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Disillusioned After 15 Years


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Hi everyone. Very glad to have found this site. My topic reads 'disillusioned' because after becoming a Christian in Japan in 1995 and being a sincere follower, I haven't attended a church for over a year. The turning point came during the presidential election in '08 when it became really clear that we were the only non-Republicans in our church. Our pastor and others definitely voiced their views in small groups and emails which really troubled us and immediately put a wedge in between. We began to feel like undercover spies and it was awful, so we left, after having attended for 3 years.

 

I feel very strongly that Christianity should not be 'owned' or represented by any political party. By doing so, it immediately puts up a wall against those with differing viewpoints and destroys any sense of 'grace.' My husband and I are still looking for a church that doesn't follow the typical anti-liberal slant but is still biblical - and I'm telling you, it's extremely difficult. It's probably more so being in AZ.

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Thanks. I've really missed going to church all this time and have felt guilty about it. But I know we want to be in the right place. Since the whole election drama, I came across some really great books like 'How Would Jesus Vote?'

Still, so many churches here, while seeming welcoming, still promoted those so called 'unbiased' informational booklets on voting. Here, they're put out by the Center for AZ Policy. On a side note, I work for an environmental nonprofit, and even though I'm definitely not a 'tree-hugger', it made no difference at the church. There was either no interest or people were wary of the liberal leanings of being 'green.' I couldn't believe how simplistic the thinking was and how easily they put you into certain camps.

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Welcome to TCPC! You are not the first person to find themselves marginalized in their own church becasue of politics. I don't know which denomination or church you participated in, but suspect it was likely fundamental/evangelical. Having been ordained a fundamentalist minister (past tense), I think you will have a hard time finding a politically/religiously conservative church that will be open to any form of liberalism. If you are looking for a gathering who agrees with you on liberal poitics, you will probably need to look for a liberal church or denomination. They, however, may not be as biblically focused as you would like. Nevertheless, there are liberal churches who go one better than studying the scriptures, they work at living them. I like the statement of Jesus as told in John's Gospel:

 

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the

Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39-40)[/font]

 

I like the quote, that, "He/she who knows only the Bible, knows not even that."

 

There are also some gatherings which focus more on developing consciousness of Jesus in their life, than "book, chapter, and verse". To be sure, consciousness includs scripture, but puts the emphasis on makeing Jesus, God, the Spirit an ongoing search which includes looking for God in both scripture, in our souls, and in life. This is one of the reasons I wanted to affiliate with The Center For Progressive Christianity, because the 8 points offers the kind of inclusiveness which is necessary for the development of a conscious faith, a faith which is able to see God in life and life in God.

 

If there is one thing I've learned over the past 40 years, it is that are serious life changing choices involved in deciding to follow Jesus. He calls us to find him in the inner-world, the soul, which means we must consciously except the paradox that while we know God in the inner-world we also must live in the outer-world. But we can serve only one master. That is the rub. How do we know the true master? Ultimaately, it will take a progressive and conscious faith to find out.

 

I apologize if I've been too esoteric. If you have any thoughts or questions, please let me know.

 

Bob the facilitator

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searchinginaz, Welcome and enjoy the time to get to know yourself. It is obvious that you are being guided and you are strong enough to follow. Robert thank you for the post I enjoyed it.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi, and welcome. I just joined this week but I noticed your quandary and wanted to respond because I felt your sense of frustration and isolation. I attended a moderate evangelical seminary for several years, and one of several disheartening things about it was having many experiences like yours. I also grew up in Tennessee originally and it similarly to AZ is a hardline red state, so I understand. One of my seminary buddies, also originally from Arizona, usually votes Democrat and before he came to seminary, had made the "mistake" of trying to tell his Sunday School class that it wasn't sinful to vote Dem. It didn't go over well for him.

 

Unfortunately, I agree with Robert G. that with most churches conservative theology is a package deal with a right-wing political consensus, and similarly you almost have to go to a theologically liberal church to have your liberal politics respected. For help maybe in finding an exception for a church home (and I do hear you about feeling more comfortable in a theologically more conservative church), you might want to check out the folks at Sojourners and at Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA). There are probably more, but it's been years since I actively followed evangelicalism and unfortunately they're all I really remember. These organizations are politically progressive and I know Jim Wallis and Ron Sider, respectively, have led these organizations for a long time trying to at least open evangelicals up politically. They have their limitations; for example, last I remember (it's been several years since I followed them) they were not officially supportive of gay marriage and the other GLBT issues, if that's important to you. Moreover, I met Sider personally years ago and unfortunately, at least IMO he tends to uncritically equate his own politics with "true" Christianity, which bothers me as much as when religious right people do it. That said, however, I had the privilege to know a few people who were working at ESA at the time I was friends with them, and ESA's people tend to be nice, committed people. If they can't point you to congregations, they probably can at least offer you resources, which never hurts.

 

I hope this helps at least somewhat.

 

Hi everyone. Very glad to have found this site. My topic reads 'disillusioned' because after becoming a Christian in Japan in 1995 and being a sincere follower, I haven't attended a church for over a year. The turning point came during the presidential election in '08 when it became really clear that we were the only non-Republicans in our church. Our pastor and others definitely voiced their views in small groups and emails which really troubled us and immediately put a wedge in between. We began to feel like undercover spies and it was awful, so we left, after having attended for 3 years.

 

I feel very strongly that Christianity should not be 'owned' or represented by any political party. By doing so, it immediately puts up a wall against those with differing viewpoints and destroys any sense of 'grace.' My husband and I are still looking for a church that doesn't follow the typical anti-liberal slant but is still biblical - and I'm telling you, it's extremely difficult. It's probably more so being in AZ.

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