So what brought this up? A couple of things, really. One of which was on Susan Wise Bauer's "History of the Whole World" blog. She was a speaker at a home schooling- publisher's event and was apparently taken to task by an author in the realm that accused her of being anti-christian in her writing. (Which, having read the first 2 installments of her history, I had to wonder what he was smoking.) She said she gets a lot of that in her business- from secular historians who attack her for using the Bible as a historical source, and home schoolers who consider her professionalism as "doing nothing for the cause". In her lengthy defense of herself, she made this very salient point:
To be a Christian in America, particularly a Christian with any evangelical associations, is to be associated with a specific form of Christianity. Allow me to oversimplify (I highly recommend this and this for un-simplification, should you be interested). This form of Christianity has long been focused on one particular calling: converting other people.
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.Rescue the perishing, care for the dying;Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save. –Fanny Crosby, 1820-1915
–Fanny Crosby, 1820-1915
Of course, it has long been part of the Christian faith that Christians should tell others what they believe. Early Christians did a lot of it. But then came nineteenth century revivalism, in which “telling others what you believe” was transformed into “convert as many people as possible as quickly as possible because that is what God wants.” And in order to convert as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, you have to use the proper methods.
In other words, We Christians are doing a lot of getting the concept of Christian soldiers wrong. Paul himself said, I plant the seed, Apollos waters it, but God gives the increase. A lot of us are out there with placards and attack points and petitions and such, trying to machine-gun in the seeds and then liberally soaking in fertilizer until we've washed away the point we should be making.
I hope those whom I'm speaking of will forgive me, but among those who drop by TAW are atheists who consider their mission to attack the concept of god wherever they find it; heathens who worship the "nature" that basically allows them to do whatever; agnostics, whose soul is their own business and not mine (and that is very true); and Christians that are probably scratching their heads wondering where I'm going with all this. If I try to employ the machine gun method to the first three categories here on my blog, I'd probably be speaking to each of them for the last time. My job is to plant a seed; to occasionally talk about my faith, once in a while comment on their posts with my thoughts, yank a chain or two when worthwhile, and then go to prayer and let God bring the increase.
I've been struggling with attending church for a good long while, for what at base seems a very good reason- which I will not go into here. But in bringing the thought to the fore again recently, I saw that underneath the surface is a thread of pride- pride that cost me a ministry and a home church, along with the friendship of a pastor I miss. Pride that bothers me because I try to return to church and find myself torn between wanting to serve as I did (and knowing God's not going to allow that) and being humble and silent when confronted with a teaching (not a salvational teaching, mind you) that I know to be wrong. Pride keeps me from serving- fear of pride keeps me at home. I'd like to talk to someone about it, but when I do, I always find something else in my bag of motives I cannot well defend.
So, no, I don't feel myself perfect. And I don't feel myself to be delusional (as I've been told). And I realize that the only soul I'm truly responsible for is my own. So I hope that those of you who do not believe as I do will accept this as another attempt to plant a seed- as much in myself as in you- and know that I pray for each of you no matter who. And those that do believe as I do, please keep me in your prayers. It means more to all of us than we can know.