Recovering Evangelical

Mendalla

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A couple of the hosts (there are currently four, two of them Canadian) of The Liturgists podcast describe in similar terms and frequently talk about that road. Even Tripp Fuller of Homebrewed Christianity kind of fits. He was raised the son of a fairly conservative Baptist (Southern, I think) minister but is now preaching process theology.
 

Mendalla

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Thought provoking article. But isn't it interesting how humans are compelled to write down what we believe? We need to tell others.
Sharing is a natural human trait that social media (blogs are really a form of social media that is more "one-way" than say forums or FB) has amped up to 11.
 

Northwind

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I sometimes feel more comfortable expressing myself in writing about these things. Verbal can be a challenge.

One thing I liked about this article is how he describes himself as a follower of Christ rather than a Christian. I don't remember the last time I used the term Christian to describe myself other than in the bigger picture sense - Christian as opposed to something else.

I use to be part of a born again church feel like I grew out of it. For lack of a better way to describe it. As we mature, we are supposed to develop a more internal locus of control so we depend less on parent-like direction.
 

Mendalla

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I use to be part of a born again church feel like I grew out of it.
Oddly, I feel the same about my road from the UCCan to UU'ism to whatever I am right now (unchurched something or other). It's been about growth over time, not sudden conversions/deconversions.
 

Waterfall

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As we mature, we are supposed to develop a more internal locus of control so we depend less on parent-like direction.
And that's why I think I am finding church becoming a bit more of a shallow experience rather than occasionally profound and enlightening. We are encouraged to find the divine in an exterior saviour but it inevitably causes us to ignore the search for the divine within ourselves. We are rarely encouraged to find our own voices or honour our own personal revelations, but taught to focus on the revelations/dreams/poetry of others in scripture. We are taught we cannot add to scripture, not even our own(script) for the sake of uniformity, and diversity is lost. I think maybe the early church may have had more diversity, if only by the fact they did not have a bible yet put together with a limited number of religious books to draw from......and some mystical experiences were possibly current and not 2000 years old.
 

Mendalla

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We are encouraged to find the divine in an exterior saviour but it inevitably causes us to ignore the search for the divine within ourselves.
Mythologists like Campbell argue that the whole point of a saviour incarnating the divine was to point the way to the divine within and that Christianity lost its way by focussing on Jesus. "Stuck in the myth" was the term Campbell used, IIRC.

We are rarely encouraged to find our own voices or honour our own personal revelations, but taught to focus on the revelations/dreams/poetry of others in scripture.
This is a big difference I found in becoming UU even versus liberal Christian churches. The fourth principle makes the quest for spiritual truth and meaning an individual, personal duty for each member, even if it happens in the social context of the congregation. So personal revelations and developing one's own "theology" are very much encouraged (there's even a popular adult education course called Build Your Own Theology), as is lay preaching and worship leadership.
 

Mrs.Anteater

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And that's why I think I am finding church becoming a bit more of a shallow experience rather than occasionally profound and enlightening. We are encouraged to find the divine in an exterior saviour but it inevitably causes us to ignore the search for the divine within ourselves. We are rarely encouraged to find our own voices or honour our own personal revelations, but taught to focus on the revelations/dreams/poetry of others in scripture. We are taught we cannot add to scripture, not even our own(script) for the sake of uniformity, and diversity is lost. I think maybe the early church may have had more diversity, if only by the fact they did not have a bible yet put together with a limited number of religious books to draw from......and some mystical experiences were possibly current and not 2000 years old.
Maybe its time to change church...
 

Northwind

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I was tempted to check out a Quaker meeting many years ago. I lived in Cambridge, Ontario at the time and I believe there was one in the region somewhere. I never did check that out. I liked the idea of listening more than talking.
 

revsdd

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To be honest, the very phrase "recovering evangelical" is an example of the superior attitude one finds among many liberals who often complain about the superior attitude of evangelicals. It fails to acknowledge the diversity among those who call themselves "evangelical" but rather implies that any evangelicalism is a disease or condition to be recovered from rather than simply acknowledging a change in perspective by the author. There is a lot of self-satisfied smugness found in many liberal Christians. Above it was noted that "humans are compelled to write down what we believe." More than that, we are often compelled to write down what we think is wrong about what others believe.
 

Mendalla

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To be honest, the very phrase "recovering evangelical" is an example of the superior attitude one finds among many liberals who often complain about the superior attitude of evangelicals.
Except I have only ever heard it used by one group: People who have left evangelical churches and regard that background as having had a negative impact on them that they are trying deal with. Yes, liberals may wave their existence around as "proof" of how bad evangelicals are and I agree with you that's a problem, but to tell someone who feels that they really are recovering from a negative experience that they are "liberals who often complain about the superior attitude of evangelicals" is essentially denying their experience. How would you frame your concern about the term to someone who actually did regard themselves as having been hurt in some way by their experience in evangelicalism? To me, they are quite justified in calling themselves "Recovering Evangelicals", even if it isn't the ideal term from the perspective you give.
 

BetteTheRed

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I think that there's another category of evangelical, and we see quite a bit of them in the Affirming congregations. I call them "Suffering Evangelicals", and they are often people who are socially inclusive but religiously conservative. Usually LGBTQS2A+ people who have been forced out of their comfort level religiously, in order to find a faith community that accepts their identity.
 

Mendalla

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I call them "Suffering Evangelicals", and they are often people who are socially inclusive but religiously conservative.
This seems to be one of the groups that is driving the emergent movement in the US. They don't necessarily want to give up on evangelical practice or all of the theology, but no longer accept their churches' teachings on social and political matters. Brian McLaren is one possible example.

And the wiki on Brian McLaren may have given me the answer to my question about what else to call "Recovering Evangelicals" and I actually knew it, just forgot. "Post-evangelical." Though that fails in one regard: It doesn't address the harm they feel they suffered as evangelicals and in leaving that movement.
 

revsdd

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Except I have only ever heard it used by one group: People who have left evangelical churches and regard that background as having had a negative impact on them that they are trying deal with. Yes, liberals may wave their existence around as "proof" of how bad evangelicals are and I agree with you that's a problem, but to tell someone who feels that they really are recovering from a negative experience that they are "liberals who often complain about the superior attitude of evangelicals" is essentially denying their experience. How would you frame your concern about the term to someone who actually did regard themselves as having been hurt in some way by their experience in evangelicalism? To me, they are quite justified in calling themselves "Recovering Evangelicals", even if it isn't the ideal term from the perspective you give.
Come on. I read the article. It doesn't sound to me that the author was in any way "traumatized" by his evangelical background. He simply decided he didn't agree with it. As in:

"The primary reason I consider myself a 'Recovering Evangelical' is that I reject the dogmatism that existed in my evangelical upbringing. I have rejected the idea that one person or church or denomination has the monopoly on our understanding of God. I have given myself permission to ask questions, even difficult questions, and have accepted the fact that I may never know or fully understand the answers."

My gosh - there's a lot of stuff I've come to disagree with that I once believed in any number of subjects. The fact that I changed my viewpoint doesn't mean I'm having to "recover." In fact, it probably means that I wouldn't be who I am today and wouldn't believe what I believe today without those past experiences. This person is not a "recovering evangelical." He's a former evangelical. By calling himself a "recovering evangelical" he's riding on the shoulders of those who truly have been traumatized by some of what they've experienced in the church - I'm thinking specifically of the LGBTQ folk who have indeed been traumatized by years of being told that who they are is abominable to God. It's nice that he now says he's an "ally" of that community, but describing his shift away from some aspects of evangelical theology/practice as "recovery" is like a white person saying to a black person that he/she understands how it feels to be the object of racism.
 

Mendalla

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I wasn't actually addressing that case, but others that I have heard of. Sure, not all of them are but that doesn't mean some are not.
 
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