On Friday Daniel started a discussion about Anne Rice’s recent statement that she quit Christianity. Since then the internet has been ablaze with discussions about Rice.
Unfortunately, not all of the discussions have been gracious or even intelligent. Here’s a round up of the discussions that did deal with Rice in a gracious and intelligent manner:
Popsickle contributor Emily commented on Daniel’s post:
If you don’t want to label yourself a Christian because of the negative image it gives people (meaning that it hurts your witness), then that’s fine. But if you shove away all the fellow “believers” around you because they call themselves Christians, you’re not doing the right thing.
My favorite title of an article discussing Rice’s break-up with Christianity was over at the religion blog Religion Dispatches: “Anne Rice Quits Christians, Still Dates Jesus.”
Brian LePort, who always offers intelligent perspectives on theological and religious issues, wrote:
[T]here is no following Christ without being part of the church. That is like speaking of being born absent being part of the human race. [Y]our Christianity is not necessarily the right Christianity. Contrary to belief you are just as messed up and mistaken as the rest of us. We remain faithful to the church because we recognize we all are flawed.
Roger Yadon, another blogger who continually offers intelligent perspectives on theological and religious issues, draw our attention to the Bible:
Rice’s comments remind me of the elitist Corinthian assertion, “I am of Christ.” “I am above your petty differences, and am a truly enlightened Christian because I am not Christian… I follow Christ.”
Paul’s response was simple, “Is Christ divided?” Certainly her motive of pure religion is honorable, but making aloof accusations and brushing broad strokes across the very faith she professes is not what Paul encouraged in Corinth. I think he said, “not cool.”
I’ve grown weary with the constant delineations (this week by Anne Rice and, well, all the time by less famous believers) that they can be Christ-followers without being a part of “Christianity.” Or I’ve heard it put this way: I’m not religious…but I’m a follower of Jesus. Look, if you follow the religious figure Jesus Christ, then you are aligning yourself, whether you like it or not, with his other followers. That makes you a Christian, and that makes you part of the Christian religious system. You’re not making a legitimate distinction by trying to separate the religion from your personal faith. You’re just using cute wordplay.
Anne Rice herself followed up:
My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.
Rice just defined what it means to be a Christian: to follow Christ! Her declaration that she was quitting Christianity was just, as Boyett put it, “cute wordplay.” I understand Rice’s frustration with Christians who are anti-gay and anti-feminist, but I wish she would have phrased her frustrations in a way that would have inspired meaningful and intelligent discussion. Instead we get meaningless wordplay.