I’ve deliberately waited to respond on this topic, as I wanted to see what would bubble out of the blogosphere after Anne Rice’s announcement that she “quit Christianity.”
What Rice describes is a set of behaviors that she observes in the lives of other Christians. I support Rice, and similarly have no patience for those outward behaviors which destroy the Gospel ethic of agape love that Jesus lived in His ministry.
Because I do not see her description in the life of Christ, then her observations and reactions are to those who claim Christ, but do not reflect the attitude or likeness of Christ.
That I can quit.
Quit on Christ? Never. Quit on striving to follow Christ and become more Christ-like in action, thought, and word? Never. I am committed to Christ. And I agree with Rice that what she describes should not just be quit–it should be run out of the church as fast as possible.
In her original statement she referred to Christians as “disputatious.” Or in other words, “fond of having arguments.” Yes, yes I think that is a very accurate portrayal of our state.
We seem resistant to the words of Paul to Timothy when he says:
Flee the evil desires
of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with
those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
Breaking that down, Paul is saying:
- Focus on your own sin by cultivating a pure heart that resists the temptations of your sinful nature.
- Speak kindness instead of quarrels when dealing with everyone (not just other Christians) so that you can teach.
Paul is instructing Timothy on how to live out the gospel ethic of love both inside and outside. Being “disputatious” is not part of the plan. In fact, Paul knows that we are drawn into such arguments with the greatest ease. Many Christians seem primed and ready for a fight wherever the fight is.
In the main, we have failed to focus on the pursuit of our righteousness–yet demanded conformity from others. Without pursuing righteousness in a relationship with God we cannot display kindness.
Isn’t that what Rice is really saying here?
When I read through her public statements, it’s clear to me that she is fed up with the lack of kindness amongst Christians for those who are different. And out of that lack of kindness comes “foolish arguments that end in quarrels.”
Ultimately, we lose our ability to teach. Who wants to listen to a self-righteous, unkind, disputatious person? Not me.
I want to continue exploring this, and want to again engage you in feedback. Do you agree with Rice’s assessment of Christianity? Would you quit that kind of Christianity? Have we lost our kindness? How do we get it back? Would anyone care or listen if we did?