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On Anne Rice’s Quitting of Christianity

Several years ago I had the privilege of having Anne Rice discover my review of her book “Out of Egypt.” She left a comment.  This was an honor, and also a frightening reminder that sometimes the subjects of my blog posts actually read them.   In respect to her, when I reviewed “The Road to Cana” I forwarded it along to her.  In private correspondence, she told me I did a great job.   Well, I thought she had done a good job.  When it came time to review her spiritual autobiography, I worried that the good feelings might ebb.  As a courtesy, I sent it along to her… and never heard what she thought of that!  (I will also be forwarding this to her.)

Anyone who was surprised by her announcement that she was ‘quitting’ Christianity clearly had not read her spiritual autobiography.  In my review of it, I went on to say something that seems a bit prescient now:

I do not want one of conservative Christians to read what I just wrote and say “Well, I can write Anne Rice off, now!” What Anne says in this final chapter contains much of value. The fact is that people do have trouble disassociating God from the Church and the Church should take this into account when it acts, knowing that in driving people away from the Church, they can drive them away from God.

I also said in that review:  “I cannot cover all of the ground that a good long conversation could more appropriately handle regarding such matters.”  This is unfortunate, but true, and it remains true now.  It is also true that if anyone is going to have that conversation it won’t be me.   We have exchanged cordial emails, but that is the extent of our relationship.  I do not presume that she will respond to this, or even read it.  It is my hope that someone closer to her will step in to talk to her- not because she needs to be talked down from her position but because, as it seems to me (I am inferring- as dangerous as that is), she has found herself to be wounded by certain Christians, and only these Christians, or those with the viewpoints she rejects but whom she respects, can pave the way to that healing.

Judging from her other remarks, it would appear that Anne has been driven away from the ‘Church’ but not from God.  For many, on their way out of the Church they kick God in Christ to the curb, as well, which is one reason why I launched a website not too long ago called The Death of Christianity.   This again is no time and place to re-hash all of that.  Suffice it to say that I believe the central problem is that Christians don’t know how to love as the Scriptures lay it out.   I really can’t get into it now, but you can search this blog for more about what I believe on the matter.

In fashioning this response, I am in the difficult position of trying to respond to Anne’s position with only facebook status updates and past history to rely on.  Readers (especially if that reader is Anne herself) will forgive any wrong inferences.  With that important caveat out of the way…

The difficulty in dispensing with the Church and keeping Christ is that it is impossible and can’t be done.  I’m not going to go Cyprian on you (“He who does not have the Church as his mother…”) because I think he was making a different point.  Christians are not united by creed but by Christ, a person.   You can step away from denominations and congregations but if you really stepped outside of the Church, you’d step out of Christ, because the Church is his body.  (Eph. 5, 1 Cor 12:12-27, esp. 27).

The 1 Cor passage mentioned above is relevant in its own way because Paul points out that just because the foot says to the hand, “I am not the body because I am not a hand” the foot does not, in fact, cease to be part of the family.  So long as Anne is in Christ, her declarations about not being part of the Church are no more than that- declarations.  And what of those she would disassociate herself from?  Is it her conviction that they are not in Christ?  I doubt she would go that far.  But if she thinks some Christians have been, well, asses, not even in this case can the hand say to the ass, “You are not part of the body,” for every body still has an ass!

That puts Anne in a bind, since by appearances she cares about the Christ of the Scriptures.  These same Scriptures say, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?  Are you not to judge those inside?”  (1 Cor 5:12-13)  This point seems to have been missed on a great many Christians who insist on judging those outside the Church, but in this case Anne is trying to set herself apart from the Church in order to judge it- but it must be judged from the inside.  Let us remember the order laid out in Scriptures:  “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God.”  (1 Pet. 4:17)

In short, if Anne is to follow Christ and not his followers then Anne must, according to conscience, be prepared to stand within the Church and help it “grow into him who is the Head, that is Christ.” (Eph 4:15)  It is even put more explicitly:  “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” (vs. 25)

This is a duty and an obligation to our fellow believer, which no person who is in Christ has the ability to eject.

The last two passages help us transition into the areas where Anne seems to have taken the most offense.  What does it mean to put off falsehood?  Is there real consequence for those ‘who do not obey the Gospel of God’?  The logic of the passage is that there will be consequence indeed, since there will also be consequence to the ‘family of God.’

Is this where I begin making arguments against homosexuality, ‘science,’ and Democrats?  This seems to me to be besides the point.  The real point is whether or not there is anything about our relationship with Christ that calls us to have a different perspective than those who aren’t in that relationship.  The point is whether or not Christ transforms us or we transform Christ.  Are we to be made in the likeness of Christ or do we make Christ into our own likeness?   Do we regard fellow Christians and nonChristians “from a worldly point of view”?  (2 Cor. 5:10-6:2)  (Anne, if you’re reading this, you should look at that passage)

It is enough, for now, to argue that as ambassadors of Christ we have an obligation to the world- “as though God were making his appeal through us.”  God is not “counting men’s sins against them” but that is not because they are not sins and of no consequence, rather because they are of the highest consequence, prompting the mission of Christ:  “he who had no sin to be made sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

When we look at the life of Christ, the God-Man who has so mesmerized Anne and millions of the rest of us, we see this utterly serious approach to our predicament.  In John 8, though Jesus says he does not condemn the adulterous woman, he still tells her:  “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

When asked about divorce, Jesus reasons, “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses [allowed divorce].  … Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”  (Mark 10).

Jesus did not dispense with the order of creation in his quest to redeem it.  Nor did he render men righteous by refusing to label behaviors and attitudes as sinful.  On the sermon on the mount, he said that even looking at a woman lustfully was adultery and the sort of thing that justifies eternal punishment.  He did not say:  “Look at women lustfully all you want, because I have forgiven it.”

He came to fulfill the law, not abolish it.  Christians, then, do not have carte blanche in saying that all behaviors and attitudes are acceptable before God simply because he has paid the price for all of them.  If that were the case, he could have just as well abolished the law.

Where does this leave us as Christians when engaging each other and the world?  It means that our salvation is not in meeting the demands of the law but it also means that we cannot dispense with God’s commands, either.  It isn’t always easy to determine how we should play this out within society, but let us remember that when Jesus went into the houses of sinners, like Zacchaeus, he did not dispute with the abusive tax collector that it had been wrong for him to cheat people.

Anne has made it clear that she plans on following Christ, just not his followers.  If it is the case (as surely it is) that some of his followers have crossed over a line, it doesn’t follow that there isn’t a line.   What we need is discussion about where that line is and how we walk it.  If Anne is able to show a better way in her life from the Scriptures then she has a duty and an obligation to reveal it to her brothers and sisters- adopted, just as she is.

At the same time, as a follower of Christ (and not a follower of the followers of Christ) she has an obligation not to perform unkindnesses in the name of kindness to those who are outside of Christ.  Christ came to be sin in order to rescue us from the consequences of sin.   How terrible our sins must then be and what a price was paid!  It might be important to inform people of this reality.

Can we regard people in the same way knowing this?  It is not my desire to dissect any one of the things that Anne listed that she refused to be (ie, ‘anti-gay’ ‘anti-secular humanist’) etc.  Rather, the larger issue, as it appeared to me, was that her statements suggested that we could make our way as Christ-Followers on this earth while still regarding ourselves and each other as the world, would.

But this is not possible, at least, not for long.  Eventually we come to a point where we are indistinguishable from the world, and our ‘faith’ becomes just an excuse to operate in such a way as our heart has already determined.  Then we are salt that has lost its saltiness.

Or, to put it another way, Jesus, whom Anne insists on following, declared:  “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.”  (John 15:18-27)

As I skimmed through the thousands of comments on Anne’s facebook statuses related to this, the general feeling was that the world very much was happy with Anne for her announcement.  I am not suggesting that any of us should be arrogant and belligerent asses, but I do think that when the world thinks highly of us that is reason for concern- provided we intend to really follow the God of the Universe.

When the world loves us, watch out.

I wish Anne all the best and I am confident that, based on what I’ve read to this point, I will some day walk arm and arm with her in the full presence of Christ.   However, I would not be fulfilling my duty and obligation as one believer to another if I did not voice a word of caution:  watch out, Anne, watch out.

You can, and should, oppose Christians to their face if they are acting out of line (Galatians 2:11, illustrating).  But if the world takes you as its sister, it is only with great difficulty that Christ can have you as his daughter, since you can only be part of one family at a time.

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47 Responses to On Anne Rice’s Quitting of Christianity

  1. On Anne Rice?s Quitting of Christianity…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tasha B., Nathalie, Kim , KevinIvey, Anne Rice and others. Anne Rice said: I'm still pondering the great outpouring of support I received on this page and in other places for my decision to… http://fb.me/uAvAuhg6 [...]

  3. It’s not that we “love” what Anne has done.. it’s that she has verbalized a lot of the frustration that many of us feel. I understand your “hated by the world, loved by God comparison,” but I don’t think He said “every time the world loves you, it means you’ve done the wrong thing”. It’s hard to watch the face of Christianity twisted by those that proclaim it the loudest. Anne’s reasons were her reasons of why she chooses to follow Christ without the church… but they are hers… just like mine are mine. The church overall has become the very sham that Christ hated… and they’ve done it in His name.

  4. The Christhood (“Christos”) of Jesus does not belong to any Church or religious establishment. It is beyond time and space & is a blessing for all of Creation. I do not believe that any of the Mainstream Christian Churches would appeal to Christ appearing among us today. Many of you are quoting Scriptures that are the writings of men, not the Word of God, and often badly translated. Which of the many versions do you hold to be correct, and why?

    I support Anne’s carefully considered decision to pay homage to the Risen Jesus (Christos) while repudiating any claim from any Church as an necessary authority or intercessor.

  5. [...] Excellent post at St.Johnny.com [...]

  6. Define “the world”….Does “the world” not consist of the brothers and sisters we are commanded to love? I don’t understand all this fear associated with “the world”…

  7. “When the world loves us, watch out.”

    I wholeheartedly disagree. “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God AND ALL THE PEOPLE.” (Luke 2:52)

    To gain favor with God does not mean you must not find favor with people. To say that if we are hated by the world then we are loved by God is a misguided and erroneous message. Jesus had favor with both God AND people, and so should we. He said, “IF the world hates you.” IF implies they may or they may not. It’s like Jesus is saying: There are haters out there, and they may hate you. And IF they do, take heart, it’s because of me; they hate me and you’ve chosen to follow me so they will also hate you.

    IF. Not WHEN. There is a huge difference between those two words.

    We must be careful not to think that if people actually respect us, feel comfortable with us, appreciate us, love us, then we must be doing something wrong. Remember: the religious leaders of Jesus’s day accused him of being too chummy with people too.

    I am saddened to hear when people give up on the church. I believe in the church – the early, New Testament church. The church that was founded by people who were present when Jesus hung out with “sinners”. The church that was founded by people who were present when Jesus elevated the downtrodden position of women. The church that was founded by people who were present when Jesus loved people and saw how they loved him back. The church that was founded by people who knew what Jesus meant when he prayed God’s Kingdom to come to earth.

    We have lost our way if we think that the world loving us is cause for concern.

  8. The problem I have with this post, not because of the author or anything is when it says “Christ came to fulfill the law, not abolish it.”

    If that were the case, then we wouldn’t eat shellfish, no football on sundays, I’d be able to sell my daughter (if I had one), I’d be able to make Ohioans and West Virginians my slaves and vice versa, etc.

    But Christianity, at least mainstream Christianity has made the point of “it’s okay to follow that law (the ‘anti-homosexual’ one) but not that one (one of the above) because Christ was separation of old and new.”

    No, if he were a separation of old and new, he wouldn’t have come to fulfill the law. He would have abolished the law and made new ones..”here is my new law! here is the law of Jesus of Nazareth. Obey!”

    So if we as Christians are to follow the law, that would include many of the above. But wait! “Christian” politicians would be trotted out saying that the shrimping industry is going to go bankrupt if we do, what would we do on Sundays, slavery is illegal, etc.

    Yet, we must follow God’s law.

    I’m in the same boat as Anne, I’m tired of being told I’m gay because I want equal rights for everyone, or I’m into the occult because I study about vampires and werewolves or that I’m writing pornography when I write my novels (I’m a romance novelist).

    I am tired of people not realizing that the only way to learn is to ask questions and ‘debate’ to understand what it means to truly believe.

    Or that Christianity isn’t the one true path to God is wrong. How do we truly know? Because some men millenniums ago wrote it down and claimed it was from God? I can’t say that it isn’t true, but neither can anyone truly claim it is.

    And yes, all of the above are things my church felt was ‘evil’ about me–and they used that word too. So I left, and yes I am actually looking at the inclusiveness of paganism because of it. I refuse to be considered one of ‘god’s people’ if it’s a god that will judge for what I write, what I study for my writing, etc.

  9. @Shrinky I define the ‘world’ however Jesus meant it. Nor does it mean I ‘fear’ the world. Jesus said he overcame it- so what’s to fear.

    @Claudia, You’ll note that I framed what I said as a warning. As I cannot see Anne’s heart, and have not much more than email correspondence and facebook statuses to go by, a warning was all I felt I could issue. I hear what you’re saying but I think you’re conflating notions of ‘world.’ The NT uses the ‘world’ generally in a pejorative sense. I think you’re painting with too wide a brush. I agree that it would be wrong to automatically infer that ‘we must be doing something wrong’ if people respect us, etc. It certainly does not mean, as I said in the post, that we can just be asses. I think I covered that adequately. At the same time, it is simply a fact of the Scriptures that Jesus’ claims are exclusionary- this alone is enough to make people angry. I saw plenty of comments on Anne’s facebook posting of my link where the mere fact that I did not shrink from Jesus’ exclusionary approach made me into a person to not be respected. Should I change my view so that they will like me? I don’t think so.

    You’re right to point out that Jesus hung out with “sinners.” But my point is that they were often actually sinners. There is nothing in the Gospel of Christ to indicate that he treated sin lightly, or that he was of a mind to decide that certain things are now ‘ok.’ If anything, he treated sin with the utmost seriousness- it was because of that sin that he came to die, right?

    The issue is this: is it our goal to be respected and appreciated? Or is it our goal to hold to the truth in a way that does not unnecessarily give offense, and let the chips fall where they may? This presumes some grappling with what we believe is the truth and some effort spent on what constitutes ‘necessary’ offending. Frankly, in a large number of cases we have no control over how people are going to react, especially on the Internet. To ensure I offend no one, my only recourse is to not be present on the net at all.

  10. @Lou

    “If that were the case, then we wouldn’t eat shellfish, no football on sundays, I’d be able to sell my daughter (if I had one), I’d be able to make Ohioans and West Virginians my slaves and vice versa, etc.”

    Well, that’s really not accurate. The fulfillment of the law did actually make some things obsolete. This is easiest to see in regards to the ceremonial laws. Take a look at the book of Hebrews. It clearly says that the law was a shadow of the good things to come (Heb 10:1). See for example 9:9-10. But really, the whole book of Hebrews. :) That doesn’t resolve all of the examples you might cite but it is a very useful Biblical principle to be aware of when considering this question.

    I can’t really speak to the rest of your post. You’ve had some experiences and didn’t enjoy them, clearly. Obviously, I feel like paganism won’t hold the answers you’re looking for. Taken on their face, it looks like you were given a bum deal. On the other hand, maybe your romance novels really were pornographic. ;)

    You posted as I was writing, and I thank you for highlighting that even a belief such as Jesus’ own exclusive language is deemed offensive to some. What is my alternative? Deny that Jesus said those words? Find it so morally repugnant that I find reason to doubt that he said them? But what if I ‘get’ why he said them? What if I can’t share your doubt? Am I still being offensive? Or am I simply repeating what was in a text that you happened to be offended by, and you are annoyed I actually believe?

    See what I’m saying?

  11. Anthony, I am not offended by Jesus’ words at all. I get why he said them, why he would have said them (if he in fact did), etc. I’m actually more offended by Paul then anything; but that of course could be me thinking in a modern sense instead of a “this is why he said it” sense.

    I was using them as an example to illustrate a point is all.

    And no, I keep it clean in my novels (they’re not published yet–im still in the planning stages), they just have a problem with romance novels in general. This is the Salvation Army too.

    Paganism might not have all the answers i seek, but Christianity–or at least the church I went to did– burned me worse then the fires of hell by exclusive to free thinking and questioning beliefs in the name of a single, hive mind..and I don’t think I could go to another christian church.

    I believe that all paths lead to god and that zeus, the celtic gods, yahweh, etc are all names for the same one true god. I won’t go any further here, as I don’t want to take up your space. I apologize for that.

  12. Hi Lou, ok, I get now why you mentioned that. Just an illustration. Got it.

    Please do not worry about expressing viewpoints here on this blog. As long as someone wants to have an intelligent and respectful conversation, I’m glad to have them. You will find if you look at this blog lots to disagree with, certainly, but what you won’t find is the suggestion that you shouldn’t use your brain and that you shouldn’t challenge beliefs.

    I’m not too interested right now in debating the ‘all paths lead to God’ line, but I would actually be interested in hearing (briefly) just a little more. Namely, I’m curious about what your source for that belief is. Did God (or a god) tell you that all paths lead to him, etc, etc? I mean, I know why I believe that Jesus is the only way (I believe he really said it and that he really is to be trusted). I’m just curious about your reasons and evidence for your own belief. I won’t debate it, I would just like to hear it. If you’ve got the time, of course.

    Good luck with the publishing. It’s a bear to break into, that’s for sure.

  13. If Jesus grew in wisdom (discerning that which is true, right, and lasting) and stature (a high level of respect gained) and favor (friendly or favorable regard, approval or support) with both God and people, then yes, that should be our goal as well. If we seek this from God but don’t gain it from people in the process then it’s time to reconsider our approach and the way we interpret what it is that Jesus died for.

    My guess is that the word “wisdom” is first in that list for a reason.

  14. I dont know if it’s God telling me this, or just my own thinking..but I just sat and really thought about it, when humanity didn’t understand something it was always “god did it.” or “the gods did x or the gods did x.” The Jews and (Muslims later on) were the same way. “Yahweh (or whatever title they used at the time) caused this/did this” or “This is why we did this, because our god told us to.”

    That, and while I can’t remember the name of the book but it was a text for a religious course I took and it stated that the jews ‘more then likely’ came from a ‘polytheistic’ culture, much like the rest of the world; and I do believe that Ba’al is a title that means “lord or master” in Hebrew and referred to the lord of Heaven in the Akkadian religion

    Yes, according to this:

    “At first the name Ba’al was used by the Jews for their God without discrimination, but as the struggle between the two religions developed, the name Ba’al was given up in Judaism as a thing of shame”

    The fact that there many names that come from Semitic languages, just as an example, used by the early Jews to refer to god at the same time as other religions in the area leads me to this belief. So, I suppose you could say that this is a purely scholarly believe, but I just feel it in my heart.

    As for the Bible, I am not disrespectful to the Bible. It is a wonderful teaching tool as to what is good, just, etc but that’s it. I believe it is no more then divine word then the Qur’an or any other ‘holy’ book. I think they are all more or less good lessons for life.

  15. Claudia- and what about “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”?

    Or how about Romans 12:

    “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ?

    I don’t think its a huge leap of interpretation to conclude that ‘the pattern of the world’ here is not a good thing.

    I think you’re stretching that passage quite a bit. There is room for urging people to try to live at peace with those in the world- so long as it is in our power. But compromise will not be one of the avenues by which we are permitted to win that respect. Paul says in 1 Cor 1 that the ‘world’ will not understand the Gospel. ‘Greeks’ will find it foolish and the ‘Jews’ will demand miraculous signs, but “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.”

    Paul continues on in that vein through chapter 2.

    I have said several times now that I am not urging offense heaped upon offense and disrespect earned as a sure sign of one’s faithfulness to the Scriptures. Will you agree with me that there are things we cannot compromise on, and if people are offended by that, then that’s just the breaks?

  16. Hi Anthony…not a really smart person, and I greatly dislike confrontations, but I wanted to let you know that I was digging what you wrote in regards to Mrs. Rice. I am a pretty hard core believer in the scriptures. My doubts are few because since I have devoted my life to those scriptures and Christ, my mess of a life was cleaned up. Nothing and nobody else was ever able to that, & I have only happiness and gratitude to offer Him (no matter what anybody wants to call Him, which I think is funny since He’s utterly past even having to speak our dinky languages or think like a human pea brain :) I felt what you said in my heart and I’ve done nothing but prayed for Anne Rice. I hope she finds the forgiving love, and the courage to stand ground against sin as Jesus did. It is difficult. No joke – the world hates a devotee. I wish the world didn’t see a Christian’s devotion to God’s law as a personal opinion developed one night to start hating people outside of that law. That’s ridiculous – no real follower of Jesus Christ would have all of that hate in their heart. No matter what anyone says to me, nothing can change facts I’ve read today; it’s clearly the self-proclaimed “Christian” that receives HEAT. Walk the other way and enjoy countless chums! That’s one reason I prefer not to leave my house or open my mouth. (This blogging thing is not something I ever do). Just wanted to send a little support your way. I think you were very gentle, and unafraid to speak truth. God be with you, Cheerio – jj

  17. Please quote John more and Paul less: he’s actually the one who started all this trouble re feminism, homosexuality etc. Paul is not loving, therefore he does not meet my litmus test and is not of God, particularly of Christ.

  18. dude, i loved this – just what someone needed to write – thank you! busy writing a book called ‘i kissed hating (the church) good bye aimed at those who try do Christianity without church which is impossible – without the typical traditional sunday meeting church? well more possibe perhaps… but you can’t leave what/who you are and if you follow Jesus that makes you church.

    thank you
    brett fish

  19. St. Johnny: no problems there: all in Christ are saints. I had to LOL that your website is encouraging people like me to become a pastors … DOH! PS I am pretty sure I have driven through Sparta at some point. I lived in Madison (college – early nineties) and owned a home in Wyocena later. My family has a lake house in Eagle River: so no I am not a threat and no I am not going away=)

  20. [...] the first i think is an excellent response from a guy called anthony horvath which i thoroughly enco… [...]

  21. Hi Trish, welcome to my blog. Thanks for assuring me you’re not a threat… I think I’ll lock my door anyway. ;)

    I can’t go along with your division between Paul and Christ. I don’t find them to be inconsistent at all, taking into account the fact that they had different missions (Jesus to die and atone for our sins, Paul to tell folks what Jesus had done). The Scriptures record that Peter and the other disciples accepted that Paul’s message was right on, for example. Jesus gives nary a clue that he is intends to overthrow the social order among the Jews. You’d actually get further with Paul, who declared there is no male or female in Christ.

  22. Anthony, from my point of view, you are dead on. Thank you for speaking the truth with courage AND humility. (And Jenny, I think you’re wonderful, too!)

    The captcha beneath this combox says “hypothesis, saner”

    Indeed.

  23. Anthony. Tony?: Pls send me everything you know about Paul: your choice, my personal email or your blog, but I must insist that it be factual, not from Paul-followers. He’s been pissing me off for a very long time, and it is time to address it. PS I probably know many people that you do. I am a former pro-lifer. Where I diverge is that I am completely consistent: I believe in life in all its forms and states: I believe in humanity for the elderly the animals, the inmates …

  24. PS Anthony: liberals aren’t violent, conservatives are=) I will admit that shooting a 22 at a non-functional car was actually fun, but that is as far as I go … and I didn’t learn that in TX, I learned it in WI.

  25. Anthony on the net, Tony IRL. :)

    I’m going to pass on the opportunity to delve into that for now. Real life obligations prevent that sort of thing on any topic, which is why I asked Lou for what he believed with a promise not to debate it.

    You’re welcome to write up your stuff and send it to me, or better yet, post it to a blog for more readers, and I may react when I have time. It would have to be pretty substantive to move me from my position. Everything I know about Paul is quite a bit. ;)

    Did I read correctly that you believe that animals ought to be regarded as humans?

    And on that, I don’t see how you could be a former pro-lifer. If you fault the pro-life community for dropping the ball in protection of some life it should still follow, if you believe in life “in all its forms and states,” that you think the unborn likewise should be protected. No?

  26. [...] particularly caught my attention because it was written by a fellow believer named Anthony Horvath: On Anne Rice Quitting Christianity. I also read many other editorials on the subject, many that seemed to be trying to find a new [...]

  27. Who said anything about compromise? If you have the respect of the people you love and are trying to reach, and are not just coming in cold turkey to tell them what you think, then most often than not they won’t be terribly offended when they hear your stance. They’ll most often just agree to disagree. I don’t think our focus should be on causing/not causing offense. It should be on relationship. And that doesn’t mean compromise, either.

    I totally get what you’re saying. I was taught that all my life. I learned it during my 4 year theology degree program, 20 years ago. I’m not disagreeing with it ALL, that there should never be times when people are offended. But I am saying that if they are offended it better be stricly because of Jesus, not because of us. And how can we truly determine that when we are okay with offending people if that’s just where the chips may have fallen? And if we are told to watch out if the world loves us? It would then be our goal for the world not to love us, right? Then offense really isn’t an issue.

    Besides, who determines when someone is being an outright ass and when someone isn’t? I’ve seen a lot of asses in my time and none of them – or the groups they were in – thought they were. That’s not a good enough measuring stick when determining cause for offense.

  28. Hey Anthony: I respect that you are busy, please send me links or post them on your website to factual info on Paul. I’m not lazy, I’m just looking for some factual direction. I have some crazy idea that you might actually be credible … I am not trying to manipulate you; if anything see it as a compliment.

    “Did I read correctly that you believe that animals ought to be regarded as humans?: YE- DOUBLE S

    “And on that, I don’t see how you could be a former pro-lifer. If you fault the pro-life community for dropping the ball in protection of some life it should still follow, if you believe in life “in all its forms and states,” that you think the unborn likewise should be protected. No?”

    Did I ever say that I was anti-unborn: actually what I said is that pro-lifers annoy the hell out of me, and all my pets have been nicer to me than all people combined.

  29. @Claudia

    “Who said anything about compromise? If you have the respect of the people you love and are trying to reach, and are not just coming in cold turkey to tell them what you think, then most often than not they won’t be terribly offended when they hear your stance.”

    Yea, I don’t think so. “the ‘people’” are fickle. How many famous people have the respect of the people one minute and not the next? My blog post above was labeled by Anne Rice as ‘gentle and thoughtful.’ Yet there were numerous people who commented on it who thought it was anything but. There are things outside of our control.

    “I don’t think our focus should be on causing/not causing offense.”

    Well, I think that’s my position. ;)

    “But I am saying that if they are offended it better be stricly because of Jesus, not because of us.”

    That’s a loaded statement that would take some time to unpack.

    “And if we are told to watch out if the world loves us?”

    Well, that’s what I get for quoting Jesus. ;)

    “Besides, who determines when someone is being an outright ass and when someone isn’t?”

    Please refer back to my post where I said:

    “Suffice it to say that I believe the central problem is that Christians don’t know how to love as the Scriptures lay it out. I really can’t get into it now, but you can search this blog for more about what I believe on the matter.”

    We have some good guidance from the Scriptures, I believe. It isn’t the sort of thing that gets formal treatment in doctrinal texts or is deemed of importance, but imo is centrally important.

    “That’s not a good enough measuring stick when determining cause for offense.”

    Indeed not; you’ve offended me several times, and you had no idea you were doing so.

  30. @Trish

    “I have some crazy idea that you might actually be credible”

    Now, don’t get carried away! Read more of my blog and I will surely lose that credibility. :)

    “if anything see it as a compliment.”

    I do, and I thank you.

    I don’t have resources near at hand for linking. The last I researched and studied this I relied on books, such as FF Bruce’s “Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free.” (Just pulling from memory, here).

    ““Did I read correctly that you believe that animals ought to be regarded as humans?: YE- DOUBLE S”

    heh heh well, glad I clarified.

    “Did I ever say that I was anti-unborn: actually what I said is that pro-lifers annoy the hell out of me, and all my pets have been nicer to me than all people combined.”

    But you are a pro-lifer. ;)

    I cannot dispute the niceness of pets relative to people. That has been my experience, too.

  31. Anthony,

    You are a very, very articulate and sensitive writer. Thank you for your service to the Church.

  32. In reading the Gospels it appears that Jesus primarily offended the religious leaders, not so much the sinners. John says that Jesus came in grace and truth. I pray my life will be a reflection of that.

  33. Jesus also said to the religious leaders, “You should have practiced the former without neglecting the latter.”

    Jesus said what was needful at the time. Yes, he primarily offended the religious leaders, because they were unnecessarily heaping burdens on people. Yet to the woman caught in adultery he said, “Go and sin no more” and to the rich young man he said, “go and sell everything you own.” To the people in Capernaum he said “eat my flesh” and when the ‘normal’ people were offended, he did not try to explain himself. He let them go.

    I hope that you do reflect grace and truth. But in order for there to be grace, there must be something overlooked. There cannot be mercy where there is no justice, because mercy can only be extended to those who are guilty and know they are guilty and know they deserve their just punishment. You cannot claim to be a promoter of truth if you refuse to confront falsehood- or if you only confront falsehood in folks that are ‘easy pickings’ like ‘religious leaders.’

    It is nothing to stand up to strangers whom you will never meet again, or will never interact with. Telling the truth, the whole truth, to friends and neighbors and family? Now that’s hard tough stuff.

    Many people think walking in ‘grace and truth’ means telling people that everything they think and believe is ‘ok’ and that ‘whatever is true for you is alright with me.’

    Jesus came to sinners with the full understanding that the people he was interacting with, were, in actual fact, sinners. To these he extended mercy and grace. He did not do so to those who did not think they were sinners at all. These happened to be the religious leaders largely, but the common denominator isn’t that they were ‘religious leaders’ but that they claimed they had no need for salvation. Like the rich young man, ‘they had kept the law perfectly.’

    Today we seem to think that we can extend mercy to sinners by relabeling their attitudes and behaviors as not sinful. But this would mean that they too have no need for salvation. Jesus said he came for the sick, not the well. But some people think, or at least act as though, Jesus was really saying that no one was ‘sick’ at all.

    Why atone for our sins on the cross if in fact all behaviors are permissible, unless you are a religious leader, in which case we’re going to turn the screws on you?

  34. Nice food for thought Anthony. And to look at the various reactions may be as appropriate to others as Ms. Rice (certainly strikes a chord with my situation).

    As someone who has followed your messages for a few years, including your numerous addresses about how the love of Christ as it was Biblically laid out should be more fully understood, this latest blog appears entirely consistent with your previous ones. I have to wonder if sometime in the future (even if it’s a distant future), given how often you come to the subject and perceive it as centrally important to the Church and individual Christians, you will write a book laying out this issue and your experiences with it in a more collected and comprehensive way. Something to think about perhaps?

  35. Bravo, bravo. Excellent and inspiring post!

  36. Thank you for articulating what I have been wanting to say. I have been so upset in the last few days about her leaving Christianity and could not mutter a word.

    I don’t care because of how famous she is, but because I truly hoped that she’d find grace after how much she has gone through.

    Her supposed reasons make me angry because I, for one, am not a homophobic (even if I don’t believe homosexuality is a “good” thing), my mother is a science teacher – so I have breathed science all my life, and I embrace many of the democrat values (although I am registered independent). I am also a Christian and felt insulted by her post.

    Reading the comments circus on her facebook posting was disturbing; like watching a parade of atheists on opium. It was awful and no matter how mad she may be at Christianity, I do not see how she’d want to be on this side either.

    Yes, she should watch out indeed.

  37. I found your comments fairly insightful, but wonder if there may be a key reason Anne chose to leave the church that they missed. Certainly there are many churches out there which take positions Anne would be more comfortable with, but it doesn’t seem like she even considered changing to a different church. And I’m wondering if perhaps she essentially sees the Catholic Church as the only church. If she sees it that way, her choices would be a church that follows a very specific set of convictions at odds with what she believes, or reluctantly abandoning what she sees as a damaged institution and attempting to follow Christ in her own way.

    Essentially, I suspect Anne Rice has left Catholicism, and mistook it for leaving Christianity.

    (Just to be 100% clear, I have no particular animus against Catholicism, though I do think the ‘this church or no church’ sort of thinking I refer to tends to be more likely for Catholics due to its history.)

  38. First of all, thanks to the recent posters with the positive feedback. I appreciate it. I noticed the ‘comments circus’ on Anne’s FB page, too…

    To Johan,

    I think you’re right in your analysis. It is hard to be sure in the case of Anne in particular, but I do think its likely that she thinks in the way you say, even if it is a bit subconsciously. I’m not Catholic (and not knocking Catholics) but have interacted with a fair number, especially former ones, now atheist, who find this blog, and very often they are reacting to and rejected Catholicism thinking it was the same as Christianity.

    Reading through the FB comments, I saw that this attitude was in play but also the common sense, which protestants are just as likely to have, that by Church I mean a building, or an event on Sunday mornings, etc. I try to capitalize the ‘C’ in Church when I portray it as being Christ’s body in order to highlight the difference, but that little step is not nearly enough to overcome the overwhelming sense I’m referring to ‘organized religion.’

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  40. Hi. I read this blog the day it posted and agreed. I have thought it about all week and came back today for a re-read. Thank you for this. It says what many of us are not able to verbalize. When I read her book Called of Darkness I could not get her final chapter out of my head where she challenges what sin is and is not. Like you, I’m not out to dissect her list of what she refuses to be but I will say that it sounds to me, and based on her book and some of her public statements that a driving force behind leaving the church and Christianity has much to do with a refusal to see sin as sin. We don’t have to judge the sin, as you point out, or oppress the sinners and we the church need to be called out when we do…but we do have to accept what is sin, what the scriptures give us to go on, and turn away from it and speak the truth with love to those still deep in willful sin. Whether we are talking about the sins of the church or outside the church…we are to speak the truth in love and commit ourselves to one another to build each other up not tear each other down. Especially when that is met by resounding applause from those outside the church who don’t live within our faith community and contribute to the body. I’m with you and will add my voice to the warning: Watch out Anne….watch out.

  41. This was very well written, Anthony.

    I haven’t read through all the comments, nor do I know Anne Rice or her declaration, but it stands true that the Church is the Bride of Christ. This Church Age doesn’t have anything over any other Church Age in the sense that factions and offenses have been there since the beginning of conception. There is an endeavoring to keep the spirit of unity and therefore, God knows what goes on. He uses imperfect people and imperfect churches. He does not disqualify based on our views.

    A pastor once said, “The one who jumps off the bunch gets peeled.” We cannot divorce ourselves from what God has ordained, no matter how imperfect it is.

  42. I just visited Anne Rice’s FB site. I noted this status update:

    “On this day, in 1972, my beloved daughter Michele died of a rare form of adult leukemia…”

    I would like to add something that I hope is understood in the context of “going a second mile”.

    I acknowlege absolute truths found in the scripture and, for one, the Apostle Paul surely states them plainly. I do not deny that God is clear regarding sin and that we do not continue in sin “that grace may abound”.

    Yet, as one who lost my son 5 years ago, I believe that the loss of a child changes the scenery for most of us. This is not to say that it’s okay with God to do whatever we want because of grief, but having “stayed the course” for these 5 years, and experiencing more insult to injury by Christians I have been in relationship with for 30 years, it goes without saying that it leaves one quite confused.

    Had it not been for the “great crowd of witnesses” found in the scripture, even the unnamed in the last portion of Hebrews 11, I would have lost heart. In other words, Christians didn’t help me get through what many have called the worst grief imaginable: the death of a child, but God did.

    I could have left my church many times. Who needs more suffering? I could have thrown in the towel with Christianity as defined today in the form of organized religion. Why? No one knows but those of us who have experienced the death of a child what it feels like. The pain is so very, very deep. But I didn’t throw in the towel. The primary reason is because the God that walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death..the one who restored my soul..would surely walk with me through the disappointment of “church”. Not only that, but even though it’s about me in the sense that God cares for me, He also cares about His Church. And if I care about God, then I will care about what He cares about. And to have a broader view of things is necessary for all of us. And that view is the Church Age we are currently in and being a part of something way bigger than us. If God says I must endure something for Him, then endure it I will if I am truly His. I will trust that He will take care of sustaining me and what surely should be on all of our hearts, His Church, will shine brightly in this world, representing God not just in holiness … but with compassion and love.

    Again, I have only spent 30 seconds viewing Anne Rice’s FB. I am not familiar with everything she stands for. And I will continue to read more about her. But the status update of remembering the loss of her daughter 38 years ago stopped me right there and I didn’t have to know any more to understand perhaps why she has done what she has done.

    We are human. And we do have the ability through Christ to endure. Yet, if someone loses their hearing or sight or a limb, we can see the loss and expect their mobility to be limited. When one loses a piece of their heart, it is not visible to us but the limitations are still there.

    I am not about to “blame” Anne Rice’s declaration entirely upon her loss, but for me, it may be an indicator of something more than meets the eye.

    Even though the Apostle Paul was very direct about sin, we do also see the Father’s heart with his prodigal son. Somehow, there is a parallel of calling sin what it is, but also being moved with compassion. If I am going to err, I will err on the latter. This compassion requires 1 Corinthians 13 love that is longsuffering. To me, it requires not wiping the dust off our feet with someone who we think is wrong, but loving them in despite of it. For me, that means not just pointing out someone’s error, but loving them unconditionally.

  43. One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” This is what I believe Anne was speaking out against, and what she is tired of. Many Christians today are more worried about what it means to be a Christian than living a life that is an example to Christ. To borrow a line from Christ they heap on laws that they themselves cannot follow. As for confronting these people. Confront away! They do not care, and sadly there are a lot of them to contend with. The one who brings it up, is the one treated as the outcast. Not the other way around. While I do agree, Christ is the church, so to quit one you must quit both. I am fairly certain that Christ is not hanging out in the buildings called a church that Anne is speaking of. We were not given the term Christian by Christ, but by the people of Antioch. So to say you have a problem with Christians does not automatically mean that you are attacking the Church of Jesus Christ. It is my hope, and one that you alluded to, that Anne does bring a group of people together, and that they seek out the face of the Lord. Let that be her church, after all isn’t that what Christ did? The church of Christ is anywhere two or more gather in HIS name, not a churches name.

  44. [...] spiel that Anne Rice unleashed recently.  To a degree, and in a way, yes.  However, if you read my reply to her you will see that there is a serious point of departure between our positions.  Namely, Ms. Rice is [...]

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  46. .

    If I could meet her in person, I would
    love to say “Thank you Anne Rice –
    for so very articulately stating what
    I have felt in my heart for years” !!!!

    One’s ‘Faith-in-Christ’ should IN NO WAY
    be tied into the man-controlled ‘Religion’
    that so many refer to as “Christianity”
    (especially that apostate, psuedo-religious
    political-movement called ‘evangelicalism’)

    It took me forever to realize that my
    relationship with God (as established
    through Christ Jesus, God The Son) was
    IN NO WAY dependent on the apostate
    psuedo-religious movement sweeping
    America in the name of the “church”.

    If Christ were walking the earth today,
    a lot of these same “religious” types
    would be the first to demand that He
    be ‘crucified’ — and based merely on
    who He chose as FRIENDS (women,
    gays, foreigners, immigrants, the poor,
    the rejected, the downtrodden, the rich,
    men, old, young, happy, sad, and so on).

    The “evangelicals” (not to be mistaken
    for TRUE FOLLOWERS of Christ) and
    other “church” types have essentially
    hijacked the Christian ‘Faith’ in order to
    turn it into a mammon-worshipping,
    power-mongering, “Religion” of hate.

    These people are more akin to a system of
    ANTI-CHRIST (i.e. “against”-Christ) than
    to anything tied into WHO CHRIST IS.

    Their evil has reached such profound levels
    that even people who know and love Christ
    are turned off from them and their words
    (again proving these “church” types are
    really nothing more than anti-Christ,
    self-righteous Pharisees and are not
    even remotely related to Jesus Christ).

    Never again will I waste my time stepping
    into the psuedo-religious social-club that
    is known as “church” or associate myself
    with the political-clique that is known as
    ‘christianity’ — because FROM NOW ON
    – I realize that I do NOT “need” either
    in order to have a relationship with MY
    LORD JESUS CHRIST (in fact, those
    two entities were actually ‘interfering’
    with my relationship with God)

    THROUGH CHRIST — GOD HAS OPENLY
    EXPRESSED HIS LOVE TO ‘EVERYONE’
    (no matter if rich, poor, gay, straight, male,
    female, sickly, healthy and so on) — AND
    CHRIST (not the so-called”church”) IS
    ‘THE DOOR’ and ‘THE WAY’ TO GOD!!

    ALL ARE WELCOME TO APPROACH AND
    TO ENTER THROUGH ‘THE DOOR’ TO GOD!!

    NO ONE IS REJECTED BY JESUS CHRIST !!!

    JESUS LOVED AND LOVES EVERYONE !!!

    LET’S ALL TRY TO REMEMBER
    THE BIBLE VERSE OF ‘JOHN 3:17’:

    “For God did NOT send His Son
    into the world – to condemn
    the world, BUT that the world,
    THROUGH HIM, might be SAVED !!!!”

    JESUS CHIST – and *not* the institution known
    as “the church” or the religion called “christianity”
    — IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE!!!

    LIKE MANY OTHER PEOPLE – I AM DONE
    WITH THE CHURCH & WITH CHRISTIANITY
    – AND FROM HERE ON OUT – MY FOCUS IS
    ON (AND FAITH IN GOD RELIES IN) JESUS
    CHRIST AND JESUS CHRIST ALONE !!!

    .

  47. That was not a very loving thing that you said.

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