As you know, I’ve been writing my senior sem paper on the damages of conservative theology and the emergent response. (Side note: I’m 18 pages in, and not even close to done. This is going to be one mother of a paper). Throughout this time, I’ve been researching conservative, traditional Christian views of several issues in the Church, biblical studies, and the world today.
My whole premise was that our faith has been monopolized by a very vocal minority, and thus Christians everywhere have been associated with the U.S.’s Moral Majority/Religious Right, even though many of us fall in the liberal camp (myself included, quite obviously) and most of us (myself not included…yet) are not part of the U.S.
Therefore, to be “Christian” is not just to follow Christ, but is to also believe conservative theology X about issue Y. It is to align ourselves with Jerry Falwell, Mark Driscoll, and whoever else wants to make sweeping claims for all who follow Christ. It is to be anti-gay, pro-life, pro-capitalism, pro-Israel, anti-welfare, et cetera. And, for some people, these things are true.
The problem is, they’re not for me.
I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Calvinist. I’m not big on tradition for tradition’s sake.*
Truth be told, I’m not big on Christianity.
Because I follow Jesus and I believe the Bible and I want to spend my life doing good in the name of this God, but I don’t fit the mold of Western Christianity.
That being said…I don’t think I can call myself a Christian. Not because the word itself does not describe me (“Christian: a person who is a believer in Jesus Christ and [Jesus’] teachings.”), but because the things associated with Christianity do not describe me.
For quite some time now I’ve been referring to myself as a “Christ-follower,” because it describes me better. I follow Christ. I try (and fail miserably) to live like Jesus. It’s a much more accurate term.
I don’t want to divorce myself from Church history or from Christian community. But I am an outsider to Christianity, whether I call myself a Christian or not. My beliefs put me on the edge or, as is more often the case, well past the edge of what is considered acceptable Christian theology. If I am an outsider, I cannot call myself a Christian (not that I want to anyway).
My problem is that I don’t know how to do both. How do I engage Church history–my history–without being a Christian? How do I partake in Christian community without fitting its primary descriptor?
The truth is, I don’t really know.
I’m curious what you all (and by “you all,” I mean all 5 of my followers) think. Do you call yourself “Christian?” If yes, how do you reconcile that with your difference in belief (assuming you have some, because those who don’t probably don’t follow my blog) from the most vocal sect of Christianity? If no, how do you still manage to fit in?
In the meantime, I think I’ll just call myself “Denika.” It fits me best of all.
*I do, however, support traditions when they are constantly kept in check with a changing world. Also, this is more in terms of theology than practice–I love the traditional practices of some churches. It just bothers me when people believe something simply because that’s what their family/church/denomination has always believed.