Christianity is a complex system of belief, rituals, lifestyles and systems. It makes no more sense to reject Christianity as it does to reject God.
Some would say if you reject specific beliefs (such as Jesus’ divinity or the creeds) then you are rejecting Christianity. Some would say if you reject specific rituals (such as Eucharist or baptism) then you are rejecting cornerstones of the Christian faith and you are rejecting Christianity. Some would say if you reject that God is all powerful, or all knowing – then you are rejecting that which is God. Of course anyone who says this holds the view that whatever they hold to as being the perfect or real version of God or Christianity is the one to which all others should be held accountable to. Folks like this tend to have a pretty limited understanding of the world.
My argument here is that likely what happens when one rejects Christianity, they are only rejecting certain Christianities. While that might make the term Christianity or Christian to be an empty label I think it does help us grasp the breadth of what Christianity is. When one rejects God they likely are not rejecting all of which all people mean when they speak of ‘God’ they are rejecting very particular ideas of what God or God is not. You are welcome to submit or agree to creeds or something like them in order to maintain the facade of authority that there is an absolute truth of what all should be compared to. Again though, folks that do this tend to be misinformed about how the world actually works.
For most of my life, as I have explored alternatives to my upbringing of what God and Christianity are I have encountered opposition in the form of appeals to orthodox versions of what they are. If I question the authority of scripture, desiring to remove the Old Testament from the canon, divinity of Christ, the impossibility of being wealthy and a Christian, the legitimacy of end times reality and a slew of other things I’ve pondered about; I am always met with examples of others who believed those things that were heretics, or told that I’m fine to hold those beliefs but then I can no longer call myself a Christian or I fall outside of two thousand years of the history of the church. Typically it doesn’t take me too long after to find people and movements that hold or held to that belief or practice that ritual. What good is it really then to hold any belief or practice against the overarching idea of Christianity and approve one and deny the other? Is that not just an exercise of power to approve and deny what is the true Christianity?
There doesn’t seem to be very many traditions that allow for and create room for the rejection of itself, but I think this is our only way forward. Christianity and God are such enormous ideologies that any sense that we have remotely grasped the true or good one, or any rejection of it all without looking back, seems to be awfully short-sighted. It’s not so much that I’m suggesting a completely subjective, individualistic and mix & match belief system for yourself, however I am saying that don’t be so quick to leave the whole thing because of how brutal, nonsensical or false some of the individual manifestations are.
I think there is responsibility that we have to one another to bring our past experiences together to help create communal expressions of the things we have come to see. I think there is a lot of room in communities that would call themselves Christian for people who don’t ‘believe in God’ anymore, people that don’t think Jesus was divine, people who don’t hold to the authority of scripture, people who are burnt out by the guilt and institutionalized bull shit of it all.
I don’t think all things should be allowed to be rejected and allowed to stick around. I understand the value of upholding things, but these things that we uphold need to be reduced greatly. Instead of upholding theologies – let’s just uphold love and grace and peace. If we can agree to that and then allow the rest of the tradition to be fluid then I think we might be on to something.