The Burden of Faith, the Lightness of Belief

Producing Exvangelical can take an emotional toll. It is taxing to hear the stories of how so many people have been hurt in God's name. 

People are hurt in all manner of ways. They were told they can't lead because they're a woman, and their primary role was to support a man. Or they were damned because of their sexual orientation. Or they did not receive opportunities because of their race. They were taught their virginal purity was the most valuable thing about them. Their reasonable doubt was questioned. Their politics weren't acceptable. Often, it's some combination of those things.

I don't see Jesus put value on any of those things. He treated women with respect and dignity; women were the first witnesses of the resurrection, and women were showed the greatest acts of love toward Jesus in the Gospels. 

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus portrays a member of a marginalized ethnic group as the best example of neighborliness and mercy. He does not condemn the woman caught in adultery. He does not condemn Thomas for his doubt.

Jesus has hard sayings, yes. But his priorities are different than the ones the American evangelical church has had for quite some time.

Through Exvangelical, I share these stories of people who have been hurt by the church. Often, I feel a deep sense of shame. These good people have been hurt by my people. These are not sensitive snowflakes, as conservative trolls would have you believe--these are the most resilient kinds of people you will meet. My shame is rooted in the fact that they have been hurt by people *like me*: white, evangelical Christian, privileged people who have systematically taken advantage of other groups for generations and centuries, by defining them as other, dangerous, inferior, wrong.

I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm not owed that. What I am looking for is some peace. 

more weight


I've found a starting point, I think, and it's by bifurcating faith and belief. I'm providing my own definitions. Faith has an historical aspect. By ascribing to faith, I throw my lot in with the whole "cloud of witnesses" that has gone before me. It's something I do, but don't do lightly, and something I have to parse over and over: What do I affirm, what do I reject? 

Faith is a burden, an expectation, a boundary. Faith is a mighty fortress, but from time to time its foundation must be shored up, and on occasion the stones come loose and threaten to crush me. 

Belief, on the other hand, is light. Belief is a joyful, careless night watchman, striding atop the parapet at the edge of the fortress like a balance beam--testing boundaries and unafraid to fall, because belief knows it can fly.

Belief is an exploration of ideas. It craves space. It sees the open fields beyond the fortress of faith. It wants the fortress to open its doors, because it knows the fortress needs new builders and craftsmen with new perspectives and new techniques--or else it will crumble and become a ruin.



So I will remain in this faith. I will help rebuild it in the best way I can. But I will take my cues from Belief. Because I cannot fear being crushed any longer.

Ep. 35: LGBTQ Intersectionality & The Fruit of the Spirit w/ Rev. Kevin Wright (Re-Release)

This episode features a conversation with Rev. Kevin Wright from the Riverside Church in NYC. We talk about his journey, LGBTQ affirmation, and more.

Follow Blake on Twitter @brchastain
Follow the show on Twitter @exvangelicalpod
Like the show on Facebook at

Follow Rev. Kevin Wright on Twitter @kevinkwright
Read Kevin's blog at
Read Kevin's posts on the Huffington Post at

Show Notes:

Harry Emerson Fosdick:

Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation:

Reinhold Niebuhr
Moral Man & Immoral Society:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Cost of Discipleship:

Karl Barth:
The Epistle to the Romans:

Saint Augustine of Hippo
The Confessions:

Thomas Merton
Seven Storey Mountain:

Dorothy Day
Selected Writing:

Richard Hays
The Moral Vision of the New Testament:

Allen Verhey
Remembering Jesus: Christian Community, Scripture, and the Moral Life

Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler:

Love Wins by Rob Bell:

God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines:

Interlude Music:

Troparion of Kassiani:

"They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love" by Peter Scholtes
available at

Ep. 34: Elizabeth Jeffries

My guest this week is Elizabeth Jeffries, a writer and biologist (biologist and writer?). Elizabeth writes over at Read her stuff, it's great. Also follow her on Twitter @EPJeff.

Intro: "Night Owl" by Broke for Free
Interlude 1: "The Courtroom" by Carman. (Yes, that Carman.)
Interlude 2: "Here Comes Science" by They Might Be Giants
Interlude 3: "Bad Believer" by St. Vincent
Interlude 4: "Creed" by Rich Mullins
Interlude 5: "Cells" by They Might Be Giants
Outro: "Heaven Go Easy On Me" by The Head & The Heart

Follow Blake on Twitter @brchastain
Follow the show across the web (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Anchor) @exvangelicalpod.

Ep. 33: Emily Joy & Hannah Paasch (Re-Release)

This week's episode is a re-release of a conversation with Emily Joy & Hannah Paasch from The Flawless Project (from episode 10). They discuss the impact their experiences with purity culture and sexism has had on their lives.

The Flawless Project:
Emily Joy Poetry:
Ida Grey:


Ep. 32: Peterson Toscano

This week my guest is Peterson Toscano. 

My guest this week is Peterson Toscano. He is a Bible scholar, actor, storyteller, and activist exploring the intersection of gay rights, human rights, and climate change.

Check out all of Peterson's projects:

Peterson's YouTube channel:

Climate Stew:

Peterson's work on gender & the Bible:

Citizen's Climate Radio, start from the beginning:…sformations/


Intro: "Night Owl" by Broke for Free. Available on the Free Music Archive.

Interlude 1: "Don't Fence Me In" by David Byrne.

Interlude 2: "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," song by Bob Dylan, covered by Antony & the Johnstons.

Outro: "Too Darn Hot," covered by Erasure.