What I love the most about Life Is Strange by putting Kate Marsh’s ‘Christian girl’ character is probably the way they organize the answers for the players to choose regarding her faith as a Christian.
(Long post beware)
When a person say ‘Christianity’ you would probably go straight to the whole ‘prejudice’, ‘homophobic’, and ‘judgmental’ church-goers; when really NOT EVERY CHRISTIAN IS LIKE THAT.
Whatever the final judgement will be, then, it will not involve God [please pardon the crudeness of this] pulling down one’s pants to check for circumcision, or scanning one’s brain for certain beliefs like products being scanned at the supermarket checkout. No, God will examine the story of our lives for signs of Christ-likeness – for a cup of cold water or a plate of hot food given to one in need, for an atom of mercy shown to one who has been unkind or unthoughtful, for a visit to a prisoner or an open door and warm bed for a stranger, for a generous impulse indulged and a hurtful one denied, like Jesus. These are the parts of a person’s life that will be deemed worthy of being saved, remembered, rewarded and raised for a new beginning.
Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, Pg. 274
The character of God, seen in Jesus, is not violent and tribal. The living God is not the kind of deity who decrees ethnic cleansing, genocide, racism, slavery, sexism, homophobia, war, religious supremacy, or eternal conscious torment. Instead, the character of the living God is like the character of Jesus. Don’t simply look at the Bible, I am suggesting; look through the Bible to look at Jesus, and you will see the character of God shining radian and full. Don’t simply look at the many versions of Christian faith (or other religions), for they are full of distortions; look through even the best of our religious communities, and beyond them see Jesus. When you see him, you are getting the best view afforded to humans of the character of God.
The Scriptures are indeed unique and precious–inspired by God, as Paul said, and useful to teach, reprove, correct, and train us in right living so we may be fully equipped to do good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17). But just as the bronze serpent that had been an agent of healing in Moses’s day could later become something of an idol (2 Kings 18:4), so Christian individuals and communities can unwittingly become false Trinitarians, worshiping Father, Son, and Holy Scriptures.
The Quaker scholar Elton Trueblood approached the Bible in this way. One of Trueblood’s students told me that he often heard his mentor say something like: “The historic Christian doctrine of the divinity of Christ does not simply mean that Jesus is like God. It is far more radical than that. It means that God is like Jesus.” In other words, the doctrines of the incarnation and deity of Christ are meant to tell us that we cannot start with a predetermined, set-in-stone idea of God derived from the rest of the Bible and then extend that to Jesus. Jesus is not intended merely to fit into those predetermined categories; he is intended instead to explode them, transform them, alter them forever, and bring us to a new evolutionary level in our understanding of God. An old definition of God does not define Jesus—the experience of God in Jesus requires a brand-new definition or understanding of God.
….This is why we cannot simply say that the highest revelation of God is given through the Bible (especially the Bible read as a constitution or cut and pasted to fit in the Greco-Roman six-line narrative.) Rather, we can say that, for Christians, the Bible’s highest value is in revealing Jesus, who gives us the highest, deepest, and most mature view of the character of the living God.
“Very few Christians today, in my experience anyway, have given a second thought to, much less repented of, this habitual, conventual way of reading and interpreting the Bible that allowed slavery, anti-Semitism, apartheid, chauvinism, environmental plundering, prejudice against gay people, and other injustices to be legitimized and defended for so long. Yes, we stopped using the Bible to defend certain things once they were "discredited by events,” but we still use the Bible in the same way to defend any number of other things that have not yet been fully discredited, but soon may be.
We pursue this new approach the Bible not out of the capitulation to “moral relativism,” as some critics will no doubt accuse, but because of a passion for the biblical values of goodness and justice. Our goal is not to lower our moral standards, but rather raise them by facing and repenting of habits of the mind and heart that harms human beings and dishonored God in the past. We have no desire to descend a slippery slope into moral compromise. Rather, we admit that we slid down the slope long-ago, Bibles in hand, and we need to climb out of the ditch before we are complicit in more atrocities. Repentance means more than being sorry. It means being different.”
— Brian McLaren
“A New Kind of Christianity”
About a month ago, I caught the tail end of a three day special on a Brian McLaren audiobook. It was the audio version of Everything Must Change, and I got it for 3 bucks! I began listening to Everything Must Change during my work day, and continued reading A New Kind of Christianity in the evenings. As can be seen from a good number of quotes I posted on this blog, this delightful McLaren cocktail provided a great amount intellectual stimulation, spiritual encouragement, and activist provocation.
EMC artfully and convincingly explains how all societies have three primary systems in place: the prosperity system (how goods and services are exchanged to create wealth), the security system (how one’s wealth is protected), and the equity system (how those who suffer injustice are restored). The three are interconnected and work like a machine. After reviewing some of the startling details and overarching metanarratives currently at work in our world, he then shows how the current prosperity, security, and equity systems create a kind of machine destined for one final end… suicide. With some brilliant and daring exegesis of some classically misunderstood passages, Brian shows how the kingdom of God stands in direct opposition to the violent destruction of the world’s people, cultures, and ecosystems. Though his conclusion still makes some accommodations for a nation-state (something of which I clearly am not a big fan), his critique of the current system and his ideas to help us take steps toward reversing the suicide machine are great concepts worth consideration.
As described in the end of A New Kind of Christianity, the two books go hand in hand. After the publication of Everything Must Change Brian toured the nation with a few other prominent Christian leaders to address some of these global crises. Unfortunately, it would only take a few moments for the whole conversation to be sidetracked into a debate about biblical, philosophical or theological minutia. Thus, he resolved to write a book that addressed some of the theological issues that most Christians had trouble swallowing. This was the making of A New Kind of Christianity.
In this book he addresses 10 crucial questions:
1. The Narrative Question: What is the overarching story line of the Bible?
2. The Authority Question: How should the Bible be read?
3. The God Question: Is God Violent?
4. The Jesus Question: Who is Jesus and why is he important?
5. The Gospel Question: What is the Gospel?
6. The Church Question: What do we do about the Church?
7. The Sex Question: Can we find a way to address human sexuality without fighting about it?
8. The Future Question: Can we find a better way of viewing the future?
9. The Pluralism Question: How should followers of Jesus relate to people of other religions?
10. The What-Do-We-Do-Now Question: How can we translate our quest into action?
Typical of Brian McLaren, the answers to these ten questions open up tens of thousands of other questions… but in the process a beautiful and Christlike springboard is constructed, from which we can willingly and lovingly jump into new territories. I cannot summarize the whole book, but I can say that it can/will challenge the way you read the Bible (from a constitution to a community library), the way you see God (from a violent in-group/out-group God to a liberating king), the way you understand the gospel (kingdom of God vs. escape to heaven), and the way you live out a new kind of Christianity.
If you wade into these books armed with a hermeneutic of suspicion, it will be a waste.
If you dive into these books with an open mind you will surely benefit.
You won’t find many motivations more visceral than fear of an angry
God, especially the fear of being demoted by God from the high, bright status of the elect and elite to the low, dark status of the apostate and damned. And if your view of God involves a lot of smiting, it’s all the more risky to change it. So if God considers homosexuality a smite-able abomination, sympathizing with the damned takes either a lot of courage or a lot of stupidity. Either way, under the influence of that vision of God, it’s much easier to stay loyal to the lucky heterosexual tribe favored by the tribal God, letting the chips fall where they may for those so unfortunate as to have been born different.
But if our view of God is transformed by seeing Jesus the crucified as the image of God in whom the fullness of God dwells in human form (as Paul does in Col. 1) and as the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s person (as in Heb. 1), then God has been best self-revealed not in the smiter, but in the one being smitten. In a crucified man, God demonstrates supreme solidarity not with the rejecters and excluders, but with the ones who are rejected and excluded, not with humiliators and shamers, but with the ones who are humiliated and shamed. And in that light, it becomes more difficult to cast the first stone at the “sexually other.”
The Church exists to form Christ-like people, people of Christ-like love. It exists to save them from the great danger of wasting their lives, becoming something less than and other than they were intended to be, gaining the world but losing their souls. When we ask, ‘What do we do about the Church?’ the first answer must be [it seems to me] to rethink our core mission, and to identify it in terms more or less like these.
When we are unlocked from our conventional paradigms regarding the biblical narrative, the Bible, God, Jesus and the gospel, the formation of Christ-like people of love naturally becomes the grand unifying preoccupation and mission of our churches. Churches, simply put, come to be communities that form Christ-like people who embody and communicate, in word and deed, the good news of the kingdom of God [or we could say the shalom, harmony, dance, sacred ecosystem, love economy, benevolent society, beloved community, or pre-emptive peace movement of God.
Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, Pg. 219-220
The Quaker scholar Elton Trueblood approached the Bible this way. One of Trueblood’s students told me that he often heard his mentor say something like: “The historic Christian doctrine of the divinity of Christ does not simply mean that Jesus is like God. It is far more radical than that. It means that God is like Jesus.” In other words, the doctrines of the incarnation and deity of Christ are meant to tell us that we cannot start with a predetermined, set-in-stone idea of God derived from the rest of the Bible and then extend that to Jesus. Jesus is not intended merely to fit into those predetermined categories; he is intended instead to explode them, transform them, alter them forever, and bring us to a new evolutionary understanding of God. An old definition of God does not define Jesus—the experience of God in Jesus requires a brand-new definition or understanding of God.
To change your ways. Leave bad situations behind and start fresh. Cut all negativity out of your life. Stop bad habits. Begin the process of becoming the best you, you can be. Follow Christ. Try new things. Reward yourself. 🌹