Anne Rice is a “believer” but not a “Christian”

You should read this fascinating interview in Christianity Today with Anne Rice, the novelist who first converted to Christianity, then recently said that she is no longer a Christian.  In the interview, she still says she is a “believer” who has “faith in Christ.”  It is just  “organized religion” she can’t take anymore, largely because of her liberal social beliefs.  She says that she still has “community” in her circle of co-workers and friends, who are all “believers.”   Here, though, is a stinging indictment:

Christians have lost credibility in America as people who know how to love. They have become associated with hatred, persecution, attempting to abolish the separation of church and state, and trying to pressure people to vote certain ways in elections.

And yet, she reads conservative theologians and has a special affinity for conservative Bible scholars:

I read theology and biblical scholarship all the time. I love the biblical scholarship of D.A. Carson. I very much love Craig S. Keener. His books on Matthew and John are right here on my desk all the time. I go to Craig Keener for answers because his commentary on Scripture is so thorough. I still read N.T. Wright. I love the Catholic theologian Karl Rahner. I love his writing on Jesus Christ. It’s very beautiful to me, and I study a little bit of it every day. Of course, I love Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. . . .

Sometimes the most conservative people are the most biblically and scholastically sound. They have studied Scripture and have studied skeptical scholarship. They make brilliant arguments for the way something in the Bible reads and how it’s been interpreted. I don’t go to them necessarily to know more about their personal beliefs. It’s the brilliance they bring to bear on the text that appeals to me. Of all the people I’ve read over the years, it’s their work that I keep on my desk. They’re all non-Catholics, but they’re believers, they document their books well, they write well, they’re scrupulously honest as scholars, and they don’t have a bias. Many of the skeptical non-believer biblical scholars have a terrible bias. To them, Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, so there’s no point in discussing it. I want someone to approach the text and tell me what it says, how the language worked.

via Q & A: Anne Rice on Following Christ Without Christianity | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

UCC is going after Anne Rice

I guess this is an admission that liberal churches have quit being Christian too:

The United Church of Christ is trying to get Anne Rice to join its flock after the Interview with the Vampire author announced her highly-publicized decision to “quit being Christian” this past week.

Just days after Rice’s announcement, the 1.1-million member UCC launched the”You’d Like the UCC, Anne Rice” campaign on Facebook to offer support for the acclaimed author and to introduce her and others to the historically liberal church body.

“Many of us who are Christian share Anne Rice’s values of inclusion and reason,” remarked UCC’s communications director, the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, who initiated the Facebook campaign. “It’s important that she and others know that a church like the UCC exists.”

via UCC Makes Pitch to Ex-‘Christian’ Author Anne Rice |

I think it highly unlikely that Anne Rice will join a liberal Protestant church.  Even in her disillusionment, a version of the church that seems to agree with her will hold little appeal.  Hunter Baker makes this point:

What fascinates me about the way she has done this is how Catholic she is in her rejection of the Catholic Church.

If Anne Rice were a Protestant of almost any kind, she would surely flee to a denominational group or congregation which embraces Jesus while more closely approximating her values.  There is no doubt it would be possible to do so.  There are liberal Baptists, liberal Lutherans, liberal Methodists, etc.

But Rice doesn’t avail herself of that opportunity.  And I think I know why.  Anne Rice movingly wrote of her Catholic childhood and of her dramatic return to the church.  At no point did she apparently consider returning to faith as a Protestant.  She clearly believes that the Catholic church is the only true manifestation of the Christian church.  And thus, when she rejects it, there is no other church for her to join.  She is affirming the church at the same time she loudly and publicly is slamming the door and running away.

More thoughts on Anne Rice

Thanks for the good discussion on the weekend’s post about Anne Rice rejecting Christianity, while still saying that she believes in Christ. The comments include more quotations from her about what she means by that, as well as thought-provoking insights from all sides. I was heartened that she has apparently agreed to consider Rod Rosenbladt’s presentation “The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church” [see the sidebar on this blog for New Reformation Press].

I definitely think she is broken by the Church, in this sense. But in another sense I’m realizing that the Church, in the sense of actual churches, are not the ones defining Christianity in people’s minds. Instead, the phenomenon of the “parachurch”–all of the ministries and organizations and activities outside of local congregations–has taken on that role.

Anne Rice is a Roman Catholic. To take up her specific reasons for repudiating Christianity, Catholics are a major part of the base of the Democratic party, so they are hardly anti-Democrat. Catholics are pro-science to the point of accepting evolution. They are pro-life now to the point of pacifism. Yes, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a moral “disorder,” but many priests are gay. Feminism is rampant in many women’s religious orders. Yes, the Church rejects artificial birth control, but hardly any Catholics in the USA at least follow that.

The stances she is rejecting characterize conservative Protestants, but she has never been one of those. And actual conservative Protestant churches don’t always obsess about these issues on Sunday mornings. But their ecumenical cultural and political activism the rest of the week does. Yet THAT is what defines Christianity today.

The other irony is that she could find plenty of mainline liberal denominations that agree with her stances completely! The ELCA, for example. And yet she never even considers those as an alternative. That shows her integrity, recognizing that liberal Christianity has nothing to offer even to a liberal! (Why do you think that is?)

Anne Rice

Anne Rice, the author of literate vampire novels who embraced Christianity, now says that she is no longer a Christian:

I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

“In the name of Christ”? In her books about Him, she affirms His deity and His redemptive acts. Does she no longer believe those things? How would her disagreements with other Christians on these issues mean that Christ is no longer God and Savior? And certainly many Christians are gay, feminist, Democrats, humanists, scientists, and use birth control (she is or was a Roman Catholic), though with differences from the secularists, who are most definitely not pro-life!

I actually had a touching correspondence with her when she “came out” as a Christian. I wrote about that and reviewed her book Christ the Lord. She responded, saying that I understood what she was trying to say exactly. So my heart hurts to hear that she is repudiating her faith.

What would you say to her?

HT: Webmonk