22 September 2008

The Dilemma

I am in a dilemma. A pickle. An epic struggle. This epic struggle, this battle of biblical proportions, is something I have struggled with for a long time.

I really don't know how to handle myself in these situations.

Before everyone leaves in confusion, I should probably back up and explain myself.

I like to argue with Christian Fundamentalists. I know it's not very nice, or very productive, in fact it's probably counter-productive, but nonetheless, I enjoy few things more than hauling out my historical-grammatical interpretation stick and swinging it wildly at anyone who comes near. And not in a kind, loving way either. Unless you count the way Jesus chased the money changers out of the Temple as loving. Then I guess I do it in a loving way.

I was goofing off online the other day, and came across a video that a dear friend of mine had posted. It was a church that recently hosted a local high school battle of the bands. Most of the music was hardcore thrash metal, loud, obnoxious, and very energetic. His complaint was that the church had apparently "sold out", or "gone soft" on their message in order to reach kids. He wondered what was wrong with the original message that nobody wanted to preach that anymore. Why do we need secular heavy metal bands in order to bring kids in the doors?

It all started in college. My roommate and I read books by John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg and others, who challenged our assumptions and traditions about the Bible and Christianity. It was an amazing period of discovery and learning and stretching.

But then we would use these new insights to bash people over the head with how wrong they were, how they were mired in traditionalism and we had liberated ourselves from that trap and were therefore closer in our understanding to the "real" Christianity, and because of that, better people. We had it all figured out, and this exclusive club had no room for ridiculous theories and complex ideas to explain and rationalize the escapist mentality of "mainstream" Christianity.

I have since mellowed a bit about it, but the fact remains that I have little or no tolerance for people denying historical and archaeological fact in order to preserve their way of life. I quickly grow frustrated when people try to sound all holy yet contradict themselves as they speak. I want to tell them that they sound like complete buffoons, but I know well what arguments they will use against me, and the whole debate seems tired and stale, and I am sick of it.

When I watched that video, I thought it was an interesting way to reach out to the local community, and perhaps connect with kids who may not ever step foot in a church. I am not a big fan of that particular genre of music, but I give the church credit for thinking outside the box and trying to reach out like that. I posted as much in my comment, and was immediately rebuffed by another person who said that I was wrong because the "ends don't justify the means." He went on to compare this incident to the David Crowder Band song, Undignified, and ended his comment with the statement, "Since when did God say become undignified?"

He totally misunderstood the point of the song, and built his whole argument around that misunderstanding. When I hear arguments like that it makes me angry. It was clear to me that the person did not really listen to the lyrics of the song, and didn't really care.

Another person that commented claimed at first that the concert got kids in the door, but it was only the church building that they were in. I guess he was implying that they weren't really in church, just the building. But then he said the whole affair was disrespectful to God's House. After he just got done saying it was "only a building". He ended his comment with the statement that we are in the end times, and this was evidence of "many being deceived."

Oh the things I wanted to type back! Just like back in college, I wanted to let loose, all barrels. I was cocked, locked, and ready to rock. I instantly had responses to their comments, and none of them were loving. I literally had to shut down the laptop and go play with Eli for a bit.

This really highlights the issue I have. I do not know where to begin. I have heard many arguments about this, and I really think that many of these issues are not worth fighting over. They are not worth splitting churches over. They're not worth "changing denominations" over, whatever that means.

I don't want to pick a fight. I don't want to cause division or strife. So then my inclination is to keep silent, keep my opinions to myself, since I know what will happen.

But at the same time, I want people to understand the same way I do. I don't need them to agree with me, I just want them to understand and accept that it's okay to disagree with one another sometimes, that we don't have to cause these huge conflicts over it, these huge rifts in the church and our faith over these things that in the long run aren't that serious of issues. I want to say all of these things and I want to be heard, and I want Christians to get along with one another.

Because that's really the first step, and if we can't do even that, then what the hell can we do?


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