heretic [her-i-tik] 1. a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church. 2. anyone who doesn’t conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle. synonyms: apostate, backslider, recreant, dissenter, skeptic, freethinker. (those made me laugh!)
my post up at rachel held evans’ blog last week–insecure christians–got some great comments, both positive ones & negative ones. the negative ones tended to come from the perspective that by me saying there is something good in us (because we are originally created in the image of God) that it somehow devalues the work of Christ in our lives. i’m personally so confused by this fear, that if we have even a little bit of good in us, it somehow untangles the whole rest of the story. to me, it enhances the Story and the work of God in this beautiful, messed up world. it doesn’t dismiss the power of sin and the reality of its presence in each of us from the moment we step into this Genesis 3 world. but it isn’t our starting place.
and i guess sometimes these i-honestly-don’t-think-they’re-all-that-crazy-when-you-read-the-gospels ideas make me a heretic.
i’m called one now and then.
and for the most part i always take it as a compliment.
it’s part of the cost of being a dreamer, lover, and status-quo rocker.
honestly, if believing that there’s some shred of good in every human being because we were created in God’s image makes me a heretic, then yep, I guess i am.
if thinking that even though we are full of brokenness, we are also beautiful no matter what we believe makes me a heretic, then yep, I guess I am.
if holding that women should be fully equal with men and free to lead fully and completely in whatever way God is calling them to lead makes me a heretic, then yep, I guess I am.
if refusing to build entire oppressive & mean systems of belief about homosexuality based on a few passages in the Bible and loving my gay friends freely & fully makes me a heretic, then yep, I guess I am.
if valuing practicing the ways of Jesus over nitpicking about doctrine makes me a heretic, then yep, i guess i am.
if being convinced that it’s possible that men and women can be true brothers & sisters & soul friends without all kinds of sexual weirdness and fear makes me a heretic, then yep, i guess i am.
if passionately believing that a lot of the modern church has been built on power, put-togetherness & serving itself instead of extending the tangible love of Jesus & restoring dignity to hurting people makes me a heretic, then yep, i guess i am.
if loving & valuing the Bible without making it more important than the wild-and-mysterious-Holy-Spirit-at-work-in-people’s-lives makes me a heretic, then yep, i guess i am.
i have a feeling a lot of you are heretics, too!
it can feel scary & lonely to be a heretic. i experienced the weirdest feeling when i was reading some of those comments over at rachel’s blog–a feeling of being an outsider. of being someone who no longer is part of a system that many still ascribe to and i used to fully embrace. it was mildly painful on a weird level but a huge relief on another. i respect the beliefs of some of the commenters and our differences; the world needs all different shapes & sizes of christianity. but it made it even more apparent how “out” of those particular traditional evangelical circles i really am.
i live in a different more grace & hope-filled world than ever before and i love it.
i have tasted “goodness in the land of the living” (psalm 27:13, i love that psalm) and there’s no turning back.
i do not want to raise my kids in the former system i was in & i don’t want them to believe that being a miserable wretch is their primary starting place. they, like most human beings, will probably have the same basic reflex toward shame and somehow feeling like they are falling short despite all their efforts. what i would like for them, for me, and for all-those-i-know-who-struggle-with-believing-they-are-worthy-of-anything-good to know is we are loved fully and completely by God just as we are–in all our mess & all our glory, in all our goodness & all our badness, in all our strength & all our weakness, all our beauty & all our ugliness–no matter what small or big faith we might have.
yep, i guess i’m a heretic.