The Vanity of Enlightenment

When we believe that our particular tribe holds the greatest and fullest truth, the temptation is to pride ourselves on it: becoming self-righteous, arrogant, and intolerant of other beliefs. In a word, bigotry.

I first became aware of this a couple of decades ago when as an evangelical Christian I left a stoic Baptist church to attend a legalistic, charismatic denomination. After a couple of bewildering years in that church I extricated myself and returned sober to mainstream Christianity—only to realize that what I’d experienced in that cult was merely evangelicalism on steroids. The problematic base doctrines were still the same: no women in leadership, male headship (the husband has the final say), “eternal conscious torment hell” for the unsaved, and the exclusion of LGBTQ Christians.

A couple more years of church-hopping followed and my husband and I unwittingly landed in a conservative denomination that allows (and affirms!) the ordaining of women as pastors. Scandalous, I know. 😉 This challenged and changed my beliefs regarding gender roles, and we’ve been attending this church for more than a decade now. Labels don’t leave much room for nuance, but today you might call me progressive, or a left-leaning conservative.

Having journeyed this far throughout Christendom (dissecting/comparing the gamut of Calvinism, Arminianism, Open Theism, Annihilation, and Universalism along the way), I’ve now had ample time to experience many levels of dogma from opposing angles. And what I’ve found is that both sides (left-wing, right-wing, and everything inbetween) are saturated with pride and self-righteousness. Continue reading The Vanity of Enlightenment