Why progressives and conservatives don’t like me

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It’s hard for a person with one foot in two spiritual worlds to find a place to call home; it’s harder still when your theology is such that it annoys both progressive and conservative Christians alike.

I say this not to look for pity, but just to state a fact: I don’t fit neatly in any one particular box. And I have my Jewish upbringing to thank for that. It’s frustrating some days, but on average, I consider it a unique part of my identity that I wouldn’t want to change.

Still, every now and then I have bad days. I hate being misunderstood and judged unfairly. Life would be easier if I could pick a paradigm – right or left, both in politics and in faith – and stick with it, but worldviews aren’t always black and white, even though we wish they were.

I personally doubt I could ever have an abortion (unless my life was endangered), but I vote pro-choice because I believe the policies of pro-choice politicians do more to lower abortion rates than those of pro-life ones. I believe the fetus is a life, but there is a difference between one at six weeks versus one at thirty-six weeks.

I believe sin is real, and that every human who has ever lived is a sinner. There are no “good people.” But I don’t believe being LGBT is a sin.

I believe that anyone who is in heaven is there because Jesus made it possible. But I don’t necessarily believe that one must “pray the prayer” in order to get there. And not everyone will end up there – but whatever “hell” is, I reject the notion that it is eternal conscious torment.

I believe the notion of “biblical womanhood” is bullshit. As are gender roles. More on that here and here.

Also, I’m a feminist (though I have some concerns about projecting modern ideas of feminism onto Jesus).

I don’t believe in an inerrant Bible, but I believe it is a sacred collection of writings – the only source we have to learn about God’s history with his people, and about Jesus.

And even if it could somehow be proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus was just an ordinary man and not divine, I’d still believe there is merit in following the standards he set. The Sermon on the Mount will never stop being revolutionary.

I’m okay living with uncertainty and mystery about some things. I see this as a sign of spiritual maturity, not a weakness.

I’m generally not one to employ the “No True Scotsman” approach to faith: if you don’t believe exactly as I do, then you’re not a True Christian. At the same time, I believe anything that is directly related to the gospel or requirements for salvation should be the solid starting point. In other words, if you identify as Christian, but don’t believe the resurrection happened, I won’t judge you — but I might ask you some questions.

That said, “Lord, I believe — help my unbelief” is a valid approach to faith. Honestly, Christianity — the belief that an all-powerful God chose to be conceived in the womb of a virgin, was born into poverty, died for our sins, and came back from the dead — is a tall order.

I believe that God cares more about the heart than whether or not you have “correct” theology (which isn’t to say that theology doesn’t matter, but it isn’t everything).

These are just a handful of reasons why I joke that I am liberally conservative (or conservatively liberal). It’s hard for people to believe sometimes, but I try my best to not let progressive or conservative modes of thinking define me – my faith evolves the more I study Scripture, and the more I learn from people who have been walking with God a lot longer than me.

I have strong theological stances on some things, but I don’t want my doctrinal stance to define me – I don’t want to ever stop asking questions. Even today, while strongly identifying as an Episcopalian, I don’t want to fall into the mindset that I must believe everything my church believes. I’m bound to have my disagreements and reservations. God is bigger than all of that.

Photo by RawFilm on Unsplash

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2 thoughts on “Why progressives and conservatives don’t like me

  1. bobcabkings says:

    I’ve never found a dogma, religious or political, that I could fit myself into for longer than it took to uncover its unspoken assumptions, or the inconsistencies of its preachers. I guess that’s one of the reasons I like reading your work.

    Liked by 1 person

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