The Reformed/Protestant tradition tends to be a dumpster fire, mired down by its own insistence on always having the “correct doctrines.” But it need not be that way. In fact, as I understand things, the reformers believed the church should always be reforming.
Oh, how far we’ve come…
Now, if they were listening, here’s 10 things I’d tell them to reform right way (as if they care what I think).
(Note: This isn’t just a list of reforms for the Evangelical church. It’s a list of reforms for any Christian to apply accordingly.)
I. Their Need For An Inerrant Bible
The belief in an inerrant Bible is childish. And while children are cute and cuddly, their immaturity shouldn’t be one of the things we attempt to emulate. Their curiosity? Sure. Their creativity? Perhaps. But not their childishness. The belief in an inerrant Bible, then, is to not take the Bible seriously. It’s to approach it childishly. It was never meant to be viewed as an inerrant document, and approaching it as such causes more problems than it solves.
II. Their Stance On The LGBTQ+ Community
I recently read a depressing Patheos article found on the Evangelical channel. I won’t link to it because I don’t want to cause my fellow LGBTQ+ members any harm. And I don’t want to give this bigot any clicks. But it basically said that to love us is to denounce our sexuality and gender identities. This is plain wrong. How do I know? I don’t experience love when someone says that. I experience shame, condemnation, and judgment. These are the opposite of love. Love’s basic ingredients are empathy and compassion (Derrick Day’s terms). Christians who denounce the LGBTQ+ community withhold these things from us far too often.
III. Their Belief In Eternal Hell
Hell can go to hell. In fact, if I understand the Bible correctly, this is God’s stance as well (see Jeremiah 32:35). It is a doctrine that causes long-lasting trauma. It is also a doctrine that turns God into either an impotent savior or a tyrannical monster. Historically, it has been used to justify the murder of heretics, reprobates, and apostates. You know, the murder of people like me and many of you who read this blog.
IV. Their Marriage With White Nationalism
White nationalism has infected the church, in ways that are overt as well as subtle. It’s one of the largest blind spots for many white Christians. One way in which we can start reforming is by rejecting white Jesus. White Jesus never existed. Real Jesus was Middle Eastern. He was probably darker than most would be comfortable, which speaks to some inherent racism, doesn’t it? So, start there, and then continue listening to non-white voices. Read James Cone. Listen to the Heretic Happy Hour’s decolonizing series. Apply accordingly.
V. Their Hatred of Deconstruction
For all their talk of reformation, many Christian influencers really hate it. Alisa Childers. John Cooper. Sean McDowell. All three of these Christians have built massive platforms by being the anti-deconstruction creators. But what they all fail to understand is, well, what deconstruction is. Instead, they need to listen with empathy and start deconstructing their need to be right. Then they can move into other arenas. The problem, of course, is that you don’t choose to deconstruct. So, I’m not sure what can be done about them.
VI. Their Obsession With Sexual Purity
Purity culture has destroyed countless lives, most of them women’s. But men’s too. I just saw a video on YouTube where a dad was going on and on about his daughter’s virginity…with her in the video! She was 21. My wife and I couldn’t help but think how messed up she is going to be when she finally starts exploring her sexuality. A large part of me said she already has, but that’s probably a discussion for a different day. Point is: Christians need to reform the way they view sex and sexual purity. It may be a culture of good intentions, but as the old adage goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
VII. Their Belief In Total Depravity
Total depravity is total bullshit. Sure, human beings can be pretty disgusting, but a doctrine that states how we are utterly depraved is taking it way, way, way too far. It creates an identity crisis that can take a lifetime to undo. Instead, we need to view ourselves as inherently good, and then figure out where things went wrong from there. You know, put the horse back in front of the cart again.
VIII. Their Insistence On Affirming Traditional Gender Roles
The patriarchy, like purity culture, can go to hell. If women desire to run companies, then they should run companies. If they want to be lawyers, doctors, and politicians, then that’s what they should be. And if men want to stay home to raise the kids, do laundry, and cook dinners, then that should be praised. In today’s economy, I don’t know how that’s possible (my wife has a fulltime nursing career and I have 3 jobs on top of writing), but more power to you if you can make it on just one income. Ultimately, just put aside the gender roles and work as a team to get things done. Lean into your strengths and work on your weaknesses, regardless of your gender.
IX. Their Demonization Of The Flesh
When Christians praise the Spirit and demonize the flesh, they are being fundamentally Gnostic. And I don’t use that term as a pejorative. Literally, that is a foundational belief of the ancient Gnostics. This belief has caused us to hate our bodies, to view them as something dirty, or yucky, or icky. Like purity culture, this has primarily impacted women, but some men as well. Instead, we need to have a unitive and integrative new of the Spirit and the flesh.
X. Their Idolization of Jesus
This last one may be a bit controversial, but I’m the king of theological controversy. Christians need to stop idolizing Jesus and start following him. Jesus never asked to be worshipped. He never asked for us to write shitty songs about him. He asked us to follow him. He asked us to help the poor, the widowed, the downtrodden, the outcast, the homeless. So what did we do? We created images of him and started singing songs about him. Okay, I realize that’s a bit reductive, but the point remains: We’ve missed the mark when it comes to Jesus’ message and mission.
Agree with these? Disagree? Comment below. But a reminder: if you make personal attacks or tell me how stupid I am, you’ll just get blocked. I’ve had too many rude commenters lately, and I’ve lost patience for y’all. Be kind and we’re all good.
If you wanna get to know me better, please follow me on social media. I’m pretty active on all platforms:
Also, if you’ve been digging my work on here, and want to see me be able to continue writing as close to full-time as humanly possible, please take a look at my Patreon page at www.patreon.com/mjdistefano. Even $1 a month helps bigly!!!