I have been exploring in recent posts some of the reasons I am leaving evangelicalism after 40 years. As I have stated, these are my reasons alone. Each time I post, some will comment to the affect that I am trying take others with me on my journey. I have never said that or inferred that. My experiences are just that—mine. Many of you are very happy in your evangelical churches, and that’s great. I encourage you to stay right where you are. I am describing why I am leaving, not telling you what you should be doing.
I made some upset on Sunday when I said that God does not have our best interests in mind. That he has his best interests in mind. Now, making people upset does not really have much of an effect on me. I don’t try to do that, but I can’t control other’s responses to what I say. Yet this is a good jumping-off place for explaining another reason I am leaving evangelicalism. In the evangelical circles I was raised in, and then was a vital member of, for 40 years, I heard over and over that God cares for my every need, is concerned with the smallest detail of my life, wants to meet all of my physical, emotional and financial needs.
And that is very true. He does. He knows the number of hairs on my head. He cares for me more than the birds of the air, which he cares for. He clothes me greater than the lilies of the field. There is no detail in my life too small for his notice or care. And his love for me knows literally no bounds. Yet for so many evangelicals, God’s concern for us becomes the all-consuming reason the universe exists to begin with. And that is just not the case.
I mentioned Job in my Sunday Homily. To many evangelicals, Job is an example to us of persevering through hardship. Of how good people will win in the end. Of how things may be dark now, but God will give us back all we have lost and more if we simply stick with it. This is the God of evangelicalism: He is most interested in my well-being. Job is not a character study of a man who perseveres. It is a play, where God and Satan meet, and God decides to put his own interests on display. In this play, Job loses all he has, but does not curse God, because God is worthy of our praise no matter what. This is what God wants to put on stage: his glory.
We can even say all of creation from the Garden to the Incarnation was Act One of a great play called God’s Glory. Act Two was the life of Jesus to the Cross. And Act Three was the Resurrection. It is a great play put on for the angels and all the universe to show that God is worthy of all honor and praise, that even though we continually break his covenant, he will go to the greatest length possible to show his glory, even to the point of becoming one of us. The author stepped into the play, as Lewis said. The author is also the plot of the play, which gets more complicated. But let’s just stick with the author being the primary focal point of this play we call Life. Yet we have gotten confused and believe we are the focal point. That God is most interested in our needs and wants rather than in his glory.
I want a bigger God than one who is focused on me and my needs. I did not find that God in evangelicalism. The God I found there is a Jeff Dunn-centered God, one who is there to meet all my needs like a great snack machine. I want a God who is much bigger.
In the Catholic Mass, the focus is not not me. Once the Mass begins, I am not the main player. I am part of the audience calling Author! Author! I come to the table Jesus has laid, and enjoy the bread and wine he himself provides. And this happens every day, all over the world. It is not about me, it is about God and his glory.
I did not find this in evangelical churches. I am finding it in the Mass. Again, this is my journey. You don’t have to come with me. But I think you will find the view from the Mass to be spectacular.