Today at church we had baptisms. It was a different baptism service than usual. Our worship pastor talked about the concept of being part of a family. When we are baptized we identify with Christ. In addition, we also identify with a body of believers, which is the church. When each person was baptized, we responded by saying “Welcome to Our Family.” I thought it was a very cool idea. Simply put, we are family.
Contrast this to the news about a famous author who has claimed Christianity as her religion some time ago but recently announced that she is no longer a Christian. Fortunately, she still believes in Christ and the Bible as the Word of God. On one hand, I can understand where she is coming from. She has seen what other “Christians” have done supposedly in the name of Christ and what the church as an establishment has done. I can see where she’s coming from; she wants to distance herself from those who are actually harming the gospel of Christ.
I suppose every conservative Christian aware of this story has some response, and I suppose I’ll be added to the list. But there are a couple of reasons this bothers me. For one, she’s choosing the worst of the bunch as an example of what a modern day Christian is. Brant Hansen, Christian radio personality put it succinctly when he said
It’s interesting that she allows — based on earlier posts — Westboro Baptist and a “punk rock ministry” that beats up people who are homosexual to define “Christian” for her. In reality, …a “Christian”, in 2010, demographically, is a poor woman in Africa, not Fred Phelps.
I don’t think it bothers me so much that she thinks “us” as a group of Christians are like this, but that she is missing out on a community of other Christians in the true sense, just because of some bad apples.
What bothered me the most, however, was that I believe this attitude is opposite of what we are supposed to have in a Christian family. If there is anything that is not always pretty, it is family. Family may include a lot of messed up people with various problems. They may not always make the right choices or live the right kind of life, but you accept them and you still love them because they are family. Ideally, the Christian family works in a similar manner. We are a messed up bunch but we live this Christian walk together. For some reason, however, some Christians are great at giving non-believers grace but we don’t do the same for people in our own family.
Don’t get me wrong; this doesn’t mean we should support wackos like Fred Phelps or be okay with abuses that have happened in many Catholic churches (note the plural use). We should do what we can to disassociate from these groups and things as much as possible. But we shouldn’t forsake the whole community of believers because of some fringe elements.
For this person, I rejoice that she is holding on to Christ, which is the element of Christianity. But I think another vital part of Christianity is being part of a community, and if you forsake that, you are missing out on quite a bit.