Slowburn Evangelicalism: I don’t know whats going on, but it’s something.

Saturday night I sat in a local up-scale bar with friends. We discussed politics and religion over Moscow Mules in glinting brass mugs.

It’s no secret to any of my friends that I am a Christian. It’s no secret that I have many frustrations with the church, but in the end, I am convicted to believe in the saving God. However, conversations about faith or religion are not avoided with me or anyone in the group; they know where I stand and there’s no attempt to convince me otherwise. There’s also no attempt on my part to convert them to Christianity. We reach a mutual understanding of each other’s positions, and part ways feeling (if nothing else) intellectually stimulated.

Growing up in the evangelical church, this might feel… wrong. It sounds wrong, to some. In fact, it was this very notion, this behavior, that caused me to lose my VIP status in my church.

If your faith isn’t compelling you to testify to others, you should take a closer look at your faith.

How much do you have to hate the other person to not share the Gospel with them?

These were two things that I was taught over and over again growing up, and they still fill me with anxiety. I’m not particularly compelled, but the suggestion that I’m damning others by my inaction is incredibly stressful.

The thing is though… I have no power to save anyone.

Read it again. I have no power to save anyone. I cannot offer anyone heavenly grace. I cannot rescue anyone from the grips of sin. I cannot save anyone.

Well, yes, my evangelicals would say, yes I know that. But I can plant the seeds. That’s our job.

You are so right. That’s why I practice a slowburn evangelicalism.

In the world that I grew up in, many people already know the basic points of the Gospel. They know the points on the Bible tracts. There’s very little sense in talking at people about this.

In college, my roommate was a self-proclaimed staunch atheist. She came from a Catholic background and had become disillusioned by the intolerance and hypocrisy shown in the church.

So have I, I said. We have that in common. 

Over the next 4 years of close friendship, we have talked about frustrations with the church, our own beliefs, our doubts, our hangups. I tell her what I love about Church and she encourages me. We talk about the universe, science, how vast and crazy and specific this world is and how can it be an accident? She agrees.

Four years, this takes. Six years of friendship, and four years of discussions. Leading up to Moscow Mules, in a bar at my city.

I’m an agnostic, she says. I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s something.

This is what it means, my friends. This is what I yearned for in every conversation I had with her on faith. I saw her heart, which had been so hardened, so bitter, open to me. I tried to show her every kindness that I believed in, instill upon her every ounce of grace I had been given. And I passed along all of the unconditional love I could muster. And I praised my God for giving me this human, this friendship, the universe, and the cool night air.

I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s something.

Slowburn Evangelicalism: I don’t know whats going on, but it’s something.

Dear everyone: I don’t know.

 

“To say ‘I don’t know’ is the beginning of faith, for me.”  – Kent Dobson


Dear parents,

Dear pastors,

Dear youth leaders,

Dear teachers,

Dear friends,

I don’t know.

I’m sorry if this makes you feel like you’ve failed in some way. I know for 23 years I was a faithful consumer of valuable teachings from all of you. I know I was sort of the golden girl; someone your children could look up to and you could trust that I wouldn’t lead them astray.

And you were right. For all accounts, I was the image of a Godly woman. I tried to follow all the rules.

And in a way, you’re still right. I do try to keep up the image of a Godly woman, no matter how much that feels like lying.

But here, let me tell you I’m sorry, because I don’t know.

There’s a lot that was taught in my evangelical church, my tribe, that I do not subscribe to. (like, a LOT). But I don’t know exactly what I do subscribe to either.

Please don’t mistake this for an abandonment of faith. In fact, I feel as though it’s the exact opposite. I am finally leaning not on my own human understanding. I’m no longer leaning on anyone’s understanding, really. I’m just accepting the fact that I have. no. clue. 

The stuff that theologians have tried to explain, that teachers have tried to sort through, the tough questions about God and the world and our own souls…. I don’t know about any of that stuff. I can’t even describe God in my limited human vocabulary. I can’t even comprehend God in my limited human brain.

To pretend otherwise anymore is lying to myself.

So, I’m sorry to say, I don’t know. If that sounds like nihilism or agnosticism or what have you, I’m sorry. But I’m using my God-given brain, my God-given experiences and my God-given soul to arrive at these “conclusions”. Sorry if that sounds like I’m a lost cause.

I don’t think I am. In fact, I feel more connected to faith, to spirituality than I have ever been. It is pure faith. I can’t explain any of this stuff, I can’t show it to you. I’ve never seen God or heard Him. This is faith; to say I don’t know.

But I do believe in God, even if I can’t explain Him or understand Him. I believe in Jesus. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in the resurrection. I believe in Love. And I’m trying to channel God’s love through me unto others.

I’m okay with leaving questions unanswered. Maybe I’ll arrive at more concrete conclusions as I go through my life. Maybe I won’t.

Parents, friends, teachers, I’m sorry that I no longer subscribe to the black and white world in which I was raised. God painted the world in all hues and shades. To confine him to a binary system does nothing for me any longer.

Dear everyone: I don’t know.