Well, it's been a few days since my initial open letter to Matt Drake concerning his departure from Christianity. I was surprised by the number of views that the post received and I was pleased with the generally positive feedback. I'm still not completely clear on whether or not Matt himself has read it. He mentioned on his Facebook wall that he was aware of it, but in his follow up post today he simply referred to the massive amount of responses he's received.
What I didn't express in my open letter, that perhaps I should have, was that Matt is an incredibly skilled writer. He has a great deal of poetic talent when it comes to communicating the deeper emotions of his heart. I'm more of a doctrine-head myself. I think in cubes and compartments and do my best to lay things out clearly and factually when something is weighing on my heart.
This was the heart that my open letter came from. It's where this follow up comes from too. This second (and hopefully final) post isn't so much for Matt (though he can read it if he likes) as it is for those who have faithfully read him and have considered taking his words seriously.
I have one simple plea to those of you who aren't sure what to do with his writing... THINK.
Thinking clearly and carefully is not a sin. God made you body mind and spirit and expects you to use each of them. Just because a writer uses poetic words that raise the emotion and don't necessarily communicate a systematic theology, it doesn't mean that his intentions are not to communicate a very strong message.
Anyone who wishes to be honest with Drake's writing will find that he has communicated a few very clear beliefs:
1. He does not believe that Christ would have us focus on his divinity.
2. He does not believe that scripture should be read as a fully inspired and inerrant book.
3. He believes that Jesus Christ himself is the one who has lead him away from the historical Christian Faith.
4. He claims that his true desire is to follow this Jesus.
I did my best from my heart to address all of these areas in my first post and Matt has not answered a single one of my objections. I may as well write the same blog post again. He has not addressed the words of Christ that I put forward... words that fully contradicted the Christ he claims to follow.
Even if we begin with the premise that scripture is not fully inspired or inerrant, Matt must be getting his Jesus from somewhere. If Matt's Jesus is not from the writings of the Apostles he distrusts, then this Jesus comes from Matt's own mind and heart. This is the problem. For all of Matt's talk about rejecting the dogmatic teachings of human beings, all he has to offer are his own subjective inclinations. He has attempted to stand in some nebulous middle space where he can both reject the scriptures' account of Christ and hold on to some remnant of Christ at the same time.
Call me dogmatic. Call me a doctrine-head, but at least I can point you to where I'm getting my ideas from.
To sum up, I hope some of you will do your best to maintain some sanity in the midst of all this controversy. One thing that is incredibly clear to me is that Matt has not revealed himself to be an honest seeker, in spite of his poetic claims to the contrary. In fact, I find him to be one of the most poetically dogmatic writers I've read in years. It doesn't matter how many "I could be wrong about all of this" caveats he throws in to help his statements go down easier.
The best way I've heard this methodology described is "hitting someone in the head with a velvet hammer." Doubting the claims you make and expressing this doubt as you make them has somehow become a way of establishing authority these days. I saw this way of writing utilized beautifully by Brian McLaren and Rob Bell only a few years ago. I didn't buy it then, and I don't buy it now.
The only thing that I cannot refute is that Matt has been wounded. This pain is the only thing I can say he's truly honest about. That being said, why should that cause me to listen to him? I've seen church leaders I greatly respect describe incredible struggle, sin, and hurt in their past. Yet they do so in a way that, in the end, shows the truth of the Christian faith. I have great pain and sin in my own past. Why should this cause me to trust Matt's words more?
What I've tried to show is that Matt has displayed incredible deceit concerning Church history and the content of scripture (whether inspired and inerrant or not), so why should I trust his interpretation of his own pain?
Think... That's all I ask.