Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Fundamentalism contains few fundamentals

I read something this morning that reminded me of something one of my pastors said a few years back about church bodies accepting changes in culture within 5-7 years. Jim Bakker's son and emergent church preacher, Jay Bakker, has announced that God has told him that homosexuality is not a sin.

Jay Bakker shows off his tattoos

At first, he was skeptical. When his friend Donnie Earl initially talked to him about grace, he thought he was just being a fair-weather Christian, that he was "giving himself a license to sin." He found proof, ultimately, in scripture. He saw it enacted in the non-judgmental support of his grace-touting friend who would pick him up after drunken benders without question or comment.

Alcohol lost its grip on Jay, and he began to reevaluate the more judgmental aspects of the faith he grew up with, particularly its condemnation of homosexuality. "The more I follow grace, the more I'm drawn to him [God], the more I'm willing to stand up for people being persecuted," says Jay today. "This sounds so churchy, but I felt like God spoke to my heart and said '[homosexuality] is not a sin.'"

The decision to make Revolution a gay-affirming church, however, wasn't an easy one. It cost him $50,000 in support from an anonymous donor—the bulk of Revolution's budget. Invitations to speak at the big emergent Christian festivals also dried up. Even his father warned that it may turn people off to his message. "It's a very lonely place to be, people telling you you're a heretic," says Jay.

Above is an excerpt from Radar, an online magazine. It is a personal interview with Jay Bakker by Martin Edlund. The full article, Empire of the son, is online.

Also, I found two interesting commentaries on the article:

Dr. Ray Pritchard at CrossWalk - Jay Bakker's Strange Religion

..he and a friend lead a church that preaches "God's grace to a flock of young, downtrodden and disillusioned parishioners most any other church would turn away." At first glance, that would appear to be a noble effort, but this is not your typical evangelical twentysomething "emerging church." At the Revolution, they have gone a step beyond. They are a "gay-affirming" church. Jay Bakker told Larry King he would allow gay couples to get married in his church if it becomes legal (which he evidently hopes will happen soon). When Larry asked him why most evangelicals oppose homosexuality, Bakker offers this answer:
Well, I mean, I know the arguments. I know the scriptures. And the scriptures are very -- you could argue on them all day. I believe they've been taken out of context, and I don't believe that, you know, we've researched enough of the background on those scriptures.
But there's more to it than simple confusion about what the Bible teaches...

Chris Rosebrough, a Lutheran layman, at Extreme Theology - Did God Really Tell Him That?

...Forget your disgust and disdain for Jim and Tammy for a minute. Don’t judge Jay based upon his tattoos and his completely screwed up childhood. In fact, let’s pretend for a few minutes that Jay Bakker is not the one who is claiming that God told him that homosexuality is not a sin. Let’s pretend that it is Billy Graham making this claim. Even better, let’s pretend that the Angel Gabriel has appeared from heaven and is being interviewed on CNN. During his interview the Angel Gabriel tells the world that God wants us to know that homosexuality is not a sin.

To prove his credentials the Angel Gabriel causes it to snow in Bagdad on the forth of July and he raises Gerald Ford from the dead on live television....

Beyond the obvious, the statement of Jay Bakker reminds me of the confusing world of fundamentalism and evangelicalism that was my home for too many years. Far from being a base of fundamentals of Christianity, fundamentalism and it's sister, evangelicalism, are worlds in which nothing is solid...nothing is absolute. Since God can speak to modern people, including me, the Bible becomes a secondary guide to Christian living. Worship becomes a confusing, yet mandated, time. You enter the doors of the sanctuary hoping to be refreshed and leave with your head spinning.

Jay Bakker, like most kids, spends too much time claiming he is different from his father and from his father's church, but this description from the Radar article proves otherwise to me,

Jay's preaching style is anti-theatrical, but in its own way it is as mesmerizing as his father's. "He's like an old school preacher man," Jay says of his dad. "I don't know if I'm new school, I just get up here and talk." Typically, he picks a topic—on a recent week, why Ted Haggard, the outed president of the National Association of Evangelicals, deserves our compassion—and begins thumbing through his sticker-covered Bible for relevant scripture. If he really wants to dig into something and challenge pat assumptions, he might resort to the original Greek. He sighs loudly whenever he loses his train of thought, and salts his sermons with funny, self-deprecating remarks and confessional asides about his family.

He picks a topic and then looks for relevant scripture. That might explain the necessity of God "revealing" to him that homosexuality is not a sin. Because scripture doesn't say that!

Leviticus 20:13 says, “‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
Romans 1:26-27 says, “ Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

I've said before that finding my new church home, King of Grace, saved my life. I am not exaggerating. I also know that it saved the life of my teenagers, because the emotion-based worship of evangelicalism and fundamentalism with it's lack of scriptural foundation surely would have destroyed whatever faith had survived in them from me being their mother up to that point.

Disclaimer of sorts - I don't write often about homosexuality. It is one of many sins that afflict mankind. I never have and never will bash someone for homosexuality. My own sins are enough for me to focus on. I can't deny that God has declared it a sin in scripture and I won't deny that God's grace, through Jesus Christ, covers all sin. God loves all sinners the same; in fact, He loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die for our sins. This blog post of mine is not really about homosexuality; its about the slippery slope of believing that God is still speaking to people APART from scripture. Jay Bakker could have announced that God told him that stealing is not a sin and I would have written this same post. I'm sorry I have to write a disclaimer, but I've keeping a blog long enough to know that people often aren't very careful readers.

No comments: