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The trouble with born-again Christians is that they are an even bigger pain the second time around. — Herb Cain
This is a post over at Ragamuffin Soul, a blog by Carlos Whittaker that inspires and challenges me.
And, this quote…, well, it inspires and challenges me.
First off, it’s entirely out of context. I have to admit this. As I read this I have no idea what it is that brought Mr. Cain to this conclusion. Could he have been made to feel “unchristian” because he brought up questions of faith or because he expressed doubts? Maybe he had just come back from a retreat with some “SuperChristians” and others doubted his own way of expressing his faith? Perhaps he just got off the plane after sitting next to someone who spent the entire flight trying to convert him? Or, quite possibly, this was spoken or written after years of trying to find a church that would welcome him because he’s divorced? Or or a minority? Or Goth? Or….
Secondly, even though I am a born-again Christian and have been rescued from my sin by the grace of Christ (Thank God!), I have had my struggles with some of my “born again” brothers and sisters in Christ. I have felt excluded. I have had my faith questioned. I have had my interpretation of Scripture belittled. I have even had the way I pray — which can be quite colloquial — criticized. Some of my issues have been semantics…just the language we’re all comfortable or uncomfortable with.
Third, there are a whole lot of really awesome “born again Christians” out there. I’m friends with a lot of them (which sounds pretty meaningless as I write this). I find many of them to be challenging and accepting, loving and respectful, and really not pains at all. The notion that they are all “pains” is a cultural generalization that is merely a stereotype. This is not to say that there aren’t “pains” among them. It just means that the generalization is a generalization. This is a cultural stereotype that, even though it is not entirely true, has some basis in truth based on the experiences of many.
Fourth, and last, Mr. Cain could very well have said this about me at times. I sometimes wear my Christianity like a badge…giving me the authority of the “faith police” in my environment. I have bouts of self-righteousness and I can, I know, sometimes struggle with the fact that other Christians aren’t more like me and my own understanding of the faith. I recognize that as sin. I recognize it as pride. I recognize that as Pharisaic. And I see that sin in myself. At times, I’m part of the problem. I merely hope and pray that my actions, my words, my expression of Christ in this world won’t lead to all Christians being defined by the same broad stroke Herb Cain uses here.