Toxic Christianity, Self-Consciousness and Messy Mercy : An Interview with Morgan Guyton

Summer cedar pollen may be toxic to your sinuses, at least here in Oklahoma. The condition is complicated by the south wind on which the pollen rides from Texas. Let’s leave the Texas jokes aside.

Once the pollen takes up space in the sinus cavity it may be a while before you feel normal again. It may not be until the first freeze. Everyone offers his or her own antidote to the malady and its consequent symptoms. None of us really want to rid the world of all those trees. Not really . . .

Christianity Variously Described

Generally those using toxic to describe Christianity do so from outside the Tradition. It is more often a reference given by someone who gave up. Not so with Morgan Guyton,

[Morgan] is a United Methodist elder who codirects the NOLA Wesley United Methodist Campus Center with his wife, Cheryl. He blogs at Mercy Not Sacrifice on and has contributed dozens of articles to Red Letter Christians, Huffington Post Religion, Think Christian, Ministry Matters, United Methodist Reporter, and Rethink Church.

Morgan takes aim at toxic, destructive, understandings and behaviors. He recognizes the ways these have been at work in his own life. And, he sees the Good News of Jesus as the truth that saves us and so the world.

A Different Lens and a Change of Position

At least two things will strike you about Morgan’s book. His self-awareness, even recognition of his self-consciousness, provides a different lens through which to read the Story of Jesus, even the stories in the Scriptures. The aim is not new and novel. Instead, the hope is to uncover the way Jesus undermines us all with the aim of saving us from toxins he identifies and also saving the world from us as we¬†practice forms of toxic Christianity.

Guy ton also encourages us to consider a change of position. That is, it appears that we wittingly or unwittingly pick up habits of power and lead us to only viewing the stories of Scriptures and the life of Jesus in support of our vision. For instance, sacrifice became a wedge tool against the poor, at least the poor. Rather than desiring sacrifice, Morgan reminds that the prophet pointed out God’s desire was for mercy. The change of position makes a difference.

Not Managing Behavior But Becoming Different

Though Morgan describes toxic behaviors, his aim is Willard-esque. The hope is to be a different person, one who views others and the world more consistently throw the lens of the Kingdom of God. His hope is that the antidotes become spiritual practices that focus Christians on life-giving habits that in turn point to the Good News of Jesus.

Check Him Out

I hope you will check out Morgan’s book. From the Introduction,

I’ve identified twelve toxic Christian attitudes from which Jesus needs to save us and twelve antidotes that Jesus uses to save us. He’s saving the world from our disingenuous posturing, our exhibitionist martyrdom, our isolationism, our disembodiment, our moral cowardice, our ideological certitude, our divisiveness, our anxious overprogramming, our moralistic meritocracy, our prejudice, our pursuit of celebrity, and our quest for uniformity. He’s saving us by . . .

Morgan is part of the team that produces the Crackers N Grape Juice podcast that includes Teer Hardy and Jason Micheli.

Twitter: @MAGuyton

If you find the podcast helpful, share it with your friends. Share it with your pastor friends as well as folks you know involved in leadership that touches on the pastoral. Also, consider heading over to iTunes, login, search for patheological and give us a five star rating and a kind review.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

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