Reviewing Michael Camp’s 31 Reasons for Being post-evangelical

Progressive Christian blogger Michael Camp and his blog Deep Thought Pub had something to say about his spiritual faith and walk being post-evangelical. The words in red are my responses. Most of them I agree, some of them I don’t and some I disagree with strong passion but that’s okay! Gavin is probably saying, “Felix, are you ready to be liberal proud???” Nope. I am a “moderate Christian” who is steadfastly conservative on historic essential Christian doctrine and proud of it.

Okay, in the spirit of Rachel Held Evans’ blog post on 13 Things that Make Me a Lousy Evangelical (and a Lousy Progressive and a Lousy Feminist), I’ve come up with my own list of 31 reasons I left evangelicalism and became a progressive (for lack of a better term) but not a liberal. So, here we go:

1. I’m allergic to contempary Christian music. (When the WCG became evangelical, I used to like CCM. Hey, if you’ve been exposed to nothing but hymnals by Dwight Armstrong, you could only think CCM is a way far superior but later on you find that CCM has it’s moments as well. I do love Messianic music a lot)
2. I never believed in the inerrancy of the Bible (and think it’s rather obvious it’s not inerrant) and got tired of hiding that fact. (Something I need to do a personal study on. I do find the Bible has inspired revelation but I am realizing that there are some scriptures that appear to contradict each other. I know, I know, some think I am on a slippery slope to heresy. Frankly, I am just trying to open-minded on another level.)
3. I realized biblicism (the notion that the Bible is infallible, internally consistent, universally applicable, contains all the truth we need, and makes us certain about most everything) is intellectually hallow and dishonest (see The Bible Made Impossible). (Coming from the historic Worldwide Church of God, it is a work in progress for me to distingush from being a “biblicist” as opposed to being a “Christian”. They are NOT one and the same.)
4. I think it’s not only fine to try to ascertain what Jesus meant or what Bible authors meant, in the original culture, but more importantly, if we don’t, we’re not taking the Bible seriously. We love tradition over truth. (He’s spot on. Protestants like to chide Catholics and the Orthodox for valuing tradition over truth but it’s time that Protestants take a very hard, self-examing and brutal honest assessment  on valuing and loving tradition over truth too!)
5. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to pick and choose what one thinks is inspired and true in the Bible. After all, that’s how the Bible was composed. Someone else picked and chose and copied and translated, so why can’t we? Why do we have to take it on faith and they get to decide? How does one do that you ask? Have an open mind, look at objective biblical scholarship, use some common sense, and let the Spirit speak to your heart. What? You think that’s crazy? If accepting everthing at face value works, then why does evangelicalism have a thousand denominations and opinions about what the Bible teaches? (Bingo! One of the reasons of a thousand denominations is a result of excessive individualism and again a love for man-made traditions over truth)
6. Despite 2-5 above, I think much of the Bible is inspired by God. (Agreed)
7. After studying the historical and cultural context of the Bible and learning how it has sometimes been miscopied, and frequently mistranslated and misinterpreted (by people who care more about tradition than truth), I find it a remarkably progressive book–okay, okay, minus that stuff about genocide and killing women and children, etc. (Agreed—BUT disagree on how Michael Camp’s view on ancient Israel’s battles against it’s neighbours. Ancient Israel’s neighbours were not nice people, it was not a Leave It To Beaver neighbourhood. I don’t think God at a campfire with the Israelites rubbing their hands and agreeing to say, “Hey let’s kill Ward Cleaver, butcher Wally and the Beav and have a good ole time raping June!” It wasn’t like that. As I said Israel’s neighbours did some pretty atrocious things. Some electively forget that point and focus how mean ancient Israle was. Evil needs to be confronted violently, sometimes. We can’t sing “Give peace a chance” all the time.
8. I might be called to love him, but I don’t like Rick Warren, and especially those Hawaiian shirts he wears. (Yea, I will agree here. I heard Rick Warren does not believe that an abused wife has no right leave her abusive husband. He’s a legalist in cool garb to me.)
9. R.C. Sproul defending Mark Driscoll makes me a bit nauseous. Okay, a lot nauseous. (Bring a barfbag for two!!! I find Driscoll a bit of a high school bully posing a clergyman)
10. I not only think believing in The Rapture is delusional, but also believing we live in the end times too. (The theory of the rapture is not found in the writings of the early church. Saying this, I hope there is a place of safety for believers in heaven as opposed to a rocky dessert near Amman,Jordan. 🙂 If evangelical Christians are making the theory of The Rapture an essential of historic Christian faith, they should stop and become way less dogmatic on that point. I must slightly disagree with Michael Camp about The Last Days. From the book of Acts, The Church believed that they were always in the Last Days but  Michael Camp’s a preterist—I am a premillenialist, so our worldviews are different on this point.)
11. I believe Jesus already returned (figuratively) in the first century (you gotta read my book). (Sorry, I am pre-millenialist, not a preterist and firmly reamin so. I think Michael Camp and I can agree to disagree)
12. I believe the Bible teaches the good guys get left behind (again, it’s in the book).(You’re a tough cookie man! What about those believers who went through enough adversity in their regular lives? More adversity being left behind during The Great Tribulation???)
13. I sometimes agree with R.C. Sproul. For example, he actually pretty much believes #11 too. (I respect RC’s scholarship but again if he’s a preterist, fine with him. I still remain pre-millenialist and let’s leave it at that!)
14. Going to a U2 concert is a spiritual experience for me. (I like U2 and I admire their spirituality)
15. I no longer believe evolution is the enemy.(I remember at a local Y.O.U. camp at age 16 telling my pastor if evolution is true, it had to have a force creating into fruition. I heard months later on a tape my pastor mentioning my “theory” saying that I wasn’t with totally with the program but respected in his own way of what I had to say. I guess from an early age, I knew that being a Theistic Evolutionist is NOT a contradiction.)
16. I think intelligent design is a grand idea that needs to be seriously considered.(Something I also need to study. There are some atheists and evolutionists believe intelligent design should have no fair hearing. I want to understand the reason “why” it shouldn’t.)
17. I think one can be a practicing gay or lesbian and still follow Christ. (Whew!!! Where do I start and how do I dissect this statement? I believe one can be LGBT and a believer. Pastor Jim Swilley who is LGBT (non-practicing) , a man whom I admire and respect has been the one of whom I would look up to for the Christian walk.  I am not so dismissive on Levitical 18 and 20 that  disapproves practice. I Corinthians 6:9, a New Testament disapproval is mentioned. On the other hand scholar Phil Theos, author of Divine Sex does have alternative explanations on the verses mentioned. When I can get Divine Sex at a lower price on Amazon, I will read. Who knows, I might agree with Michael—I may not. Frankly, where ever the Holy Spirit leads me , I should follow and that’s what counts. Sometimes that’s not easy. I am for love,understanding, compassion and respect for those of LGBT orientation. That should suffice but some will argue that it is not enough…)
18. I’m a microbrew enthusiast and love to talk theology over a couple of brews. (I hope one of these years, I will get a chance to meet Michael Camp and have a couple good beers! 🙂 )
19. Rick Perry makes me really nervous (but not as much as Sarah Palin). (When Rick Perry first ran, I was impressed with his charm and humour but months later I saw through it and went on to my next flavour, Herman Cain who just now suspended his presidential campaign due to scandal. I think Michael Camp is also happy that we’re both glad that Sarah Palin’s not running. )
20. I hate sexual exploitation but find some erotica perfectly acceptable for adults. (YES! Exploitation and erotica ARE NOT SYNONOMOUS!!! I know this easily angers evangelicals, fundamentalists and XCGers in unison but anything else they are proudly at each others throats! Bizzarely ironic, isn’t it?)
21. I think the evangelical church is sex-negative (okay, there are a few good evangelical marriage sex manuals out there, but that’s the only exception). (Rock and effing roll, Michael!!! Somebody has the testicular fortitude to tell it the way it is! Evangelical, Fundamentalist Christianity and XCGers are VERY sex-negative. There is NO dispute about it! NONE! NADA!  It has a straight line to some of the early Church Fathers and by none other than Western Church Father scholar Augustine! It’s time to admit that there’s a problem! To say otherwise is stubborn denial!)
22. I think Charlize Theron is hot and I’m not afraid to admit it. (She’s cute but I differ from her politically and so be it.)
23. I voted for Barak Obama. I still support him but see a lot of things he could do better. (I am a Canadian citizen only. I supported the Obama candicacy and I’m a conservative in my political worldview. I was frustrated with the social Darwinism that the Republican party can be so divisive. I have at the same time have not like Obama’s foreign policy and his stubborn Keynesian worldview on economics. Unlike conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan who wants re-embrace Obama, I can only see America progressing with another president but that’s another story.)
24. I hate it when Republicans accuse Obama of doing or proposing things that George W. Bush (increased the deficit by $5 trillion) and Ronald Reagan did (raised taxes 11 times). (Fair comment but I think Obama needs to read Bill Clinton’s latest book Back To Work, rather having his arrogant chin-up baulking at Clintonian centrism.)
25. I think what evangelicals call “church” is a non-biblical, man-made construct (back to my book, and yes, these are shameless plugs!). (Sadly the Church, especially mega-churches have become a corporation and that is very unhealthy for the spiritual Body of Christ. Period.)
26. I think nine times out of ten spiritual disciplines (praying, fasting, time in the Word, worship, going to cutting-edge, spiritual conferences, and following the latest, trendy book — think Purpose Driven Life) becomes a legalistic treadmill. (He’s right. I was a dedicated prospective member and member of the historic WCG and had our own rituals and yes without their proper perspectives became legalistic treadmills in themselves too.)
27. After studying the issue and examining the historical and biblical evidence, I became a Universalist. (I am a Limited or Conditional Universalist as opposed to an Absolute Universalist. I respectfully disagree with Michael Camp if he’s an Absolute Universalist in which everybody is saved and no one is eternally separated from the love of God. I had some very passionate reasons of why I reject that kind of universalism on post on my blog here.
28. I think the emergent “conversation” is good (and I really like Brian McLaren), but wish they’d come to a concluson once in awhile. Just for grins. (Don’t hold your breath. 🙂 My main concern about Emergent Christianity is a drifting away from the chief cornerstone of it all—Jesus Christ!)
29. I often disagree with Bishop Spong, but sometimes I do agree with him. (Agreed but my firm adherence to historic Christian essentials like the physical ressurection of Jesus Christ does not change one inch!)
30. I like Bishop Spong way more than Rick Warren or Mark Driscoll. (Though me and Bishop Spong differ on the historic essentials substantially—I do like and admire his sincerity over other two men mentioned.)
31. I think the truth is embodied in a composite of Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright. (Don’t know Marcus Borg too well, NT Wright (minus his peacenikism) rocks the house!!!)

I could go on, but you get the picture. Please comment, challenge me, and share your own lists of where you’re at! (I already did, I hope some of the readers here will have their own conclusions too!)

Liberal Christianity Explained by Reverend Scotty McLennan

About last year I took a survey on the social networking site of Facebook which focused on what kind of Protestant you were. Strangely, for me, it concluded that I was “Liberal Protestant”. I was (and still am to some degree) disturbed at that notion. Former Ambassador Watch (now Otagosh) blogger Gavin Rumney declared, that I should be “Liberal and proud!”  I would actually like to start another post about my objections. They are very real concerns. At age 40,  I have outgrown and have absolutely no use for fundamentalism—that ship has sailed! With evangelicalism, it has had it’s problems and frankly has developed into another form of fundamentalism and yes, legalism (ie. the “Christian sidehug” for starters). That might upset some people but I think I need to speak from the heart as opposed to being under the “tyranny of nice”. Liberal Protestantism has it’s good points with regards to social justice and standing up for the downtrodden but theologically it makes God into some kind grandfather who is powerless to do anything on earth. While Liberal Protestantism or Christianity does not entirely do away with the supernatural and the immaterial world, they in effect minimize it. This, as I see it, has  definately has a domino effect when it comes to the ressurection of Jesus Christ.  Famous Liberal theologian Bishop Spong believes that the ressurection of Jesus  is not a literal ressurection from the dead but believes it is metaphoric in the terms of a ressurection of “our hearts”. I simply cannot in anyway come to terms with that concept. Even the Early Church in it’s inception had no issue with a literal ressurection of the dead with Jesus Christ as it’s firstborn. Take away a literal ressurection, you do not have the good news. A metaphorical ressurection in it’s place, is simply nebulous and fluffy to say the least. As I said, I hope to write about my objections of being labelled a “Liberal Protestant”  in depth in another post.

But in this clip,  form FORA TV,  Attorney and Unitarian minister Reverend Scotty McLennan would agree with Gavin Rumney that there is no shame in being called a Liberal Protestant or Christian. Wherever you are in the theo-political spectrum, everybody should watch and listen to this clip. Forget about what religious right wants you to believe about Liberal Christian Theology. Yes, you can have objections but slandering them as “ungodly” does no one any good. Speaking about Unitarianism, James Pate as of recent said he was considering to attend a Unitarian church. Everybody knows James is the “arch-conservative” when it comes to religion and politics. I can only conclude again, the American Evangelical Christianity is in trouble (unpopular as that may sound but tough). At least with Liberal Christianity, they are at least a little more pro-intellectual and maybe that’s a reason (but definately not the only one) why James may be attracted in attending a Unitarian Church.

The long version of this is here.