Christianity Needs a Preacher

I once want­ed to become a preacher.

I believed so fer­vent­ly in the Bible that the thought could­n’t escape me that the more I learned about it, the more I should share what I learn with oth­ers. It felt only nat­ur­al. (Or super­nat­ur­al, as it were.)

My church gave me a few oppor­tu­ni­ties to preach, and I can­not lie, it was fun. I knew what to say to get shouts of “amen!” and “preach!” from the pews, and when up there, my usu­al fear of pub­lic speak­ing seemed to fade completely.

Those oppor­tu­ni­ties came when I was a fair­ly cook­ie-cut­ter Bap­tist fun­da­men­tal­ist. I stuck to the doc­trine and expres­sions and talk­ing points that were oh so very famil­iar to the listeners.

I preached, but I did­n’t challenge.

I did­n’t chal­lenge because I was­n’t challenged.

Bap­tist fun­da­men­tal­ists, not unlike so very many oth­er sects of Chris­tian­i­ty, have a groove into which most of their adher­ents can fit into with­out caus­ing much friction.

Far too close­ly to the end of my life as a Chris­t­ian, though, I learned that Chris­tian­i­ty can­not exist in a fric­tion­less envi­ron­ment, that Chris­tian­i­ty must shat­ter the grooves so many peo­ple fit snug­ly into, upend­ing not just world­views but whole lives, redefin­ing the fates of its adher­ents in such a way that, frankly, I had nev­er seen before.

I nev­er had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to preach this rad­i­cal new (ancient) form of Chris­tian­i­ty. My faith was swal­lowed up by knowl­edge, and so I cast off the ves­tiges of Christianity.

Part of me regrets that decision. 

I sit on the out­side now, with no church to call my own, but the knowl­edge I gained from the lat­ter days of my faith occu­pies so very much of my mind. Though my, if I can call it this, “spir­i­tu­al” focus now rests upon advo­cat­ing for sec­u­lar­i­ty, I find it frus­trat­ing to watch as pro­fessed Chris­tians make a pro­fane show of their religion.

Like a bull in a chi­na shop who has no idea where he is or what to do now that he’s there, the Chris­t­ian is in the world but has no clue how they should be behav­ing. Like the bull, when they do act, it is so often destruc­tive­ly, yet their myopic under­stand­ing of their own reli­gion pre­vents them from prop­er­ly see­ing the results of their action.

I speak up, per­haps maybe too often than I should, on the clos­est thing I have to a pul­pit, my Face­book account. I inject my under­stand­ing of core Chris­t­ian prax­is into posts when I can, though by now I’m fair­ly cer­tain that for most of my text posts, the only folks read­ing along are those who are like-mind­ed with me on at least a cou­ple major issues.

Chris­tian­i­ty, at best, is lost, with hun­dreds of mil­lions of adher­ents at any giv­en time going about their day, unaware of the dam­age their ver­sion of Chris­tian­i­ty causes.

Con­sid­er briefly the life of a Chris­t­ian in the Bible. Such a per­son is called to pick up their cross, indi­cat­ing that their life will be spent in suf­fer­ing, and to die to them­selves, indi­cat­ing that their own ego is sec­ondary to not only God but also to every oth­er per­son whom they meet.

Per­son­al pos­ses­sions are freely sold so that oth­ers are not left to go hun­gry or home­less or thirsty or what­ev­er else.

Traits such as meek­ness, humil­i­ty, mod­esty, char­i­ty, and for­give­ness should over­flow from such a per­son­’s life, no mat­ter the cost to them­selves. Their life is a liv­ing sac­ri­fice, done in the name of God but for the ben­e­fit of every­one around them.

They go out of their way, they go the extra mile, they live for others.

The entire­ty of the reli­gion is rad­i­cal, and real­ly, is that any sur­prise? The reli­gion has its ori­gins in ancients who had no prob­lem slic­ing off the fore­skins of their ene­mies in order to prove a point! With time, though, the prac­tices required of believ­ers became com­pas­sion, sac­ri­fice, and an upend­ing of the soci­etal norms which we take for granted.

It’s a mes­sage which needs preached.

If Chris­tians take their own reli­gion seri­ous­ly and if they wish for those on the out­side to take them more seri­ous­ly, then they must aban­don the non­sense reli­gion prac­ticed by Chris­ten­dom at large.

A Chris­tian­i­ty prac­ticed bib­li­cal­ly would poten­tial­ly cause far less harm than the bas­tardiza­tion to which most adhere.

Imag­ine no homo­pho­bia, no land and resources spent on church build­ings, no dis­rup­tive involve­ment in gov­ern­ment… Imag­ine a huge swath of soci­ety whose lives are com­mit­ted to reduc­ing suf­fer­ing, not just as an occa­sion­al activ­i­ty but as a rai­son d’être.

Chris­tian­i­ty has a huge amount of untapped poten­tial for actu­al, demon­stra­ble good in this world, yet the sys­tem is weight­ed down under the bur­den of so much garbage. Rather than sub­vert­ing the world’s sys­tems to exem­pli­fy a bet­ter path, Chris­tian­i­ty today offers the same as what we already have, just pack­aged with a cross (see the Chris­t­ian music indus­try for a notable exam­ple of this). Rather than chal­leng­ing adher­ents to die to them­selves, preach­ers use clever allit­er­a­tion to tick­le ears or rein­force the same pow­er­less orthodoxies.

As it is writ­ten in the Epis­tle of James, faith with­out works is dead.

I know so many peo­ple who claim to believe, but for the most part, I don’t believe that any of them do because, well, their lives aren’t so dis­sim­i­lar from mine, an avowed athe­ist and oppos­er of reli­gious dog­ma. Rather than feed the hun­gry, they ensure that not only do they have enough to eat but that it’s not genet­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied or carb-free or what­ev­er else. Rather than clothe the naked, they wear design­er labels. They remod­el their own homes while so many go home­less. There is no pow­er, no pas­sion in the faith which they claim to profess.

They need a preach­er, or per­haps more specif­i­cal­ly, they need an apos­tle-like fig­ure to reign in many church­es’ worth of believ­ers at once, call­ing them author­i­ta­tive­ly back to a Chris­tian­i­ty which at least minute­ly resem­bles the bib­li­cal examples.

Is such a rad­i­cal move­ment even pos­si­ble any more in our world of seem­ing­ly increas­ing­ly polar­ized opin­ions? What would it take to ignite that spark?






Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Use your Gravatar-enabled email address while commenting to automatically enhance your comment with some of Gravatar's open profile data.

Comments must be made in accordance with the comment policy. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam; learn how your comment data is processed.

You may use Markdown to format your comments; additionally, these HTML tags and attributes may be used: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Rick Beckman