The Greatest False Idol Of Modern Evangelical Christianity

FearCropped
Idolatry is a horrible, dangerous thing.

Sadly, far too many Christians are so very guilty of it.

You can see it in the way they complain on social media, in the way they comment on the news of the day; in the defeatist, alarmist language that they use as to describe the world.

You see it in the way they furrow their brows and throw up their hands and slam their pulpits.

It shows-up in the lazy stereotypes and the religious rhetoric that flows so easily in church lobby coffee chats and extremist blog rants.

It’s as if everything has now become an imminent threat: Muslims, Atheists, Gays, The President, inner city criminals, Hollywood, illegal immigrants, The Government, school hallways.

The world outside the church building is broadly painted as a vile, immoral war zone, with “God’s people” hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned.

Parroting the politicized partisan talk show hosts and reposting the latest terrible news stories, they perpetuate the now comfortable, largely White Evangelical Christian narrative of impending destruction, and they make it clear at every opportunity: The whole damn sky is falling.

Though they loudly, repeatedly, and confidently proclaim Christ as Lord, in reality they no longer practice faith in a God that has any real power, any true control, and inherent God-ness. They seem to have little more than a neutered figurehead Deity who doesn’t seem to be able to handle much at all anymore.

He’s lost his Old Testament swagger.

Dig just beneath the sunny “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Bible covers and the shouted “God’s judgment is coming” bullhorn warnings, and you can see that the Emperor is buck naked.

For far too many Evangelicals all that flowery, blustery spiritual talk is a loud paper tiger dressed-up as religion.

The truth is, Fear has become their false God, one they worship with complete and undying devotion.

The symptoms of Fear Idolatry are pretty easy to spot. 

When you’re not sure that God is there or that He’ll really come through, you start to spend most of your time defending Him in absentia. You become a self-appointed Crusader of Truth, whose mission is to do the holy work of policing the world (just in case God can’t or won’t).

You spend a lot of time calling out evil, forecasting disaster, and predicting damnation.

When Fear is your God, you start majoring in Exterior Sin Management. You slowly yet ultimately turn all of your attention to the things in other people that you’re certain really tick God off, and you make it your sacred business to modify their behavior in the name of Jesus.

When your God isn’t big enough you’ll try to do in others what you’ve decided He wants, instead of actually trusting Him to do it Himself.

I really feel for Christians whose Jesus seems so integral to personal salvation in the afterlife, and so irrelevant for the life we live now.

He may be able to save souls, but He’s apparently freaked-out by a Muslim prayer breakfast or gay marriage vote or school prayer policy.

Is that really God? Is that Divinity?

Is that the One about Whom the psalmist wrote: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1

Is that the God who spoke the world into being and calmed the seas and healed the blind and raised the dead?

I’m praying for so many of my Evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ, to stop worshipping the false idol of Fear.

I’m praying that they recapture a God Who is worthy, not just of defending and quoting—but trusting.

I’m praying for the rest, joy, and humility that comes from putting faith in something greater than themselves and in the things they fear.

Every day, even with the mystery that grows on my journey, my security grows too.

I know how big my God is.

Do you?

 

 

 

247 thoughts on “The Greatest False Idol Of Modern Evangelical Christianity

    • It seems to be an article which says some good things, but the underlying message pulls out the rug. When I read it with the prophets in mind specifically, it seems to label them as men with less faith than they should have. The key was that men and women have spoken God’s Word and that Word has been very disturbing and dark. If we were to remove everything the prophets spoke we would essentially cut out half the Bible.

      Think about what this author is actually saying, then consider men like Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, John the Baptist……..

      “You can see it in the way they complain on social media, in the way they comment on the news of the day; in the defeatist, alarmist language that they use as to describe the world.
      You see it in the way they furrow their brows, and throw-up their hands, and slam their pulpits.”

      “It’s as if everything has now become an imminent threat: Muslims, Atheists, Gays, The President, inner city criminals, Hollywood, illegal immigrants, The Government, school hallways.
      The world outside the church building is broadly painted as a vile, immoral war zone, with “God’s people” hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned.
      Parroting the politicized talk show hosts and reposting the latest terrible news stories, they perpetuate the now comfortable, largely White Evangelical Christian narrative of impending destruction, and they make it clear at every opportunity: The whole damn sky is falling.”

      Didn’t it sound as if the sky IS falling when many of the prophets spoke? In Revelation the sky IS falling, so John was also one of those this author describes.

      Who EXACTLY is the ‘they’ this author is speaking about? Can you tell the difference between the watchmen and prophets, and the ‘they’ he describes? I sure can’t. It is like Karin Kimball said, Elijah, the prophet of God was hiding in a cave, but where would we have been under the same circumstances?

      “Though they loudly, repeatedly, and confidently proclaim Christ as Lord, in reality they no longer practice faith in a God that has any real power, any true control, and inherent God-ness. They seem to have little more than a neutered figurehead Deity, who doesn’t seem to be able to handle much at all anymore.”

      He goes on and on speaking of how these ‘people’, the ‘they’ in his article, focus on others and their sin and so forth, but isn’t that what all leaders did? If they only focused on their own issues there would be no Word of God! Just think if EVERY pastor started focusing on his own life, shortcomings, sin, and failures….what do you end up with….seeker sensitive, prosperity gospels.

      • Let’s see. Men sent specifically by God to warn the Israelites about their inability to keep the law (the Old Covenant) or people commanded to share the good news about salvation for ALL men (the New Covenant) – which category do modern Christians supposedly fit? I don’t remember any commands after the cross to focus on the sins of others. That would surely make one’s outlook on life “dark and disturbing”, as opposed to a belief in, and a focus on, telling the good news of salvation for the world.

      • Amen Brother! We ARE supposed to warn & be on the watch in order to be good citizens. I think someone wrote a book in the 40’s, or 50’s about the good citizen. We are to be concerned & we are to act.

      • woodcal, you make some very sound observations. Language is used to sway people and it takes a bit of thinking “outside of the box” to get another perspective. 🙂

      • The difference is that for the prophets, warnings of judgment were followed with praise to God and His promises of restoration. For the “they” targeted in this post, there’s only doom and destruction, no God restoring a faithful remnant.

        • Stephen Schiedell’s observations are so right on! Thanks for your rebuttal to Woodcal and all the other “Fear & Gloom & Distruction Only Mongers” as it were! John Pavlovitz’s words take on an even greater meaning today, June 3, 2016 in light of the US political situation and our entire world events! Of course the Prophets had a message of calling people to task but there is so much more to their message than that! If we don’t have the confidence in our God to be the one in charge, not us, thaen what do we have? Faith in the power of the living God to be in charge, to guide and direct us and bring us through it all is so much greater and more powerful than FEAR! Thank you Stephen Scheidell and John Pavlovitz for your thoughts and insights into the power of our God!

      • So you really think this preoccupation with the boogy man and all his evil cohorts in the evangelical church is a good thing? Are you saying that FockSnooze is prophetic? Perhaps I ought to reread your comment. What I got from it the first time is kinds scary.

      • Regarding my previous comment, I should been specific in that I was responding to the comment by “woodcal.” Standing alone it’s kind of idiotic. Please delete both this and that messages.

      • The difference between what you are saying and what the author is saying is very stark. The Prophets were sent by God for a very specific message to Israel. This is not the same as being a fear-monger and doomsdayer as the author is talking about. God does not speak through prophets anymore. Anyone yelling through a bullhorn about blood moons or “repent now because the world is ending” is not a prophet, they are spreading a false message of fear. I think that is the difference between your comment and the authors meaning. I agree with John, So much negativity comes across my news feed and it’s mostly the evangelicals or the right-wing conservative christians I know that are spreading it. The church is in apostasy as the scriptures warned about and we need to wake up.

      • I left the church because everywhere I turned, “accountability” became codependence. This article is spot on, and it seems like the author might have hit a nerve with you, therefore your need to defend your right to behave this way has caused you to cherry-pick the Bible for examples of how this sort of behavior happened before we knew better. When we know better, we do better, so now you, woodcal…go do better.

      • I have to disagree that this criticism is accurate. Correct it’s everything. Despite what many think, the US is not a Christian nation, but a secular one, and prophecy after Christ is different than prophecy before Christ. If the “they” of this article described people calling out great sin within the body of believers, that would be comparable to the prophets of old. But for Christians today, the focus should be upon preaching salvation through Christ alone, because the gospel of Christ is the spirit of prophesy.

        I recognize exactly the type this article criticizes, those who react out of trepidation, who spread fear and suspicions of vast conspiracy in their own blogs, convinced that the sky is falling because Obama is “the antichrist” sent to infiltrate America alongside the Muslim Brotherhood by sneaking curriculum into our schools and secretly converting our children to Islam. The Christian subculture of fear mongering recently claimed that the tetrad of blood moons heralded a date they could actually determine in their interpretation of Daniel and Revelation. Of course, that date was about a month ago. It’s amazing the number of videos on YouTube that have been founded upon complete misinterpretation of scripture out of fear of current events, or are reactionary claims about the trumpets of revelation beginning to sound off. It plays off people’s emotions, nothing more.

        I was once taught an acronym for fear – False Evidence Appearing Real. Every fear which is not the fear of God fits the bill.

      • Article message understood. Unfortunately, the many who don’t want believers to speak up at all will use this to support the world’s usual cry, “Christians, just be silent and leave me to enjoy my sin.” Ephesians 5:11 still exists.

      • If you check those prophetic warnings, you’ll find that they were warning God’s people about their OWN idolatry and waywardness, NOT about threats from the outside. The exception to that is the warnings about invaders who would exact God’s judgement on them for their sins. The prophets of old didn’t care about the “world’s” sin, only those of the chosen. If Christians want to wring their hands about sin in keeping with the Old Testament, they need to address the sins INSIDE the church.

      • YES! Yes, yes, yes! My thoughts exactly. I warn, I speak Truth, and I engage the culture! Yet, even as I do it? I do not worship the idol of fear. (I am a prophet by nature!) This article lacks balance. I could almost hear Satan say, “Yeees, don’t speak Truth. That might wake people up. Don’t warn people of the coming judgement! That might make them fearful. Just read your bible, pray, trust God… in the comfort of your own home. No need to engage…”

        • The problem is that words will never wake people up or change hearts, only actions do. The real prophets today often say very little but do a great amount. The first thing you learn as a parent is that fear does not motivate true and lasting change.

      • Bullseye, woodcal.

        Or Paul as he lists the conduct of the lost in the last days or how even in the church folks will surround themselves with what their itching ears want to hear rather than God’s indicting word. (2 Timothy 3-4).

        John, too, in his first epistle declaring that those who sin lie and the truth is not in them. Seems like sin needs very plainly to be declared sin with the authority of God’s word.

        Peter, too, “do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is HOLY, you also BE HOLY in all your conduct.”

      • I like what your saying here. Pavlovitz messages are seemingly back handedly darts at God.
        Words against the world don’t necessitate fear.
        A stop sign may have fear standing out there….or it may not.

    • Super thought provoking. Why is it I can’t seem to encounter single men like you on a site like christianmingle.com? Maybe because wise women snatched you all up long ago. Oh no, that would be faulty thinking on my part……my God is big enough to somehow, some way bring an emotionally and spiritually honest man like you into my life and path again who is, in fact, single, available and interested in me. I get it. And, I’m working on believing it.

      • I’ve tried that site and put reality on my profile….no real bites. Most of those even on that site were for the shallow type rather than a real man of God taking a stand. Most of those profiles were almost worded the same…..sad.

    • Perfect love casts out fear. What would “contending for the faith” look like today? Do we no longer expect to be “hated by all men for His name’s sake”? Honest questions….

      • Complacency. Silence. This behavior is contrary to the Spirit of God that reside within me. If I do not speak, in love, then surely the rocks will cry out!

    • I have re posted many of your comments, as I will this one. You have an understanding of Christianity that I share but cannot articulate so well. Keep it up. I love your posts!

    • We do not worship fear. We warn of the judgment to come, on those who do not believe the truth. The Lord Jesus is Sovereign over all, even over deceptions and false religious beliefs. So with that in mind, repent with a contrite heart and submit to His Word.

    • Is John Pavlovitz promoting fatalism? Did he want Welbeforth to accept Slave trade, Abraham Lincoln to resign to slavery or Martin Luther remain silence about the apartheid of African Americans and want us today enjoy beheading.

  1. Wow! You’ve really hit a great point. Thanks for the reality check and for the wisdom – “When your God isn’t big enough, you’ll try to do in others what you’ve decided He wants, instead of actually trusting Him to do it Himself”. Amazingly true.

  2. The whole issue of Lutheran Life for this month is devoted to “attacks” on the church. Failing to see that “the world” is a pretty integral part of creation, and that the world is our workplace, results in more shaking Christians clustered together in ever emptier church sanctuaries.

  3. Hi John,
    I am pretty sure you have generated a storm with this one. Good for you. There is only one thing I can say. I have no idea how big our god is. How could I? I just know that there is absolutely nothing I can or need to do to “help” Him. I know he must smile at the puny concerns I might have about my life and my family. I know that He knows what living as a human is like. And I know that what the most powerful people in the world, according to the common view, have no idea what power really is.

    If those who feel the need to tell others how to live would instead demonstrate love to those who are in need, and who isn’t, we would all have a better idea of how tremendously powerful our God is.

  4. I am excited to be spending the coming Saturday in a Texas prison with Christian brothers. They know what hell is, they live there. The idyllic community I live in has no idea what hell is, but the brothers in white praise God every day for putting them into that hell hole, because that is where they met Him. Go see for yourself. Islam is not the enemy. “I have met the enemy, and it is us.”

    • Robert, let us reason together. There are enemies of Christ. To say otherwise would be Biblically incorrect. And confessing to be a Christian, being as close to what the scriptures teach should be the Christian’s desire correct? Romans 5:10 tells us that before we accepted Christ as Savior we were enemies of God. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” That really goes for everybody. That’s why SOOOOO many people want nothing to do with a belief in Christ. He is very demanding and extremely exclusive. Your either in or out, hot or cold, friend or ENEMY. Sorry, that’s just what I read in HIS book. So with that in mind, islam is the enemy of Christ. And if Christ is in you. Then they are your enemy too. Are we called to witness? Of Course! We are to be as Christ, dying to our own flesh and fears and loving others in his name. But until someone becomes part of God’s family. They are your enemy and be prepared to get your ass kicked and or die for your faith. I have met the enemy and he will tear your heart out, rape your wife, and sell your family into slavery. So don’t try to tell other Christians a different Gospel other then the one Christ preached. He warned us that they would deliver us up to be persecuted for his names sake. KJV Matt 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. The enemy is real, and he is active, do not be deceived. Carry on.

      • As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and it is us.” Islam is not the enemy. Out of balance ego is the enemy. The central message of the Christian life is that ‘its not about me.’ When I say ‘everything I know about practicing the Christian life I learned in prison,’ I’m not making that up. The Christian community inside prisons is amazing.

      • Darryl,

        // … So with that in mind, islam is the enemy of Christ. And if Christ is in you. Then they are your enemy too. Are we called to witness? Of Course! We are to be as Christ, dying to our own flesh and fears and loving others in his name. But until someone becomes part of God’s family. They are your enemy and be prepared to get your ass kicked and or die for your faith. I have met the enemy and he will tear your heart out, rape your wife, and sell your family into slavery. … //

        Who is this “they” you speak of? Human followers of Islam? Or the spiritual Powers behind that worldview? If we ‘battle not against flesh and blood’, how does this apply to the followers of Islam, for example? Sure, a huge battle rages – in the heavenly places. As for the people who oppose us, they are the people Jesus died for too. We are called to love them, even at the cost of own lives, if necessary. [I.e. ‘Overcome by the Blood of the Lamb, & word of their Testimony, loving not their own lives, even unto death’ – close paraphrase.]

      • I have met my God and he said “peace, be still.” Back then, that was the way they said to shut up – stop talking. Not “be calm, sit down and reason it out” but to shut up and stop what you were doing. It was actually a rebuke.

      • Your response feels like it is full of anger and is missing something very important…. Love.

        But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.
        Luke 6:27

        “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”
        ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:7-21‬

  5. Where do you think an Amos, Ezekiel, or Jeremiah fit in this spectrum? I think what separates the OT prophets is their focus on justice and righteousness, generally in tension with each other.

    • What separates the OT prophets was their function direct from God to warn a specific people about their inability to keep the law. Everyone in Christ since the cross is called to share the good news of salvation for all men.

      • Our God is unimaginable BiG! But as you can see all through the NT, we Are to call sin as the rebellion against Christ that it is. We are to warn of His coming wrath! We are to be ready to die for His name! He commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature! That isn’t us trying to tell God what to do. And finally I doubt very seriously that God looks on a world in war where Christians are being beheaded. Women and children being raped and killed. Radical islam has turned the world on it’s ear! I pray often not to have fear no matter what comes my way. I am also a bit curious as to where you got your statistics on this problem being primarily white? Are we the only ones preparing for the Day of The Lord or are you assuming all the black churches are all marching in “BLM”? Your article while reminding us not to live in fear seems more than a little condescending. God Bless you all

      • It isn’t Fear of sins of the lost, but we are to witness of God’s great love and mercy which delivers from sin as Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
        10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
        11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

  6. Where do you see an Amos, an Ezekiel, or a Jeremiah fitting in here? Personally, I think what sets them apart is their emphasis on justice in tension with righteousness, particularly Amos.

  7. Excellently said and spot on! I am constantly bombarded with “God is actively at work in the world” immediately followed by “This world is going to hell in a hand basket.” Which is it? I wonder how different our world would be if we genuinely trusted God and dared to love our neighbor as ourself?

  8. John, this is so right on. I found your post from someone who linked to it on Twitter. Another symptom of fear idolatry is the idea that God somehow NEEDS us, needs us to do x, y, or z for him or somehow he will be up the creek. Being a “co-creator” with Christ is a similar idea. We’re not good enough even to wash his feet, let alone be a co-anything with him.

    Thanks for your post.

    • Mar_16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
      Mat_22:9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

      Sounds like He has a need for us to work with Him..

      • God doesn’t need us. He loves us. He invites us to be part of the work. He could easily do whatever he wants without us, but how would we know Him or love Him if there was nothing we could do to demonstrate it?

  9. John, this is so right on. I found your post from someone who linked to it on Twitter. Another symptom of fear idolatry is the idea that God somehow NEEDS us, needs us to do x, y, or z for him or somehow he will be up the creek. Being a “co-creator” with Christ is a similar idea. We’re not good enough even to wash his feet, let alone be a co-anything with him.

    Thanks for your post.

    Jonathan

    (I tried to post this just now, but I don’t think it went through. If it did, sorry for the duplication.)

  10. John. You just do not understand. You forget two very important things:

    1) The social gospel you are trying to reinstitute now was a dangerous heresy that we got rid of in the 1970s. It was dangerous because nearly all the monies of the church were going into buildings hospitals for poor people, loving people as ourselves, helping people out as we would like to be helped out, and other such non-Biblical nonsense. It was all being done for this short space of time we live on this Earth when all of mankind was in danger of burning in Hell forever. We realized that all of the churches’ money should instead be going into evangelism so we could save people for the long haul. Basically, we cuddled up to Jesus and said, “Screw their pain and suffering in this life and all that love stuff. We do not owe those people anything except a coaxed altar walk and a dunk. As for that guy with the black arm that looks like it is about to fall off, well that is probably God’s punishment for some specific sin. Who are we to interfere with God’s system of justice here on Earth?”

    2) God is clean. You have no idea how clean God is. God is cleaner than any clean Mr. Clean could ever dreamed up—and Mrs. Clean too. Man is not clean—man farts—and the absence of any clean that is less clean than God makes God very angry. This means God is angry at man. In fact, the Old Testament says that, “God is angry at man all day long.” That’s right—all day long. I mean he just sits there and seethes and boils 24/7 at mankind. Now, that is what you have to understand. In this whole vast universe and all 31 other parallel universes, God does not have anything better to do with his time than be angry at mankind all day long because mankind needs a shower and a shave.

    Now, here’s the other part you do not understand. When Jesus left the house of Israel desolate and scattered the Jews to the four winds in the diaspora, that left God without a favored nation and a favored people on the Earth. God was lonely. Then He had an idea. He created the United States of America to replace the void left by Israel’s passing. That means the United States of America is the “New Israel,” and all Americans are now God’s chosen people on Earth. Surely you see this John. It’s all spelled out in the Bible—just ask Hal Lindsey. God has appointed our nation as his new Holy One and Anointed One to be his one and only true representative on the Earth—a light to all the other nations—with a command to show them how they most be and how they must live from now on— or force them into doing our bidding in God’s name.

    Our nation has been enormously blessed John. Oh, I wish you could just taste and see all of the enormous blessings (except for the niggers, gays, and Mexicans) that we have received as a nation. This is why MORALITY and FEAR must be our greatest causes in American society above all else. A lack of cleanness is caused by immorality, and God hates that which is unclean 24/7. Just as God did in ancient Israel, he chastised his chosen people by bringing their nation crashing down around their ears and causing them to be led off into slavery. As God’s new chosen nation, the United States of America stands to meet the same fate because of our own uncleanness and lack of fear—and we have much that is unclean and many people to make us afraid: (!) poor people that will not work, (2) bums that panhandle money from respectable people on our streets, (3) sick people that strip dollars from our wallets when they should just go ahead and die like God intends, (4) people who think love is more important than money, (4) hungry people who are not grateful for the low wages we pay them, (5) all those horrible people that believe large corporations should not own everyone and every thing, and (6) a whole long list of other sins against God. Why it’s just a total scandal!!! There is a good chance that God is going to look down from Heaven on all of this immorality one day and take away all the blessings that our wonderful nation has received from him. Why He might even cancel his membership in the Republican Party. That is the great danger you do not see John. Without a total societal emphasis on morality and a constant focus on abject fear to the exclusion of almost everything else, our nation stands to lose almost everything we treasure to the crushing hands of an always angry and unreasonable God. We may wake up one morning, and the Godless Chinese will be in here and all over us like locusts—and all our freedoms will be gone—and you know as well as I do that “true” Christians hate Kung Pao Chicken so badly. How will we ever survive? Our very survival as a nation, keeping our material wealth, and maintaining our high standard of living as a people depend on two things—morality and fear—the tools we use to ward off a perpetually angry God.

    O taste and see John. O taste and see that the scales might fall from your eyes. O taste and see your need to roll a homeless person tonight—and when you kick him in the testes that one last time—say, “And that one’s for God!!!”

    • Yikes! You have a real teacher-of-law attitude. I’m very sure that if you get tired of the way the U.S. is going to hell-in-a-hand-basket and decided to convert to Islam you’d probably feel more at home commanding holy warriors to rid the world of infidels.

      For I can guarantee you that your brand of religion is going to be seen more and more as radical and detrimental to the way the U.S. is progressing.

      • Poor brother Dover1952… Methinks the synoptic sarcasm thou hast employed, hath fallen on ears which have not the ability to hear. Oh my! It must be those niggers and their loud music that have caused this problem. Perhaps you are right. Let’s convert to Islam. Much easier to get rid of human waste through that religious channel.

      • Apparently, best I can tell. many people who come here have never taken a college course in English literature. My main blog comment above is synoptic sarcasm. I do not personally believe anything that I said in that post. However, virtually everything in my long comment includes actual Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical claims and beliefs by their leaders and adherents that I have actually heard and/or read over the past 20+ years of studying these two closely related religious traditions, which appear to have turned into political movements over the years. I have heard the “United States” is the “new Israel” nonsense in several places, including a Sunday school class in a highly conservative Southern Baptist megachurch I was a member of in the middle 1980s. You folks really need to hunker down deep and tight in a really good library (including church libraries) like I have and take notice of all the nonsense these two religious traditions are foisting on the American people and all of the harm they are causing through their misguided political efforts. John Pavlovitz is right about the fear. Whipping up unfounded fear and resentment among the ignorant masses who are members of these religious traditions and converting them into political hay has become the main item on their national action menu. If you really want to look into this issue, and I think you should, go look up these three terms: Christian reconstructionism, Dominion Theology, and Theonomy.

      • You know, you had me for about the first 3 or 4 sentences but by the time we were cuddling up to Jesus, I had you figured out and just enjoyed the ride. How anyone could read your entire comment and still take it seriously by the end simply blows my mind.

        I have a theory that people who miss satire/sarcasm often do so because they think other people really are terribly horrible so the sarcasm just gets taken as evidence of their belief rather than what it is.

        A bit long :), but still an enjoyable read. Thanks.

      • Dover buddy, you can edit the post a bit if you want. Sometimes it helps to have an editor look over your stuff sometimes just to make sure the message comes through clearly in spirit and in truth. Just sayin’……..ni@@er. Hahahaha! sarcasm buddy.

    • @Dover1952, I’m not a Christian, but ideas like yours are what’s the problem… If you read scripture even, the original text, there is no mention of America and kicking a homeless person. It is you that has missed the message. It is specifically written in the your Bible that God inherently does not lead by Fear. “Our very survival as a nation, keeping our material wealth, and maintaining our high standard of living…” There is no United States of America in heaven, there will not be an American flag flying there, your material things won’t be in heaven, and will not be a standard of living. Sadly your missing the BIG picture. I think this article is has very good arguments. It is NOT spelled out in the Bible as you have put it and the position you have set forth. If Hal Lindsey is your authority, you are definitely misrepresenting his beliefs.

    • I got the sarcasm. I love your reply. So many American Christians do think the United States is the new chosen people. And that God has an opinion about who wins the football game and personally allowed the player to score that touchdown.

    • @dover1952: I really loved your excellently crafted, thoughtful sarcasm, and hope that you are employing your skill regularly to make great points. I find it humurous and sad that a few could read your reply and miss that it was sarcasm.

      • No Kot61. I am The Onion. “Oh, He’s an onion and he’s okay. He sleeps by night and causes tears all day. Yes, He’s an onion and he’s okay.”

        Apologies to Montgomery Python

    • Wow, you must really be angry at God and those who follow Him because your bitterness is practically dripping from the page. No one I’ve ever met has ever coerced another into serving God. It’s impossible since it has to be done of one’s own free will and from the last news program I saw, it isn’t Christians that are lopping off heads of unbelievers. Which is why Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature!

  11. I very much appreciate this post dear John. You have put your finger on the great elephant in the room, Discipleship.

    The LORD said that we are to go and make DISCIPLES of all nations, but personally I have found that extremely difficult to attain in the English church. That true discipleship does indeed happen in some English churches, I know is true, but I would say that it is a minority experience, not a general one.

    You are absolutely right when you put your finger on fear as the central issue. Fear is lack of confident rest in the all sufficiency of our LORD, is it not. In my own life as a Christian I have had titanic battles with fear, but it is way better these days.

    What has made the difference? Good relationships, and a loving family, without a doubt, but the LORD will never allow people, and that includes a marriage partner, to take his place as No 1 in our hearts. Therefore the priority must be that in our fellowship life, we are strongly encouraged to hear God for ourselves, and thereby gain the ability to be able to call out the same quality in our brothers and sisters. Having heard, we then need of course to follow through obedience.

    The glory of the New Covenant is that each one of us has the gift of the LORD living within us. In addition, we live with Him and are seated with him in the heavenly realm. This is no small matter, and I’m not sure how many of us grasp these truths. So many thanks indeed for your timely post. C (in the UK)

  12. Pingback: Modern False Idols | Laced up Lutheran

  13. Thank you for this article. I believe as you have shared, that God is in control. He has a plan and His plan is coming forth. I believe in the Sovereignty of God .

    Thanks again and Blessings to you !!!

    Ron

    On Thu, Jan 15, 2015 at 7:01 PM, john pavlovitz wrote:

    > johndpav posted: ” Idolatry is a horrible, dangerous thing. Sadly, far > too many Christians are so very guilty of it. You can see it in the way > they complain on social media, in the way they comment on the news of the > day; in the defeatist, alarmist language that th” Respond to this post > by replying above this line > New post on *john pavlovitz* > The Greatest False Idol Of > Modern Christianity > by > johndpav > > > *[image: FearCropped] > > Idolatry is a > horrible, dangerous thing. * > > *Sadly, far too many Christians are so very guilty of it.* > > You can see it in the way they complain on social media, in the way they > comment on the news of the day; in the defeatist, alarmist language that > they use as to describe the world. > > You see it in the way they furrow their brows, and throw-up their hands, > and slam their pulpits. > > It shows-up in the lazy stereotypes and the religious rhetoric that flows > so easily in church lobby coffee chats and extremist blog rants. > > *It’s as if everything has now become an imminent threat: Muslims, > Atheists, Gays, The President, inner city criminals, Hollywood, illegal > immigrants, The Government, school hallways.* > > *The world outside the church building is broadly painted > as a vile, immoral war zone, with “God’s people” hopelessly **outnumbered > and outgunned.* > > Parroting the politicized talk show hosts and reposting the latest > terrible news stories, they perpetuate the now comfortable, largely White > Evangelical Christian narrative of impending destruction, and they make it > clear at every opportunity: *The whole damn sky is falling.* > > Though they loudly, repeatedly, and confidently proclaim Christ as Lord, > in reality they no longer practice faith in a God that has any real power, > any true control, and inherent *God-ness*. They seem to have little more > than a neutered figurehead Deity, who doesn’t seem to be able to handle > much at all anymore. > > He’s lost his Old Testament swagger. > > *Dig just beneath the sunny “I can do all things through Christ who > strengthens me” Bible covers, and the shouted “God’s judgment is coming” > bullhorn warnings, and you can see that the Emperor is buck naked.* > > For far too many Christians, all that flowery, blustery spiritual talk is > a loud paper tiger dressed-up as religion. > > *The truth is, Fear has become their false God, one they worship with > complete and undying devotion.* > > *The symptoms of Fear Idolatry are pretty easy to spot. * > > When you’re not sure that God is there or that He’ll really come through, > you start to spend most of your time defending Him in absentia. You become > a self-appointed *Crusader of Truth*, whose mission is to do the holy > work of policing the world, (just in case God can’t or won’t). > > *You spend a lot of time calling out evil, forecasting disaster, and > predicting damnation.* > > When Fear is your God, you start majoring is *Exterior* *Sin Management*. > You slowly yet ultimately turn your all of attention to the things in *other > people* that you’re certain really tick God off, and you make it your > sacred business to modify their behavior in the name of Jesus. > > *When your God isn’t big enough, you’ll try to do in others what you’ve > decided He wants, instead of actually trusting Him to do it Himself.* > > *I really feel for Christians whose Jesus seems so integral to personal > salvation in the afterlife, and so useless for the life we live now.* > > He may be able to save souls, but He’s apparently freaked-out by a Muslim > prayer breakfast or gay marriage vote or school prayer policy. > > Is that *really* God? Is that *Divinity*? > > Is th

  14. Pingback: “O Maior Falso Ídolo do Cristianismo Moderno” | Consciência 828

  15. God is ultimate consciousness, there is only god, we are all of one substance, all one consciousness. There is strong philosophical argument in addition to the advances in quantum mechanics to support the notion of a non dualistic impersonal God. There is no need to seek for God our true self is God. Our true nature is love.

    Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2015 01:01:40 +0000 To: john.bray@live.co.uk

  16. Good article … however I don’t think fear is the only idol or even the main idol. The main idol is IMHO that many have traded in their ambassador for Christ missional incarnational ideal for a cultural warrior ideal. Rather we are called (if it is at all possible for us) to live in peace with one another. The bible never called us to be culture warriors. And scripture also says that we don’t battle against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces in the heavenly places. Once we exchange God’s agenda for our own agenda all bets are off. We start battling like the world. We start doing politics like the world. Lies slander and innuendo are all on the plate when we do politics like the world And … yes … I agree with you that fatalism and fear is on the plate as well. Sometimes I think its more fear tactics to try to get other believers into fear so they donate to this or that political cause. The call to be “in the world but not of it” and/or to “not be lovers of the world” (actually lovers of the ways of the world) gets lost as we serve the idol of our culture war agendas. When this happens our salt loses its taste and our light becomes darkness. Since Jesus says that salt that loses its taste is not good for anything but to be thrown out it is rather clear this is not going to end well for us if we continue down this path. The world is hungry for something different. But they need to see that difference in us if they are to recognize Christ in us. God bless, Dave

    • dwearp – How do you share the Gospel? Do you avoid the word “sin”? Do you avoid defining what “sin” is? Is Jesus The Savior? What is he saving us from? You say the world needs to “recognize Christ in us”, but what does that mean? Does that mean we tell everyone that God loves them and He loves their sin as well? “God just wants us to be happy just like we are”; is that your message?

      Most of what you call “culture wars” deal with definitions. The world says that homosexuality is not a “sin”. The Bible says it is. The world says that All religions worship the same god and everyone is going to heaven when they die. The Bible says that there is only One God and only One Way to Eternal Life and that is trusting by Faith that the Blood of Jesus Christ shed on a cross 2000 years ago in Jerusalem satisfies God’s Holy Wrath against sin. Repent and Believe.

      I recommend to you Ray Comfort’s book or video “Hell’s Best Kept Secret”.

      • I’m a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene . I’ve led people to Christ in my kitchen. What I am talking about is the need to live a holy life. That’s what Christ calls us to. If we don’t live a holy life before people then they don’t see Christ and Christianity looks like any other religion … full of rules but no life. Jesus calls us to be in the world but not of the world. But when I look at Christians in politics … or political Christian websites I don’t see any difference … the lies .. innuendos … smear tactics of the world are also used by Christians. I don’t see faith … I see the fatalism and a spin on issues designed to get Christians scared through false information to give money to that particular organization. Personally I believe Christianity and the great commission of Christ has been hijacked by this. Furthermore … if you go back in time 60 or 70 years ago you will find many churches and denominations stayed out of politics. They knew that salvation … and the changing of hearts and minds was a spiritual issue not a political issue. Somehow … we seemed to have lost that knowledge. We don’t love the world like God so loved the world … instead we have a bunker mentality where-in we are at war with the world. IMO … We need to get back to the great commission of Christ which he called us to and get of the political culture war business which Christ never called us to.

      • dwearp, I’m not certain where you take your views from that Christians are not a part of the political system. We have an obligation to pray for our leaders, those in authority and to vote according to the Word of God. I know that Paul the Apostle was filled with Holy Spirit and inspired to write a large portion of the NT, however even when taken to be flogged he pulled out his political affiliation.

        Acts 22:25

        23And as they cried out, and cast off [their] clothes, and threw dust into the air, 24The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him. 25And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? 26When the centurion heard [that], he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. 27Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.

  17. Christians don’t have to live in fear to live in ” Readiness. ” As Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles, Prophets, or whatever our titles may be, we are to be the” Watchmen ” for those that look for his appearing. A true sign of His coming is the sign of ” Deception ” which is being preached all across this country. Mega churches don’t become mega by preaching the truth. In fact, the word says that in the last days, people won’t want to hear the truth, but rather, they will want their ears tickled. In other words they will want to hear lies or those things that will make them feel good and justify the sinful lifestyles they choose to live.

  18. People modify their own behavior through us showing them unconditional love. That said, we have to set boundaries with those who have not been shown that love and behave in ways that cause them to have to be apart from society. People don’t respond to, as you said …”make it your sacred business to modify their behavior in the name of Jesus.”
    They also don’t respond to intolerance, prejudices, or belief that we are inherently better then they…..and of course that’s the fear of which you speak – fear that God is not doing His job (i.e. making others believe and behave as WE think they should be), therefore we have to do it for Him.

  19. I really don’t know what John is talking about (or those of you commenting) when you speak of Christians being in fear of Muslims, Atheists, Gays, The President, inner city criminals, Hollywood, illegal immigrants, The Government, school hallways. They are probably out there. I just haven’t met them.

    Do Christians in the USA “talk about” Muslims, Atheists, Gays, The President, inner city criminals, Hollywood, illegal immigrants, The Government, school hallways. Yes. Sure. Some do. If they are engaged in activities such as voting, business, education, etc… Talking about issues / problems, and how to solve them does not mean that Christians are cowering in fear (John likes to jump to conclusions). Far from it. Being engaged in the ongoing discussion of current issues and how those issues affect the Church does not mean Christians “fear” those issues, any more than Athanasius “feared” the Arian heresy, or Luther feared debating Eck about catholic doctrine at Leipzig. Augustine did not fear the fall of Rome, even though he knew he would probably die as a martyr if and when it did. He was correct.

    What John and others are really attempting to do is to try to “shame” Bible believing Christians into silence by insinuating that they are homophobic, racist, sexist, fear mongers. Commenting on all of these varied topics that impact society and the Church is called “APOLOGETICS”. Just because more conservative Bible believing Christians disagree with liberals on topics does not mean we are fearful of them. Nor does it mean we have a “small” God. Nor do we even believe that God “needs” us to defend Him. We don’t. God is Sovereign in All things.

    The whole issue is a false argument. How do I know. Well, John did not provide a single example of such fear. Zero footnotes. Just his “opinion” of “those” so-called right wing evangelical “white” christians that he rubs shoulders with on occasion at Starbucks.

    • Not so Lance. The whole Christian fundamentalist movement was founded on the FEAR that German higher criticism of scripture was about to destroy what they considered to be the traditional and true Christian faith. Basically, it was a reaction rather than a response to a perceived threat to their faith—meaning they were afraid of what might happen if someone did not sound the siren and mobilize to save the faith and save the Bible—the KJV Bible that is. There is your baseline example—and every damned thing that has happened since that time has been a fear reaction within your camp. For example, about five years ago, our local newspaper ran a story with color photographs of a Christian fundamentalist family that had become so fearful and disgusted with modern America culture that they had decided to go into isolation like hermits to deal with it. Christian fundamentalists fear biological evolution because they think it threatens their understanding of the Bible. People are always afraid of the things they perceive as being a threat to themselves, what they believe, and their well being in this life and the next.

      Why all the fear? People are not afraid of things that they think will never lead anywhere. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are afraid because deep down inside (in those personal places within the self they avoid visiting) they know that their belief system exists on shaky ground, they know that science is against them, They know that social science is against them, they know that most of the rest of Christianity is against them, they know that they are unable to have friends outside of their faith because even Goldilocks could talk them out of some of the nonsense they believe, and the Holy Spirit gives them almost no victories in their culture wars, which raises the red flag question: “Is God really exclusively on our side?”

    • But you are homophobic, racist, sexist, fear mongers. I wonder why nearly everyone on the planet sees that except—you people. You also fear science (evolution, fossil man, historical geology, astronomy, environmental science, man-induced global-warming, sex education, clinical psychology, and social studies—particular American history. You also fear Democrats, liberals, progressives, Muslims, political moderates, Mexican immigrants, poor people, hungry people, homeless people, sick people, Arab terrorists, mainline Christians, Roman Catholics I could spend a whole day writing this list. This is all based on my 26 years of closely studying you, following your religious and political leaders, listening to what they say, and watching what they do. The question I would sincerely have to as is : “Is there anything on this Earth that you do not hate?” DO NOT say “Jesus” because there is no way you can hate all of these other things and still love Jesus—NO FRIGGING WAY.

      • Well, dover1952, I am sure you can find examples of people who fit your characterization, but if you think this is even vaguely close to those who are actually out there, you need to get out more.

      • Lance’s post had nothing to do with Biblical literacy. It has everything to do with the fear and being afraid that is so easily observed in the fundie camp on a variety of issues. The whole early 20th century “fundie creation” was based in fear. Maybe you should try to become literate about church history—fundie history in particular.

  20. You make such good points about fear. I constantly have to remind myself that God is greater than my fears. I’m just wondering, where the balance is though because I know God used people all through the Bible to change the world. The Bible says do not fear, but I don’t think that means we should quietly sit on our hands either. Begs the question, how you think Christians should respond to the injustice in this world.

  21. Agreed, idolatry is the number one sin against God in any form actually. Because it completely rejects Him and the gospel. The bible from beginning to end is chock full of idolatry examples that is detested by God for which He exhibits His wrath! In the New Testament, apostle Paul while traveling through Ephesus challenges the Artimis idolaters that making statues of her and worshipping the physical object that maintained the commerce of the sale of them, these false idols were made with hands and is not a God at all. Acts 19:23-29 bears out all this confusion and distain for brother Paul and his companions.

    But idolatry comes in many forms of which the worst is from the heart. Fear as John highlights here is one of them that is contrary to God and we must rid ourselves from it and focus on Jesus. One could say their idol is Jesus Christ and that’s not a bad thing, in fact idilizing Him should be the only thing in the life of a true Christian from which our walk with Hum flows righteousness in all areas of our feeble lives.

    Here is a good podcast lesson you might want to listen to that helps us learn to turn away from all false idols and focus on the Lord.

    http://www.justchristians.com/player/1576

    Blessings,
    scriptures weekly.blogspot.com

  22. I really don’t know which branch of Christianity he is talking about, because of all the churches I work with, well, we’re just so God damned busy working in the food banks, collecting and distributing clothes, donating hygiene materials, then filling boxes for hygiene kits, making meals for the homeless, visiting shelters, shut-ins, keeping the churches open at night to sleep rooms full of homeless, oh yes, that need to be fed breakfast in the morning, and transporting people to doctors, babysitting for single women who need a break…this goes on all over the world in all Christian churches, and I’ve never seen anyone turned down OR PREACHED TO, just pure love of Christ, so just tell me which branch of Christianity is he talking about, ’cause I wanna kick their a$$ for given us a bad rap!

  23. Sorry…
    But isn’t he just selling the fear of fear?
    As Christians are we not to change the world and not have the world change us?
    We are to shout from the mountain top Christ Is King but NOT what evils (fears) lurk out there to keep us from Him?!

  24. I have a question about FEAR. What do the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals who visit this blog fear so much about “open cultural acceptance” of LGBT people.

    The reason I ask this question is because LGBT people had “closed cultural acceptance” for many decades prior to recent times. It was a time when LGBT people did their LGBT things quietly and discreetly—and few people Christian or otherwise took note of it or really even cared. I attended various churches in those times and not a single pastor or church member ever mentioned the LGBT subject. Other than an occasional “queer joke” at a party, the subject was mum, and all of fundie and conservative evangelical America was happy. There was no more or less LGBT sin than there is now in terms of sexual acts. Those acts were just done in the shadows, and no one inside or outside of the church particularly cared.

    Then the term “out of the closet” arrived on the cultural scene, meaning that LGBT people decided to start talking openly about being LGBT and what it was like to be LGBT. Suddenly, the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical communities were seized with fear—not fear that LGBT existed—but fear that knowledge of its existence had become open and public. From the screams of fear that issued forth, one would think that someone had tied fishing filament around the testicles of a Tom Cat and hung him upside down on a clothes line.

    The fundies and LGBT people were obviously afraid of something—but the precise nature of that fear was never made clear to the American people—or to me at least. Would some of you fundie people please provide a bullet list of key fear points stating precisely and succinctly what it is you fear about having the knowledge of LGBT behavior out in the open? After all, God knew about all of the widespread LGBT sin that occurred for many decades (or even centuries) in private closets. So, why all the cat wails and gnashing of teeth when long-hidden sin became common knowledge? It seems to me that the problem is not so much the sin itself as it is the open availability of knowledge about the sin. If God saw all the LGBT sin that occurred in private and did not turn San Francisco into a pit of fire and brimstone, why would open knowledge and discussion of LGBT behavior be the final straw for the Almighty. Give me your personal lists of fears.

    No—I’m not LGBT. I am a Christian—although probably not so in your eyes. You do not have to quote Bible verses. Being a tool of Satan (as you no doubt think), a well-known master Bible scholar, you should already be aware that I know the Bible as well or better than you do. Just give me a list of fears in your own words. Mr. Seeber. It would probably be best for you to stay out of this for right now. I am interested in hearing from all the fundie pastors and church members who come here to save John Pavlovitz, his hearers, and his supporters from apostasy.

    Thank you in advance for your comments.

    • My friend, I believe the main problem is the militant and aggressive imposition of the LGBT upon the wider population, forcing the wider population to do things that they emphatically do not believe in. In other words, the needs and desires of the LGBT community are becoming dominant. Folk resent this deeply.

      Personally, I believe that the current movement on this issue in Western society has one central objective, which is the destruction of marriage as traditionally understood and taught throughout the Bible.i.e. the joining together of one man and one woman for life.

      When the institution of marriage is destroyed then one of the key pillars upon which society is built is removed. This will lead to chaos. I come from a HS background, so I understand these issues very well. I have been married for 30 years now, and I have raised a family.

      The change from HS to heterosexual was long and difficult for me, so I know and understand when people say “I have always been HS. I have always felt this way.” I agree with these folk, and any persecution of them is wrong, in my opinion. However they should not dictate how the wider society lives.

      Thank you, Chris

      • LGBT people have been marginalized, abused, and shunned for decades, Chris. They have been victimized by a Christian culture than for years and years has “imposed its will” upon gay people. To say the opposite, means you haven’t been paying attention to history. It’s like a white person in the early 60’s claiming about black people causing problems. When people who don’t have equal rights stand up for those rights, the oppressors will always act as if they’re being attacked.

        Heterosexual marriage has a nearly 50 percent divorce rate. Please let go of the “gays are destroying marriage” thing. It’s inaccurate and demanding. We heterosexuals have destroyed marriage.

        LGBT people want and deserve equality. If your religion prevents that, it’s time to ask why that is.

      • Bad marriages, adultery, and divorce have been destroying marriages for far longer than LGBT. Why not crusade for it to be “against the law” to commit adultery? Why not teach marriage classes, and teach men how to love their wives, teach parents how to be parents, teach us how to be kind to each other, and all of those things? LGBT doesn’t have an agenda to “destroy marriage”. What would that gain them? It’s almost silly, actually, to think that. Are they pawns of Satan himself or something?

      • IOW, it is the growth of coercion. Leftest LUST after coercion and is the driving force in many of the conflicts that are now thrust upon us today.

        Coercion should have no standing.

  25. It’s interesting that holding a different viewpoint brands one as being governed by “fear”. It’s also interesting that those that those same people are accused of having captured by an “unworthy” God. To suppose that “brothers in Christ” who are freaked out by a “Muslim pray breakfast or gay marriage vote” are governed by “fear” is simply and utterly preposterous. Never mind that nine of the top ten nations where Christians are persecuted in great numbers are Islamic. Never mind that in the Islamic faith homosexuality is not only a sin, but a punishable crime against God. Never mind that in those countries Christians are being beheaded, crucified and stoned to death in great numbers. Yet, it seems that those vile offenses are a much less severe in nature than it is to hold differing Christian viewpoints. The closing statement of this article, and the article in general, reeks with arrogance and snobbery. I know my God quite well and have never thought of Him as being bigger than that of someone else. My God knows full well that I am imperfect and appreciates that I am aware of that fact.

  26. Ideas have consequences, the left behind stuff has taught us that it’s all going to hell, and our only hope is to be swept up before the shtf. A doctrine that was unknown until recently (early 1900’s). Each new crisis is proof once again that the end is near and a new group of books will be coming.

    As far as fear being a false god, I think he’s overstating it, fear is a lack of trust but I don’t see it as something we worship. The bigger problem is the Biblical illiteracy, how can we trust whom we do not know? Our theology is delivered to us one verse at a time with no context.

    • Are you alluding to cultural context back in the day? I year for that. Imagine how personal application of the Word would change in response to cultural understanding!

    • I am Catholic. I find the above post a very revealing one. I have gone to several Bible study classes and most of the leaders were educated enough to add historical and/or cultural reasons to the passages we were studying. It made such a difference when you knew the reasons behind what you were reading. For some, it was an eye-opener.
      Yes, we cannot have a theology “one verse at a time”.
      Like Leviticus: this was written for the Levis, the priests. they were held to a higher standard, as one example.
      This blog has been very interesting for me.

  27. If you do not FEAR, how do you explain all of this desperation. REAR leads to desperation. This is an excerpt from an article by Matt Baume in Huffpost:

    “Last fall, Scott and Daniel Wall-DeSousa got new driver’s licenses after they married in New York and hyphenated their name. But the state of Florida said that it wouldn’t recognize their new names — even though it was a legal name change — and canceled the licenses, which effectively meant that they couldn’t drive. But now that couples can marry in Florida, the Wall-DeSousas finally have their new licenses. So, there you go, Florida, you wasted everyone’s time and accomplished nothing, congratulations.

    Last week I reported on a proposed bill in Texas that would force state officials to disobey federal courts that uphold marriage equality. Now Texas has two more proposed anti-gay laws. One would give businesses permission to deny service to LGBTs. The other would prevent towns from passing nondiscrimination laws, and overturn any laws that already exist. Anti-gay activists know that they’re about to lose on marriage, and so this is going to be their response: passing laws that let them take away our jobs, or our homes, our access to education and basic services. A proposed bill in Virginia would even let hospitals turn away gay patients. We’re going to see a lot more of these in the next year, as a form of dangerous, petty backlash against marriage equality.”

    Scared fundamentalist and conservative evangelical Christians hard at work “loving their neighbors as themselves” by “doing to their neighbors things they would never have done to them.” You should all be ashamed of yourselves for behaving like this and for supporting this kind of discrimination. This is not Jesus Christ. This is behavior worthy of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and the Mullah’s of Iran. Yes, I am openly accusing the brethren because the BRETHREN DESERVE IT.

  28. But, unless you are a monastic, you also have a responsibility to be salt and light in the world. To say nothing of your responsibility as an American citizen. If you’re not at least a little angry, you’re not paying attention.

      • If u have a solid foothold in Christ u can experience his righteous anger and grief thru his Spirit. I know I have. I have had the church on my mind for a long time bc of the direction it’s headed in spiritually. I feel so sad.

      • We are to fear the lord, ( proverbs 1;7) ,who is greater than your “big”. He made all things, from a frog, to the galaxy. (Gen 1;1) He also made hell, Biblical warnings are part of the gospel, (mat 4;17), with love. Hysteria over a blood moon, etc. is lucretive, and you’ll know them by their fruits. (Mat 7;15-20) Why be angry if we see revalation coming true, and his kingdom coming closer? THAT’S GOD’S WILL, not our cozy American lives. The greatest idol is SELF, instead of God, not fear. Like satan himself. Biggest issue in the modern church?, sufficiency of scripture, and narcissism.

  29. Respect is a two way street. You put everyone who believes in God in one group. Your title bad-mouths Christianity like the majority of them spend all day running around fear mongering. Instead of creating respect for the belief of others you trod right over it. Then you want people to respect your beliefs?

    • Only the fear-mongers would get offended at pointing out the fear-mongering in Christianity. Those not engaging in it will realize it doesn’t apply to them and simply move on. It’s an observation. No perspective encapsulates every believer, but it certainly speaks to a truth in our modern Christian culture.

      • I just thot of something. The church has been moving more and more into the world and away from God. What emotion dominates the world? Fear. Makes sense to me.

      • Bingo. I really respect how you can reply so poignantly to comments, John. Thank you for the public dialogue you provide and keep writing.

  30. Pingback: The Greatest False Idol Of Modern Christianity | lampinthedarkness

  31. On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right?

    There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”
    ― Martin Luther King Jr.

    • I would add to that one of my own sayings:

      “The Bible is not a comic book. Quit reading the Bible and understanding it as if it were a comic book.”

      The Bible is not simple and cannot be properly understood by just sitting under your fig tree and surficially reading it like a letter from your mom. God gave the original scriptures to designated high priests so they could accurately mediate the true meaning to common men—who were often illiterate The scriptures are complex historically, linguistically, and culturally—and only highly educated people can properly understand them in their full scope and meaning—and I do not mean fundie Cousin George who graduated from Hicksville Bible College.

      The Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical religious traditions are led by men of doubtful qualifications who oversee an ocean of not just common men—but exceedingly common men with the emphasis on the word “common.” They have all done Christianity a true disservice.

  32. In the movie Elmer Gantry,Elmer made a statement that describes how way too many Christians feel.”I know there’s a God because I’ve seen the devil”. What an absolutely pitiful way to express faith.

  33. I so wish you had penned these words a few millennia ago. Here I spent the better part of my life giving people all the wrong answers. I thought I was calling out their idolatry, and alas – you have called me out on mine! I wish I could retract some of those 52 chapters I have in the Bible, or at least edit-in some of your postmodern grace.

      • Now that is the comment of a sarcastic novice. So Jesus negated Jeremiah? You must have a very short Bible. When exactly did God change?

        John stated that Jesus IS the Word. Was He the Word when the prophets spoke, when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, when Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead and was He the Word from Genesis through Revelation? Is Jesus present from the beginning until infinity? Is Jesus the ‘new’ God, or the same God we see described in the pages of the OT?

        Yes, God instituted a new covenant, a new access to the holy of holies, but did He change His standards, His likes and dislikes, His purity and holiness, or anything about Himself?

        • The OT had the closed “people of God”; those who lived by the Law. The NT created the new expansive “people of God” defined by faith.

          Grace entered the picture in the form of Jesus; a Grace not just for the Israelites, but all people.

          Yeah, some things changed, apparently.

  34. I know Jesus died for our sins. I have been saved. I also know God set his plan in motion for me before my first heart beat was jump started by his grace. I am diabetic does this mean I should’nt go to the doctor and treat my illness? Or the fact that I see crime, terrorism, and evil in the world and I shouldn’t protect myself, my family or my neighbor if need be? Or warn others of an impending crime or wrong doing, because God has it covered? We all free will and choice God gave it to us all, if we all just through our hands in the air and said “God has it under control, why bother?” We would be in a heck of a mess! Why have police, military, government, doctor’s if we shouldn’t have fear? I am a sinner, I know I always will be, not one of us is without sin or will be without. God gave us a path with twists, turns and obstacles, I feel fear in not something we worship but something we act on negatively or positively. I guess I am not getting this message. If we dont look out for each other against the evils in this world like criminals, political injustice, terrorism and curruptness are we not then turning our backs on our neighbors? If there is family in need should we not help or just say to them “God has your back?” We are here to help each other in everyway we can, to love our neighbors, doesnt the great commision tell us to spread the gosphel, we do this to create a fellowship amongst men, if God wanted it to be easy, we would know no suffering, we wouldn’t be tested and there would be no fear. Heaven is the place that we will know no fear!Glory to God! Just my opinion.

    • Let me get this straight. God had a detailed, comprehensive plan for your life that he laid out from the moment of your first heartbeat—and part of that plan was to give you diabetes on a certain day. This same God ordained that a thief would show up at your house on a certain day, but he also ordained that you would buy a .357 magnum to blow him away when he gets to your house. That’s a really interesting God you have there Bud. If your son has a car wreck and dies, I guess that was preplanned too? Wow!! With a God who actually plans and dispenses evil and wrongs, who needs a Satan?

      • With all sarcasm aside, what does God control? What is the position of Scripture on this topic? For the book of Revelation to play out exactly as written, how many variables must God control? When Jesus came to earth and fulfilled all prophecy concerning the Messiah, how much control did God have in that process?

        Job 38
        Isaiah 40:15
        Psalm 2

        Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

        Isaiah 45:6-7 That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

        Isaiah 55:8-11 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

        Proverbs 16:4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble

        Job 12:10 In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

        Isaiah 45:7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

        Daniel 4:35 All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

        1 Samuel 2:6-7 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.

      • You have got to be kidding. I see nothing in those scriptures saying that God universally plans and masterminds every tiny detail that occurs in the universe past, present, and future. Certainly, He could if He wanted to do so. He might bring about something that gets defined by men as “good” or “evil” in some particular places and instances—but not in everything.

        Your list of scriptures does little more than highlight how poorly Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals use the Bible—and even worse—how they abuse it. You people specialize in lifting verses out of context in the Bible and then make them apply to every person and situation that ever has been, is now, or ever will be. If women are advised not to cut their hair in a particular letter to a particular church 1900 years ago, you expand it out to say that all women in all situations, in all times and places, and forever more must avoid cutting their hair—and you do this nonsense with every sort of verse in the whole Bible. You insult God’s intelligence. You insult the intelligence of learned men. You display your own lack of intelligence in doing this—and make a mockery and debasement of scripture.

      • P.S. I bet you are one of those people who—and it totally baffles me—takes great comfort in the notion that God made your wife die of some dreadful disease at 3:13 p.m. on July 7, 2004. Then you say: “It was Elsa’s appointed time. God came and took her. I take great comfort in knowing that he was the one who killed her. If anyone or anything else had killed her, I would be beside myself—but I take great comfort in knowing that Jesus premeditated and killed my wife.”

        Bullshit. Jesus did not plan your wife’s death and did not kill her. Death is God’s enemy, and God is not Jack the Ripper. Your wife died because we live in a world where things wear out, where evil abounds, and random things occur. We are at the mercy of those things. Sometimes God intervenes. Sometimes He chooses not to do so. As a Christian, I am all right with all of that because I believe that Jesus exists, that He is with us in tribulations, and that all things work together for good in the end.

        And if I hear one more fundie at a funeral home look at an open casket and say, “Look at Myrtle. She looks so natural…” No. She does not look natural. She’s dead damn it. She might as well be a block of wood. How many blocks of wood do you see walking around and munching scrambled eggs?

  35. Thank you for your article. I think a lot you said is very true. We need to love our fellow man. We need to love friends, family, people we don’t know, people who think differently than we and our enemies. Everyone of them (ourselves too), is someone our Savior died for. Yeshua said to pray for those who despitefully use us. We certainly need to not be afraid of them. But we need to also recognize sin as sin. The milk toast Laodicean church of today is comfortable with politically correct language and a closed eye to the sin around us. That’s the same church Jesus said was lukewarm and He would spit out of His mouth. That saying about “the world going to hell in a hand basket” unfortunately has a lot of truth in it or Jesus wouldn’t have said that there would be wars and rumors of wars and pestilences and famines and a time of trouble such as the world has never known. It was He who said to”Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it. (Mat 7:13,14). He told His disciples before leaving this earth that they were to go into the world and preach the Gospel and win souls and baptize. That was not just the commission of the people physically around Him at that moment but was for all who would call themselves His. That’s you and me and all who believe in Him who died for us. Someone in one of the replies mentioned the prophets. Many of them died because they didn’t say the things that made the powers that be happy. They called them to repentance (to turn away from their sins). John the Baptist came n the spirit of Elijah. They both had the same message – “repent”. The time will come (I think now is), when Christ’s followers will have the same message to give to a world that has forgotten God. If you see that your friend is getting ready to walk off a cliff in the dark and fall to his death, it’s time to shout out a warning not just whisper to the person next to you “I hope he doesn’t fall”. Do I believe we should build hospitals and open soup kitchens and minister to those with physical needs? Absolutely! Do I think we need to preach an undiluted message from God? Indeed I do! I don’t know exactly how to do that balancing act but need to pray for God’s guidance. Lives are in the balance, all of them precious lives.

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  37. I think you forgot something in the title …and in the article …and everywhere else: the word “American”… Modern -American- Christianity. The serious problem of throngs of faithful abandoning their minds and souls to paranoia is a serious problem in Modern Christianity …in the US. Now, Modern US Christianity is not -alone- with that problem! …but it is not a grand problem in, as an example, modern Church of England. It is in the US that Christianity has made itself an “echo chamber,” very modern and shiny and hermetic …and when people get in, it is good for only two things- hearing that the acoustics are great for yelling and yelling, and not being able to think clearly from running out of oxygen.

    My grandmother once said “I will seriously consider that we (Germans) can be particularly clumsy at cuisine if somebody will seriously consider that Americans can be particularly clumsy at religion. Or are they definitely the best at that?”

    Because Modern US Christianity shows no serious interest in Christianity in other countries (other than “where are the tragic places that need our missionaries?”), it can not benefit from the wisdom and vision of how God works when He is -not- just in the parts of Heaven just over US airspace.

    For US Christianity to look around the world and to humbly ask around would be helpful …maybe absolutely necessary.
    Maybe God put the best answers for the problems now facing Christianity in the US, outside the US. That sounds to me like the sort of pride-effacing thing that He sometimes does to people …sometimes when He knows they will insist against it very strongly and very loudly!
    Maybe humbly needing to seek Christianity outside the US (or the blankly touristic Holy Land) is a test! …or maybe it is worthwhile just for the sake of it.

  38. Yes, My God is the bggest, bigger than all the fears in the world. Because of Him, I am living a fearless life, a life of an overcomer where no challenge is insurmountable. I am fearless because I believe, I have The Spirit of The Living God in me, nothing bad can happen to me. I am a child of destiny, created to fulfill a unique purpose on earth and I must live the full years of my life, which God in His Principal Wisdom, Has pre-destined. No To Fear!

  39. Reblogged this on mjmsprt40, sez me. and commented:
    I’ve been reading similar material elsewhere. So, do you want to side with the two who said God is bigger than the giants, or do you side with the ten who said the giants are huge and we can’t defeat them?

  40. I seldom say this but you are absolutely correct when using God as an insurance policy. I read a book called “Your God Is TOO Small” ,forgot author, however he goes along with what you are saying. If we are walking daily with Christ, His Grace will take care of us no matter what happens. More people should pick up their cross and follow him and you will feel the power of the Holy Spirit guiding you.

  41. most definitely yes! I know how big my God is and he gets sweeter everyday. I used to be one of those ppl trying to do God’s job cuz I “thot that was what God wanted me to do”. I was very naive and unlearned in the things of God but he has been extremely patient with me!

    • A good word, John. The Teacher in Mark 4:35-41 does not share in or nurture the panic and fear of his disciples. He sleeps while the boat takes on water! When he is ready, he calms the storm (and ours). Quickly. Completely. He teaches us that faith supplants fear.

      I am learning how small God is not – not sure, however, if I will ever know in this life how big God truly is.

  42. It seems to be an article which says some good things, but the underlying message pulls out the rug. When I read it with the prophets in mind specifically, it seems to label them as men with less faith than they should have. The key was that men and women have spoken God’s Word and that Word has been very disturbing and dark. If we were to remove everything the prophets spoke we would essentially cut out half the Bible.

    Think about what this author is actually saying, then consider men like Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, John the Baptist……..

    “You can see it in the way they complain on social media, in the way they comment on the news of the day; in the defeatist, alarmist language that they use as to describe the world.
    You see it in the way they furrow their brows, and throw-up their hands, and slam their pulpits.”

    “It’s as if everything has now become an imminent threat: Muslims, Atheists, Gays, The President, inner city criminals, Hollywood, illegal immigrants, The Government, school hallways.
    The world outside the church building is broadly painted as a vile, immoral war zone, with “God’s people” hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned.
    Parroting the politicized talk show hosts and reposting the latest terrible news stories, they perpetuate the now comfortable, largely White Evangelical Christian narrative of impending destruction, and they make it clear at every opportunity: The whole damn sky is falling.”

    Didn’t it sound as if the sky IS falling when many of the prophets spoke? In Revelation the sky IS falling, so John was also one of those this author describes.

    Who EXACTLY is the ‘they’ this author is speaking about? Can you tell the difference between the watchmen and prophets, and the ‘they’ he describes? I sure can’t. It is like Karin Kimball said, Elijah, the prophet of God was hiding in a cave, but where would we have been under the same circumstances?

    “Though they loudly, repeatedly, and confidently proclaim Christ as Lord, in reality they no longer practice faith in a God that has any real power, any true control, and inherent God-ness. They seem to have little more than a neutered figurehead Deity, who doesn’t seem to be able to handle much at all anymore.”

    He goes on and on speaking of how these ‘people’, the ‘they’ in his article, focus on others and their sin and so forth, but isn’t that what all leaders did? If they only focused on their own issues there would be no Word of God! Just think if EVERY pastor started focusing on his own life, shortcomings, sin, and failures….what do you end up with….seeker sensitive, prosperity gospels.

  43. I think the confusion of the article comes with the way in which it portrays the ‘messenger’. A friend of mine made a comment about the article and said it seems the author is young and/or immature in his thought and expression. If you imagine a watchman on the wall blowing his horn and sounding the alarm….does he do so because he is afraid and doubts God, or because he is preparing the city for warfare? The alarm is the same and likely the response is the same, so how can we judge the heart and faith of the watchman? Can you tell the difference?

    I know many who perfectly fit the descriptions of this author. They constantly address the issues of Islam, immorality, spiritual coldness, apathy, errant doctrine, and the list goes on. One could easily label them as faithless, or alarmists, but I know them and that would be and incorrect label.

    MOST of the American church is soft and ineffective, and we can see the results as the nation slips deeper into apostasy and the church is irrelevant. It takes a lot to counterbalance that direction and that message.

    In reality, it isn’t the cake and ice cream crowd that are sounding the alarm. This author mixes those two groups. I agree with the part about being lazy and detached…..

    “It shows-up in the lazy stereotypes and the religious rhetoric that flows so easily in church lobby coffee chats and extremist blog rants.”

    “Dig just beneath the sunny “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Bible covers, and the shouted “God’s judgment is coming” bullhorn warnings, and you can see that the Emperor is buck naked.”

    “For far too many Christians, all that flowery, blustery spiritual talk is a loud paper tiger dressed-up as religion.”

    The real truth is that the church has lost its fear, its fear of a holy and righteous God, and the fear of the consequences of sin. I am not saying we live in perpetual fear, but compare today’s church society to the church over the course of history. Men and women used to actually fear God and attempt to live righteous lives, but today it is a byline and joke because now we have a modern God who just takes us like we are and understands our limitations.

    • The “Fear of God” is not to be afraid, but to have a reverence for God which trust his sovereignty. The Christians who wring their hands and complain about the sky falling (the very topic of this piece) prove they have no such reverence.

      Thanks for agreeing with me.

      Have a great day.

      • May I just point out that early Hebrew did not have a wide vocabulary and had no word for religion. Instead they used the phrase “the fear of the Lord” but that just meant respect for God, not spending your life quaking. Too many people may take things literally when they don’t know the background against which they were written. As a Catholic, some of your readers may consider me beyond the pale, but I find your message interesting and it seems to me no Roman theologian would find it unacceptable.

    • The real truth is that the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches have lost their love for Jesus and their fellow man on this Earth. They give lip service to Jesus, but their hearts are far from him. They acknowledge the things Jesus said and did—and then omit doing those things from the lives of their churches and the lives of their members. Their focus is not outward on loving their neighbors as themselves—but inward on testing themselves against the Old Testament law in a vain attempt to be holy in this world—forgetting that true holiness is bestowed as a free gift through God’s grace. They have bedded themselves down like whores with crooked politicians who love nothing but mammon and power—and lay waste to the “least of these” Jesus loved so much. It is all a vain exercise in selfishness—and in the end they have become little more than tinkling cymbals. Tinkling cymbals. Hear those low, distant, meaningless, and purposeless tinkles.

      God has left the IFB building—and in doing so has left you desolate. However, the Holy Spirit’s small flame has not been smothered because it cannot be smothered. Try to stamp it out in one corner of the room, and it will pop up in the opposite corner. God is rebuilding his church—but it is not happening down at the IFB—He has other fields and other grasshoppers who hearken back to the words and deeds of Jesus and the promise of the new covenant—and He is rebuilding there.

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  45. This idea that Jeremiah and Isaiah and all those guys can be compared to today’s American Christians is appalling. Those guys were telling each person to get their OWN life together, to start serving God, to take care of the poor, to love each other. They weren’t talking about how bad “the world” is, or how bad “Muslims or Gays, or liberals” were. If one heard their message, one was obligated to either ignore it or repent. Of course they were speaking to the Nation of Israel, but that’s because Israel was God’s chosen people. But it still had to do with Israel’s responsibilities, not outside forces or evils.

    John’s article above is telling us to quit fearing all these things that are OUTSIDE ourselves, and start working on the things INSIDE ourselves. That’s the whole crux of the Gospel anyway: What is required of ME? What is MY response? What am I supposed to be doing?

    And the answer is simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. Love the Lord your God. With ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength. And Love your neighbor as yourself.
    If we start doing those things, we don’t have time to FEAR Muslim prayer breakfasts, nor the LGBT community, nor our government. Though for me, that last one is difficult. Our justice system is so screwed up, and people just willingly go along with it, I fear for all of us.

    So get busy making friends with the LGBT community, learn to love them. Make friends with those awful liberals. Make friends with homeless people. Adopt an “illegal” or as I prefer to call them, a child running from a terrible life, stand up for justice, speak for those that have no voice, visit those in prison, etc.

    The enemy is us. We just need to get off our butts and get to work.

  46. Thank you, dear brother, for pointing out TRUTH! May you be blessed in your ministry!

    Some years ago, I fully realized this aspect of most of the brethren, and felt a great sadness, as well as a bit of confusion. It came to full realization in my life, in what could be called “recovery” from depression. I realized that my giving in to these negative thoughts, and resigning myself to a “worldly” diagnosis of “disease” was essentially idolatry. My personal emotional battles, sadness, grief and obsessive thoughts were ALL placing these momentary issues above the POWER of the Healer in whom I claimed to believe. When I turned my face FULLY to Him, let these things go — and I mean REALLY let go, and determined that I would NO LONGER dwell on them, I found healing! I had taken prescribed meds for years with no results! Letting the issues become HIS, and allowing HIM to really live in me, I healed from it all!

    An influential aspect of this change of mind came from reading a little volume of spiritual work called “The Practice of the Presence of God”, which were letters and first hand accounts of interviews with Brother Lawrence, a 17th century Carmelite monk. This segment of one of the interviews has stayed with me, and continues to keep me when the subject of where we choose to place our focus comes up.

    “We ought to give ourselves up to God with regard both to things temporal and spiritual and seek our satisfaction only in the fulfilling of His will. Whether God led us by suffering or by consolation all would be equal to a soul truly resigned.

    He said we need fidelity in those disruptions in the ebb and flow of prayer when God tries our love to Him. This was the time for a complete act of resignation, whereof one act alone could greatly promote our spiritual advancement.

    He said that as far as the miseries and sins he heard of daily in the world, he was so far from wondering at them, that, on the contrary, he was surprised there were not more, considering the malice sinners were capable of. For his part, he prayed for them; but knowing that God could remedy the mischief they did when He pleased, he gave himself no further trouble.”

    If only more of the body could learn to turn their eyes upon Him, and let these worldly cares and concerns be HIS! What JOY we could all experience and share with others, what kindness and mercy we could display, in sincerity and LOVE!

    • I agree with the past several posts. However, there is the question of being thrown to Caesar’s lions or becoming Nero’s porch lights for doing it—and what can be done to head off that problem at the pass. I think it will come in the form of a fundie Christofacist dictatorship in the United States–one that will eclipse the cruelty we see in Iran. The question is whether we are justified in making an effort to stop that before it gets started.

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  48. You just threw every Biblical prophet of God under the bus. You also threw those with the spiritual gifts of prophecy and discerning of spirits under the bus. Let me remind you of a couple of scriptures- Isa 21, Ezekiel 3 and Ezekiel 33. God requires those who see danger coming to issue a warning because in the last days there will be many who are blinded to the dangers of the day. God commands us to warn others who are not aware of what evil is arising. Your article is well intended, and yes some are fearful, but you intend to disarm Christians which will give the enemy of our souls an advantage. Let the “Watchman on the Wall” continue to proclaim and warn of the approaching dangers.

    • The prophets were appointed by God personally to speak to the israelites on specific issues in a specific place and time, and there message was the sovereignty of God, not the strength of the danger.

      That’s very different than a weekly churchgoer who has been raised on extremist radio and political charged Christianity, acting as if everything is an imminent threat.

      I’m throwing fearful faith under the bus where it belongs.

      Thanks for reading.

  49. “…the now comfortable, largely White Evangelical Christian narrative of …”

    While I appreciate your perspective and, to a great extent, agree with your analysis of Christianity’s struggle to remember that God is in control, I am disappointed in this particular sentence. You are utterly wrong for saying it and have fallen into the same pattern of idolatry for which you are accusing the bulk of ‘fear-mongering’ Christians in this story. This is not a “white” issue. There are people all across the globe, from a multitude of ethnic backgrounds, who also parrot this “fear” narrative. You just exacerbated the situation rather than truly helping to change it. Really disappointing…

    This story will still be useful for God’s glory because He can make it useful for His own work in His own time. On the other hand, we should sit back for a moment and realize how easy it is to fall into the false narratives and point the fingers of blame at others for their inability to “give it to God.” If God is truly in control, then why is there a need for this story? Is God incapable of handling His own people in their fallen sin when they see a world that is crumbling around them…or, more accurately, that the sky is falling…regardless of their skin color? Just another perspective to consider…

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  51. Great article. I believe the current negativity towards Christians and the world seeing us as bigots is due to our constant criticizing others sins. John has made me look at how I see my God and my current constant attitude of complaining makes me realize that I see my idol as inept; I am not worshiping the God of the Bible.

  52. The writer shoots himself in the foot by trying to make Christians alarmed about the “false” idol (there are no “true” idols – they are all lies) of fear. Self-righteousness is an aspect of fear – ‘nuf said about that. I am writing because I really don’t like condemnation unless it comes from the Lord and from Scripture. I will say – it’s amazing how many times in Scripture the words “Fear not” are uttered. So if you battle fear – please be encouraged. You have a Companion who is working in your heart to take the anxiety away, to help you let it go.

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  54. Very thought provoking article. As long a the devil, aka the enemy, satan, Lucifer, prince of this world, is around, we Christians will have struggles. Lucifer “is like a roaring lion prowling about seeking whom he may devour”, stealing joy and leading people astray…even Christians. So when we hear some Christians speak of the sky falling, they may have momentarily lowered their gaze to the crumbling world around us of which satan is the prince. The devil will throw a lot of things our way to distract us from the goodness and security of God. Satan wants us to lose sight of God, to make us look down instead of to Heaven. Focus, focus, focus. While we are only human and have our faults, fears and missteps, we must look to God and stop listening to the devil. King David was a man after God’s own heart and he still messed up. Becoming a Christian will not spare you from difficulty, quite the contrary, but Christian life is an ongoing, growing process that as long as we are breathing, should never cease. We are still going to stumble and have problems, but once we get to know the true God and that He is not a tyrant, we can have more faith in Him as we would a true Father; one who wants nothing but the best for us. Some of the good things in our lives do require a little effort on our part. Knock and it shall be opened unto you….Seek and you shall find. When our motives are pure and our hearts are open, not only may we receive gifts from God, we may actually recognize them as such.
    I have really enjoyed reading the comments which in turn has caused me to re-focus on the really important things of my life…so, thank you for opening this dialog.

  55. i am not a pastor or a theologian but this article seems to be, in my opinion, exactly the kind of ‘rant’ the author is actually accusing ‘they’ ‘these people’ of doing. Every Christian is mandated to be an evangelical, witness for Christ to the world. Not everyone in our circle of family and friends are Christians so sharing articles and uplifting, comforting Bible verses that will reach each person where they are at spiritually is very valuable!!! I have personally been encouraged and taught many times through this kind of evangelism and I wish to serve others as I have been served, to point them always to Christ Jesus and His Living Word!

    • I’m glad you have been encouraged by fear-based teaching.

      Sue, we are taught in Scripture to speak into the world around us, but we’re also reminded repeatedly and clearly that God is trustworthy and big enough to care for even the sparrows and the lilies. Too much extremist television, radio, and pulpit teaching uses fear, not faith as the driving force of movement; placing the responsibility for saving the world on the shoulders of you or me, intend of trussing in the sovereignty of God.

      You can call this post a rant if you wish, but it’s a rant whose theme is “God is far bigger than you’re making Him, fearful Christian, so relax”. I’m OK ranting that.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  56. Talk about missing the point….Do you believe that Jeremiah, Hosea, Ezekiel, or any of the disciples worshipped a false idol of fear? After all – they proclaimed world events and tried waking people up. You berate and belittle Christians because they are calling attention to current day world events. They attempt to wake those who are asleep in the pews and asleep in life – and you call it worshiping a false god of fear. Wow! Maybe you too are asleep and unaware of the times in which we live. God forbid that He hold you accountable for putting them back to sleep! God did not give us a spirit of fear but he also said to be prepared….remember the virgins who didn’t have oil enough for their lamps?? They didn’t get to go into the feast –

    • I’m sorry, but you’ve missed the point of the Scriptures.

      There’s a massive difference between the prophets (a handful of people called personally by God in a particular place and time in the OT to speak into a specific group of God’s people on an issue); and disciples, (people trying to follow Jesus in the world based on the teachings of Jesus).

      Being “Jeremiah” is a far cry from you and me or every church person acting like the sky is falling, and even so, the prophets we’re spurred on, not by a fear that God couldn’t handle the issues of the day, but the assurance that He could. That’s not the posture of extremist Christian television, radio, politics, and preaching, which says that everything is going down the drain.

      Unless you’re saying that God personally spoke to you about saying a specific thing to the people in your or another community, I’d rest in the fact that:
      1) You are not being asked to save the world but to reflect the character of Jesus and trust God.
      2) God is asking you to do what He asks us all believers to do; live without a “spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline”.

      The Bible never says we are all called to be prophets. We are all called to follow Jesus.

      Thanks for reading.

  57. The root problem is revealed in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed. The third kind of ground is good ground, but the Seed of God can’t grow in it because of all the thorns already deep rooted and growing there. We’re told these thorns are the cares of this life and this is true—but there’s something much deeper than that.
    In the Garden there were two main trees among all the others. The Tree of Life is the analog of the Good Seed of Christ that the Sower sows. What would the thorns be, then?
    What else could they be but the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
    Ever notice how so many Christians focus on “Morality?” What else is morality but the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
    But before man fell he had fellowship with God—and God was his knowledge of good and evil. [Don’t believe me? Check out Genesis 2:16-17.]
    Since the Tree was eaten of man has the Knowledge of Good and Evil within himself—it no longer comes from God.
    If we would know the Lord, we have to return, as much as is possible to Him being our knowledge of good and evil. Jesus gave us a hint of what that would be like: according to the Old Law, if you killed you were guilty. But Jesus’ New Law said you were guilty if you even hated your brother. Cleaving to the Old Law is just one more way to hide from God—as Adam and his wife did once they had eaten what was forbidden.

    • They all lead to fear. If you don’t trust God, you’ll buy lots of stuff, pad your nest egg, and obsess over you accomplishments, strive to be known.

      If you don’t believe God will take care of you, you’ll consume yourself trying to care for yourself, but Jesus said to “seek first the Kingdom…”.

  58. Good article and I agree that fear and a failure to understand who it is we serve, the God of all Creation are crippling North American Christianity, particularly conservative protestantism, but I think there is a greater, more insidious problem and that is the political and economic philosophy of libertarianism which has gained dominance among some christians and has provided support for a self oriented christianity that says all that matters is me, that the world is my enemy that I must conquer, rather than seeing that this is God’s world and He calls us to act on His behalf, as part of the Kingdom to overcome the evil in the fallen creation. This philosophy of libertarianism is actually completely counter to the teachings of Jesus and the call of Paul to be the Kingdom of God, now and in the future. It serves a dying view within Christian thought that the Gospel is all about the individual. It also feeds a form of civic religion especially in the US where the flag is more prominent in the Church than the Cross.

  59. interesting how all the threats you list are only things that concern conservatives.
    wouldn’t it also be idolatrous to fear global warming, income inequality and racist cops?
    just asking…

    • I agree. It would, though to be honest, we rarely see those who claim to speak for Christianity, expressing such things on a large scale. Many individual Christians certainly do fear those things, however I rarely see religion or God invoked as they are discussed publicly. If we look at the vast majority of pastors and ministers, as well as Christian broadcasters and their viewers, the themes expressed in the blog post are the recurring ones, and always housed on a religious framework.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • So I guess the pope isn’t someone who claims to speak for Christianity?

        Also, where exactly are you seeing these people “furrow their brows, and throw up their hands, and slam their pulpits.”? You give us a lot of fearful imagry, but fail to actually identify concrete examples. I think your fear of the fundamentalist, conservative boogy-men is overblown.

        Which brings me to the next sentence: “It shows-up in the lazy stereotypes and the religious rhetoric…” You realize that you’re practicing a lazy stereotype, right? Pulpit slamming? Why not bible-thumping?

        You’re making a political argument. That’s fine, but to say that anyone who is concerned by your political hot buttons is worshiping another god shows incredible faith in your chosen ideology.

        God is bigger than politics.

  60. I completely and utterly agree! I tried telling my mom this when I visited her last year ( we currently live in Thailand), but I have found it is hard to see this problem while one is immersed in it. As soon as I left America and traveled the world and realized how much fear mongering there is in America in general, that was when my attitude changed and I started to feel my true trust in God reappearing.

    • If you were in a house that was about to be broken into would you have concern or worry? The enemy is trying to overcome theUnited States. Even with our faults we have the most freedom and have been a light to the nations through our missionry efforts. the devil is hijacking this country from what God intended it to be. Many other countries already live in darkness and that’s why you dont see the same concern. The gospel is having to infilrate that culture. In America the gospel is fighting being replaced

      • Christopher… I think that you may be looking at this the wrong way. No where in the Bible does it say that Gods Kingdom is one that is on earth. America is not Gods’ Kingdom, we are to align ourselves with God and his kingdom, not with a country (or man’s kingdoms) on the earth. To confuse the two is dangerous.
        Numerous times in the Bible it says “Don’t worry”, God will take care of you, He will take care of everything. He can and will do what is best according to His plan. And to fear that something will happen to a country, or even more ridiculous, to think that His gospel will be replaced is beyond my comprehension. It is not trusting in Gods power.
        I am an American, I was born and raised in America. I know many Christians in America who feel as you do. But what is more important than any country is trusting that God will take care of you and all his other followers. In the end all countries will be gone and all that will be left is God. That is what is important to remember.
        I hope you have a lovely day and that God will bless you with his comfort and love. I hope that the verses below will help you find power to overcome the fear you feel.

        So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

        Matthew 6:34 So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time

        Philippians 4:6-7 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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  62. Not quite right on there. Though you are right that fear shouldnt be at work in the life of the believer l think you forget to realize that sin can blind the human mind and heart from recognizing where things are truly at around. I pretty much disagree with 90% of what you said. Jesus never called for passive desensitized believers. When it comes to the culture and world “you are the salt of the earth and if that salt loses its saltiness how can it be made salty again.” Please realize that the devil can reveal some truth to get you to believe a bigger lie. That is what has happened here. And because your pride in what you think was a revelation from God is so strong, you are blinded by the implications your position would bring about if all Christians adopted it. We are in a spiritual warfare against Satan as it says in Ephesisans. You have been tricked by 5he devil with some truth that he showed you so that you would believe a bigger lie. The Lord is sovereign yes, but even a child reading the scriptures can see the responsibility he puts on His people to represent Him and stand against the wickness of this world. If you cant accept that, i want you to consider if you have truly ever given your life to Jesus Christ.

  63. Pingback: Fear and Worship | renrutkram

    • “Straw man” is something we throw out when we’d rather not engage in any meaningful way to a topic, issue, or question presented.

      If you choose that, that’s fine. I stand by the post.

  64. We are called to be salt and light, and a vast majority of that time that comes down to calling out sin *as* sin. Don’t believe me? Please name for me the Prophet or the Apostle who does not. We are called to do so even when we are SURE people will not listen to us. One prophet was even told as much, and he was a better man than I because I would have been tempted to say “If I am going to call people to repentance and they ain’t gonna listen, why can’t I just go fishing and be done with it?”

    Most Prophets, if dropped into today’s world, would be criticized for being “unloving” or “unChristlike” and it is this reaction that paralyzes too many people and itself is the source of an unBiblical timidity.

    The real idol besetting us is an idol of false compassion. It is a “compassion” that can’t be tied to Biblical instruction, because we are smarter and more compassionate than God. Oh, we are too smart to *say* that out loud, but that is exactly what we think deep in our hearts. I’ve been there.

    There is NOTHING so cruel and so deadly as false compassion.

    Yet if we fail to pay homage to this idol, we are accused of fearmongering, hatemongering etc., and now idolatry!

    Thanks!

    And what is the number one sign warning us of said idolatry?

    “You spend a lot of time calling out evil, forecasting disaster, and predicting damnation.”

    Again, please point out the Prophet, Apostle or for that matter Messiah who did not the same thing?

  65. John, great post and to the point. I was dealing with this exact issue (and still have some of the vestiges hanging on as witnessed by our Twitter exchange from a few nights ago; I was wrong and I apologize for my aggression) about a year ago and am still dealing with ‘fear’ today…Actually, there is nothing to fear for the Christian. As on Twitter, we get caught up in guns, homosexuality, President Obama, etc and using Twitter to demonstrate passive aggression is a place a Christian should go….again, great thoughts. (Oh, I’ve reblogged this on my blog 2peter112.blogspot.com)

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  67. “Please I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14:27

    When I was in religion (born and raised in Catholicism) I would hear words like these and they sounded great, but the experience of the religion I was raised in, and certainly the evidence of the rest of Christianity (the Protestant side) did not reflect this. Fear, hatred, anger, visciousness, guilt, shame — that’s what I saw.

    Now that I’m outside of religion I take these words to heart. The more I read Scripture the more I understand, and I often wonder why Christians don’t get it, and they are so incredibly hateful, divisive and full of anger.

    Here’s another one I used to hear read at mass, and yet the religion I was in felt completely opposite and oppressive:

    “Come to me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your sourls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

    And I could go on and on. I have scriptures all over the place, and they really clash with the religion known as Christianity and the behavior of those who call themselves Christians.

    The religion of Christianity is married now to the State in the form of the 501(c)(3), and has for some time: The main product of this religion and the government it binds itself to is: Be afraid.

    I have a tolder of story after story of people who have placed total faith and trust in God for everything, in very tough situations, like mine, and the results are simply amazing. Their biggest stumbling block is, not surprisingly, fellow Christians, the churched-up folks.

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  69. Wait a minute. Pavlovitz criticizes Christians for “calling out evil” and later says
    “When your God isn’t big enough you’ll try to do in others what you’ve decided
    He wants, instead of actually trusting Him to do it Himself.”

    So, what would Pavlovitz say to William Wilberforce, the British member of Parliament
    and Christian, who for years loudly and strongly campaigned for the abolition of slavery?

  70. When I look at American Christianity in general, Evangelical, Fundamentalist and my own family’s more moderate United Methodist Church, I’m reminded of what another Methodist, the great Abolitionist Frederick Douglass said about his AME Zion church. This is the church which had ordained him.and of which he had many happy memories. (I have many happy memories growing up Methodist, too.)

    “I found that it consented to the same spirit which held my brethren in chains.”

    I wonder if that applies to Christianity in general, perhaps religion in general. Someone is being held in chains, mental, if not physical.

  71. When Jesus rebuked the wind and storm he said “peace be still” according to the KJV. The original Greek translates both terms as “SILENCE!” and “I muzzle” – muzzle it!
    Not something you say gently. He was telling us to shut our traps and let HIM do the work.

  72. John,

    It’s all going according to plan. The whole good is bad and bad is good thing. Along the way we will have cheerleaders telling us to move along, nothing to see here. You sir are a cheerleader along the path that leads us to that point. I’m not afraid, it’s all part of Gods plan. He told us before he returns that things are going to get nasty ugly. Then we have a long period of peace.

    God is stepping aside for a bit while he allows Satan to do what Satan does. God stepping aside doesn’t mean it’s all rainbows and unicorns. In fact it means quite the figurative opposite. So yeah, some people that haven’t quite figured it out yet are concerned as they see what is happening to Christians worldwide, while we are told we should instead obsess over Dances with the Stars, sports or the Kardashians. In other words don’t pay attention. We should be praying for these people and frankly learning from their example of paying a dear price for standing true to their faith while the weak-willed ones in Western countries hide their belief and don’t admonish sin like the Bible tells us we should. I will put myself in this same camp, I am part of the cowards in the Western world that is letting society steamroll our beliefs for fear of upsetting the apple cart. At least I’m not so full of myself to say that the watchers, those that have eyes to see, are worshiping something else. Thus negating their words and trivializing them to further an agenda.

    You are correct in that we shouldn’t fear the way it is all going, but to have the temerity to say that people who are afraid for the direction society and the world is heading aren’t worshiping God but fear instead is asinine. If they don’t worship exactly as you or fall into your group-think they must be worshiping something else? lol really? How elitist of you. Like I said you are a cheerleader, now why and who are you cheering for? Please don’t say God, that would be presumptuous of you.

    Please go read the Bible again. There are a couple verses you could really benefit from.

    Thanks!

  73. I think you misjudge many (most?) of your fellow believers.

    I’m reading a great biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The church of pre-WWII Germany failed to counter evil as it grew in their society. The consequences, of course, were disastrous. Was God in control while Hitler was in power? Of course. Did the German church fail? Most assuredly.

    • Great comments commonsensemom,

      Too bad they are falling on those who don’t have ears.

      The impulse to miss-characterize our convictions as either fear or hate is simple slander. The only question remains is whether that slander is deliberate or born of a lack of understanding.

      • It’s deliberate slander. Nearly everything I see this author write is snide and disingenuous– calculated to paint biblical Christians as stupid, fearful, and objects of ridicule in order to justify his and his fans’ generally heretical and nonsensical views. A lot of “itchy ears”here who can’t abide the truth.

  74. I thank you for courageously writing this. I can see by the comments that you have in fact hit the nail on the head. I’m a quiet follower of Jesus myself… I lean more towards private prayers and keep my good deeds under the radar, not because that’s what I think is best, but because those are the teachings I gravitate towards. For quiet Christians, it can be difficult to exist side by side with those who would see themselves as ‘prophets’ and ‘preachers’ exclaiming the strongest principles of the Old Testament. But God promised us something new in Jesus… That’s why we call it Good News… Through Jesus, we were promised our lives would no longer be lived in fear. Through Jesus, God gave us our current and most pressing agenda- love, grace, and peace. To distort the meaning of these words, which have been consistent, I’m sure, since their inception, is to violate our purpose as God’s people- ALL God’s people. God has been pretty consistent about this agenda, across cultures and belief systems, and IT WORKS! That is the best part. Following these truths, however one comes to them, is THE way to the Kingdom, is THE way to do his will on earth as in heaven. You see it in the smile of a homeless woman when you offer her grace. You find it in the sick child and his parents when you show them love. You feel it in the handshake of an ‘enemy’ when you share peace with her. Fear does not bring God’s will to earth. I’ve seen it. Fear breaks apart the table. Fear causes us to devise, and cheat, and deceive. Fear pulls us away from God’s mercy. Fear turns us in on ourselves instead of out towards God.

    Anyway, my two cents.

    Thank you for the article.

  75. “Two Corinthians” and a Rabbi walk into a bar……….(two (to) finish the JOKE vote for fear ! Who is my Mother , Brother and Sister ? A Fellow Christian. Until The Lord allowed me to see I was blind , important for me to remember and grow dimmer , as he grows brighter in my Life. Correction from the Almighty never taste good to me and for that I’m grateful. I take it as a sign of the Love he has for me. I really enjoyed this article. If I’ve offended , forgive me.

  76. Fear as in lack of faith is uncool. But our world has entered a transition period that will prove exceedingly messy, violent, and destructive. Things, however, will not proceed as most prophecy interpreters claim…Anyway, the greatest idols that have polluted so-called Christianity are me-myself-and-Iism, materialism, patriotism, and the elevation of the Bible to equal status with God….

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  78. Thanks for your voice in these trying times. I live in the Dallas Texas area and the Pastor of a large Baptist church here recently said that the LGBTQ communities are a greater threat to Christianity than ISIS. How Christian is that?

  79. The war of words between these lying empires has left Humanity in the dark ages. To ENFORCE LIES the truth had to be forbidden. Now, in the absence of KNOWING Life, Love and Truth , all that remains is BELIEFS , CONFLICTS and FEAR .

  80. “That Churchill is a fear monger. To listen to him Hitler wants to conquer the world and kill all the Jews.” – John Pavlovitz, 1938

    If you don’t think that we’re heading straight to a world-historical trainwreck, you’re not paying attention.

    56 million dead American unborn–one BILLION (with a B) Chinese aborted–100+ million Russians and Europeans (each)….

    Nope. God’s not gonna let us get away with it.

    I don’t care if you think I’m a fearmonger.

    I just don’t look forward to you guys trying to apologize to me after I’ve been detained “for public safety.”

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