Author Anne Rice declared she was no longer a Christian to her 82,000 fans on Facebook Wednesday. Her post in its entirety reads:
“For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”
As an avid student of culture, I understand her point; but I believe her decision to communicate her position in this way may have unfortunate consequences for Christ’s many churches. In effect, she denounced all Christians as bigots and, because of her vast influence, fueled the already negative public discourse regarding Christ-followers. I am not her judge, but I must wonder if her statement was composed in prayerful meditation or in fleshly frustration.
Rice said she quit being a Christian yet remains committed to Christ, a statement sure to confuse the average person. Obviously Rice is attempting to separate her allegiance to Christ from her allegiance to a group as defined by the public square. But is that even possible? Is it not an oxymoron to state that you are committed to Christ yet not a Christian?
It’s as crazy as saying you are a citizen of America but not an American. The reality of such a claim would be that you belong to America, but do not want to be associated with America’s people in any way – really meaning some of America’s people, not all. What would drive such a desire, and is it “Christlike”? According to the Bible, Jesus associated with the lowliest and most sinful of society. Yet He was not like any of them, and they differed one from another.
Christians struggle to find common ground today for one primary reason: the Bible. Self-proclaimed followers of Christ may or may not accept the Bible as the inspired and infallible Word of God. Yes it was written down by man, but it is more than a story. The God-inspired words contain the truths of life – like them or not.
Today, many people are mere “country club Christians”, attending church as they would any other social event. It is a place to see and be seen. To attend church is the politically correct thing to do. But few accept the Christ of the Bible – God who came in the flesh to live among us and die for us. Most prefer to worship a god of their imagination and live a life of their own glorification.
I write this not as one who is perfect, but one who welcomes God’s perfecting process in my life. Surely I still have a long way to go. It seems, however, that many do not welcome this growth process in love for, knowledge of and service to God. Instead, many short themselves of their own God-experience by limiting Him to their own definition, rather than learning who He is according to His given word.
Whatever human confines we put on God lead us to speak and act accordingly. Those who do not understand the God of compassion, mercy and grace may lean toward being judgmental and condemning. On the other hand, those who do not understand the God of design, order and justice may express more tolerance for free-thinking, even to the point of complacency. Understanding our own shortcomings and those of others helps us to love one another as Christ commanded, and forgive one another as He forgave us.
I don’t blame Rice for her frustration with many self-proclaimed Christians. Frankly, I struggle with this too. Many try to capture and express biblical principles but fail to couple them with compassion. Others claim the name of Christ in their expositions, but cannot back up their claims with His words. Still others favor the grace of Christ to cover the world’s sinfulness to the degree that they forfeit biblical standards for living. All of these can frustrate me, but I must remember that I frustrate others. None of us are perfect. Sometimes we must agree to disagree. But as Christians, we should be encouraging one another along our imperfect way as we follow after our perfect God.
“Let us hold
Question: Will you join me in praying that God in His supernatural way will use Anne Rice’s comments to build His Church and bring glory to Christ?