Ann Rice’s anti-conversion

This is my reaction to one of the numerous articles about Ann Rice’s departure from the Catholic church. Read the article here:

www.dentonrc.com/sharedcontent/dws/drc/localnews/religion/stories/DRC_Mann_Column_0827.94e71a77.html

I am so sorry to constantly stir up trouble. This is not an attack on Jim Mann, whom I know and respect. However, the tenor of this is typical of just about every evangelical church in America:

Quoting the article:
“Jesus warned us 2,000 years ago that the Bible’s message would be offensive to the world. Heck, it offends Christians, too. The reason for the affront is the mirror-like aspect of God’s word, revealing our deepest flaws and all our ugliness apart from God. The Bible calls us to change our thinking. It calls us to change our actions. That’s where we get the term “conversion.””

Ann Rice ‘converted’ to Catholicism. She is rightly rejecting a lot of the catholic church’s graceless legalistic weirdness. As protestants, we reject a lot of it too. She rejects the pro-life stance; I have a problem with that, but no evangelical right-winger seems to be able to allow that there might be noble reasons why people want to think that way, and that it is possible to have a respectful dialog. See this blog post if you haven’t:

jimmcneely.blogspot.com/2009/09/public-discourse-in-nation-full-of.html

I don’t think the Bible calls us to ‘convert’ by primarily changing our actions. It isn’t primarily about confronting us with our ugliness. For goodness sakes, who wants to ‘convert’ to that?! Yea, I get to be confronted about how rotten I am! I didn’t know! If I make an impossible promise to change my behavior and follow the world’s most monumental moral code then I can be a Christian too! That sounds awesome – NOT!

The message of Scripture, of Jesus and Paul and the writer of Hebrews and John et call, is the message of GRACE! We are converted from the world of earning favor and being good, to the world of being loved by God first. The part that is offensive is not that the Bible presents a higher and more unobtainable moral code. The part that is offensive is that we are asked to no longer manipulate our own significance by superior behavior, skills, or intelligence. It allows God by grace to establish our significance, and revels in His power and truth to establish us and even appear to be righteous.

These kinds of articles about Ann Rice or whatever are just more fodder for non-Christians to dismiss the church. I’d like to see what Ann Rice would think if given a chance to hear that Christianity is based on a loving Father, on truth, on grace and enduring mercy and forgiveness. I’d like to ehar how she would react if told that she is the pearl of great price that God desperately wants, and that that love is the engine for inner and moral change. I can promise you she didn’t hear that hammered home in the Catholic church, and she wouldn’t hear it in most protestant churches either.

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