Recently, I came across a term I had not heard before, ‘Post-Evangelical’. Apparently, it was coined by Dave Tomlinson in a book entitled, The Post-Evangelical. Having not read the book, I wondered if I could describe myself as a post-evangelical. I expect definitions may vary so I can’t say for sure. Why is it important for me to classify my Christianity? I am not sure it is. In the past, I sometimes had the dilemma as to what to say if people ask me if I was a Christian. I wanted to answer, “It depends on what you mean by Christian.” My beliefs no longer reflect what I use to consider what a Christian is but I know I am one. Perhaps that begs the question, “What kind of Christian am I?” However, here below is a bit of my journey in the way of an an honest, revelatory confession:
When I first ‘became a Christian’, I was immediately invited to a rather old-fashioned evangelical church and was discipled by a good friend of mine who was a new Christian and well-meaning fundamentalist. I had not yet at that point in my life reached a maturity level to be considered a free-thinker nor had I been raised to be one. By that I mean, I was raised by strict parents and if I thought something they said or did was unfair I could not repudiate or comment without incurring their anger. They would call it talking-back, …it’s old-school parenting but they meant well too.
When I was 19, I had what one would call a ‘religious experience’ what others would call ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’, what I called it then was ‘feeling the presence of God’ which I still believe is more accurate but on reflection I would now say that I came face to face with the love of God for the very first time. It is an experience which has repeated itself over the years and still leaves me in awe. However, that first time was incredibly awesome because although I had known about the love of God, I had never experienced it before. Because this first experience happened to me while I was with a group of people who I was meeting for the first time, I immediately came to the conclusion that whatever they believed in had to be 100% true because God wouldn’t be there if their religion wasn’t the true one. So for some years, my early Christian friends were what some may call Evangelicals…but I think the definition of that idiom may be much broader and not necessarily a bad thing so what I want to focus on here is the fundamentalist aspect. So as not to be misconstrued, when I say fundamentalist, I mean those who believe that the bible is inerrant and that every text in the bible is to be taken literally. I also see Fundamentalists as those who see a distinction between ‘them’ and ‘us’. Fundamentalist also believe that to be a deemed a Christian means you have made a personal decision to follow Christ usually on a moment in time you can point to and some fundamentalist will say that exhibiting ‘gifts of the spirit’ such as speaking in tongues is the evidence thereof. (This is just for starters but I will not list it all)
Note: I have been having a growing conviction that there is (or perhaps was) a lack of teaching in public schools in the US in abstract teaching. I was an avid, well-read teenager for my age but had not fully grasp metaphors or abstract thinking. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s did I actually start to educate myself in thinking in the abstract. I find this so sad. Is it the school system or something else? Please comment if you have any thoughts.
I loved my relationship with God and my fellow Christians but what I was taught to believe conflicted within me with God’s unconditional love and mercy. I told myself, it was part of the mysteriousness of God and not for me to understand and forced myself not to question it. My faith was a belief in a loving God even if my religion contradicted it. Who was I to judge God? I believed my understanding was limited because of my humanity.