It’s true what they* say about liberals: We really are a stench in the nostrils of God-fearing conservatives.
It was with some surprise Wednesday night that I learned that one of our more right-leaning church members has chosen to leave The Church with a Trendy Name because of the liberals there. Apparently figuring into this decision were some of the liberal views expressed at the Bible study he was attending.
That would be, oh, me, I guess. Not just me, mind you. A number of us at the church supported Barack Obama, some quite openly.** I wore my Obama T-shirt to church two Sundays before the election, although I’m always quick to lampoon Obamamania.
“If Obama is elected, your hair will grow back!” I told one friend who is particularly follicle-challenged. Lately I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that Obama has been resurrecting the dead.
But at Bible study a few weeks ago, I made some pretty strident arguments about Jesus’ humanity, essentially contending that Jesus grew into his understanding of his divinity and messianic purposes, and that his miracles didn’t constitute proof that he was the Son of God as much as they supported the notion that he was someone walking in faith.
I went as far as saying that although Jesus never sinned, he probably did stuff that we would consider inappropriate, from picking his nose at the table to getting into fights with his younger brothers. Also, I said that the only evidence Scripture gives us for his divinity is the Resurrection.
I almost always get serious pushback from evangelicals when I make these claims, though most other Christians agree or at least have no problem with it.
Bertram is one of the evangelicals who have a problem with it. He was one of those to object more strenuously to what I had to say, and at one point demanded, “So are you saying that Jesus only became God’s son when he was baptized?”
No, that’s the Adoptionist heresy. Jesus didn’t become the Son of God; per the gospel of John, Jesus is eternally existent. He has always been God’s son. What I am saying is that the baptism is probably when things really started to come into focus for him and he was awoke to just how different his relationship to God was from other people’s.
Bertram wasn’t the only one to disagree with me, but apparently it really bothered him that I’m allowed to hold these views and enjoy the respect of the church’s pastor. And so he left.
To be honest, I’m sorry he’s gone. Bertram has a great sense of humor, and he has a different point of view from mine. By leaving, he’s robbing himself of the chance to experience another person’s point of view, and he’s taken his own point of view from the rest of us.
Like other people, I get aggravated by pointless conflict — but honest discussion as we seek the Truth together is something else. I don’t revel in the conflict, but I don’t mind it so much either. That’s how we grow and learn together.
Alas, Bertram has decided that he can’t abide a viewpoint so different from his own, and has opted to find a church more aligned with his way of thinking. That’s his decision, and as such I must respect it.
I just wish he had made a better one.
* I’m not really sure whom “they” refers to, nor have I heard anyone actually say something this pugnacious. But it makes a catchy opener, if not a wholly true one.
** I must point out that I am probably one of the more liberal members of the church, if not politically then almost certainly doctrinally. My views on Scriptural inspiration are a lot more fluid than many other people’s, I approach Bible study much like I do any other literary text, and my view of Christ is decidedly not confined to substitutionary atonement.