Renowned evangelist Anne Graham Lotz recently told Amy Sullivan at Time magazine, "Religion can be one of the greatest impediments to finding God." Newsweektook that as Billy Graham's daughter "slamming" churches. Actually, I think Lotz is expressing the difference between faith in God and faith in the church.
"I've been [burned] by local churches and by people who call themselves in God's name," Lotz told Sullivan. Newsweek reports that Lotz has parted ways with more than one church over theological or pastoral disagreements. "I've had Christians treat me in a way that is so wrong and so vicious, I realized there's a difference between God's people and God," she said.
Lotz's story, sadly, is not unique. She dedicates her new book, The Magnificent Obsession: Embracing the God-Filled Life, to everyone who has ever felt disconnected or hurt by organized religion.
I am one of those people, calling myself an "uncomfortable ex-churchgoer." I stopped going around 10 years ago, after many of the same experiences Lotz described in the interview, but I was uncomfortable with giving up on the church community. During college, I church hopped—and felt bad about doing it, because most Christians emphasize the importance of making a commitment to a church home. Honestly, for a person who is not entirely convinced that church is worthwhile, visiting church after church after church for two years is a profound act of optimism.
Eventually, I gave up visiting churches altogether. I felt bad about it, didn't like to admit to it (I got really good at avoiding the "Where do you go to church?" question), and wasn't entirely sure it was the right ...1
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