Thursday, March 29, 2018

Reclaiming the Title of Christian.

The turning point in my internal debate was when I was talking to a Conservative Evangelical Pastor. A good and kind man, who I do have plenty of respect for. He was saying "Christians believe" and "Christians do" in order to justify the exclusionary behavior of some of his parishioners. I snapped at him "I'm a Christian too, I'm a Quaker. We've been around for over 300 years."

Before then, I had no problem self identifying as a Quaker, but the title of Christian was anathema to me. So much harm has been done by self-professed hypocritical Christians in my memory. I didn't want to be included with them. Even by accident.

I feel that at this point I need to make a point that I have never had a problem with people who follow in the footsteps of Yeshua of Galilee. In High School I had tremendous respect and friendship for a guy named Adam. Who would read the Bible in Study Hall. My first girlfriend was the daughter of an Orthodox Priest. In fact my wife is the most devout Christian I have ever met. At the risk of falling into the No True Scotsman fallacy, I have no problem with True Christians.

Since that fateful conversation with the Evangelical Pastor. I have gone out of the way to point out how my Quaker beliefs are Christian. To counteract when those who have beliefs anathema to my own who are taking the Lord's name in vain (using God's name to push their personal agendas). Our forefathers in the Society were intensely devout, and generally had a theological justification for their actions.

This article A Quaker's Response to Christian Fundamentalism uses biblical verse to illustrate the Christian basis for our beliefs. Admittedly, in response to accusations that our Quaker beliefs are non-Christian because they do not fit a certain theology. After reading this, I found a greater leading to emphasize that we are a part of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. To let people know that we are definitely Christians.

Finally, I don't want to allow the loudest and most exclusionary of Americans a monopoly on the name Christian. Bigots such as Pat Robertson, who hates pretty much all Americans, and would deny even my right to be considered a Christian. Political partisans like Jerry Falwell, who destroyed the good name of Evangelicalism by marrying it with Republican politics. Con Artists such as Jim and Tammy Faye Baker or Robert Tilton. Hypocrites such as Ted Haggard, George Alan Rekers, and Paul Crouch (who make it a truism that if you are loudly anti-LBGTQ, you are hiding something). None of these people deserve to define what a Christian is. I get to remind people that the Christian Left is just as much Christian as they are. (Personally, I feel more so, but that is my own bias showing.