Could apostasy actually be a sign of a healthy church?
Lauren Winner of Duke Divinity School recently considered the situation of writer/director Paul Haggis’ defection from his faith. Haggis bitterly – and publicly – left the Church of Scientology because of his disagreement with them over gay marriage (turns out Scientology is not a fan). Haggis now counts as an “apostate” from Scientology because he has renounced them and their teachings. So why does Winner care at all about any of this? Because it helps her think about her own church (Episcopalian) and the rigor (or lack, thereof) it takes to be a part of it. She writes,
So while I appreciate that my church makes room for patchwork, for doubt, for moving in and out, some days I think: Would that America’s Protestant mainline could produce an apostate. For one might say that a group that lacks the necessary preconditions for making apostates can’t make disciples either.
Now this is a fascinating angle to get at thinking about discipleship – a group isn’t really much good, or good for you spiritually unless it is demanding enough of you that you might leave (or even be pushed out). So…is she on to something? Or is she really romanticizing a certain “rugged” view of Christian community that in fact is coercive and harmful? What do you think?