Thursday, June 07, 2007


I just finished reading Donald Miller's book Searching for God Knows What. Excellent book and I still say he is my favorite author. I even enjoyed this book more than Blue Like Jazz. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 12 that really hit me and moved me.

I recall watching a documentary detailing Muslim frustration, both domestic and Middle Eastern, with the perception that all Muslims subscribe to the sort of angry and dangerous extremism propagated by terrorist hijackers on September 11. "It was more than those planes that got hijacked," one Muslim woman commented. "It was the nation of Islam. In the eyes of the world, they took our faith and flew it into those buildings. The damage may never be repaired."

I wondered if the Christian faith in America had not been hijacked as well, hijacked by those same two issues: abortion and gay marriage. How did a spirituality such as Christianity, a spirituality that speaks of eternity, of a world without end, of forgiveness of sins and a mysterious union with the Godhead, come to be represented by a moralist agenda and a trickle-down economic theory? And more important, how did a man born of Eastern descent, a man who called Himself the Prince of Peace, a man whom the sacred writings describe eating with prostitutes and providing wine at weddings and healing the sick and ignoring any political plot, a man who wants us to turn the other cheek and give all our possessions if we are sued, become associated with-no, become the poster boy for-a Western moral and financial agenda communicated through the rhetoric of war and ignorant of the damage it is causing to a world living in poverty?

My only answer is that Satan is crafty indeed.

I realize there are people reading this who will automatically dismiss me as a theological liberal, but I do not believe a person can take two issues from Scripture, those being abortion and gay marriage, and adhere to them as sins, then neglect much of the rest and call himself a fundamentalist or even a conservative. The person who believes the sum of his morality involves gay marriage and abortion alone, and neglects health care and world trade and the environment and loving his neighbor and feeding the poor is, by definition, a theological liberal, because he takes what he wants from Scripture and ignores the rest. Make no mistake, there is a lifeboat motive in play, a join a team and fight feeling that is roaming around the world like a lion, searching to destroy men's souls.

The reason I bring this up is to plead with evangelicals to return to the sort of call Christ has given us, to obey Him and experience intimacy with Him through sharing our faith, loving our enemies, serving and feeding the poor and hungry directly, and to stop showing off about how moral we are and how that makes us better than other people. I assure you, once we leave the fight over our country's future and enter the spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of the lost, the church will flourish, and the kingdom of God will grow. God is not in the business of brokering for power over a nation; He is in the business of loving the unloved and pulling sheep out of crags and bushes.

The greatest comfort I can feel in the middle of this is that Jesus did not lend Himself to war causes, to tax issues or political campaigns. For that matter, He did not lend Himself to raising money for education or stumping for affirmative action. It was as if He did not trust us to build a utopia. He kept it very simple, in fact. Follow Me, He said. I have no opinion about what color the paint should be in this prison. Follow Me.

Is Jesus angry? Sometimes. Does He speak of sin and morality? Yes, quite frequently. Does the contemporary evangelical model of sin and morality reflect the teachings of Christ? As a flea is a part of a dog, but not to be confused with the dog itself. Is Jesus frustrated with sinners? Yes. Is He frustrated with religious zealots who use His Father's name to build businesses or support agendas? He is violently frustrated. Is there a penalty for rejecting Him? Yes, apart from Christ we will die and are dying. Does Jesus like liberals more than conservatives? He will be nobody's flag.

I suspect any lack of love or feelings of anger we have toward the culture around us are not feelings that come from God, but rather our souls arising again to cast rocks at women caught in adultery. We should not expect Christ to respond any differently to us than He did to the moralists of His day:
They dropped their stones and walked away, feeling ashamed that each of them had been proved a sinner, too. And Jesus went over to comfort the woman, telling her, "Go, and sin no more"
(See John 8)


Blogger Hannah said...

I might have to get this book. I like his writing style, and I do agree with most things he is saying. It's very thought provoking.

6:05 AM  
Blogger said...

I really like chapters 7-8-9 of Searching For God Knows What, the whole discussion of Original Sin and how it manifests itself in our lives. Very well stated. I like this book better than Blue Like Jazz, too, because it's much "meatier," and he references scripture a whole lot more. Not that this is a fault for "Blue. . ." which I think is an excellent book for seekers and non-Christians and those who have been offended by the modern Evangelical Church. But this was a great follow-up book for those same people and a meatier book for maturing Christians. MY favorite quote from "Searching. . .":

"I used to think that when The Fall happened, man started lusting, getting angry, getting jealous, coveting, stealing, lying, and cheating because, in the absence of God, he became a bad person. And in a simple, children's-story sort of way this is true, but in Genesis 2 and 3, Moses explains exactly why all of us feel, act, desire, and dream the things we feel, act, desire, and dream. The ramifications of this obvious idea are nearly infinite."

8:40 AM  

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