A Cautionary Note

 
 Outcast to Sheep

Outcast to Sheep

 

Dear Visitor,

This website combines both art and writing to create a new perspective.  Because Christianity is my research topic, it is important to acknowledge I am a Christian in that I attempt to understand and follow the teachings of Jesus (which in the past was actually called "The Way.")  The other part that is important to acknowledge is that Christianity has an egregious number of fragmented groups of people who are divided on pivotal (what largely makes you a follower of Christ) and non-pivotal (the non-essentials that tend to separate people) issues.  I read somewhere there were 33,000 groups claiming both Christian identity and Jesus.  Not all of these groups are identical and the theology and doctrine of each group can be wide, or quite small.  The point, however, is the difference has DIVIDED the entire culture of Christianity.  It's this I tend to investigate at some level as well.

Where does that put me?  It puts me in an awkward and uncomfortable place in my own mind.  The debate within Christianity is often snarky, defensive, and outright mean at the pew level.  It's my understanding theologians do better at disagreement.  But it isn't hard for the average person to be called a heretic by a multitude of different denominations and non-denominations.  This, for me, is heartbreaking.  Each cites scripture, each "claims" Jesus and each claims to be the "true" church.  It's such a waste of time and energy.

In the Wayward Project File, I describe my own Christian walk.  It's the project about my own life and my own testimony.  It's a journey with a pre-arranged destination.  I do believe in certain things that are considered "controversial" by other groups of Christians.  I believe, for instance, the charismata - or spiritual gifts - are still active today.  I've actually been in several camps, including the gifts are dead camp, and the denominational liturgical camp.  I've been in reformed churches who hold onto some church tradition and others who are sola scriptura as they say, and I've been in non-denominational churches that only have worship and teaching and no liturgy, choir, or priest.  I've been in places where the pastor is ruled by the elders and in others where the pastor rules the elders.  Such things, can and do spawn much controversy - however silly and religious it appears to me now.

I've been in the pew part of the church where it's just all about Sunday, and I've been in the more dynamic part of the church that actually believes Christians are supposed to have a modern impact on society.  I've been in the Bible Only camp (no science) and the mixed camp (Bible + science).  I've been around.  It isn't hard to find division I assure you and honestly, sometimes it just smacks you in the face when the accusation and finger pointing show up.  The only place I have not had a strong experience in is Catholicism.  My family background possess that, but I was and have been predominantly Protestant in my church life.  I've been in Lutheran, Methodist, and "Charismatic" churches.  I've criticized each from the other side of the aisle too - you know - heretics.  It's something I've chosen to walk away from because being divisive isn't my job;  Loving is - which is a big enough statement.

 

The Controversial Part of Me

I decided to write this note just to caution my fellow humans, Christian or otherwise.  But, in my heart, mainly I wrote it for other Christians.  It saddens me deeply what we do to one another.  I've had a very hard time self-identifying as Christian from the beginning not because I'm ashamed of Jesus, but I am ashamed and appalled with the people.  I always have been.  It was not the love in the church that brought me to Jesus.  I never saw love in the creature called Church.   It was actually the Holy Spirit who brought me to Jesus.  It's taken me years to clear away "church" rubble and admit I've never liked Christianity - what it stood for, or what it does in the name of God.  For me, Christianity was always the antithesis to kindness.  I found it petty, insular, righteous, demanding, condemning, and judgmental as an outsider.  As an insider, I see the same things.  I see condemnation masking as truth spoken in love.  I see division and wounded people (including myself) everywhere and it has left me wondering....if this is what Jesus looks like, we all have a problem.  This part of me, is literally the most controversial.  I'm learning to love Jesus, but I struggle with the entity called "The Church," with what it does and how it represents Christ to the world.  

 I did so because I make some claims that pretty much put me in certain camps and those divides within Christianity have involved both history and persecution.  I believe in the charismata. I also believe prophets are still around.  I'm currently investigating the apostle piece.  I believe prophecy still happens both on the national level and in various ekklesias (e.g. churches).  This is important because the artwork I do is a revelatory anointing.  I can't escape that claim.  It's up to the ekklesia to discern that truth with the Spirit of God.

I do not believe that Jesus has nothing to offer our "modern" world.  My personal experience is God has stuck it out with me in some pretty ugly times.  He doesn't just run away and hide and throw his hands up in the air in exasperation. That would be me doing that. Sigh.  While I struggle along with many other Christians who are "exiting out" of some theological circles, I've decided to "exit out" not because of politics, but because I have a long running negative history with the church part of Christianity since BEFORE I was a Christian.  I've largely felt I was to be indoctrinated and led to simply obey the church "authorities" and "experts" because that was my role.  Then one day,  I woke up and realized that I had been lied too at the most severe point, and misled at the most benign point.  I choose not to use any platform for pain and hurt feelings.  Instead, I've backed away to take on a perspective; to back track if you will, my life from conversion til now and ASK the questions instead of remaining silent.  I believe there is a good legacy within Christianity and I can't bring myself to throw it all out.  I don't reject the church per se.  I can't exactly reject myself - I am the church.  But I can be an honest person about the complexities of Christianity.  I am actually on a journey myself asking some hard questions of myself, and of those around me.  It's time to arise and shine and no longer be iffy or freaked about asking hard stuff - even if no answer is immediately available.  

I figure if I want to make an impact, I do it in my every day living and sharing.  So this website is a small microcosm of my little world; my little Eden.  If you are not someone who shares my beliefs, that's okay.  You actually don't have to share them theologically.  What I do request is that the meanness of disagreement and spite fighting be trashed in favor of positive and open dialogue regarding anything I both claim and write.  As in anything, I'm always learning something new so writing reflects the stage I am at in life TODAY.  Tomorrow has a whole other set of opportunities.

 

With Warmest Regards and wishes of perfect Shalom,

Apryl