It’s often assumed that I’ve lost my passion and enthusiasm for Christianity – that I’ve lost my love for the church and the Bible – that I’ve allowed bitterness, negativity, and anger to consume me. It’s even assumed that I may want to destroy the church. All this is because I speak openly about my doubts and encourage others to do so. I’ve made it clear that I don’t believe the Bible is perfect . . . not even close. I’m critical of the church and some of its traditional teachings. But the fact is that I feel more passionate about Christianity and the Gospel than ever before. I think I love the church more now than ever before.
Sometimes I marvel at how little I’ve actually changed since my fundamentalist days. I’m just as driven and passionate about Christianity now as I was then, although for some different reasons. I’m still that 21 year-old kid who played drums in a Christian punk band and would grab the mic after our set and preach a fiery sermon against complacent Christianity. While I no longer preach fire and brimstone, I’m just as passionate now as I was then about my faith. In fact, I would say I’m more committed to the idea of love, justice, non-violence, and truth-telling than ever before. And yes, my understanding of Jesus and the Bible has everything to do with that! So why does anyone assume I hate God, church, or the Bible?
On one hand it’s understandable. Usually, when people protest or critique something as much as I do it means they’ve rejected it entirely. So I get the confusion. However, I also think people must know that I’m deeply invested in Christianity since I’m a pastor. So what gives? Why the assumption otherwise? My theory is that some are projecting and scapegoating. It’s a defense mechanism because my theological shift is causing them to wrestle with their own repressed anxieties and doubts. It’s easier to discredit me and my ideas when you can chalk it all up to hate and anger. It’s easier to ignore what I’m saying if it can be explained away as an overreaction – hell hath no fury like a scorned devotee. Perhaps! But for me and many others in what’s called progressive/post modern/emergent/radical Christianity, we are just as passionate as ever about our faith and we see what we’re doing as deeply faithful to the core of Jesus’ teachings.