Coming Out of the Theological Closet

'Hell is the Closet I'm Stuck inside.' photo (c) 2008, Tim Notari - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/I’m told that coming out of the closet involves risk on the part of someone who identifies with the LGBTIQ community.  How will my family and friends respond?  Will I be labeled as an outsider? When people choose to love these folks, no matter one’s convictions about sexuality, I believe that God is honored.  The center of Jesus’ teaching was love of God and love of neighbor.  To love one’s neighbor is to foster safety.  When our actions, words, or cultural setting forces people into hiding, something needs to be overhauled by love.

I’ve blogged now for about 3 years (off and on) and for about 1.5 years with a bit of intentionality.  My first site, Groans From Within, began the writing journey.

An early post I wrote raised concerns.  I provocatively titled it: My Evolution Towards Theistic Evolution.*  When a couple friends read this, I was accused of being an atheist.  Someone then forwarded that article to my senior pastor at the time, attempting to get me fired from my youth pastor position.  Luckily, my leader had an open mind on this particular issue.  Yet, this incident drove me into theological hiding, with a determination to prevent this from happening again.

Then, about a year later, I left that church and moved to a new community.  Up to that point, my site only displayed my first name out of fear that I would create “church problems.”  I did everything in my power to keep my online life completely separate from my ministry.  Essentially, I hid. I even created a separate Facebook page for church members (masking it by moving family and close friends over there as well) and a second Twitter account.  Convinced of the separation between these two parts of my life, I decided to add my last name to the site and took blogging to a new level of seriousness.  The crazy thing was… people actually started reading it!  This still blows my mind.

Then, it happened.  I received the following comment on the Groans From Within contact page:

Wow, you actually believe this stuff? Well, it [the blog] is titled correctly, however, you might consider this groan to be the gas pains from deep within your own bowels.  I hope the church isn’t paying for your time to produce such…wow.

After checking the name, email, and IP address, I knew exactly who left the comment.  The following week, this person sent a five-page email to the pastoral staff and church board about why his family was no longer attending the church. And guess what, half-a-page was devoted to my “liberal” blog with the final sentence quoting a passage about false teachers being in danger of destruction.  My guess is that they found my site through a Google search, in hopes to find dirt on leaders in the church.  That week, I made the painful decision to set the blog to private and announced that I would be fasting from blogging indefinitely.  This was a spiritually rewarding time, but in all honesty, the blog shutdown was mostly driven by an impulse to hide.

After a few months of fasting, I reinvented my site and moved to a new domain.  This time I determined to keep church and social media separate.  Google search engines couldn’t find my new site, The Pangea Blog, and I chose to only use my first name.  These steps certainly would hide my identity enough so that I wouldn’t get outed.  But no such luck. Someone on my email update list was a spy and sent word to all the people who were angry at the church I worked at.  Tensions rose among the more conservative crowd, but luckily at the close of the fiscal year, my “church planter residency” came to an end.  The timing of this prevented greater dissension in the church.  My attempts to hide didn’t work.  Instead, hiding held back a part of who God designed me to be.

At the end of April I decided that I wouldn’t live in the theological closet any longer. First, I changed the settings on my site to be findable by search engines.  Then, I added my last name and pictures of myself to the blog.  Within two weeks, I was invited to write for Emergent Village, Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Christians, and Patheos.**  The month of May quadrupled my all time page-view record and suddenly people started stopping me in grocery stores and through random situations, telling me that they read my site on a regular basis.  Emails began flooding in, and opportunities to write and do ministry emerged.  When God took me out of hiding he led me into situations I never thought possible.  All this happened when I took the risk of “coming out of the theological closet.”

So, I ask you: Are you in hiding?  Do you feel that if you were authentic about your convictions that you would be rejected?  Is there a part of your soul that feels like it’s deteriorating as you hide who you really are? If so, I understand, and want you to know that you don’t have to hide any longer.  I’m not suggesting that you make any rash decisions, but rather invite you to consider that hiding might be holding you back from your kingdom potential.  My prayer is that you will find freedom from your theological closet and that a community of radical Christ-followers will surround you with support.

 

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*To learn ab0ut my views on Evolutionary biology and the Scriptures, go here.

**At Patheos, I’m listed as both an evangelical and progressive Christian blogger.

  • http://gcjeffers.wordpress.com Gregory Jeffers

    This is precisely why I long ago decided to never enter professional ministry. They can’t be mad at a volunteer, right? I did lead a lifegroup for a little while with my church, but then there was all this talk abou the lifegroup leaders “submitting to the leadership (pastors and such)” that was disguising a “toe the party line” attitude. I got out of leadership, reasserted my freedom, and have remained part of the community. Because of this I have been able to live in genuine and mutual community with people with whom I disagree. Living out loud like that rather than hiding has really been rewarding. It turns out that there are a lot of people who have questions. 

    • Anonymous

      Think again, Gregory.  I was a volunteer as an elder and boy did I feel people’s wrath when I didn’t “toe the party line”.  How dare I not do things the way they’ve been done year in and year out–thinking original thoughts, indeed!  I left and am now just visiting churches; in no real hurry to join anywhere else for now.  

  • http://mikegarycole.com Mike Gary Cole

    It’s such a crippling feeling to be rejected for what you believe. I know that feeling pretty well, and I can completely relate to what you’ve written here. Well done for not hiding anymore.

  • http://aboyandhisgod.blogspot.com/ a boy and his God

    good good good stuff. 
    this makes me want to start blogging again. i think i shall. 

  • Tucker M Russell

    As you may expect, Kurt, this article hits pretty close to home for me.  My encouragement is simply this: we are never alone.  There are other believers and faith communities from all over the political/ideological spectrum who are willing to extend grace and practice humility, to engage critical thinking and discernment.  Please note, I am not talking only about “liberal” churches as I have seen some churches that are just as dogmatic about their liberalism as the churches you describe are about their conservatism.  I am talking about communities who recognize that their own understanding is limited and that they can learn from other perspectives.  Take heart they do exist my friend. 

  • http://www.fivedills.com Greg Dill

    As usual, great insight, Kurt.

    Over the past few years I have drastically shifted more towards liberalism in my social, political, and spiritual beliefs. This is in stark contrast to the churches we have attended over the past 20 years with a distinct conservative and fundamentalist view. I’ve recently become fans of some controversial Christian authors and theologians, namely Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Donald Miller, N.T. Wright, Gregory Boyd, and several others. My conservative friends have a real difficult time with this. In fact, I even lost a few friends as a result. Although, one did come back and apologize. I am currently a missionary serving in a Muslim country. And, my family and I are supported by many supporters, many of which are very conservative in their views. And, just recently a Missions Pastor from one of our supporting churches has a concern with some Rob Bell quotes I had posted on my Facebook page about 3-4 months ago. As a result, he wants to have a Skype call with me sometime over the next week or so. Although I didn’t agree with everything Bell states in “Love Wins” I did enjoy most of the book and thought he had a lot of great things to say. So now I’m in a position of defending Rob Bell who many conservatives think is a heretic. If I like Rob Bell and agree with about 90% of what he says, does this too make me a heretic by these conservative standards? Probably. But, I know I’m not and I’m wondering how my teleconference call will turn out. Please pray that I speak the truth with love and grace and that the conversation glorifies God.

  • Frank Emanuel

    It is always frustrating how folks use labels like liberal (and postmodern) to simply identify stuff they dislike and do not want to think through. I always appreciate churches that are able to maintain some diversity of opinion yet still love each other – that is Christ-like. To seek homogeneity is, in my thinking, the sin of idolatry. Glad you came out.

  • Anonymous

    Hang in there Kurt! At least your family doesn’t hate you! ;) In all seriousness though, you are preaching a Gospel that is not easy to swallow. It proclaims healing for the sick and strength for the weak. And a lot of times those folks who are healthy and strong don’t realize what its all about. They don’t understand why the Jericho road needs to be repaved, because they have never traveled down that road. But those of us who have been to Jericho and back know how out of shape that way is. And the best we can do is keep trying to repave it. Sometimes we will feel like Noah while he was building the ark, under constant jeering and ridicule from his peers. But we’ll persevere. You’ll persevere. You’re a tough cookie, you’ve handled things pretty well. Grace and peace Kurt. Keep the faith. ;)

  • http://achorusofehoes.wordpress.com/ Jonathan Paran Aran

    Kurt, I loved this post. I know all too well about the things that you mentioned above. I’m glad of all the opportunities you have now! And it’s always a good thing when we embrace who we are and what God directs for us to do! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1259773854 Alex Madlinger

    Kurt, we might not agree on everything but that’s part of what makes your blog so awesome to read. If we agreed on everything, you’d have nothing to teach me! As it stands, I have a lot to learn from you. I know exactly how you feel when you talk about this. God bless you brother! 

  • http://ramblingshappeningsandgrace.blogspot.com Kate Hanch

    I’ve been there.  I have dear friends on both sides of the aisle.  I’d probably be kicked out of both arenas.  Is it possible to live in this tension?  I think so, I hope so, and I will try

  • NuRadical71.wordpress.com

    “I am of Paul…I am of Apollos…” , “I am of Bell…I am of Piper…”, “I am emergent…I am evangelical…” The Holy Spirit greives and the world stopped paying attention a long time ago.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rickyferdon Ricky Ferdon

    Good piece Kurt. It all boils down to LOVE. Jesus loved unconditionally, and perhaps that’s an idea(fact) some can’t accept. “Judge not…” He said, “As you judge…” He said. So many are lost in the organization of religion. I’ve long had it with both, or simply, “organized religion”. You have common sense and gut instinct: call it Holy Spirit if you wish. Follow your own path, as you are doing and get past the words of the Bible – if nothing else, tear out the pages with the teachings of Jesus and throw the rest away. Peace and Love!

  • Ian

    I know what you mean. I go to a relatively “conservative” church (Tho I think it’s worth mentioning  that the church does have hardcore christian metals band shows just about every few weeks or so) and there’s a few opinions that I hold that some might grumble at. I’m undecided about how creation played out still at this point and have considered the possibility of a pre-Adamic race and so has my youth pastor. I think a gay person can be saved and I don’t think that all suicides are hell bound. I don’t believe that we live in a “Christian Nation” (I dread the day that the United States is synonymous with the church because the United States bears the sword). My youth pastor recently got in just a little bit of trouble with my head pastor because word got around that he was watching Harry Potter. But I’ve been able to do ministry with them completely unhindered and they are great group of believers and most are madly in love with Jesus and since I’ve been with then ever since I started to know the Lord 2 years ago they have been the body of believers that I have leaned on through the rough patches. I won’t hide my convictions on these issues, but I also won’t go and tell every person about how I feel about them just because I know I feel differently. I only discuss it when it comes up, which to the few that it has has been with only a few guys. But maybe I should be more vocal?

  • Ian

    I know what you mean. I go to a relatively “conservative” church (Tho I think it’s worth mentioning  that the church does have hardcore christian metals band shows just about every few weeks or so) and there’s a few opinions that I hold that some might grumble at. I’m undecided about how creation played out still at this point and have considered the possibility of a pre-Adamic race and so has my youth pastor. I think a gay person can be saved and I don’t think that all suicides are hell bound. I don’t believe that we live in a “Christian Nation” (I dread the day that the United States is synonymous with the church because the United States bears the sword). My youth pastor recently got in just a little bit of trouble with my head pastor because word got around that he was watching Harry Potter. But I’ve been able to do ministry with them completely unhindered and they are great group of believers and most are madly in love with Jesus and since I’ve been with then ever since I started to know the Lord 2 years ago they have been the body of believers that I have leaned on through the rough patches. I won’t hide my convictions on these issues, but I also won’t go and tell every person about how I feel about them just because I know I feel differently. I only discuss it when it comes up, which to the few that it has has been with only a few guys. But maybe I should be more vocal?

  • http://withthekids.wordpress.com/ April Karli

    Thankfully I am part of a church family that allows thinking, questioning and doubting now. It has been freeing to me.

    However, I grew up in a church that was very conservative. My dad is a pastor and he is selective about what and with whom he shares things for the very reasons you mention. The “PK thing” makes it hard for me, too, because my beliefs can reflect poorly on my parents…even though I’m almost 38 years old!!

    Out of fear that I’ll be attacked or have to defend myself I am also careful about what and how I share my beliefs that have evolved over time. Social media makes it hard as many people from the church I grew up in are my FB friends or follow my blog. I think some of them presume my beliefs are pretty much the same as they have always been. Remaining true to myself while at the same time not saying anything unnecessarily inflammatory is tricky.

    My children are also in a Christian school. It’s another venue I tread carefully in. We’re a new family in this school and I plan to keep my social media self and blog private from them as long as I can. 

  • http://twitter.com/graceshaker graceshaker

    not every story ends as happily.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @twitter-17491431:disqus … I agree.  That’s why its important to know your own particular situation and if “coming out” will lead to worse things.  Discernment is key in the process.

  • http://twitter.com/DanMcMonagle Dan McMonagle

    I know exactly where you’re coming from. I pretty much hid where I was at for nearly 25 years, and it’s not like I have any super-radical thoughts (creation may be old, human suffering in hell may be temporary), but the fear of not fitting in kept me quiet.
     
    I had been feeling “the call” that I needed to start writing, possibly a book, for the last several years.  Finally, last fall I felt it was time, but since I’m involved with ministry at our church and my wife teaches at the church’s private high school, I felt the need to be accountable and talked to our pastor before I jumped in.  I can say I was blessed through the process — my pastor prayed with me and encouraged me to pursue what the Lord was calling me to, even though he didn’t agree with me on every topic.
     
    So, I’m with you in the fact that “coming out of the closet” intellectually has been freeing for me as well.  And much of the feedback that I’ve received from the online community (both believers and non-believers) has reinforced that, yes, I am doing what I’m supposed to.  It has been very reassuring to find others such as yourself that are truly my brothers and sisters in Christ, even though we have beliefs that don’t fit the traditional mainstream Christian mold. 
     
    Keep up the good work, Kurt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1285338429 Jessica Mokrzycki

    What a great post, one I really needed to read. I enjoy blogging and have touched on a variety of topics but sometimes I hold myself back. Ideas emerge on topics or issues to write on and my view towards them and I simply don’t, hesitant about letting the full scope of my views known because of what other’s reactions might be. Already some of my posts on fb created quite a rift between my former pastor. Note “former”. After he accused me of “wrong thinking”, and through my blog “leading people away from the truth”, coupled with other negative experiences with our church, after six years,  decided enough was enough and I had to leave. I felt stifled. I feel that it’s important to express what I feel God is making known to me. But even now I feel held back. We are trying out a new church, some of its members are followers of my blog or fb friends and see its posts on their feed.

    Anyways, I appreciated this post! I think it’s important to step past our comfort zones and fear of rejection and criticism and do what we feel Christ is leading us to do. Now…if only I could take my own advice!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507415532 Steve Rose

    Got called into my lead pastor’s office one time (I was serving as executive pastor) because I wrote on my blog my disappointment with a well-known evangelical leader thoughts that all parents who were sending their kids to public school were risking their spiritual lives.  In my post I noted problems with both public school and homeschool/Christian school settings, and weighed them out evenly.  ONE family in my church wanted to know if my opinions on homeschooling were the “church’s opinions” and if so, they would be leaving!  

    So, I got called on the carpet, told I could no longer blog about “controversial” issues, and the suggestion was highly made that I “apologize” to the homeschool family…it was the beginning of the end for me at that church.

  • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com/ moonchild11

    I needed this today. I want to speak truth and make my beliefs known, but I’m terrified of them being known by my closer friends and family. I’m terrified of being accused of heresy (it’s happened before) and of losing relationships because of my beliefs. I definitely think that hiding holds me back. thank you for challenging me!

  • Anonymous

    After leaving a church that did not endorse an open atmosphere, I have stuck a toe out of the theological and cultural closet.  I still have separate lists set up on Facebook based on where people stand in their openness to dialogue.  The church I just left was in an uproar a few years ago when one of the pastors dared delve into the area of open theology.  He had to apologize before a commission and some people that left the church cited that teaching as their reason for leaving.  However, the church did not change it’s doctrine or openly embrace open theology, he was just one person that preached on the topic.  

    It’s sad really the way we will express ourselves to one another in the Church.  People really need to examine themselves when they engage in ungodly behavior to express their disagreement with a fellow believer.  One of the members at the church I just left was very vocal whenever there was something he disagreed with.  Upset over the worship music, he once said he was glad he didn’t invite anyone to church that week and that prisoners in jail get better.  Really?  All I could do was think of those who put their time and energy into rehearsing and presenting worship each week and what it would do to them to hear comments like that.  

    What probably needs to be taught in some churches is what it means to have dialogue and to be open.  Some people unfortunately think they have to shut down all thought that doesn’t line up with their own thinking and nothing could be further from the truth.  How else do you learn and grow as a person if you can’t even dialogue with another person?

  • http://www.facebook.com/amory.ewerdt Amory Ewerdt

    Good stuff Kurt. I’m glad you came out of hiding so that more people can be challenged and blessed by your ministry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amory.ewerdt Amory Ewerdt

    Hey Kurt,

    I’m glad you came out of hiding. I was once told to “get behind my Satan” because of some of my more progressive views. The funny thing is, they were not even dogmatic views, just leanings and unresolved questions about Noah’s Flood, and evolution. I hope that more people will be blessed and challenged by your ministry.

  • http://likeachildscience.blogspot.com lac

    Are you in hiding?  Do you feel that if you were authentic about your convictions that you would be rejected?  Is there a part of your soul that feels like it’s deteriorating as you hide who you really are?

    The answers to all Of the above are yes, yes and yes. But I see no other way.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @Iac:disqus , I understand. As you can see above… there were factors involved that kept me in hiding.  Hiding and “coming out” all must be done with discernment.  But, I think that if we hide all our lives for fear of loss of family, friends, or church pay checks… we may miss out on the larger kingdom impact Christ may have for us…  Hang in there friend…

  • Mikeg

    Man I’m bummed that people can’t question your theology in love and respect (which you have earned as a godly dude). I’m stoked that you keep speaking and writing with conviction.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Mike, I respect you as well bro.  Thanks for the encouraging words.  I know we don’t always agree, but we certainly agree on the main thing… Jesus.

  • Chris

    Great stuff, Kurt! I probably could have written this myself, though different, our journeys have been similar ones. Grace + Peace, friend.

  • AndrewbMills23

    Thank you so much for this. I sit here I’m tears as I read this. I have recently been told that I can no longer fill in as a preacher in what used to be my church. I have voluntarily stepped down as worship leader to avoid having to answer the inevitable questions in a dishonest way. It is heartbreaking when well meaning christians confuse uniformity of opinion with the unity of the church. Essentially killing the latter in favor of the former while insisting that it is all about not dividing the church.

    Thank you for your bravery, and for this post.

    Love,
    Andrew

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.keel Christopher Keel

    Great post, Kurt. I, too, am glad that you “came out.” I just recently left a church where my blog caused me problems. It took me a very long time to figure out what was happening. We had a pastoral change and early on, I had some email conversations with the new pastor. In my email signature, I have a link to my blog. For a solid year I was essentially ignored. I’ve never felt so ostracized in a church in my entire life. Needless to say, the pastor and I had some very serious theological disagreements and we’ve since parted ways. It hurt, and in retrospect, it is so hard for me to believe that a blog, one that I do not write at very often, caused me such grief. However, I might have gotten very involved and established before all this conflict came to light and then it would have hurt even more. So, maybe the blog saved me?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      a fellow blogger with conflict… hmmm… keep pressing into Jesus, Christopher!

  • Sophia Catherine

    You are an incredible witness to the active work of God in our lives. As a particularly heretical type – I follow two religious paths concurrently – I am struggling with this ‘closet’ issue at the moment. I’m beginning to emerge from it, though – God wants me to, so that the people in my life can see that S/He is far, far bigger than we imagine. And as I often say: Who am I to say no to the Divine?

    http://lightingmycandle.blogspot.com/

  • Tiffany

    I know its a hard situation…one I am currently facing…I grew up in an extremely conservative background I never really agreed with….the door is cracked for me, but I havent walked out, yet. For a long time I thought I was alone in my views….thanks for being bold enough to blog…its been a real encouragement to me to find others out there that arent afraid to think and wrestle and have a big  view of God….it helps to know I’m not alone.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @68bb6d7a0998741fa410297d9d59c212:disqus , indeed… you are not alone friend!

  • Evelyn Sweerts
  • AmyS

    An integrated soul is a good thing, and  you are on your way. Keep learning. Keep uncovering. Keep submitting. Keep writing. Keep communing. Keep loving. 

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      thanks @AmyS:disqus

  • Debi Bock

    A breath of fresh air…thank you for being real.  The world is in desperate need of real. 

  • Katie Sturm

    Kurt – as usual, you’ve shown real courage and integrity in your post. I’ve been called a daughter of Molech, a heretic, and a heathen – all labels that I now am able to wear proudly… after a fashion. I figure if Jesus was known for being a drunk and a glutton for the people he was spending time with – embodying compassion, light and gospel… I’ll gladly be known as all of those undesirables that the rest of the church wants to reject.
    I’ll pull myself a pint, relax back with the rich food and sumptuous delights of the amazing world that God gave us, and choose to LIVE with those who have no light. I’m proud to be out of the closet! Further blessings to you on your onward journey. It’s a roller-coaster, but one I’ve found to be the best part of freedom. After all, it is for Freedom that you have been set free! K

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      And @google-193911c1d952290de438c7bffb70050d:disqus , as usual, you’ve been a wonderful encouragement to me.  I mourn at one level for how you’ve been treated by fellow Christians, but I also rejoice with you for the One who was known as a “drunkard and a glutton!”  Wonderful comment and If we are ever in the same city for some reason, the wife and I would love to hang out over a pint :-)

  • http://gcjeffers.wordpress.com Gregory Jeffers

    I found it funny that this ad was on the side of your page: “Find Right Wing Tee Shirts and Gear. From tea party tees to liberal-bashing bumper stickers, find gear that enlightens folks on the right course.”

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Gotta love the randomness of Google ads! haha

  • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

    I really resonate with this, Kurt.  In fact, I’ve used the term “coming out” to describe some of my own blogging.  This has been particularly the case since I started using FB to promote NTD, largely at Ben Bajarin’s encouragement.

    It took a lot of years of staying on the fringes of evangelicalism before I finally decided to get a bit more deliberate about sharing the places I parted ways with the main stream.  Very little of what I’ve written is new in my own thinking…in fact some of it goes back three decades or more…I just got tired of the charade.

    And guess what?  It’s led to the discovery of the Church Virtual of which I now find myself a part, along with you!  Blessings, brother!

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @dwmtractor:disqus … amen for the ‘church virtual’ and for the way God has used you to shape my life these past 3 years…

      • Anonymous

        “the church virtual”–I like that, Dan and I’m grateful for it too.  It’s been like a refuge for me, in some ways.

  • http://www.beatitudessociety.org Kimberly

    I do love your courage to now be who you are theologically called to be but I have to add (and I love your work) that very few people, in the 21st Century at least, been bullied to the point of suicide or murdered for coming out as a theological progressive. The analogy is good to a point, and as a southern, female, raised baptist but walking a UCC path who also happens to be ap a lesbian I’ve often had a harder time coming out as a Christian than as a lesbian. But please know that by coming out I still have to consider the physical safety of myself, my partner and our children everywhere we go lest some fearful, hateful person (who just may claim the name Christian) assault us. Not safe to hold hands with my wife is not quite the same as an excommunication from a theologically limited congregation.

    With love and respect for your very real struggle,
    Kimberly

  • Anonymous

    Glad to see that you’re “out of the closet”.  I often wonder how we are supposed to grow if we refuse to question not only the beliefs of those around us, but also our own beliefs.
    Questioning the status quo tends to upset the apple cart of those who are so very sure of their beliefs and thus are very comfortable in walking the path laid out for them by their church community.  It is so easy to become “auto pilot” Christians that go through the motions. Why find the path the Lord wants you to walk when you can follow the one that has already been laid out for you by your very well meaning church community. This not to say that the path laid out for you is bad.  It is just that in order to have a full relationship with the lord you have to be fully invested in it. In order to be fully invested you have to know not only what you believe, but also why you believe it. That can only come from asking tough questions.

  • Anonymous

    Confident in my life the separation between the two parts, I decided to add my name to the website and blog has taken a new level of seriousness.

    love letter

  • http://twitter.com/michaeljkimpan michael j. kimpan

    well said.  glad you came out of the theological closet… my hope is that you may influence others to do the same.

  • Anonymous

    I have no idea when you wrote this.  Don’t want to scroll up and look right now.  But Wow.  I knew “the evangelical Church” was a scary and judgmental place, especially in conservative circles. I applaud you for your courage.  I admire you even more as I read this. 
    I am afraid that I discovered my theological views while on an extended leave from full-time work (I’m a stay at home mom).  So, I suppose it may be hard to go back into ministry for me. 

    But I have many, many friends who are afraid to even “like” Facebook statements I make because they are socially or theological liberal.  And won’t comment about things I write on my blog because of a job or a church connection. 

    *sad reflection on the state of things*

    Be well, fellow sojourner.  I am so glad that God has called you out!

  • http://www.christiandropout.com Bill Huffhine

    Excellent article Kurt. Thank you so much for coming out of the closet and sharing your journey with the rest of us. I am a former pastor who just recently came out of the closet with a blog and a book titled Confessions of a Christian Dropout. I too received many of the same messages of alarm and warning from friends, family, and former ministerial colleagues.

    The world was flat until someone had the courage to sail around it. The universe revolved around the earth until someone took the time to look more deeply into it, come out of the closet with what he found, and willingly accept the inevitable condemnation.

    May our journeys take us far from the shores of religion deep into the heart of God.

  • http://mosaicsynapse.blogspot.com/ Pam Elmore

    Thank you for this, Kurt. There are several issues I’d like to blog about, but fear that doing so honestly could jeopardize some friendships. Thanks for your transparency with this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bajojohn John Miller

    Kurt, thanks for blogging. I don’t really care what your critics say, your writings have been a blessing. I started following your blog before you went into hiding. It was such a relief knowing that I’m not alone, and still not alone. You are one of the voices that gives me hope (and makes me want to be Anabaptist).

  • Paul

    Open and honest blogging, into the light kind of stuff, Imagine what would really happen if we preachers came out of the closets we have built and preached Jesus the original authentic book of Acts gospel without resevation attachments and additions ? what would really happen if we were were ourselves… thanks for this post my friend.
    Paul 

  • http://www.sacredmisfit.com/ Sarah

    This journey sounds painfully familiar.

    I can’t say much (yet) but just know you are not alone.  You probably already know that.May God richly bless your courage and your voice.  It already sounds like God has.
    I look forward to awesome, unveiled discussions.  I look forward to authenticity and soul connection without fear.  I look forward to real Good News, and not some cookie cutter facsimile.  God is so good ~

    Here is to the journey.

  • Maxwell Mooney

    This post is easily the one I come back to the most. Though I’m definitely not as liberal leaning as you, I do hold positions well outside the evangelical mainstream, which is challenging given my position on staff at a rather conservative Baptist church. I do think though that I am called to this church during this season of my life- as much to be challenged to sacrifice my pride of intellectualism as it is to help congregants come to a more genuine and authentic understanding of the scriptures. 

    We are all on a journey and perhaps “coming out” of the theological closet will be part of my journey some day, but for now I think I may have to hide it for now out of submission to God’s will in my being where I am. 

    Thanks for the post Kurt!

    Max

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      I completely understand this Maxwell. I certainly have lived in the tension you find yourself and I believe that in certain seasons God calls us to use wisdom and restraint in areas. I commend your choice to live in the tension realizing that submission to Christ might at times be at stake. Thanks for the authenticity bro!
      Peace.

      Kurt

  • robgrayson

    Thanks for the encouragement of this post. I really needed to read it right at this moment. One of the things that’s held me back from starting to blog is the exact same fear of judgement you refer to. I don’t want to hide behind an anonymous blog that isn’t findable via search engines, but at the same time I’ve allowed myself to be ruled by fear of what others may think about my convictions. It’s time to stop living in fear.

  • PennyPaige

    This post from 3 years ago popped back into my brain strongly today, so I decided I better go find and and read it again. Exactly the message I needed re-visit at this time in my life. Thank you.


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