Last week on the blog, I posted a light hearted post entitled 20 Things That Drive Me Insane! (on the inside of course). One of the things that was included on my list of things that drive me insane was this item:
Systematic, Reformed, & Evangelical theology.
A beautiful brother named Jared commented on the post with his own list, and also the suggestion that he would like to see a follow up post from me about why systematic, reformed, & evangelical theology bothers me so much. I thought it was a great suggestion! In today’s post, I’ll simply stick with evangelical theology. I may tackle the other two in future posts. Unlike last week’s post, today’s post is intended to be quite sobering and serious.
When I think about evangelicalism, these three things drive me ‘insane’, so to speak. Although the word ‘insane’ may be a bit of an exaggeration, there actually is a lot of evidence that suggest these thought patterns, championed by evangelicalism, contribute to mental illness. Please understand that I do not say that flippantly. Mental illness is a serious and very real issue that affects many good brothers and sisters in Christ. I would like to share more about this, but it will have to be another article for another day. With that said, I can speak for myself when I say that evangelical thinking has been toxic to my own mind. Although evangelical thought has many complexities, these are what I see to be the three pillars of evangelicalism as I have experienced it.
1. The assumption that babies must understand and accomplish the birthing process.
(The common evangelical message about being born-again is contrary to the very example that Jesus used to describe spiritual birth. He compared spiritual birth to natural birth. In natural birth, the burden is on the mother to birth the baby. This natural reality of birth is simply a shadow of the spiritual reality of birth. If evangelicalism were actually true, physicians in maternity wards would play music in the delivery rooms and carefully explain to the unborn babies exactly what they need to do to be born. They may even use carefully worded ‘tracks’ or video clips to entice the baby to come out of the mother’s womb.)
This is obviously a ridiculous scenario, but so are most evangelical sales pitches that seek to entice people to be ‘born again’. Spiritual babies are born like physical babies are born. If we can’t understand this simple physical example, how will we understand greater spiritual realities? (John 3:3-10)
I wrote more about this in an article entitled: GIVING BIRTH & DISPELLING THE EVANGELICAL ‘BORN-AGAIN’ MYTH…
2. A culture of performance.
The first being who wanted to be like the most High was Satan. This same idea is cleverly repackaged in evangelicalism. The religious desire to be like Jesus, does not come from the heart of Jesus. The messages coming out of evangelicalism are endless. How to have a good marriage, how to be a good steward of your money, how to reach your community, how to study the bible, how to be good parents, how to be obedient to God’s commands, etc… The aim of this misguided evangelical message is to become more Christ-like.
Thankfully, we were never created to strive to be like Christ. Rather, we were created to be the dwelling place of Christ Himself. Christ is already like Himself. There is one vine, and there are many branches that carry the life of the vine. This is the example that Jesus Himself used. We simply live by His life and give Him expression. This is unfortunately not the message of evangelicalism.
3. A toxic view of humanity.
I could write a book about how a toxic view of humanity has been, to use Paul’s words, a continual messenger of Satan to me over the years. The lie that promotes a toxic view of humanity rears its ugly head in the most religiously creative of ways. It has assaulted my relationships time and time again. Evangelicalism loves to promote this lie as truth. No matter how many times you tell a lie, however, it never becomes true.
The truth is, mankind was made in the image of God (Christ). Genesis 1:27, Colossians 1:15
The truth is, God is good. His image, along with His creation, simply expresses His goodness. In light of this reality, it’s not a stretch to think that God would also look at His creation (including mankind) as good. (Yes, I can hear the gasps). Genesis 1:26-31.
The truth is, our Lord never bought into the serpent’s lie about Adam & Eve. The serpent passed along the false assumption that mankind was not ‘like’ God, but could be if they acquired more knowledge. The truth is, they were already made in His likeness. (Genesis 1:27).
The truth is, God never had to change His mind about us! We’re the ones who bought into the lie about our identity, and God’s. His view of us, and Himself, has always been accurate. The truth (our goodness because of His image) never became a lie, and the lie never became true. That’s why it was, and remains, a lie. The cross rescued us from the power of the lie by opening the eyes of our hearts to true reality (Christ). I wrote more about this in an article entitled: THE BIGGEST ‘COVER UP’ IS OCCURRING RIGHT UNDER YOUR NOSE.
I have said this before, and I’d like to say it again here today. All of life is about relationship. Relationship with God, and relationship with one another. I am convinced that these three lies championed by evangelicalism are toxic to our relationships because they assault our identity. They color the lenses through which we see the Lord and one another. Thankfully, I have personally experienced the redemption and restoration of relationships with God & others that can occur as these lies are exposed, and to the degree that they are exposed. This is not an overnight process. It takes time to undergo any detox process, but the wait is well worth it.