Oct 172017
 

Jason Stellman first came on my radar back in the early days of the blog when he was a missionary for Calvary Chapel in Europe.

His support was cut off and he had to return home because he was becoming a (gasp) Calvinist.

That interest in Calvinism led to him going to seminary and becoming a Presbyterian pastor.

 

While dwelling among the Reformed, he authored what I thought was the book on two kingdom theology and his church was stable and growing.

JJS was going to be a star.

Then, out of seemingly nowhere, he left it all and joined the Roman Catholic communion.

The tongue clucking among the frozen chosen sounded like thunder…

Now, it seems like the new gig has it’s own problems.

It seems like Stellman doesn’t completely fit in anywhere.

He’s a misfit.

My guess is that many of you feel the same way, even if your road hasn’t been as long and winding as Jason’s.

This book may be for you.

Now, if you’re looking for one of those books that affirms traditional orthodoxy in the face of doubt, this probably isn’t the book for you.

That would be too easy and Stellman seems to have an aversion to easy.

If you’re willing to to ask some hard questions and explore some different paradigms (because God and faith are important and worthy of such) I think you will find real value here.

If you’re a misfit, you’re already asking them and looking for change…

Stellman at his best is provocative, glib, and quite humorous…and he’s often at his best here.

What needs to be remembered is that he’s paid a high price over the years to get to this place…and you may have as well.

Sometimes it’s good to know you’re not alone…misfits are often isolated.

His journey isn’t over…neither is yours.

“Misfit Faith” may make the road trip a little more enjoyable for you.

Click on the book cover or here to order it from us…

 

  90 Responses to “PhxP Book Review: “Misfit Faith” by Jason J. Stellman”

  1. Ordered… Thank you for the review.

  2. Joel, let me know what you think after you read it…

  3. I will thank you my friend

  4. Catholicism/ Orthodoxy by book is not the same as Catholicism/ Orthodoxy by direct participation in parish life.

    I don’t know anything about JSS’s issues w/ the RCC but I do know some other people’s stories so I will talk about a typical “misfit” convert instead, based on many examples of people I have known:

    +The person is an avid reader of theology

    +They decide their current (evangelical/ Protestant) church doesn’t match up to what they have been studying.

    +They read further and decide the One True Church is either the EO or the RC.

    +They pick one and begin to study in earnest and become experts on their new love.

    +They visit a parish and are dazzled by the beauty but….

    +…. they soon discover that the local parish doesn’t quite match up to what they’ve been reading about. The priest is an ordinary man, the chanting is off-key, the kids are noisy…

    +….. so they seek out a different parish but discover it is also populated by humans.

    + They discover that no one wants to hear their thought on Created vs Uncreated Energies at coffee hour. What dullards!

    + They still have a Protestant evangelical world view and become disgruntled when the RC/EO parish isn’t especially interested in his ideas for church growth.

    + They start suspecting they have made a Big Mistake.

    + They leave, having nothing good at all to say about the RC/ EO

    Why is this. Well…

    + Reading about a church is not the same as participating in the life of a church. The real deal often turns out to be quite a shock for someone who has just been reading idealized accounts of RC/EO.

    + Most parishioners have very little interest in theology, which is the all-consuming addiction of the convert. Many just want to light a candle for the soul of their dear departed mama.

    + These ancient churches have a lot of superstitious beliefs that, while not officially condoned, are believed by many people. How odd it must seem for a self-made RC scholar to discover that people in his new parish are burying statues of St. Joseph upside down in their yard because this will help sell the house quickly. The Greeks believe in the Evil Eye and pin blue anti-hex pins to their children’s clothing.

    + I think the RC will be disappointing in any case because the ones I’ve visited lately seem like watered down Methodist churches and the current Pope is a very confusing man.

    + The Orthodox are probably using some foreign language and are extremely resistant to changing all the services to English to accommodate the convert.

    There’s a hundred other reasons. Book-RC/EO is not the same as church-RC/EO and people are often very disappointed. No parish could ever live up to the romantic notion some converts expect.

    Again, I don’t know if this touches on JSS’s personal issues but I have seen it myself many times in real life. Very smart, well-read converts will visit a local parish, his mind full of Thomas Aquinas or St. Maximos the Confessor only to discover the local parish consists of elderly foreign women who know no theology and mostly light candles for dead people.

  5. “Reading about a church is not the same as participating in the life of a church. The real deal often turns out to be quite a shock for someone who has just been reading idealized accounts of RC/EO.”

    Ain’t that the truth.

    I switched denoms about 10 years ago after reading a winsome book about this group.

    I joined. I liked it. Still do, for the most part.

    But what was really different when it came to book vs. reality was how really different was that the life of a pastor is one of a lot of details, appointment, finessing things, etc. In other words, a whole lot of nitty gritty! Sure, worship and Bible study. But there’s a whole lot of bunch of things that my pastor did that I could never have found in the pages of a book.

    Not at all a theological walk in the park. In fact, theology wasn’t/isn’t on the minds of 95% of parishoners, at least in my parish.

    I think our culture’s in danger of mistaking actually doing and living something versus reading about it or seeing it on a screen. 2 different things!

  6. I’d like to read that book!

    As for me, many times I have gone back and forth on the horizon of the faith. Somehow, I always come back to my center.

  7. I appreciated the dialog when Jason left his “reformed” position as a pastor. The viciousness of some who were “offended” was astounding, it was very mild compared to some “rebukes” I have seen. For a while, I sort of started thinking God is not in a constant state of Holy Rage against us. I was very sorry for what Jason and his family suffered during all that change. One thing it taught me is that religion at times is very stupid. I mean having families tore asunder by “words”. I don’t know the full skinny. I might read it, I will admit I dont much care for Drunk X pastors but I did like some of my interactions with Jason.

    As pathetic as this sounds, and it is totally pathetic and emotionalism at its vilest. I just want to see us all find peace in Jesus.

  8. Sounds like an interesting read. It’s it ok not to belong of one adheres to the fundamentals of the faith?

    I’ve been attending a CC. I know people, but don’t get too involved. I am involved in the homeless outreach ministry which started there, but expanded to involve other local churches. I don’t have to explain my reticence upon getting deeply involved in my home church past a certain point.

    The kids were baptized in the RCC out of respect or obligation to my Mexican ex-laws who believe that The Sacraments save, not Christ. I’ve met RCC people whom I feel are believers, but not the ex laws. Ultimately only God knows.

    When little D is a little older, I’d like to take her to Mass, or even a Lutheran service in order to expose them to the liturgical tradition. I attended Lutheran school from 4th-6th grades, so I am familiar with it, even if it was 35 years ago.

    There’s a tiny (and i mean tiny!) EO parish a block from our home. Xenia’s stories are compelling, yet I’m also scared off, lol. S7 would be ok wherever we went. He eschews Sunday school to be with me in the service. I think he just wants the parental connection even if he’s bored, though I know he listens while he plays with his Legos.

  9. #4 Xenia

    Your comments are right on the money. I have studied under EO teachers, have EO friends, visited Russia, stayed in EO monasteries, studied iconography, etc. Nevertheless (and I speak only for myself) I realized long ago that the cultural divide was simply too much for me. I’m culturally an Anglican. As you say, reading and doing are two different things. I rejoice for those, like yourself, who can overcome that divide, but not everyone can do it. In the end, you have to be honest with yourself about who you are as opposed to what you know.

  10. Before buying the book, I would suggest listening to Jason’s podcasts. I have listened to at least 50 in the past. I think his ‘misfit’ is a self created brand.
    I would at least listen before reading.

  11. Sounds like someone who suffers from what I like to call “Theological Angst.” It’s the idea that someone is raised in one tradition and only knows that tradition, until they are old enough to look elsewhere on their own and discover there are many other schools of thought out there, and the one they were raised in was narrow minded and ignorant. They are “discovering” all kinds of new things, when the reality its stuff people have known for centuries, it’s just new to them. Its like when someone goes to college. They think they are amazingly smart now and their parents are dumb, when in fact their parents also went to college and know the same stuff, it just isn’t a part of their daily lives.

    I’m not discounting the book or the author. It’s just that I saw this kind of thing happen when I was pastoring in a college town. People raised in a liberal church environment “discover” the structure of a more fundamentalist environment and like it, or people raised in the tiny church and town in Footloose discover Reformed theology (when Mars Hill was all the rage) and wonder where its been all their lives.

    Just an observation.

  12. Thanks for the shout-out, Michael.

    Some of you have made really good points about this book, and about me. Yes, there has been a fair amount of “theological angst” both in my days as a CC pastor/missionary, through my time in the PCA, and now as a “misfit Catholic.” Indeed, I fear the day when I just become complacent and un-curious.

    And MLD is correct that my identity as a misfit is “self-created,” for as I have said, I have no one to blame but myself (if indeed “blame” is the right word) for having experienced these shifts in my own thinking. Like I said, I tend to think and explore a lot, which, if nothing else, has taught me to hold my views with a much looser grip than I did in my earlier years!

    Anyway, I’ll be checking in, so if anyone has questions or push-back, I’ll do my best to respond.

    Peace,

    Jason

  13. i apologize to JJS for opinionating on this without having read the book, but…
    i think any of us who find any church among the churches as the all encompassing and all infallibly correct doctrinal church (small ‘c’) are just tired of wandering (or afraid of doing so)…
    to have a church or denominational home is a good thing, but…
    there is no pure church, no church that hasn’t spun some of the theology in order to make a doctrinal whole cloth, so?
    just because a doctrine doesn’t sound right, doesn’t make it wrong, but on the other hand it may not sound right because it IS wrong, so…
    God has – IMV, of course – precious redeemed ones in most churches that honor the Christ as God the Redeemer, that honor the God of scriptures as THE GOD, the only God to whom we will answer when our walk here on earth is done

    just sayin … again 🙂

  14. If you check out the book (or read my articles on Facebook) you’ll note that I focus very little these days on doctrine and dogma. I am more interested in the how than the what, in practice rather than beliefs.

  15. #14 JJS

    Just out of curiosity, a number of friends who have crossed the Tiber have found it difficult in terms of finding a parish, a place… or even a sense of belonging. Any issues in your situation?

  16. Oh for sure, but I think I would have a hard time with that anywhere since I am not conservative. It’s just comes with the territory.

  17. “practice rather than beliefs”…
    can that be rephrased to, “living rather than theory?” and if so, does that mean you are more concerned with living what Christ (God) intends than defending the dogma?

    BTW, i, an old non-denomination protestant, have fond memories of some Roman Catholic priests i have known in years past that i am certain are now in the presence of our Lord – they probably apologized for not being successful in bringing me into the RC church and i’m pretty sure God told them, “don’t worry, I’ve got her.” 🙂

  18. John,

    “practice rather than beliefs”…
    can that be rephrased to, “living rather than theory?” and if so, does that mean you are more concerned with living what Christ (God) intends than defending the dogma?

    Yeah, kinda. Like, I don’t care as much about whether you believe doctrine x if you are a total jerk. And conversely, I find more in common with someone who loves his neighbor but makes no religious claims about himself than I do with those who staunchly defends their views in smug and condescending ways. I used to be that guy and I am not proud of it.

    BTW, the book is barely about Catholicism at all.

  19. Thanks, JJS… glad Michael put this post up as it sounds like your thoughts and your journey speak to what so many PhxP peeps are sorting through… honest people are more easily confused i think… LOL

  20. Yep, for sure. To whatever degree I can help people navigate their own spiritual crises I am happy to do so. God knows I’ve had some experience with this kind of trauma!

  21. I liked the book.
    JJS has some interesting thoughts about the fatherhood of God that are worth exploring in a book by themselves.

    We all have questions…but some questions are taboo in orthodox Christian culture.
    JJS asks them anyway…without forcing an answer down your throat to replace the one you’re already choking on.

    He’s funny as hell, too.

  22. i listen to that podcast.

  23. Glad to hear it, Link! It’s certainly not for everyone. . . .

  24. Personally, I think that anyone who has survived the cc burn with any kind of intact faith is ahead of the game. For me, the Anglican Communion was it. I found my true spiritual home there and can’t imagine myself anywhere else. It’s been more than a decade, longer than I was in cc. Good for you Jason, pressing onward in the journey.

  25. cascheller,

    Good to see you here, my friend.

    I followed you into the Anglican communion…and I amen your choice. 🙂

  26. Cash,

    Personally, I think that anyone who has survived the cc burn with any kind of intact faith is ahead of the game.

    True. One of the most interesting bits of evidence that I still care about my faith is that I fight so hard to find ways to maintain it (despite often feeling like I have every reason to bail).

    Misfit Faith is kind of about that. I say in the intro that the book is “an honest, heart-on-my-sleeve account of where I’m at and how I got here. It’s just some guy’s chronicle of his journey from one kind of faith to another. It’s what happens when a person has reached the end of himself and the way he used to be (and the way he used to believe) and yet, despite being inundated with reasons to give up on everything, he just can’t bring himself to walk away from the God that he doesn’t even believe is there half the time.

    “In a word, Misfit Faith seeks to express in words the last gasp of those who have realized that they will always, ever, and only be fans of spirituality rather than full-fledged members of the team. Echoing what I said above, a misfit trying to believe is a recipe for disaster. But if the Gospel teaches us anything, it’s that disaster is where grace happens.”

  27. I need to read this. Sounds like a man’s honest assesment of his own faith. God bless em for it

  28. I just ordered the book f/Amazon and looking forward to reading it!

  29. There is always a snake in the bushes raising its head to question our understanding of God, it seems to me…
    The still point in this whirling chaos, for me at least, has always been the record of God the Son entering into the human race to overcome Satan’s grotesque best with nothing more (or less) than pure obedience to God the Father

  30. Jesus did not have to overcome any from Satan.

  31. Ahem… MLD doesn’t like the term “overcome” ..?… well, then to be politically correct and more inclusive of the whole plan of God…
    Satan threw everything he had at Jesus and Jesus never took the bait even as Satan hung Him naked, ridiculed and mortally wounded – a condemned man doing the Father’s will to perfection – giving Satan nothing with which he could accuse Him = “a crushing defeat” for the devil and offering the human race a way out of the mess we’d made

    err… something like that. 😇

  32. Satan had nothing to do with the crucifixion of Jesus and was not a participant in the crucifixion. The one who crucified Jesus was the Father.

  33. “Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them.”

  34. Uh-oh, MLD.

    LOL!

  35. Dualism, the battle of the gods (in this case Jesus vs the devil) has been around for a long time.
    Its terrible that Jesus lost and Satan hung him on the cross. The Father had a better plan – but what are you going to do?

  36. What happens when one goes on a “book fast” at an age. But what are you going to do?

  37. “The one who crucified Jesus was the Father.”

    Also false.

    “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

  38. How about a bit more nuanced view of the sacrifice of Christ as a “gift from God the Father himself, for the Father handed his Son over to sinners in order to reconcile us with himself. At the same time it is the offering of the Son of God made man, who in freedom and love offered his life to his Father through the Holy Spirit in reparation for our disobedience.”

    True, Trinitarian and a bit better than a “punch line”.

  39. Well, MLD, I can’t say that it was not the will of the Father, you’re correct in that Jesus came to do His Father’s will and an omniscient God knew exactly how it was going to unfold…
    Did God carry out the crucifixion of His Son? I’d disagree as I find that a bit misleading – but if one is searching for first cause, I’d vote for the O.T. account of Lucifer’s declaration of equality with God – but that’s just my “vote” cuz I dunno, do i? 😊

  40. A definite improvement Duane. Thank you.

  41. I loved this book! I often disagree with Jason on certain things but I respect him immensely and really enjoy his writing. He says things that many of us think but few say. His common sense approach to discussing theology is really refreshing to me, and I understand why it might offend some. If you haven’t felt like a spiritual misfit maybe you should go a little deeper.

  42. I lay My life down, that I might take it up again
    I lay My life down, that I might take it up again
    These are not the words of an ordinary man
    Jesus, Who died and rose again

    …you know the story…

  43. Christ was crucified before the foundations of the world and, when we see him in eternity, we will see the nail prints in his hands and feet and the wound in his side. God is not bound by time and space. The glory and shame of the cross is a revelation to us, but not to God. The cross and the self-giving sacrifice of Christ should speak to us of the eternal love of God and the Trinitarian self sacrifice for his creation – for us. Instead, we want to turn it into the explanation of a Roman execution outside the walls of Jerusalem. Yes, it took place in a time and geographical space… but that’s about us, not God. We think so much about eternal retribution that we fail to take in the eternal love in the story.

  44. JD, that statement is Jesus being obedient to the Fathers will and plan.
    The initial argument was that Satan hung Jesus on the cross. Some here have been trying to bolster that claim.

  45. Might they also believe that he holds the title deed to the esrth? I for one do not.

  46. #44 – I think I am the only “some” here… my original comment @29 addressed the data point that sustained my confidence in the Faith when life seemed in conflict with the Faith’s teaching… and I did not say that Satan personally hung Jesus…

    That said, MLD’s response and the rabbit trail that followed produced some rich observations fleshing out the facts and worth thinking on – thank you, MLD, Jean and Dr. D

  47. Title deed? 😯 I think he has a month to month lease … 😈

    Sorry JD – couldn’t resist

  48. One last clarification for the hair splitters… I guess, taken literally, I did say Satan “hung” Jesus…
    People, the human race today, are vulnerable to carrying out Satan’s will… I don’t know the extent nor the mechanisms thru which Satan works among us (he seems good at crowd manipulation)… but, ultimately the priests and the Roman government were played – willingly? yes – by Satan, carrying out the devil’s lame and ugly effort to rid himself of God’s presence on the planet

    But then I’m just saying … again… 😊 … How it looks to me and I am not a teacher, just a pilgrim who’s put in a lot of hours as a pew sitter under the teachers that made sense to me … something about spirits agreeing

  49. I loved this book! I often disagree with Jason on certain things but I respect him immensely and really enjoy his writing. He says things that many of us think but few say. His common sense approach to discussing theology is really refreshing to me, and I understand why it might offend some. If you haven’t felt like a spiritual misfit maybe you should go a little deeper.

    Thanks, Dave, I really appreciate it.

    Also, that thing of when a book about the priority of practice over doctrine gives rise to a doctrinal debate. . . . #Irony

  50. Doctrinal debate = works avoidance? 😏

  51. Haha, well I will say that “sending thoughts and prayers” after some tragedy is a pretty good excuse for doing little else!

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/jason-j-stellman/are-you-there-america-its-me-god/2027845424115423/

  52. Good link, JJS… provoked all kinds of thots on the lay of the land today… but. I’m still going to thank God when I get a good parking spot and also let Him know my thots when I dont – which is most of the time…
    that said, we Christians do seem to equate platitudes with virtue – is there a happy medium between the Mother Theresas and the Hillary Clintons?

  53. is there a happy medium between the Mother Theresas and the Hillary Clintons?

    They’re called the Drunk Ex-Pastors!

  54. This objection to “sending thoughts and prayers” is such liberal BS and political pandering and those who continue to pass it along need to stop it.
    As one who had a good friend killed in the Las Vegas shootings – I just want to strangle those who continually give the either / or – as if “sending thoughts and prayers” means that one is not doing anything else.

    If you would look around you would see that Go Fund me pages have been for most, many all of the shooting victims. I know on my friend it was over $300,000 for the family (I saw one that was well above $500K – people are doing what they can) – and because guns have not disappeared off of the face of the earth in the past 3 weeks does not mean that there has not been good discussion over it.

    What is wrong with some people – do you know only how to play the soundbite game? Folks need to grow up and realize that we live in a tough world.

  55. But then I did see this article this morning that explains the state of our “triggered” culture today – pretty funny stuff.
    http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/17/technology/google-maps-calorie-counter-cupcake/index.html?iid=ob_homepage_tech_pool

  56. The phrase “sending thoughts and prayers” is odd, though, but the intentions are very good.

    I do send prayers to some people…. St. Xenia, St. Nicholas, St. Mary… but not to people still living on the earth. What is meant is “I will pray for them” not “I will send them my prayers.” Still, as I said, the intent is very good and I hope all the people who say they are praying really do pray because the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person availeth mucho. I have no reason to doubt their sincerity.

    As a matter of fact, once you start praying for a person or a situation, oftentimes God will bring to your attention actual physical things you can do to help. At least, that’s been my experience. If you don’t talk to God about a situation, you might miss out on His advice for you.

    I never sneer at offers of prayer.

  57. In the spirit of James 2:16 one’s words have little virtue… but MLD has spoken out here before to remind us rightly that it is the Christian community that does roll up their sleeves and get to work problem solving

  58. Words directed to God have much virtue.

  59. The fun part is when I have asked those who spout off about those who “send thoughts and prayers” is What have you done to constructively change the situation besides jack your jaws? I have yet to find one who has gone to Washington or their state capitol to lobby against guns. I have yet to find one who has set up a protest or march in their town to protest gun sales. In my town we have 6 gun stores on the main street alone (we love our guns) – have have seen anyo protests. So many, most, all have not done anything — oh, and have refused to “send thoughts and prayers”

  60. Let’s see…
    Gone to DC to lobby for gun control… yep, done that.
    Gone to State Capitol to lobby for gun control… yep, done that.
    Marched in Indy against gun violence… yep, done that.
    Sent back my lifetime membership in the NRA (gift from my father) 20 years ago… yep, done that.
    Used music to protest gun violence… yep, done that.

    So, I pray. I pray for the victims, the families and, most of all, for the politicians who reside in the NRA’s hip pocket that they will repent of their avarice and greed. Still praying.

  61. Xenia, yes point taken – never be disrespectful of another’s offer to pray … those words directed to God .. well. … perhaps those words need some Faith component – too many of my prayers can not really be described as fervent and my righteousness is Christ dependent
    Yet it does amaze me how vigilant God is .. He knows our hearts … at all times, both as to condition and as to potential… we’re kind of like lamps looking for the light socket, sometimes… it so it seems to me. 😊

    for the record , tho, the James reference is addressing empty platitudes

  62. Duane, that is good, in fact very commendable, but you aren’t one who has been bashing “thoughts and prayers” and those are the critters I am addressing.

  63. With respect for the angst and heartbreak that motivates anti-gun activities … I just don’t see how we can eliminate the mayhem with laws against guns

  64. “Personally, I think that anyone who has survived the cc burn with any kind of intact faith is ahead of the game.”

    _____________________________________________________________________

    It does feel like a game doesn’t it? I’m not a misfit. I’m a complete outcast. Similar to JSS I once fellowshipped with PCA and CC churches but something happened. CC was the last straw and probably the worst. I can’t believe I even thought about becoming Anglican, Lutheran, RCC or even EO but I’m glad there are still other options out there. Something is appealing these churches to me when you just don’t make it in mainstream evangelicalism. So I completely understand JSS venture into RCC. I’m glad he has shared that RCC didn’t work either for him. Once we try everything and nothing works, God is probably telling us the problem is more with ourselves than the church.

    CC though is really the worst because they tout themselves as being the last watering hole and the catch all for all the misfits like somehow they are the only ones with the corner on the truth.

  65. Steve, I just saw your comment and it’s too late to properly respond, but I feel you. I’ll write tomorrow, but feel free to write me privately at jason@drunkexpastors.com.

    Peace….

  66. Steve,

    I’m not a misfit. I’m a complete outcast. Similar to JSS I once fellowshipped with PCA and CC churches but something happened. CC was the last straw and probably the worst. I can’t believe I even thought about becoming Anglican, Lutheran, RCC or even EO but I’m glad there are still other options out there. Something is appealing these churches to me when you just don’t make it in mainstream evangelicalism. So I completely understand JSS venture into RCC. I’m glad he has shared that RCC didn’t work either for him. Once we try everything and nothing works, God is probably telling us the problem is more with ourselves than the church.

    What I have been discovering over the past several years is that conservative evangelicalism is only one way to do this, and that other, more alternative approaches are also options if we need them.

    Indeed, there’s something to be said for putting the cart before the horse and beginning our spirituality by determining who we want to be (or what we think God wants us to be), and then reverse-engineering a set of theological or biblical ideas that are most likely to get us there.

    Trees are known by their fruit, is what I’m saying. If doctrine X makes me and most of its proponents into a-holes, then it should be rejected for that reason alone.

    “Love your neighbor” is all the law and all the prophets.

  67. I agree with much of this JJS. However, I thinks its more than just theology. For instance Its not just a conservative vs. liberal ideology. I think most of the struggle comes from distorted views and practice of authority. Whether it’s the oligarchy which acts as the elder board in a PCA or the chief CEO vision casting senior pastor in a CC or a powerful political church state in RCC, it’s all the same in that authority is distorted and often times is abused.

  68. Agreed, for sure.

  69. Steve (and perhaps to JJS) – I am still at a loss over all these years, when people knock on their local church. In the end I am always left with the impression that the most important thing about church is ‘how do they make me individually feel.’

    If the word is preached and Jesus proclaimed and the sacraments properly administered – I will even toss in and they do works in the community – why do we get upset at how the leadership decides to pay the bills or how they select Sunday School teachers (church governance)?

  70. If the word is preached and Jesus proclaimed and the sacraments properly administered – I will even toss in and they do works in the community – why do we get upset at how the leadership decides to pay the bills or how they select Sunday School teachers (church governance)?

    ____________________________________________________________________

    MLD, this only comes from experience in the school of hard knocks. Its not about how the bills are paid or how they elect Sunday School teachers. You know that.

    But the abuse specifically comes in who they choose to show mercy or judgement to or not. Some in certain sins, will be asked to leave and never come back and told they will never be forgiven. Basically lock the church door and throw out the keys kind of treatment.

    Others in deep sin with a pocket full of money can get a right hand seat of fellowship with the movers and shakers as respectable members in the family. Non member type churches are prone to this kind of nepotism of looking the other way or showing contempt for those they don’t like. Proper church governance can prevent but not totally eliminate this kind of systematic abuse.

  71. Hey there Jason and Michael, I didn’t mean to do a hit and run. Crazy busy.

    Love this:

    ‘despite being inundated with reasons to give up on everything, he just can’t bring himself to walk away from the God that he doesn’t even believe is there half the time.’

    I know we’re not alone. There are a lot of us!

  72. Steve at #70 – what you describe is not the church, not even a church, so I wouldn’t worry about it. At best, they are an Elks Club with a big T on the roof.

  73. #72 MLD, you are in denial… our churches are frequently infested with attitudes of favoritism and fraternalism that have nothing to do with Christ or the Church – it is a characteristic that infests some denominations more than others, true, but it is not acceptable in the Church (on that we’d agree, I think)….
    and IMV it has a long history going back in time before there were Saints walking in the New World…. even the Lutes are not exempt….

  74. Cash,

    Love this:

    ‘despite being inundated with reasons to give up on everything, he just can’t bring himself to walk away from the God that he doesn’t even believe is there half the time.’

    I know we’re not alone. There are a lot of us!

    There sure are. Most of my mentoring work is geared toward helping people navigate their spiritual crises after coming out of evangelicalism and not knowing where to turn.

  75. Em, I probably have a more narrow view of what constitutes a church when it comes to proclaiming Christ and properly administering the sacraments.
    A church that withholds absolution from those who genuinely seek it and offers it to the unrepentant is probably more in line with the synagogue of Satan in Rev 2. I know for sure it is not a church.

  76. MLD, yes, on your view of the sacraments, you do have a more exclusive requirement, but anyone confessing to a sin and, by implication, seeking forgiveness is guaranteed to receive it… perhaps on that we do agree, even if the mechanics of same do differ
    for the record, however, what you label “sacrements” are sacred with consequences

  77. Gen X folk are coming out of evangelicalism by the droves.

    The question to Gen X is this: where are they/we going to go?

    My tentative answer would be to find a camp and stay there.

    Stay there, not for your sake, but for your family’s.

    For nothing is perfect. There is no ideal. But it’s better than wandering aimlessly.

  78. Costco,

    “Gen X folk are coming out of evangelicalism by the droves.”

    I did not know this. Do you have any idea what the reason may be?

  79. If GenX folk are leaving evangelicalism, I would suspect it is because our churches tried to adapt Madison Ave. techniques to “evangelize” – dunno
    Hmmm… could be a new protestant wave in reverse?

  80. I can’t cite the research, but there was an exodus of some size after the election.

    I do know that I was viewed with some suspicion by the group I was talking with until they knew I wasn’t a Trump evangelical…

  81. Jean.

    To answer your question, from my perspective, the politics Michael mentions is a true symptom. Along with that, I could go into other cultural factors.

    To me, the root of it may be the American dynamic to be different than the previous generation. Just as Baby Boomers ignited the Jesus Movement apart from their parents’ denominational and Fundamentalist tendencies, by and late, Gen X has moved away from the Evangelicalism and the Jesus Movement. And the Millenials have not moved away from those things (Evangelicalism and Jesus Movement) because they were never there to begin with.

    Yeah?

  82. Interesting Costco, Michael and Em. Thanks.

  83. A church that withholds absolution from those who genuinely seek it and offers it to the unrepentant is probably more in line with the synagogue of Satan in Rev 2. I know for sure it is not a church.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    The problem MLD is usually not the everyday congregant in the church and I refuse to condemn an entire church body because of the evil of a few. Its the corrupt leadership that is sometimes more likely the culprit. In your narrow view only the pastor can offer absolution but when the pastor is negligent or for what ever other reason incapacitated to offer such absolution, I believe God in his provisions can use just about anyone to speak truth and forgiveness to such a sinner.

  84. Steve, if you go back to your original ‘misfit’ comment, you will see that it was you who chucked it for the few.
    You comment said that you gave it all up – at least gave up the PCA & CC and perhaps extending it too all of evangelicalism.

    Church is not defined as like minded people – there is something particular that makes a church. If is missing, perhaps there is no church.

  85. As to absolution, we are not so narrow to think that only the pastor can give absolution. My wife and my kids have given me the absolution many, many times after I have confessed my sin towards them, when they say “I forgive you”.
    We have taught each other to go through the process to “I forgive you” and not leave the other hanging by saying, “no big deal, don’t worry about it.”

  86. #81 Costco Cal

    That is actually a really fine analysis. I think there is something additional – with each of the “movements” or “structures”, the promises of each were left unfulfilled. Denominational life could not cope with the youth movements of the 60s. The Jesus Movement morphed into political conservatism. For Gen X it places denominational life outside the bounds as well as a politicized evangelicalism. The “promise” of spectator styled mega-churches has failed in nurturing the community life sought by Gen X. For many millennials most options have simply been taken off the table. We’re not going to fit them into the old wine-skins…

  87. Duane….right. Nicely put.

  88. You comment said that you gave it all up – at least gave up the PCA & CC and perhaps extending it too all of evangelicalism.
    ____________________________________________________________________
    MLD, I didn’t give up on PCA or CC and definitely not all evangelicalism. My point was that the authority structures in these systems can become distorted and often do. I didn’t even say the system was wrong only that I have witnessed and experienced and have seen how folks in these systems distort authority in unimaginable ways. If talking about PCA and CC is not reasonable for you, you must admit that the RCC at least in its historical past is guilty of such atrocities. Being a Lutheran you out of all people should understand this right?

    Its kind of like Calvinism. I am a Calvinist probably by all standards but I have seen this system abused so many times that I sometimes question whether I should be one and I will be the first to renounce hyper-Calvinism in the strongest possible language possible. Underneath the covers is sometimes a terrible monster that needs to be dealt with. Misuse of spiritual authority is exactly this.

  89. Jason,

    I just finished this book this week. Thank you for writing it. You said many things I’ve thought and couldn’t articulate as well as you. I LOVED the humor. Your inights have led me to take a step back, take a deep breath and know all will be well because God is a loving Father.

    Thank you Michael for recommending it. I plan on reading it again for my own sanity.

  90. You’re welcome, Joel. Be sure to check my website for updates on upcoming stuff (Misfit Faith podcast, a membership option, mentoring, etc.).

    Glad you liked the book!

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)

%d bloggers like this: