Thursday, January 11, 2007

Embracing My Inner Heretic

Some time back I took an internet test. You've probably done some of those same worthless tests which tell you silly things like how much your life is worth, or rate your personality by Sesame Street Characters.

This test told which famous minister I was most like. It said that I was like Martin Luther. Now I am sure that its margin of error is about 78%, so I'm not banking on starting a reformation anytime soon, but he and I do share the same birthday, and he was famous for doing something on Halloween. Although his 95 theses nailed to the door at Wittenburg are historically a little more important than our large Halloween outreach. But perhaps we have more in common.

He was treated as a heretic.

Wow. We've got three things in common. I'm feeling a reformation coming on after all.

I've decided it is time to embrace my inner Martin Luther. Yes, deep inside of me I have a rebellious, anti-institutional, break free from the bondage of legalistic religion trouble maker. I have an inner heretic.

My inner heretic has decided that truth matters, and keeping up appearances is only as good as the paper you wipe it with. Faithfulness to friends matters, and faithfulness to a program, or an institution will be scraped off the bottom of my shoe before I enter the house. Serving people is a non-negotiable item, and making sure selfish leaders get what they want needs a bag when I take my dogs for a walk. My inner heretic believes that all people are equal, and those who think they are more important can watch their ideals swirl down the porcelain pot.

My inner heretic has decided to rise up and live life fully. No more fearfully hiding from the hard face of tradition, or squinting under the harsh, questioning light of convention. I will not be like everybody else simply to make some self-serving, brown-noser happy.

If you can't tell what I think of bowing to abusive religion by now, I'm not going to spell it out because I can't say it on prime time TV.

There were times when the Apostle Paul got mad, though I have a feeling that it might have been more often than was warranted. Yet, I am deeply impressed by his gutsy response to the Senior Apostle Peter. Paul stood up against him, when Peter refused to eat with the Gentiles while the Jews were around. Peter kept the legalistic conventions of the day, and by doing so perpetuated a false sense of the spiritual superiority of one group over another. Paul's inner heretic rose up, and let Peter have it publicly.

Paul embraced his inner heretic and rose up to meet the troubles of the day. He broke away from the expectations of his peers, and stood against the tide of popular opinion, and the slowly simmering corruption which comes from doing things just because that's the way it's always been done.

Jesus showed some red face too. The tables of the temple's outer court flew, and the turtle doves were squeaking and fluttering all about, as the sheep and goats bleated, and nervously scampered for places to hide in the flying coinage and billowing dust. At first the "money changers" as they were called, were surprised, but you know they got angry and filed formal complaints. Jesus' inner heretic could care less, because His Father's house had become a den of thieves through exhorbitant prices, and an unfair money exchange.

I know who the real heretics were. They were individuals who received the wrath of the angry followers of the Father in Heaven, but as is often the case, this world turns things upside down. Truth bearers, and those who go out of their way to make sure the path to God is cleared for others to navigate simply, get treated as the heretics. History wears the sooted face of the so-called heretics who have been burned by the traditionalists of their day - sometimes literally burned.

Today my path is relatively easy. I do not flee for my life to stand up for the truth as Luther did. Nor am I concerned about the rising faggot pile, and the stake to which the heretic is tied as Luther's predecessor John Huss, but like them I will embrace the rebel inside who looks like a heretic to the status quo if I must. I will embrace my inner heretic.


Adam Gonnerman said...

I'm still a coward. I wasn't run out of active ministry because I was considered a heretic, but I would be considered one now...and I'm afraid to admit it.

Some of my recovered faith shows through on the blog, but those who know me best have no idea how much has changed. I feel like a flood victim trying to sort through his ruined house, trying to find whatever can be salvaged. Just today over on Smulo's blog he talks about church leadership organization, and I discovered that this is a topic I haven't really dealt with in my recovery.

The church I attend is nothing like what I believe, but I go there to avoid an escalation leading to divorce. I long to be engaged in ministry more in keeping with my faith, but my fear of being "found out" holds me back.

At least you wear the "heretic" title. I'm still a coward.

Pastor Phil said...


Your coming out party isn't far behind. There are more who think like you than you know.

Lily said...

I don't have any real comments to add, but I loved this post.

Cindy Harvey said...

Thanks for saying all this outloud.

I might just heal someday from the sticky, smelly stuff on the bottom of my shoe by knowing I wasn't the only one.

What does one do with righteous anger? Methinks I've not handled it in the best way....

Pastor Phil said...

Thanks Lily.


Righteous anger must be channeled toward helping create chance. Encouraging others who have been hurt, finding communities who think differently and pointing people in that direction, and identifying the attitudes which make for redemptive living can all be acts which lead toward handling it the best way.

Webb Kline said...

I love it when I read stuff like this :)

Adam: Phil's right, sorry (or not sorry) to say. Every little thing's gonna be all right. :)