I’ve been a Bob Dylan fan since 1963, when he was often described as a “protest singer”. But after only a few albums of “protest music”, he turned his back on it all, and wrote a song with the refrain:
“Ah but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”
Sometimes I know what he meant.
Christianity used to be so simple
I was brought up as a young christian to know exactly what was right, and why other people were wrong. Things were simple, black and white. The Bible was true and told us everything we needed to know.
Dominoes along the way
But it wasn’t long before I was discovering that I needed to re-think – first one thing, then another. Historical Jesus research, the charismatic movement, living simply, community, social justice, the killings in the Old Testament, missional church, and reading the Bible with eyes wide open ….. all these had something to teach me that my evangelical upbringing didn’t really grapple with. And so my faith adjusted, step by step until I could no longer call myself evangelical.
It was exhilarating sometimes, but it isn’t always easy.
Wrapped around whose finger?
Sting once used the image of “Caught between the Scylla and Charybdis”, and rhymed it with “apprentice” – all in a twisted love song. Somehow that’s how I felt, and still feel.
The most obvious alternative to evangelical christianity is liberal christianity, but I have never feel that classic liberal theology was any closer to the truth. Somehow it lacks faith. And truth. It is just a little too easy to make it up as you go along.
So here I am, suspended somewhere between evangelicalism and liberalism, part of neither.
And these days I am finding more and more people facing similar issues. I wrote about this recently in Change – coming ready or not?. Bloggers like Peter Enns and Rachel Held Evans are other examples.
The road ahead
So what is the future? I am convinced that God is wanting to lead his people into new understandings. I fear that the US evangelical Right, the Anglican Sydney Diocese in Sydney, and luminaries like John Piper, will grit their teeth, dig their heels in and resist any change, while the enthusiastic “post evangelicals” like Australia’s Uniting Church, Rob Bell and a growing number of bloggers, flushed with new understandings, may run too far ahead of the Spirit.
But I believe there is a third way, somewhere in the middle, and I’ll begin blogging on it soon.
Seeing new truths
How do we find what is true? One things seems certain – we won’t find it by preparing our defences and arguing vehemently with our “opponents”. Surely we would be more likely to find it by getting together with our “opponents” and praying for the Spirit’s guidance? It will be messy, but renewal generally is.
Perhaps the last word should go to Bob Dylan (writing into a different context):
Your old road is rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons