I began this blog entry with the dictionary definition of 'Faith'. I am continuing it with an apology for anyone who disagrees with what is to follow. This time, there will not be any candy-coating; I am writing to voice the feelings UnChristian has brought out of me.
It has, of course, begun again and procrastination has taken its toll. Less than two weeks remain until we will all be together at CSP and I am not even through 100 pages of the book. Every cloud has a silver lining: my math is better than my determination to read and, my calculation confirms that I need to read approximately 16.5 pages a day to finish before move-in. Doable, right? Well.... about that...
I have come to find through the little reading I have done that it is the second hardest read I have ever had (the first being a novel titled Green Grass, Running Water). Unlike that novel, the trouble I am having with UnChristian is not that I fall asleep immediately with every effort to read it, but rather that it angers me and I find myself zoning out or finding something else less... irritating to do.
While I cannot deny that Kinnaman makes fine points and uses real data to support what he means to convey, the book has been grinding my gears. Anyone reading his book may be quick to think, "Wow, these statistics are showing dramatic differences between churchgoers and outsiders!" A skeptic like myself seeing the same thing may think, "Numbers can impress any average Joe, but, taking note of the data on, for example, page 32, it's easy enough to fool a reader with the differences in percentages since the sample size from the opposing groups are different by over 125 people". As an aspiring math minor, I know that, were the groups equal, the percentages would be much different. That being said, I have been reading through my typical lens of skepticism, taking careful note of points in every chapter thus far.
Chapter 4, "Get Saved!", has me in a defensive stance moreso than the other chapters so far. By the book's definition, I consider myself to be a Born-Again Christian, however, the idea of living through a Biblical Worldview (see page 73), takes a hit at the devotion I have to the Christian faith. When reading through what makes a Biblical Worldview, I finally found myself nodding along with what Kinnaman proposed, agreeing with the statements, until the fifth one: "a Christian has a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people" (73). Jumping back to page 69, I had to double-check with my bible to be sure I did not miss something crucial to this: a commandment encouraging Christians to convert others to their religion. To my relief, there isn't one.
I put the book aside and thought how ironic it was that Kinnaman had just written in the previous chapter about hypocrisy and the one-size-fits-all perception only to proceed in chapter 4 to encourage positive "sharing" of the Christian faith or, in other words, inviting outsiders to fit into that size. He writes the importance of striving to be like Jesus rather than for perfection and sinlessness; the genius behind that being that his intention is to open the eyes of people living an UnChristian life, not those without Christianity at all. This is where the offense comes into play:
Kinnaman defines a Born-Again Christian as someone who says they made a personal commitment to Jesus that is still important and that they believe they will go to heaven at death because they confessed their soul and accepted Christ as Savior (44). Following that, he dubs those not living with the Biblical Worldview as UnChristian, bringing a Bible story to mind: Luke 7: 36-50
It is the story of the sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears, perfume, and hair to be saved.
Jesus graciously accepted the sinner because she loved him, sought his guidance, and did what she could to show him that. The arrogant Pharisee falls under Kinnaman's category of UnChristian.
How does this relate? Well, as I said before, I consider myself to be a Born-again Christian. I accept Christ as my Savior, and do my best to keep faith in Him. Being human and imperfect, I have found myself losing sight of that light in dark times. I am guilty of sins and am likely to become a lost lamb or waver in the future as well. I do not live with the Biblical Worldview. Does that make me any less Christian? By not devoting all aspects of my life to religion, am I worth more or less to Him than someone who does? Or does the shepherd no longer seek the lost lamb? Does Christ only welcome those like the Pharisee who will give him the most or best, or those like myself and the sinner who give him genuine faith and trust?
Going back to the one-size-fits-all perception, I can recall very few times that I was invited to explore religion in k-12 courses in any depth. The one I would like to elaborate on is 11th grade world history in which our class delved into many different religions (Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism etc). Each religion had the same ideals: striving to lead a meaningful, respectable life in order to attain the desirable and perfect afterlife with the superior being or God in a heaven-like setting. If each religion is truly so similar in structure, how can people (Christian or UnChristian) stress conversion in any way? It is not faithful to God, or righteous as a Christian to "share" the religion with outsiders. The UnChristian barrier is up because of the false perception that only Christianity can "save" those outsiders, leading those arrogant churchgoers to shove their religion at the wanderers, resulting in their bad perceptions and experiences.
My question is, where is the morality this Biblical Worldview holds if that lamb can only enter the Kingdom of God through the door of Christianity?