THE BLOG
06/30/2016 10:01 am ET Updated Jun 30, 2017

Why I Remain A Christian

Based on the hundreds of responses I received to my last posting about guns, I began to wonder why I continue to ascribe to a faith that has been so acculturated, at least in America. Most of the responses blamed me for criticizing guns or gun owners, and then criticized my lack of understanding of scripture, although no one found scriptures that supported gun violence. However, they did cite scripture passages that they believed condemned homosexuality or abortion, the two abominations that they believe are responsible for gun violence due to humanity's fallen nature. I have spent most of my adult life speaking for the minority view when it comes to issues of social justice. Be it capital punishment, homosexuality, gun violence, Palestinian rights, economic injustice -- I always seem to be on the "wrong" side of the issues, at least, as some of my Christian friends see it. Truth is, I did not grow up in a liberal household, and I remember even using scripture to defend capital punishment in a tenth-grade World Culture class. However, later that same year, our English class was discussing the recent Kent State shootings, and I was the lone voice in class saying that the National Guard was wrong to fire on the students. Those two instances were the first time I ever took a public stand on an issue and was condemned for it. As life proceeded, I came to reflect on the me that condemned the shootings, and not the me that defended capital punishment. What happened? I majored in Bible and Religion in college and then attended a divinity school where I was challenged by two professors to look more deeply at scripture and tradition to arrive at my idea as to what a Christian ethic looked like. As the years have progressed, I have come to feel more and more certain that the Christian faith was always meant to offer an alternative view for understanding the world. American Christianity, especially, has become so enmeshed with nationalism so as to have its radical meaning tamed so as to fit better with the philosophy of Manifest Destiny that continues to be among the guiding principles of America's self-understanding. I have met so many courageous Christians who have refused to buy into America's civil religion that I have chosen their lot as my own. Why? Because I believe that Christ's message still has the power to transform people and society, and that his commands that we visit the sick, feed the hungry and welcome the stranger remain the most radical precepts for any person of faith. And now that we are faced with a growing appetite for fascism abroad and at home, we need the radical imperative of the Gospel message more than ever. So, as far as Christianity as a faith and profession is concerned, count me in. Still!