility to faith that I can’t give up.

      I don’t believe that the things you mentioned are exclusive to Christianity. Another post is probably necessary to describe my eschatological views…..

      Like

    • June 23, 2014 5:58 pm

      It was the same for me. At first I left evangelicalism and veered much farther left politically and religiously. But it was a short, somewhat quick step from there to atheism for me. Social issues were a big part of it. They led me to study and re-study and re-read things in a new light, and in an effort to re-enforce my beliefs, it ‘backfired’, and I got to a point where there was no possibility I could maintain the belief any longer. Once I studied some history, other religions, the tough questions, scientific data… it just broke my Christian goggles and I saw the world with new eyes, and as much as I tried at one point, I couldn’t keep going. I got to a point where it felt intellectually dishonest for me to try to force my prior religion onto myself, so I had to let go.

      It almost wasn’t even a choice, it just happened gradually. I couldn’t force myself to believe it at this point, it’s just the natural place that I landed after really trying my best to get answers to questions through study and others, and getting nothing satisfying. I realized that I was praying to myself, and any time my prayers were answered it is because I did something to make it happen.

      I don’t have disdain for those that stay in the faith, especially those that champion equality, women’s rights, and other social issues, because the issues I have with religions generally boil down to how they affect society and attempt to force their own moral code on it. I was once a conservative Christian, and most of my family and friends are as well, so I even understand those that disagree on social issues, even if I think they are flat wrong, and even harmfully so. I love them regardless, know that they will likely never change, and embrace them as fellow human beings.

      So those on the “love” side of these issues are helping Christianity to progress to a place where it is less harmful to society and more helpful to those in need. When the focus is on condemnation instead of love, it will very quickly push people away from the faith.

      I only hope that the majority of Christianity some day soon moves to the left and the more ‘liberal’ (in a Christian sense) on social (and theological) issues as Candace has. When it comes to that point, I think it will be much easier for non-theists and theists to bond on the things on which they agree, and it will be viewed much less as a hindrance to (scientific/social) progress and just a set of personal beliefs and moral code to which an individual adheres, something with which I and many others would likely have no qualms.

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      • Amanda permalink
        June 23, 2014 9:12 pm

        This makes me sad. I think Jesus championed social justice and inclusion, particularly if you consider his sacrificial death and resurrection. His ministry on earth is where to place the goggles, not the narrow-minded who claim to follow him. Blessings.

        Like

    • June 24, 2014 9:43 pm

      Hello! I stumbled across this blog via a friend on Facebook. I appreciate people willing to ask deep questions and be honest about struggles, and of what I’ve read I like your posts, Candace.

      So as an admitted stranger in this blog, I couldn’t help but stop on this comment: “What Happens When You Follow Jesus and He Leads You to Atheism?”

      I’m a follower of Jesus Christ, but please don’t take my following point as condemnation of your views. Rather, as a follower of this blog, I know that you are interested in grappling with life issues and coming to truth. Otherwise, you’d be looking at videos of cats 🙂

      But isn’t that title a paradox? Jesus is God, and atheism is the assertion that there is no god (capitalized or not). So what this translates to is “What happens when God tells you there is no God?” or “When God says he doesn’t exist?” Not only is this strange sounding, but it’s an impossibility. For God to tell you something, he must exist. Even if you don’t trust God’s honesty, this statement must be wrong or a lie.

      I am not saying this to judge you, Emily. I’m saying it to help you. Because I do believe that God calls us to love everyone (yes, including members of the LGBTQ community), but loving someone doesn’t mean approving of everything they do. If your best friend wanted to commit suicide, I hope you wouldn’t let them!

      And it is because of this love I have, even for strangers such as yourself, that I must defend my God–my Father, Savior, and Guide. I don’t want people turning away from him before they truly understand what he has done. Because that kind of knowledge changes you. It did me.

      Please humor me and hear a bit of my story. I struggled with depression throughout middle school and into high school. I grew up knowing about God, but it was all head knowledge. I would pray to him to let me die because I was too afraid to take my own life. I pulled away from friends and family, even my friends and youth leaders at church. I felt alone, unloved, and unworthy of love.

      Then one day, God spoke to me. When I thought he would give me a laundry list of things I should be doing better, he gave me a simple message that cut my soul: “I love you.”

      I’ve had down days, but the depression is gone. Because since that day, I’ve slowly been realizing the truth of the Gospel. That the Father sent his son Jesus, who is also God, to live a disgracefully simple life as a human. Not only was his incarnation a humiliation, but then he let himself die a painful death, bore an execution reserved for the worst of criminals. And he did this because he loved us, and he wants us to know him. Having walked with him ever since, I can tell you that I’ve never found more joy. It hasn’t been perfect, and I’ve wandered from him more times than I can count. But then I return to him, and the bad things don’t matter anymore. How can they, when I am loved so deeply, so faithfully, by someone so perfect and beautiful?

      If you don’t care for a God or a love like that, there’s nothing I can say to convince you of his worth. But for those who do want him, he takes everyone freely, be they a murderer, liar, adulterer, homosexual, or all of the above. Simply admit that you sin and need him, and he will give you life.

      Yes, I think I must agree with the Bible that homosexuality as a sin. I’m not sure what could have changed in a couple thousand years to make the status different today. I will admit, though, that homosexuals do not have a choice. I know that sounds odd, but let me explain. We are all slaves to sin apart from the power of Jesus Christ. I was unable to control my fantasies or resist my addiction to TV shows and movies until the power of God’s love worked in my life. I was unable to love others until he showed me what love was. Yes, it’s scary to admit the power of sin, but the Truth in the Gospel gives us hope, a nightlight in the dark, as it were.

      Sorry for rambling on so much. I pray that God will meet you all on whatever journey you are on!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. JoshuaJuvrud permalink
    June 23, 2014 10:03 am

    Hey, just want to say I have enjoyed reading you blogs. Many of your posts – and in particular, this one – deeply resonate with me.
    This issue has especially been relevant for me recently, as well. But I have found the hardest part is getting to a place where my family accepts my decisions, rather than simply believing I have “gone astray”.
    Anyways, you have an absolute gift with words and often put into writing what I can barely articulate myself. Thank you and keep up the great blog work!

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 12:46 pm

      Thanks Joshua. I appreciate you commenting and reading my blog!! I too have found that the conversation with my family has been the hardest thing. (Still haven’t gotten a call from my parents after this blog post…) Please keep sharing your thoughts on my blogs if you’d like…I like hearing from random acquaintances from Andy and Rach’s wedding!! 🙂

      Like

  7. June 23, 2014 11:09 am

    I am so glad you are writing about this. There is a huge shift happening and you (we) are not alone in it. I am inspired and challenged by your commitment to inclusivity and faith. I tend to want to throw everything out these days and am finding it hard to convince myself not to.

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 12:46 pm

      I love you so dearly my friend. Thank you for journeying with me and letting me journey with you.

      Like

  8. June 23, 2014 11:18 am

    So proud of you and this post! Amen. You are not alone.

    Like

  9. Shelley permalink
    June 23, 2014 11:23 am

    Wow! That was incredible! The whole science denial thing drives me nuts, too. An author (and forgive me, I can’t remember his name) I saw in an interview called that (and other things) “denying facts as a matter of faith.” They do it with science, they do it with politics, they do it with medicine and they do it with anything they personally don’t like and want the rest of us to deny, too. So much so that they try to validate their denials by changing everything from public education materials (“intelligent design”…OY!) ,women’s health (no birth control, even for other health reasons), and even trying to change history! Blow me down, matey! I’ve had enough!

    Like

  10. June 23, 2014 11:26 am

    Hey Candace, I love your perspective and your honesty. While your journey of faith led you to revoke your affiliation with evangelicalism, this has not been the case for everyone. For example, every reason you’ve listed for “coming out” as a Christian non-evangelical are all reasons many evangelicals I know (most of them seasoned pastors and professors) would agree with. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but that it seems like evangelicalism is becoming so stretched and diverse and confusing theologically and practically, it encompasses fundamentalism and Anabaptism and Anglicanism and a whole bunch of other isms. I wonder, is it even meaningful or worth it to be labeled evangelical (apart from making certain people feel comfortable)? What about just ecumenical, or trans-denominational? Your article speaks to a very relevant issue, and I think more and more people in our generation are going to be “coming out” too. 🙂

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 12:51 pm

      Hi Amy! Thanks for commenting. I do understand that many people are not leaving evangelicalism and I absolutely respect them for those decisions. This was meant to be my story and not a representative story for all millennial Christians (the generation not the theology 😉 ). I do think that the label has become watered down and convoluted so that it’s unclear as to what it means anymore. But that’s what happens with language and labels and why we have to start creating new language to express our space in life. Ecumenical is a term I like very much.

      Like

      • June 24, 2014 12:11 pm

        Thanks for clarifying. I know that you wrote this as your story; I just find it interesting that others would come to the same conclusions as you, yet still want to keep the evangelical label…and that they’re able to do so, which goes back to the fact that the word evangelical “has become convoluted.” 🙂 Anyhow, keep up the great content!

        Like

  11. Mystic in Hiding permalink
    June 23, 2014 11:26 am

    Thank you for this. I believe you have beautifully summed up the beginning of a movement in America. It’s slow to come and will likely transpire over many many years, but those who are called are leading the way. It’s exciting to read the stories and comments of those who identify. I believe your courage will give others courage.

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 12:52 pm

      Have you read Phyllis Tickle’s book “The Great Emergence”? I strongly identify with the movement that she gives voice to in that. Great book.

      Like

  12. Loretta permalink
    June 23, 2014 11:26 am

    Beautifully, and thoughtfully written. I suspect this resonates with many of us… thank you for your courage and clarity.

    Like

  13. Rune Weber permalink
    June 23, 2014 11:29 am

    So true. Following Jesus will take you to interesting places and situations that will stretch you and shape you. Always for the better.

    Like

  14. June 23, 2014 11:31 am

    Thank you so much for putting into words what I didn’t know how to say. Your sentence here:
    “If I am to err in interpreting the Bible, which I probably will since I’m a human being, I would rather intentionally err on the side of more inclusion, acceptance, and generosity. I really can’t imagine Jesus saying to me, “You were too kind and loving and you didn’t put your foot down enough,” but I could definitely see him saying, “You didn’t take care of those around you and you alienated those that I love.”
    describes exactly the position I have come to in the last year and a half. I am praying for wisdom in what to do or say (I confess I am afraid of losing my church job [that part would be ok except for how it affects my husband] and the respect of my family, so I have mostly remained silent) with the understanding that I, too, believe God – not the world or any other particular influences – has led me to.

    Like

  15. June 23, 2014 11:41 am

    Beautifully articulated thoughts on such a complex and sensitive issue. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

  16. June 23, 2014 11:49 am

    I followed Jesus down this road a while back, The company just keeps getting better and better. Zero regrets.

    Like

  17. June 23, 2014 11:49 am

    I am reading this–and bawling my eyes out. I am so conflicted and confused I can’t put it into adequate words. I am 64, on the outside at least. And I have been in the evangelical camp all my life. But I have never fit. I am an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God–to which I fled from the Southern Baptist world. I resigned from a pastorate over five years ago (the journey TO that pastorate is a long and complicated story in itself). Many people assumed that there would be a place for me. I thought so too. And many doors slammed in my face, and no magical “window” from God opened. And I struggled with doubt on a massive scale, and I cried as I listened to the stories of lesbian friends who came out after years in the AG….and and and. And now, after the World Vision debacle and the subsequent statement from our General Superintendent, George Wood (who is a champion of women in leadership and a hero of mine) I fit less than ever. And this is NOT where I thought I would be at this point–having been out of ministry for years, and questioning many things. I don’t necessarily fit neatly into the creationism or evolution camps, and I am still uncertain just what I believe about the LGBTQ issues, but I refuse to call myself an evangelical anymore. And to type that is making me weep. And I will sit in church with my family and weep there too.

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 12:56 pm

      Oh wow. Holding back tears as I read your comment. I grew up in the AG with my father and grandfathers and uncles and aunts as pastors and missionaries and evangelists. I was the poster child for being a decent PK. I think a follow up post to this blog might be called “How I Became a Rebel” or something like that, because as I’ve journeyed, I have been given that label a ton. Thank you for sharing your story. You are loved and heard.

      Like

  18. June 23, 2014 11:53 am

    I adore this. I have had a similar journey, trying to follow Jesus and wondering where he was taking me – into friendship with Wiccan, gay, atheist, and all sorts of people who were not like me – oh yeah, and even Democrats, gasp! My change came when my only daughter died and the flimsy morality of evangelicalism didn’t cut it anymore. I am a Methodist, so maybe I still am evangelical, I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s scary because many in my family and friends’ circle do not understand. They do worry about me, get angry at my passion (and maybe I haven’t been as gracious as I should be at all time – in fact, I know I haven’t.). I have started to delve into this vast world of Christian thought that is thrilling me, and I’ve discovered there are things like the Gay Christian network, etc. I pray more evangelicals will wake up and see that they don’t follow Jesus as much as they follow a certain part of the culture that they think is “biblical.” Their “morality” only seems to focus on who people love, and how, but not who is being treated unjustly, who is in need, who “belongs” here, and who is trying to disarm us and persecute us. It’s so sad for me to see. I love knowing I am not alone in this journey. Bless you.

    Like

  19. Pam Holmes permalink
    June 23, 2014 11:59 am

    Candace, I can so identify with your story. Around the age of 30, I left evangelicalism because it no longer made any sense to me. It took a decade of seeking and studying to return to Christianity as a progressive. I have since found a home in the Episcopalian church. Peace for your journey.

    Like

  20. June 23, 2014 12:02 pm

    I am going through a very similar phase of faith right now. Interestingly, I didn’t necessarily “choose” to be evangelical; I sort of became one because that happened to be the denomination of most of my Christian friends. So being very clueless and naive about how denominations worked, I just attended their churches.

    I think I’m a little more knowledgeable now than I was six years ago. Except I have way more questions than answers, and evangelicalism doesn’t feel like a safe place to share those questions anymore. I’ve been met with “How can you call yourself a Christian if you doubt X, Y, and Z?” I think it may be time to look elsewhere.

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    • June 23, 2014 12:58 pm

      I hear you Beth. The questions just keep coming. A book that helped me understand “orthodox” views of Christianity was Brian McLaren’s “A Generous Orthodoxy”. It’s a great one if you’re interested in reading and exploring more! Grace as you journey!

      Like

  21. June 23, 2014 12:04 pm

    I’m liking this post. As a former atheist fighting with herself to stay Catholic, it’s nice to know someone else gets the struggles. I’m out as bisexual to my family recently, and it has been a roller coaster because I’m also struggling with other teachings. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  22. Amy permalink
    June 23, 2014 12:05 pm

    This is the most relatable thing I have read in ages, especially from the place of un-identifying myself as an Evangelical. I just this month lost my job at a large non-profit, (where I had been for 7 years) and it boiled down to my beliefs about Evangelicalism and statement of faith being different from theirs. It was the most hurtful thing I have ever experienced. The people I worked with were like family, and while they claim I am “welcome to visit any time”, it is hard to return to a place you have been kicked out of.
    I was raised non-denominational, but erring on the Baptist side, but in the last few years I and some of my family have explored more outside-the-box thoughts on who God is and how He accepts people. Like… maybe He doesn’t NEED us to please rescue the lost for Him so that they are not forever separated. I am all about sharing the love of Jesus, but not because I think God will cast them out if I don’t.
    Thanks for so beautifully articulating my (and others’) thoughts and struggles on this issue 🙂

    Like

  23. chaplaintx permalink
    June 23, 2014 12:07 pm

    Yep. He’ll lead you straight out of the American Church too. Funny how he’ll do that. Destroy all that makes you care less and hoard what you treasure. Now what?

    Like

  24. June 23, 2014 12:07 pm

    Raised in a family full of preachers in a non-denominational church, I left to spend time in my ‘of-the-world’ years. Coming back, I began on a journey of examining what the NT church did juxtaposed against what was happening at the new church where I was deeply involved. I attempted to parse out our Westernized church traditions versus what the Bible actually said. While I never identified myself as an evangelical or concerned myself too much with labels, Jesus most definitely led me out of that church. Upon further investigation, I learned that what had happened to me has been happening with many leaving the evangelical sphere. I admit it’s been a much more difficult walk than I’d anticipated. I lost a great many friends, who summarily dismissed my journey as ‘losing faith’ or ‘going astray.’ Interestingly enough, those making such comments seemed more concerned with their comfortability than with my soul. I’m not sure where He is leading. But I do know one thing, I am closer to Him than I have ever been before. Thank you for articulating this so well, and for sharing.

    Like

  25. yomama permalink
    June 23, 2014 12:08 pm

    I, too, recently wasn’t offered a job I was highly qualified for due to the questions and essays I was asked to write about regarding my faith. Ah, well. Something better came down the pike. But it upset me. It was hard to reconcile the time, thought, and hard, hard road I’ve walked down to get to this point of belief- not letting go entirely- only to be turned away for my scars and present health. Didn’t they understand how beautiful it is to have gotten to this point?!
    Anyway, your statement of faith is beautiful. I know it wasn’t an easy place to arrive at, and as in the way a woman’s body changes after children come- straying from the accepted status quo- so has our faith. And it’s beautiful.

    Like

  26. Doreen permalink
    June 23, 2014 12:10 pm

    I thank each and everyone of you, the original article writer, and all who have posted. You all have helped me in my struggle to identify what I believe and what I call myself. May you all be Blessed

    Like

  27. June 23, 2014 12:11 pm

    THIS! So good! On finding a church community now that I can identify exactly what it is I want get away from and what it is I want to be a part of, I have come up short. And we want to be careful with our children since they are so impressionable. We homeschool for a reason and for a while now we “home teach” church, if you will. But I long for community again. Community in real life. Of like-minded individuals not caught up on the junk and just loving people. I have struck out unfortunately. It’s either too disconnected with no real community feel or too legalistic and demanding of walking that traditional evangelical line you write about above. I want our children to know that people are people and love always wins out. Unfortunately, working in a church all but ruined me for finding a church. I am still looking though. But, can I just say that you and Rachel Held Evans and Sarah Bessey and Kristen Howerton and Ann Voskamp…..you have provided a community that has helped me grow more and experience more of what I’ve found lacking in my own community. You ladies say what I lack the words for and preach what I’ve always looked for in the pulpit. Too bad you girls aren’t all in my community and starting up a church right here! Now, that’s a church I’d go to!

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 1:01 pm

      Since I don’t have kids I’ve been able to get out in my city a lot and find a truly interesting community that is committed to thinking and growing together. Have you tried a UCC or Disciples of Christ church? The UCC church in my town that I’ve been attending has been a serious blessing in my life.

      Like

  28. vintagepeg permalink
    June 23, 2014 12:12 pm

    Just discovered your blog today. Thank you for this post.

    Like

  29. Mark Elliott permalink
    June 23, 2014 12:12 pm

    From north of the 49th, I’ve always watched how the US mixes its politics with faith. As I am so found of saying, “Jesus isn’t a crippled chicken… he is neither left-winged or right-winged.” I would like to point out that a lot of great, biblical terms just have been impossible to use anymore by the “evangelicals,” and evangelical is just the latest one to fall on the sideline. Contrary to earlier comments, i don’t think you’re giving up evangelizing (small e) you’re just no long an “Evangelical” or practice “Evangelicalism” (big E). We need to stop coming up with labels on “how” we should reach others with the Gospel, but just start living the message Jesus gave us–which even includes using words as a last resort. Blessings1

    Like

  30. rbrtkrt permalink
    June 23, 2014 12:13 pm

    Well done. It’s never easy to “come out” about your faith, but I can assure you that it will feel like a huge weight has been taken off your shoulders when you realize you can still follow Jesus without the burden of man-made religious doctrines. I started my own blog not too long ago as a way of “coming out”. You can check it out here if you like: http://www.secondjourneys.co/ Take care.

    Like

  31. June 23, 2014 12:20 pm

    Reblogged this on 365 Days of Impossible and commented:
    I found this piece resonated deeply within me, especially the parts of me that reflect on my former religious walk with Evangelicalism. I think many people, even those that don’t self-identify as ‘Christian’ anymore, can benefit from this great post.

    Like

  32. June 23, 2014 12:25 pm

    Well stated and Amen. I happened upon your blog via a friend on FB and I was intrigued. Let’s just say that I was not disappointed. I have had musings regarding what it is to be called Christian, a Follower of Christ. Ultimately I have come down to this: If I am to love Jesus, I must love people. Broken people. Hopeless people. Addicted people. I cannot just love the people that are easy to be around.
    Regarding the LGBTQ community and the issues within the church context, I am still thinking about this. I have to wrestle with God on my own, and I am willing to do this. What I do know is that there are people who truly are born gay. Simple as that. I have a close friend who DEEPLY loves Jesus and are gay. The ability to love people and see the good in others is probably the greatest gift that I have received and learned from this friend. If my gay friend can find acceptance and love from Jesus, who we cannot see, shouldn’t we, as the visible church, give acceptance and love?
    I came upon this great quote from Rick Warren (Not a huge fan/follower but I believe that credit should be given if I am going to quote someone)
    “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that it you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense.
    You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

    I’m not a huge blog follower, but I look forward to hearing your updates on your journey. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 1:06 pm

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting Ginny. The LGBTQ issue has been one that I’ve wrestled with for years now. It must be dealt with thoughtfully and with love. As I’m writing that though, I’m realizing how much I hate identifying real life people with experiences and whatnot as an “issue”. It makes me angry that we’ve so lost sight of real people as to glump them all together as an “issue” which dehumanizes individuals with their own stories. We’ve got to do better with that.

      Like

      • Julie permalink
        June 24, 2014 7:44 am

        My son is gay, and our experience with the church was awful when I told them. If it weren’t for a very loving group of friends that meet in an Irosh Pub every Sunday, I would not be going to church at all. My belief is that the LGBT issue is very black and white. You either believe that tis community deserves equal rights, or you don’t. If you don’t, then many LGBT folks feel less than and unworthy of Gods love. This is often the message that comes from the church…they view it as a choice or “lifestyle”, when is it not, just as being straight is not a choice or a “lifestyle”. I love this blog. I’ve never considered myself evangelical, so my journey as a parent of a gay child has not been an internal struggle. It has been really difficult within my social group of Christian friends however. One friend aligned my son’ being gay as awful as being a rapist or murderer. I personally know two men who attempted suicide because of the rejection from the church. The dialogue within the mainstream church needs to change. You are right, Candace. We have to do better. We also need to he brave enough to call out the Christians who spew the vitriol. The silence pushes the negative and dangerous message forward.

        Like

    • Jamie permalink
      June 23, 2014 2:43 pm

      Nicely put.

      Like

    • June 24, 2014 6:40 am

      Warren puts that well. You don’t have to abandon convictions that others find repugnant to love them anyway [reversing the directions here].

      Like

  33. June 23, 2014 12:25 pm

    Candace, thanks for writing and sharing. I totally resonate with your words, faith struggles, and decisions, as I too have recently left an evangelical church. I’m a little wary about jumping back into a church life since my doubts, questions, and disagreements weren’t welcomed with open arms before. But your words about community and the mystery of the trinity have spoken to my spirit’s deep longing for church family. Keep following Jesus, where He is there is truth.

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 1:08 pm

      yes yes yes. Thanks Heather. It took me awhile after I left the church that I was working at in September to go back to a church. Thankfully I’ve found a truly sweet and welcoming community in a UCC church that is helping to fill that void. Grace to you as you discover and build a community of your own.

      Like

  34. lomagirl permalink
    June 23, 2014 12:29 pm

    I wrote a long comment to tell my story and to say think you for framing your journey in this way- as a movement IN faith and not away from it. Many people feel that they have to leave completely, or don’t have a framework for new ways of thinking within Christianity so they leave faith altogether. My faith journey has been away from many things in the evangelical/ “Christian” world, but I have had good support and a good foundation in the importance of LOVE, for which I am grateful.
    Kathleen Norris has been thinking and writing on this journey for a long time “Amazing Grace” is a great piece about the blindness of Christians to their insular community.

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 1:09 pm

      I’ve been meaning to read Norris for awhile now!! Thanks for reminding me of her work.

      Like

  35. June 23, 2014 12:40 pm

    Reblogged this on The Unlikely Evangelist and commented:
    Wonderful, honest post about the conflicting feelings of leaving a church movement to go deeper into faith.

    Like

  36. Becca permalink
    June 23, 2014 12:40 pm

    Thank you for this! Just found you from Rachel Held Evans’ recommendation. I also relate so specifically to your experience and am refreshed to hear your story because I don’t have many friends in my close circle who have come to such a strong resolution (leaving church) out of such wrestling as I have. I look forward to following your blog!

    Like

  37. Lynn permalink
    June 23, 2014 12:50 pm

    The most intellectually truthful thing Rachel said: “Some people might see my shifting faith perspective and identification as the product of a compromised moral compass or my secular, liberal education.” Oprah evolved pretty much this same way…and now she’s a true humanist who sees many ways to Heaven. I assure you, there is only One!

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 1:32 pm

      Unfortunately those words cannot be attributed to Rachel, but to me! Sorry you think differently, but thanks for reading.

      Like

  38. Wendy Willard permalink
    June 23, 2014 12:51 pm

    I love the way you’re digging in and really examining God’s Word for our life. Your post got me thinking more about our need to identify ourselves as “something.”

    I’ve lived on the mission field outside of the U.S. for two years and the whole experience has caused me to abandon all labels other than “Christian” or “Christ-follower.” There is another family who has been living with us for a few weeks and over the weekend someone asked me which denomination they were from in the States. I told them I didn’t know and I didn’t care. Really. I know a lot about this family. I know they love God and He called them to adopt two orphans from a developing country. I know how the husband and wife met and where their kids were born and what God’s been teaching them recently. I know their favorite foods and that their oldest daughter is pregnant with twins. I know that their middle daughter loves music and their son loves sports. I don’t know where they fall in the political realm or church music spectrum. I love that this interdenominational church community we are currently in doesn’t “major in the minors” but instead just loves God and seeks to follow Him.

    All that to say… do we have to identify as evangelical or not? Can we just be known as Christ-followers without adding on a particular flavor?

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 1:36 pm

      I worked in a Christian missions organization for 5 years and found that while the community of longterm missionaries in most countries worked together well and without the denominational divisions, the short term teams and US based staff didn’t do that very well. It’s interesting, isn’t it? I think the “flavors” have helped in some ways and divided and caused problems as well. The language has to be sorted through on the ground by people like us though and not just those powerful ones who usually have the say.

      Like

      • jcroffor permalink
        June 24, 2014 6:48 am

        I lived overseas as an MK for 12 years and my experience was fairly similar to yours. I think that being surrounded, long-term, by a different culture really helped put doctrinal disagreements in perspective.

        Like

  39. pkkid permalink
    June 23, 2014 12:59 pm

    Wonderful post–thanks so much for your sharing. I look forward to reading more of your spiritual journey.

    Like

  40. June 23, 2014 1:02 pm

    I’m older than you, Candace, but I’m on the same journey. I gew up Catholic and left that branch of Christinaity for a few years and hopped back on the tree as an evangelical. It made so much sense at the time. Now I wonder what was I thinking. My two children left the faith, my son as a teen thanks to the youth group, at my daughter as a young adult thanks to the church she had chosed for herself. As a teen, she was all set to become a missionary. They grew up in the church we chose for our family that was led by a highly intelligent and committed man who loves God in the fundamentalist way, as we all have to, or be damned. You know the drill.

    After twenty years at that church, we moved away from the area. For a few years before the move, I sat in discontent each Sunday, feeling like a rebel. The hardcore messages didn’t sound right to me anymore, the us vs. them, the old teachings and interpretations from a few men a long time ago. I thought it was me, that I was letting my attitude go bad. I wasn’t the model Christian woman (holy cats, what an impossible task!) and I thought maybe my sin (nothing exciting) was leading me astray.

    But then I realized, I was submitting myself to hearing the word preached, living an imperfect but mostly Godly life, so maybe it was Jesus changing my heart, calling me away. Maybe my time in evangelicalism was an educational time and I had finally learned to think for myself.

    The church we go to now is mostly evangelical, but there are a few small differences that make me happy. I wouldn’t know where to begin to look for a church that fits me. Plus my husband is still fundamental in his thinking. It’s just good to know there is an entire movement of believers on my same path. May it never look or act like the one we left.

    Thanks for putting into words what so many of us are experiencing.

    Like

  41. June 23, 2014 1:06 pm

    Bravo, Candace! Very similar to my journey, and that’s after 30+ yrs “in.” Thank you for sharing this!!!

    Like

  42. Jamie permalink
    June 23, 2014 1:07 pm

    So what prevents you from being “ready to come out as an ally of the LGBTQ community and marriage equality”?

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 1:38 pm

      As you’ll notice, I said in that paragraph that I *wasn’t* ready, but that I do talk about writing a future blog on my allied stance.

      Like

  43. Joei permalink
    June 23, 2014 1:08 pm

    This speaks to my heart. I am often tormented by my anxiety about not being an Evangelical- if that means I’m not a Christian or I don’t love Jesus enough. I feel this pressure ESPECIALLY in my Pentecostal denomination (which shall remain nameless). I love the people in my church so much, I love the traditions and being Charismatic, but I find us disagreeing more and more. I don’t feel called to leave my church, but perhaps to learn to live with those who don’t always agree with me- but yet, its a comfort to know that I’m not alone in my concerns.

    Much love.

    Like

  44. June 23, 2014 1:09 pm

    blessings Candace and thank you for sharing your story, especially the realization that there are ways to follow Jesus, authentic ways, outside of the American Evangelical fold

    Like

  45. June 23, 2014 1:11 pm

    Wonderful post. If you ever find yourself in Tulsa, OK, please come worship with us at College Hill Presbyterian Church. You will be blessed and it will be a blessing to us to have you join us. I like the tagline of the Fellowship Congregation Church ” Never place a period where God has placed a comma, God is still speaking”.

    Like

  46. Laura permalink
    June 23, 2014 1:17 pm

    I’ve had a similar experience except I have a degree in theology from a conservative evangelical school in a fairly liberal city. I think actually going there 15 years ago was the sea change for me. Reading a bunch of different commentaries in school and realizing that people that were resolutely Christian could fully support feminist, pro-homosexual or universal readings of scripture really opened my eyes. I remember especially a study I did of the book of Ruth where half of the commentaries basically said Ruth had premarital sex with Boaz and then hearing on campus all this super conservative rhetoric about sex. The whole thing was very jarring. I came very close to atheism 10 years ago after graduating (I know probably a quarter of my fellow graduates of this school did chose atheism) but ultimately I decided that a belief in divinity was a crucial part of my self identity. It helps that I met my husband around that time and he believes so resolutely in grace as a cornerstone of Christianity and is so completely uninterested in judging others that giving up evangelicalism was easy. What bothers me the most is that so much of evangelicalism seems to not really respect the bible. Its supposed to be our sacred text but frankly they don’t offer it the deference as a mysterious, deep, confounding and enlightening book as much it deserves.

    Like

  47. Jamie permalink
    June 23, 2014 1:17 pm

    To me, being an ally of the LGBT community and supporting their rights would be a direct outgrowth of Jesus ministry to and welcoming of the marginalized. The scriptural passages used to justify the persecution of gays are weak at best. See:
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibl.htm
    Particularly the exegesis of the specific passages.
    At worst, they are similar to the scriptural justifications used to defend slavery, the subjugation of women, and the persecution of Jews. Peter Gomes’ “The Good Book” does an excellent job of explaining these issues in the context of Bibilcal hermeneutics.

    Like

  48. Emily permalink
    June 23, 2014 1:18 pm

    I love your phrasing in that first statement of faith, and it’s something I’ve been leaning toward as of late–in cases of nit-picky issues that are easily debated for in either direction (such as women in leadership, treatment of members of the LGBT community, and science/environmentalism) I’d rather defer to empathy and inclusion than make a feeble attempt to be theologically “correct.” 🙂

    Like

  49. June 23, 2014 1:24 pm

    What a courageous and beautifully written post. Thank you.

    I guess I also want to say, I’m so sorry for the pain this must have caused you. It is never easy to find that you no longer belong in the community you were raised in.

    Like

  50. June 23, 2014 1:24 pm

    Unfortunately, for too many evangelicals I fear, the answer to the question would be “apparently you aren’t really following Jesus then, but just your own desires and society’s current trends.” SMH

    Like

  51. June 23, 2014 1:28 pm

    “I really can’t imagine Jesus saying to me, ‘You were too kind and loving and you didn’t put your foot down enough,’ but I could definitely see him saying, ‘You didn’t take care of those around you and you alienated those that I love.'” – Yes! We should all be reminding ourselves of this.

    Blessings to you on this journey.

    Like

  52. June 23, 2014 1:29 pm

    Great perspective. I cringe when I see images in the media of people holding signs that say “God Hates Fags.” No, I sincerely doubt God hates any of his (her?) children, not even the hopelessly intolerant ones who spread their own hate and fear under the guise of Christianity. I believe there is room for a wide variety of expressions of faith, but I fail to see where hate and intolerance qualify as “Christian faith.” Its hard to reconcile that sort of behavior with “Love God, love your neighbor.”

    Like

  53. June 23, 2014 1:29 pm

    I’ll echo everyone who has stopped by to say, “I can relate.” Thankfully, most people in my life are able to exist in the same world as someone who has different beliefs than they do, so I haven’t suffered the extreme fallout that some people do when they come out in support of LGBT rights or against the doctrine of hell or whatever the point of contention is.

    The graceless responses of others are still painful, though.

    Like

  54. June 23, 2014 1:46 pm

    I’ll say I also no longer identify as an evangelical for many of the same reasons you do, particularly the politics/patriotism/nationalism intertwinings with evangelicalism. The us vs, them attitude seems particularly unChrist-like.

    Where we differ is on the LGBT issue. I was a lesbian until I was 30. Without going into deep detail, the Lord delivered me from that. I do not agree it is the same as being blue-eyed. In fact, I view it as bondage and cannot fathom why Christians would wish anyone to remain in bondage. The reaction of the evangelical community to the LGBT community is heinous, I completely agree. What I don’t understand is the complete acceptance of bondage in someone’s life and leaving them in it. Yes, I realize most in the LGBT community don’t see it as bondage, but that really is not a true litmus test. What does God call it?

    In fact, I’ll confess that Christians who are happy to let the LGBT community remain in bondage make me angry, not for any moral reason, but for the reason of liberty and lack thereof.

    I used to ask my gay and lesbian cohorts, “If they made a pill that could make you straight, would you take it?” Every single one said no, this was their identity. So yes, they do eventually choose it, although it is certainly no simple, straight-forward choice and certainly never feels like one. It’s complicated both emotionally and spiritually and deserves a compassionate, loving, freedom-oriented response.

    One other thing I see: the bulk of people I encounter who begin trying to be “inclusive” end up so far down the path of inclusion that Jesus isn’t even the way, the truth, and the life anymore. As one example, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal church denies the deity and resurrection of Christ. In fact, her spirituality is more Buddhist than Christian. So, where does it stop?

    Like

    • Michael permalink
      June 23, 2014 2:13 pm

      Susie, I can appreciate how some, not all, folks that identify as LGBTQ might see it as bondage. I imagine that there are particular societal and cultural pressures that might pose a threat to an individuals perception of their sexuality. That being said…I would guess that the vast majority of the gay population are (or perceive that they are) created that way. And for those that identify as Christians, who else would they attribute that to but God!

      I think that one of the last holdouts of traditional Evangelicalism (if you were to attempt escape!), is the belief that we need to be doing more to convert people to our particular branch of the same tree. I struggle with that myself…how do we communicate God’s love and the Way of Jesus without it feeling like a haphazard sales technique.

      Can we love people and show them the way down the road without the ever present danger of, “if you don’t go down the right road you’ll end up burning in the pits of hell”?

      I’m sure you wanted Candace to respond, not sure if she will….but I thought I’d add my two cents.

      Like

    • June 23, 2014 9:19 pm

      Thanks for commenting Susie. I appreciate your voice here. I would contend that there is more than just one Christian gay story to be shared. I think that for some it is bondage. For others it is a very real part of their identity that can and should be integrated into their faith life. For some it requires living celibate lives, and for others marriage should be available to them. I think it’s something that has to be walked through with fear and trembling, just like sex for all of us.

      Like

    • Christa S permalink
      June 23, 2014 10:29 pm

      I am grateful to see at least one post here countering this more and more popular view that Christians should just accept the LGBT lifestyle without batting an eyelash and furthermore that to not accept that lifestyle is un-Christian.

      I must confess that I struggle with a lot of sins. One in particular that I recall struggling with from a very young age was stealing. I believe I was born a stealer. I stole food out of my mom’s pantry, I stole my sister’s Halloween candy. I even stole some gum from a store once. However, that last time I got caught by my mom. I am so grateful she didn’t just say, “You know, you clearly struggle with stealing, so this just must be how you are wired, so you just need to learn how to accept yourself as a stealer.” Instead, she reprimanded me and made me go back into the store and return the gum to the display where I had taken it. That wasn’t easy! It was humiliating! But I also knew that my mom was right and that she loved me enough to not let me get away with stealing.

      Christianity’s tenets basically state that we are all born sinners, and that sin is in essence bondage, but that thanks be to God, we can find freedom from sin through His Son, Jesus Christ. What a gift! Without it, I for one, am clearly lost! Am I saying that stealing is the same as sexual immorality? No, but what I am saying is that I agree that to merely let our Christian brothers and sisters flounder in sin and pretend that everything is OK is not loving. Christ did not come to affirm sinners and the sick in their current state, but to HEAL and SAVE the sick and the dying.

      John 8:7-11 (NIV) When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and LEAVE YOUR LIFE OF SIN.” (emphasis added)

      I am thankful I worship and serve a God who is not so merciful that anything goes but who is also not so just that I am without hope. He is slow to anger and His mercy and love abound, but He is also just and jealous and He loves me enough that when He captured my heart by His great mercy and grace, He didn’t just do so to let me be content with my former way of life and to continue to live a life that would ultimately destroy me. Instead He patiently day by day tests me and tries me and breaks me only to remake and reshape me into His beautiful creation, that one day I may sing His praises forevermore with all the saints. Is this easy? No. Is it painless? No. Do I sometimes fight God on this? Yes. But in the end, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      Like

  55. June 23, 2014 1:57 pm

    While I now identify as an agnostic who finds the teachings of Jesus meaningful, I can certainly relate to what you wrote.

    Like

  56. Kim permalink
    June 23, 2014 1:58 pm

    Just a quick note to thank you for standing up for ‘my tribe’. The simple fact that you believe I can be Christian and gay is a blessing to me….healing balm to a battered soul who doggedly clings to the love Jesus gives me freely, even as a majority of His followers work so hard to deny me that love. I have this little saying that I use occasionally: God doesn’t hate gay people, God’s children hate gay people. It is good to see that I may be able to retire that blanket statement as more of your kind ‘come out’! Happy Day sister…keep sharing your heart with the world.

    Like

  57. Ann permalink
    June 23, 2014 2:08 pm

    Candace, I was not raised as an evangelical, I was raised as a mainstream Christian. I recently spent some time in an evangelical church and encountered the attitudes that you write about. I was wondering if you could explain an interesting thing I observed. The “Biblical Absolute” excuse. In order to stifle debate it appears to be an expedient thing to frame the desired change of policy as an Absolute Biblical Truth. This is rather bizarre when applied to fluid situations like choice of number of worship services or musical style choices. Is this a common attitude/excuse? -Ann

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 9:21 pm

      Thanks for your question Ann. I obviously can’t speak for all churches everywhere, but in the situations that I’ve been in, yes, this is a prevalent thought. Proof texts are brought out to justify or condemn this and that and it gets to be ridiculous.

      Like

  58. June 23, 2014 2:15 pm

    This is so beautifully said! Much like you, I was close to losing my faith altogether once I began realizing my view of evangelicalism and my view of how the world really works are constantly in conflict. I chose a path that was more inclusive and loving, and it wasn’t until I began studying the Word for myself that I realized my new path is much more in line with Christ’s teachings than anything I’d heard growing up in church. Thank you for writing this!

    Like

  59. Cathi Everett permalink
    June 23, 2014 2:20 pm

    Rachel, Be encouraged you are 1 of many. The path is painful and we humans are prone to not like change, even when the change is someone else. I remember being alone in my living room singing “I have decided to follow Jesus”, when I sensed that something holy was taking place within my being. Life has not been without its challenges as far as friends go, I suppose you win some and you lose some, but I am at peace with myself and that just feels right. Blessings to you, Cathi

    Like

  60. June 23, 2014 2:37 pm

    I’m ready for the follow ups. This was a dang good read.

    Like

  61. Rachael Munson permalink
    June 23, 2014 2:44 pm

    I understand. In my quest to have my spiritual questions answered I left the church (not just the evangelical-ness my life had been up to that point) and converted to Judaism. I found my spiritual home as a Jew. Yes, I did walk away from my belief of Jesus as messiah (but that was a long time coming). Judaism has allowed me continue in my love and following of God, but also to have questions, and seek. Things which evangelicalism shunned (questioning).

    Like

  62. June 23, 2014 2:47 pm

    Reblogged this on itsimani and commented:
    Incredibly moved by your boldness to follow Jesus, despite what His disciples, Pharisees and passerby strangers say… My kinda Christ follower! #walkinginthedust of the Master! #sorrynotsorry

    Like

  63. CharleneH permalink
    June 23, 2014 2:59 pm

    Wow. It is amazing to me too see so many like-minded believers. For the past 5 years I have not been to a church nor identified with a particular denomination.
    A lot of people raise their eyebrows at me and dont seem to understand what Im thinking.

    I believe in God and Jesus, but I have trouble with mans interpretation of it all.

    I think people get the wrong idea about Jesus due to what super conservative christians say about sinners and yet they are hypocrites themselves living in sin and denial of such.

    I have so much to write but dont know all how to put it into words. In the end, this article speaks to me and Im glad to have read it.

    Like

  64. Dominic permalink
    June 23, 2014 3:06 pm

    It’s good to read about someone who shares in the struggles that a lot of milennials are facing. I am wondering though, have you read any Stanley Hauerwas or Sam Wells?

    Some of the things you bring up about politics and culture are really similar to what he says. If not, he’s worth reading. I’ve found a lot of encouragement and challenges to my own thoughts as his critiques evangelicalism in America and has an extremely unique view of ethics particularly for the church.

    Like

  65. pinkjedi permalink
    June 23, 2014 3:14 pm

    Reblogged this on My Because Blog and commented:
    Because this is such a well-written, thought out post, I had to share it. And so I could refer to it again because the writer eloquently says what I’ve been feeling for a long, long time.

    Like

  66. June 23, 2014 3:15 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you for writing your heart! Even though I know I should not let what other more conservative Christians say to me upset me so much, sadly often they do. At times I feel like a stranger in my own faith!

    I am a hetero-married female that has felt the tug of God on my heart to speak up and out for LGBT rights and inclusion in the church. I’ve been asked several times why I care about gay rights so much and the truth is because Jesus has called me to!

    I’ve been told I was leaving others to Hell, that I wasn’t a Christian, that I “refuse you see the truth of written in the bible by God, because you have rejected the bible as the word of God.”

    The thing is, if this is how I am treated as a mere ally… how horrible it bust be to be a LBGT who is trying to walk in Faith? These cruel words have fueled my heart to keep speaking out in the name of Christ to ALL God’s children, no matter their race, gender (gender-identity), sexual-orientation, or by any other earthly descriptor!

    Love that I have found your blog and another sibling in Christ that walks the path of inclusion and love! Bless you!
    ❤️Ann

    Like

  67. June 23, 2014 3:20 pm

    Please continue writing. Your motto is great. Remember that there are denominations that are “Evangelical” but not part of evangelicalism. I hope you will find a home in one of them. If you are still in Colorado Springs…please try the American Baptist Church.

    Like

  68. June 23, 2014 3:21 pm

    Rachel Held Evans posted this on facebook and I’m so glad I came over to read it. What you have written resonates with me. I was not raised to be evangelical (more accurately, I was raised “frozen chosen”) but I have spent much time with evangelicals in the military chapel system in particular. So many of my friends from those days — who are truly wonderfully loving human beings — cannot see how closed their hearts and minds have become to God’s children all around them.

    Like

  69. Michelle permalink
    June 23, 2014 3:24 pm

    I definitely relate. I wrote something along the same lines about how I am feeling about the Christianity label these days. Of course, where I live, that is pretty much synonymous with evangelical, so I think your post is more aptly titled. Following the Holy Spirit will definitely make fitting in with the crowd — even Christian crowds — difficult. http://heartsoulstrengthmind.com/2014/04/03/why-i-am-unchristian/

    Like

  70. marty06 permalink
    June 23, 2014 3:47 pm

    I’m interested that in the article Rachel Held Evans notes she is leaving American Evangelicalism; but the whole tone of the article is that she is leaving Evangelicalism altogether. I understand that Evangelicalism in America is indeed compromised by many of the things she notes, but Evangelicalism itself is not an American movement. British and Canadian Evangelicals (and to be honest some American Evangelicals) would share many of Held Evans objections to her experience of American Evangelicalism. And what about African or Asian Evangelicals? World Vision UK and Canada has, for example, responded very different to the gay employment issue. In other words, ironically Held Evans has rejected a version of Evangelicalism based on a cultural prejudice (i.e. an equivalence of Evangelicalism with American nationalism) similar to the one she critiques American Evangelicals for holding. She may know this, but it seems ironic and not that helpful to the debate. Those (rightly) disillusioned with American Evangelicalism should know the global church (even the English-speaking church) offers alternative ways of being Evangelical than the majority opinion in the US.

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 3:51 pm

      Marty – thanks for commenting. This is not, in fact, RHE’s blog. This is my blog which she reposted.

      I do understand your distinctions between American Evangelicalism and the other flavors of it in the world. My stepping away from Evangelicalism is largely due to my context, as a resident in Colorado Springs. The tone here is significantly different than what it is in the rest of the country and the term “evangelical” has much more baggage in this city than in many other places. I think understanding the context of my blog (as I didn’t expect it to blow up the internet) might address some of your concerns.

      Like

  71. June 23, 2014 3:54 pm

    I’ve not considered myself to be any sort of “Christian” for a long time. Not sure that I’ll ever really see any form of the paradigm as true or necessary. I very much resonate with the things that have troubled you for so long . . . it’s ludicrous to claim to be a follower and imitator of Love, and yet judge, condemn and reject so many. Irrational. (I’ve been there)

    And then there’s the worship of the written word as a static, black and white blueprint for life, which can be clearly understood, if only you read it properly!

    thank you for coming out!

    Like

  72. Gabe permalink
    June 23, 2014 3:55 pm

    Grace, authenticity, honesty, commitment to truth, and healthy community are much praised in evangelical religion, but when it comes to the crunch it’s words not action unless you fit in a narrow paradigm.

    Conformity, hiding the parts of yourself that don’t fit the expectations, saying what you’re supposed to say rather than being real, fitting in and behaving and not rocking the boat are far more the norm.

    There are many elements of Christianity today that are cultic in their expression, demands and ways.

    Christians criticized the Pharisees and religious powers of the day, and that’s what much of so called Christian religion in public has become. The bible, certain doctrines, politics, antiscience, judgment of certain people and groups, and material succes have become the idols that are worshipped. Personalities have become the heroes and messiahs, though they give lip service to Jesus.

    If Jesus came to earth, especially our USA, now he’d have a huge mission on his hands. He’d see a caricature of himself in the institutionalised religion that he would hardly recognize.

    Jesus calls me out. Thanks for the freedom, Jesus! Not the easiest road to walk with you, but much more freeing, fulfilling and real.

    Thanks to chirch(es) for being where I discovered the Jesus that transcends you. You’ve put him in a box. But the Jesus you taught me bits about, calls me to jump out of the box. Yay!

    Like

  73. elaine permalink
    June 23, 2014 3:57 pm

    Your short statement of faith was exactly my late mom’s belief. My brother came out as gay and my mom struggled with that. But this statement was how she was finally able to become inclusive of all people, even if she didn’t completely understand what it meant to be gay

    Like

  74. Danny permalink
    June 23, 2014 3:57 pm

    I don’t think I’m necessarily qualified to speak on this topic, being from Canada we don’t have the same religious/political ties that you do in the states. Sometimes we are called to leave and sometimes we are called to fight and take back words like evangelical. You obviously feel it would be too long and hard of an uphill battle to do so and I respect that. On the LGBT side of things this has been my way of getting my head around it for a few years now. Homosexuality is not a sin anymore than heterosexuality is a sin. Whether and how you act upon it however is. I am a single man and if I look a woman with lustful intentions I am sinning (Matt 5:28) We all sin and God loves us anyway. (Romans 5:10) Now to me it is pretty plain no matter how you slice it that homosexuality is a sin, I’m not going to list the references, but maybe God created them that way so that they could easily see that He set them apart to serve Him whole heartedly. They don’t have to worry about if God wants them to get married or who the “right” person might be. They can whole heartedly say God is my source of joy and I need no other than Him. Just to throw another curveball into the mix here I am also divorced and the Bible is pretty clear on what it says there too. So while yes I would like to pursue a relationship I have decided that God is worth giving up that worldly pleasure for. Sexual sin is sexual sin. Is God worthy of giving up that desire for, if the answer is no then He is not GOD to you. That doesn’t mean you won’t struggle for the rest of your life with it either, read Paul’s letters if you think we don’t have to suffer and put aside worldly things. I don’t think it is about equality God isn’t about equality within the world.

    P.S. I absolutely agree with the fact that we love our neighbour (Canadian spelling) as ourselves. And I think that as a person becomes more and more attuned to Christ they will continue to cut out sin in their life, nobody changes 100% overnight and we have to wrestle with a lot of hard choices like is God worth giving up X? If I see clearly in scripture that God calls me to give up X and I am not willing to do so it is an idol in my life, and the second commandment does nothing if the first is not being followed.

    Like

  75. Gabe permalink
    June 23, 2014 4:00 pm

    I’ve tried american evangelicalism, British and it’s former colonies evangelicalism, evangelicalism in Africa and India, South America too. Unless Antarctic evangelicalism is much different (I haven’t been there yet), Jesus calls me out of them all.

    Very decent people I come across in every community, Christian or otherwise. But the religion itself stifles and crushes so many.

    Like

  76. David Taylor permalink
    June 23, 2014 4:12 pm

    Made the journey almost a decade ago. I have never been more committed to Jesus and never been happier. Welcome to the kingdom of grace and peace.

    Like

  77. June 23, 2014 4:26 pm

    Wonderful and relatable! That you included a Jars song at the end just made my day! 😉

    Like

  78. david hoffelmeyer permalink
    June 23, 2014 4:30 pm

    Thanks for this post, Candace.

    I appreciate that you choose to err toward love. Thanks for offering that thought. I suppose I should say that I am a complementarian (although I prefer the phrase “covenantal interdependence”). I’ve lived several aspects of the “evangelical” you are rightfully reacting against. For me, being a Christian once meant arguing about stuff, and I died on every hill. I was an ass. I’m sorry for being one of those guys.

    I hope folks like me and folks like you can make this world better together and stop hurting one another. I’m thankful the grace of Jesus is enough for both of us. Thanks for writing and thinking well. I hope us evangelicals can learn, and maybe that Jesus’ love will mark us too. But for now, I’ll peak over the fence once in a while at what sisters and brothers in other traditions are doing/saying and will just try to learn what I can, as I pursue the Love that all Christians seek to know and live with my awkward Evangelical family.

    Your little brother,

    David

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 4:43 pm

      This was one of the best comments of the day. Thank you.

      Like

    • June 23, 2014 4:59 pm

      David – It is so wonderful to hear that voice from “your side of the fence”. Praise God indeed for the mercy to draw us together even when our disagreements feel so essential. You have encouraged me today!

      Like

  79. tim permalink
    June 23, 2014 4:44 pm

    You didn’t refer to the scripture or hermeneutics of scripture that led you to believe homosexuality was just another design of God’s. If your humanly rooted sentiment is right(based on looking at your gay friends at the college you mentioned) then, 2 Peter2, Jude1:7, 1 Corinthians 6:9,10,Romans 1:18-22 Genesis, Leviticus, Revelations and many more are all wrong. One of you two are wrong. You, or scripture.

    Like

    • Julie permalink
      June 24, 2014 7:54 am

      Many Christians would disagree, Tim. Studying the historical context and the original meaning of the language leads other Christians to come to another conclusion. One thing that is clear, however, is that God calls us to love each other.

      Like

  80. June 23, 2014 4:56 pm

    This is so open and wonderful. I was writing to a conservative Christian friend just last night (who had responded with sorrow to an expression from me that she saw as rejecting of Jesus although I certainly don’t see it that way). My response was, in part to express that I couldn’t follow the call of fellow Christians when they were calling me to reject Christ’s leading. You have perfectly expressed what I meant by that.

    Like

  81. Asparagus Freak permalink
    June 23, 2014 4:58 pm

    I too, relate to what you’ve written and recently I’ve also stopped identifying as an “evangelical.” As I read through this blog entry, I kept nodding my head in agreement, and then when I read your faith motto, I was stopped in my tracks–I had written something eerily similar (but more snarky) a few months ago in response to someone writing about how God hates homosexuality, which I’ll share with you:

    “All I know is that if there is in fact a God, and if He’s a God of love and if there is a judgement day someday and I’m standing before Him and He says to me, ‘I thought I was pretty clear about how I feel about homosexuality—what part did you not understand?’ I will say, ‘I know how You feel about love. I learned about love from You. I tried, and yes, I know I failed too many times, to love fully and adequately. But if I erred on the side of too much love, of too much acceptance, of too much tolerance, then I would do it again a thousand times over rather than be a part of what the world sees only as hate.’

    “And then God will probably smite me because I got all smart-alecky and maybe I won’t even care, because the God of love I thought I believed in isn’t. Or maybe, just maybe He’ll smile and say, ‘I’m glad you got it right.'”

    Like

  82. Christina Sandhoff permalink
    June 23, 2014 5:02 pm

    Like so many people here, I too feel my journey has been so very similar. And you know what? Eve at the apple. This means we know right from wrong, therefore we don’t need today’s pharisees telling us we are misguided in our desire to love the marginalized. We are not heretics when we refuse to shun single mothers.We are not gospel deniers when we refuse to treat women who have had abortions as murderers and those in poverty as if they deserve it (and I find ironic that the Christian Republican believes in personal responsibility when Christ Himself is the antithesis thereof). We are not following false doctrine when we admit we don’t understand the spectrum of causality of homosexual urges and therefore adopt an inclusive circle of worship. Thank you for sharing. I prayed for encouragement in this journey today, and He delivered! Hallelujah. keep up the good and honest work.

    Like

  83. Zach Bellows permalink
    June 23, 2014 5:08 pm

    Candace! This is a wonderfully brave and honest post. I can see the thought and love that went into it and encourage you to keep exploring. While we’ve never really chosen the same syntax to express our spirituality, I have always felt that I could relate to the content of that shared spirituality (love and acceptance) no matter the difference in form.

    I was at a monastery for a few months recently, and one of the biggest recent experiences I’ve had was realizing that there was still was a significant amount of pain and guilt in my mind that I was trying to cover over with a smile and flowery words. The time for me was a time of undoing where I could look clearly at the central concept I hold, the self-concept. I find it fascinating that we cling to this concept so strongly because without this concept, we feel like we are nothing. In my experience, the pain felt when questioning the self-concept is felt because it is really quite disturbing to think we could be wrong about what we are. I bring this up because I see some parallels in your story.

    The pain may come and go as you shed layers of yourself that you no longer need, but I hope you will find that Candace will never completely disappear. Could your questions and journey possibly end in any other way than laughter and a BIG smile? For my part, I am glad that I was wrong about who I was. Because that means that any pain I felt as the old layers fell away was not directed at “me” but rather “an idea of me.” I wonder how much of this journey is about “Candace,” and how much of this journey is about “an idea of Candace.” Perhaps these words will not make sense, perhaps these words will make sense, and perhaps if we are both very lucky, these words will be felt as a truth. Either way, I felt to share them! Thank you in turn for sharing your thoughts.

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 9:29 pm

      Thank you my lovely friend. I love that you commented and shared the words that you did! They do make sense and I appreciate your thoughts! Big smile and laughter your way!!

      Like

  84. kvhuber permalink
    June 23, 2014 5:32 pm

    Incredibly well written and inspirational to those of us who have bumper stickers that say “Proud Member of the Religious Left”!!! And being attacked for what you believe sometimes leads people to atheism. It certainly doesn’t help people feel the love. But your blog does! I’m following you now!

    Like

  85. June 23, 2014 5:53 pm

    I am from an older generation but can still agree with you on most points. Unfortunately the word Evangelism is semantically equated to the “American Right” which is truly a distorted view of Jesus’ teachings and commission. I would rather say that many Evangelicals don’t understand what being an evangelist is. I align with your concepts of progressive revelation, defining true virtue as loving God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself, adopting a solid hermeneutic for biblical interpretation, having true humility when dealing with differences in people, and not using the Bible as a science book. I believe the Holy Spirit is moving us to evangelize in love and transform the church and our societies.

    Like

  86. Laura Beth permalink
    June 23, 2014 6:01 pm

    I recently began this pilgrimage myself – at least openly, it has been brewing for a long time. Thanks for giving it a voice!

    Like

  87. Rita permalink
    June 23, 2014 6:04 pm

    I wanted to say that I loved your blog and appreciate a person who actually REFLECTS on the meaning of faith to them, instead of just following the crowd because you belong to this or that church and this is what you MUST believe, without question.
    I was raised catholic, and although i still have faith, i don’t necessarily adhere to some of the more conservative views of the church.
    Christ is a figure to be admired for his ability to show unconditional love to all factions of humanity and in my mind this is what we should try to emulate above anything else.
    The truth is man is the false prophet, twisting the purest form of what Chris was teaching into a tool for manipulating the masses.
    “all you need is love” is a very apt sentiment, (if i may quote the Beatles). The hard part is the actual practice of that sentiment. My view is to 1. question everything, and look at religion through the historical, philosophical, and spiritual lens before you make up your mind as what it means to you. 2. Follow Christ’s example and love everyone and everything no matter how lowly or how different from you. 3. Meditate once a day to bring your spiritual self closer to the all encompassing light of God and the universe. 4. In short, look at the world and its creatures for what they truly are, beams of bright light that will one day join together again into the whole, or light of grace.
    Anything else is superficial and superfluous.

    Like

  88. Carol Becker permalink
    June 23, 2014 6:06 pm

    Thank you for your post and your clear expression of your journey. I have been experiencing a similar journey that some in my family don’t understand and find threatening. You said it and, hopefully, will continue saying it, so well.

    Like

  89. Bob Boden permalink
    June 23, 2014 6:21 pm

    I have been where you are longer than I care to admit,,,,there is a lonliness to it cause sometimes the former fellowship is gone and they were friends. But it is so nice to be out of that judgmental world and can now simply accept people as they are and to find they are so much like me, worth unconditional love from God and Me.

    Like

  90. June 23, 2014 6:27 pm

    Candace, thanks for writing this! I know you don’t feel like there’s a place in Evangelicalism for you anymore, but I hope you’ll consider joining us over at the Progressive Evangelical Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ProgressiveEvangelical <– It's no longer an oxymoron. You can be progressive and evangelical. Thanks for your voice!

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 6:31 pm

      Thanks Steve! I definitely will join you there. And I’ve got more to say about my decision that I’ll be writing about soon. Thanks for reading my blog!

      Like

  91. Pam Herbert permalink
    June 23, 2014 6:34 pm

    It’s amazing to see just how many people have gone through the same struggles, Candace. Your piece was beautifully worded. It has allowed all these people to say out loud (some for maybe the first time) that they have been on this same journey of faith. Thank you for creating a space for us to find that we are not alone on the journey. Yes, I am also finding my sense of God changing. Grew up independent, fundamentalist Baptist…worst of the lot for hate, judgment and being exclusive. Ran as soon as I graduated from high school. Thought I was *there* until 10 years ago when God decided I needed to finish healing (I thought I was done) and now my world has been turned upside down at age 57. Left my church of 23 years (RCA) and now finding refuge in the Episcopal church. Don’t know if that is my new home or just a safe place to sort things out. I do know it has been a lonely journey until recently when I started to hear other voices crying out the same thing. Just trying to find local voices to connect with locally but I thank God for social media making it possible to know I am not nuts and I am definitely experiencing something real. Keep blogging!

    Like

  92. Heather permalink
    June 23, 2014 6:37 pm

    Thank you for articulating so perfectly how I have been thinking and feeling about my current spiritual leanings. It’s as if you were writing the piece for me! And, as for the unnamed ministry, it is truly their loss. Keep loving freely and generously, sister!

    Like

  93. June 23, 2014 6:48 pm

    What a brave, from the heart post! I understand where you are coming from and how you feel. Evangelicalism has become more of an American civil religion over the past decades, very much aligned politically, socially, economically and in so many ways with the culture. It’s sad. The term has lost it meaning. I have no interest in being tied to any denominational label. I spent most of my adult life in ministry but have become very much of an agnostic in terms of any belief in the North American church. So I encourage you, stay true to your convictions, don’t give in to the critics and most of all stay true to Jesus. After decades in pastoral ministry I have just sunk beneath the disillusionment what the modern church claims to be and do. But my faith is still strong.

    Like

  94. Doug Cullum permalink
    June 23, 2014 6:51 pm

    Thank you for a thoughtful post. I’m certain you realize that the evangelical tent is big enough to include many who are walking a very similar journey. Some have even argued that the term “evangelical” itself may not be useful any longer because it seems to be in constant need of modifiers in order to name precisely what sort of evangelical one is talking about. On the other hand, it would be a shame not do use a wonderful term that speaks of the good news of the gospel–and give it over wholesale to a small segment of evangelicals. In reference to big tent of evangelicalism in relation to the matters you’ve raised, see again the work of Evangelicals for Social Action (evangelicalsforsocialaction.org), Christians for Biblical Equality (cbeinternational.org), and Sojourners (sojo.net).

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 9:33 pm

      Thanks for the thoughts and resources Doug. I do realize that their is a large contingent working to reclaim the evangelical name from the grip of the political right. I will have more to say on all of that in my next post.

      Like

      • Denise permalink
        June 23, 2014 11:09 pm

        *there*

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        • June 23, 2014 11:15 pm

          And thanks to my mother who is relentless in her pursuit of misspellings and bad grammar, and who trained me up well in that way. 😉

          Like

  95. Sandie permalink
    June 23, 2014 6:52 pm

    Thank you. You help me love Jesus more and more.

    Like

  96. June 23, 2014 6:56 pm

    Thank you, Rachel. These are the very reasons I could not be an evangelical. Stsy strong as your dynamic, inclysive God leads you!

    Like

  97. auntietiffy permalink
    June 23, 2014 7:03 pm

    Beautifully written and very similar to my experiences. I came out as progressive while attending a SBC seminary. Awkward. I have to say that on some level I’d always known I was a progressive. It wasn’t a choice. 🙂

    I had someone tell me that I should pay the seminary back for the 1/2 tuition they cover for SB folks. I told them that the school willingly made a bad investment by paying for an education they knew they’d never let me use. That shut ’em up!

    Like

  98. Randy R. permalink
    June 23, 2014 7:09 pm

    Thank you so much for a positive and affirming reflection on your faith journey. It mirrors many of my thoughts in my journey from pentecostal evangelical fundamentalism. My journey from evangelicalism began while participating in training for campus ministry while I was attending college. During this training, I learned about understanding scripture in the context that it was written, then the application of that to society today. This was particularly interesting, because I never did hear that in church when I grew up, it was always an absolute, literal reading of the ‘translated and edited’ scripture.

    After graduating from college I spent 16 years in law enforcement and have worked the past decade plus in education. During this time, I married a wonderful person who grew up in the Episcopal faith, and we raised our children in this faith. During my careers of working with thousands of people from all walks of life, I learned that more than anything else everyone wants to be accepted and ‘loved’ for who they are. This was certainly Christ’s most important command, ‘to love others and you want them to love you’. This nearly universal philosophy began in several cultures centuries before Christ’s life. It has become a center of what I strive for in my spiritual life.

    Unfortunately, I believe that those who are locked into the fundamentalist mindset, have limited themselves and in their view of God. As man’s understanding of the universe has expanded in recent centuries, I believe we are just beginning to get a glimpse of the magnitude of God. I believe that those who believe in the ‘literal, translated, and edited’ words of the Bible, limit themselves in understanding everything that God really is. Unfortunately though they want to profess to ‘follow’ God, they are certainly judgmental of anyone who doesn’t conform to their knowledge and understanding of god. God is so much bigger than they want to give him credit for.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts of your journey, and I look forward to reading more about your journey in the future.

    Like

  99. June 23, 2014 7:13 pm

    I have been experiencing very similar spiritual/religious shifts in the past couple of years. I figure that if I err in my understanding of Jesus, erring on the side of love would be better than judgment, wrath, or exclusivity. Life is too messy to view it in black and white.

    Like

  100. Michael permalink
    June 23, 2014 7:18 pm

    I appreciate your authenticity and courage. Mature faith inquires and is open to seeing something new. It is ready to journey “Farther in and further up” as C.S. Lewis would say. You might enjoy reading “Stages of Faith” by James Fowler. There were some distinctions there that really helped me understand what I was going through in my faith journey. Shine on! There are so many out there who need to know they are not alone in their concerns and questions.

    Like

  101. leah santarone permalink
    June 23, 2014 7:18 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I love your statement of faith and identify with it very much. On the same path and trying to figure it all out…..

    Like

  102. Charlotte Kolb permalink
    June 23, 2014 7:36 pm

    I am 64 years old, female, saved in front of the TV watching Billy Graham when I was 11 years. I knew I changed at that moment. Began knowing and loving Him immediately. Baptized at 17 years and began following all the rules. I was excellent at keeping all church requirements. I loved them all (people) and they loved me. You know! I could hate alcohol, cigarettes, dark places, cursing, impure thoughts, sex, not tithing, and with the use of the phrase “hate the sin but love the sinner” I always came out on top…..until I didn’t. My sweet Lord showed me my sin and now I don’t belong in the place I helped build. I grieve , it’s like a death. It’s also like a birth.

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 8:01 pm

      What do you mean, “I always came out on top … until I didn’t.” Extremely vague phrase. I would love to hear your experience.

      Like

      • Charlotte Kolb permalink
        June 24, 2014 2:58 pm

        At some point I had to face the fact that I was hating the sin AND the person, I realized that I was judging and withholding myself from people who did not believe as I did.

        Like

        • June 24, 2014 4:17 pm

          Thank you so much for responding! I was really hoping to hear from you.

          I completely understand where you’re coming from. I was walking that slippery slope myself until my mother gently, but firmly, chastised me about it. You know what she said? She said, “Daughter, be careful of being so mad and angry at these people in the way that you are. They’ve been deceived. Our fight is not against them but against the enemy who has tricked them. As long as they live and breathe, they are still God’s children and He can change their hearts. Not one of them is beyond help. Not one of them is beyond His salvation.”

          That placed my heart under such conviction that it was almost painful. Homosexuals have been DECEIVED. They’ve been tricked, led astray and we, as Christians, MUST show Christ’s love to break the enemy’s stronghold on their minds.

          I had fallen into the trap, you see, and it’s so incredibly easy to do BECAUSE of what it is. You see, the reason why so many Christians are so hard and unforgivable and sometimes just mean toward homosexuals is because we feel as though we’re under attack. Everyone pretty much agrees with many of our basic codes of morality; that stealing, killing and adultery is wrong. But then, when we stand up for another precept that Christ has set down; that homosexuality is wrong, we’re called intolerant homophobic bigots. It doesn’t matter that our faith hasn’t changed, that Christianity has endured on these principles since its formal inception. No, we’re monsters now because society has decided, on a whim and in the name of freedom, to accept something that is completely contradictory to God’s Word. It makes us angry and puts us on the defensive. We’re being attacked, so we attack by.

          It’s everywhere: In random posts on Facebook, on the TV, on so many stations and channels and programs that we can’t get away from it. It’s being exposed to our children as normal, taught in our schools as okay. Our beliefs are being discarded and dismissed because of the desires of a few. And these claims of theirs have not even been scientifically proven; which is their usual way to try to shut Christians down. It’s all supposition and statically insignificant conclusions. In science talk, that means that their study doesn’t prove that people are born gay. Yet we are consistently condemned for disagreeing with homosexuality.

          That’s why Christians are beginning to hate. Even those who try to show Christ’s love by accepting the person and hating the sin are being overwhelmed by all the negativity being directed toward Christians and the hardcore homosexual advocates who won’t accept our tolerance, but will demean us until we are throwing rainbow parades in the street in their honor. We are getting tired of that, becoming fed up with the issue being forced into our faces and down our throats at every turn. And that’s understandable because it’s a lot to handle.

          But that’s why we go back to our Word, that’s why we pray. That’s why we have Godly friends who can minister to us when we’re down.

          Not only that, you may have to actually SHUT OFF THE TV! GASP! And read your Word exclusively. The Bible says that ‘the Lord will keep us in perfect peace if we keep our minds focused on Him, because we trust Him.’ It says to ‘Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal.’

          One of the real problems that Christians have is that we let WAAYY too much in. We’ll watch anything, listen to anything. We don’t guard our ears, our eyes as the Word cautions us to do. We expose ourselves to too much junk and not enough Christ. We build everything but our faith, our relationship with Him, so when it’s time to fall back on it, there’s nothing to fall back on. Then we become epically discouraged, despondent, directionless, confused because we don’t hear His voice, and we don’t hear His voice because we haven’t sought His face.

          Okay, (/tangent). I didn’t mean to go on and on like that, but talking about Christ always puts me in a wonderful mood. I just become jabber jaw!

          As far as the ‘stress trap’ goes, as I call it, thankfully, I’m getting better. Now, I only get super hyped when I talk about these issues; the malignant emotions that used to be present are no longer, praise the Lord. Hopefully, it’ll be that way with you as well. Our Christian walk is a journey and the expectations we have for ourselves are sometimes unrealistic. We are going to error, we’re going to fall, we’re even going to fall into traps, but it’s important to understand that Christ will forgive us and free us from the many burdens, including emotional and mental, that we bear.

          As long as we hold on to Him and do the best that we can, following the instructions He set down in His Word, we will be fine. ^^

          Like

          • Julie permalink
            June 24, 2014 4:49 pm

            Petra, with all due respect, I’d like to ask you when you have taken the time to sit down with a gay person and listened to their story…with an open mind and heart, without the preachy attitude that they have “been deceived”, and without throwing scriptures at them. Just listened? Your need to judge the LGBT community and then cry persecution is so offensive to me as a mom of a gay son. You are no more the know all of God’s intent than I am, yet you strongly imply that your interpretation of God’s word is the only right one. Perhaps YOU have been deceived. I would encourage you to read the book TORN by Justin Lee, and God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines. You may not change your view, but I would hope you would change your judgmental tone.

            Liked by 1 person

            • June 24, 2014 6:10 pm

              Dear Julie. You’re assuming that I have never spoken to any gay people and/or don’t have gay friends. Your assumption is erroneous. I have gay friends who love me right well. I listened to their stories and then proceeded to tell them all why I didn’t agree with their lifestyle and why I thought it was wrong. One in particular practically attached himself to my freaking hip afterward because it was said in love and WITHOUT judgement. So, please, don’t assume that you know what’s in my heart because I can guarantee you; you don’t.

              Now, do you realize that God’s word DOES lead to judgment? It lays down what is right and wrong, and it CLEARLY says that homosexuality is wrong. As I told Candace, this is NOT an interpretation issue, it’s not even an understanding issue. It’s an ACCEPTANCE issue. That Bible is as clear as a bell on homosexuality. Here are just a few Scriptures on homosexuality:

              Romans 1:18-32

              1 Corinthians 6:9-11

              Galatians 5:19

              Ephesians 5:3-7

              Colossians 3:5-7

              1 Timothy 1:10

              Titus: 1:16

              Jude 1:7

              Revelation 21:27

              I’ve seen people like you before which is why I now understand your stance and the, what I believe, undeserved anger and contempt in the tone of your response: You have a gay son, so suddenly, God’s Word is wrong? Or, perhaps, you’ve really just been interpreting it wrong all these years. The Bible doesn’t REALLY condemn homosexuality. Not really. It’s okay because God told us to love our neighbors and that’s what we’re doing.

              I know someone like that. His daughter ‘came out’ and suddenly, being homosexual was okay. My family looked at him like he was high.

              Because no, it’s not.

              If your whole family, if MY whole family suddenly decided to come out of the closet, I’d stand them down to their face … as lovingly as possible, of course … and tell them that they’re wrong, because God’s word is true NO MATTER WHO … or what (LOL) comes out of that closet.

              What is it that old Southern Christians say? Oh yeah: Let every man be a liar, EVERY MAN, and let God’s Word be true.

              I have to admit, you’ve really exasperated me. Why is it that every person who quotes Scripture, which is SUPPOSED to be our life manual, suddenly preachy and judgmental? How does that even make a BIT of sense? How do you justify that type of foolishness in your mind? Are you even a Christian? Should I even be expecting you to accept God’s Word as the end all to truth?

              If not, then I’m sorry for this overly long comment. It doesn’t apply to you.

              If you are, then LOVE GOD MORE THAN YOU LOVE YOUR SON. Because loving your son so much that you dismiss God’s Word and attempt to make it of non-effect to justify your son’s homosexuality is not going to help either of you. It’s not going to change His Word and it’s definitely not going to magically open heaven for admission to homosexuals (The Bible is clear about that too. It’s in the list.)

              Remember Abraham? He was willing to give up his son to God

              Remember David? He gave up his firstborn son by Bathsheba to God.

              Remember Christ? He told his followers if they weren’t willing to give up EVERYTHING, including father, mother, wife, CHILDREN, brethren and sisters, they could not be his followers.

              Instead of condoning what God condemns, pray your son all the way to salvation through Christ.

              I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be a Christian (if you are) and have a gay child, especially if you have one of those children that haven’t been molested or abused but just have those FEELINGS. A mother’s very first instinct is to love, nurture and most of all, PROTECT her child. But you’re not just a mother, you’re a Christian (if you are) and your duty is to Christ FIRST.

              I’m sorry if I came off as judgmental, but everything I said was pure Scripture. I can even provide chapter and verses. If that came off as being preachy than that cannot be helped, because God’s word is as sharp as a sword, piercing the heart in the same way. It’s going to strike and it’s going to hit hard… And considering how old I am, saying it’s preachy is a bit of a compliment even if it wasn’t intended as such.

              I hope that better explains my stance. Don’t think this means that I want to stone your son. That’s ridiculous. But I’m not going to call good and acceptable what God calls sin just because of who’s doing it.

              Also, I’m not your enemy. I don’t think I was rude to you, but if I was, I apologize. You don’t know me, so you can’t know how I interact and deal with gays. But it is indeed my belief that they have been deceived and it is indeed my belief that God can save them. Some people choose to deny God’s word, despite its clarity, because not-so-deep in their hearts is an all consuming fear that their loved ones will be hurt in this life, will be killed as part of a hate crime, or/and, that their loved one will go to hell.

              But your prayers can change thing. Be the intercessor for your child. I believe, no, I KNOW that the prayers of my grandmother still cover me. Cover your son. God can do miraculous and incredible things indeed. He can save anyone.

              Even your son.

              Be blessed, Ms. Julie

              Like

              • Julie permalink
                June 24, 2014 6:28 pm

                You and I will never agree. Yes, I’m a Christian who studied the historical context of the scriptures. I also personally know 2 people who attempted suicide because of the message they heard that is just like yours. I don’t accept that as God’s best. My conversation with you is over. You’ve demonstrated why many Christians are leaving the evangelical tone behind. I don’t want to turn Candace’s blog into a battleground. Good luck with your approach.

                Liked by 1 person

                • June 24, 2014 7:50 pm

                  I’m sorry they tried to commit suicide, but that’s what people do when they can’t cope. But guess what? There are many other people who are going through hell, that don’t try to kill themselves.

                  Is it not the same thing? Perhaps not, but please don’t use that to try to guilt me.

                  Won’t work.

                  God bless.

                  Like

              • June 24, 2014 7:38 pm

                Wow Petra that was hot. Enough I have not settled gay question biblically by my own and been instead in gay church service in my hometown once and got shocked by seeing my friends here i think it was too much what you said.

                Like

                • June 25, 2014 7:19 am

                  What? Please re-respond with more clarity please.

                  Like

                  • June 25, 2014 10:09 am

                    What I find interesting Petra, is that you are trying to defend your thoughts and actions in your beliefs that being gay is wrong and not a choice. You site many passage in the bible that you think admonish homosexuality. You clearly state that you lecture your gay friends about how their lifestyle is wrong. However, you clearly fail to acknowledge that god is the final judge. Which then makes you, clearly, a sinner.

                    Like

                    • June 25, 2014 12:50 pm

                      Wow… do you actually believe what you’re saying? Are you even listening to yourself? Did you READ the passages? I suppose the Bible and millions of other Christians are wrong and that we’ve been wrong in that clear understanding of the Scriptures since the dawn of Christianity’s inception.

                      Wow… a lot of Christians have gone to hell then.

                      I know I’m a sinner, we all are. The Bible says our righteousness is as filthy rags in His sight. So… I’m not quite sure what you thought you were doing by saying that. But good job for stating the obvious. Give yourself a pat on the back.

                      And of course God is the final judge. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to blatantly ignore the commandments He has SPECIFICALLY sat down in several different areas in the Bible through the WHOLE Bible. You can’t continuously sin and just think that God will understand. It’s call presumptuous sin. The Bible talks about that. Read Jeremiah and then tell me it isn’t so. Include Lamentation in that as well.

                      Regardless… the Bible is clear about homosexuality. Read my responses to other readers, because now I just feel like I’m talking to a brick wall or talking about the Bible to a light pole.

                      Everyone has been trying to convince me that I’m wrong, but no one has still been able to give me ANY Scripture supporting homosexuality, you all just come out of your faces with emotional bull crap based on your love for your friends, your family or people or whatever.

                      I’m not going to do this with another person. Read your Bible and not the King James version, because it’s making you guys crazy.

                      Toodles.

                      Like

  103. June 23, 2014 7:40 pm

    I was just thinking today that I’d love to write an article that is titled, “How I left the faith and how that’s not quite true” and then ran across this post from a friend’s facebook feed today. Thank you for your very articulate, insightful and encouraging thoughts!
    http://inotherwordspoetry.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/dis-unraveling/

    Like

  104. June 23, 2014 8:08 pm

    I would have done a pingback, but there was no option, thus an extremely long comment.

    I thought your post very interesting, but sad in a way too. I am a nondenominational Christian and as is our wont, we refer only to the Bible as our sacred text and we generally don’t have the level of … adherence to certain doctrine that many other bodies of Christianity does. I see that you believe that Jesus has led you from Evangelicalism and I think that’s fair. Jesus himself never stayed in one place too long, moving and progressing in his journey until Calvary. But to say that the Lord has led you support gay marriage is not Biblical.

    Let me go back: Women in the Church. The penchant of the more legalistic sects of Christianity to regulate women to secondary and tertiary positions in the church is ridiculous. As you mentioned, a lot of people ignore the cultural context of Biblical times and ignore the place that many women had in the Church even then, dismissing or being ignorant of the sometimes significant translation issues that make a passage say one thing in English but mean something completely different in the original Greek and Hebrew text. Your reasoning and frustration there is sound.

    Dealing with science and religion is another area wherein I understand your frustration, while not quite understanding your frustration. This is what I figure: What scientists don’t know about our world can fill up all the space in the Universe. They cannot cure cancer, they cannot figure out HOW the body knows when to engage in certain processes when it has no cues that they can detect, science can’t explain why the Sun’s atmosphere is hotter than its core, they can’t explain why 9 out of 10 people are right handed, they can’t even explain why the placebo effect works (I can tell them that, because FAITH works, mustard seed and all that).

    Science can’t explain the migration of species, generation after generation, to the same place without the aid of GPS (LOL), science cannot even tell us WHY we require sleep. They cannot understand the migration of Monarch Butterflies, why giraffes have long necks, the Moon Illusion, GRAVITY, HOW cats purr, how the center of the earth is as hot as the sun or why, in the early summer in the Great Smoky Mountains, thousands of fireflies begin to flash in unison. And that’s just the tip of the ice berg.

    And there’s one more thing that science can’t explain that I’ve thought about myself: Personality. Think about it. Humans are 99.99% the same genetically speaking. The measly .001% difference explains physical variations like skin color, hair color and eye color. But, according to the laws of nature, we’re basically CLONES of one another. FRUIT FLIES have more genetic variation within their species than humans. So, how is it possible that we’re basically physically identical, including our brains, but we are all DIFFERENT in our minds? How is personality even scientifically possible?

    Everyone knows the popular idiom: A person is insane when they do the same thing and expect different results. Well, guess what? PERSONALITY is basically doing the same thing and getting different results. Each and every time.

    Personality is INSANITY.

    That’s freaking MIND BOGGLING if you think about it.

    There are a limitless amount of things that science can’t explain, and it’s not even big stuff, it’s LITTLE EVERYDAY STUFF. Scientists and advocates of science would like the world to believe that they have everything on lock but that’s so far from the truth that it’s not funny. So, you understand why I’m definitely not going to allow scientific secularism to influence my faith. Now, of course, I’m not saying that science is bad or that we can’t accept common sense stuff about nature and the way it works. No, we CAN, but we must be careful to regulate it to its place.

    Science is not everything; as a matter of fact, in the grand scheme of things; it’s nothing. For anyone to base their lives off of the limited understanding of a few is foolish.

    P.S. There’s a reason why evolution is referred to as a “theory”. Everyone should look that word up. Just in case you don’t here are some synonyms: belief, hypothesis, assumption, hunch, dogma, conjecture. You get the picture. Even scientists wouldn’t dare call something like evolution, a premise that has more holes than swiss cheese, a LAW.

    On the other hand, to concede your point, I think it’s dangerous for the Church to try to dismiss things that they think would be hard for them to explain. God is not intimidated by the proclamations of the scientific community. The issues of our age are ones that we need to address in our churches because NOT doing so is what turns a lot of people away. One of the reasons is because people don’t read their $*U#*$ Bible! All the answers are there, but when people don’t read it, it’s easy to be swayed by the latest secular land mine. They say they’re Christians but have no true idea what they believe and have no real relationship with Christ. The Church must move in faith and believe that we are ALWAYS equipped, through the blood of Jesus Christ, to handle anything the world throws at us because at the beginning and end of the day, God’s worth is true and it will be revealed as such until Jesus returns for all his people.

    Now, for the big thing: Homosexuality.

    To put it plainly, the Bible calls it an abomination. There are very particular things in the Bible that God despises, but there is rarely a time when the Bible uses such strong language as it does when referring to homosexuality.

    It’s one thing to love people as Christ commanded, but when you start supporting people’s sin, you’re VEERING. That’s not God, that’s not Christ. The Bible says that we should love what God loves and hate what God hates.

    Don’t allow your love of people to blind you. The MOST important commandment FIRST is to love the the Lord your God with all your heart, and THEN to love your neighbor as yourself. You can love gays, and anyone who sins, frankly without supporting something that God has clearly labeled as sin. That’s like supporting adulterers in their adultery, murderers in their murdering and thieves in their thieving. And to put those behaviors under the banner that they were born that way or somehow predisposed to that behavior is a cop out that doesn’t work.

    It’s ALL sin to Christ and should be considered as such by any and every person who calls themselves a Christian.

    I’ve seen this with many people and it’s disturbing that so many Christians are turning away and ignoring God’s Word.

    The homosexual issue is confusing and confounding many because to hear some of the stories of homosexuals moves our heart to pity and sympathy for them. But it’s our job to keep the word pure by standing on God’s Word, not randomly deciding that it’s wrong or that, in your heart, Jesus is leading you elsewhere. Either you believe in His Word or you don’t. The Bible says that the Word cannot be added to or taken away from, it is whole and perfect in and of itself.

    It IS possible to have a serious conversation with them about your beliefs and still foster love and respect between you. I will never forget the day my mom talked to our hairdresser and his boyfriend. They were a gay couple that was both brought to our house by my older sister. Their visit turned into a 4 hour conversation wherein my mom respectfully asked questions and lovingly explained to them WHY she did not support their homosexuality, scientifically as well as per our faith, but she also made it clear that she still loved them. Those men LOVE my mother even today–the hairdresser gives my mother incredible discounts–because it’s possible to disagree with them but still love when Christ is in you.

    It’s our job to plant the seeds of righteousness and allow GOD to change their hearts, not to water down God’s word to satisfy our Western live-and-let-live sensibilities. You are sending mixed messages if you say you support gay marriage as a Christian. We’re supposed to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world. How useful are we if we lose our savor, if we’re put under a basket? We’re NOT, we’re USELESS. We remain relevant by keeping God’s standard firm, never allowing our ever changing society to move it.

    You sound like you might have a real problem with the way your church treated you and as a result, you’re now identifying with another group that is not being accepted and have taken that into your heart. Be careful of this trap. Unfortunately, there are times when the Church deviates from God’s Word, but that does not mean you have to. You give yourself time to discover the Scriptures yourself, rightly dividing the Word of Truth, and get yourself in order even if you have to find another church. But you don’t make God’s word of non-effect because of bad dealings with your Church body.

    As far as being born gay; that’s a phrase that so many people use to justify their lifestyles, but a person born with cerebral palsy, or a deformity doesn’t claim, “This is good because I was born this way!” You know why? Because that’s clearly an anomaly, a corruption of God’s plan for us as humans. It’s the same as homosexuality. It’s a deviation, an aberration of sexuality that He condemns numerous times in his Word, but can be conquered through supplication to the will of Jesus Christ. We ALL have our crosses to bear, but we take them up as Christians, and we FOLLOW Him. We do things HIS way, not our own. We crucify our flesh, lay down our wants so that He may live through us and so that we may represent Him the way HE wants.

    This is a cautionary tale. Take it the way you will. But I felt the Lord lay it on my heart to respond to your post. The best thing you can do in your walk is pray and ask God for guidance and to READ YOUR WORD.

    Pray and fast if you have to. Lock yourself up in your prayer closet (do evangelicals have those?) for however long you need, push away the outside world and the outside influences that plague you and seek GOD’S face about what you should do. Because sadly, it sounds as though you’re being led astray.

    I do pray that you truly take my suggestion as one sister in Christ to another and that the Lord truly reveals Himself to you and guide you in the way.

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 11:36 pm

      Wow, no matter how hard you try, you still come across as homophobic (and you did try). It pains me to read the amount of arguments that fellow christians put forth that do not recognise the realities of biblical canon. Homophobia, amongst other things, is something that we as christians will look back on with disgust and unbelief one-day.

      Liked by 2 people

      • June 24, 2014 10:29 am

        Homophobia is a word that holds no sting for me. It’s simply the popular indictment of the time that allows people to hide behind their banner of humanitarianism and shame those who don’t believe as they do.

        I’m not ashamed and I’m not impressed.

        If what you say is true, then God is homophobic as well. You know why? Because my words are not random thoughts that I pulled out of my head. This truth is straight from the Word of God. Look it up. You don’t have to believe me, I ENCOURAGE you to read the Scriptures and what it says about homosexuality.

        That you find anything wrong with what I said makes me doubt that you know your Word. That you think it’s wrong for me to say love them without supporting their sinful lifestyle makes me believe you are simply looking for a confrontation. That doesn’t intimidate me.

        We all have to live according to what we believe and according to our understanding of the Scriptures. I don’t know what you identify as religiously, but I am a Christian and until I die, God’s Word will reign supreme in my life, even in the face of principles that may be hard to swallow or are socially unpopular. And then, when I die, He can judge me knowing that in my heart, His Will was all that I ever wanted to do and that I did it to the best of my ability.

        I follow the Bible, I follow His Word. What do YOU follow?

        Remember, Mr. Dan: The Lord is not going to judge you for what others tell you, He’s going to judge you for what YOU do and don’t do and it’s all going to be based on the principles and precepts that He has commanded us to do and keep in the Bible.

        I dare one you or any Christian to find support for homosexuality in the Bible, to give me a specific example where the Lord said it was okay to do, similar to the specific examples that says that it’s NOT okay and is, in fact, abhorrent to the Lord. If so, I will change my stance in a heartbeat and ask God for forgiveness.

        If not, then you have created your own version of Christianity that is not, in fact, Christianity. At that point, it would behoove you to simply leave Christianity behind and embrace secularism because there is a particular judgement for those who call themselves Christians but misrepresent Christ; It’s called leading His sheep astray.

        I look forward to seeing your examples.

        Like

        • dan1234567 permalink
          June 24, 2014 5:27 pm

          Petra, unfortunately I can bearly read your posts without becoming both utterly staggered at the conclusions you come to and outraged by your justification of blatant stigmatisation. I realise we are all on a journey to be more christlike and I hope and pray that you find perspective to your views, views thay will based on intelligent and honest interpretation of scripture. May I recommend you read a book called Sacred Word, Broken word, by Kenton Sparks.

          Like

          • June 24, 2014 6:11 pm

            The only text I’m interested in is the Bible.

            But I’ve made my stance known.

            Like I said before, we must all live according to what we believe. And I believe that God’s Word is supreme. If it contradicts God’s Word, then it’s wrong, simple as that.

            Nothing will EVER change that.

            Be blessed, Mr. Dan.

            Like

    • June 24, 2014 3:13 pm

      Petra, I appreciate you taking the time to comment here, but I have to say: your responses are exactly what I was bucking against in my blog. Sure, you can tell me that I must not really understand the Bible, and I could lob that same critique back at you. However, neither of those things is going to change the other’s mind. Our challenge now is to learn how to speak to one another with kindness and compassion, listening to the other’s story, and finding common ground. I’m glad that you have a high view of the Bible. I believe I do too, I just interpret and understand it in a different light than you.

      If you choose to continue to comment here, I’d ask that you try to look for ways to speak with grace and humility. The “I follow the Bible, I follow His Word,” rhetoric implies that your interpretation of the Bible is the only correct one. Let’s try humility. Let’s maybe think about the possibility that we all could be wrong. How should we treat one another in light of that?

      Liked by 2 people

      • June 24, 2014 5:19 pm

        Oh! I’m so glad that you responded.

        Now, Candace, I believe I have spoken respectfully to you, but if you didn’t take it as such, then I apologize. Though, simply disagreeing with you does not qualify as disrespect because I do disagree with you. Greatly. So much so that I’m starting to believe that we have different Bibles.

        The issue of homosexuality is not a translation issue, it’s not an interpretation issue, it’s not even an understanding issue. It’s an ACCEPTANCE issue. That Bible is as clear as a bell on homosexuality. As a matter of fact, I don’t think it can get any clearer. Here are just a few Scriptures on homosexuality:

        Romans 1:18-32

        1 Corinthians 6:9-11

        Galatians 5:19

        Ephesians 5:3-7

        Colossians 3:5-7

        1 Timothy 1:10

        Titus: 1:16

        Jude 1:7

        Revelation 21:27

        And that’s just the NEW Testament. I didn’t even touch on any passages in the Old Testament. **Caution: The King James Version is Biblical canon (LOL), but it’s confusing to many. Old English is hard for anyone to grasp. This usually means that when people read their Bibles, they have no idea what the passage says, so … *Deep breath* It’s okay to use another version! *GASP!* I actually said that out loud. Hopefully the Lord won’t strike me with lightning. There’s a great site that allows you to cross reference several different version of the Scripture called the Bible Hub. **

        At this point, any Christian who refuses to acknowledge God’s stance on the issue is in self denial and is living in deliberate ignorance and disbelief which just won’t hold up when we stand before Him. The issue of homosexuality to Christ is not up for debate. It’s just not. It’s stark and open and direct. It’s nearly IMPOSSIBLE to misinterpret. Read any version of the Bible if you need to, they all say the same thing.

        God condemns homosexuality as sin.

        Point.

        Blank.

        You know what? It really makes me shake my head to hear people use that excuse, “We’re just interpreting it differently.” That doesn’t make sense. We all serve the same God, read the same Word, have the same Savior. God is not schizophrenic. There IS only one way. The Word actually says that. Jesus is the only way. Living the way God said, is the only way. Heck, He even said in His Word that He was coming back for ONE church. So … how the heck do you justify everyone having different interpretation and different understanding? How? There would be no unity. SOMEONE HAS TO BE WRONG.

        In such cases, we take it to the Scriptures and like I said before, the Scriptures are clear. So, I’m not understanding why you are holding on to your stance that it’s right and that Christ would nod in approval at your insistence on supporting gay marriage.

        How about this: I provided specific examples of the Bible condemning homosexuality. I now invite you to prove me wrong. Provide me with specific examples in Scripture to support your belief that homosexuality is acceptable to Christ. Because this is not a debate on personal feelings; this is about what His WORD says.

        That’s what we base our beliefs in, no? That’s the final answer, right? The end all to all ‘disagreements’. Prove me wrong. Show me scripture that supports it and I will concede immediately and ask the Lord for forgiveness.

        I look forward to reading your response.

        P.S. If I’m wrong? That’s where the love factor comes in. I gave you an example in my first response of how it’s possible to love gay people without supporting their lifestyle. They are not mutually exclusive. Your concerns are a non issue. Love covers our part with our neighbors who sin, obedience to God covers that and everything else with Christ.

        P.S.S. Let me make something clear: We are not enemies. This is not a pissing match. If we are both Christians, then we have the same Father, we are sisters. This is not about who’s right or wrong or who’s more knowledgable about the Scriptures. That’s nothing. This is about making sure that we KEEP GOD’S WORD. This is about making sure that we’re living our lives the way God wants.

        Ignore me and consider, for a moment, that the Lord may be trying to speak to you. I’ve taken your words with the same consideration. Rightly. Dividing. The. Word. Of. Truth.

        I’m asking you, as one Christian to another. Just … take a moment to look this stuff up. This is your burning bush. Please don’t ignore it.

        Like

        • June 24, 2014 5:44 pm

          Petra, hi there.

          I think it’s fascinating that you don’t believe people can interpret the bible in different ways.
          Biblical Scholars affirm two major interpretative differences in reading the bible, they are called Dictationism and Dynamicism. The former is the belief that the bible is literally the Word of God from His own mouth, thus all one big commandment. The latter is the belief that the people that wrote the bible took their inspiration from God, but their ideas bled through, and when looking to the scriptures you posted, I read them all again just so you know, and can quote the majority of them, it’s interesting that they were all written by mortal men, not spoken by Christ. I think it is completely possible that their own cultural identities, as most were jewish, took over and allowed them to take the ideas of Christ’s teaching, like staying away from sexual immorality, and turn them on their face to be a message against the homosexuals, especially in Rome, because they as people disagreed with the people committing these acts. As per your previous comment about it being an abomination, that is a reference from levitical law where God also calls eating shrimp an abomination, and also a man shaving his sideburns. I’m not saying your ideas are inherently wrong, they can indeed be true. Especially if you apply the ideas of ultimate truth in philosophy, namely this question about morals: Are morals set by the individual, a group of people, or is there one and only one moral code that is correct, or are there truly no such things as morals? If morals are determined by the individual, or even a group, then it is perfectly plausible for you and Candace to both be correct, just coming from differing worldview, and I think that is likely the most realistic answer here.

          I hope I don’t frustrate you with this, don’t feel as if I’m attacking you, or even picking sides. Here is a more in-depth explanation of the differences between biblical interpretation, specifically pertaining to your previous comments about science, and evolution.

          http://nicksmithischasinglions.blogspot.com/2014/02/biblical-interpretation-and-evolution.html

          Have a great day, all of you.

          Liked by 2 people

          • June 24, 2014 7:48 pm

            Hello, Mr. Smith. Thank you for responding. 🙂

            I’m going to try to make this short. I think it’s clear which one I believe in. I also think it’s clear that I do not believe that both Candace and I are correct. That’s a very American way to view things … your cultural upbringing is bleeding through! LOL.

            From the beginning to the end, the Bible has had a clear emphasis on purity: God is pure and does not know sin, thus the need for Jesus. It just makes sense that sexual morality–which is a theme seen throughout the Bible (which is written by different authors at different times, all who have not up and collaborated with one another to write it)–would be included under that banner.

            In this event, I’d think that the apostles would have the opposite type of trouble with cultural practice. Not accepting homosexuality in the hotbed of sin that was Rome just wouldn’t make sense if we were talking about culture bleeding through. If nothing else, that’s exactly the type of thing that SHOULD be showing up. Israel had a chronic losing battle with sin. So, even if most or all of the apostles were Jews, their penchant for worshipping false gods and adopting pagan practices would have shown up in the Scriptures, but it didn’t.

            The Bible has made it clear what is sexually acceptable to God and what is not, homosexuality and beastiality being some of the biggest ones not allowed.

            According to your stance, however, a person could pick and choose anything about the Bible they believe and go with that. After all, if some of it was, in fact, written by men and is NOT, in fact, divinely inspired, then it would be nothing to simply discard what I don’t like, right? It’s called cherry picking and it’s a cop out; a way for Americans to have their cake and eat it too.

            After all, if I can do that, then ANYTHING goes. It means that crucifying the flesh is unnecessary because, hey, it was inspired by Men, right? The part about homosexuality doesn’t sound right to my Western sensibilities. I’m going to ignore it. But I’m still a Christian! 🙂

            But you’re not.

            I cannot possibly imagine a worst slippery slope.

            When you become a Christian, you do so on the basis that the Word is true and divinely inspired. Those are things you accept, those are things you believe. If at anytime you start to doubt it and think that it’s wrong, you’re free to do that … just don’t call yourself a Christian. Divorce yourself from the Word of God, from Christianity and embrace whatever label best fits your worldview.

            If you want to support homosexual marriage then DO THAT, but don’t call yourself a Christian when the Bible, the Christian holy text, says that such is wrong and that such a lifestyle leads to hell. You either believe God’s Word and be a Christian in truth, or you don’t. You either stand on faith or you don’t. You either believe it, or you don’t. If you don’t, then move on, but if you DO, then be steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the Word of God.

            This watered down, lukewarm, Choose-Your-Own-Christian-path is crazy and something the Bible warns about. But I’m not surprised that people are subscribing to it. Anything to be allowed to do and believe what they want. So, no, I do not support that view of Christianity because it’s not, in fact, Christianity.

            Now, in the Old Testament, there were so many rules and regulations that it made my head spin. But … all that was done away when Christ came. The Bible says you can eat whatever you want … including PORK! *GASP* So that’s old. Under Jesus, we can eat anything we want. When Jesus came, he completely threw out the script. The whole point of abstaining from certain foods and certain practices before WAS to make Israel holy and PURE enough to stand before God, to worship Him.

            Basically, it took all that ritual and law for them to be presentable to Him. Enter Jesus, savior, redeemer, BRIDGE. He filled the gap between our uncleanliness and sin and God’s righteous purity and holiness. Suddenly, all the things that we needed to do before we no longer had need of. That’s why we don’t need priests and such anymore, because we now have a direct line to the Father through Jesus Christ.

            This is the basics of Christianity though. All Christians should know this.

            But … to answer your question, morality is determined by God and no one else. Whatever we do, if it happens to be good and moral, it’s because God has placed His law in all of our hearts and we just happened to get lucky.

            I believe in the Bible. Point Blank. I believe that it is the divinely inspired Word of God. Point Blank.

            You can take that to the bank, honey! LOL!

            That’s the basis of my argument. Anyone else can choose this pseudo-Christianity by picking and choosing what to believe. But if you’ve read the word, then it states that it cannot be added to OR TAKEN AWAY FROM.

            Point. Blank.

            I hope that answers your questions.

            Like

            • June 24, 2014 10:59 pm

              Arguing with you on Candace’ Blog is achieving quite literally nothing. I know my bible, and my Christ, and I believe you do too. I’m quite comfortable disagreeing with you, but not condemning your ideas. For all I know they could be right. They just don’t make any sense to me, and I think that’s ok. You live out your life in the faith of harshness and condemnation, and I’ll live my life in the faith of love and mercy and one day in heaven we can talk about it, hear each others stories. Differing views don’t have to cause separation, or competition. I just hope, one day, someone has a chance to open your mind a little bit. And if that never happens, that’s fine. Just try to love people like Christ loved them, no matter your ideas on who deserves heaven and who deserves hell.

              Love and Mercy Petra, have a great life.

              Like

              • June 25, 2014 7:19 am

                The harshness of condemnation?

                Right, because you know me so well and you obviously have a lock on Scripture and God’s intent.

                It’s funny, that how every time someone quotes Scripture which is supposed to be Christian’s manual for living, they’re judgmental and full of condemnation. Even though, you know, the Bible IS clear that judgment and condemnation will come if you don’t live according to God’s Word which is clear on the issue on homosexuality.

                No, I have a closed mind for staying true to my Word, right? For not allowing the philosophers and random writers of this world to lead me astray, right? For not COMPLETELY ignoring certain passages of Scripture that I don’t like, right?

                No one, has of yet, been able to dispute those Scriptures without making excuses that they may have been ‘inspired my Man’ (cop out), you said nothing about the slippery slope nature of cherry picking the Christian faith, no, you’d rather use a tired, completely dismissive sweeping cliche to ignore the validity of what I’ve said. You’d much rather wrap yourself in your humanitarian anything-is-allowed banner of so that you can glory and bathe in your own self-righteousness in your own mind.

                Our job is to keep the Word pure to the masses and it grieves me that so many Christians are not doing that. But … okay. The Bible said it would be so. The Bible has predicted all this foolishness.

                Anyway, you’re right. I’m not interested in continuing this conversation. I see what I’m dealing with. God will reveal who’s right and who’s wrong when it’s time.

                Toodles.

                Like

        • June 24, 2014 6:49 pm

          Petra – to consider your comment to me a “burning bush” is probably one of the more arrogant things I’ve heard recently. I will address your scriptural concerns in a late blog. Please follow along if you like.

          Like

          • June 24, 2014 7:52 pm

            Yeah, I thought the burning bush thing was a bit of a stretch myself, but I couldn’t resist. LOL.

            And yet … Doesn’t mean it’s untrue.

            But … I don’t think we have anymore to say to one another. You’ve chosen the Choose-Your-Own-Christianity path and I’ve chosen to believe the Word.

            Those two things cannot be reconciled.

            So, do what you feel you have to do.

            Like

            • June 25, 2014 1:44 pm

              Me thinks you’ve made the bible into an idol, Petra. There is a verse in there about that too…

              Liked by 1 person

              • June 25, 2014 5:53 pm

                Really? I’ve never come across it.

                Please point me to the verse.

                Thanks for commenting!

                (P.S. If the Bible is the Word of God, then your comment is ridiculous and doesn’t make sense. That would technically mean that God is my idol. But … okay.)

                Like

                • June 25, 2014 8:18 pm

                  Funny that you haven’t come across it. It is the first of the Ten Commandments. It says that you shouldn’t have any other gods before God, and yet that is exactly what many evangelicals have done (and what I experience in your responses to this post). They have either made a fourth god-head, or elevated scripture over the Spirit of God. But Jesus didn’t say that he was leaving and in his place he was sending a book, he said he was sending his Spirit who would lead us and teach us in all things. (John 14:26 if you are unfamiliar with it.)

                  So yes, I would rather follow Jesus by listening to His Spirit inside of my life, which was his promise, than follow a new set of doctrines and laws based on man’s interpretation, especially when much of the fruit from this brand of evangelism has been bad.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • June 25, 2014 9:43 pm

                    You know what? I applaud you. Your argument is new. Erroneous, but new.

                    That’s not a specific Scripture that warns against using the Bible or taking the Bible too seriously, this is an instance where you have taken a Scripture and twisted it to your needs. But, I haven’t seen it before so you do get points for that.

                    That would work if you did see the Bible as a flawed thing created by Man, a book that’s probably wrong. A lot of people like to use this argument, but if this is true, then there’s no use for Christianity. After all, how do you know which parts are true and which aren’t?

                    The Bible was given to us as a guide, and Christians became Christians with the understanding that it’s divinely inspired, that it’s God’s Words to Man.

                    I call what you’re doing cherry picking. I’ve seen it so many times; people pick and choose what they want to believe out of the Bible, claiming that the Holy Spirit led them elsewhere or to do something contradictory to His Word.

                    That the Bible is written by so many different people, but say the same things over and over, even though those people didn’t know one another, even though it was written in different times, in different areas is incredible. How could you not think it was divinely inspired?

                    As a matter of fact, how do you know that the ‘Spirit’ you’re listening to is Christ? Maybe it’s your own thoughts, your own sentiments, your own emotions. After all, isn’t that why you doubt the Bible? Because it was written by flawed Men? How can you trust that the voice you hear is genuinely the Lord? Please don’t say you feel it in your heart because the Bible says a lot about Man’s heart. But oh! Maybe I shouldn’t say that … you don’t believe in the Bible.

                    The Bible is extremely important because God realized from the beginning the need to provide us with a concrete standard. That’s why He gave the Ten Commandments on stone tablets because when it comes to rules and precepts, people need something tangible to feel and see. He knew that we would need it because all the time we can’t trust ourselves. We are so flawed and full of sin that even when we want to do good, we can’t. That’s in the Bible but … yeah you know, you don’t believe in it. Not really.

                    You know what, something I just realized? You guys don’t seem to think that God is capable of using Man to do His work. You guys seem to think that God is so weak, so powerless that He cannot have possibly prevented Man from putting His own crap in the Bible.

                    See, I don’t believe that.

                    I believe that doing so is child’s play for God because He is GOD. An omniscient, omnipotent, all powerful, alpha and omega sort of God.

                    In truth, we don’t need to continue this conversation.

                    I now understand what many people’s problem is: They don’t believe the Bible. That’s where we butt heads. I take the Bible seriously, base my morals and standards of living on it, but others don’t. I’m not sure how you can claim to be a Christian and not believe the Bible, but okay. I know people do things differently in this day and age, after all, it is the last days.

                    One thing I do want to say: Gay people are people. I think they should be treated with love and respect. I’m not advocating stoning them in the streets, or gathering them all and putting them in internment camps. I do not think they should be killed or have to walk in fear, or be harassed wherever they go because they ARE God’s children. I just refuse to condone their lifestyle as per the Word of God.

                    I am advocating that they change, that they turn away from something that God has clearly labeled as sin in the Bible and do things according to what God has laid down in His holy Word. I am saying that they should kill their flesh, allow themselves to die so that Christ can live within them.

                    If you don’t believe the Bible is God’s Word, God’s gift to Man, then say that. Don’t beat around the bush. Say that and we’ll part ways amicably because at that point, we basically have different beliefs.

                    You know what, though? You guys have really lifted my spirits. The Bible said that true Christians would be prosecuted for the Lord’s sake, that we would be reviled and hated for believing in His Word. All this opposition is confirmation to me that I’m on the right path.

                    So, I do thank you for that. Truly.

                    Have you been persecuted lately? Because true Christians should go through real hell.

                    Jesus was perfect, without sin, but they STILL crucified Him. They still hated His guts! A great deal of the apostles suffered horribly and that’s not to mention how they died. They were STABBED, SAWED IN HALF, FLAYED TO DEATH WITH A WHIP, CRUCIFIED, CRUCIFIED UPSIDE DOWN, STONED TO DEATH, SKINNED ALIVE, THROWN OFF THE TOP OF A TEMPLE, BURNED ALIVE, BOILED IN OIL, BEHEADED, TORTURED and all because of the cause of Christ.

                    That didn’t happen because they smiled in everyone’s face and told everyone what they wanted to hear. They made a lot of people very angry by what they were preaching, but they still refused to relent or to recant God’s Word.

                    If you’re the type of Christian that everyone loves, you’re doing something wrong.

                    But then again, this is all from the Bible. Disregard as you choose.

                    Like

                    • June 26, 2014 5:12 am

                      Petra,

                      You are probably right that this comment thread is not really worth continuing, but in case a reader is following who might benefit I offer two observations.
                      1) Christian history is full of evidence that people in different contexts have read the same Bible and understood it in very different ways, and the roots of this interpretation can often be seen in the cultural context. The current evangelical understanding of inerrancy is one such example with clear roots in the modernist worldview with its faith is rationalism and scientific argument. For any of us to see ourselves as simply reading the Word and following it, without our reading being influenced by our own context, is to ignore history. This is not a rejection of God’s omnipotence it is a recognition of how God has chosen to be experienced by God’s people.
                      2) I think it is dangerous to view “persecution” (especially if this means simply ridicule for or rejection of one’s beliefs) as evidence that one is on the “right” side. People on both sides of the Christian culture wars are ridiculed, and I can say from experience that having my faith rejected by other members of Christ’s body is much more painful than ridicule from the surrounding culture. I do not, however, consider myself persecuted nor do I think that is a requirement for faith. If there is anyone being persecuted, however, it is gay people, and in a particular way gay Christians.

                      Like

                    • Julie permalink
                      June 26, 2014 7:22 am

                      Thank you, Serena. Well said.

                      Like

                    • June 26, 2014 7:43 am

                      I’m done repeating myself, so forgive me if I don’t read your comment.

                      Please read my replies to other readers.

                      You’re wasting your time because I’m not going to change my mind and I’m obviously wasting my time as well because you guys are going by your own logic and take the Word into account only when you feel.

                      That’s not me.

                      Toodles.

                      Like

                • June 28, 2014 10:29 am

                  The Bible does not refer to itself as “The Word of God.” Only Jesus is “The Word” as described in John 1:1. I have been wondering when scripture started being referred to as “The Word of God.” Going to do some research…..the Bible, IMO, reveals the Word, but itself is not the Word of God. Only Jesus.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • June 28, 2014 11:32 am

                    Such an important point about Jesus being the Word, not the Bible. If your research turns anything up – please post it here. It would be great to know what your find about the origin of that shift in language.

                    Like

                  • June 28, 2014 8:33 pm

                    Only Jesus? What does that mean? If it means that you only listen to the words of Jesus, then you would fall into a certain group of people. I know someone like that. I don’t believe that, you see, because there are others who have important lessons to tell in the Bible. Jesus’ story is, without a doubt, THE most important, but it’s not the only one.

                    The Bible teaches us about our faith, is a full-circle type document that gives us everything we need to know about being Christians. It talks about who God is, what God has done, WHY He did it and what He will do in the future. It’s a manual, a testament to the things God has done, it’s ALL about God. So how could it not be relevant, not important?

                    As I said before, it’s His guide to us and every Christian became a Christian with that understanding. It’s only later that certain groups decided to disregard that in favor of their own “individual” interpretation. Truth is, Christianity should look the same WHEREVER you go. I went to a church in China and it felt the same as it did in the States because they believed the same things, worshipped the same way.

                    Everyone should not be believing something different. Everyone should be believing the same thing. It says that in the Bible. We all serve one God, one savior, have the same Bible and it’s in translations that we can now clearly understand. If people are using their own interpretations, it’s because they’re really don’t want to do what it’s saying and they’re looking to justify that.

                    Now, don’t get me wrong. Certain churches have different… emphasis. For instance, one church might place more emphasis on evangelism, one on prayer, one on hospitality and community service, but they ALL believe in the same core things, the same fundamental truths.

                    People like to dispute that the Bible is not, in fact, the final word. They will give all types of ‘logical’ reasons why it isn’t truthful, why it may be flawed when, upon boiling it all down, they simply don’t want to do what it says. But I’m not interested in that. It is God’s word, His gift to us and will be until the day I die.

                    But okay. I’m not going to make this long winded because I’m kind of over this topic. I’ve said all that I’m going to.

                    God bless.

                    Like

  105. Sroelit permalink
    June 23, 2014 8:09 pm

    I’m a teacher in a small town. Every year there are seniors who can talk of nothing but getting out of town–this once comfortable and protective place that has now become too restrictive, too limiting, and too familiar for them. Some of them make the town better when they leave. Some make the town better when they choose to stay or return. And sometimes the town is a little smaller, a little lonelier, and a little less of a town when they leave.
    Two things remain true: first, all of them take themselves with them wherever they go; second, how they remember the town of their childhood has more to do with their own personal perspectives than the town itself. All in all, it’s just part of the journey. When you’re on the boat, it feels like you’re in one place, but the river of life refuses to stand still and we are all whisked downstream as God draws us to Himself.

    Like

  106. Ellie and Brent Revert permalink
    June 23, 2014 8:24 pm

    We are 71 and 73—married 50 years–of strong faith. Presbyterians—USA. We will be watching what our church will do about the news of the new acceptance of samesex couples. We found your explanations very thought-provoking, and look forward to your future thoughts. You go girl!

    Liked by 1 person

  107. June 23, 2014 9:00 pm

    Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I stand with you. Grace and peace…

    Like

  108. Jordan permalink
    June 23, 2014 9:14 pm

    A thousand times, yes, Candace! My spirit echoes your words and they are like a salve to my loneliness. Having grown up and ministered extremely conservatively, this has been a long, rough road to redefining what my beliefs have evolved to. Thank you for your openness and transparency.

    Like

  109. June 23, 2014 9:17 pm

    we have not met but I wanted to thank you for being authentic

    Like

  110. June 23, 2014 9:29 pm

    Beautiful Post.

    Like

  111. Catie Coots permalink
    June 23, 2014 9:30 pm

    Wow: just really honest. Thank you for sharing, and for being so vulnerable and putting your faithfulness out there. May God bless you as you move forward, following Jesus all the way!

    Like

  112. Katrina permalink
    June 23, 2014 9:45 pm

    This is so awesome, and I walked a similar path as I navigated my way from an evangelical christian community in college, through seminary, and into the “real world”. God be with you on your journey, to learning the complexity of God’s extravagant grace, mercy and love in the world so misunderstood and underserved by the church universal. May God have mercy on us as we work through the meanings of our callings, and the mysteries of this faith.
    If you find a community of believers that walks humbly before God, is serious in their call to justice and improving the world they live in, and still has an awesome worship service, please do inform me. I’m on the search committee for such a place as well.
    Peace be with you!

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 9:54 pm

      Katrina – I’ve been blessed to be attending a UCC church in Colorado Springs. (Here’s their website: http://fcucc.org/) They do seem extravagantly hospitable and committed to justice. The worship service is lovely, but not necessarily what I am used to coming from evangelicalism (and was a worship leader with the lights and smoke and drums and awesomeness). However, the pastor is one of the best preachers I’ve ever heard, so that makes up for the pipe organ 😉

      You might also want to check into The Open Door Community in Northern Cali (http://www.abluedoor.com/).

      Like

  113. Gretchen Boettcher permalink
    June 23, 2014 9:49 pm

    Thank you for posting. You have written about what I have been putting off dealing with for the past 5 years. I was at church playing in the praise band when the light switch turned off in me. I quit going to church or even talking about my faith to anyone. I would play at different churches that asked me, but there was a huge disconnect. Yesterday I sat down to write what I believe. I ended up being interrupted and put down the iPad. I was setting up a blog but just couldn’t come up with a name for the blog. Reading your walk has given me bread for the journey. Thank you again.

    Like

    • June 23, 2014 9:57 pm

      I’m incredibly humbled by your story Gretchen. I am a worship leader and completely understand the lights going off phenomenon. Keep journeying. Keep seeking. Keep processing. And let me know when you get that blog set up. I would love to read your thoughts. Grace to you!

      Like

  114. June 23, 2014 10:57 pm

    Candace, Thanks for sharing. With the exception that I am male I could have written this blog and maybe I have in my head several times. I have tried to share my thoughts with those that are close and although they have not disagreed I think I will share what you have written as a better presentation of what i am trying to say. Thanks for putting onto the page what has been rolling around in my head.

    Like

  115. Bob Wallace permalink
    June 23, 2014 11:38 pm

    While I don’t agree with all your conclusions, I applaud your honesty and continued search. We all struggle with a complicated theology, and there’s lots of room for interpretation (or misinterpretation). Bottom line for me: I believe in God the Father almighty, and in Jesus Christ his son. I believe that he will come again to judge the quick and the dead. I assume he will judge us on our adherence to his word. Exactly what that means, I’m not sure, but I think we ignore it to our peril.

    bw

    Like

  116. June 23, 2014 11:40 pm

    So long as your process is defined by and centered in the incarnate deity as revealed in Christ, I’m going to be all for it.

    I consider your bold steps toward loving your neighbor a testimony of confidence in the grace of God rather than a reactionary movement away from an unloving religious standard. The discourse here is not an acquired liberal agenda, but instead the pursuit of Christlike love. It is not the rejection of Christ, it is the embrace of Good News: God’s not all that pissed off at humanity and has a better life for us than we have a shot at on our own.

    It is fundamentalism at its very best. It is offensive and risky. The path can lead to atheism if you take it too far, just as the path you are walking away from can lead to judging legalism when taken too far.

    The middle…The gray area…offends everyone – atheists and dogmatics alike, yet it is often the closest to the reconciliatory heart of the Father. Christianity needs those who hold the Church up to the rubric of Christ’s example and enumerate the differences.

    I wish you were coming up this weekend, but I’m sure you have some appearances scheduled for Good Morning America or some other such thing. I appreciate your authenticity and love you even though you’re a beezy sometimes.

    Like

  117. June 23, 2014 11:50 pm

    This was a wonderful read. Thank you so much for your openness in what I’m sure has been a rough decision to move forward with. I grew up in an evangelical church, and go to a Private Baptist University, and am neither baptist nor evangelical myself, so reading your journey, and your decisions, and your thoughts has been immensely encouraging. I’m planning on stopping by this blog every now and again to see how things are going for you!

    -Nick

    Like

  118. June 24, 2014 12:18 am

    Beautifully written, and such a needed perspective. Thanks for taking the time to put that together. You are not alone.

    Like

  119. June 24, 2014 12:36 am

    well, I don’t know what it is to be evangelical, so I can’t comment on that. Homosexuals are welcomed in Church, they are children of God like everyone else. However their relationships and “marriages” are not. It is clearly stated all through the bible. If you are a follower of Jesus, then follow what he has said about divorce and marriage. It’s pretty clear and concise that NO homosexual marriage or unions are to be permitted and is clearly against God’s creation. The Passage: “What God Has Joined Together…” (Mark 10:2-12)

    Listen to what we learn here from verse 1-9 of Mark 10:

    And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

    http://www.sermoncloud.com/way-of-grace-church/let-not-man-separate-mark-102-12/

    As for science, don’t put too much faith in scientists. Science explains nothing as to how the universe was created, how we were created, why we are here etc. Oh they’ll tell you how they THINK it was all done, but they have no clue either. Their theories and “evidences” change all the time. It’s not set in stone, cus they dont’ know. All science does when they do get it right is explain how God did it all. Did they not think God would use scientific laws to create life, did they think he used a magic wand. LOL You are foolish listening to the secular world. I dont’ know what religious classes you took, but you need better ones. I have been getting lessons through my church and I have been learning so much and I feel a veil being lifted from my eyes and I’m seeing the true evil of this world and how it’s working so very hard to shatter our faith and destroy God. Read Romans,you will see what it has to say about the homosexual community and how they are. Look at what they are doing and tell me the bible is lying about them. Believe it or not, there are plenty of physicists that believe in God, but the only ones that seem to get the lime light are the atheists, and I can’t imagine why.
    here’s few that believed–>http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/sciencefaith.html

    Here’s a gay man’s thoughts on why same sex marriage are wrong for society, children and families. http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/03/9432/

    I don’t think the universe nor the planet is 6000 yrs old, but this does make you think about some of the inconsistencies of science. hmmm take a read—->https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/age-of-the-universe/does-astronomy-confirm-a-young-universe/

    Like

  120. June 24, 2014 12:41 am

    I left the faith a number of years ago. So glad to see Christians split from what looks to me like fascist ideas. History can repeat itself; it’s still an option to NOT repeat terrors. I was brought up fundie conservative Bible Belt style. My last church was a UU church and I agree about politics there too… I’m political but belonging to a community should be about the people not alignments and allies. Too much loaded up in a central place in our lives. Those things could be secret ballots not such public points to amass or rankings to attain. I want friends of many persuasions and to welcome their unique humanity in with all others as I would welcome my own, to be heard and affectionately lovingly understood as part of the whole piece/peace. Differences should interest not frighten.

    I got out into the world not separate from it. And found people to be amazing … in a word. 🙂

    Thank you for your post.

    Like

  121. June 24, 2014 12:41 am

    Peace be with you, and I hope you enjoy the journey finding Christ in friend and stranger.

    Like

  122. akaterrie0077 permalink
    June 24, 2014 2:43 am

    Bravo! Thank you.

    Like

  123. Debbie Aylmer permalink
    June 24, 2014 4:34 am

    Like Moses, I often complain that I don’t have the words to speak what my heart and soul scream. You have so wonderfully put those screams into a language that is completely understandable. It is like you could hear the cries of my heart. Thank you. As a United Methodist Deaconess I work for love, justice, and service for all mankind (and at times animalkind) because I simply believe that’s all Jesus wants of us. To love, to be of service, to advocate justice for everyone, not just those who are “the right ones.” Thank you for your words. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    Like

  124. allen bovey permalink
    June 24, 2014 6:32 am

    Jesus, of course, would never lead you away from Absolute Truth. Our human nature to be loved by men is what tempts us to make compromises with Scriptural Truth. The Bible tells us people will hate us and despise us for standing for Truth….but it is the world’s false premise that says if we hate sin that we also hate the sinner. Jesus was kind to thieves, the sick, the lame, to prostitutes….but he also told them to “go and sin no more”. But to say that science theories trump the Truth of Scripture…is to say that you really don’t have faith in God or believe His Word…science has become your God. To say that “loving christianity” means we have to accept a re-definition of marriage is heresy to God’s command. No, Scripture reminds us that narrow is the path of truth, few there be that find it…wide is the path to destruction. If we all were able to define absolute truth as we wanted…truth would be contradicting itself everywhere….and no longer absolute…..and this totally contradicts the nature of God.

    Like

  125. June 24, 2014 8:08 am

    This is a beautiful post. I, too, grew up in a fundamentalist church only to find a home with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America as an adult – a church that supports marriage equality and stays out of the political sphere. I have long said that I have read the gospels and have never, ever found where Jesus preached the sermon on reproductive rights or the sermon on gay marriage. Yet, countless times, Jesus instructed his followers to love their neighbor, provide help to the poor and sick, and to encourage those who are downtrodden. If the evangelical community spent as much time tending to the core mission that Jesus DID preach as they do weighing in on conservative political hotbutton issues, the world would be a better place and Christianity would be held in higher regard in this country. I wish that all the money spent by Christian groups to lobby against marriage equality and reproductive rights could be spent instead on uplifting those in need and showing them Christ’s love.

    Thank you for writing much of what has been in my own heart for a long time.

    Like

  126. June 24, 2014 8:14 am

    Very nice post. I too am in a similar place though it is not evangelicalism that I am walking away form as I follow Jesus, it is the entire Christian label. I am struggling with it and wrote a very similar post back in April.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/2014/04/leaving-church-to-search-for-christ/

    Like

  127. June 24, 2014 8:31 am

    Really good! Ditto. I wish I could share this with a few people w/ sounding as judgmental as I feel they often come off.

    Like

  128. June 24, 2014 8:39 am

    Reblogged this on Jenna Redfield.

    Like

  129. June 24, 2014 8:45 am

    I cannot begin to put into words how I feel to know that I am not alone in this. Because I have been feeling very very alone. Of the friends I have talked to all but one thinks I am “overthinking” or “why does that matter”; The friend who does understand isn’t Christian. I am coming to the end of a course called Disciple, the aim of which is to make me a “better disciple”. It has had the opposite effect I think – certainly it is alienated me from evangelicalism. Thank you for your post. I will forward it to the friend who understands!

    Like

  130. gersula permalink
    June 24, 2014 8:47 am

    Thanks for writing. I am finding more and more people who are struggling with their evangelical upbringing once they end up more exposed to the greater world. It sure makes me feel not so alone. I felt especially relieved when the SBC Pastor Danny Cortez in LA confessed to his church that he had changed his mind on homosexuality. Coming out of running an SBC church this immediately made me feel safer, that again I wasn’t the only one from conservative Christianity questioning my beliefs. Just as the church ended up on the wrong side of slavery and segregation I don’t want to do that with the LGBTQ issue.

    I recently attended a dialogue at The Refuge in Broomfield which is of the low key churchplant style and is run by evangelical and progressive pastors who blatantly disagree on issues. Their hope and dream is that in a single church there could be unity but not uniformity. It was really fascinating and called into question my ability to love Christians who I deeply disagree with, to maintain community because of the essentials and treat all believers as brothers and sisters in Christ. That idea probably terrifies me more than showing mercy, compassion or love to those forced outside of the evangelical community.

    P.S. You should add a button to follow your blog. I am much better at reading stuff that comes to my inbox than clicking on blogs randomly or keeping up with twitter.

    Like

    • June 24, 2014 3:22 pm

      Thanks for commenting Gersula. I’ll have to check out The Refuge as I’m just south of Broomfield in Colorado Springs!

      If you have a wordpress blog it should be easy to follow my blog, but I’ll look into what’s going on in the back end to see if I can add something else! Thanks!

      Like

  131. Phillip Potter permalink
    June 24, 2014 9:53 am

    Thank you for sharing. I have been feeling more and more saddened as friends, who call themselves Christians, act less and less like Christ.

    Like

  132. Teryle Blustein permalink
    June 24, 2014 11:25 am

    I know personally and literally where you are coming from and I am so thrilled that God is revealing these things to you at such a young age…it took me well into my 60’s to awaken and for the same reasons as you. I have to thank in many ways my adult kids, 3 out of 4 of whom do not even affiliate themselves with religion, for helping me expand and rethink and find Truth. May I recommend a book? I think it will validate your thinking and perhaps move you further into your relationship with God. It’s IMMORTAL DIAMOND BY Richard Rohr. I think you may find him very interesting. Richard is a Franciscan priest, philosopher, theologian…and so much more.
    (Part of my journey has been becoming Catholic…I finally feel at home when I worship.)

    Like

  133. June 24, 2014 11:39 am

    There are so many of us leaving evangelicalism. We worked for Campus Crusade for over a decade, and I know we shocked and horrified many when we “came out” of evangelicalism earlier this year for many of the same reasons. It gets to a point where you just can’t take it anymore. I think you sum it up so nicely “intentionally err on the side of more inclusion, acceptance, and generosity. I really can’t imagine Jesus saying to me, “You were too kind and loving and you didn’t put your foot down enough…”

    We’ve found a lovely little emergent church where the only thing truly frowned upon is exclusion and LGBT members are respected peers and not a punchline. I hope you can find a spiritual community that fits for you. It’s such a relief!

    Liked by 1 person

  134. Keith permalink
    June 24, 2014 11:58 am

    Hi, Candace –
    Thanks for speaking up. What a journey we’re all on, yeah? I don’t usually post to blogs but sensed importance in sharing what I’m experiencing so far on this road, Evangelicalism or no. So please read my soft and open heart in this exploration written out below:

    I really struggle with stepping away from the universal possibility for all LGBTQ brothers and sisters to experience sexual wholeness in complete unity with the physical body, either female or male, designed for each one. My whole childhood and young adult life was wrought with the conundrum of sexual identity. I couldn’t ever put a finger on it until very recently why I felt so strongly about aligning my inner life with my male physique. Is it cultural? Am I forcing myself to try to be fully man when maybe I’m a transgender mix? How do I walk this out?

    My wife and I have overcome in the past 17 years some astonishing odds to see Jesus shine a light on things drawing us closer and closer as a married man and woman. We’ve also seen first hand the spiritual entities that twist and mess with human sexuality (which can be very brutal). They have names, are very real, and want nothing more than to destroy precious people God deeply loves.

    Among all this we’ve emerged somehow at something kind of like “the other side”, although that sounds too resolved for our current state. What we agree on is that, for whatever reason, God has given me a means to adopt my entire being as male, based on something like obedience/compliance with my whole person: spirit, soul and male body. Stepping away from the absolutes that comfort me, however, I dared over this past year to try to understand others’ views of someone like me. Not adopting a strong political view, because I don’t believe Jesus submits to the social structures we create – institutions at least inspired by him, but nonetheless severely lacking – I freed myself to sit down objectively in both American camps. This is what I discovered: a “Conservative” Christian might call me a man saved by the power of Jesus to be free of the constraints of a homosexual lifestyle, while a “Liberal” lover of Jesus might say I’m transgender electing a monogamous relationship with a woman. My wife leaning more “left” of middle, and me more “right”, we’ve settled at this point that respecting both views seems to work for us, because we’re after Jesus’s definition of identities, not our own.

    That said, we’re on differing views regarding our precious friends – those gay or wholly supportive of people living that way of life. I can’t wait to find out how God walks us through this one, but it’s no doubt based in absolute LOVE for all people, just like we’ve always aimed. My wife is coming to conclusion as you are expressing here. I, on the other hand – I think due mostly to my own story of what I call escape from the tyranny of homosexuality – grieve the increasing loss of opportunity my fellow LGBTQ friends and neighbors have to elect what I’ve discovered for myself as freedom to choose my manhood as I believe God has designed in me through and through. I want very much to believe – without demands, that is – that all of us labeled LGBTQ have a chance at this way of life – to be wholly male or female – by the choosing – bending, as it were, however impossible it may seem, to let Jesus align one’s whole person with the physical gender he made for each one. God loves making the impossible possible, and he’s given me exactly that.

    The question on the table for me now is how do I appropriately serve in community with all my friends and neighbors who don’t see the way I’ve found as possible – or even right? So, there I am standing with my wife in the process with you. Bless you on your road, friend. Thank you, again, for offering this platform to think through it together.

    Like

    • June 24, 2014 12:55 pm

      Keith – I am so grateful you shared a piece of your story here. It is a journey we are all on. I think you have perfectly expressed the grace and patience and humility it takes for us to love each other and ourselves fully. Much love and hope to you and your wife as you continue to wrestle and journey and explore. You are loved and cared for and there is space for both of your stories.

      Like

  135. June 24, 2014 12:27 pm

    Thank you for sharing your journey. It is good to know about it. As theologician i really liked your sayings about using the biblical context in right way and your faith statements were good.

    Like

  136. June 24, 2014 1:08 pm

    Good, and interesting, blog post coming from someone who can relate – sort of. I am a political conservative who was never an Evangelical but who married one. These issues were and are a big part of our shared faith. As an Episcopalian, I can definitely relate to how you feel regarding the co-opting of a church by political issues as the Episcopal Church has often been called the Democratic Part of Prayer. Since many of our fellow Episcopalians and the church’s teachings run in contrast with many of our political beliefs, it is sometimes a struggle to figure out where we fit. However, at the base of it all is a love of Jesus and His teachings…so it all works out in the end.

    Like

  137. Bart permalink
    June 24, 2014 2:10 pm

    I do love the comments that are being posted here. Amazingly, no hate or defensive is shone. Thanks for sharing thoughts I have never even discovered yet?

    Like

  138. Murray lutzer permalink
    June 24, 2014 4:06 pm

    What is Jesus leading you to? Do you still go to church ?

    Like

    • June 24, 2014 4:31 pm

      Like I said in my Statement of Faith, community is very important to me. I have found a church that I am attending regularly that’s in the United Church of Christ/Congregationalist tradition. They are welcoming and hospitable to me on my journey.

      More than that though, I have been intentionally creating new relationships and cultivating old ones with those that see me and hear me. This community has been such an incredible joy to me.

      Like

  139. Sarah permalink
    June 24, 2014 4:20 pm

    Profound honest and inspiring. Peace and blessings on your path.

    Liked by 1 person

  140. June 24, 2014 5:33 pm

    Candace,

    This post is obviously very popular, which shows me a lot of people feel the way that you do. I would consider myself a conservative evangelical. I consider myself a historical- grammatical reader of scripture. This meaning that I find the authors original meaning. I would also consider the Scriptures inerrant.More than all this, I would consider myself a follower of Christ.

    We obviously have differences. I believe we have some similarities as well. .For instance, I see the constant association with the republican party overdone. Scripture is not about a political movement. Christ was not a seditionist. His intent was not political. Evangelicals tend to mix politics and religion way to often. I believe we could also state that the Bible is the standard. We may look at it differently, but it is the standard.

    If the Bible is the standard, I would simply ask for a blog that tackles this issue with scripture, rather than experiences. This is not saying that experiences are bad, but they are not the standard. You made some strong statements about women in scripture, how God views the LBGT community, and how scripture is to be interpreted. You did all this, with little scripture. Therefore, all of these opinions are based on how you have felt. It seems that you have a responsibility as a person of influence to give scriptural information to back your statements.

    You have a platform. That is an amazing thing. It seems as if people listen to you, read your material, and are influenced by your opinions. I am simply asking for you to present your claims with time and effort spent in Scripture. Personally, I believe you will run into some problems with your claims. Prove me wrong. Ultimately, let Scripture be the standard. Do not let culture be the standard. Culture, the world, will constantly hate believers(John 15:18). Allow yourself to just sit in scripture. Psalm 119:97- “O, how I love your law, it is my meditation all the day.” Until believers present Scripture with their claims, it will be hard for liberals, conservatives, or any type of people to have productive conversations.

    Like

    • June 24, 2014 7:03 pm

      Justin – I do appreciate your comments here and your very thoughtful and kind questions. Like I stated in the early paragraphs of this blog, I will be writing a more thorough exploration of my position on LGBTQ rights, both in a political and religious sense. Your questions will be answered there. I welcome you to journey with me on that.

      I would like some clarification of some terms you used. Inerrant: how do you use and understand this term? Is the Bible without error in its original language in the very first manuscripts (that we don’t have access to)? Is it without error in certain translations? What does the word error mean in your context? That every word written is a prescription for human/Christian life or that the lessons contained in the Bible are truthful and useful for human life as we work towards understanding the revelation of God?

      Here’s another random question: I’ve noticed that many biblical literalists use the word Christ to describe Jesus. Why? What does it accomplish in its use that the name Jesus does not?

      Your answers and further questions will help me shape my next posts! If you are willing to stay in conversation I would much appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 24, 2014 8:37 pm

        I will look forward to addressing the issues when you present your next blog.

        First, I would go to 2 Timothy 3:16, which states, “All Scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”

        Matthew 5:18- “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the law, until all is accomplished.

        I will quote much more intelligent men than I for the word “inerrant.”

        “The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.”

        Grudem

        “Most disastrous consequences must follow upon our believing that anything false is found in the sacred books: that is to say that the men by whom the Scripture has been give to us and committed to writing, did not put down in these books anything false. If you once admit into such a high sanctuary of authority one false statement, there will not be left a single sentence of those books, which if appearing to any one difficult in practice or hard to believe, may not be the same fatal rule be explained away as a statement, in which, intentionally, the author declared what was not true”

        Augustine

        “Free from every stain or defect”
        “The inerring certainty”
        “Infallible Word of God.”

        Calvin

        I hope these definitions helped. I would state that the original authors were without error and inspired by God. The versions we have today are certainly close to the original. The meaning of the text that we have is not distorted. I believe we should constantly pursue to go “ad fontes.” This simply means “to the sources.”

        There has been a recent trend that the communities interpret the scripture. A group can get together and decide what they believe the text to mean. Therefore, truth is at the beholder. Ultimately, man creates truth. In my opinion, this is where we have fallen. Truth is what Scripture says to be truth. Not man.

        Addressing the “Jesus” question. I do not intentionally do that. Although, many clarify “Christ” or “Jesus Christ” to explain that they believe in the Messiah/Deity that is Jesus and not just the historical Jesus. That would be my best guess.

        I hope this answers some questions!

        Like

        • June 25, 2014 8:27 pm

          Also,

          If you do not mind me asking, It seems that many in your position use the word “journey”…we’re in this journey together….or, I’m excited to hear about your journey. Do you believe this to be, dare I say, Liberal talk, or is this simply an unintentional way of explaining how you’ve made it to the point that you are? I’m wondering if there is any intentionality behind it?

          Attempting to understand. 🙂

          Like

  141. lakedewey permalink
    June 24, 2014 8:12 pm

    As far as I know….God is God. He is who I believe in forever. I am not sure about the whole bible thing, never read it. Jesus watches over me and my family without the word of the bible. Never could understand that. Father, Son and Holy Ghost/Spirit. That is all I need to know.

    Like

  142. June 24, 2014 8:19 pm

    Well said! I’m impressed and inspired by your journey. Thank you for being willing to ask hard questions and not just let go of faith completely. I think questioning and wrestling with what we believe is just as important as believing in the first place.

    I also think there are scriptures that have been misused against the LGBTQ community. I applaud those who are reading it through a historical lens and working to reconcile those passages, and I actually think it’s easier to do than many anticipate. The Christian community has a long way to go to become the inclusive church we so often proclaim, but with thoughts like yours circulating, my heart feels a bit more hope.

    I look forward to your future posts.

    Like

  143. June 24, 2014 9:12 pm

    I found your post via a link on Defeating the Dragons and I must say that I agree with you on all your points. My journey has been different than yours, but I think we are both going to the same place.

    I was immersed in the Mormon Church when, at roughly twelve years of age, I made the conscious choice to stand with Christ, wherever He was. Holding to that decision has led me, step by step, out of Mormonism, and out of most -isms completely. I do not regret that choice. It was, quite simply, the first choice that I had ever consciously made of my own free will.

    Now that choice is leading me out of any form of complementarianism entirely. I can no longer bring myself to believe that God can countenance any limitations on who He can and cannot call to lead. I cannot believe that the husband is the automatic “head of the household” or that a marriage *must* be limited to one cisgender man and one cisgender woman.

    I find myself dreaming of a community church where “sunday service” is simply a potluck supper where everyone gathers as a family to eat and talk and simply enjoy each others presence… no preaching, no lectures, no hierarchy. I want that sense of community so much that it’s a physical ache sometimes… but this is the Bible Belt… and it’s just a dream.

    Thank you for your words. It helps to know that I’m not alone in this journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 24, 2014 10:11 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing a part of your story. You are heard and welcome here. What part of the Bible belt are you in? I know there’s got to be someone looking for similar community. Or has already found it or created it and would love for you to join. Or maybe that’s the next part of your journey…creating a space for people like us: wanderers and vagabonds and sojourners.

      Like

      • June 24, 2014 10:27 pm

        I’m in the backwoods of East Texas and I’m afraid that the type of community I would want to be part of would NOT be the sort of community that my husband and in-laws would approve of. My husband is one of those who firmly believes in the complementary position and when I tried to explain these thoughts that I’m starting to have, all I got was a lecture about how I’m “wrong” and about how he wants me to stop reading “those blogs”.

        I dream of a village sometimes, when my mind wanders. A place for artists of all types where the houses are as much works of art as they are functional. Like the dome house or the cordwood house… building styles that don’t take a lot of engineering to make work but that are easy for a community to fashion if they’re willing to work together.

        If anything I wonder if I’m being nudged in the direction of being a guide-in-faith. I don’t like the term “preacher” because I don’t like the whole hierarchical aspect to it. What I’m feeling is much closer to being the nurturer of a community. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been almost universally declared the “mother figure” of some board or another. I’m a storyteller and a dreamer and a philosopher by nature… maybe the proper term is Christian Shaman? I don’t know.

        I just know that where I am now… I can’t do what it is that I seem to yearn to do, but finding a way out is more difficult than it seems.

        Like

        • June 24, 2014 10:33 pm

          I love your vision. It’s beautiful. Don’t let go of that.

          I am truly sorry that you don’t feel that you can pursue that community right now. Keep hanging out with us here. Please feel free to email me (yes, it’s scary giving out my email address in this forum) anytime. candace dot datz at gmail dot com.

          I just had a friend who lives in East Texas text me today to tell me that they’re in a similar journey. You are not alone even in East Texas!

          Liked by 1 person

  144. David Bateman permalink
    June 25, 2014 8:59 am

    Hi Candace,
    Thanks for your thoughtful and honest piece. I, too, have struggled with all of the issues you have addressed. I was raised with Church doctrines and was actively evangelical by college as a part of the Jesus Movement in the early seventies, brow beating people to Christ for their own good. When my conflicts arose (including coming out), I knew the truth of my own experience and rather than abandon my beliefs, I stepped back and did the research to put the doctrines into proper historical perspective, including lost Gospels such as Thomas and Mary, and the development of the early church and the selection of which books and letters to include in the “official” version of the Bible.
    It all came down to this. I call myself a Christian, not a Paulian or a Mosesian. So I studied what Jesus had to say. (as much as has been handed down to us)

    Seems He was not an ISM or an IAN, quite the opposite, He was about unconditional love and kindness and mercy who accepted everyone. (ISMs are about Us vs.The Other)
    He was about connectedness and inclusion and forgiveness (even of ourselves).
    I saw who He hung out with and what he had to say about the Romans and Pharisees.
    I saw his response to the money changers in the Temple, and his response to violence in the Garden.

    His message is simple and clear and LOVE covers it all.

    The Church has exchanged His values for secular ones.
    What happened to “LOVE your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
    What happened to “Judge not, lest ye be judged…” (“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”)
    WE are supposed to be the body of Christ, the living expression of God’s love, not some institution that tells you what to believe and think based on the “authorized” version.
    So, bravo Candace, for having the courage to trust your heart and that small voice in you encouraging you to seek God’s truth and not that of the self serving Pharisees. Relax and let God lead you to the spiritual community that best expresses His love for you. He is a God of the present, living and loving, not old cultural rules, limitation and judgement.
    YOUR example may offer others the courage to trust God over doctrines and judgement.
    Thank you and God bless you on your journey.
    Love, Dave

    Like

  145. Catholic Girl permalink
    June 25, 2014 11:55 am

    I just wanted to remind everyone, not every denomination believes in phony science. Growing up in Catholic school, I didn’t even know until public high school that taking the Bible literally was a thing. I thought people were joking about that until I realized they were actually, genuinely serious. Whoops.
    Personally, if I had been brought up in a denomination promoting creationism or such, I probably would be atheist today. But since my Catholic school spent a lot of money on having really good science labs and taught correct science, I grew up attributing my science knowledge to the Church and am both a science major and an active Christian today.

    Liked by 1 person

  146. Hillary permalink
    June 25, 2014 12:16 pm

    Candace,

    I don’t want to leave a super long reply, but I just wanted to say I think your post is awesome! Kudos to you for being bold enough to share something that many of us are thinking but don’t have the words to write it as eloquently as you. Thanks! Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  147. Andrea permalink
    June 25, 2014 1:34 pm

    Reblogged this on Mommy Manifesto and commented:
    This woman reached into my brain and pulled out my thoughts. Love her perspective and her bravery. It’s through her that I speak my position on these controversial topics in today’s Church.

    Like

  148. bornh permalink
    June 25, 2014 3:20 pm

    It is refreshing to hear a lot of the ideas that I have been grappling with over the past few years as a fellow Christian. I thank the Lord also for your honesty and openness, Candace. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

    Like

  149. Terry permalink
    June 25, 2014 7:09 pm

    It’s not Jesus, but organized religion in the world that caused us pause….and mistakenly drives us from The Lord. The hypocrisy of ‘religion’ is pathetic. Follow The Lord, or Budda, or whoever you follow for your heart and never for others or their belief. This saddens me.

    Like

  150. June 25, 2014 9:15 pm

    It seems many of us are on the same journey! It’s scary and wonderful all at the same time….

    Like

  151. Ben permalink
    June 26, 2014 3:30 pm

    In John 1:14, it says Jesus was “Full of Grace and Truth.” One way to sum up your stance seems to be that you would rather err on the side of showing too much Grace and not enough Truth rather than vice versa.

    What would you say to those who value Truth over Grace? Obviously, most post-moderns like me and you would probably value Grace over Truth, but what about other generations and cultures who would value Truth over Grace?

    Why not make it your stance to try to be full of both like Jesus was, instead of settling for being strong in one and weak in another?

    One thing I think of is how when Jesus was pinned down by the Pharisees, when people were trying to make him err one way or another, he was able to find the creative third option that no one else saw coming. And amazingly he remained in the fullness of Grace and Truth. What if we strived to follow Jesus with that creative third option? I think of some contemporary examples, like maybe Shane Claiborne or Carl Medearis.

    I’m not saying I’ve figured out the perfect balance. There are many times when I’ve erred on one side or another. I just wanted to contribute some food for thought and see what you think about this.

    Like

  152. June 26, 2014 8:42 pm

    I love your motto – the short and the long of it! 🙂 It sums up what I think, and how I try to live, too.

    Like

  153. June 26, 2014 10:03 pm

    I am dealing with these same issues Candace, I have been trying to figure out how to deal with the concepts of so many things that the Church has become bitter and hateful in. I too was disgusted by the actions of Evangelicalism in response to World Vision and have been desperately trying to wade through these and so many other issues.

    A question for you, have you read Matthew Vines new book, God and the Gay Christian? it is an intriguing book and one you might want to read. I am working on a reply to it in my blog and I would recommend Checking out Preston Sprinkles response, but the conversation is well worth having, and one that the Church has been failing in miserably.

    Like

  154. FETS permalink
    June 27, 2014 10:08 pm

    Enjoyed what you wrote. It is encouraging to see and read about people who are waking up to the problems with Evangelicalism.
    I was abused by an Evangelical starting at age twelve untill I left town for college, but when I would go home and run into this person the abuse would begin, like I never left. All because this person hated the religion I was being raised in. This person was a coward for going after a defenceless kid. My parents did not believe me. So yes, I have issues with Evangelicalism. I studied it. It makes me glad when people see the problems with Evangelicalism and leave it.
    Good luck on your new journey. I hope you find new happiness wherever you may go.
    Thank you.

    Like

  155. June 28, 2014 3:57 pm

    Whether or not I agree with your views, I am delighted that you are seeking God for yourself. I believe that it is the task of each generation to seek Him out for themselves, rather than just accept what is passed on by tradition or what is the current “flavour” of Christianity. My path is somewhat different as I seek to restore the Jewishness of Jesus to our understanding of what He taught. I am in no position to make a short statement on my theological views, but if you are interested, more can be found on my website: http://www.peshatbooks.com

    Like

  156. Lydia permalink
    June 29, 2014 12:17 pm

    Wow. Unbelievable. I think this is the first time I’ve ever commented on a blog for someone I didn’t know. Candace; this post didn’t necessarily change me… but encouraged the lonely thoughts I’ve been having on Christianity. I’m a Pastors Daughter and my sister is a Pastor. I grew up in CA and lived in LA where I studied Acting for 10 years. I have so many Gay and Lesbian friends and have wrestled between “secular” and “church” my entire life. My husband and I have moved to the Springs this past February and the transition has been tough. Church “hopping” and “fitting in” (lots of quote marks) hasn’t been the easiest because of many issues I have found in a lot of church doctrine. It’s amazing what you can find on the Church’s websites about Woman in Leadership, or Gay and Lesbian “culture”. Its honestly sickens me. I love Jesus. Not as well as I should but without any doubts, he is my maker and leader. I never want to blindly follow Man’s interpretation of God, but my hearts interpretation as it looks to Him for guidance. Thank you. Thank you form the bottom of my heart. Your words are straight from a genuine and faith-filled place. I would seriously love to connect if you are still residing in the Springs. Feel free to email me! I love coffee:) lydialdorsey@gmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

  157. June 30, 2014 8:58 am

    Candace, thanks for sharing your journey. I have been on a similar journey for a little while now, feeling the same as you on many of those issues: marriage equality, LGBT, biblical literalism… And the last straw came when my church made a ministry decision that didn’t take into account the people actually serving in the ministry. It was the last in a line of decisions and positions that felt like it put church politics above the actual people serving in the church. Since we decided we needed to find another church now, we also felt like it’s time to find a church that also aligns more with what we believe. It’s easy to keep going to the same church you grew up in because it’s familiar. But it’s not who we are anymore. And it’s been a struggle, but we are now officially out of the evangelical church, looking for something new, a new way to follow Jesus that seems more inclusive and compassionate and service/community-oriented. Thanks for the blog, and I look forward to reading more!

    Like

  158. July 1, 2014 10:08 pm

    I do not call myself by any label other than a follower of Jesus. It’s a trap, and Jesus spoke against it. All that to say, our church is part of the Restoration Movement and has this under it’s statement of beliefs, followed by the Apostle’s Creed:

    Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent.
    In essentials, unity; in opinions, liberty; and in all things, love.
    We are not the only Christians, but we are Christians only.
    No creed but Christ.

    This has been the most freeing thing for me because while I may disagree with you personally, it really should have no baring on my treatment of others. I don’t need special labels, and once I was able to throw those aside, I felt like I could breathe. I grew up Wesleyan, served in a couple Baptist churches after college, became Catholic, compromised with hubs by going to the Lutheran Church, and *finally* landed home where we are now. I no longer have to fit in a neat box (because I just don’t), and it’s ok. I just want to follow Jesus and be a light to this hurting world.

    And I think many, many, many in our country are “getting it”. I am thankful for books like “Radical”, “7”, “Dear Church”, etc.

    Like

  159. July 9, 2014 11:24 am

    I’m rather amazed at the echo chamber here. Almost everyone agrees with you, a clear enough sign that there isn’t very much thinking taking place.

    So allow me to be the dog at this fire-hydrant show.

    Your reasoning is sound–but a correctly reasoned conclusion cannot follow from a faulty premise. Two things stand out in your plaintive and heartfelt words. First is this critical assumption:

    “Finally, the LGBTQ issue. This is a change that largely came during my time at Colorado College. Attending a secular liberal arts college afforded me the opportunity to be around a population where I was able to interact with more from the queer community than ever before. I know many of my right-wing friends will tell me that just because you have friends who are sinners doesn’t mean you have to justify their sin. Well sure. However, I came to understand that my friends were not gay because they chose it or because they had been molested or any of the other things that I had heard growing up. It was because they were gay.”

    Sin is, as you so correctly note, about a choice in favor of evil. If sexual urges leave no room for choice, it is logical to conclude that sexual sin isn’t possible. But herein lies the structural flaw in your logic, for to believe in Jesus–and by extension to believe in Him as the Logos, God’s divine plan for the cosmos–is to also believe in choice as part of our being. For the Christian, choices are ALWAYS present, and because of this, sin is always a possible result from choices gone wrong.

    Further than this, however, is the fact that because Christianity believes that choice is part of our being, choice CANNOT be eliminated. You may not wish it away from our created nature, simply because you dislike the possibility that your preferences might be classified as a sin. This is called wish-fulfillment, and there’s an oversupply of that item on today’s market.

    Even in the darkest days of the Nazi concentration camps, when human bodies and mortal minds were close to becoming the pure instruments of another’s will, Viktor Frankl held on to his Godly Image by realizing that even under the worst conditions, choice was still possible. Can you imagine having every aspect of your inner and outer life controlled for years on end, and still managing to hang on to God’s Image? The only explanation is that choice is possible–even under the conditions of history’s most organized attempt to extinguish it.

    The heterosexual urge felt by a husband for women other than his wife does not have to play out in his actions. He has choices to make, all of which are sinful except for the one where he maintains his fidelity. For the Christian, the animal urge never has the final say.
    Because God is a composite of perfect justice and perfect mercy, and because all of us favor one of these dispositions, we are always in danger of slipping into absurdity. I tend to be too just in my disposition–I need to be opposed by mercy in order to find balance and more nearly perfect God’s Image.

    That brings me to a second observation: You, tenderhearted and merciful as you are, need to find balance in God’s justice and see it as a co-equal and deeply worthy part of God’s Image. To forget justice would be to slip into your own variety of absurdity. And this appears to be exactly where you and most of the commentators on this blog have arrived.

    There are many reasons why homosexuality has no future, scripturally, rationally, and biologically. The most important reason of all, however, is that the homosexual urge does not remove choice, does not obviate our God-given power to choose what is good over and against what is evil. Indeed, to think of one’s self as a Christian is to conclude that choice is an ineradicable part of one’s created being, and because of it, to accept the possibility of sin. A Christian who didn’t believe in sin would be a chimera and a walking oxymoron. It could even lead to an absurd conclusion, such as the possibility that all sexual urges could be both incarnational and sinless. At some point, however, you’ll be needing to add more letters to “LGBTQ” to cover the diseased imagination of a sinless world. At some point in the future, you’ll need to expand the alphabet to accommodate future urges yet imagined. (It all began as “LGB” but soon expanded. Current discussions are underway to add an additional “I,” “2,” “O,” “A,” “TA,” “P,” “H,” and “O,” as well as a few extra Qs and Ts.) But of course it won’t stop there, will it? Without sin, why should it?

    Without sin, what would be the point of Christian faith or sacrifice in anything, including your sexual practices? Without sin, what would be the point of disturbing your Sunday morning slumber?

    But this is exactly the conclusion that many modern people have reached, and it shows up in church attendance. Your faith, Candace, such as it is, is a very thin veneer without justice. I doubt very much whether your children will embrace it, for they will see its absurdity and come to the logical conclusion that a sinless world eliminates the necessity for redemption, or for a church that preaches it.

    Your reaction to evangelicalism is an overreaction.

    Neither you nor many of your commentators want to hear this, but that begs the question, when has it ever been good for us to get everything we want?

    I often don’t care for God’s justice myself, because it doesn’t give me latitude to follow my animal urge and do what I want to do. It holds me to a higher standard.

    And it is that higher standard from which so many in our broken world wish to escape.
    Evangelicalism certainly has its own absurdities, but you can’t cure them by swinging the pendulum into an equal and opposite absurdity.

    Like

    • Bob Boden permalink
      July 9, 2014 2:53 pm

      I am so surprised that much of this focus on this blog is on the guy issue. As a former evangelical the problems are the stance against gays and so many other issues. I think you would find many supporting guns, capital punishment and on it goes. Few talk about the words of Christ but quote Paul and the Old testament. These sources have been a problem for me for many years.

      Like

      • John Stanga permalink
        July 9, 2014 5:23 pm

        For what it’s worth, homosexuality isn’t the issue–it’s the epiphenomenal froth floating on top of the stew. The fire that is cooking the stew and causing it to bubble is the most ancient of all fires–the desire to be God rather than His Image. Hence the justification for creating one’s own faith rather than submit to the higher standard of Christ.

        Like

    • July 9, 2014 9:23 pm

      Very well said, John Stanga, and I agree with you entirely, well except for your definition of sin which I consider too narrow. One metaphor I like is that life is like the entrance hall where we prepare ourselves to be in the presence of God. Our goal is to sanctify ourselves as best we can ever mindful that our best efforts will be forever inadequate, But that is what God wants of us – our best efforts to please Him in accordance with His Will. On that basis, we can define “sin” as any action or inaction that is incompatible with that goal, i.e. anything that does not please God. In that regard, it is our responsibility to not only love and obey commandments, but to develop and strengthen our character, without making excuses for ourselves including seeking to define our own faith.
      However, I will seemingly contradict myself and assert that we must own our own faith instead of simply borrowing it from others including our parents and any particular Christian denomination. Each generation must find God for themselves lest their faith is little better than the faith we have in the knowledge we acquire in school. That means we must study Scripture objectively and be prepared to question interpretations that appear unsound. Our questioning must be answered not by personal preference, but by studying the contrary views of others until we tease out the truth for ourselves, arriving at conclusions to which we are prepared to commit. One can lose a lot of friends that way, challenging tradition and doctrine, but I am confident that God welcomes those who seek Him with an open and pure heart, irrespective of whether others would label them as heretics or as they have me, “on a slide to spiritual oblivion.” God wants a personal relationship with each of us, which requires each of us to seek Him out for ourselves, but our seeking must be diligent and intellectually honest without succumbing to baseless opinions or non-acceptance of the sovereignty of God. Humbly, you may sample some of my thinking here: http://www.peshatbooks.com

      Like

Trackbacks

  1. New Stepping Stones | Life Outside the Goldfish Bowl
  2. What Happens When You Follow Jesus and He Leads You Out of Evangelicalism?  φ CANDACE DATZ | Soul Emergence Radio with Peter E. Matthews
  3. Existing awesomely | In The Shadow Of The Spire
  4. What Happens When You Follow Jesus and He Leads You Out of Evangelicalism? | At the Threshold

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