Unfortunately, the Onion gets it right again, I’m afraid.
When I was a fundamentalist many years ago, I would hear negative media reports about Christians and think, “What’s wrong with us? We’re perfectly nice people! Super friendly. If only others would learn about Jesus, and come to our church, the world would truly be a better place.” I meant this sincerely, and no I didn’t understand — at all — how scary that way of thinking was.
It allowed me to say and do some really dehumanizing things to people.
I was sincere. I truly loved the people I hurt. But for some reason they just couldn’t see my love through my words and actions that were constantly hurting, devaluing, and patronizing them, treating them as “marks” or “targets” or “lost.”
[I’m not denying people can be lost. I’ve been lost myself. Lately I feel I’ve been lost for weeks. But if anyone else told me I was “lost,” I wouldn’t respond well. When I already know I’m lost, I already know it. When I don’t know it, chances are pretty good I won’t be very receptive to someone else telling me that.]
I wasn’t an evil person during this time.
I meant well.
Most Christians do, I deeply believe that.
But when Christians can use our faith to explain away the call to sacrificial love for all people (yes, including even those gays!), defend war of all kinds, defend hostility toward the poor — the very people Jesus loved and defended most — and somehow explain away the life Jesus lived and taught, something huge is missing.
And just like when I’m lost no one can tell me that but me, the journey out of the strange kind of religious lostness we call fundamentalism is a personal journey. I can’t make someone see it. The harder I try, the more they will dig their heels in.
My life now is about making sure people know it’s not just between fundamentalism and atheism. There’s a deep, rich, Biblical, nourishing Christian life beyond fundamentalism that offers more than you could ever imagine. But everyone is on their own journey and everyone needs different things.
For those who have burned out on fundamentalism and strict and rote evangelicalism, maybe you would allow me to introduce you to something else.
It’s not new, but it will be new to you.
Question: What is your story about coming out of fundamentalism? Engage with me in the Comments section!