Guest / Limited Access /

Are Christians also human beings? Are we permitted to talk about our lives the way other humans do? Can we admit mistakes, confess uncertainty, and be honest about conflicts? Is it okay not to have an airtight spiritual explanation for everything that happens?

One of the greatest causes of cynicism among Christians is the way we lather God-talk over our lives in order to obscure realities we consider too painful to discuss directly.

Consider this example from church life (though such situations are not confined to local churches). A minister is not happy in his place of service. He wonders whether he was right in accepting this call in the first place. He has dealt with painful personality conflicts, constant power struggles, and criticism. Now he is leaving. He is leaving because he can't take it anymore. His future is most uncertain.

But he believes that he can't say any of these things. There is an unwritten Code in the church (and not just this church) that dictates how a minister says goodbye. So he says, "God spoke to me and is leading me to a different place of service at this time. I appreciate the opportunity to be your pastor. I now must move on to wherever God leads me next."

Everybody on the inside of the situation knows what these words really mean: "I am miserable here. I can't take it any more. At this point, I would rather be unemployed than continue to serve here. I'm not sure exactly where God is in all of this, but in any case, I know that I must move on. I sure wish you would deal with the issues that have led me to this point, but I won't tell you what those are, so I doubt that you will actually deal with them."

A departing pastor does a church no favor by not discussing its dysfunctions. How much better ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedChristianity and the Camelot Test
Christianity and the Camelot Test
David Skeel asks which belief system best accounts for humanity’s great dreams—and failures.
TrendingHow Libya's Martyrs Are Witnessing to Egypt
How Libya's Martyrs Are Witnessing to Egypt
Murders spark largest outreach ever amid new freedoms and new threats.
Editor's PickProminent Chinese Christian Convert Accuses Another of Rape
Prominent Chinese Christian Convert Accuses Another of Rape
Yuan Zhiming of China Soul on leave as more accusations emerge following claim by Chai Ling of All Girls Allowed.
Comments
Christianity Today
How to Create Cynics
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2006

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.