In case you missed it, Trigg Bundgaard (the blogger over at Epochalypsis) posted a powerful video this Tuesday to inform his readers and the rest of the world of his deconversion. Among his varied reasons for walking away are his disdain for Pauline Christianity (which, like Trigg, I also contend is radically different from what Jesus preached), and his frustration with mainstream Christianity’s addiction to self-serving forms of worship.
Trigg seems to be seeking an expression of Jesus-followerism that isn’t afraid of standing in opposition to popular theology. He seems to be saying, “Give me Jesus and an expression of following him that will transcend the mess we’ve made over the past 2,000 years.” I watched his video and identified with everything he said… Even the deconversion part.
Like Trigg, one day it became alarmingly apparent to me that I needed to rethink my understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. For years, I had attempted to “follow Jesus” by going to church and Bible study… but I had also closed myself off from “the world” in an effort to stay “pure”– a behavior very much unlike that of Jesus. I had become a great apologist and a faithful church program attendee, but I had no knowledge of the historical person named Jesus. I had entered the Christian cocoon– a theological echo chamber that affirmed my Bible interpretations and my worldview– and I never wanted to emerge because I had obtained “personal salvation”. Keeping my “personal salvation” was all that mattered to me at the time.
Videos like Trigg’s inspire me to wonder about the future of the Christianity I left behind… the Christianity that can’t envision what it would become without buildings or programs… the Christianity that clings to its interpretation of the Bible because it’s afraid to change… the one that seems to choose a victim in every generation… the one that is intolerant of other religions… the Christianity that is afraid of science and opposed to intellectual pursuit. I think about the Christianity I once knew– and all of the friends who have left it– and I wonder to myself: What if our leaving is exactly what Christianity needs?
Over the past few years, Emergent authors have written powerful things about the New Reformation– however, I continue to wonder if Christianity is truly prepared for what a “reformation” could mean for its institutions.
We need to seriously consider the possibility that the future of Christianity may not have a thing to do with church buildings or seminaries or even personal salvation. The “newly-reformed” Christianity may not have a thing to do with complicated explanations for how God created the god-man by stuffing godself into a Jesus-sized container. When the dust settles, Christianity may end up with a population of Jesus-following, god-intoxicated mystics who want to bring peace and equality to the world without converting a solitary soul, and without any appetite for orthodoxy.
People are leaving Christianity so that they can follow Jesus. We may not realize it, but our religion may be changing one deconversion… one Youtube video… one personal revelation… one courageous exit at a time. The new “reformation”– the change we’re all longing for– may be most concentrated among those who have already left quietly (or in Trigg’s case, not-so-quietly).
Change could very well come through the slow exodus of Jesus followers who leave mainstream Christianity to search for a different way. This is only scary for those who can’t envision a non-organized, institution-free Christianity. I am not afraid. Bring on the next Reformation.
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