I‘m progressing, and in my mind, I’m growing.
As I progress, I’m squeezing all I can learn from my past so I can express my life better in the future.
One thing I am progressing from is the utter ruin of white American Evangelicalism. I’ve had a growing discontent with it for years, while I lived in it, prayed for it, and had hope it would reclaim its first love of Jesus Christ as her central focus.
For more than a decade, I followed the criticisms of a widely read Christian leader, as he specifically pointed out fatal flaws within American Evangelicalism. One of those flaws was the incorrect understanding of the gospel of the kingdom. He wasn’t the only one sounding an alarm. Other thoughtful ones had been lifting up concerns for decades.
In 2016, 80% of this religious demographic circled around the candidacy of Donald Trump, and enabled him to claim the White House. I wasn’t part of that 80%, and it took me four years to begin to understand why they initially “held their noses” to vote for him. I did get it, but the smell was way worst for me, and I couldn’t square my faith in his form of leadership.
When I vocalized this, those who I thought had made a Faustian Compact with the Republicans, turned on me, and even called me a “Hater” and a “tool of the Devil”. That turned out to be an epic moment for me. It helped me decide to pack my bags with what I gained from all those years in evangelical churches, and become a nomad and an exile along with the scores of other displaced ones like me.
As a progressive, I’m seeking to learn to live by faith, informed by the historical traditions of the expansive Christian Church, walking in the daily Light of God’s presence. In that way, I am never alone, more fully alive, and part of a much wider fellowship of Christ followers than before.
Forty plus years ago, when I leaned into the Voice that was calling my name from Heaven, I responded to the person of God, and desired to be lead by Him. I had absolutely no interest in religiosity, and especially any form of religious ideology. When I confronted it in the Church or in myself, it always brought discouragement. Yet while “battling” these realities, God always provided me a window into a world that was “yet to be”, “a land flowing with milk and honey”, “green pastures along streams of calm waters”.
In 2021, I’m looking out that window again, and it encourages me very much.
Among the ruins, God always meets us. He only wants us to conserve the most valuable things, then move on and progress toward a much better future that we can cooperatively create with his loving care.
My bags are lighter now, as I walk the dusty road to Calvary.