What happened, however, wasn’t an abandonment of my faith, but a shift in my understanding of Scripture. While I had always read the Bible and knew large portions of it by memory, I had relied on the expertise of my religious mentors (some of whom were simply laypeople teaching Sunday School or Christian education classes) to help guide me through its interpretation.
The more I read the text through unfiltered eyes and the more I learned about scholarly investigation, the less sense their point of view made. Their old Jesus looked nothing like my new Jesus.
I could no longer reconcile Jesus’s calls for non-judgment, loving your enemies, and taking up your cross with many of the Religious Right’s positions on social services, women’s rights and the LGBT community. Even though I felt alone in my theological shift, I was not…
Having my worldview fall apart like a house of cards was unnerving, but it only increased my desire for knowledge about the theology of my youth. I continued to study religion, and I received my PhD in Religious Studies two years ago. Now I no longer identify as an evangelical, but I study them for a living. Only after my doctrinal evolution did I realize I no longer aligned with the political conservatism for which I once literally campaigned. Jesus was a champion of the poor, the weak, the meek, and downtrodden. He encouraged his followers to “sell their possessions” and give them to the poor. He hung out with hookers and crooks.
My transition to the left didn’t happen overnight, and sometimes I felt like a deserter. The man whom I worked to get elected no longer represented my politics or my piety. As I continue to observe the curious twists and turns of evangelicals, particularly during this election year, I remain fascinated by the ways they reconcile their theology with their policy
My journey from Young Republican to less young Democrat did not come from a crisis of faith, it came from finding inspiration in the life of Jesus. Once I removed the dogmatic lens that had informed my biblical interpretations, I found a figure that defended a prostitute and ate with the poor. The life of Jesus simply didn’t reflect the agenda of the political right, so now neither could I.
Reading this article was almost like reading my biography. I experienced so many of the things that the author did. While I didn’t go on to obtain a PhD in religious studies I did spend several years reading through religious text with unfiltered eyes and came to pretty much the same conclusions. The current evangelical community just doesn’t look anything like the face of Jesus.
I did a lot of cutting in the quote above so I would encourage you to read the entire text if this topic is of interest to you. It’s nice to realize that I am not the only one to sit down and read religious documents with an unbiased perspective. It was an epiphany to discover the conservatism of my youth was never what I thought it was…