being honest about born again christianity

Although I theologically find myself in the tradition of Evangelical Christianity I would be the first to say that I’m no fan of Born Again Christianity.

Well, true I do believe that it is important for individuals to make a personal commitment to follow Christ, I do however, feel that the way it is presented in contemporary Christian circles is that it is more of a cheapshot placebo wordplay where salvation from the wages of sin and eternal life are peddled into an instant prayer that supposedly assures us of being snatched from the vivid image of hellfire that was used to compel us to receive Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, as according to selected Bible verses that somehow gives one the impression that the Gospel is being pointed to us at gunpoint.

Again Buechner writes of this in his archetypal style that combines humor and tounge-in-cheek wit that puts into words exactly what I feel about Born Again Christians in his Theologized ABC:

"The phrase comes , of course from a scene in John’s Gospel where Jesus tells a Pharisee named Nicodemus that he will never see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again. Somewhat testily prodded by Nicodemus to make himself clearer, Jesus says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” In other words, spiritual rebirth by the power of the Holy Spirit is what Jesus is talking about.

He then goes one step further, playing on the word pneuma which means both ‘spirit’ and ‘wind’ in Greek. “The wind blows where it will, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit,” he says (John 3:1-8). The implication seems to be that the kind of rebirth he has in mind is (a) elusive and mysterious and (b) entirely God’s doing. There’s no telling when it will happen or to whom.

Presumably those to whom it does happen feel themselves filled, as a sheer gift, with that love, joy, peace which Saint Paul singles out as the principal fruits of the experience. In some measure, however fleetingly, it is to be hoped that most Christians have had at least a taste of them.

Some of those who specifically refer to themselves as “Born Again Christians,” however, seem to use the term in a different sense. You get the feeling that to them it means Super Christians. They are apt to have the relentless cheerfulness of car salesmen. They tend to be a little too friendly a little too soon and the women seem to wear more make-up than they need. You can’t imagine any of them ever having had a bad moment or a lascivious thought or used a nasty word when they bumped their head getting out of the car. They speak a great deal about “the Lord” as if they have Him in their hip pocket and seem to feel that its no harder to figure out what He wants than to do in any given situation than to look up in Fanny Farmer to make brownies. The whole shadow side of human existence –the suffering, the doubt, the frustration, the ambiguity –appears as absent from their view of things as litter from the streets of Disneyland. To hear them speak of God, He seems about as elusive and mysterious as a Billy Graham rally at Madison Square Garden, and on their lips the Born Again experience often sounds like something we can all make happen any time we want to, like fudge, if only we follow their recipe.

It is not for anybody to judge the authenticity of the Born Again’s spiritual rebirth or anybody else’s, but my guess is that by the style and substance of their witnessing to it, the souls they turn on to Christ are apt to be fewer in number than the ones they turn off."

Frederick Buechner . Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized (New York: HarperOne 1988) pp.22-23

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