You’ve heard the narratives about “what all Christians believe.” And you’ve heard many a high-profile pastor speak for all of Christians. He tells you precisely what we all believe, like we’re 3 billion cultists in the world with an identical worldview.
We don’t all believe the same stuff. And yet this view of a singular Christianity keeps going in our culture. To the benefit of the ones who continue to make that singular claim.
It all reminds me of my favorite statement from the late Phyllis Tickle. She argued that anything we call “traditional” is really less than 100 years old. Anything older than that is a given. We only slap the “traditional” label on things to make people think we’ve always done it that way.
There isn’t one type of Christian with only one type of worldview. There isn’t one Christianity: there are many Christianities.
That’s why we ought to reject those attempts to make it seem like there’s one way to look at the world. Like it’s normal to see Christian as synonymous with political conservatism or adherence to antiquated systems of belief.
And yet journalists struggle to see this any other way. To the media, “Christian” means evangelical which is really white conservative evangelical which is Franklin Graham. Or, if they get a little edgy, they might track down a Roman Catholic bishop to interview. Often to make a similar statement on religious freedom, perhaps.
Rare are the conversations with the majority of evangelicals who are progressive or minorities, the full breadth of the Roman Catholic Church, and mainline denominations, all of whose members are far more representative of the political mainstream, than the fringe evangelical denominations.
When it’s all one kind of Christian, the majority of we who aren’t like that get thought of as weird, deviant, or divisive. We’re the ones rocking the boat. The majority. Rocking the boat. Apparently Christianity gets to be defined only by the minority.
It isn’t weird to be a Christian who forgets to pray sometimes or gets things wrong from time to time. Or admits it. Confesses it.
It isn’t weird. It’s normal.
It isn’t weird to be a Christian who
Supports abortion rights.
Eats meat on Fridays.
Listens to Eminem.
Thought Touched by an Angel was lame
and doesn’t go to Bible movies like its church
or listen only to contemporary Christian music.
Doesn’t believe in Hell
and doesn’t care if Mary was a virgin.
Thinks women are equal to men.
And in important ways better.
Knows that black lives matter
and doesn’t feel the need to change it to “all”.
Gets bent out of shape when you wish him “Merry Christmas”…in Advent!
Thinks his friends have more trust in a gun than in Jesus.
And doesn’t want people who are fed today to starve tomorrow
or lose their healthcare or home
or go bankrupt to add a few $mil to a corporation’s profits.
Has a much easier time forgiving a reformed felon than a corrupt politician.
Or the banker who never went to jail.
Marches to support someone else’s cause
and thinks religious freedom laws written to protect only Christians are morally wrong
(and ultimately discriminate against many Christians, too!).
Thinks all war is sin
and not all laws are just.
Loves Scripture enough to not overlook the stories about
hospitality being more important than tradition,
treating refugees and immigrants like guests because we are all immigrants,
that having a lot of money makes it hard to live into God’s dream for us,
and how Jesus spent all this time treating outsiders like insiders,
you’d think the good news really is for everyone.
Doesn’t have it all figured out
and is giving it her best.
Who doesn’t have to be right
and would rather worship with disagreement than be incubators of identical thinking.
Thinks science is a gift from God
to learn more about one another,
and protect all of creation from our selfishness.
Would prefer people think we all play D&D
and read Harry Potter as scripture
than think we all condemn it.
Thinks The Walking Dead has a lot more to tell us spiritually than The Passion of the Christ.
Knows that Christianity is way more than a personal religion
but gets tired of “On Eagles Wings” and “The Church’s One Foundation”
(In fact, maybe we should sing “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” every Sunday until we stop complaining about how long it is).
Knows LGBTQ are present in our scripture
and our pews, academy, pulpits, and Houses of Bishops.
Welcomes everyone to not only come to church and tithe,
but also give of themselves completely, lead, and love everyone as equals.
Knows we have a lot to improve with our accessibility
and then stop complaining about both so much.
Believes in Jesus and wants our Christian community to be at least half as merciful and generous as he is.
It isn’t weird for a Christian to believe all of these things.
So why do so many believe the majority of us aren’t normal Christians?