I found out recently that a Christian artist that I greatly admire and respect has come out as an exvangelical. Basically, as I understand it, an exvangelical is someone who essentially rejects the evangelical Christian teachings and seeks to deconstruct his or her faith in the same way that Thomas Jefferson tore passages out of his Bible that mentioned the miraculous or dealt with matters he didn’t agree with.
This artist says that he now believes in a Universal Christ. I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds a bit vague. I don’t presume to know his mind, but I can say for myself that I don’t find much hope in a generic sort of spirituality that removes the miraculous. I know that my final hope isn’t in a mystical Christ figure but in a real flesh and blood Jesus who lived and died and rose again.
What is my response to exvangelicals? I think it’s to love them in the same way Jesus loved Judas Iscariot, knowing he would fall away and eventually betray Him. He loved those He knew would reject His message. He loved those who would know He was Messiah and still not choose to follow Him.
I confess that the modern evangelical Church hasn’t done much to help its cause. We too often confuse right-wing politics and conservatism with the gospel. While issues like pro-life and the sanctity of marriage are important, we sometimes turn them into requirements for salvation along with faith in Jesus. We haven’t been very compassionate toward each other or toward our enemies. We haven’t loved sacrificially the way Jesus loved (and loves) us.
I can also pray for exvangelicals. I still don’t pretend to know how prayer works in regard to man’s free will and God’s ultimate plan, but I know that it does. Therefore, I keep praying. Who knows but God could turn someone’s heart back to Him or rekindle the dying embers of faith into a flame once more?
I can do everything in my power to make my own salvation sure. I can never take for granted that I prayed a prayer once as a child or know so many Bible verses or have the occasional feelings of euphoria during worship. The evidence of my salvation shows in how I live and think and act and speak in the present tense.
I know that I could be one of those exvangelicals. It’s only the grace of God that sustains me. It’s only God upholding me that keeps me believing and trusting from one day to the next. My security isn’t based on the size of my faith in God but in the size of the God of my faith.
For those of us who are honest, we still have to confess along with the father of the possessed boy in Mark 9:24, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” Thank You, God that You believe in us even when we struggle to believe in You — or ourselves. Amen.