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This article is from Issue 63: May/June 2013

First Word: "I Believe..."

The week this issue was being sent to the printer, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Anthony Lewis passed away. He was 85.
The day after his death, NPR aired an interview with him from when he retired in 2002. In it, he talked about getting the opportunity to transition from a reporter to a columnist at the Times. Having no experience writing a column, he asked a senior colleague, well, how to do it.
“It’s simple,” he was told. “A reporter states facts. A columnist says, ‘I believe.’”

Saying what you believe has become a touchy subject lately. As the Church has grappled with a variety of societal changes, we’ve seen some Christian leaders loudly say things in God’s name—usually via social media—that have made the rest of us cringe. (We talk about it on page 46.)

The Jesus that the loudmouths represent to the world is angry and judgmental. And they make it look like all good Christians have to be, as well.

Christians are being cast in such a light that many who have a genuine relationship with Christ now find themselves pulling back association with the label at all. In essence they’re saying, Don’t lump me in with them, I’m not like that.

Marcus Mumford (lead singer of Grammy-winning Mumford & Sons) recently told Rolling Stone that he doesn’t consider himself a Christian. This came as a surprise to many, given the overt spiritual overtones of Mumford’s music (not to mention his parents are national Vineyard Church leaders in the U.K.).

“You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
—Rick Warren

While Mumford says he still believes in Jesus, he doesn’t want the label. “I don’t really like that word,” he said. “It comes with so much baggage. So, no, I wouldn’t call myself a Christian. I think the word just conjures up all these religious images that I don’t really like. I’ve kind of separated myself from the culture of Christianity.”

And that’s the danger we’re now in. Like in political media, the extreme views on religion-vs.-culture have gotten the biggest microphones. And it’s forcing a pendulum swing in our generation that’s troubling.

We don’t want to be associated with the extremes, or at least their tone, so we distance ourselves. We throw the baby out with the bathwater. We’re often afraid to stand for what we believe because we don’t want to be labeled or marginalized as “one of them.” We’re becoming a voiceless generation.

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