Dear Mr. Dalrymple, Mr. Galli, Mr. Olsen and all the staff at Christianity Today,
Good Morning, it has been a tumultuous few days for you, no doubt.
Although this type of situation may be new for you, I’d like to offer some tips for exile so that as you navigate the tumultuous waters of truth-telling, your heart and soul and your witness remain intact.
1. Start Digging.
You are probably shocked at the mischaracterization of your intention, the verbal assault on your character, the abrupt perceived alignment with democrats and socialists and the quickness with which your institution is bleeding financial support. The roots of this reaction are extremely deep and to remain courageous and undeterred you may want to unearth some of the forces that have been at play in the formation of what society has come to recognize as “evangelical”. There are decades of brilliant work done by believing BIPOC around these roots that have unfortunately been readily ignored.
2. Make Amends.
Call those people in your life who were trying to communicate the severity of the situation whom you probably dismissed as being divisive or under the influence of the liberal agenda and apologize. Next, pick up the book, click the link or watch the documentary they recommended to you a while ago.
3. Take Appropriate Ownership
Take a minute to examine how you may have contributed to the ideology that is fueling the hatred in your inbox. Is there an articulate and thought-provoking message that may have some truth to it? If so, that’s okay—take the critique and learn from it. No one is perfect and no one is aware of all their blind spots. At the same time, block foolish people and ignore ignorant comments—it is hard but it will add years to your life.
4. Give Honor Where It’s Due.
There are weary people of color who have been breaking up the fallow ground of this toxic form of evangelicalism for years. They are tired, bruised and fighting the good fight of staying in relationship and in the church. Don't do what you will find is done all the time (once you engage tip #1) and profit off of their pain and process with a sexy new book series or blog about soil you did not work, tears you haven’t yet cried and realities you’ve only just begun to see. In other words, don’t walk into another person's party and act like you planned it, paid for it and threw it. You didn't and it is insulting on deep levels. You may even want to give some of the actual party planners a job.
5. Revisit the So-Called-Heretics.
As you are no doubt beginning to learn “liberal” is a term that is thrown around as a way to ignore the hard truths a person presents while fooling yourself into thinking your conscience is clear. As was mentioned before, several literary works speak to maintaining deep and ardent love for Jesus amid strong delusions and nationalistic hermeneutics. These gems were created by the people who were called heretics, whose theology was questioned and whose comments were out of line. Now that you are one of them, you may as well judge for yourself whether or not their words were heretical or prophetic.
You are now faced with a difficult decision.
Will you stand firm on what you know to be the values of Christ or will money and power reel you back into the silence that rests like a boulder on the shoulders of those who don't have the privilege of opting out of the pain?
If you choose to stay here in the trenches, be encouraged. It will get easier, your friendships become deeper and your quiet times will go to another level. Don't worry about the death threats, who can take a life that has already been laid down?
Thanks again for your courage, and please don't bend to the pressure.
Sincerely yours and with you in the storm.