I need a new label to self-identify. Now take it easy out there. This is not an invitation to disparage me on the internet. No, I'm serious. What do you call a quirky guy like me? The standard labels just don't seem to apply. Everytime I try them on it feels like donning that pair of pants with a 28-inch waist that hasn't fit for over 10 years now. Look at the list:
Conservative: Yes, I watch Fox News and like it. I mostly get a kick out of Ann Coulter. I have been a card-carrying Replublican, embrace Machen's book, "Christianity and Liberalism," and embrace Scripture as the very word of God. I'm no liberal. However, let's be honest. "Compassionate conservativism" is intellectually and spiritually bankrupt. It just is. Politically and ecclesially, so-called conservatives are no more compassionate than anyone else as far as I can tell. Their propositions sound right, but their embodiment of those propositions is atrocious. I'm not sure I want to be part of this club.
Liberal: The word itself makes my hair stand on end. I don't like statism, socialism, moral relativism, Biblical errantism, Barbara Boxer, Bill Moyers, or CNN. They all make me cringe. I don't credit FDR or Clinton for rescuing the American economy during their respective tenures (that was WWII and Alan Greenspan). I appreciate the spirit of "old-school" liberals who really cared about social justice, but have never thought liberal policies would achieve it. I think they're full of it too.
Evangelical: What does this mean now? Does it mean I stand with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson? Does it mean I am a Bible-thumping hyper-literalist? Should I have a Purpose Driven Life? Watch TBN? Wear WWJD bracelets? Efforts to try and rescue this word based on its Greek origin (euangelion = Good News) cannot overcome the connotations it has taken on in our American context.
Fundamentalist: I drink alcohol regularly. Ok - very, very regularly. I occasionally curse. My wife wears jeans. I don't believe Palestine is still the promised land for the Jewish people. This just doesn't fit.
Progressive: See #3
Christian: Mormons and JW's claim to be Christian. My nominal neighbors are
Christian. TD Jakes says he is a Christian. It is fine, but too broad.
Reformed: The average Joe doesn't know what this means and isn't particularly interested in revisiting the Reformation or John Calvin. Educated evangelicals assiocate this with being a critical, angry, and pompous theologue. It gets worse - so-called "Reformed" people fight about who is inside and who is outside of the camp. It is the proverbial, "Us'n's versus the We'n's." It doesn't work.
Catholic: No matter how you slice it, people think this means you're a papist. I'm not, so...
Federal Visionist: I might as well just accept that I won't be making any new friends.
Missional: This sounds really cool. Unfortunately, it makes me think of the movie, "The Blues Brothers." You know that whole bit about, "We're on a mission from God," and Belushi starts doing back-flips down the church aisle of an inner-city black church? That's what it makes me think of. Maybe if I tatoo "Jake" or "Elwood" on my fingers I could be missional. I could wear a black jacket, glasses, and tie and say, "I'm Brett and I'm missional because I'm on a mission from God." I'd have to skip the back-flips though.
Emergent: I don't have angular glasses and wear untucked shirts. My hair is too short to put gel in. I don't listen to progressive rock or drive a cool car. Bottom-line, I'm not hip enough to be emergent.
So how should identify myself? How about, "Hi, I'm Brett and I am some quirky hybrid doo-dad that you can't understand unless you read the right (or possibly wrong) books. Since you don't have time for that and I don't want to go through the mental gymnastics of explaining where I fit in the greater scheme of things, why don't we talk about another subject that doesn't have anything to do with who I am?"
So I'm learning to play golf. I think everyone understands how difficult golf is, but you can't really appreciate just how difficult it is until you try it. For instance, take the most basic part of the game - the golf swing - what you do to simply hit a small ball with a stick. To have a proper swing you must break-down, analyze, and correct your:
And yet - after all of these particular parts of the swing, there is only ONE golf swing. If you assume the right stance without gripping the club, there is no golf swing. If you have a stance and grip the club, but don't move your arms, there is no golf swing. A golf swing is not a golf swing without all of these aspects working together in perfect harmony.
Salvation for the Christian is very much like this. We can talk about predestination, calling, regeneration, imputation, justification, adoption, sanctification, glorification, etc., but each of these is just an aspect of what it means to be united to Jesus Christ. Yes, these aspects are distinct, but when we lose sight of what they accomplish as a whole, we aren't "in the game" anymore.
I became Reformed because I loved the break-down and analysis of salvation's "swing." Unfortunately, I am worried that a lot of my Reformed brethren are so fascinated by the grip that they forget the whole swing it is a part of.
How sad. We could be playing a mean round of golf, but we've decided to stand motionless displaying our perfect grip. Better look out, those Pentecostals would like to play through...