“Christian Horror” followup post
Here’s his opening:
Behind the Christian fiction debate is two different paradigms, two contrasting views of Christianity. In one sense, those views are theological. But in another sense, they are cultural. In other words, the reasons Christians can’t agree about what Christian fiction should be is because they don’t agree about what Christianity is and what its followers should be.
I realize what I’m about to say is pretty simplistic, even potentially divisive. But the more I watch the debate unfold, the more I get the sense we’re talking past each other, employing two different sets of terminology. As a result, we’re seeing the emergence of two camps. I’ll call them The Holiness Camp and The Honesty Camp.
• The Holiness Camp — These writers / readers emphasize our separation from the world; we are saints and our conduct, values, and entertainment should be categorically different from secular society. Thus, we should critique the world, avoid what is impure and have no fellowship with darkness, either philosophically or culturally. This separation should be reflected in our stories. Law is the driving principle of those in the Holiness Camp.
• The Honesty Camp — These writers / readers emphasize our association with the world; we are all sinners and sin takes on monstrous forms. Thus, we should engage the world, identify with the fallen, look with unflinching candor and deep empathy upon the wreckage of humanity and its redemptive struggle. This should be reflected in our stories. Truth is the driving principle of those in the Honesty Camp.
I think he has some remarkable insights in his article (although I’d rename it “Why Christians Can’t Agree on Anything”). I grew up in the Holiness Camp and have spent most of my life within the Holiness Camp, first within Baptist Fundamentalism and then in Pentecostal Holiness with touches of Baptist Fundamentalism. I’ve never really been exposed to much of the Honesty Camp, and yet I can agree with many of the commenters that the Honesty Camp is where I find the most life and touching stories. Perhaps, in my quest and desire to distance myself from certain aspects of Christianity, I should seek out more peers and friendships in the Honesty Camp while doing my best to silence those Holiness voices that admonish me continually in my head. Yet I’m going to continue to seek after those things that are being produced by the latter camp, despite it costing me the friendships in the former.
Looking at the two, it would be easy to just declare that both are extremes and we should follow Jesus and be in the center between the two. Sounds good on paper, but often leads to a condescending arrogrance in those who claim to practice it. I agree that Jesus is the perfect embodiment of both ideals, but with humans, the reason why none of us can walk a perfect balance between the two is that sooner or later we will begin to emphasize one or the other, at which point we have lost it. It’s only when we can walk a perfect balance between the two, transcending both distinctions so that neither direction really matters anymore, then we are truly walking as Christ walked.
So, it appears we need a fair amount of apathy toward both positions.
The dichotomy reminds me of this quote from the Resurgence that I saw the other day…a quote which nearly had me at the point of tears, because I’m desperate to believe it to be absolute utter capital t TRUTH, but every single voice in my head is screaming at me that it can’t possibly be true:
Knowing that God’s love and approval of you will never be determined by your performance for Jesus, only by Jesus’ performance for you, will make you perform more and better, not less and worse. In other words, grace mobilizes performance; performance does not mobilize grace.
I believe, Lord; help my unbelief.
And similarly…”In the devil’s theology, the important thing is to be absolutely right and to prove that everybody else is absolutely wrong.” – Thomas Merton