August 7, 2007, author Anne Rice, best known for her vampire novels, made waves last week when she declared on her Facebook page that she had “quit being a Christian.” Twelve years after her return to Catholicism, Rice said she still believed in God, but that, “In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life.” – Los Angeles Times
My take on this is like saying, “I will quit my Maker! I will now reject the God of the Bible and worship a god that I can agree with.” If salvation is the end, the criteria for it is not optional. Even though many make their decisions on the basis of what is compatible with their habits and lifestyles, the heart must be drawn to the Lord and His agenda and not the intellectual pitfalls regarding philosophy of life and religion. To quit the Church is like quitting the human race and saying, “I don’t like the way humans are treated so I’ve decided to be a horse.”
Many frustrated people resign by extinguishing the little flicker of faith that never developed into a flame. Their conversion is what they call a “conversion into realness,” where they see no sense in being loosely connected to something in which they cannot wholeheartedly believe. When there is nothing to fuel their faith, it is just a matter of time before their light disappears. Even Peter, the disciple of Jesus Christ, decided to return to his former occupation of fishing and convinced others to do the same. The “me too” crowd is all around us. In reading Anne Rice’s sentiments, there will be many sympathizers who can identify with her. Her decision has the potential to unleash an avalanche of loosely connected pseudo Christians from their lives of mere religious performance and ritual rather than true faith.
A reaction to the challenge of faith which calls us to a higher standard of living is evidence that something is wrong within the heart of that individual. When a drug addict is placed in an environment where taking drugs is not tolerated, his body convulses from being deprived of what his system has grown accustomed to. True faith causes a reaction among those who desire to establish and sustain their own standard of righteousness. If the whole of God’s offer is not accepted, what He gives will merely cause the individual to go into a crisis mode. There will be withdrawal symptoms from the old way of thinking in order for God to establish His truth within the heart. He will dismantle every opposing argument and position, even though conflict within the soul will occur and cannot be avoided.
True repentance is the establishment of His rightness in place of our wrongness for the rest of our lives. The more we see of Him the more we understand how little we know. Quitting is getting tired of being wrong and accusing God of not knowing what we have come to know. It is matching our wits against His Omniscience or All-Knowing. When we are insulted by God’s intelligence, we quit His instrument of wisdom, the Church. It is not the option to the submitted disciple who is learning what the Lord alone teaches. It is the decision of the self-absorbed individual who has reached the highest plateau of knowledge that he supposedly is able to teach God a thing or two. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” There are too many things yet to know or to quit before He reveals those things to us. We must not quit the Church, but also pray that the Church does not quit being the Church.