I am reading Christians Against Christianity by Obery M. Hendricks Jr., a book that I have to close between chapters to calm myself down in anguish over the hijacking and reversal of Christ-following. Hendricks, like me, came from an evangelical church culture in which “Christian living [was] synonymous with compassion … respect for proper authority … and honesty … We mourned with those who mourned and were taught to look beyond external differences to behold the humanity of all in God’s household … taught to love and never hate … It is the faith that takes seriously the ethical demands of the Gospel to love our neighbors as ourselves …”
I grieve with Hendricks over how these foundational principles of following Christ have become unrecognizable in the public square. Since my youth I have watched much of the church deform into alien environments. Just browsing Hendricks’ Table of Contents outlines major reversals in the evangelical church since I awakened to connection with God there as a child.
- We Have No King but Caesar: Genuflecting at Strange Altars
- You Will Know Them by Their Fruits: The Strange Fruit of Right-Wing Evangelicalism
- … Dangerous Misappropriation of Jesus
- A New Commandment I Give You: That You Love One Another …
- … Demonization of Immigrants and Muslims
- You Shall Not Add to the Word Which I Command You: … Abortion and the Meaning of “Pro-Life”
- … The Unholy Alliance Between Right-Wing Evangelicals and the NRA
- … The Unholy Alliance Between Big Business and Right-Wing Evangelicals
- Epilogue A Spirit of Antichrist
I hope this Table of Contents meets an open heart and makes you curious to consider the details Dr. Hendricks presents as a call for us, not to just become “Left-Wing”, but to return to the purity of Christ’s Way. As an ordained minister, theologian, professor at Columbia University and Visiting Professor of Bible and Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, he reminds us of the original truths and how they have been twisted through the years, perspective desperately needed in the unstable world of our day.
Read Hendricks’ book for scholarship. For now, I contribute a poetic prayer.
Spirit occur here At this point In temporality In these bodies Instruments Of behavior Our complex Of mind and spirit Move our hands and feet Words selected Made up to Accommodate The edge of discovery As we awaken And try to express What has never been Heard before By searching ears. Spirit occur here In this materiality Wondering where we are Questioning This turmoil moving Our choreography To make and circulate Signing that something Is more than this substance Not bound by this moment And place on earth Where we occur For a time Sounding and marking Signifying There have been many And will be more Because we leave Who manifest Your Presence Here each moment.
Mark R. Turner
Oct. 6, 2022