Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Rose By An Other Name

Lately I've been viewing some 'evangelical' blogs such as Jonathan Merritt's. He is a young Southern Baptist very interested in among many things, I am sure, the environment. I was raised evangelical, biblically literal, actually. I am grateful that my mom raised me to be a follower of Christ, but I found the evangelical, biblically literal mindset very constricting. As much as I love the Bible, I cannot accept the idea tha the earth was literally created in six days despite what Genesis says.
Upon moving to Rhode Island and attending Andover Newton I found a home in Liberal theology and felt very comfortable there. Recently, due to study (reading Hauerwas) and conversations with pastor friends I have found the idea of being identified as 'liberal' wanting and so I have dabbled in the 'evangelical' blogosphere to see if there might be a place for me to feel comfortable.
But nope, I can't do it. Jonathan Merritt's most recent post sealed it for me. As intelligent at he is (much moreso than I) and as much as I admire his work for the environment, his latest post addressed the issue of women in ministry in the Southern Baptist Church. while he was being critical of the SBC, he stated that he remained undecided about women being in ministry. I can't do it, be associated with a group that is stuck on this issue. It's absurd.
so here I sit not liking the options; evangelical won't work, but neither will liberal. Post-liberal gets thrown around by some but it sounds too jargony to me. Even Baptist is problematic, as proud as I am to be Baptist. but it is problematic because so many assume that because I am Baptist I am against women in ministry, (just one example of the assumptions people will make).
So what am I exactly? What name will explain briefly to people where I stand in Christendom?
Does it really matter that much


VanceH said...

Hey Darin, Glad to see you posting again--I've missed you. Regarding associations, while not surprisingly I never flirted with "liberal", I've stopped using "evangelical" for basically the same reasons as you--too much baggage that I really don't want to be associated with. For now I use "christian"--yes boring, but much better than generic "religious" (ugh!) or "spiritual". I'm very interested in the Emergent/Emerging church, but their theology is all over the map right now. It will be interesting to see if it ever stablizes.

pastormalone said...

I think we need to reclaim the idea of "evangelical" as it emerged in the 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings. It has a strong social consciousness as well as an emephsis upon the experiential aspect of faith. Yet to be evangelical does not necessarily mean conserative theologically or scripturally. Yes, labels are limiting, but concepts can be liberating as they help to articulate our own values. Keep pushing and searching and questioning.