Vrijheid is mooi. Vrijheid is moeilijk. Allebei de uitspraken zijn waar. Er is geen groter goed dan de menselijke vrijheid. Het is bijna een open deur intrappen dat te zeggen. En toch is vrijheid tegelijk heel erg kwetsbaar. De vrijheid die wij nu al enkele honderden jaren mogen genieten in het Westen is maar een korte bliep in de geschiedenis van de mensheid. En zelfs dan is die vrijheid vaak ten koste gegaan van de vrijheid van anderen. Denk aan bijvoorbeeld de Afrikanen die als slaven naar de America’s verscheept werden of de zgn. “inheemse” bevolking van de landen die door het Westen gekoloniseerd waren. Vaak ook werd onze vrijheid bedreigd of zelfs onderbroken. Terecht gaat in Nederland Bevrijdingsdag vaak over hoe onze vrijheid als een kostbaar maar kwetsbaar geschenk beschermd moet worden.
The following is an excerpt from a chapter that I am contributing to a book about and by evangelicals who fell through the bottom of their faith and deconstructed hard. Except for sharing on social media the following should not be copied or used otherwise. It’s personal and real though there is much more to my story that is in the chapter and not here. But still, enjoy.
The Slippery Slope of Black and White
Given the personal circumstances I found myself in after one year of Seminary, I slowly started dissembling the evangelical bulwark. One beautiful thing with tightly knit systems of thought is that once one piece of it goes broke the whole building disintegrates. Once one piece topples, the whole system becomes a cascading row of dominos. This process can take a couple of years but for those who do not shy away from the challenges and manage to avoid the boomerang effect (the snapping back to the old paradigm upon returning to one’s original community of faith), the collapse is unavoidable.
A long time ago, there was peace between God and humanity. They were happy together. In fact, you could hardly distinguish one from the other, for God walked among her people as one of them. She loved them as though they were her own children which, in a way, they were. God took care of the people to the best of her abilities and the people worshiped and thanked her for all she did to the measure of their blessedness and gratitude. The latter never quite measured up to the former, of course, but God was ok with that. After all, it is human to fall short of expectations.
Europe has abandoned religion at a very fundamental level and on a widespread scale. Religion no longer provides an interpretive framework for how the world fits together. It no longer informs social, economic, or political ethics. Religion is still present but either as a largely irrelevant entity that has absolutely no impact on lawmaking, politics, or economy (Christianity) or as a menace that needs to be contained before the genie gets out of the bottle (Islam).
I’ve been an evangelical Christian all of my life. Though I’ve drifted away from much of what goes under the flag of evangelicalism certain emphases of the movement will remain dear to me. One of these is the centrality of the person and work of Jesus Christ. For evangelicals, the personal relationship with Christ matters more than anything. It starts with the question whether one has accepted Jesus Christ as savior and lord in one’s life. The direct unmitigated relationship with Christ is at the center of the evangelical experience. I still resonate with what theologians call a Christocentric emphasis. It’s all about Christ; nothing else matters.
A Devotional on the Cross
Imagine a cross. The cross has a vertical pole and a crossbar. It is not hard to imagine the vertical pole representing the dynamic between below and above. Christ was nailed to that cross. He hung suspended between heaven and earth, deserted by the dwellers of both. In Christ reconciled with God, Christians the world over are participants in that vertical dimension. The connection with God has been established. The vertical pole represents the relationship with God. They also have a responsibility in the horizontal.
What is the task of theology today? The Church on whose behalf the theologian traditionally exists has almost vanished, while academia has less and less room for theology as a scientific discourse. Is the theological project over? This essays argues that, if theology is to maintain its relevance, it must become radically public, radically post-religious, and radically marginal.Read More
Billy Graham’s death marks the transition from an inclusive evangelicalism that contributed to the public sphere to one, represented by his son Franklin, that stands for bigotry and power games. A group portrait says it all.Read More
How Bonhoeffer can be an ally for Trump-voting evangelicals:
x Learning true courage
x Learning to understand the times; DB did not struggle against loss of political influence
x Learning to put one’s life danger willingly for the good
x Transformed hearts leads to serving the other in humility
x Christ as the center means following Christ: not culture war, but change/subversion from below
x Eschewing the attempt to establish God’s kingdom on earth
x Not waiting for the apocalypse but affirming embodied reality and the otherness of the other
x objectification of God