On Being a Recovering Baptist

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Chris and Dan's IM exchange is absolutely hillarious. And I'm glad it came at my expense. But it's odd that even after working together for something like 5 years that Dan has no clue about my faith. I don't see how he missed Chris and I saying that the other is going to hell when he sat right next to us!

So, as Dan asked, what exactly is a recovering baptist? It turns out that a few APWBWGTTDers are recovering baptists and even more are recovering fundamentalists.

I'd say that a recovering baptist is someone who grew up in a typical Bible Belt church. Most of us grew up understanding that being a Christian means there is a long list of things you don't do (drink, dance, gamble). To be fair, what's taught from the pulpit may say that a Christian is merely someone who believes Jesus is God's son and died for your sins, but many Baptists have a way of also making a point of running away from anything or anyone that hinted at sin.

Many people are so hurt by this kind of religion that they turn away from Christianity completely. I don't know why, but I never did. As I read the Bible, I became more convinced that it is indeed true (yes I pretty much fit the definition of evangelical from Chris' IM), but that the Baptists have it wrong. Jesus didn't run away from sinful people or things which coud lead to sin, just the contrary, he embraced them. It was the religious people that he derided because they used religious rules to look down on everyone else while making themselves look better. And this is what many people in my old church did. If acting like a drunken idiot was clearly (in their minds) sinful, then I should not drink. Sure, you may not get sloshed when drinking, but somehow I'm better than you since I only drink sugar and caffeine-laden iced tea.

Denominations may be one of the worst things about Christianity, but in case anyone cares, my spiritual journey has led me to the Presbyterian Church in America. I'd say that on the Fundamentalist - Unitarian scale I moved from about a 9.5 to about a 6. That is, I still believe the Bible to be true (including that I don't believe in evolution, but that's because I don't buy the math of it), but I live my life very differently now. Obviously I figured out that Jesus drank alcohol, so now I follow his example. But more important than that, I've learned that in terms of who's better than who, Jesus is in first place and the rest of us are last. It's not my responsibility to try to change how someone else acts, and it's incorrect for me to think that I'm better than anybody else because of what either of us have done. And it's my responsibility to love and include everyone, regardless of what they do or believe. And that may be the biggest difference between my former life and my current one.

Enough theology, I need a beer. Hopefully I can make the next APWBWGTTD meetup!


Sheryl said...

That's not just a baptist thing, you know. All churches have people who miss the mark on what Jesus was really saying.

I know He is so sad that we don't look beyond the do's and don'ts to the HEART of it all.

Those of us who grew up in "Bible Belt" churches believed what we were taught--we didn't bother to see if Scripture backed it up.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and am thankful for that heritage. However, I did not become a Christian until I was 19 years old. It wasn't until I saw someone actually living the WORD in front of me that I discovered what was missing in my life.

As my daughter was growing up I made sure that when I gave her a DON'T that she knew why. We would look at Scripture and see how Jesus steers us from places and things that can harm our spirits, our bodies, and our minds.

I am making sure I pass along things that matter for Christ and His Salvation.

In closing, would a better term be "recovering Christian"?

Thank you.

Sheryl Dean