The Christian community is messy, but that does not mean celebrity novelist Anne Rice should “quit … being Christian,” said a California church pastor.
Pastor Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations, said he has met many people who have the same negative views as Rice about the church. But he believes they have a misunderstanding about what it means to quit the community of Christ.
“I am sad that Anne experienced what she did. But something so important for Anne and anyone who wants to quit the church to understand, is it means quitting themselves,” wrote Kimball in an e-mail to The Christian Post. “We are the church.”
Rice, author of Interview with the Vampire, declared on her Facebook fan page last Wednesday that she “quit Christianity and being Christian.”
“It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group,” Rice wrote. “For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outside. My conscience will allow nothing else.”
She listed reasons why she perceives she fails to fit in with organized Christianity, including that she is not anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-artificial birth control, anti-Democrat, nor anti-science.
Rice, however, maintained that she is still committed to Christ.
Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif., said Rice's comments make it sound like she has not experienced the “breadth of ‘Christianity’ and the church.”
“It’s like you say, ‘California isn’t too pretty’ based on only seeing the flatland area of Fresno or Bakersfield,” Kimball remarked. “I don’t want to downplay or say what she experienced wasn’t hurtful … but the Christianity I know and experience daily is not like the one she described.”
The non-conventional pastor, who sports a blond pompadour, added, “It breaks my heart to think that she hasn’t experienced the loving, joyful, sometimes messy Christianity and churches that are out there.”
He offered to sit down with Rice and recommend dozens of churches that would change her perspective of Christianity.
Rice grew up in a Catholic household, but rejected the faith when she was 18 to pursue knowledge. In 1998, she returned to the Catholic Church and has since been outspoken about her Christian faith. After her return to Christianity from atheism, she stopped writing vampire novels and instead began writing Christian books.
In an “I Am Second” video posted earlier this year, Rice said she is determined to write books for God that are “devoted to Jesus Christ.”
Her very public return to the Christian faith and zeal for God made her Facebook declaration shocking to people worldwide.
Emerging church leader Brian McLaren, author of “A New Kind of Christianity,” responded to her announcement by admitting that he often contemplates quitting the church for many of the same reasons given by Rice.
But he has not because he realizes that any group of human beings he associates with will have problems of “bigotry, intolerance, violence, stupidity, and pride.”
“In fact, even if I stand alone, distancing myself from every other group, I know that within me there are the seeds of all these things,” McLaren wrote on CNN’s Belief blog on Monday. “So there’s no escaping the human condition.”
While Rice brings up a valid and important question of why churches do not look like Christ, many pastors say – based on their own experience – that Christians are not prefect people and they are still works in progress.