A couple weeks ago I was one of the speakers at Why Christian?, a conference curated by Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber. Eleven women that Nadia and Rachel are following were invited to come and share their responses to the question: “why are we Christian?” And I was one of them.
There were over a 1,000 attendees spanning a diversity of ages and genders at the conference. My hope for this post was to share with you exactly what happened at the conference, but honestly, what happened that weekend still feels so big that words are falling short.
Holy, honest, real talk happened as all of us did some old school testifying to the hope we have within and the honest challenges we have with this faith. I’ll share more in depth about the content and the speakers in the next post when I have a little more time to sit with my thoughts, but let me share a glimpse here.
I’ve been traveling a lot this Fall, speaking at events, colleges, and churches. I speak from a theological and geographical location. I speak from the Reformed tradition and how I live my theological convictions in New York City. Reformed theology and New York City are my context. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I didn’t grow up in the Reformed tradition, but it was in seminary that I discovered this rich tributary of the Christian river. I was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, American Evangelism fueled my adolescent energy, and Reformed theology is what keeps me a Christian today.
When you don’t grow up in a certain culture there is a sense of excitement that one brings to a tradition that is much older than yourself to help refuel the livelihood. In some ways I feel that is partly my role in our tributary of the Christian River.
When I was speaking at Why Christian? I said in the middle of my talk, “I’m an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed tradition. The sexy Reformed tradition.” People laughed and clapped. The thing is I didn’t mean for it to be a gimmick during a talk. I really mean it: Reformed theology is sexy! It is poetry, it is living in gratitude of the grace we have experienced from God in Christ, and it is humbling. (I mean you can’t be in this tradition and not be humbled at some point. Total Depravity has a way of doing that.)
A couple years ago my friend Rachel Held Evans invited me to write on her blog to represent a progressive Reformed viewpoint. People wrote in and asked me questions and I had fun responding to their inquiries. You can check out that piece here. I actually use that piece a lot as a mini credo.
Which leads me to what my friend tweeted this week:
I think it's a sign of personal growth that I don't blame everything on Calvinism anymore. 😉 (@JesKastKeat helped with that.)
— Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) September 28, 2015
See, sexy Reformed! While we Calvinist haven’t always got it all right and there are pieces of our theology that are manifested in really ungenerous ways in the world, much of our being is quite beautiful! How can you not be moved by the way Calvin talks about the mystical union with Christ in the Lord’s Supper, or when the Belgic Confession talks about the universe like a beautiful book before our eyes, or Karl Barth’s reminder that joy is the simplest form of gratitude, or the way Serene Jones does Reformed theology with a feminist lens. This stuff is sexy!
I’ve never claimed the frozen chosen title. I refuse to. It’s awful actually. I suggest we retire that phrase. It’s not true and it’s not good for our image. This tributary of Christianity has given me so much life — “life abundance” that Jesus talks about in the Gospel of John. I think it’s time we claimed it as sexy.
We are part of the sexy Reformed tradition. Now that’s Gospel grace manifested in the world that I want to preach about!