Coming Clean

Donald Miller, author of the book, “Blue Like Jazz” posted this on his blog last month:

“If you were to put a group of modern, leading evangelicals in a room and ask them to write a book about God and the church, formalizing a message to the world, I doubt you’d end up with anything like the Bible.

You probably wouldn’t tell the story of Bill Clinton having an affair, Benny Hinn faking healings and getting a divorce or Ted Haggard talking macho and homophobic and then secretly sleeping with men and using drugs. I doubt you’d talk about powerful religious figures being involved in incest, either. But that’s exactly the sort of stories we find in scripture. And not only that, but these are principal characters through which Christ lineage and God’s redemptive message are passed down through.

Write that book today and we’d likely get some specific theological statements, mapped out like math, some song lyrics, some stories that make God and his followers look good, and after each chapter, actionable steps leading to a more vibrant life in which you are happy and financially stable. In other words, you’d get modern Mormonism.

What I love about the Bible is its honesty. This is not a book in which authors tried to hide anything. If somebody got drunk and slept with their daughter, it’s in there. If the king of Israel had a man killed and slept with his wife, it’s in there. If somebody doubted God’s love, it’s right there in the book.

So why don’t Christian books read anything like the Bible? Can we handle the truth?

Part of the problem is ours is a religion of image. When the authors of scripture sat down to write, they weren’t writing for critics, and they didn’t care whether or not people approved, they were attempting to capture truth. And they believed telling the truth was more important than selling the truth.

So my question is, do we trust truth? And would it matter if your church shrunk because you presented the truth (in maturity and objectivity)? Would people stop reading your blog if you were honest, like the writers of scripture? And at what point do we call a white-washed style of literature lies?

But another important question is can you handle the truth? If you knew about your pastors thought life, would you still go to church? If others knew about your darkest sins, would they stay away from you? How did a book filled with such brutal honesty create an image-sensitive culture?

What do you think would happen if we stopped “spinning” the gospel, and started telling the truth? My guess is, the church would shrink, and what you’d be left with is a small core that would grow through love, acceptance and honest commitment to each other. But perhaps not.”

Lately I’ve been wondering how honesty fell out of vogue with the Church? Does anyone remember? Was there a vote I missed where we decided that truthfulness was no longer a virtue?

I’m grateful for the friends I’ve found and the community that I’m part of that invites me, even provokes me to be real. I still grab my mask from time to time but I’m getting braver as love makes me feel safer to share my life – the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.


About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in charismatic, Christianity, Church, denial, God, Meaning, questions, Rant, religion. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Coming Clean

  1. Claire Muir says:

    ..and you did it again.
    I’d say I liked this but I wouldn’t be truthful. lol.

    Thought provoking. It touches on the “sanitary” christianity that I see today. The stuff that makes me nuts.
    I’m glad there are people out there still trying to be authentic and being honest about trying. As long as I can see you people in action, as long as I have an example on how to walk this out, that’s my light at the end of the tunnel.

  2. Ted says:

    The difference between man’s writings and that of the Scripture can easily be explained by the fact that Scripture was inspired, those writing currently are not. That being said however, I think it’s true that we like to shy away from that which makes us uncomfortable, and sin is one of those things. The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel is a good book that deals with issues honestly, and is one that I recommend people read.

    Yeah, there is a lot of “fake community” out there in the church right now, and that’s too bad. It tells others that they need to clean up before they can come to church. But Jesus said just the opposite when confronting those who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery.

  3. We’ve been reading Blue Like Jazz in our book study group, Miller is pretty good at challenging this aspect of Christianity. I think it is really important that we become truth tellers and truth seekers. Somewhere along the line we’ve swallowed the lie that the most important thing about us is our witness. In order to focus on witness, we’ve codified it, legalized it and actually hurt it. The irony is that our plastic lives are not good advertising for God. In fact we’ve taken the most powerful aspect of our religion – the ability to live with tensions of doubt, failure and disappointment in the midst of faith, hope and love – and traded it for something manufactured and even false.

    I’m also glad for my community that pushes me to be a truth teller.

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