I was intrigued by an article I put on the iMonk bulletin board yesterday. Zack Hunt posted an overview of points from Morgan Guyton’s new book, How Jesus Saves the World from Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity.
Guyton and his wife Cheryl are co-directors of the NOLA Wesley Foundation, the United Methodist campus ministry at Tulane and Loyola University in New Orleans, LA. He blogs at Mercy Not Sacrifice.
Guyton is known as a “progressive” Christian, and his book and the article list a series of emphases that he claims distinguish such Christianity from “toxic” Christianity.
I am interested in this for a couple of reasons.
- First, since I myself have been on a post-evangelical journey, I like to understand the various “streams” of post-evangelicalism that have emerged from evangelical culture.
- Second, here at Internet Monk, we’ve tended to focus more on neo-puritan and ancient-future reactions to evangelicalism, and I think it worth exploring the so-called “progressive” stream (we used to say “emerging” to describe many of them) more fully.
- Third, as I get older, I don’t want to become one of those curmudgeons that can’t show generosity and grace to those who are younger and are in the process of figuring things out when it comes to their faith journey and how it relates to the church at large.
We start today with Morgan Guyton’s introduction, which begins with the provocative question: “Have Christians become what Jesus came to stop us from being?”
As a member of U.S. evangelical culture, the author finds himself troubled by the sneaking suspicion that “the loudest Christian voices today sound so much like the religious authorities who crucified Jesus”. How can this be?
Some place the ultimate blame on Constantine, some on Augustine. Others point the finger at the medieval nominalists. Guyton recognizes that there have always been Christians who displayed a beautiful, attractive faith, but still he laments, “it seems as if the loud, mean Christians are the ones who always win.”
Then he asks a question meant to startle us into a new way of thinking:
How would Christians live differently if we believed that Jesus needs to save the world from us?
Are we troubled enough by what we’ve become that we earnestly want Jesus to save the world from our Christianity?
Morgan Guyton will proceed through this book to identify twelve toxic Christian attitudes and their antidotes.
But for today, let’s just meditate on the big question he raises.
Who do we in the church resemble more today:
- those who “turned the world upside down” through lives of self-giving love, being willing to die so that the life of Jesus might flow from us for the life of the world?
- or those who crucified Jesus out of genuine allegiance to God in order to protect their religious system and way of life?