I came across this online petition today courtesy of Franklin Graham. Now I’m sure Frank is a solid guy, but frankly, this sort of thing strikes me as an utter waste of time. These things also make me wonder about the expectations that Christians have.
I want to just point out a few things that I think are problematic. Let’s begin with the header.
“In a culture where people are loudly proclaiming they are “good without God” it’s time to stand up and say…”I am a Christian.”
Aside from the fact that I don’t hear all that many folks going around saying they’re “good without God” my first question here is, “why?” Why do we need to stand up and say “I am a Christian”? If we need to “proclaim” that we are Christians then I think we need to ask some hard questions about the nature of our faith. If you need to proclaim your faith, is that an indication of faith or of non-faith? I would argue the latter. Faith is not some objective list of statements that is proclaimed. Faith is something that transforms the life of the hearer and this needs no proclamation.
“Non-believers are not afraid to say they are “good” without God. Let your voice be heard. Don’t be afraid to say you are a Christian.”
To be quite honest, I find this sort of polarization quite unChristian. Actually, perhaps the real problem is that this sort of polarization is all too Christian. There is no clean line that can be drawn between the good guys (the Christians) and the bad guys (the pagans). To attempt to do this is, I think, to fail to take seriously the effects of sin and death in the world. Every person (“Christian” or not) is broken and in need of redemption that comes through Christ. For Frank to pit “Christians” against “non-believers” is, I think, dangerous, unhealthy, and utterly problematic (not to mention counter-redemptive).
“At a time when God’s truth is being attacked on all sides, now more than ever, Christians need to take a stand and declare their faith in Jesus Christ.”
I couldn’t disagree with this mindset more. First of all, the term “God’s truth” is rather ambiguous. Just what is meant by this? What is God’s truth and what does he mean when he talks about it being attacked? Does Frank mean the legalization of homosexual marriage (the sort of bullshit that you hear coming from the likes of Dobson and friends who are convinced that the queers are destroying families everywhere)? Does he mean Federal funding for abortion? Does he mean Christians who can’t get their heads out of their asses? I’m curious as to how familiar Frank is with the Judeo-Christian scriptures/narrative. As far as I can tell “God’s truth” is not, nor has it ever been, under attack. In fact, it seems to me that “God’s truth” cannot be attacked. The problem with talking about “God’s truth” as being under attack is that “God’s truth” is objectified. This is important, and a huge mistake as far as I can tell. God and “his truth” are not objects for our study. We cannot pin them down and master them. We cannot grasp God and his truth. To turn God and “his truth” into an object for our study is, I believe, a grievous error and confusion. It’s a very Western/Modern understanding of God. All truth is God’s truth and it is not an object that can be attacked. Rather, it is something that is beyond objectification, something that transforms the hearer. In addition, I think this sort of mindset furthers the false Christian/non-Christian polarizing paradigm that I mentioned above.
The early believers had no expectations whatsoever that they would live comfortable lives in the midst of the Empire. So why the hell would “believers” today? This is what happens when something as radical and life-transforming as following Jesus is domesticated and neutered and shut up in a box only to be reduced to some sort of reflection of white-middle-class morality. Pop-Christianity in the West has very little to do with Jesus at all.
However, as I got further down the page I started to wonder if by signing my name I was proclaiming my faith at all.
“The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association needs partners like you who will join us in spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. By filling out your contact information, you will also be signing up to learn more about the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.”
So Frank, am I declaring my faith or signing up to learn more about your organization? At best this is clever marketing…however, I fear it’s really deception in drag as clever marketing. Shit, I think Rob Bell was right, Jesus wants to save Christians.
Please, don’t declare your faith…abandon it.