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Posts Tagged ‘puritans’

So in one of last month’s posts, I mentioned a youth conference where several classmates and I served as college leaders. It was not exactly a positive experience. We encountered blatant homophobia, as detailed in my previous post. Other messages included prosperity gospel, anti-evolutionism, women’s sexual disinterest and men’s sexual enslavement, and consumerism. It left many of us in the group feeling dejected and agitated. This was not the church as we envisioned it.

 

In our frustrated conversations that weekend, all the questions boiled down to one: reform from within or abandon ship? In other words, is Christianity worth reclaiming or should we start from square one, uncorrupted? It reminded me of the various Puritan sects in England at the turn of the seventeenth century. Some of them advocated for complete separation from Anglicanism while others said that they were called to heal the church. The way to heal was to stay, to shine as the holy minority within. Separation, the latter group argued, would be akin to chopping off a healthy hand to save it from the body’s infection.

 

Obviously I’m inclined to heal from within, seeing as how I plan to be ordained as a United Methodist. But I understand my friends’ leanings as well. Sometimes it seems that American Christianity has fallen so far that it can never climb back up. As Walter Brueggemann might say, we’ve been assimilated into the culture instead of standing as its alternative. A very wise professor from Duke Divinity once told me that too many Christians put fish on the back of their cars while living the same as everybody else. I’ve certainly been guilty of that. What else could explain my fear of speaking to the homeless woman camped outside my apartment building? Radical Christianity exists in isolated pockets these days.

 

Still, I am too much of an optimist to not believe that with God all things are possible. God is remaking the world every day with or without me. I want to be included in His great project. I still believe that God’s grace can redeem the church, restore it to what Christ imagined when he appointed Peter. I’m praying hard.

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