When Mean, Scared, Scary People Have Stolen My Jesus

 

GrumpyMan

Some days I feel like filing a Missing Persons Report for Jesus.

I survey the media landscape of what so many identify as representing Christianity in my country and it feels like he has all but vanished.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the line my faith tradition got hijacked.

I suppose it was a half a century or so ago as the Evangelical Church and American Politics started an ill-advised courtship, and the public face of the people of Jesus in the U.S. gradually became a bunch of angry, middle-aged, upper middle class, largely white, largely male folks with entitlement issues and persecution complexes.

You know the ones. They’re everywhere. They have billion dollar media empires and multi-pronged ministry machines and millions of devoted followers. Regularly they broker in a familiar brand of righteous bitterness, always publicly wringing their hands and beating their breasts as they remind the watching world that once again the sky is indeed falling upon us.

Every single day they lament another insidious threat; militant gays, inner city blacks, pagan Hollywood, the Liberal Media, Obama, Oprah, Ellen, working women, Progressive Theology; any and all of which they insist, trumpet Christianity’s impending demise depending on the day.

Fear is their favorite watchword: Everything is a threat and with breathless pleas they appeal to the faithful to gird themselves for battle and to make another final stand against the enemy’s encroachment.

It’s a tired tactic with ever diminishing results outside of the cozy religious bubble, but still it’s become the method of choice for far too many high-profile Evangelicals: yell a lot, pull a frightening Bible quote from its context, and literally try to scare the Hell out of God’s people.

Fear-peddling is big religious business and has been since the invention of the soapbox. It still makes for blog hits and large font headlines and talk show fodder. It gets the “Amens” flying and the pews rocking and the sleeping zealots roused awake.

Unfortunately it also simultaneously displays to the world a half-hearted faith in a neutered, helpless, irrelevant God who’s apparently asleep at the wheel.

With the way these refrains are continually repeated, it’s like the boy who cried “Wolf!”, only this time he’s crying, “We’re being persecuted!”

I wonder if these torch-and-pitchfork leaders realize that in their desire to stir up some passion in a religious system growing ever more stale, in an effort to rally their shrinking bases and manufacture some cheap urgency from the pulpit, they’re actually selling people a Jesus that never existed; one who is far less than Divinity.

That’s the problem with the professional crisis-peddlers: They unintentionally send a very mixed message with their sermons.

Every time Christianity is positioned as mortally threatened, Christ is stripped of any of his resurrection power.

Every time anger and fear become the default public face of our faith, people outside that faith lose sight of the simple compassion and peace of Jesus.

Every time the holy war mongers paint a picture of everything here on earth as going hopelessly South, they have to do it at the expense of the supposed sovereignty and goodness of God.

The saddest thing about the rise of angry, fear-generated Christian leadership, is that it has nearly obliterated for millions and millions of people, the incessant hope at the core of the real Gospel and replaced it with doom-and-gloom prognosticating about when the end is coming and sin-shaming propaganda about who is excluded from the afterparty. 

That’s all so much smaller, so much more petty, and so much less wonderful than what’s really being offered to humanity.

If you view the totality of the life and ministry of Jesus, you find there a holy momentum; a sense that something new and beautiful and unstoppable has broken in and begun. In him, a sacred presence birthing a movement of freedom to the oppressed, sustenance for the hungry, care for the poor, restoration for the downcast—victory of stupefying proportions.

It is about the inevitability of joy and rescue, not the eventuality of peril and defeat.

So why are so many Christians so darned sour and sore and scared?

Because far too many of them have replaced the Gospel of Jesus with an apologetic of fear and they haven’t even realized it. Many were born into it and so they blindly perpetuate the faulty theology sown into them by those they followed. The message of simple, relentless, life-altering, wrong-forgiving, neighbor-reaching love doesn’t move the needle enough anymore, so they resort to a code red battle posture.

Whenever I see these tired tactics, my first response is to roll my eyes and dismiss the desperation in such repetitive “crisis of the week” religion, but soon that gives way to the sad realization that people are being lost to the Gospel because of it. They are rejecting something false, something inherently reject-able—but it isn’t Jesus.

I want to run outside and scream from the rooftops to anyone who will listen, “This is not my faith! They don’t speak for me! I’m pretty sure they don’t speak for Jesus either!”

So consider this my rooftop.

Friends, Christianity is not a hateful proposition. It is not made of contempt and vitriol. If it is mean-spirited, bitter, or filled with hopelessness, it is simply not of God.

The message of Christ, one I invite you to experience for yourself, is not the politics of anger, it is not the vilifying of the other, it is not the defeatist lament of a people who are surely drowning.

But don’t take my word for it, or theirs.

Check out Jesus’ longest record sermon yourself and see if you don’t find in it, the antidote to all this frantic, flailing cursing of the darkness that passes for belief. It was these words, uttered by a homeless, penniless, Jewish Rabbi two thousand years ago that altered the planet.

Every time I find myself sinking from the hopeless, hateful Christianity I see outside my window and in my newsfeed, I read them again.

And when I do, the mean, scared, scary people who have hijacked my faith tradition for so long, return to their well-deserved place of unimportance to my own journey, they lose their grip on the treasures that I have found and almost lost, and I get my Jesus back.

And then, joy returns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

75 thoughts on “When Mean, Scared, Scary People Have Stolen My Jesus

    • I cannot tell you how many Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have told me (or I heard them say to another) in answer to the question “What is the Christian faith?” What was the answer?

      “THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS PRIMARILY A MORAL CODE.”

      I wonder where they got a dumbass idea like that. It must have been from the Bible they worship—but never actually read.

  1. Amen and Amen! I just read a FB post from a friend and fellow Christian asking others if she were born Jewish and then converted to Christianity if they would consider her a Christian? I left a very long comment stating that it doesn’t matter what any of us think, it only matters what she believes and lives and what God thinks. Her question was warranted from an article from rightsidenews.com that talked about Obama being considered Muslim due to the fact his father was Muslim.

    I want to scream everyday when I hear the fear mongering Christians rearing their gloom and doom heads for any to listen and follow. And I cannot believe the number who choose to listen and believe. So, thank you for this article and for reminding me of that Jesus it is truly and ultimately really about! I will share this in hopes it will remind others as well!

    Bravo!

  2. I am sorry you have met so many mean, angry Christians. This has not been my experience, which I guess places me in the richly blessed category. The ones I know work silently behind the scenes to make the world a better place…to feed, cloth and love others. They don’t shout, but perhaps in some cases they should because the stakes are so very high.

    • Making the world a better place isn’t the goal of Christianity. The message of restoring a relationship with God, and redemption by Christ’s blood is actually the goal.

      Not saying that making the world a better isn’t a laudable goal and shouldn’t be an agenda pursued by Christian, but it should be clear that it is a humanist goal not a Christian one.

      • Ink!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. On Earth as it is in Heaven.” Both are important. It was our job to begin that kingdom here on Earth in 33 A.D. so God’s will would be done on Earth as well as in Heaven. Are you really stupid enough to believe that people are starving and begging alms on the streets of Heaven—with God not caring one wit about it? Wake up Neil!!! It is not laudable. It is required and highly important to every real Christian—except the Christian fundies and conservative evangelicals who have been brainwashed into believing that there is nothing more to the Christian faith than some jerk preaching on a street corner.

      • Neil, I guess that’s why Jesus never fed the hungry or healed the sick, believers or not. And it must be why he never told parables such as “The Good Samaritan.” (sarcasm font off now) I learned all that as a child from reading The Bible.

  3. This is beautifully stated. The sad fact is that the angry white men who have hijacked the religion for profit and power are turning off this generation in record numbers. Pew says “One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever…” http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/ The article clearly points out the unaffiliated “Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.”

    The power grubbing politicians and money mongers who use the pulpit for their selfish gain would cause Jesus to have an apoplectic fit and start turning over the money tables again. Maybe they forgot to read the bible, maybe they don’t care, but it’s only going to get worse and the decline will continue unless fine people like yourself begin to speak out against the hate and fear mongering.

    So I applaud you, Sir. This is indeed stuff that needs to be said. 🙂
    Excellent article.

  4. John, I so often cry when I see my friends and atheists who have been turned off by religion.. mention these mean, angry, scary people and think they represent Jesus. I am glad that you understand. But somewhere deep in me, I realize, God may be calling those of us who see who Jesus really is, to pray for the mean, angry, scary Christians. They need our prayers as they have no idea how many people they are chasing away from God, rather than drawing them to him. 🙂 God Bless

  5. John said: “Every single day they lament another insidious threat; militant gays, inner city blacks, pagan Hollywood, the Liberal Media, Obama, Oprah, Ellen, working women, Progressive Theology; any and all of which they insist, trumpet Christianity’s impending demise, depending on the day…as they remind the watching world that once again the sky is indeed falling upon us.”

    And what is the point of it all…just four words………SEND US MORE MONEY. You never really have to stop and think bout who their real God is. His name starts with the letter “M.”

    Take a look at the new blog entitled “Flee from Christian Fundamentalism” that regularly dissects and analyzes the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical monster from Hell that masquerades as the Church of Jesus Christ in the United States It does not take a genius to figure out that they are the real evil that is calling itself good in the latter days. Never listen to what they say. Keep your eyes on what they DO—just like Jesus said. This blog does. The link is as follows:

    https://faith17983.wordpress.com/

    All you fundies and Christian conservatives be sure and send this link out to your assorted fundie and evangelical Internet strike forces. The people at this blog double-double-double-triple dog dare you to do it.

    • My pastor says that every Sunday he guarantees that we will leave feeling better than when we came in. And if we don’t. ..then he is not doing his job.

      I suggest you find a new group. Find a grace church! God is not angry with you. And no one should be making you feel that way. Ever. Take care. <3

      • I’ll disagree with that view. Most of the time I do leave feeling better, but when I hear a word that requires me to change, or an area where I’m falling short, and I need to spend time in contemplation, I don’t leave feeling “better”.

  6. A “half-hearted faith?” Consider the words of John Shelby Spong in his book The Fourth Gospel: “It is behind our tribal fences that we human beings develop our life-strangling prejudices. One cannot be fully human while continuing to violate the humanity of another, which is what all prejudices encourage us to do.”

  7. A “half-hearted faith?” More like a heartless one. Consider the words of John Shelby Spong in his book The Fourth Gospel: “It is behind our tribal fences that we human beings develop our life-strangling prejudices. One cannot be fully human while continuing to violate the humanity of another, which is what all prejudices encourage us to do.”

  8. Thank you. I was afraid there was no one else who saw things as I did.
    However, I must say this: “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”; FDR’s First Inaugural Address.
    Let us stand together in God’s true light, arm in arm, and live by how Jesus taught us to be.

  9. We are experiencing a situation here in Arizona that has drawn much media attention. Eight “traditional” churches in Fountain HIlls have started a campaign to discredit “progressive Christianity”. The people from all denominations and all faith traditions who rallied around Pastor Felten and his progressive congregation were amazing. You can read more about it in these articles.

    http://religiondispatches.org/going-negative-traditionalist-churches-gang-up-on-progressive-christianity-in-arizona/?utm_source=Religion+Dispatches+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3a9f66890b-RD_Daily_Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_742d86f519-3a9f66890b-42407421

    http://progressivechristianity.org/resources/progressive-christianity-fact-or-fiction/

  10. I was feeling pretty good reading this, made a lot of sense, but then in Jesus sermons you included Matthew 7:21-23 about Jesus saying I never knew you to supposed disciples. Those verses always bothered me and not sure what to do about that. If I think I’m following him, but he says I never knew you on the last day, who am I to argue. These verses always leave me feeling insecure.

  11. John wrote: ‘You know the ones. They’re everywhere. They have billion dollar media empires and multi-pronged ministry machines and millions of devoted followers. Regularly they broker in a familiar brand of righteous bitterness, always publicly wringing their hands and beating their breasts, as they remind the watching world that once again the sky is indeed falling upon us.’

    Who are you speaking of, John? Who is ‘always publicly wringing their hands, etc.?’ I live in the mid-Atlantic. I attend a Jesus-centered church. I watch Fox, Cnn, Bbc etc. and spend far too much time reading a wide variety of websites. But I don’t know what the heck you’re talking about. Are you referring to tele-evangelists? I can’t imagine you would waste your time raging against the obvious and suspect you have something else in mind, yet once again you neglect to give specifics. I surmise I know the reasons why this is the case. Isn’t this constant beating a dead–or non-existent–horse getting a little old?

    • He’s talking about men like Rev. Ron Baitty in Thomasville, NC and his army to take back America for Jesus. He’s talking about Pat Robertson. He’s talking about many a Southern Baptist. Any number of Independent Fundamental Baptists would for the bill too. We could go on and on and on. You live in the mid- Atlantic and don’t know about people like this? Seriously? I’m in NC: these people are all over the place. They even populate our General Assembly. Skip Stam is one of their ring leaders.

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  13. I have been enjoying your posts for about a month now.  I have been a Jesus follower for over 50 years, and love Jesus with all my heart. A couple things have me troubled:  My granddaughter that my husband and I have raised from birth, has been saying she is a transgender.  We have accepted that, and love him.  Both parents, our adopted daughter is extremely bipolar, and the father of my grandchild who was also bipolar….taking his own life at 24 years old makes me even wonder about DNA.  Both my daughter and the father of our grandchild were using drugs when she/he was conceived.  Our Christian doctor has told us that it is true, some people have a body that does not match their brains, and we need to love, support and show compassion.  We are doing that.  We have had much trouble with some Christians in our church.  She/he has been accepted by some, but now he will no longer come to church.  I do see where judging turns a person off, and they see Jesus through those eyes.  That is very discouraging, and I’m praying up a storm. The one post a while back that also troubled me was where you said something to the effect that we couldn’t know with certainty that we were going to heaven.  That I totally do not agree with!!  I love the one….and there are many verses to support confidence…but I love I John 5:13 where it says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.  This is the confidence we have in approaching God…”  That is the marvelous mercy and cleansing of the blood of Jesus.  God sees me through the blood of His Son and I am holy!!!  Amazing!!! I don’t know if you will receive this, but I would appreciate any help you may offer. Together in Him,Janet Reid

  14. “Some days I feel like filing a Missing Persons Report for Jesus.” — My nomination for best opening sentence of 2015.

    Bravo … and AMEN!

    The Reverend Susan Russell
    All Saints Church, Pasadena CA

  15. Let’s call a spade a spade; Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson laid the foundation for the poli-religious movement reflected in the modern-day evangelicals in America. Their purposeful assault on Christianity was politically motivated, and in many respects is the antithesis of Christianity. This blog is right on point, and the real battle to be fought is not between Christians and those who aren’t; instead, it is within Christianity itself. So long as the media machine chooses certain tired, so-called ‘evangelicals’ as spokespersons for that term, Christians are losing the battle. They don’t speak of the ‘good news of Christ.’ Instead, they portray us as mean-spirited and hypocritical as a body, and that is a real shame. It is up to Christians to set the record straight, and we can only do that by first winning back Christianity.

    • Astute—but not quite true. Most of it was laid by a Republican political operative by the name of Paul Weyrich in the late 1970s. Weyrich had a dream of duping conservative Christians and churches into blindly serving the needs of his political party in order to win elections. The whole thing is laid out in detail in the following video:

    • Wrong just because it’s wrong. Both men’s early work was real Bible teaching. I remember reading some great books from Pat Robertson, long before he looked at the political side of the spectrum. Also, do you know the single most politically used and abused churches? Unfortunately it’s the urban African American church.

      • You said before, that you don’t always leave feeling better. That’s called condemnation. That pit of your stomach feeling. Godly sorrow is different! It’s filled with hope for a new day! Wanting to do things differently and being excited about your new epiphany. It’s a feeling of freedom and relief….and it’s actually lasts. 😉

    • Each and every time I read a post by someone who says: christians are all hypocrites, assh(es, whatever, I feel that it is my responsibility to share with them the truth – that it is just the fundamentalist conservatives christians who are this way – explaining that they are the loudest, even though they are the minority.

      Often, I share a facebook page with them that is progressive and encourage them to check it out.

  16. John said: “The saddest thing about the rise of angry, fear-generated Christian leadership, is that it has nearly obliterated for millions and millions of people, the incessant hope at the core of the real Gospel and replaced it with doom-and-gloom prognosticating about when the end is coming and sin-shaming propaganda about who is excluded from the afterparty.

    That’s all so much smaller, so much more petty, and so much less wonderful than what’s really being offered to humanity.”

    The Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals could very well say the following—and I would expect exactly this from the ones here in East Tennessee—and I will even do it for you in their own native language:

    “Weezuns is jist seemple peeple with seemple minds, seemple thoughts, seemple needs, and seemple won’ts who needs a seemple God and a seemple faith. Dontchee unnerstan—weezuns is seemple peeple? Seemple peeple lock us’ ins needs a seemple Bobble, a seemple gospel, a seemple church, and a seemple faith. Bein fundies gits us all the seemple theengs we need to leeve ire lahves: Hail far. Dam nashun. Scarred outa muh mind. Jesus saves. Obey the rules. At’s allun’s there is to it—a seemple gospel for a seemple peeple.”

    Sigh. I moved here from Middle Tennessee 40 years ago—and I am so tired of this seemple minded shit from all these seemple peeple.

  17. I totally agree with you John. These so-called “Evangelical Christians” are most definitely not following the Christ I learned about, studied and praised. From what I have seen, they are far closer to the “Modern Pharasaical Movement”. Legalism, insistence on following cherry-picked Levitical laws, Judgmentalism, Loudly praying in public, presenting themselves as “holier than thou”, gatekeeping the doors of Heaven… the list goes on. My only question is how long will it take for the non-Pharasaical Christians to stand up and rebuke them for their destruction of Christ’s true message of unconditional love? They are profaning and destroying the entire life and mission of Jesus — along with the rest of society’s faith in that message..

  18. I appreciate this article more than I can say as it puts into words things I have observed and felt about the “Missing Jesus” and his life and teachings about the God who is Love It is up to us who call ourselves his followers to LIVE as well as TEACH his true message and not polluted as so-called Christianity has become by such as you have depicted. I grew up in a very conservative, fundamental church, but opening my mind and heart, began to see God as GOD, creator of a humanity made in hiis mage — ALL of us and not just a small group, which calls itself “Christian”. “God is Love”; “Where Love is, God is”, “For God so loved the World”. (End of sermon.)

  19. You are an amazing channel of the pre-Christian Christ. I am ever so grateful for you and your ministry. Thank you from the souls of my feet to the tippy top of my face. My heart and mind salute you!

  20. Thank you for your message! I want to have faith in Jesus and I struggle daily seeing so much hate and pessimism spread in his name. But despite what they say there is still a fundamental flaw that keeps me away from Jesus. I refuse to believe in hell or a God that would ever condemn a person. However, isn’t belief in Jesus, and thus salvation, a fundamental principal of Christianity? You had said “The saddest thing about [this] Christian leadership, is that it has … replaced [the Gospel] with … propaganda about who is excluded from the afterparty. That’s all so much… less wonderful than what’s really being offered to humanity.” I see myself excluded from the “afterparty” because I don’t believe in salvation (ie., the need to be saved). Should I then choose to believe in Christianity that doesn’t require salvation? Contemporary Christians (at my church) would say then that I am not a Christian…I believe in a God of “convenience” rather than the God “that is”. What is the deal? Which one is true?

    • I think John’s point was that they PRETEND and shout from the rooftops that they KNOW who is and is not going to Heaven or Hell when—in fact—they are mere human beings who do not know Jackson _____T about that subject. Only God would know such things for sure, and they are not God—although I suspect many of them think they have evolved to become pretty doggone close to it. They also forget that God can show undeserved mercy on whomever He desires. Only they are so stupid as to think that God has locked himself into a corral of Bible words from which He cannot escape and do whatever He pleases. God is much bigger than their conception of him, and He can do whatever He pleases. I like that in a God. A God has to be his own man and do his God thing in the way he sees fit.

  21. Thank you for this post. It SO needs to be said. It really speaks to my heart. I will be linking this on my FB.

  22. Unfortunately, you (the author) have further shown a portrayal of a helpless, useless, untrustworthy god with your statement that you have a “sad realization that people are being lost to the Gospel because of it.” What you’re saying is that your god is too weak or uncaring to stand up and straighten the mess out Instead, he just sits and watches, pulling a sad face as church people screw it all up worse and worse and make Jesus look like more of an idiot than ever, knowing that they’ll end up roasting like marshmallows on a stick someday. After all, since plan B failed, plan C is too much trouble.

    I’m agnostic now. I can’t buy into christianity anymore. It’s just too ridiculous and leaves too many crucial questions with no answers or lame answers.

    • Anna:
      Christianity is a difficult journey, but it can be understood. If you’ve got a critique articulated anywhere, come join the discussion at everdeepening.com.
      Brian

    • Anna, God is not co-dependant. He is not running around like an exhausted parent trying to clean up our messes. He does care. But He has given all of us the supernatural ability to overcome our screw ups through His spirit. You say your agnostic, but your perspective is very religious. You need a religious detox like I had a few years ago! I’m free now. No more traditions of man. Just Jesus and I…doing life together.

  23. My view, for what it is worth, is that too many Christian leaders are caught up with ‘leading’ and ‘influencing’. It is much easier to ‘influence’ larger groups through getting people together by being against something, than just living a simple life of true faith.

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  26. John:
    I sympathize with your sentiments, but if we’re going to heal the divide between the spiritual truth of the Bible and material literalism (which is really what fundamentalism is), we can’t just cherry-pick a favorite passage. We have to take on the book in its entirety, constructing a complete and rational narrative. It can be done, there is nothing to apologize for, and it’s a great parable concerning the troubles we face in the world today, at all levels of social discourse.
    Brian

    • I have done a google search and cannot find the phrase material literalismj. I hope you see this, and have a moment to explain it to me.

      While my research in psychology, moral and spiritual development, and peraonality theory tells me there will always be a divide between fundamentalists and moderates or progressives.

      What I think might be possible – and very healing is to figure out how to convince them that their religious leaders, and pastors, are using them as pawns, with complete disregard for Jesus or their salvation.

      For many years the Republican party hired linguistic experts to provide for them a detailed analysis of how to speak, how to twist words around deceitfully – in a way that would appeal to the values of the fundamentalist christians.

      This is the type of thing that progressives need to do. They need to speak to their values.

      Most Fundamentalists are law based, and fearful. They are black and white, and lack much empathy. Their moral compass is based on what others tell them, thus their cognitive development is under developed.

      Any attempt at explaining a love based Christ to them will be met with blank eyes, and derision.

      Perhaps a former fundamentalist would understand how to engage with them.

      It is my deepest hope that our democratic party will someday be approached by a liguistic expert, and engage his services – to convert them to voting for them?

      This link explains it better than I can.

      http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/10/27_lakoff.shtml

      • Cindy:
        The term “Biblical literalism” is probably familiar to you. By definition, it’s adherents hold that the teachings of the Bible are literally true, rather than allegorical. In interpreting the Bible, I find it useful to make a further distinction between “material” literalism – that the Flood occurred, or that Eden existed, or that Jesus died and rose again – and “spiritual” literalism. That distinction led me into a focus on what the Bible tells us about the development of human nature (what Jung would call the “collective unconscious”) under the guidance of divine love. One could argue that the latter is in part “allegorical”, but there are certain aspects of the story that I can understand (for example) only by supposing that angels do exists, that their experience of time is different from ours, and that they have a large stake in the outcome of our struggle here on Earth. This post is an illustration: http://everdeepening.com/2015/06/14/will-the-pope-speak-for-life/

        To be explicit, I do believe that there are purely “spiritual” forms of consciousness that couple only weakly to matter. Obviously, in our current state we are preoccupied with material issues because we need to keep body and soul together to do any useful work for God. However, I believe that the payoff is in the spiritual realm, and consequently that any guidance drawn from the Bible must explicitly consider the impact on the spiritual state of affairs. My experience is that most fundamentalists focus on material matters because it is something that life has prepared them to grasp. It takes a lot of testing and proving before one is allowed untrammeled access to the spiritual realm.

        As for the Republican dialectic: Your observation is entirely valid. One of the temptations facing powerful people is to divorce themselves from reality. Gingrich certainly facilitated that trend in the Republican Party. I think that so long as the Democrats stay focused on what is real, eventually the wheel will turn. My sense is that the current era is the last hurrah of selfishness.

        • Hi Brian! I found your post very thought provoking and interesting. I had never considered the concepts of biblical material literalism and biblical spiritual literalism before but can see how the terms can be helpful to exposing truths embedded in the bible. As I thought about these concepts what came to mind was whether the two were diametrically opposed or whether each was on a separate continuum but could compliment each other in some way. In other words, I began to consider whether a purist material literalism approach, to biblical knowledge and understanding, could extinguish spiritual understandings (and vice versa). Or, alternatively, was it possible for a harmonious resonance and balance to exist between the two? In the latter case an example of material literalism would support spiritual literalism, and indeed enhance it. Thus when Jesus rose from the dead, this would be regarded as both material and spiritual literalism in nature, witch each complimenting the other. I’m beginning to ramble, I know, cos my mind runs away before my thoughts crystallise. I guess what I’m trying to say (badly!) is…do you think that in every material literalism example drawn from the bible there is always a coexisting and harmonious spiritual counterpart or can they exist separately? And, finally, do you think the fundamentalist movement is simply at loggerheads with the idea that a biblical spiritual literalism dimension relies too heavily on a personalised spiritual connection with God, and this threatens the integrity of the purist material literalism dogma? In short, if you allow people to think and experience more fully the spiritual dimension of Christianity for themselves, the leaders of the fundamentalist movements (and not so fundamentalist) begin to lose power and control of their congregations thought processes. What are your thoughts?

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  30. As someone who came to Christ as an adult, 20 years ago, I have been stunned to watch in that time, the gradual politicization of Christianity. This has made many people feel that faith in Jesus is about politics and power and partisanship. It’s not only turning off an entire generation to Christ but as a fairly long time believer, I’m very close to being one of the “Dones” as well. Not leaving Christ, but definitely leaving the organized church. I’m not going to survive another election cycle reading all the vitriolic, hateful “memes” that get tossed around on social media by so many of those claiming Christ. I have actually stopped called myself a Christian because of the reaction it now gets. I am most definitely NOT the Christian of American Cultural Christianity. I’m a Christ follower. Unfortunately in America, those are now two different theologies.

    When I first got saved, working with the poor and homeless was considered a good thing to do. Now, I’m accused of having a “liberal agenda”! That somehow ministering to the “least of these” makes me a Democrat, a Socialist or both. Did Jesus not ask us to feed the hungry, heal the sick and help the afflicted, the sinners, the outcasts? But these days, there’s only two kinds of people according to the Republican party: “makers” and “takers” and those helpless outcasts? Well, we all know what THEY are. The thesis Republican platform has wormed it’s way into the lives of hearts of most Christians I know and it breaks my heart. All we seem to know how to do anymore is judge each other, and others with no mercy, shoot our wounded, and argue about politics. We respond just as harshly as those who don’t claim Christ social media.

    Honestly, I don’t think this can be turned around. To those that think this may be fatalistic, I would submit that it’s eternal perspective vs. worldly. Jesus didn’t come to take over the Roman government and I don’t think our marching orders are to take over (or take back) ours. We’re a country a little over 200 years old in a written history that spans thousands. Many nations have risen, and fallen. What’s happening in our country can be seen patterned over and over again in history. I would rather spend my time showing the love of Christ to those God puts before me, than posting hateful memes that only distance non-believers from me. While we desperately try to win the war, we’ll most certainly lose the battle.

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