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I finally did it. I left Evangelicalism and became an Exvangelical. As some people might say, I'm wandering in the post-evangelical wilderness. I was born and raised Southern Baptist, the largest of the Evangelical denominations, then, except for a short stint in the conservative PCA, I've been in smaller Evangelical churches, predominantly the Evangelical Free Church of America. So, it's a big change.

It wasn't an easy choice. The core of my theology remains unchanged, but the points of difference have become too much. Yes, there are some issues with our particular Evangelical church, but I've been struggling with the wider Evangelical world for several years. I've become more progressive, but Evangelicalism has become more conservative and political. The gap is too wide.

I can't sign on to biblical inerrancy. The Bible is a 2000 year old text that comes to us from many sources. It is certainly not meant to be read literally. And there are numerous places where it contradicts itself. That doesn't mean that it's not true or that it can't be trusted. It just means that we have to read it with our eyes open and ready to study the history and culture in which it was originally written. And when it's read and studied that way, it's the rich and beautiful word of God that is one piece of our Christian faith.

Evangelicals have lost the culture wars. And probably should have never fought them. I read a really good book called To Change the World : The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. The author's thesis is that changes in culture occur from the top down and not from the bottom up and that Christians are called to be a "faithful presence" in our decidedly post-Christian society. I agree. Jesus wants us to love people and share the Gospel, not worry about whether TV is "clean" enough. We have enough work to do without trying to change the behavior of people who don't claim the name of Jesus.

Conservative politics and Evangelicalism have become hand in glove. And Evangelicals like the political power that they've discovered. That is not the way of Jesus, even if it manages to get Roe v. Wade overturned. Evangelicals have become happy to look the other way on absolutely despicable and ungodly behavior in order to get into the halls of governmental power. The way of Jesus is the way of humility. I can no longer be part of a religious group that will set aside Jesus' plain teachings for government officials to pay lip service to our sacred cows.

There are very few Evangelical churches that will consider that gays and lesbians can have a place in God's family. My daughter is bisexual; one of my "foster daughters" is gay and married. I've studied the issue and it's clear that God loves these women and accepts their sexuality as much as he does any heterosexual. I thought I could be OK in a church where homosexuality was believed to be sinful, but I can't. One's sexuality and gender identity aren't just tacked onto our personalities; they are integral parts of who we are. If we can't accept them with their sexuality as God's loving creation, then we're telling God that his creation isn't good.

These are just the biggest reasons that I've had to leave my childhood religious home. I wasn't sure what we were going to do at first, but we've found a soft place to land at the local Presbyterian church (PCUSA). The theology is sound, the gospel is preached, it's within walking distance, and Patrick and I are well-loved. Of course, I will always be able to walk with Jesus, but it's nice to find comfortable place to worship that's close to home. God is good.

Catherine

 

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