What I had never appreciated is the extent to which Evangelicalism seems to resemble a purity cult, not unlike that of the Pharisees or the Essenes. To those of us who don’t get it, the purpose of Evangelical Christianity can be mistaken for a re-assertion of an understanding of holiness that looks surprisingly like the religion of Jesus’s enemies.
The idea that one of the essential characteristics of God is purity is common enough — hence the need to protect God from impurity: things such as bleeding, disease, and death. From this starting point, the world is divided up into the pure (or the holy) and the impure. It follows that policing the division between the pure and the impure comes to be seen as the main task of religion.
Walter Brüggeman has argued that the Hebrew scriptures present an extended battle between this theology of holiness and a very different theology that understands proper holiness to be centred on questions of justice. Roughly, Jesus sided with this latter position, infuriating the advocates of purity theology, the Pharisees, by touching dead bodies, menstruating women, and so on.
Moreover, the very idea of the incarnation — of God’s being born in a shed — is impossible for purity theology. The conclusion of Christmas is that, for Christians, purity theology cannot apply, because the barriers between the sacred and the profane are now collapsed. Yet some Evangelicals seem desperate to reinvent them. They call Christians to a pure life, which is interpreted as waging a war against anything sexually messy. They want to build up the barriers between the sacred and the secular — contemporary equivalents of the holy and profane...from Giles Fraser recently in the Church Times.
What the purists, who come in many shapes and sizes, miss in this separating of the holy from the secular (gliding, as it is, on the word “profane”) is that from the beginning, the im-pure, the un-touchable was the Holy. The un-touchable was untouchable precisely because it was Holy, not because it wasn't pure. And yes, the great breach with tradition was [losing touch with the notion that] that the righteousness, the holiness of God is life, overflowing and transcending any categories of pure, sacred or profane...Göran Koch-Swahne)
In the 1920's Bill Millars wife's grandfather, C.W.Gordon, a presbyterian/UC minister and highly successful author [under the pseudonym Ralph Connor] wrote ...
Until that distinction disappears from the Church, we shall always be unable to bless the world - because we make the unnatural and unreal separation between things that ought to be conceived together. Surely it is no more sacred for a man to make a prayer than for a policeman to preserve the law. . . We have no right to say the state must look after the material and the Church must look after the spiritual. Jesus Christ never said that - made no such distinctions. The good of the people is the good of their souls, of their minds, of their bodies. . . It is as sacred a thing to establish a playground as a Church, to look after sanitation as preaching, the housing of people as attending a prayer meeting.
Pernell Goodyear, and Dave Blondel shot a video which they say was done about a 100 years ago, for Freeway...they say it was never finished. I'm not going to say anything about it, other than open your mind, spirit, heart and soul...the myth, the lie of a scred and secular divide.
Watch ... " The Alley "
( approximately 3 minutes in length )
Father, forgive us for cutting up your creation, segregating into what we precieve as good and bad. For taking that little mustard seed of faith, and living in fear, choosing to live behind walls...instead of walking the narrow path and expanding your Kingdom. The reality is on that cross all creation hung in ballance...in which a new creation was emerging...a Kingdom that is close, in the alleys, the gutters...if we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.