We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded solely by your direct support. Please consider supporting this project.

In the Wilderness of Religion

The Race Track

 Eric Bryan via Compfight

There are an awful lot of us in the Church today who are no longer feeling at home in Evangelicalism. Regardless of how you feel about World Vision’s hiring policy decisions, the spectacle of thousands of people discontinuing their child sponsorships (relationships with flesh and blood children in need) because of a theological disagreement left many of us aghast. Is this what American consumerism has done to our faith?

Ed Cyzewski wrote a blog entitled We Know Where to Find Jesus, But What If We Don’t Want to Go There?  If you’re feeling like you’re wandering in the wilderness of religion, it might comfort you to know that the wilderness can be a holy place.

From Ed’s blog post:

The riddle of Jesus was as confounding to John as it would be for us today. There’s no doubt that many Christians today would struggle to believe in and follow a religious “leader” like Jesus who wasn’t married, didn’t have a large following, and never assumed any kind of official office or put together an organization/denomination.

Jesus wasn’t organized, systematized, or influential according to our own terms. While he had a certain amount of authority and clout because of his powerful teachings and miracles, he never took on a formal position. That latter point made no sense to John.

I was reminded of these lessons about John from my book Unfollowers when I read a post by Sarah Bessey over the weekend. Sarah gives evangelicals “permission” to step away from labels, traditions, and positions for a season in order to grieve and to rediscover what following Jesus may look like for them. Everything in her post resonates with my own experiences in evangelicalism: the need to grieve its worst parts, the desire for distance and space, and the reassembling of my faith out in the wilderness apart from religious structures.

We don’t get to remake faith according to our own terms. We can only seek out Jesus wherever he may be found, and as the story of John the Baptist teaches us, Jesus spent a lot of time in the wilderness.

Related Reading

What do you think of “confrontational evangelism”?

Question: In The Myth of a Christian Nation, you emphasize our need to sacrificially serve others. But you didn’t emphasize our need to “preach the Gospel to every living creature.” I’ve been intrigued by the movement known as “confrontational evangelism,” associated with Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. They stress the need to get people to…

What Does Spiritual Warfare Have To Do with the Cross?

Last week, we covered a few posts on the nature of the Atonement and the Christus Victor view. The following continues this theme, specifically looking the motif of spiritual warfare and how it relates to Christ’s work on the cross. This is an adaptation from Greg’s article in The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views. …

When God is Revealed

Whether we’re talking about our relationship with God or with other people, the quality of our relationships can never go beyond the level of trust the relating parties have in each other’s character. We cannot be rightly related to God, therefore, except insofar as we embrace a trustworthy picture of him. To the extent that…

Topics:

A Dialogue with Derek Flood Part 2: Is ALL of the Bible Inspired?

Image by TheRevSteve via Flickr Yesterday, I offered the first part of my response to Flood’s comments regarding my review of his book. Today I’ll finish up my thoughts.  Scripture and Its Interpretation Flood confesses that he is confused as to how I can claim that “in the light of Christ, we must reject violent interpretations of Scripture”…

Reflections on Divine Violence in the Old Testament

As some of you know, for the last five years I’ve been working on a book addressing the problem of divine violence in the OT. (For alleged violence in the NT, see Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld, Killing Enmity: Violence in the New Testament (Baker Academic, 2011).  It will be a highly academic tome, approximately 600…

9 Things That Are True of Us When We’re Saved

Image by rAmmoRRison via Flickr The New Testament has many amazing things to say about who we are as believers because of what Christ has done for us. When the Lord saves us, he doesn’t just rescue us from eternal death; he gives us a completely new identity. Consider what happens to us when the Father…