(This has inspired yet another barrage of evolution vs. creationism editorials. No matter which perspective is being defended, I end up feeling attacked.)
1. We are not all Republicans.
The Pharisees asked Jesus once whether Jews ought to pay taxes to Rome. Jesus pointed to a Roman coin, engraved with Caesar’s image, and said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Politics were never Jesus’ thing, and as His followers, I think Christians need to be wary of making it ours.
I DO think Christians should vote and speak up, stage a protest, or run for office. I DON’T think a person of faith needs to segregate her internal church and state; a person’s faith informs her political opinions, and that’s a good thing. Claiming that God is on the side of one political party, however, is dangerous and wrong. God’s plans are, I hope and pray, ever so much bigger than that.
2. We don’t all think everyone else is going to hell.
When I was a teenager, a young man interned at our church as part of his work toward a degree in Youth Ministry. He told me once during a Bible study that he was certain his grandfather was in hell. The reason? His grandfather was Jewish.
My Problem Number One with this theory: I cannot believe that God condemns the truly faithful, no matter what faith they profess. I believe that God reveals Himself to anyone who seeks Him; the honest search itself is the important thing, not the form it takes. (If you have never read the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, please consider reading at least the last book. Lewis portrays this much more beautifully than I ever could.)
My Problem Number Two: We do not know the mind of God. In a college religion class, I read a treatise suggesting that maybe there is no one in hell at all. Maybe God has redeemed even the worst sinners and unbelievers in deathbed conversions that we cannot know anything about (Matthew 20: 1-16). I don’t know if that’s true. Maybe it is, and maybe a more traditional picture is more accurate. I just don’t know, and I wish more Christians were OK with saying that.
Incidentally, the evolution debate (and the abortion debate, and so many others) falls into this category as well. There seems to be this line in the sand: if you acknowledge any of the scientific evidence of evolution, you must therefore deny the truth of the Genesis account. Some will call me wishy-washy, I suppose, but I prefer to straddle the line: I believe that God created the universe, and that HE’S STILL CREATING IT. I don’t understand how 6 days of creation translates to the billions of years evidence suggests, but I am trying to make peace with the idea that God knows more than I, and that He is under no obligation to reveal His plans to me.
3. We are sinners.
Christians are people. Humans. Mistake-makers. Gossipers, adulterers, key-forgetters, argument-starters, income-tax-fudgers, temper-losers. All of us.
Please don’t dismiss our faith because of it, though. We don’t claim to be perfect — our only claim is that God is saving us. He’s not done with us yet, and He may not be done with you either.