This was originally going to be a post on why I am leaving christianity. But some calvinist voice in me raises the problem that I didn't choose this religion, it chose me, given my history. It has and continues to provide the grammar of faith, the way I think about the central issues of human life and existence. If there's a crises of faith it's not over some set of beliefs.
I remain a theist, who believes that something of God's character is revealed in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. I suppose what I've lost faith in is the state of the religion itself and the direction it's heading. A sort of conservative reaction has taken hold of it in much of the world and the few places where liberal religious faith can be found is treated as a threat to be expunged.
Thus the recourse to heresy trials and denominational splits. The case of the Anglican Communion is one of the most dramatic examples of this trend. Now we're being told that removing the Canadian and US churches from the consultative council does not equal expulsion and the church could potentially be put together in the future.
But does anyone believe that these two churches will now declare homosexuality evil because of the right's coercive tactics? Can one imagine the conservatives in the communion deciding to accept them back without the adoption of such a stance? The church is split, one is just waiting for the formal institutional events which will verify this situation. What makes this inevitable is not the issue or even the church's profound differences.
Rather it's the tactic of demonization and punishment which has consistently been used in this dispute. It hardens battle lines, it makes communication impossible. But when the right holds victory parties over this recent event, it's hard to see where communication is being sought. Rather victory is sought. And since Rowan Williams seems to determined to stick with the victors, the room for liberals in the Anglican communion will be eliminated soon.
This fight is also playing out in other mainline bodies, such as the call to go after gay and lesbian clergy in the PCUSA as well as those urging liberals to leave the United Methodist church. I raise these items, because while I know this is not the case in evangelical church bodies, I'm not sure that being a liberal is a safe thing to be in much of the mainline today either.
My thoughts on the mainline and the prospects for religious liberals in the church is going to have to be a multi-part series. I'll pick up where I left off next time. I've appreciated the e-mails and the comments on the site. It's good to read about what folks are doing and working out across the country who share similar concerns. I will be fixing my links in the next few days, to reflect a number of new blogs which have come to my attention as of late.
I've written a letter to my school paper in response to one evangelical's attempt at apologetics, and I'd also point out some really thought provoking posts which I've been working on in my head at Progressive Protestant including this and this. And yes I'm in the above photo, second from the left backrow in a 1977 christmas program. I thought a few folks I know back in Montana might go for it.