Someone recently asked me to clarify my theological position…I think because they observed some things that I support/believe that would not usually “go together.” I guess I’ve become an odd hybrid theologically. I really line up with the Neo-Reformed camp (such as The Gospel Coalition). I’m always deeply challenged by material I read or listen to by these theologians. I lean towards Calvinism but I am hesitant to call myself a Calvinist. I simply have a “high” view of God and a heightened sense of human depravity. Think Isaiah 6.
Yet…I disagree with the Neo-Reformed camp’s narrow views on certain social issues, family life, the role of women in the home and church, etc. I feel stifled by how they put people in boxes. There seems to be no room for diversity. They seem obsessed with “biblical womanhood” and “true womanhood.” By the amount of attention they give to it, it’s almost like it is the center of orthodoxy! Even though the Scripture says that hell will not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18), they seem to think that if women (and men) don’t conform to strictly defined roles…the church will crumble and hell will burst wide open.
It deeply saddens me that some women are turned off of Christianity because of attitudes and teachings such as above. Our Lord Jesus Christ was the liberator of women! Women flocked to Him because He treated them with such respect and dignity, and in a way that was totally counter-cultural for the time. For that matter…the Bible (and church history) seems to have so many characters who were unique individuals, who would NOT fit within the strict roles that seem so critical to the Neo-Reformed.
But to move on to a different but related issue….I am increasingly challenged by the Progressive Evangelical movement – ya know, people like Jim Wallis and Sojourners, Ron Sider, Tony Campolo, and the like. I am even attending the Wild Goose Festival in a few weeks, and will be representing CBE at their booth! Somehow Evangelicalism got hijacked by the “religious right” and wedded to the Republican party…with a narrow focus on abortion and gay marriage. Many feel rejected and hated by the “Jesus” of this camp. I am still conservative on these issues by the way, yet what about a broader view of social justice? I appreciate the Progressive’s broader focus on also helping the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, and the environment too. The Progressives seem better at building bridges with the marginalized and loving people…like Jesus did. The marginalized of Jesus’ day flocked to Him. Yet, today, the marginalized are often repelled by traditional evangelicalism! We’ve somehow gone wrong in our approach. I don’t agree with the Progressives on everything, and there are lines I can not cross. Yet, I increasingly feel that if one is going to err, it is better to err on the side of grace and mercy.
Linking the above issues together…While I tend to be Neo-Reformed theologically, I feel rejected by this camp as a person. There is no place at the table for a person like me…a woman who does not fit the strictly defined roles that they espouse. My experiences of the last few years have been frustrating to say the least…I have never felt so marginalized. Yet, I feel the Lord has used my experiences in a positive way to help me relate to segments of society that I never would have related to in the past. (It helped me realize the color of glasses I was wearing…and see life from another perspective.)
So…I guess I am a “neo-reformed progressive”? I am theologically more Reformed, but I feel “at home” among the Progressives where there is a place for me at the table. I suppose some people will worry that I’ve “gone liberal” but that is definitely not accurate. Wild Goose here I come!