I Don’t Want To Be A Protest Ant

I’m a protestant (which means I’m part of that “branch” of Christianity that isn’t the Roman Catholic church). It’s rather embarrassing to admit that I didn’t even understand that Catholics are Christians until a few years ago. I wrote about this at length in my post “Stuff I Don’t Believe Anymore.”

The word protestant comes from the root protest. That’s what Martin Luther did in 1517. He took issue with the policies, practices, and beliefs of the Catholic church. And when his points weren’t received, he started creating a new church.

I’m beginning to wonder if it’s deep in our protestant DNA to protest; to be protest ants.

Andrew Arndt raises this issue in his response to the “Donald Miller situation” (prominent Christian writer Donald Miller recently admitted publicly that he doesn’t really go to church anymore and it’s all good). Quoting Arndt:

We wring our hands, we fret and worry.  How will Don stay orthodox in his faith?  What will happen if others follow him?  Can you just imagine the departures from fidelity and crazy heresies that will spin out of this?  He’s sawing off the very branch he’s sitting on!

I would like to modestly submit that the reason we’re doing this is because deep down, there is a nagging voice in the back of our Protestant heads that says,

Don is doing what we’ve all been doing since the Reformation… we’ve all sawed off the branch we’re sitting on, and we’re deathly afraid that really, we’re all falling.”

I’m generally thankful for Luther and the Reformation. Most of the time I’m glad he protested. But I wonder if we’ve been stuck in a perpetual state protest ever since.

Of the 2.18 billion Christians world-wide, there are 3 major denominations within Christianity: Catholic, protestant, and Orthodox…

1.2 billion are Catholic

800 million are protestant (and there are 30,000+ protestant denominations)

300 million are Orthodox

Look back for a moment at that middle number. 800 million protest ants. Perpetually dividing into new camps. 30,000 denominations (and that number grows every day).

Always another protest; something we are against and feel the need to separate ourselves from.

This week more protesting has been going on. World Vision announced they would be changing their hiring policy to include same-sex married couples. Obviously this is a tough issue with church denominations adamantly on either side of it. That’s right: there are Christians who hold strong convictions on both sides of this issue.

So the protest continues. Loudly. Passionately.

And the world watches. In this situation, the children World Vision cares for are in the balance.

I don’t know if the protesting will ever stop. I do know I’m tired of it. I long for Christian unity (I don’t mean we all agree on everything, but I do mean working together as we love and serve people for the Kingdom of God).

I’m tired of wars that don’t seem to be mine.

I want to be a constructive, building, productive ant rather than a protest ant.

Here are a few posts on the protests happening because of World Vision’s policy change:

World Vision: I Have Seen The Finished Line

When Evangelicals Turn Against Children To Spite Me (written by a gay Christian)

The Problem With The World Vision Conversation

Stepping In Front Of Our Light

And here’s an excellent post on the issue of protest and Christianity today…

End of the Line by Brian Zahnd.

Tag, you’re it! What do you think? Are you weary of being a protest ant? Do you see the value in protesting?


I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

13 Comments to I Don’t Want To Be A Protest Ant

  1. Danielle P.

    So this is the dialogue from one of my favorite scenes in the movie “Kingdom of Heaven” I often refer back to it in my spiritual walk because it makes such a good point- exactly what you said, “I’m tired of wars that don’t seem to be mine.” The movie takes place during the time period of the Crusades. Lord Balian is addressing the people of Jerusalem as they prepare to defend the city.

    Balian of Ibelin: [to the people of Jerusalem]
    “It has fallen to us, to defend Jerusalem, and we have made our preparations as well as they can be made. None of us took this city from Muslims. No Muslim of the great army now coming against us was born when this city was lost. We fight over an offence we did not give, against those who were not alive to be offended. What is Jerusalem? Your holy places lie over the Jewish temple that the Romans pulled down. The Muslim places of worship lie over yours. Which is more holy?”


    Balian of Ibelin: “The wall? The Mosque? The Sepulchre? Who has claim? ….No one has claim…. [raises his voice] All have claim!!!

    Bishop, Patriarch of Jerusalem: “That is blasphemy!”

    Almaric: [to the Patriarch] “Be quiet.”

    Balian of Ibelin: “We defend this city, not to protect these stones, but the people living within these walls.”

    ****Love this part, “we fight over an offense that we did not give, against those who were not alive to be offended.” So you’re saying we can stop the division at any time? We can choose to fight our own battles, live our own lives, rather than reviving the personal fueds of our ancestors? Sounds good to me, I’m all in. See, I’m commanded to make peace, make friends & friendly neighbors, and love everyone as much as I believe God loves Them… And there’s no room within that context for fighting, or petty divisions, or looking for opportunities to create more spiritual scar tissue. So that’s what I think about fighting wars… Now, what I think about Protesting will have to be a different story for a different day.

  2. Very thought provoking, to say the least. I think most Christians sitting in a seat on Sunday feel less divided than the leaders of these divisions. I used to care what label Christians wore (baptist, methodist, presbyterian, lutheran, pentecostal, etc), but not any more – becuase I’ve discovered that the labels we wear seldom define what we really are. We may choose a church because we agree intillectually with its stand on certain doctrinal, moral, or even (sadly) politicial issues, but the reality of our day to day lives would not be much changed if we were attending a liturgical Lutheran, or a ‘fall down every time someone prays for you’ charismatic church. We still get up and go to work every day, drive our kids around to all of their stuff, struggle to make sure our expenses don’t exceed our income, worry about our parent’s health, fix the broken stuff on our car, house, boat, bike, etc. Our relationship with Christ is not defined by our denominational (or if you are more “enlightened” than the rest of us, nondenominational) label. Our relationship with Christ is that every day “GOD I NEED YOU!”, and it does not depend on where I go to church.

    Despite our labels the Church the Bible speaks of (the universal Bride of Christ), is made up of all who have acknowledged that by their own actions they have separated themselves from God and need to be reconciled, that Jesus is who claimed to be in the Bible – the Son of God, God in the flesh, that He lived a sinless life and offered Himself as a sacrifice to pay the price to provide that reconcilation, and that by believing in Him and placing their faith and trust in Him they are reconciled to God through His sacrifice, not their own efforts, and are following Him and submitting to His will. Period.

    With all of that said, I believe there are elements of our faith that are worth fighting for, protesting, if you will. Among the most important are the core elements of Christianity that all of our divisions don’t see differently – the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity, salvation by grace through faith, the resurection (heaven and hell), and that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Of those, I think the one that tends to get tattered most by those on the fringes is the last one. Some groups try to take liberties of interpretation to justify thier indescretions that thousands of years of Biblical scholars would not agree there is room to take. Even many in main line Christian denominations fall prey to our tendancy to drift away from scriptural truth. The legalists seem to be always trying to get us to earn our way to salvation. No matter where we tend to drift, and I think we all tend to drift, it is the rock of the Word of God that is the “anchor in the storm”. I think it’s worth noticing when people start to drift contrary to the Word of God, and if they start to try to draw others away on their drift, it’s worth a fight.

  3. I am weary, too. And embarrassed. And sad. And no – I don’t see the value in protesting – at least not some of the things the evangelical church chooses to protest. We are quick to make judgments and statements and arguments without thinking about the ramifications of our words and actions. For the record – I hold WV responsible for this latest round of mud-slinging. They really thought their decision would promote Christian UNITY? Really? The whole thing is a mess and a black-eye on the Church. And “Christians” pulling their support of needy children and the impoverished of the world over it? Really? What part of that is Christian? I liked Dean Curry’s post, “When elephants fight, the grass suffers.” There were no winners in this “war.” So, so sad. When are we going to learn? Chick-fil-a. Duck Dynasty. World Vision. Good Lord, what next?

    • The culture wars have us defending our ideologies & politics while keeping us distracted from the real work of loving & serving people in my opinion

      Vicki – I’m pretty cynical. I tend to think those 2,000+ people who were outraged with World Vision & pulled their sponsorship yesterday aren’t coming back today because WV apologized & repented. And the surge of progressives picking up sponsorships earlier today… I don’t think they’re the kind of people who are going to drop supporting kids because of the policy changing back to what it was.

      The whole thing shows how consumeristic we are.
      Also, the loudest & most aggressive voices of protest prevail.

  4. There’s a fine line here, a very fine line. Jesus teaches love and grace from his mouth but I also believe that the Bible is God breathed, in entirety and without fault. Therefor you have to take Jesus’ teaching and dig deeper than the words themselves. What do they mean in the context of the bible and of the overall story because it DOESN’T END WITH GRACE.

    Grace is only the beginning. It can’t end with grace because the bible is clear a day of reckoning is coming.

    Jude 4-7:

    4 I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

    5 So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus[b] first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful. 6 And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment. 7 And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.

    Clearly it is written that Jesus’ grace covers our sins but throwing off said grace and returning to a lifestyle of immorality will leave us with the same result as someone who never accepted His grace.

    On to the protesting…

    There are not many things that make me more frustrated than driving by Planned Parenthood and seeing people walk up and down the sidewalk with signs calling the people inside murderers. What does it do? Do you think some pregnant teenager who’s parents abandoned her and has no money is really going to go, “Oh they perform abortions so I’m going to go to an OB/GYN that will charge me money I don’t have so they can drive a Benz and live in a mansion.” No, that girl is going to walk right in and free healthcare and/or an abortion and the tax dollars of those protesters are going to pay for it. (Full disclaimer – this is not my thought process, I am 100% against abortion. I am trying to look at this from a different perspective, right or wrong.)

    However, if a man who claims to be a Christian and live by Christian morals blatantly lives in sin a spiritual brother is to go to him and call him out (not publicly) on said sin. If that doesn’t work the spiritual brother is to go the the church leaders and then to the congregation is all else fails.

    And now World Vision…

    Homosexuality is clearly referred to as immoral living. As Christians if we chose an immoral lifestyle or choose to support those in an immoral lifestyle we clearly have missed the point of grace. Grace is to cover us from our sins so we are called righteous by the Son of God. We cannot choose to stay in immorality and live in righteousness under the grace paid for with Jesus’ Blood. In other words we cannot serve two masters, we will become a slave to one or a slave to another.

    So when an organization claiming to be righteous (under grace, protestant, whatever term you choose) decides to support immorality they won’t get my money and I will tell others the choices they have made and the choices I made in consequence. If said others choose to donate to an organization helping children while supporting immorality that is their choice. If by me not giving to World Vision and then telling others my opinion is considered protesting, I can own that, but I am not paying money to go to their headquarters and hold a dumb picket sign.

    I’d always prefer to stand for things than against other things, I don’t being against something is a good way to change peoples hearts BUT I will say I am against organizations or people claiming to be Christian(s) who have a message of immoral lifestyles being perfectly acceptable.

    Whew… Sorry for the long response but I felt a full circle was needed.

  5. Somehow homosexuality has become a dividing line issue, while other (oft-repeated acts of) immorality are not protested. Why?

    How many verses in the Bible deal with homosexuality? At the very most 9. Not all theologians agree on the specifics of what is being addressed. But I’ll go with you on this – it’s immorality.

    How many verses in the Bible deal with greed? Pride? Gluttony? Overlooking the poor? Gossip? Slander? All of these acts of immorality are dealt with more in Scripture. All of them.

    In the 1 Corinthians 6 passage that lists the things people will not inherit the Kingdom because of – greed is right there in the list with homosexuality.

    Why no protesting over the other sins? Why no withholding dollars of support for the hungry over any other immoral behavior allowed by the organization?

    I can’t speak for anyone else, so I’ll expose myself. I’m greedy. Not just once either. Repeatedly greedy. Sometimes I plan to be greedy. Recently someone gave me $100 and I didn’t tell my wife about it because I didn’t want to share. I wanted to splurge. I’m a sinner. I know it. And I repent, and struggle, and repeat… and I call myself a Christian. I’m just guessing: there are lots of people like me out there who struggle with greed and pride and lust and _______________.

    When my money goes to any individual or organization, regardless of the label, I know it will pass through the hands of this sinner to another one. I have no hopes that my money will stay in circles of purity because I do not believe there are any.

    I will happily give some dollars to a beggar. If he buys a meal, cool. If he buys a cold beer or two, great. If he buys drugs, OK. I don’t feel like my job is to determine worthiness – it’s to love, serve, and bless.

    Will God judge? Yes. And that’s His job, not mine. How He will do this is somewhat of a mystery. But it is for an appointed time – not now, but in the future. Now He waits. Patiently. Why? Because He’s not willing that any would perish, but that all would come to repentance.

    When Jesus talks about the “final judgment” in Matthew 25, he talks about the separating of the people like a shepherd separates sheep and goats. As this happens, He welcomes and blesses the sheep saying, “I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you invited me into your home. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you cared for me. I was in prison and you visited me.”

    I appreciate what you’re saying Robb. Believe me, I understand it – I’ve been in it my whole life. Somehow I’m just at a point where I’m fed up with the fights and protests and valuing policy over people. I want something that sounds and smells and looks and feels like Jesus.

    • I don’t want to debate. I have said and will continue to say that nothing good comes from them with maybe the rarest exception. So I will make a comment, clarify one thing and then I will leave it alone.

      First: Any theologian that says homosexuality is not a sin should be stripped of said theologian status.

      Second: There is a difference between a sin and choosing an immoral lifestyle. For instance, take away the homosexuality, if World Vision publicly announced that they decided they would allow Porn to be viewed at work there would be much more of an outcry.

      As someone who is and always will be recovering from a porn addiction I know it is an immoral lifestyle and I could not serve God/Jesus and live in my addiction. It was a choice I made to step out of grace and choose the immoral lifestyle.

      Jesus makes the same differentiation with money. A single act of greed a sin, but living day in and day out being controlled by money is an immoral lifestyle, to which Jesus said “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

      It comes down to the priority of things in your life. Immoral living is in essence Idolatry. You are putting something above God. It is much different than being a sinner saved by grace. Choosing grace is aligning yourself with Jesus. You cannot stay on that alignment if you continue to live an immoral lifestyle. I’ve been there, I lived the immoral lifestyle, it is impossible to serve it and God.

      Also, quick side note, just because I don’t donate to World Vision doesn’t mean my money isn’t going somewhere. I just choose to align or yoke myself with organizations I agree with morally. The money that doesn’t go to World Vision or is pulled from them will still continue to make it to hungry children. Let’s not pretend to be so naive to think they are the only organization who feeds hungry children or that peoples hearts will be turned away from hungry children because of one organization’s choices.

      • Danielle P.

        Robb you make a great point about folks who stopped donating money to World Vision, and how they would hopefully find another organization to go through so they could still help fund services for children. I think you’re right about that, at least I hope you are right.

        • Unfortunately, all those who dropped support (rumored to be around 2,000 the day the news hit) aren’t going to reverse their decision and re-up their support through World Vision – because WV showed their true colors. So, yeah, maybe they will put those dollars to work in another organization that more aligns with their moral stances – but there are real kids who got left behind over this.

          The children have become our pawns, caught in the middle, and they lose. So some take the “moral high ground” and protest with their dollars… and take food away from a vulnerable child who now becomes the collateral damage. I struggle to see it any other way than, “We’d rather let a kid go hungry than align ourselves in any way with a homosexual.” That kind of hatred runs deep.

          • Danielle P.

            One of these days I’m gonna write a really in depth article about grace. And I will invite everyone to read it. Because as you said, that hatred runs deep. And Christians are seriously missing out on some awesome aspects of grace, due to too much focus on appearing righteous. We know Jesus never protested against any type of sin, except that done by the religious leaders. He knew the law keepers were just using the law as reason to continue their hatred for people they viewed as “less than”…. Funny thing is that by labeling a “differently sexual” person as “less than”, you actually bind yourself up in their struggle for equality. You put a mark on them and yourself, you become spiritually responsible to them. Yes, by labeling someone as less, you’re putting them in the category of people whom You are specifically, and clearly, commanded by Jesus to love, and care for.. So what do U think of that? The least will be most, the last will be first, etc… It’s something to consider as soon as possible.

            Christian morality is just a farce, it’s nothing more than a status symbol. And Grace has been turned into a slogan to defend people’s personal prejudice, to uphold discrimination. Just like the law was used for the same things in Jesus’ time. It’s pretty yucky IMO. One of these days it will get its reinterpretation though. I believe GRACE has a wonderful destiny to fulfill. Kind of like the “predestination theology” I believe Grace is destined to be understood & lived on a global level. It sounds a little far-fetched, but I do truly believe that is the direction that humanity is working towards. One day people will be more clear on that whole grace thing. And the ones who still refuse to see it will more than likely just end up disappointed. Yeah, I’m sure about that.

  6. Danielle Pridgen

    Oh brother, here we go on the immorality thing again. I feel that the “homosexuality, drug use, gluttony” definition of immorality has very well had it’s day. And being that we’ve all just read about the differences in belief and dogma throughout the global church, why don’t we take a look at those other behaviors which may be considered immoral. Like withholding resources while faced with someone whom is in desperate need, condemning others by placing oneself in a seat of judgment (which by so doing, the Bible also teaches us that we pile hot coals upon our own heads).. condemnation of others only feeds our self-condemnation, I could talk about that in length but I won’t right now, or how about blaspheming the holy spirit? What is that anyway? Well it can be lots of things.. one example which I feel is completely rampant within the global church, and should be addressed is the way that people in leadership and laypersons as well, create blasphemy against the Holy Spirit by training themselves and other believers into a (human mindset) which leaves God out of ‘our plans’ to redeem society. A mindset which says we are the last line of defense, and we must do whatever it takes to make sure people don’t leave our presence without Jesus. We pressure people who don’t agree with us, we have to OVERemphasize their sin and NEED for Jesus’ services, so they will feel no other option but to get “Saved”.

    But this is like spitting in the face of God! We are so Arrogant to assume that God will not take our small acts of kindness, and our patience with others, and use them within His plan for redemtpion. Why do we forget that God speaks to the heart, and sees through the heart? Why do we forget that God is EVERpresent not only for us, but for every person ever created? We cannot be with them all the time, but God can. So why don’t we trust that God can do things in peoples hearts without us manipulating their minds????

    Its actually quite laughable to me, considering I left the church, became unclear on my belief in God, submitted to a ‘possibly’ existent God that I did not believe in being half hot and half cold, so I was gonna be all cold… Christians would strongly recommend not doing any of those things. But the amazing thing, is that God did not seem intimidated or angry. Matter of fact, God made sure that I had altogether Too Many examples of his provision, presence, awareness of my need, patience with my disbelief, and I almost felt there would have been a confident excitement within God as He planned all of the little coincidences which he knew would eventually harden my faith into an unshakable Knowing that yes, God exists… so like I said, I laugh and I also get really upset at times when I still see the bible taken out of context to pile guilt on people in attempts to turn them to god. This is blasphemy, this is using God in vain. It is highly unnecessary. And when I read the scripture from Jude, which is mentioned above, I have a strange feeling that when they say ‘ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches’ they are talking about things more so of the nature of what I mentioned. Not the stereotypical and inaccurate depictions of sin that we got from people using strong manipulation against us in the past.

    I would contend that God needs us to shut our mouths on the sin stuff, and focus on acting like we’ve been eating some fruit of the spirit. Why? Because people in this world need love, and authentic connection with others. I’m sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but it is NOT, I repeat, NOT comforting when you know that someone is only helping you because their religion dictates that they should. People feel the energy when we come at them as if they are simply a link to be added to Jesus’ armor. People sense the untruthfulness in our eyes when we only help, because we have an agenda. So I contend, that we need Christians who will shut up about Jesus, and pave the road for people to be saved by grace in the future. After all, how can we expect someone to understand any concept of God’s Divine and Heavenly Unconditional Love, when many people have never experienced basic love from a parent, from people in their schools, or even through general kindness of strangers? We need to be real love, real grace, and just TRUST that God will use those offerings. People need a context for understanding His love in the future, and how can they do that unless we show them what it means to be loving, kind and considerate, just because we believe in it, not because we are trying to get them on our team. God will bring them back to Him, that is not our job. God wants it more than we ever could, and has better abilities than we give Him credit for. Lets just be Loving, and let God do the work on the interior man.

  7. Danielle P.

    So, Christians think that Grace works like this:

    God takes you out to a really extravagant restaurant.
    You both spend a wonderful evening together, enjoying the most delicious food & drink.
    Then at the end of the night, the waitress walks over to you Two, and hands you the bill.
    God offers to pay the bill, and asks you to pay the tip.
    You didn’t bring your wallet on this particular day, since duh, it’s dinner with God.
    Since you don’t have any money for your portion, God makes a solution.
    All you have to do is come back to wash dishes once a week, until you feel you have paid off your debt.

    Grace thinks that God works like this:

    God takes you out to a really extravagant restaurant.
    You both spend a wonderful evening together, enjoying the most delicious food & drink.
    Then at the end of the night, the waitress walks over to you Two, and hands you the bill.
    God excuses Himself to use the loo.
    After a long wait, you finally go look inside the bathroom to find that God’s not in there.
    You speak to the waitress and she lets you know that the gentleman who accompanied you had left.
    He had already paid the bill and left a generous tip.
    You’re not sure what to think so you just walk out to your car.
    On the window you find a hand written note.
    “I had an emergency to attend to, sorry to eat & run. I took care of the bill, and paid off the interest on your mortgage too. Hope we talk soon. Love, God.”

    Lol ;-)

  8. I just read today a post by Brian Zahnd that deals with this subject masterfully in my opinion. It is worth your time. “End Of The Line” http://brianzahnd.com/2014/04/end-line/

    A brief sampling:

    If I want to travel from Notre Dame to Montmartre I can’t do it on one train. At some point I have to disembark, find the correct platform and catch another train. If you’ve never done it before it can be confusing. This may be a prophetic analogy for the confusion evangelicals feel in the first part of the twenty-first century. We’ve reached a terminus. We need to find another platform. We need to catch a new train. And we’re not quite sure what it is. But of this we can be quite certain: the train we have been on will not carry Christianity into the twenty-first century in a compelling and engaging way-no matter how enthusiastically we sing “give me that old time religion” while we sit on a motionless train. What is this train stuck at the station? I think it can be summed up as “Christianity characterized by protest.”

    The Protestant Reformation was a debate among Christians within Christendom. Which is all well and good. But we no longer live in a Christendom where Christianity is the default assumption of an entire age, continent and culture. We now live in an era that is, if not post-Christian, certainly post-Christendom. Yet we make the mistake of trying to engage our post-modern secular culture in the same way that the Reformers engaged medieval Catholicism: through protest. This approach doesn’t make sense and is no longer tenable.

    We are in danger of being reduced to angry protesters sitting in the station on a train going nowhere and shouting at people who long ago stopped listening to us.

    If we are going to persuade a skeptical and secular world concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ and make a compelling case for Christianity in the twenty-first century, we are going to have to do so on their terms. We can no longer pretend to be living in medieval Christendom or frontier America. Simply citing chapter and verse and shouting, “the Bible says” is going to be largely ineffective. Telling a secular world that does not possess an a priori acceptance of scripture that Jesus is the way because John 14:6 says so is seen as circular reasoning and unconvincing.

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