Friday, July 30, 2010

Author Anne Rice Quits Christianity--But is Still a Believer

Now here is an interesting article. Anne Rice, a one time author of graphic vampire novels, made headlines a few years ago for converting to Christianity. Because of her conversion, she ceased writing these types of novels.

Today she made headlines by announcing that she was renouncing Christianity and being a Christian:

"In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control," the author wrote Wednesday on her Facebook page. "In the name of ... Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen." Read the AP story here.

Here is another quote from Anne Rice's Facebook page:

For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For tenyears, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

And yet, the article report this: "Although no longer part of any denomination, she remains a believer and continues to read theology and post Biblical passages on her Facebook page."

So, what does this say about the perception of "Christianity" and "Christian"? I am reminded of a joke I heard once in which someone said this in trying to define Christians: "They are against things and go to a lot of meetings." It is interesting that Anne Rice defined Christianity and being a Christian entirely as being against things.

Now, there are things that Christians should be against. But we ought to be known primarily for what we are for. Jesus said that we would be known as his disciples by our love for one another. He said that we should do our good deeds before people so that they would praise the Father in heaven. When Anne Rice thought of quiting Christianity and being a Christian, why did she not think of quitting loving one another or doing good deeds? The reason is simple. Whether we like it or not, the reality is that a great percentage of non-Christians define Christians as being against things and being judgmental.(Check our David Kinnamon's book UnChristian for stats on this.)

It is interesting that Rice says, "In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being a Christian." This seems to confirm that she is making a distinction between what Christ was actually for and about, and what she perceives Christianity and Christians are all about. I'm not sure if she is actually for homosexuality, or is just against being "anti-gay." The Bible, of course, says that this behavior is sinful. Perhaps she is confronting mean-spirited behavior towards gays. It has been said that we should love the sinner and hate the sin. Sounds like a good idea. But so many times, sadly, it seems that people end of hating the sinner, or at least act and speak against "sinners" in a hateful manner. It is interesting that "sinners" seemed to really like Jesus, where as those who fall into the "sinners" category today often run from, well, Christians and Christianity.

Rice is defined by the writer of the AP article as still being a believer, and the writer notes that Rice continues to post biblical passages on her Facebook page. Rice also writes:

"My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me."

But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.

I am glad that Rice took renounced atheism and has made her faith in Christ central to her life. Praise God! I do not know all the rest of her beliefs, and am not here to defend them--that is really beside the point I am making. The point I am making is this--we need to be known primarily for the things Jesus said that we would be known for, such as our love for one another, doing good deeds in the community, etc. We have a huge PR problem, and many non-Christians do not see us as a positive force in the world.

What do you think is the cause of the world's negative perception of "Christians" and "Christianity"? How can we change this perception?


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caryn777 said...

I really appreciated this article James, and I plan to share it on my wall.

As far as your question regarding perception...I'm kind of pessimistic on that front. Christians get bad publicity because we do expect more out of a generation that simply resents being told how to behave (my opinion).

The way to change that perception is to stop fighting among ourselves and to unite, in love. "They will know us by our love" right?

James Nored said...

Caryn, I'm glad that you found the article helpful. Anne Rice's statements at least help us to understand how many people in the world feel about us.

As you say, we will never have a 100% PR. But we should seek to win people over with love as much as we can. Yes, as you say, we should be known by our love.

Thank you for sharing!

James Nored said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Look before you leap.................................................

Anonymous said...

Hi James,

I have two thoughts on this topic. The first is that Anne Rice is claiming much of what Erwin McManus does in his book, "The Barbarian Way," which is more about becoming a passionate follower of Christ than just a "church goer." To live a life of service and battle for God outside the church building and become a congregation out in the field of battle.

It's clear that Ms. Rice is not renouncing that Jesus is the Son of God or that she doesn't believe in God. I interpret her message as saying that she has heard a message of condemnation and hate from perhaps a specific church or certain Christians. It's a shame she doesn't try to find another church home that is more about proclaiming the love of Christ.

HOWEVER, there is a HUGE problem with only focusing on the message of love. God isn't without wrath for the things he deems wrong. Yes, we can be forgiven by grace, but what of the person who doesn't motivate their heart to at least relay the message that God requires repentance and brokeness about certain activities, lifestyles, etc? It's almost like lying by omission when a person speaks to someone about a sin and does nothing but focus on how much God loves you. You have to at least warn them that what they are doing is wrong, and that there are consequences if you do not repent and and search your heart for brokeness.

Unfortunately, many see this advice as an action of "judgment" or "condemnation." It's like caryn777 said, it's a generation that doesn't want to be told what to do. And as you know James, I was once the biggest fan of imagining God as just a "no big deal" God when it came to my agenda.

So, should the goal be to cushion everything for our Brothers and Sisters (everyone), so that they will see God as nothing more then a parent that gives us a little look and says, "you crazy kids, go on and have fun," or at least warn them that He wants brokeness and reformation, before He sends you to Hell? How can our action of "hating the sin" be enough to fight for His way?

In the end, doesn't He judge our hearts by who is broken and in the fight, and who is still making up cushy ways to continue sinning? Otherwise, what difference is there between TRUE followers of Christ (the doers) and the rest (who trap Christ in their mind)? Hope this makes sense.