I recently wandered onto the blog of an atheist because the topic interested me. The author had posted a rather vehement video of a fundamentalist Christian ranting about transgender bathrooms. The comments that followed were legitimate criticisms of Christian lack of charity towards others. I share some of their views on the issue so I posted a few comments. But this post is not about those concerns, but about building and defending kingdoms.
You see, as I interacted further I was honest about being a theist. I admit some of my interaction was clumsy, and I ended up apologizing a few times, but my intentions were good. However, it soon became clear that I was not trusted, that my presence threatened the space they had created for themselves. They had it all figured out, and really didn’t need my input. I ended up being barraged by negative comments about my theism, asked countless times to “prove” my belief set (I am a post-evangelical Pentecostal), and in general was lectured as though I was a child.
What is it about human nature that we feel the need to create our own “kingdoms,” then vigorously defend them from outsiders? Is it a primitive clan mentality, a residual behavior from prehistoric times? A fight rather than flight instinct? One reoccurring criticism of Christianity is its “cliquishness,” the seemingly endless schism and building of different religious kingdoms within the broad umbrella of Christendom, yet here was an example of a similar kind of kingdom building, but among atheists! As a philosophical minority their kingdom in the West has faced a great deal of pressure and animosity from the various religious kingdoms, as they were quick to lecture me on. Of course, just the opposite holds for Russia, Cuba, North Korea and China where atheism holds court and religious kingdoms are systematically persecuted.
One of the immediate attractions for me of Progressive Christianity was its openness. It was a broader stream of thought than what I was used to in Evangelicalism. Less about theological certitude, and more about the work of the Kingdom of God. What turned me off to much of conservative Christianity was the similarity to the attitudes presented by those atheists on that blog. “I’m right, your wrong, if you want to play with us, you have to think like us, use the same lingo and hate what we hate.” In other words, I didn’t see much difference between the atheist blog, than say, the rantings of John Piper. Petty kingdoms had been built, and were to be defended.
Jesus called us to build a radically different kind of kingdom. A kingdom where the rules of mankind’s thinking were turned upside down. Where the poor were lifted up rather than oppressed, where greatness was not determined by wealth or prestige, where weakness could be strength, where everyone, no matter what their talents, plays an equal role. This is the inclusive kingdom I am striving to learn more about and become invested in.
In the posts that are to follow I hope you will join me as I attempt to explore this upside down Kingdom of God and what I believe it means for us today 2 millennia after Christ’s resurrection. I hope to learn from our interaction and grow as a ethically responsible Christian in a world where the Good News is not always portrayed as Good News.