For those of you who don't know her, Anne Rice is an author. She became famous for writing fiction about vampires, before Twilight. Then a few years ago, she announced that she had become a Christian. Last week, she said something on facebook. That thing she said has caused a firestorm among Christian bloggers. Here is what she said:
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 ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
Later, she said this:
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.
Since saying these things, she has been utterly thrashed on-line. And she has also been defended, usually by people who agree with what she said. I don't agree with what she said. I think that being committed to the Church and being committed to Christ are indivisible. But a couple of people asked me for my thoughts, and I took the time to write them down, so here is what I think of this little controversy.
It seems to me that Anne Rice is immature in her faith. I say that because she said things that many, many immature people have said over the years: I love Jesus but I don't like the Church. Books have been written about this feeling. Surveys have been done. And it is a feeling that is reiterated constantly by every hip pastor/CCM musician/christian author/Barna disciple/emergent guy out there. Isn't this what people say when they say "I'm not a Christian, I'm a Christ-follower"? Of course that thinking is immature, but it is not unusual at all in evangelical circles.
Further, she said it on facebook. Facebook is an instant form of broadcast, well suited to immature thoughts that, in the past, would have stayed personal. Now those thoughts become public and permanent. People used to get drunk at parties in college, but no one cared a year later. Now that drunken party, that immaturity, is on-line forever. It is stupid and immature, but it is not unusual.
Further, she said it response to the perceived anti-woman and anti-gay bias in certain parts of Christianity. That perception may be overblown, but it is actually based on the way certain Christians talk and behave. She isn't crazy to see that. She doesn't have the personal discipleship to see the arguments from a deeply biblical perspective. To her, perhaps love is the same thing as celebration of behavior (who knows?). OK, she isn't well formed in Christian theology. She is immature in her faith.
And, to all this, I say: so what? She is immature in her faith. Maybe someday she won't be, God alone knows. But how immature is it for all these Christian bloggers to jump on her. As if she is some Christian pastor or bishop or theologian who has made a distinctly heretical statement. She writes fiction, she is a lay person. So what if she is immature in her faith? Big deal. Were you looking to her for theological insights or pastoral advise before this? I hope not. Leave the woman alone. Pray for her, if you wish, but otherwise . . . take some of that "righteous anger" (or whatever it is) and go out and love somebody in the Name of Jesus.
If you are reading this as a note on facebook, may I recommend you visit www.ThomasMcKenzie.com for the full service version?