One of the new books I am reading is Fall to Grace by Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Bakker who used to be TV evangelists whose career ended when Tammy was found to be steeped in a drug addiction and Jim was found to have had an affair. It was a huge scandal. They were in the forefront of the media for some time and were heavily chastised by their Christian community. As usually happens, people forget that when things like this happen, there is a family that suffers. Jay writes about his experience of rejection, about his own addiction and about the spiritual awakening that changed his understanding of the meaning of grace.
I am still in the middle of the book but already Jay is challenging some deeply held beliefs of the Christian community that raised him. I think it takes a lot of courage to question one’s status quo, whatever that is. He suffered considerable rejection for his new beliefs but continues to speak what he found to be true in his life.
I remember years ago being part of a small charismatic community. One day a couple who were sort of leaders of the group, though I myself had never thought of them as such, had a meeting at their home to iron out some difficulties arising among the members. I attended the meeting. As I listened I had an opinion to share and spoke it. I cannot remember what I said but I do recall what a woman said in response to my comment. “So, let me get this right. You do not believe that a group can be led by the Holy Spirit.” “Oh, no,” I said. “I do believe that. I just don’t believe that this particular group is being led by the Holy Spirit.” The comment made by wife of the host couple is the most amazing part of this story. She said, “You are here without your husband. Without being under his umbrella, what you have to say has no validity.” These are crazy people I thought, and left.
That was a pretty extreme community and the fact that I hung with it for a time only gives testimony to the fact that I was probably a little crazy myself back then. But I share it with you because it was an example of a legalism that Jay Bakker addresses in his book. The whole title of the book is Fall to Grace: A Revolution of God, Self, and Society. I think when changes are needed in any organization including those of the religious kind, it is best done by those on the inside, who wake up one day and see clearly. I believe they are called prophets.