I was not particularly shocked to read that the Millennial generation was increasingly leaving the Church and its teachings to pursue the temptations of the world and its permissive, tolerant philosophies. I just didn't know how vehement they were about their objections to Christianity. In some ways, they are no different than those of all generations who have been wounded by the Church and its leaders for their hypocrisy and "un-Christ-like" actions. Just as in Jesus's day, the overtly religious refuse to minister to those who need it the most ... the marginalized of society who do not fit the established "norm" of what is acceptable. Ironically, those are the very people that Jesus went out of His way to set free of their wounds and sins.
Therefore, we see a growing segment of 20-30 somethings proud to call themselves "exvangelicals". What exactly does this term mean? It means more than just a renunciation of modern Christian evangelicalism, which constitutes a promotion of the doctrines, practices, and history of Biblical Christianity. An "exvangelical" can signify as many definitions as the liberal [and by that, I mean broad-minded] communities with whom they associate determine it means. Here's just a sample of the definitions they use to define themselves: "the universe is our host, and nothing really mattering is the best [philosophy]"; "I believe in the Universal Christ, but I'm deconstructing from my faith and leaving the church"; "I'm reconstructing my faith as I progress in my own understanding [of God]". As you can see, there's expansive opportunity to define your faith in anyway you want. I would say that if you had to come up with a common denominator for this progressive mindset, it is that they are people who have rejected the traditional tenets of Christianity and define themselves by what they are not, and what they no longer believe.
Here are a few of the beliefs that identify exvangelicals : 1) they don't believe in a literal hell; 2) they reject Biblical teachings on sexuality; 3) they reject Biblical conservatism which they identify as politically motivated, aka "Republican"; 4) they recognize personal sovereignty and self-determination over the laws of the Bible; 5) they promote finding a belief system that suits the individual's needs; 6) they are deeply opinionated on racism, sexism, and political issues which all seem to take precedent over God's will for mankind; 7) upholding the rights of LGBTQ individuals runs throughout all their narratives, even when they don't agree on other issues; 8) they self-determine what it means to be a Christian; 9) It's okay to explore other religions; 10) their mantra is to retain the intellectual, and drop the supernatural; 11) they don't like what they perceive to be the legalism in evangelicalism; and finally, 12) it's important to live your own truth.
In several articles I read, there were so many stories of wounds generated by the Church. In fact, that seems to be a common bond among those who identify as "exvangelicals"... they are like a support group for each other; those who have chosen to escape from the traumas caused by so-called "Christians". Some of the stories of their traumas include hearing their parents berated for getting a divorce; not feeling that they could discuss their questions about abortion, or sex, or racism; seeing men in the Church as superior over women; being judged for being raped, and the inability of the Church to know how to handle the situation with compassion; feeling accused for asking questions or seeking a higher knowledge of God; not feeling comfortable coming forth with issues they are confused about, including their sexuality.
By now you can see what a field day the devil is having with all this. And it is not just those who have chosen to follow their own rules. It also those who personify hypocritical religion, just as they did when Jesus was ministering and confronting them. But why should we be surprised? It's not only that the Bible specifically warns us that this will come in the latter days. We have no excuse for not recognizing what Scripture has foretold: At that time many will be offended and repelled [by their association with Me] and will fall away [from the One whom they should trust] and will betray one another [handing over believers to their persecutors] and will hate one another (Matthew 24:10). But the [Holy] Spirit explicitly and unmistakably declares that in later times some will turn away from the faith, paying attention instead to deceitful and seductive spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:12).
Men have always thought they could be their own god -- ever since Adam and Eve believed the lie in the Garden. It is the spirit of Pride, when combined with the spirits of Doubt and Unbelief, that lead men and women to stray from the foundations of their faith. And when confronted by legalism, hypocrisy, and the lack of compassion, the young will naturally rebel. Interestingly, there is an ironic twist to this conflict between the "exvangelicals" and the "hyper-religious". Both castigate the other for not meeting their ideas of what Jesus represents. But, as we see in Matthew Chapter 23, and the "woes" the Lord hurls at the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus is thundering against these leaders for pretending to live holy lives, while in reality, they were practicing human religion, rather than serving God with pure hearts. The same could be said of both sides in this debate.
The "exvangelicals" rail against the "narrow-minded" Christians, proclaiming that the Universe doesn't care if Christian rules are followed -- "Nothing really matters, and this is what gives us the freedom to feel our own meaning, and feel it with ease instead of a sense of fear or guilt". That last statement was made by Abraham Piper, son of well-known evangelical preacher John Piper. The host of an exvangelical podcast had this to say, "What's good for one person may not be healthy for another. For instance, if someone's tradition rejected them for their sexual orientation, it is understandable if they don't want to associate with Christianity anymore. It may not be the most healthy thing for them. Acknowledging personal autonomy [self-determination] and respecting it is a central tenet of the exvangelical community. It makes things messier, but I believe it's the best thing".
So, it's all coming true, according to Scripture. The pendulum is swinging from legalism to progressivism. Whatever feels good to you is okay with the universal god. Narrow-mindedness is condemned, while "anything goes" is embraced. In this messy scenario we see the fruit of a fallen world. Whenever man turns from the pure and simple teachings of God in His Word, he ultimately ends in a state of rebellion and lawlessness. Yes, we must endeavor to follow God's every commandment, but we must not only appear righteous, we must live it in truth. And, yes, God loves it when we ask questions and seek Him, but we must seek His truth, not our own or the world's. So, at this time, I pray that all -- both evangelicals and exvangelicals -- will return to their first love, with pure hearts and a desire to walk in the ways of Jesus Christ. We are quickly nearing the time of Jesus's appearance, and He will be seeking those who have remained true to His commandments. The Father wishes to lose no one, so let us all examine our hearts and strengthen our faith. We're going to need it!
2 Corinthians 11:4 For you seem to gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you preaching a pseudo-Jesus, not the Jesus we have preached. You have accepted a spirit and gospel that is false, rather than the Spirit and gospel you once embraced. How tolerant you have become of these imposters!