Liking Christ, But Not Christianity

That’s Anne Rice’s position (see here and here also) (along with a lot of other prominent people who are or were Christians).  I’ve never read any of her vampire novels, but I enjoyed very much her two novels on the early life of Christ (Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and Christ the Lord: Road to Cana).  She manages to walk the very thin line of Jesus’ humanity and divinity, (almost) never confusing them, and (almost) never dividing them.  (I say “almost” because I can’t think of any specific parts, but there may be some.) 

But after a few years, she’s apparently done with Roman Catholicism (here’s an excellent response from a Roman Catholic and a, as usual, great post by Joseph Bottum), and various groups and people (sometimes officially) are making the case for why she should join them. 

This is the thing: if we could be Christians based on our own preferences, and never have to deal with other people who call themselves Christians, though they embarrass or confuse us, we’d each have our own church of one.  Unfortunately at times, and fortunately at others, the Body of Christ in this world is made up of selfish, idiot sinners who do and say stupid, sinful things.  I don’t agree with Anne Rice’s conception of what following Christ means (I also think she would fit right in in the UCC!), but I’m happy to call her a sister in Christ if she believes He died for sinners such as her and sinners such as me.  All “Christian” means is “sinner-covered-with-the-righteousness-of-Christ.”  Good fruit, including certain behavior, follows from that.  But if the former is not there, it’s completely irrelevant what nice things you say (the better for fans of vampire novels to agree!), or what nice things you do (the better for the secular press to approve!), or how tolerant you are of whatever the evil Fundamentalists oppose. 

Christ’s Body is the Church, no matter how whorish she appears (or: “God saves bad people”).  That’s why we “believe one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” and not we see her.  Believing is for this creation; seeing is for the next, when Christ makes all things new.  (And that’s the case for why Anne Rice should be Lutheran!)