I remember when I officially cut ties with evangelicalism. It was a feeling of relief, like a weight had been taken off my chest, but there was also grief. Even though it has been almost 15 years since I was last a part of evangelicalism, I still remember it with a bitter fondness.
I remember many of the people with affection. They were like family at a time when I had no actual family. As a teenager, there was always someone there to care for me – to love me. They sheltered me when I had no place to lay my head; gave me money when I was late on bills; and fed me when I was hungry. I no longer need any of these things, but it was their example that I now pay forward with those whom I encounter.
I also remember evangelicalism with a raging bitterness. I remember a nasty church split over our pastor letting his daughter go to prom. I remember being fired from a job as a youth pastor because a wealthy congregant didn’t like my hippie ideas. I remember one of my pastors having an affair. I have sacrificed friendships through my unwillingness to compromise God’s love for others. These, to name a few, are what enrage me the most.
Yet, despite this, I still care for evangelicals. I think most are fair-minded and truly believe they are doing the Will of God. It is not their fault that many conservative evangelical leaders are corrupt. Through the years I have felt it was my job to be a disruptor; to interrupt the routine of their existence to show them that there is a better way – a more biblical way – a godlier way.
Conservative Evangelicals have been taught an incorrect worldview. It’s a system that lacks the inclusivity necessary to provide the checks and balances required for evaluation. There is an entire system in place that promotes a recycled worldview, where the clichés of life are fodder for godly living. Ultimately, this promotes a biblical ignorance that is rehashed generation after generation.
There is a type of peace that accompanies biblical ignorance. The peace lies in the fact that you are never responsible for what has been handed to you. There is also a peace that accompanies certainty. It’s a peace that I will never experience again.
Ignorance Is Bliss
I left evangelicalism to find God. Then, when I did, I wondered if I would have been better off staying in evangelicalism. Even though there is only one truth there are several paths that can lead an individual to that truth. Each path has its own perspective. I used to think that evangelicalism was one of those paths – and maybe it still is, but the path is so overgrown that I’m not sure evangelicals can even see the path anymore – I know I couldn’t.
To be honest “truth” is a ruthless master that always takes and rarely gives you anything in return except occasional moments of fleeting bliss. It is because of those fleeting moments that I can’t leave.
I feel stuck in the Matrix. I cannot ever let go of what I already know. But, what if I could? Why would it matter if I lived my whole life in ignorance? If it makes no difference, then why take upon myself the weight of truth? Why live a life of inconvenience? Why not give in to my baser self?
In a sense, I can through my children. I can help guide them toward the truth or let them live in ignorance. I don’t wish the burden of truth upon anyone, so what do I do with them? You have to have a relatively high emotional IQ to live in truth.
In the end, we chose to raise our children in truth. Unlike me, they have not tasted the other side – and hopefully, they never will. But it can be hard for those of us that have to live with this former life. To constantly be witness to the willful and unwillful ignorance that some preach and live.
The End Times for Conservative Evangelicals
I know how lonely truth can be. Luckily, I did not cave into the temptation (to use good evangelical language) of going back to the ignorance I once had. The last four years or so have demonstrated just how dangerous conservative evangelicalism is becoming. In a relatively short period, we have seen a group who used to care deeply for the truth spiral out of control into a rabbit hole of falsehoods and propaganda, often in the name of defending an often indefensible political leader.
Recently Gallup came out with a report that demonstrated a correlation between the decline in evangelical membership with the increase in non-affiliated Christians. This is significant since it had been the case that evangelical leaders had been denying that this correlation actually existed.
I think we are living in the end times for conservative evangelicalism. I think it will be increasingly difficult for them to live with their competing version of truth within the culture they reside in. They perpetuate a false doctrine of biblical inerrancy that serves as the catalyst for much of their theological issues. That, coupled with an increasingly compromising political agenda, will cause this exodus to continue.
In the end, ignorance does not win. It is merely a matter of time before those who perpetuate ignorance will be confronted with what is inevitable. Whether in this life or the next, one day they will understand to what extent their ignorance hindered the furtherance of the kingdom of God. If not for that reason alone, we must always live in pursuit of truth. For all truth belongs to God. And as such we have been tasked as caretakers of what is right, true, and just. None of us have arrived, but we can find a better way than a system that perpetuates inequality and hate. There is no room in a loving God for such things.