No one’s writing the books I want to read…
August 24, 2006 § 16 Comments
At least… that’s how it seems. Recently, I revisted a trilogy that was once a fave of mine– The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers. I’ve never been a big romance fan, but considered this more “historical fiction.” I discovered that I have very low tolerance for any romance in the re-reading. Don’t get me wrong– Ms. Rivers is an excellent writer. I just realized how much I don’t like the stuff personally– it feels intrusive to the story somehow.
I also had previously been quite impressed with how much research she apparently did to accurately portray life during the Roman Empire. However, several years later and much study on my own part revealed to me her total lack of understanding or study of what 1st century Christianity was like. Considering that was the whole blasted point it seems like a mighty HUGE oversite on her part. And it just blew open a whole cans of worms that have been wriggling and niggling at the back of my mind in reference to Christian fiction– or any contemporary Christain writing today.
In stewing over this, I realized that my dissatisfaction cannot simply be with the authors of stuff I find objectionable. It has to be with the root– with what passes for mainstream Christianity today– whether Protestant, Catholic or Anabaptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal, non-denominational, house church or whatever your flavor. There is this unspoken rule of “these are the Essentials that make us all Christians, and we’re ok with that.” Actually, it is commonly attributed to Augustine the saying, “in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.” A quotation, I would like to point out, that does not appear anywhere in scripture but which is pranced out any time someone starts to cast doubt on the way folks are running their churches.
My problem is that there are some big whopping holes in what is being passed off as Christianity– no matter your persuasion. And the holes occur directly in the middle of the words Jesus spoke to His followers. These are holes that become apparent if we compare what our Christianity of today looks like compared to that of the first and second century. Or better yet, even against the solid and irrefutable teachings of Jesus. He told us to turn the other cheek, love our enemy and not resist an evil person. He never tells us that there is an exception to these things. So why do so many Christians feel justified going to war? And that’s just one example of the wrongness of today’s “Church”.
In Ms Rivers’ books, she not only has a first century Christian fighting and killing their “enemies”, she has a character who is a Christian actor– seemingly ignoring the fact that being an actor was on the list of “Things You Cannot Do if You are a Christian” (for which there were many reasons, historical and so forth, but that’s another topic.) I’m sure she must have been unaware of this fact. What she did that irritated me so much was that she simply took modern day Evangelical Protestantism, and stuck it in a place it did not belong– 1st century Rome. Many of the highlights of protestantism today are simply gnostic teachings re-vamped for today’s modern Christian. And your average evangelical doesn’t even realize it.
And I feel like nobody’s talking about these things! It seems that most folks are ignorant of their own faith’s teachings, favoring other peoples’ teachings about the faith. Rather than reading with simple childlike faith what Jesus had to say in, oh, maybe His Sermon on the Mount, and believing that He really meant it, folks seem to put more faith in Luther’s version of things. If we read scripture through someone else’s filter, we aren’t getting the full picture. If we allow our faith to be shaped by the traditions of men, rather than the teachings of Christ, can we truly be sure that we are following Him?
The books I come across out there and the people I talk to reflect this– this watered down, false doctine-riddled mess that hardly lives up to the glory, majesty, power and love that Jesus preached. That Jesus preached. Not Wesley, Luther, Augustine, Swingley, Billy Graham or even Paul himself (not that I am casting aspersions on Paul– but Paul’s teachings without Christ’s teachings are not the whole gospel– this was Luther’s mistake.)
Do we trust that this Man Who called Himself God could communicate His will to those Whom He loves so that we could understand without some theologian telling us what He meant? Or is it ok to just figure that those who first recieved that word from His very lips were so wrong, that only today we have gotten the message right?
It breaks my heart and tears my soul, and I only wish more folks could see what’s wrong. The emperor has no clothes.