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Disillusionments of Belief

My perennial blog hero Michael Spenser has posted on The Unresolved Tensions of Evangelicalism, outlining many of the areas of popular Christianity that I’ve had difficulties resolving my own integrity in: Maintaining an utterly biblical worldview, the necessity of experience as “proof” of faith, Christianity’s piss-poor job in general at creating and fostering life-giving community, and the tendency of all of this to progress to an abandonment of Christian commitment, though not necessarily of faith in God.

Though all four tensions have been part of my story recently, the abandonment of Christian commitment seems to be an area that hasn’t been given much voice within the community of those who still consider themselves committed to God. Bring up the subject at all and there will be someone in the room who won’t be able to keep themselves from doubting your salvation. But what this tension encompasses in my experience has been the shedding of extraneous beliefs, ones which identify me more with Christian culture than with Christ, as well as the burdens of imperatives and spiritual measuring sticks that drive the “counter-cultural” Christian movement. Spencer comments,

Evangelicals like to act as if they are involved in a battle of belief systems, but many of the disillusioned are simply jettisoning what, they believe, is too much belief. They are not so much rejecting evangelicalism as they are reducing Christianity to a far “humbler” expression of personal faith experience. They believe that a religion that is telling people who to vote for and how often to have sex is claiming too much.

This “far ‘humbler’ expression” is what I find myself in, however self-affirming it may be to hear it called humble. I would have said “understated,” as my practice of faith is not currently one I find necessary to uncomfortably work into otherwise unrelated conversations, or to broadcast with bumper stickers, lawn signs or t-shirts. I am currently one who, paraphrasing Spencer again, calls himself a Christian only when pressed to distinguish himself from other kinds of commitments.

I had been considering this period of my life as bereft of spiritual development. Until recent years I could put my finger on the areas and ways I was growing spiritually, challenging and being challenged; lately I havent’ been able to tell you where my growth edge is. I think what has happened though is that I had thrown myself so completely into spiritual development that now that I’ve stopped all the things I had been told to believe or wanted to believe have dropped off and the things I actually believe have begun to catch up with me.

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