The Other Gospel of “Christamericanity”

7 04 2015

Paul wrote in the book of Galatians these words,  “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”. These are words that should be noted by American Evangelicalism. What we are propagating is a gospel contrary to the Good News, the “euangelion” of God found in Jesus. Here are specifics of the Gospel…
Christ died for our sins,
He was buried,
and that He rose again.

The Gospel speaks of the grace and love of God, the glory of Christ, of peace and the Kingdom of God.  The Gospel is eternal and it is for all people, in all time. And Jesus is central to it all.

That is the Gospel.

another gospelNow lets contrast that with the American Evangelical (AE) gospel message.

To be fair, all the previous things I said, AE would say they preach and believe. But it goes beyond that. Here is what I have been taught, and what I have observed over the years. To be the right kind of Christian you need to adhere to the following…

The Bible is inerrant, and literal.
Patriotism, and embracing a conservative political point of view is critical.
The poor should not be helped by government, not with health care, food stamps, cash assistance, and any other program that enables them to “just sit around”.
Birth control is a sin, as is condom distribution, and teaching sex ed.
Some of the laws of the Hebrew Bible are in effect today, but only some of them.
Tithing brings God’s blessing, holding back brings a curse.
Giving “seed” (money) to television preachers speeds up God’s blessings
Only AE knows the truth about God and the Bible, every other church is wrong.
God wants us to discriminate against some sinners.
God wants us to call out other people’s sin.
God will punish you if you sin, and in fact He is mad at you and will cut off relationship with you unless you repent.
God doesn’t care if you seek to help people make their lives better in the here and now, because one day we will be raptured and the world is going to burn up.
Your faith depends on you, you have to do everything you can to be right with God.
Too much teaching on God’s grace is bad. There needs to be balance.

What is missing? Jesus. And because of that, Evangelicalism has polluted, and changed the glorious message of the unconditional love and grace of God through Jesus into a religion of rules, regulations, and duty.

We have become the Pharisees.





Jesus Speaks to the Evangelical Church.

30 03 2015

dead churchJust as Jesus spoke to the 7 first century churches in the Book of Revelation, I believe that this is what He might say to the American Evangelical church today, This is an adaption of the message to the church of Sardis.

“Write this letter to the angel  of the Evangelical church in America. This is the message from the one who holds all things in His hands and loves without condition:“I know all the things you do, Your music festivals, and conferences, your mega churches, and your media, your influence and power in the halls of the empire of the Caesar and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions of protests, and boycotts, your support of laws that discriminate and impinge on the worth and dignity of other human beings created in My image, nauseating! I see how you seek to make it harder for others to come to Me by lifting up your idea of moral laws and regulations, touting your “righteousness” against the “sinfulness” of those who have yet to receive My love. I see how you ignore the plight of the poor, the homeless, and the undocumented immigrant, thinking yourselves better than the rest of the world, and better than those who do not look like you. Foolish sheep! Do you not know that all that you have achieved been as a result of my grace and I am no respecter of persons, but love all with an unconditional love? Foolish children!  Can you not see that your man-made “holiness”  does not meet the requirements of my God.  3 Go back to what you heard and believed at first about My grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.4 “Yet there are some in the church in America who have not soiled their clothes with hypocrisy, and have prostituted themselves with political parties, but rather have clung to My sacrifice, and My grace. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy because of Me.5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.
6 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.





Are You “Walking With The Lord”?

11 01 2015

Recently, I had a pastor elude that he can tell who is “walking with the Lord”? So I began to think to myself that in the church there seem to be a lot of people who think the same thing. A couple of questions I have then are…How can you tell? Are we suppose to make that judgement?

walking with the lordQuestion #1. How can you tell when someone is walking with the Lord? Do they look like Moses after he came down from Mount Sinai with his face shining with the glory of God? Do they walk on water, feed 5,000, turn water into wine (that certainly would save me money)? Maybe they heal the sick , raise the dead, part seas, or make the sun standstill? I suppose if they did those things that would be a pretty good indication that they were skipping down the golden streets arm in arm with Jesus. But no one is doing that. So what measures do we use? I think sadly, that most of us and most churches use church doctrine or our own understanding to make that determination.

Self confession time….

For more than half of my Christian life I had look through the cloudy lens of my own limited knowledge of the Christian faith to label people. Did they read the “right Bible version?”, Did they go to the “right church?”  Did they swear, drink, smoke, read their Bible, vote for the “right political party”, hold to the correct interpretation of creation, the end times, and a multitude of other doctrinal ideologies? I mocked, dismissed and vilified those that deviated from MY understanding, just like my church unknowingly taught me.

And I was wrong, I WAS WRONG!

There is amazing diversity in the body of Christ, beautiful, incredible, diversity. Christianity cannot capture the essence of God in one doctrinal statement, one denomination, one way of understanding His kingdom. And even in this great diversity we cannot completely reflect the mystery and awesomeness of who God is and how great His love and grace are.

Question #2 Is it our place to determine whether or not a person is walking with the Lord? The answer is obvious, and the answer is no! We are not called to look at others and their relationship with God and make a judgement, That is between them and their Creator. We as believers spend far too much time looking at others inside and outside the church and telling them how wrong they are.

Let’s try something else…lets try unconditional love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace. When we are really walking with the Lord we become people of compassion, It is something the world is lacking, it is something the church is lacking.





New Year’s Resolu…..

2 01 2015

I will get back to my Hell posts next time.

I wanted to take a moment today to talk about the New Year. Yea, I know EVERYONE is talking about the New Year. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress are replete with status updates, tweets, photos of pithy quotes and blog posts about the freshness and newness of a clean New Years slate.

I even posted things as the clock struck 12:00 AM 1 January 2015. And made the boastful comment that, if God will’s it, this will be my “Best year ever!!”

But then the morning sun rises on day one of my ” best year ever” and I find I still have the same relational problems, the same debt, the same fears and self doubts and I realize that there is no magic in the sweep of a second-hand. I also know myself well enough to understand how easy it is to fall back into the same habits and patterns of the old year. All because it is more comfortable and self preserving than to tackle the hard things in life.

But this is where God comes into the picture.

This past fall, I went on a “mini” retreat, God spoke powerfully to me. You have to understand that before going I was at the point of actually doubting the Creators existence. But then He showed up, not with lightning bolts, an earthquake, or in a “slain in the Spirit” moment. Rather it was through the listening ear and wisdom of a Franciscan Friar, and a still small voice that came from within.

God affirmed me as me, as His created being even with all my weaknesses, changefaults, and failures. He explained away the cloud of regret that has hung over me for many years. He made sense of so much that didn’t make sense in my life. And He told me He loved me just as I am, not in spite of who I am.

And finally that His grace and unconditional love through Jesus is always enough to cover everything in my life.

So I go back to my proclamation that as He wills this will be my “best year ever”. It will be not because I am getting it all together, not because of my commitment to seeing it happen, not because I have a plan. Rather because in spite of all that will come this year, the very good and the very painful, His love and His grace will be there. And through it all He will sustain me.

And He will do the same for you too.

Happy New Year and may it be your “best year ever” too.





I Don’t Understand Eternal Torment (aka Hell) Scene 1

8 12 2014

She lived in a large city in some developing country somewhere. She was 13 years old. She shared a small one room living space with 11 other girls ranging in age from 6 to 14. She got to eat a bowl of rice once every two days. She was always hungry, always lonely, always scared. For the first three years she cried herself to sleep, but over time she became numb  and fell asleep to escape the life she had been forced into living.

hellShe used to have a family, a Hindu family, with a mother, father and three younger sibling. One day a man came to her home and offered to pay her parents money to take her and give her a job in the city. The offer was substantial enough to help her family buy food for several weeks so they packed her up and sent her with the man. He took her to the city and bought her some food, some clean clothing. When they got to the house she was given a bath and told to get dressed in one of the outfits.

She was taken to a room with a nothing but a mattress on the floor and told to sit down while the man went to get a “guest”. He came back with a middle age white man who sat on the bed next to her. Then the other man left. The white man began to stroke her hair, talking to her in a language she did not understand. She was very afraid…too afraid to move. The man put his hand under her skirt and touched her. After a few minutes he took off his clothes and then hers and raped her. It was so painful but when she started to cry he yelled at her in the strange language and slapped her in the face. She stopped crying .

She had experienced this scene over and over again, hundreds of times in the last few years and she thought that night would be no different. The middle-aged white man with the strange language she had begun to understand seemed angrier than most. He tore her dress taking it off her and shoved her down onto the floor. He was harsh, and aggressive. He put his hands around her neck as he raped her. She was scared and wanted to scream, but she couldn’t and she couldn’t breathe either. The last thing she felt as she began to lose consciousness and slip into the arms of angel of death was the pressure around her neck and the searing pain between her legs.

She awakes to a thick blackness, the smell of the rotted eggs she remembers from her family farm, and a burning the consumes her from within and without. The pain dwarfs anything she experienced in life. She cries out but her voice is absorbed into the blanket of silent, dark nothingness. The terror of the alone-ness only magnifies the physical pain that goes on and on and on. Hopelessness,  and despair swirl around her.

Forever…

She is in hell.

According to some Christians she is experiencing the justice of a righteousness god. And depending on the theological bent she either chose  hell or was assigned to hell before she was ever born.

I don’t understand eternal torment.





Nothing But The Blood?!?!?!?

20 10 2014

American Evangelicalism is a funny hybrid of Christianity. On one hand we say we believe the Gospel to “get saved” but on the other hand we live our Christian lives as if it has nothing to do with our relationship with God. We…
Seek to have a “closer (walk) relationship” with God,
work “to become holy”,
strive “to be sanctified”,
beg and plead “to be forgiven for our sins”,
tithe to get “the blessing”
resurrect parts of Hebrew law with it’s rule and regulations and latch onto our favorite parts to prove to others and ourselves that we are “real believers”, and those others  are not,
condemn the big sinners “out there” so we can feel good about the sins we hide within ourselves,
we invent keys, steps, and uncover “secrets” to get in God’s good graces.

But the Gospel is not about us. The Gospel has nothing to do with what we do. The Gospel is not meant to chain us to a new law, but rather to set us free from the bondage of sin, self doubt, and fear and  to experience God in a never before intimate way, and to become what God has intended us to become.

The Gospel has broken down the wall, and torn apart the curtain that has separated us from our Heavenly Father giving us instant access to Him.
The Gospel  has covered us with a holiness and sanctification that we can never attain, even on our best days.
The Gospel has set us free from the penalty of every sin we have or will ever commit. We are totally and forever forgiven.
The Gospel fulfills all the laws and regulations of the Bible. We do not have to follow rituals, or do things for God so that He will take notice of us and bless us. Because of the Gospel we get blessing every day.
The Gospel is not a weapon to use against those that have not yet experienced the love and mercy of God, rather it is a balm that brings sight to the blind, healing to the spiritually sick, food and clothing to the hungry and naked, and freedom to those trapped in their self made prisons.
The Gospel is not nice tidy steps that we take one at a time in order to attain perfection. The Gospel is wild and Jesusunpredictable,  interrupting the rigid, challenging the status quo, doing the unexpected, and reaching those we deem as unworthy.

The Gospel is Jesus. It is about Him and only Him, all that he has done and all that He is going to do.

It was never about us or how good we can make ourselves..





Value Voters vs Biblical Values

28 09 2014

value votersValue voters just held their summit in Washington DC with speeches and cheer-leading sessions  touting “Christian values”….lets take a moment to add these values up according to the Bible.

Abortion (actually a spontaneous miscarriage due to being hit) 1 time, homosexual behavior 6 times, taking back “our country” 0 times, Republican/Tea party 0 times,  USA being the apple of God’s eye 0 times, Christian support of military involvement 0 times.

Some value voters attacked  the character of others, particularly those in the Democratic party and “liberal” church. This attacking in many instances is bearing false witness, and it is, as Jesus said, killing someone with your words. Many of them speak lies against those in other religions (particularly Islam), they degrade and minimize the “humanity” of people in the LGBT community. They seek to dismantle the social service programs that help the poor, the needy , children, and elderly. They are first to embrace war, rather than peace and lament over the end of the death penalty in many of our states.

The values the Bible mentions are as follows….

The ministering to the poor,  addressing poverty, and social justice mentioned well over 300 times. There are multiple passages that address the immigrant. It specifically mentions caring for creation. Mercy mentioned 124 times (NIV), forgive 74 times (NIV), forgiveness 117 times, grace 131 times, love 551 times, Jesus 1273 times.

Jesus 1273 times…

There seems to be a disconnect here, or am I just imagining the values of much of American Evangelicalism are more in line with conservative politics rather than the Bible?

 

 








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