It’s a real frustration to watch a yahoo like Harold Camping make Christianity look foolish. How do you convince people that he doesn’t represent the whole church? Not the first time we’ve been down this road is it? Ahem, Terry Jones, Ted Haggard, Mike Warnke, Robert Tilton….need I go on? The problem is, there’s just no way to control who identifies themselves as Christian. It’s completely unmanageable. Perhaps we should take a cue from the Scientologists and sue anyone we think is making us look bad. Or maybe we could trademark the faith, allowing only those who passed through some sort of screening process to call themselves Christians. Wouldn’t that be handy? “This Bible teacher has been certified safe for your consumption” (Lifeway book stores tried something close to this, actually). Perhaps we could make Christianity a club, and only those who sign the membership oath could use the label. There has got to be some effective way to screen out the nutjobs and charlatans. The Catholic church has a slightly better system – having some authority at the top that is able to clarify what the church actually teaches. But down in the trenches, even the Catholic Church is pretty loosey-goosey. They don’t excommunicate nearly enough people to keep everyone in line.
Ultimately, who do we have to thank for this cacaphony of voices, this ragtag assemblage of people all getting to call themselves Christians? I blame it on Jesus. He had plenty of opportunities to tighten the ranks and cut the riff raff back when this thing was just getting off the ground. And what did he do? He blew the doors right off and said not to worry about weeding people out! “Let the tares grow up with the wheat, let the shady woman pour perfume all over me in the middle of a dinner party, let the short, corrupt little tax collector serve as our host, let the kids wander in and out and climb all over me and disturb the worship service. He who is not against us is for us, and even he who is against us – well, it’s not really your job to sort out who is who. When you throw a party invite the most messed up people you can find and don’t worry if that tarnishes your reputation. You’re not working the rope line for the Kingdom of God. I’m the door. I’m the way. I’ve got it covered.”
No wonder the church is full of so many kooks and jerks and wrecks and idiots. You’d almost think Jesus wanted it that way.
It’s not the way I would have done it, if I was in charge. That’s all I’m saying.