Christianity vs. Jesus: Some thoughts on Anne Rice

So, this news is making big waves right now.  I have seen numerous blog posts and comments, facebook 'likes', and even received personal email linking this story because it "makes one think." 

In a nutshell, Anne Rice is leaving "Christianity" because she refuses to be anti: gay, feminist, science, and democrat.  She also cannot be a part of this "quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group."

But, her faith in Christ is still central  to her life. You can follow the link in the article to Anne Rice's facebook page, where you can scan her status updates and read her words for yourself, complete with over 2000 comments that I have no interest in scanning. 

So, here's what I think.  

1. People get frustrated with the church every day.  Some stay, some go.  But, when someone famous does it, we all sit up and take notice.  If the known fact that the church in the west has been, on average, declining for decades now did not stop to make you think... well, pay more attention.  There is no real news here. 

2. Most protestants lack any and all ecclesiology (that is, theology of the church) and therefore we feel like we can say things like: My faith in Christ is important, but I can't handle the church, so I'm outta here.  And so on.  My question here is this: Can you follow HIM while rejecting HIS body? Jesus' point may not have been to start a 'religion' in all senses of that word, but her certainly began a following and a movement. 

3. From the very beginning, Jesus followers have been a quarrelsome, disputatious, hostile, and infamous group.  This was true while Jesus was still alive. They argued over who would be greatest and sit at his right or left hand, they did stupid things and argued with him, they doubted and despaired and fought and disappointed Jesus left right and center.  However, His response was not to abandon them, nor to counsel that they abandon each other.  Instead, he urged them to unity, prayer, and love (which always perseveres).   I think Jesus knew exactly what he was doing when he brought all these diverse people together.  If we can't learn to love those with whom we share the center of our lives, what hope do we have to love our enemies?

4. The church is the bride of Christ, and Christianity is simply the group of people who are (ostensibly) attempting to follow Him.  We ought to be very careful about how we treat such a lady (the church), not because there is no place for criticism or growth, not because she is a sacred cow we dare not touch, but, at the very least, because of what she will be.  As for Christ being more important than Christianity, perhaps the real problem here is the clear misunderstanding of what these terms mean.  There is no Christianity apart from Christ.  Obviously, Rice is critiquing the institution as it exists in modern day U.S.A. however, there are no nuances there to account for the fact that we are a fallen group of people living in a fallen world... 

5. Following Christ may not mean following his followers (in Rice's words) but it certainly means being part of the body of his followers.  The impulse to throw up our hands in frustration and go it alone is a modern individualistic misunderstanding of what it means to actually follow Christ.  

6.  I am not Anti-gay, anti-science, anti-feminist, or anti-democrat.  Nor am I (if one reads the rest of her posts) anti-life (?!?) or anti-artificial birth control.  I am anti-secular humanist in general, but only because I have found that movement to be generally anti-Christ.  It sounds very much to me like Rice is giving up not so much on Christianity as on fundamentalism (and to that I say: BRAVO!).  What is sad, however, is that she may not know the difference.  And that is not sad in the sense that "she should know better."  I sympathize with her feelings.  It is sad in that the 'church' she has been exposed to has left her no options.  

Anyway, some food for thought.


doch said...

Well said, young man. Despite what you and Pastor Tim said on Sunday, you guys are paid to think so I don't have to think so hard. :)

Think on!


Andrew said...

Lol. I am sure you know the following distinctions, but I will make them anyway. :)

We do take on some things for you; like Greek and Hebrew, which I mentioned on Sunday.

We just can't take on your walk with Christ, which requires that your learn and grow with Him, in Him, and through Him, as He renews your mind and trains you in Godly thinking, believing, desiring, and living.

adriel said...

Cool post,

It really is sad that Rice has shown her frustration in the dejection and actions of the Church "institution" of the USA...

I really like your point on how we cannot follow Jesus while rejecting HIS body / HIS bride. I would be incredibly afraid if our Church leaders threw up their arms in frustration at every wrong decision or action of the Church body and would go it alone.

Yes, Rice is correct in saying that Christ should and always be the center of our lives. However, if that is the case, His direction for us to love one another and continue to build each other up within the Church body should weigh just as mightily.

Thanks for the post Andrew... now get some sleep!

ps. I couldn't help but notice Lencioni's "5 Dysfunctions of a Team" on the tables during Coffee time last Sunday. Was this your doing? :)

Andrew said...

Your welcome for the post :)

Lencioni was almost definitely Lawell's doing, though I don't know for sure. I heartily approve, even if I had nothing to do with it :) I have been borrowing them from Lawell; next on the list is "death by meeting".

Andrew Jones said...

Thought I would link to what I thought was a riveting follow-up interview with Rice where she explains her decision in a bit more detail.