Sorry, but I will never say that you are not a Christian

Romans 12:14-19 (TNIV)

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not think you are superior.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

I would like to think that politics mixed with religion has always produced a nasty concoction, but despite our efforts to detroy one another somehow we have made it through as a country. While that very well may be true, it seems as if today’s political and religious rhetoric is getting particularly nasty.  I have no interested in “making nice” or having any false sense of community, but rather I choose to FIGHT that with which I disagree with the strong graciousness that my understanding of faith calls me to.  So . . . before any more of us start walking down the easy path of judgementalism echoing the “You are not a Christian!” chorus, I offer this confession and prayer that has been going through my head as of late.

If you say that you are a Christian, no matter how much I may want to deny any validity to the faith you claim . . .

I will never say that you are not a Christian.

I may not be able to find a common church community with you,  worship with you or even be in the same room with you, but . . .

I will never say that you are not a Christian.

I may vehemently disagree with your interpretation of Scripture about marriage, homosexuality, capital punishment, war, poverty and a whole other list of social and cultural issues, but . . .

I will never say that you are not a Christian.

I may feel called to speak and act against the version of Christianity that you espouse because I believe it to exclusive, hateful and denies the God-given dignity that every human being has, but . . .

I will never say that you are not a Christian.

I may want God to come down and with a mighty act silence your voice and the voice of those who hold your theological, political and ideological positions; for this I ask for forgiveness, but . . .

I will never say that you are not a Christian.

You may not feel the same about me and those like me, but if you claim the Christian faith, I will always see you as a brother or sister in Christ, a created child of God and a faithful person seeking God’s will upon your life; and for this reason . . .

I will never say that you are not a Christian.

Lord hear our prayer.

Amen.

If you jive with this, please consider signing the “We are Christianity” petition.

6 comments

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  • Rookie Pastor  

    I agree.

    Just posted something similar: http://rookiepastor.com/2012/02/21/pastors-stay-out-of-politics/

  • Jim Truesdell  

    I like the spirit this prayer embodies. We are called to bear patiently with the faults of others even when both parties see fault in the other. However, if someone says they are Christian and yet denies the basics of the Nicene creed they are simply not Christian. One of our problems is that people redefine Christian faith according to their own standards and not the standards of the Church. That doesn’t mean we don’t wrestle with the creed, but we can not stand inside the Church and blatantly deny it either.

  • David Derus  

    Okay Bruce, I like you. I have decided to become a fan. :) I like that I disagree with you. I like that you are very gracious. So I hope you will allow me to engage here. First, I confess and ask for forgiveness as there have been times in my life where I have used that phrase to hurt liberal Christians. For that I am sorry. And because of that history I want to get on board with this post. But I am hesitant. Because I think this implies the question “What makes a Christian?” And the answer is self identification. I can’t go there. I have to reserve the rights to denounce those who would commit acts of terror or genocide in the name of God. I think that your comments are valid in the context of something like LGBTQ rights but fall apart when talking about The Lord’s Resistance Army. I would love to hear your thoughts. 

    • David Baer  

      I think your concerns can be addressed by using language that is clear, specific, and descriptive of externally visible reality.  If someone commits genocide in God’s name, we can say, “Your actions are anathema to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  Getting into a debate about whether a particular person is entitled to the label “Christian” doesn’t strike me as a meaningful exercise, precisely because it’s not clear what the term means.  Is it a social and cultural signifier, indicating someone’s identification with one group (or against another group)?  Does it imply assent to a set of doctrinal propositions (say, the Nicene Creed)?  Does it necessitate a particular kind of religious experience—a Damascus road-style conversion, for example?  It’s all too vague.  It’s better, in my opinion, to talk about specific words and actions, and whether they bear witness to or obscure God’s Kingdom.

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