Here’s the thing the tribal gatekeepers of white evangelicalism don’t know: The world on the other side of their fence is vast and free and beautiful.
Banishment is a hard trial to endure. To be condemned and rejected by one’s own family is not a pleasant thing. You resist it, you fight against it, pleading to make some bargain that would allow you to stay.
But in the end, you are cast out — forced outside, friendless and alone, into the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of …
Wait. Hold on a minute. It’s not really dark here in the outer darkness. It’s actually kind of sunny and warm. And that’s not wailing and gnashing you hear, but laughter and singing — good singing (the music really is a lot better out here). And you’re not alone. There are people everywhere, friendly people — way more friendly people out here than there were in there.
It takes your eyes a moment to adjust to sunlight — it’s so much brighter than the dim candles the gatekeepers had allowed back inside. But then you look around and realize you’ve found a new home — a place where you can breathe. A place where you can see without worrying that you’ll see the wrong things or hear the wrong things or think the wrong things. It’s liberating. It’s Jubilee — a new creation. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
You see some familiar faces out here, others who had been expelled from the tribe long ago. Back inside, you’d been told they were dead, yet here they are, very much alive. There’s Brian McLaren — still writing books and reaching more people than ever. There’s Rob “Farewell” Bell, teaching more people about the Bible than he ever could have under the watchful eye of the ever-suspicious gatekeepers.
You hear a buzzing sound behind you, a faint droning that carries that familiar note of faux lamentation you recognize from years of such gatekeeper sermons …
Why has this happened? Is it a fluke, an anomaly that the three leading voices for a new evangelicalism have all, to one degree or another, left the church’s teachings and worship?
Is this a morality tale about celebrity’s corrosive power? Well, yes, but I think it’s something much deeper …
Have mercy, you think. They’re still at it! Back inside the tribal compound, the gatekeepers are still insisting they’re in charge.