“Quitting Christianity in the name of Christ”

Here is a link to a very good article from Rubel Shelly on author Anne Rice’s public announcement about quitting Christianity in the name of Jesus Christ (see the article at this link: http://rubelshelly.faithsite.com/content.asp?CID=20291&SID=72).

Whether you agree with Rice’s decision or not, I believe Shelly’s article helps us see why there is a growing trend of people (especially the emerging generation) who see a glaring difference between Jesus Christ and those in North America claiming to be followers of Jesus…or to put it another way, they see institutional Christianity as a foe while seeing Jesus as a friend.  Recent books such as Dan Kimball’s “They Like Jesus But Not the Church” and Lyons & Kinnaman “Unchristian”. And lest we become to quick at raising our defense…I realize that perception and reality are not the same.  But I also know that there is always some truth to the perception.

I think its time once again for followers of Jesus to ask once again what Jesus meant when he extended the invitation to “follow me.” 

10 responses to ““Quitting Christianity in the name of Christ”

  1. even if reality and perception are not the same, we can’t sit idle and throw up our hands about people’s false perceptions, we must live and love in a way to break through those perceptions.

    and, don’t forget to bring my bible tonight

  2. Shelby’s response is very short-sighted. I understand the fad of the day is to speak ill of the Bride of Christ, and at times and in some ways criticism toward those who profess to be Christians in the visible church is warranted, but to compare what she wrote to an OT prophet, John the Baptist and even Jesus is a bit of a stretch. I’m not for burning Rice at the stake or anything, but taking her words hook line and sinker is hardly being honest.

    I think Driscoll gives a pretty even-handed response here: http://ow.ly/2pqUh

    Grace to you –
    Jr

    • Jr.,

      First, let me say that I don’t agree with everything about Rice’s decision. No matter how bad and ugly God’s people can become, God never gives up on his people (though they may give up on him) and therefore we should not either. If we embrace God’s mercy why should we not extend it to other’s…including those in the church? Not only that, people who want to leave what they perceive to be a problem often fail to realize how much they too are part of the problem. Leaving does not typically sovle anything. And I agree with Discroll that one cannot have Christ without the church.

      Having said that, I don’t think Shelly’s reflections are short sighted. While I am sure that Rice holds some moral/ethical views that I do not hold nor believe to be biblical, there is still the fact that there is some truth (perhaps a lot of truth) to the perception that there are many Christians whose may have sound moral/ethical beliefs but seem to spew a very ugly contempt for those who do not share their views. To that end, her decision may prove to have a very prophetic result if it will help more Christians realize that we must demonstrate our love in tangible ways to even those with whom their is disagreement. What comes to my mind is the story of Jesus, Simon, and the sinful woman (Lk 7.36-50). If Rice’s decision will cause a few more Christians to cease being the Simon’s of this world and start being more like Jesus to the “sinful women” of this world (which, just as with Jesus, does not require an affirmation of immoral/unethical behavior), then her actions may prove to have a very prophetic function.

      Any ways, thanks for sharing the Discroll link as that gives whatever readers stopping by hear another perspective.

      Grace and peace,

      Rex

  3. Sorry, Shelly, not Shelby. Ugh, edit.

  4. Hi Bro Rex,

    I don’t know where Rubel Shelly is going with this, but it makes me very uncomfortable. If he is talking about all that goes on in the name of “Christianity” he is absolutely right. The problem with Ann Rice, is that she has not done her research, and sorted out truth from non-truth. She should ask more questions, and search for good answers.

    Her comments about “science” and Christianity makes that obvious, that she has not done her homework. I love God’s Word, and I love the church of Christ. Yes; we need to be loving, sensitive, kind and such, and patient, –but in no way should we compromise the Word of God. If I had the opportunity, I would love to have an ongoing study with Ann Rice, the same as I patiently do with unbelievers –or people who just do not understand, or haven’t found anyone with good answers. — all over the Internet. In no way can I defend the Catholic Church, nor can I justify and condone what is sinful, according to Scripture. Jesus told us to be the “salt” and the “light” of the world, –not be conformed to the darkness. Ann Rice also does not seem to understand the truth about the Word of God; the early church and such. Nor does anyone understand when they think that God’s Word does not apply to modern times. Without realizing it, she wants to bring Jesus down to her own level, to create Jesus in her own image, or to her own intellect. Was Ann Rice there when?…. Does she see the big picture as God?

    Also, I do not believe it is wise to attempt to change our worship services. Please realize that we are the church of Christ. Yes! –There really is only one true church.. It is clearly obvious to me that we desperately need Elders at the Randolph church of Christ. And where we have been lacking is in evangelism. I am expecting that you will help us to that end. When we DO get to the point of doing that, it is very important that we have a good strong base to bring people to, such as at Worship Services. Our services need to remain strong and carried out in an orderly fashion. We need strong studies in the true Word of God. Stirring things up, or making a lot of changes, seems to be an attempt to solve a problem that does not exist at Randolph.. We at the Randolph church of Christ already love God, and we love His Word, and we love true Christianity. We do not go through motions for naught at worship services.

    I have been around. I think I have probably seen it all. People have to work, and raise and support their families. Where do you want to take us? Have you ever heard of the “Crossroads Church of Christ, started in Gainsville, Fla.? I got a taste of that, back in the late 60’s and 70’s, and learned a lot out of it, about what happens when young people, or others, think they need to re-vamp the church. Are you aware of how Jonestown began? David Karesh, and other cults? How about the Jahova Witnesses,? Or Mormons? The Catholic Church? All of those Protestant Denominations, all teaching different things, and building their own religions, all following after men with their own ideas, or women, –such as Mary Baker Eddy, and persuasions away from the foundation lain out for us in the early church, in the New Testament.

    More about Elders. If this generation thinks that they have outgrown the need for biblical elders; don’t they realize that after they are through with changing, compromising, and diluting the church, –and then later become elders themselves, –that the new and younger generation, their own children, will have come to believe that the older generation is irrelevant to their generation also? Remember what Jesus said about building our home on a strong and solid foundation… Jesus Christ, the gospel, the Kingdom, is the “Rock,” –and no one else.

    Well, you can see that I am strong in my faith; and that is the way I see it at 4:am Sat. August 14, 2010. I couldn’t sleep before sending my thoughts. God bless 😎 –dc

    • Don,

      I am not sure how to respond here. I don’t think this is the best forum for discussing matters at the Randolph CoC.

      Any ways, I am not sure why Rubel Shelly’s article makes you uncomfortable? He is simply trying to point that people who are seeking God (wherever they are at on that journey) are turning away from the churches claiming to represent/embody the way of God because these people see more hatred and injustice than they do love and mercy. The problem he is trying to expose is not one in which any church fellowship/denomination is immune from. I am thankful that I don’t see such hate filed rhetoric among the Randolph CoC but I have served in another CoC where such rhetoric (especially to the poor and ethnic minorities) existed. So Churches of Christ (the majority of the audience Shelly is writing to) are not immune. I believe it is entirely possible for Christians to disagree with a persons moral/ethical behavior and still treat that person in a loving and merciful way as Jesus Christ did…and that is all Rubel Shelly desires, that we treat people as Jesus did (and even treats us).

      Grace and peace,

      Rex

      • ‘Sorry Rex, You are right in all you say here in your reply to me. It sounded to me that he was advocating, in a round about way, that we should compromise God’s Word. I think I made it clear that this does not mean that we should judge or hate anyone, but on the contrary to be compassionate and caring, and loving (not sexually). I myself am not gay, but I believe it is just as difficult for me, being single not to sin, than it would be for a gay person not to indulge in homosexual sex.
        We all fall short; that is why we need the grace that God freely offers us, but at least we have a solid foundation and goal to stive for as best we can. That is what repentance is all about. We do not deliberately and apathetically ignore what Jesus taught –for fear of hurting someone’s feelings– by we show them what the scriptures say about something. When I say things like, “I cannot defend the Catholic Church,” that does not mean that I hate Catholics, or even the Catholic Church, protestant denominations, other religions or whatever. The point is, that many many people I study with in sharing the truth, is that they think that these organizations are the true church and represent true “Christianity.” What do you say to an unbeliever, such as Ann Rice, when they point out all the atrocities done by “Christians,” during the Crusades, the KKK, and so much of what goes on even today in the name of “Christianity.” Do I hate the young Muslims who flew into the Twin Towers, on 9-11? NO; what I hate is the evil, the anti-Christ, the force responsible for teaching them Satanic lies about God, and his will. God bless, –dc

  5. The Reader Philip Ben Marston

    Protestants have always been at war with the Incarnational aspects of Jesus in the Church.
    The Church is both visible and invisible, and while an organism, has institutionality as a part of its skeleton and is what makes the on-going ministry of Jesus in the earth through the Church both human and divine.
    I have spent much of my life overcoming the judgmental arrogance that judged the Catholic history of my supposed superior contemporary faith , and then judged the contemporary Christians for their lack of zeal, and so on ad infinitum.
    Part of the love that Christ calls us to is loving and praying for those who seem to us unspiritual, for it is very hard to tell immature wheat from immature tares.

    The history of opposing the insitutional because of lacks of perfection has been an endless succession of schism that approaches mortal sin (using the Catholic idea).
    Incarnation. Incarnation. Incarnation. We are saved by the whole Jesus, human and institutional, and Divine and communicated to the heart, not just the spiritual Jesus. Such theology will blend Christians quickly into New Age apostacy and the embrace of the anti-Christ.
    Wage war against the Institution and you must necessarily attack Scripture which was, after all, canonized by Institutional Bishops in regional gatherings. Deconstruct,deconstruct,deconstruct. Lord have mercy.

    • Ben,

      That is a great response. In an earlier part of my life, I believed that the church of Jesus Christ basically became apostate in the 2nd century. That view has certainly changed the more I read about Christian history. I certainly don’t agree with every decision that has been made by the historical church but every Christian who reads scripture bennefits from the faith of the historical church who, by the providential power and wisdom of God, preserved and passaed along the scriptures we cherish as a truthful witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

      And you comment about it being “very hard to tell immature wheat from immature tares” is so true. My fellowship has a history of wanting to separate the wheat from the weeds through agumentative debates and condemning rhetoric wherever disagreement is found (which assumed that it was always the other who was in error) and in doing so, my fear is that wheat has been destroyed.

      Grace and peace,

      Rex

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