Another post from Meg on her blog: Bridget Jones goes to seminary
Church Sign Theology
I recently drove by a local church with one of those cutesy church signs out front, this one proclaiming:
Christians Aren't Perfect, Just Forgiven.
Well, first off, I suppose I should affirm what is true about this statement. Christians aren't perfect. I would assess that the lingering nature of depravity is a correct doctrine of humanity. And Christians are forgiven. That is the grace of the Gospel message, the forefront concern of Christ's incarnation and the peace/shalom we are enabled to bring to the world. So, yes, forgiveness. Good. Very well done on the soteriology.
Having said all that, church signs are for the benefit of those outside the church (seems obvious given their location.) Those outside the church are unsually not INSIDE the church for a reason. And, if you ask your run-of-the-mill 10am Sunday gardener/runner/New York Times reader why they aren't in church, I'm guessing you'll hear something about the hypocrisy and irrelevance of organized religion. So,
In a world where Christians scream hate at scared, pregnant 16-year-old girls who don't know where else to turn
And priests molest little children
And pastors carry placards proclaiming, "God hates fags"
And the affluence of most churches is chilling in the face of worldwide AIDS, violence and war
And church elders tell women with black eyes to go back home and submit
And deacons turn away people who can't turn on their heat
If you were a non-church person, how would you hear the quip,
Christians Aren't Perfect, Just Forgiven?
Because, in the context of very real and lamentable failures on the part of church folk, this piece of church sign theology sounds, to me, like a giant "Screw you!" You (people outside the church) can't hold anything against us.
Jesus doesn't care anymore that the Christian kids in your 3rd grade class mocked you senseless because your mom was an atheist. They're forgiven.
Jesus doesn't care anymore that your Christian neighbor was way too cheery in her assessment of your father's front-row seat to inferno post-mortem. She's forgiven.
Jesus doesn't care anymore that your former preist or pastor told you that people with your kind of problem aren't welcome anymore. He's forgiven.
Nanny-nanny-boo-boo, WE'RE forgiven. Now, wouldn't you like to join us this Sunday? We have lovely programming for you children.