Does Christianity As A Religion Have To Die For Christ To Be Reborn In Us?

For centuries, Christians have presented God as a Supreme Being who showers blessings upon insiders who share certain beliefs and proper institutional affiliation, but who punishes outsiders with eternal conscious torment. Yet Jesus revealed God as one who “eats with sinners,” welcomes outsiders in, and forgives even while being rejected, tortured, and killed. . . . He preached that God was to be found in self-giving service rather than self-asserting domination. . . . What would it mean for Christians to understand, experience, and embody God as the loving, healing, reconciling Spirit in whom all creatures live, move, and have their being?

For centuries, Christianity has presented itself as an “organized religion”—a change-averse institution . . . that protects and promotes a timeless system of beliefs that were handed down fully formed in the past. Yet Christianity’s actual history is a story of change and adaptation. . . . What might happen if we understood the core Christian ethos as creative, constructive, and forward-leaning—as an “organizing religion” that challenges all institutions (including its own) to learn, grow, and mature toward a deepening, enduring vision of reconciliation with God, self, neighbor, enemy, and creation? [1]

Many people today are leaving the belief systems of their parents and grandparents. This is a mass exodus from institutional faith that demographers are calling “the rise of the Nones.” Nones comprise about twenty percent of all Americans, and one-third of Americans under thirty. [2]

Having little patience with (or appreciation for) mystery, as well as so little humility or basic love for groups other than our own, maybe Christianity in its present formulation has to die for a truly universal and love-centered spiritual path to be born. I sincerely wonder if this might be true. [3]

[1] Brian D. McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian (Convergent: 2016), 2-3. Please visit to learn more about his work.

[2] See James Emery White, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated (Baker: 2014), 21.

[3] Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 127.

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