For many years, I refused to go to church. Perhaps it was my youthful and rebellious streak in my younger years or my general distaste for organized religion but I stopped going when I was around 15 years old. I didn't realize at the time that it wasn't Christianity that was turning me off. Rather it was other people's child like interpretations of it that made me ill.
Today, things are a whole lot different. I don't go to church regularly but I do more often than I did in my youth which was never. More importantly, though, I spend more time with the Bible than I ever have and my faith is incredibly strong. In fact, it's so strong that I have to wonder why people get pissed off when they hear about people like John Dominic Crossan and Rob Bell. I don't agree with everything either of them say but I don't consider them any less Christian than me. Others, however, do. Why?
Because their faith is weak
I'm willing to be that the majority of people that are in anaphylactic shock over Crossan and Bell are the same people likely to end up having meth anphetamine fueled gay sex in some video on the internet. Without their strict interpretation of the Bible (most of which is contradictory in and of itself) and it's "code of condcuct," they would succumb to "temptation." In other words, they need the threat of Lake Hellfire in their daily lives or they will be out of control. I don't need that threat and therein lies the problem.
As I have said many times on here, people assume that everyone perceives the world in the same way they do. They don't. People also expect everyone to be as miserable as they are and when they see someone else that is happier, more mature, and has a handle on something as important as spirituality, for example, that's when the tantrums usually erupt and great umbrage is invariably taken. As a side note, these same hyper offended people are often incredibly self involved. One such person recently told me of how "God didn't want him looking at so much porn." My reply to him was, "Do you think that you are that important that God is worried about your porn viewing?" My comment, as you could imagine, didn't go over well.
The fury over Bell's book, which hasn't even been released yet, is hilarious. A simple examination of the Bible shows a mountain of contradictory information regarding the issue of sin and forgiveness. Of course, if one doesn't need to have the "sinners in the hands of an angry God" motif in their lives, it's quite apparent that God has forgiven us of our sins, through Jesus Christ, and we are now in a period of Grace. This is supposed to be a good thing but I guess some people can't take "Yes" for an answer as we see in this example from the Crossan article.
Some critics say he's trying to debunk Christianity. Some question his personal faith. At a college lecture, Crossan says an audience member stood up and asked him if he had "received the Lord Jesus" as his savior. Crossan said he had, but refused to repeat his questioner's evangelical language to describe his conversion.
"I wasn't going to give him the language; it's not my language," Crossan says. "I wasn't trying to denigrate him, but don't think you have the monopoly on the language of Christianity."
Exactly. No one has the monopoly on the language of Christianity. I know I don't. This is where the similarities come in between conservative Christians and conservative Muslims. If you don't believe as I do, they say, you will burn in hell. Never mind the fact that the myth of hell is largely been created by men, twisted in multiple translations and, in reality, simply means a life without Christ.
This overall issue of monopoly plays into other areas as well. In fact, it's illustrative of the giant chasm between liberals and conservatives. Liberals cheer diversity as well as organic and ever changing ideas. Conservatives believe in literal, rigid and strict interpretations of the issues surrounding religion, government, economics, history, and morality. They completely believe that they have the monopoly on the language. Why?
Because their faith is weak.