Freeing Christians From Americhristianity

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Dear World,

I’m a Christian who feels something needs to be said about my faith tradition.

Despite the ways we who practice it might declare otherwise, it is intended to beautiful and joy-filling and life-giving. It is made of compassion and mercy and forgiveness and sacrificial love—or at least it is supposed to be.

It is supposed to be the most brilliant of lights in the dark places we often spend our days.

It is supposed to drive us to the places of deepest despair and greatest need, and fully burdened to make our home there until the low are raised up and the hurting healed and the captives freed.

It is also supposed to make us fearless.

The most-repeated words from the mouth of God/Jesus throughout both the Old and New Testaments to the faithful, is to not fear. At the very center of our religion and its big story, is a steadfast security that rests in the loving presence of the Eternal; one that trusts in protection in or deliverance from all that which threatens from within and without. We rest in the unshakeable belief that will be cared for in this life, that we will persevere in adversity, or that we will move from this life into the next.

Or, as the Apostle Paul writes: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Paul’s sentiment  here is simply, This is all a win-win. If I live, I do so reflecting Jesus and if I die, I get to meet him. He is not speaking with sugary hyperbole. The Christian’s mindset is supposed to be one of unquenchable, confident optimism even in seemingly dire situations. We are called to be bright beacons to the broken even as we too face the storm, knowing God has us.

We don’t need to give God help or give Him a boost.

The reason the command not to fear was so prevalent in Scripture was because (as now) there was so much for people to be afraid of. We’d be delusional to look around at the world we’re living in and not be initially afraid. With the mutli-headed horrors running non-stop through our news feeds, it’s so easy to become spiritually disoriented, to lose sight of anything sure and steady. When that happens in your soul; when faith leaks out, fear seeps in–and you start sinking.

And once that fear becomes the dominant force in your religion, you end up becoming more and more terrified, more desperate, more jittery, more reactionary in your responses. You grow more hostile to those you perceive as outsiders, more contemptible of those who are different, more drawn to protection and violence and aggression.

In other words: You become less and less like Jesus.

What you’re seeing right now from so many professed Christians is not Jesus, or the loving, radically hospitable, interdependent community which sprang from his life and ministry.

It may have commandeered his name and appropriated some select quotes and have a similar veneer, but it is not Christianity.

It’s simply Americhristianity.

It is a Frankensteined faith made as much of rabid nationalism, political posturing, and fearful self-preservation, as it is the foot-washing, enemy forgiving, humble hearted, suffering Christ of the Gospels. It’s a flailing, angry, violent monster that once began as a noble experiment in Life.

Most American Christians have lived so long in Americhristianity that they simply accept that this is how their faith is supposed to look and sound and react. They live in an echo chamber of agreement in churches and talk shows and podcasts. That’s why when Christian politicians rushed to close their doors and borders to Syrian refugees, as they ramped up the inflammatory generalizations about Muslims, and as they called for immediate airstrikes, so many stood and applauded and amen-d, because they now have fear as their default setting and it feels natural.

Never mind that the Gospel is overflowing with the words and examples of Jesus on how to love lavishly, how to pour oneself out for another, how to bless even those who curse you. We’ve almost come to laugh that stuff off as meaningless; as if Jesus either didn’t really mean what he said or that what he said is no longer useful to us.

That Jesus; (the one from the Gospels) really doesn’t fit into Americhristianity. He’s too soft, too tolerant, too vulnerable. He’s not brash enough, his foreign policy not tough enough. In fact, the faith that so many in the West now call Christianity retains only the smallest sliver of Christ; conveniently just enough to get people saved or send them to Hell.

Outside of that, the rest is purely Stars and Stripes and American Dreams, all wrapped around a cross. We’re perfectly content to demand revenge when we get hurt, to live fat and happy surrounded by poverty, and to pick fights whenever we’re confronted—confident that Jesus approves of all of it.

We’re not sinister in this, just oblivious. Americhristainity only allows us to see God in our own materialistic, xenophobic, retaliatory image.

But Jesus was born as a homeless traveler whose family struggled to find welcome.
He lived and ministered in poverty at the mercy of others’ generosity.
He had a table of hospitality that offered no exceptions.
He held more power than anyone on the planet, yet never used that power in force in the face of oppression or violence, even upon his own body.
He was a blessed peacemaker.

This Jesus told of a heroic, Jew-despised Samaritan who modeled sacrificial mercy for the religious onlookers and for you and me. We’re still learning.

And time and time again, Jesus commanded his followers to choose faith over fear. It’s time we do so.

The heart of Christianity is inclusion and welcome and invitation. It is trust and contentment and hope that cannot be overtaken. It is serving and yielding and sacrificing.

It is not this scared narcissism that vilifies the other and sanctions bigotry and demands blood.

I love Christianity, just not this Americhristianity.

I don’t think this is helping anyone.

Until we who seek to follow Jesus choose to emulate the actual life of Christ and not the characteristics of our country, we’ll always be living a counterfeit religion—and we’ll always be afraid.

I’m not afraid.

 

 

 

 

 

498 thoughts on “Freeing Christians From Americhristianity

    • It is very unfortunate that many do not see that the refugee situation can be handled in a different way than letting them just flood the country.

      All Christians should know that we are to love, to help, and to give of ourselves, because the Bible says that is so.

      Can we show love to the refugees and still keep our country safe? I believe that we can.

      God always suggest that we love one another, but nowhere does He say that we have to take unnecessary chances with the safety of our families, after all, He has entrusted them to our care.

      To suggest that because some people do not want the refugees flooding the country in an unsafe manner, they are not taking a Christian position, is certainly a misrepresentation, or a lack of understanding.

        • Absolutely lay down our lives – when necessary is the key – dying when it is not necessary is what the radical Muslims do.

          • With respect to you, Morris, did Jesus make the qualification you make? I don’t recall a “when necessary” in his original instructions. Do you think Jesus thought his dying was necessary at the time? What about his disciples? Surely they weren’t prepared for it, but they (and we) were given a vivid picture of what Jesus meant when he lived what he had preached. The point is that it’s always risky to do what Jesus asks of us.

            That said, I agree with you that there are appropriate ways to mitigate risk according to wisdom, but we must test our motives constantly to avoid succumbing to fear at the expense of lovingkindness. For to do so, without question, is to be unfaithful.

      • I agree that we can show love and keep our country safe. Yet, I also believe the image of refugees “flooding the country” is exaggerated. This will not happen here. Those allowed to enter the USA will do so under the caution and surveillance of the FBI, Homeland Security, and state police. If we are to remain Christ-like in our actions, we can not exclude ourselves from accepting refugees; we just simply can’t. We must stand in our faith, act from our faith, and remain unafraid. Make wise choices, of course, but in that process keep our hearts open and available.

      • Mr. Monkus. I am trying to figure out why feeling a need to help fleeing refugees from Syria constitutes hatred. I think Jesus would want us to do that, regardless of whatever their religious views might be. Men, women, and children without a home; without food; and without clothing is a situation of despair that demands a loving Christian response.

        Now, completely apart from that, and speaking as a Christian, I only learned about the existence of Pastor Jeffrees about one year ago. I have listened to a number of his rantings since that time, and I have concluded to my own satisfaction that the man is an idiot who is politicizing his church as a springboard for a future career in right wing extremist politics. I do not approve of that because neither Jesus, nor his disciples, nor the Apostles sought to politicize the early Christian church.

        Maybe you would like to visit my other nice and friendly blog and drink deeply from the well of life there. Be sure and read the “About” and “My Profile” sections before you move on to the actual blog articles, which will no doubt be a soothing bomb for your soul. Here is the link:

        https://faith17983.wordpress.com/

        God Bless!!!!

          • Like I said in the “About” section, my blog “Flee from Christian Fundamentalism” would have never been created if people like you and their behaviors had not inspired it—and after reading that disgusting “copper pot” Facebook page of yours—you have got an awful damned lot of nerve calling my kettle black. I will ask the question again:

            “Is there anyone you do not hate in the name of Jesus?”

            My blog is just a small taste of what your “conservative whacko” faith tradition is going to be facing from other Christians in the coming decades. The days when we roll over and play dead are OVER.

            • Why is it always “Christians”that have a very liberal view are ALWAYS the ones that get mean and nasty in these comment sections? He simply and not rudely observed that your Christian love for the refugees, definitely does NOT include the same tolerance and love for your fellow Conservative Christians. You instantly got nasty, rude and very non-Christian . You, Sir, are part of the big problem. Please think about it before you get snippy with me, and please have a blessed evening. I will keep you in my prayers

      • There is no suggestion of refugees flooding the country. It is 10,000 refugees for a country of over 300 million. My little town is over 11,000. A third of them will go to the Detroit area, where they will find a community that is welcoming, support, and decent jobs. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services has settled many thousands of refugees over the years, and they have added to American culture. The fear that the fear-mongers are trying to sell is a false fear, founded on false information – information which they know, or should know, to be untrue. As Christians, we are called to give ourselves expensively to the stranger and sojourner, not counting the cost. It is a small price we pay here. Fear only feeds the enemy of our souls.

      • You are actually the one who is not fully informed; obviously you’ve seen propaganda from Europe showing ‘refugees’, (really African migrants), “flooding” in, “in an unsafe manner”? This is NOT representative of the way we have been integrating refugees in this country for decades, very SAFELY, and with little evidence that they pose anymore ‘risk’ than the average Republican, brainwashed, right-wing religious zealot. Look at the KKK and other extremist groups in the USA, like the neoconservative warmongering, racists who got us into this pickle in the first place; what should we do about them? Maybe they should wear a sign, letting people know they represent hatred toward their fellow human beings. If you want to sound intelligent or even, (wow!), compassionate, please don’t post silly comments that are not based upon truth, and worse, are simply inflammatory!

      • I liked very much what Gary Roth said. It reminded me that we have a very large percentage of Muslim people at my place of work and they are some of our brightest and best employees.

        • Fantastic – they may remain that way forever – and there are many more in this country that are just like that – those are not the ones that are causing the problem – it may only be a small percentage, but very few of them can wreak havoc and ruin families, which everyone knows.

      • Zahra. Conservative Christians are frightened shitless of all Muslims for several reasons:

        1) They represent a foreign culture and religion—and the are prone to fear anything they do not understand.

        2) Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism are legalistic religions just like Islam. They feel that all legalistic religions are “irresistible” when presented to the public and will inevitably grow when presented to the public. They fear that letting too many Muslims into the United states will pit their legalism against fundie legalism—and that the Muslim legalism will win out over theirs. In short, they are jealous—although most would never admit it. So add the fear above to “jealousy.”

        3) Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals hate all Muslims (even the peaceful ones) because as children they grew up in the wrong religion—Islam—thus making them enemies of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. And as history tells them: THE ENEMIES OF GOD ARE ALWAYS A THREAT, AND THEY MUST BE DESTROYED. As Dr. Crosson indicated in his video, “If I were a Christian fundamentalist in a room with 49 Muslims, if all of those 49 Muslims were dead, then I alone would have the truth in that room.”

        Listen up fundies!!! Never mind that Jesus died on the cross because He loved all of mankind—including the Muslims—and he insisted that they were our neighbors with no qualifications whatsoever—and He insisted that we love all of our neighbors. You can pooh-pooh it all you like, but YOU CANNOT TAKE THOSE WORDS OUT OF THE BIBLE, AND YOU NEVER WILL NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY, AND YOU WILL BE JUDGED BY WHETHER YOUR DEEDS ADHERE TO THOSE WORDS. THERE IS NO ESCAPE. JESUS HAS SET THE COMMAND BY HIS OWN WORDS.

        • You certainly have a deep hatred for conservative Christianity. Since you seem to have deep seated issues I will not comment and provoke you further.

          Good Night

          • Actually Morris, you guys did all the hating first. I am just doing my best to unravel that hate of yours and all of the hurt it has done to other people and the cause of Jesus in this world—all the lies it has brought into this world—and all of the love that might have been in this world if you people had not driven it all away—leaving only darkness and desperation in its wake. Good night to you too.

            • Since you seem so volatile (in some post) I am not going to respond to you any more, except to say, it appears you need to spend less time working on and commenting on other people’s hate, and work on those issues that you most certainly have.

              Have a good weekend.

      • Not only are non believers attacking christians on social media every day, now christians are calling other christians out for not being “christian enough”!! Its not only a lack of understanding, its chosing what parts of the Bible to preach and believe and its rediculous. To the man who says that Detroit is such a great place for the Muslims to congregate, i bet you dont live in Detroit. Detroit is bankrupt, corrupt, unsafe,and the parts that are 100% muslim have a complete and absolute education crisis! I would like to see your thoughts when your kids go to school in a classroom where 50% of the kids dont speak english. You should see first hand what kind of struggle that is to a school and what it sucks out if your kids education. Your town of 11,000 probably doesn’t have jobs for more people, does it? My town is over flowing with homeless vets and children and families on welfare alreafy. We have nothing left to give. And muslims are killing Christians every day. I hope you people pushing for open borders can recite the Quran in a pinch. God bless you.

        • I am afraid you have me confused with someone else. I do not push open borders and most of the rest of your post seems to be directed at someone else.

      • Many of the people that post on here do not recognize ISIS as their biggest threat, but they see Conservative Christianity as their worst enemy. Most of these are the Hillary/Obama followers and cannot discern anything past their nose.

        To the people that hate Conservative Christianity so bad, blast away. Since (as far as I know) this will be my last post to you tolerant, loving, liberal professors of Christianity, at least to this thread.

        Have a good weekend.

      • I agree with you, however I do not trust our government to let them in, in a safe way. I believe we need to protect us first. I do not believe God would want us to compromise our own safety. There is no way we can let these people through our borders without terrorists slipping though. To me it would be a death sentence to let these people into our already FREE country.

      • I think your error is the thinking that allowing refugees to resettle in the US is to let them “flood the country”. There is great info out there that tells the how the resettlement process works. It much more intense in the US then people realize

      • You are plenty safe and so is the country, your fear is drummed up on purpose for the gain of others, others who manipulate the situation for greed. Stop, look, listen… Turn down or turn of the sources of hate and fear and then stand up to them. There is no more threat or violence in the world today than there was yesterday, last week, last month, last year, the 20th century, the 1st millennium. All that changed is your access to information about all of the violence that humans are capable of. This should motivate you to speak out against violence and not fear…

      • I understand Jesus’ words about hating father and mother and family aren’t really about hating, but are about not putting anything including the safety of our family above obedience to the reign of God in the world and to all that Christ taught.

      • You missed the point of the scripture. Our safety is immaterial, if we die we go to heaven. Our calling is to help, regardless of any other consideration. And we can certainly afford to.

      • Of course! Because America first and God second. That’s what my daddy taught me, too! Clearly, an average of 200 refugees per state is far too dangerous for our God’s ability to keep us and protect us. God does have his limits, after all, and He couldn’t possibly protect us from all those families and babies and elderly people…

        ????

      • James 3:14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

        17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

      • Nicely said, thank you.

        I have Christian friends who think we should let the Syrian refugees come here unabated. I have other Christian friends who believe they should be screened first. Still others who say no way, it’s too risky. If the question is should the Church let them in, the answer, I believe, is yes, based on what Jesus said about taking care of the widows and orphans. (At least half of them are just that.) However, the question before us is should the US Gov, being secular as the Left will always remind us, let them in? That’s a different question. Our government’s first priority is to protect its citizens. So it’s not a religious question.
        It’s surprising to hear self-confessed non-Christians like Luther Siler and others tell us how unchristian we are, and in such a condescending way.

        We are a strong resourceful country, can we care for widows and orphans in their own homeland? We do. This is a characteristic of America all around the world.

      • They are not just throwing open the doors to let in refugees, the process as it stood could take years. Plus the voice rejecting accepting refugees are saying that under no circumstance should they be let in, not even the children. Sounds like elevating your own comfort and safety over obedience, which is a regular occurrence here in American, land of wimpy faith.

      • Does the Gospel promise us safety? I think true love leads us into unsafe areas. Safety is a fleeting thing. And who needs safety when the Lord promised to be with us always. Jesus didn’t take the safe route, nor the apostles nor the early church. You’re making the authors point for him. A desire for safety usually comes from a place of fear.

        • A desire for safety could be a result of fear, or it could be just good common sense. God never ask us to recklessly risk our lives when that is not necessary. He ask us to do so if there is no other way. Not proving the authors point at all. Don’t read into my post what you would like them to say, read into them what they say and believe that and you will have a clear understanding of where I am coming from.

          Those that would ask government to risk the safety of its citizens when there is a clear option, certainly has issues.

      • Except… No one, at all, anywhere, is suggesting allowing refugees to “flood into” the US. Instead, they are suggesting that regulated amounts that are very well vetted be allowed to relocate to the US so that they – including children – get to stop suffering and dying.

        To hide behind “protecting our families” in order to continue to let these people die is rather the point of this post, isn’t it? You are taking the fearful position of “what if?” over the Christ commanded courageous position of “help these people because they need it”.

    • Do you have e a daughter? If you did, would you just let anyone date her, without scrutiny and trust that God will protect her?
      I submit to you that many Christians are not acting out of fear or self preservation but rather being led to protect those who God has placed in their care.
      It us one thing to take a leap of faith that carries risk, it’s entirely different when there is risk to others that ha e no say I the the choices you make.
      Maybe that’s why Jesus instructed us to be gentle as doves yet wise as serpents.

      • I will interject at this point. Keep in mind the instructions that God gave in 1st Samuel 15:3. God ordered King Saul to enter the camp of the Amalekites and ” Now go, attack the Amalekites and TOTALLY destroy ALL THAT BELONGS TO THEM. DO NOT spare them: put to death men, and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys”. WOW, pretty harsh huh? Saul disobeyed and was punished for it later. You see, God is omniscient, and knew what was coming down the road for His people if they did NOT obey and TOTALLY destroy ALL their enemies. God then said to the prophet Nathaniel that ” I regret that I have made Saul King”! Samuel then said to Saul, ” To obey is better than sacrifice”! Later in the story the Hebrews suffered great destruction due to the revenge of the remnant of the Amalekites. Did God speak in vain? God understands war better than ANYONE!!! The new testament teachings of Jesus did not negate Gods instructions to fighting the enemies of His people. Bleeding hearts do that by not “considering the full context of Gods justice and instruction. Wake up, stop the bloodshed in your own hearts and start praying as Soloman did for Gods “WISDOM” above ALL else…….

    • I think that generalising is to put people down! In these days of turmoil words of encouragement are needed. Americans have their culture, however broken, but they have also given to our world. Australia where I live is altogether different, but with most people in the workforce, people are under a lot of pressure.
      Academics can make themselves problem solvers, but they are not always communicators on ground level.

  1. John Said:

    “Never mind that the Gospel is overflowing with the words and examples of Jesus on how to love lavishly, how to pour oneself out for another, how to bless even those who curse you. We’ve almost come to laugh that stuff off as meaningless; as if Jesus either didn’t really mean what he said or that what he said is no longer useful to us.”

    The actual, standard, cliche Amerchristianity response to this statement that I have heard for years from the fundie citadel is as follows:

    “Those things Jesus said apply only to the interpersonal relations between one individual human being and another individual human being. They were never meant to apply to anything else.”

    In other words, If a major corporation wants to treat its employees or its customers like pond scum, well, all that stuff Jesus said does not apply at that level. He was talking only about it applying between Joe and Bill in that disagreement they had about yard mowing last week.

    Convenient, huh?

    • I kind of thought that line (that Jesus only applies to interpersonal relationships) was just a caricature and no one actually believed that, but someone just wrote it, almost word for word, in complete seriousness as a reply to one of my Facebook posts.

      • It is very common really. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals—when they face new and difficult question—go off into a football huddle like the ancient scribes and pharisees to formulate a new-on-the-scene canned response that all of their foot soldiers can offer if they ever encounter this question. I would love to attend one of their huddles…

        Well, if we say…

        But if we say…then they can counter that

        But if we say….we can block that and look good.

        I think it is disgusting!!!

      • “Those things Jesus said apply only to the interpersonal relations between one individual human being and another individual human being. They were never meant to apply to anything else.”

        Saaaay what?!?

        There’s ignoring parts of the Gospel, and there’s perverting the Gospel, and I know which this is…..

  2. So much of American Christian commentary and attitude is way too much American, and way too little Christian. Biblically, our calling is not to save or protect America or the West or “Christendom”, but to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ by being His ambassadors to the world. A lot of what I see American Christians advocate and priorities might be good for America (or might not be!), but I am pretty sure it does not advance the Kingdom, nor reflect favorably on Christ. Therefore, I am not too concerned about the advent of a post-Christian America, but I am very enthusiastic about the advent of a post-American Christianity.

    • Just curious–are you saying you’re looking forward to the day when the American government is overthrown and we all live under Sharia law in a new Caliphate? If so, you don’t have to wait–you could simply move to Iran! Then your Christianity could shine like a star!!

      • Personally, I like living in a representative republic under capitalism. I think it provides the best environment for investing in helping hurting people and publishing the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I don’t see Iran as a place where that happens very often. Individuals Christians may be able to hide and thrive in spiritual growth, but that doesn’t do much for reaching every tribe, tongue, people and nation.

      • No, I am not saying that at all. Read it again. I love America, and I love living in America. I just think my Christian expression should be informed by the Scriptures, not right-wing talking points.

      • Yes! Because asking Christians to act more Christlike and less like selfish, brutal, greedy warmongers is exactly the same thing as looking forward to “the day when the American government is overthrown and we all live under Sharia law in a new Caliphate”
        Because clearly, if US Christians ever stopped being selfish, brutal, greedy warmongers, the US would end.
        Good thing we have you, pastor Paul, to show us just how wrong Jesus was.

  3. Thank you for this great post. I agree with you and choose to believe, as you said, that most Christians who are living Americhristianity “…are not sinister in this, just oblivious.” I pray for myself and all who call themselves Christians that we would follow Jesus Christ of Scripture and not a Jesus made in our own image.

    • Thank you for the words,John. I went to so many churches over the years looking for answers, it took many years for me to realize that they had the same Bible I had, but didn’t know how to apply it to their lives any more than I did. I quit going to church and started reading the Bible. If I was going to be a follower of Jesus, I needed to hear what He wanted from me in His own words. It has taken many times through the Bible for me to start to see: I’m a little thick headed, so it takes me longer. I love Christian’s, we talk the same language, but following one is just stupid on my part. I follow Jesus along side other human’s that want to follow Him. I enjoy the conversation for a while, then follow the path that leads to someone who needs a word or two to know, God loves them and sent His son to give them hope. We can plant the “Good News,” but that is all we can do, we can’t grow it, that’s God’s job. Keep up the good work, it may just make people think, “maybe I should ask God what He wants me to do.”

  4. I love most of this, but what’s the solution? What is the solution when people are dying at the hands of terrorists? Christ’s love won’t help us with that.

    As always, until we are affected personally, we can have an idealistic viewpoint of how things “should” be. But if a terrorist attack personally affected us, is it possible we would adopt a different view? This view could fall in line with some of the ones you’re speaking against?

    I wish there was an easy answer.

    • I would start by not assuming that all Muslim refugees are terrorists in hiding (not saying that you are personally, just speaking in general terms).

      Somehow, someway, the people in poverty stricken and/or war torn areas must be shown hope and love and helped in whatever way possible. They need to be shown that things do not have to remain as they are. If they have hope, ISIS (and other terrorist groups) will have far less willing recruits, as these groups hit on the fact that people feel hopeless and feel they have no other option. As G’mork from “The Neverending Story” says: “Because people who have no hopes are easy to control, and whoever has the control, has the power.” ISIS is seeking that power over people that have no hopes, and we, as Christians, should give them that hope, whatever that might look like in their context.

      • I feel annoyed by these responses. I don’t exactly know what other christians are saying so I can’t totally blast your argument, I don’t have cable tv. But however I do know that when I decided after this incident to get a gun, it wasn’t out of fear, but of charity. I went to the range years ago to get my certificate and buy a gun. Then once I learned how dangerous it was I changed my mind. I decided all that drama wasn’t worth it to avoid getting robbed, or raped, beat up, or even killed. My life is nothing but a tool for christ, and if it’s my end, then it’s my end.

        However, once I heard of these shootings and imagined myself in Sandy Hook, or in Paris, trapped in a public building where countless of other innocent people were being mercilessly gunned down around me, I felt it was my responsibility to have a gun. Not for me, who cares if I die. But for the children, the elderly and the helpless. I don’t think as a christian I should put myself in a place where I just run for my life and watch them helpless as they die.

        Also it is dumb not to assume muslims are doing this. I understand not all muslims are doing this but please remember it is a group of muslims who CLAIM RESPONSIBILITY, because they don’t want YOU to forget it. I don’t think that I should hate muslims, WHY? That is senseless. Plus hate doesn’t solve anything. On the other hand I think it’s absolutely ignorant to send muslim refugees here to America. It’s also snobbish to assume AMERICA is the only country where one can have a good life. Really?! Plenty of other countries live just as well or better than us. Plenty of countries we have good relationships with. Why couldn’t we arrange their passage to another democratic country, where they can be free and start over again. It’s not only egotistical to assume the only country where happiness can be found is here, but it’s also a willing abdication of your rights to live in a non-military state with the right not to live in CONSTANT WAR. Yea, lets ship a bunch of guys (no women or children BTW) to our country where at the very least they are ambivalent to our culture and at the most filled with righteous hatred of our culture ways and religion. Oh, and lets try and hold on to our constitutional rights while we disseminate possible unknown terrorists throughout the people…………………

        They have a right to leave their country but they don’t have to come here for our safety, for their safety, ugh, Not participating in stupidity isn’t fear it’s what I feel God told us to do. Acts 21:4 is a situation where it was possibly dangerous and God through the disciples urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. That’s not fear, God doesn’t want us to live in contention either. We should avoid it and live in peace if at all possible. THATS NOT HATE.

        I don’t deny either that some christians are peddling hate. They are but no one is blind, Proverbs 17:4 a wicked person listens to deceitful lips…. Don’t worry about the liars, let us be true as much as we can, but lets also be wise. God will grant us wisdom if we ask. Jesus wasn’t all that soft either. He whipped everyone in the temple, don’t forget that. I’m not saying we need to whip people but don’t forget the Joshuas, the Davids, and the Nehemiahs (13:25 who beat some of the people and pulled out their hair). I’m not calling for murder or for judgement but have the heart of Christ. Loving and caring. Which doesn’t include letting your haters in your house or watching women and children get murdered.

        I know it’s hard as a christian to know when to stand and when to have mercy, but I truly believe if you pray and fast Jesus will give you that discernment. Get your gun, send the immigrants somewhere else where they won’t hate every second of their lives living around wordily people and christian crazies- lol, maybe another muslim country, maybe australia IDK. But you can do these things without hating, you can do them BECAUSE of mercy…..

        • You have been lied to. All other western democracies – all of them – already take many more refugees per capita than the US does.
          And the refugees always – always – contain women and children. And they are usually mostly women and children.
          Compassion is more important that fear. An imaginary “Parisian trapped in a building” does not need your marksmanship. But a very real child from Somali does need your country to reflect your Christ’s love. Give it a try.

      • I agree with what Tiffany said… Are we really that naive to always believe people want to come to America? That we are the only ones who can do it and do it right? That these people would rather come here with ideals and a culture completely different than theirs rather than a neighboring country, easier to return to their homes one day? That these people WANT to leave their homes or that maybe they would rather have the means and help to fight and get their country back? The solution isn’t just to bring them here in love, but allow them to live their lives in their homes, free from the fear of these terrorists. We cannot be so arrogant as to not look at the whole picture that ISIS is a plague and eventually we’ll run out of room or money trying to bring in refugees from the Middle East instead of allowing these people to return to their homes free of the fear of ISIS.

      • ““just speaking in general terms”–like you accuse other of doing?”

        When exactly did I ever do that?

    • This is the highest challenge of the true gospel which calls us not to fear but to love in the face of anything, including the worst acts perpetrated by the worst of terrorists. God bless. And it’s not high sounding platitudes but real, living love fueled by faith in Jesus Christ that will do it.

      • Jem we need this kind of encouragement and ‘radical love talk’ I really feel strengthened by what you are writing here — I think we are all beaten down by fear.

    • The solution IS Christ’S love. It absolutely helps with what you describe. The problem is focus. People fear because they focus on painful things like you describe so it is bigger than God. When you focus on Jesus and his love for you and others He gets bigger than the issue. It’s about perspective. This life on Earth is but a blink of the eye compared to Eternity that awaits those who believe. I have no fear of terrorists as they are powerless in comparison to Jesus who I will go to be with. Until then my job is to love and serve others and put myself last. I do not want to be the one left saying Lord when did I see you hungry and not feed you? Christ’s radical love always helps.

    • The solution is not to meet hatred with hate. It’s not idealism to have faith – it is the essence of faith to believe that God is in charge. We may not know how a terrorist attack would affect us – I hope it would not make me hate – that is giving in to the enemy. M.L. King, who was not a rosy-eyed idealist, but who had to suffer much for the sake of his faith, said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Either we believe what Jesus said about loving the enemy, or we do not. If we do not, we cannot call ourselves, “Christian.” No one said it was easy.

    • I hope that if a terrorist attack personally affected me I could still live in faith rather than fear and allow God to give me the strength to love my enemy and turn the other cheek. I pray that I would not lose my compassion or calling to help those in need just because someone who looks like them did something evil. I pray that at the end of the day, even if my heart is filled with sorrow, I could look back and know that I did my best to follow Christ and remember that I will see my loved ones in Heaven when this is all over. I refuse to live my life in fear, but i realize the reality that I am far more likely to die in a car accident on my way to work than by a terrorist attack. In actual numbers, terrorist attacks are few and take few lives compared to the many other common ways to die. The media’s fear mongering and constant coverage and sometimes outright lies to boost ratings is why so many are so terrified. Being a Christian means choosing faith over fear. We are imperfect but that doesn’t mean we stop trying. At some point not so long ago we became a country guided by fear without any real reason. Even the worst tragedies our country has ever faced aren’t as bad as daily life in some places on earth.

  5. I love most of this, but what’s the solution? What is the solution when people are dying at the hands of terrorists? Christ’s love won’t help us with that.

    As always, until we are affected personally, we can have an idealistic viewpoint of how things “should” be. But if a terrorist attack personally affected us, is it possible we would adopt a different view? This view could fall in line with some of the ones you’re speaking against?

    I wish there was an easy answer.

    • I would start by not assuming that all Muslim refugees are terrorists in hiding (not saying that you are personally, just speaking in general terms).

      Somehow, someway, the people in poverty stricken and/or war torn areas must be shown hope and love and helped in whatever way possible. They need to be shown that things do not have to remain as they are. If they have hope, ISIS (and other terrorist groups) will have far less willing recruits, as these groups hit on the fact that people feel hopeless and feel they have no other option. As G’mork from “The Neverending Story” says: “Because people who have no hopes are easy to control, and whoever has the control, has the power.” ISIS is seeking that power over people that have no hopes, and we, as Christians, should give them that hope, whatever that might look like in their context.

    • The solution IS Christ’S love. It absolutely helps with what you describe. The problem is focus. People fear because they focus on painful things like you describe so it is bigger than God. When you focus on Jesus and his love for you and others He gets bigger than the issue. It’s about perspective. This life on Earth is but a blink of the eye compared to Eternity that awaits those who believe. I have no fear of terrorists as they are powerless in comparison to Jesus who I will go to be with. Until then my job is to love and serve others and put myself last. I do not want to be the one left saying Lord when did I see you hungry and not feed you? Christ’s radical love always helps.

  6. John here are 2 books that transformed my thinking about the church in America… The Democratization of American Christianity. Nathan Hatch, 1989; The Old Religion in a New World, Mark Noll, 2002. You are spot on and I am afraid that this country and “churches” as we know them are entering a dark, slippery slope of decline. God will prevail but like the Temple, I’m afraid not the “Church”.

  7. John here are 2 books that transformed my thinking about the church in America… The Democratization of American Christianity. Nathan Hatch, 1989; The Old Religion in a New World, Mark Noll, 2002. You are spot on and I am afraid that this country and “churches” as we know them are entering a dark, slippery slope of decline. God will prevail but like the Temple, I’m afraid not the “Church”.

  8. Thank you so much for your writing. You always cut right to the heart of the truth and you are certainly a light in the darkness. I think God so much for you and your gift that you share.

  9. Great stuff, John. Thanks for so eloquently illustrating this frustrating state of the American church. I only have one complaint. Every other remark left here is in agreement with you. Which means you seem to be preaching to the choir! My hope & prayer is that many of those currently trapped in this church Matrix will read this article, or something similar, and choose to take the red pill. Time to wake up, America. We all have dogmatic and religious remnants that color our thinking and actions. Thankfully, Jesus lovingly and patiently waits for us to figure this out. Let’s not keep Him waiting any longer.

    • Yes, I wanted to post it on my FB page but then realized it would not be read unless I copy/paste the whole article, and then folk still won’t read it – those that need to.

      • I felt the same way but then I thought about it and decided I can’t control everything, but I can post it and God can guide them to it. Maybe, just maybe they will be intrigued, or at least read it in hopes of arguing with it? Within a minute of posting it someone I thought would never read it did, and we had a nice discussion about it. You never know how God can use you! 🙂

    • Don Garberg:Every other remark left here is in agreement with you. Which means you seem to be preaching to the choir!

      True Don, and the choir is here to be heard . . . but how many are there who sit invisibly in the pews and quietly listen . . . and perhaps hear a different voice than they hear elsewhere?

      A light shining in the darkness is often the most important light of all.

      May it be so.

    • The best thing us ‘in the choir’ can do is share this with everyone else. Post it on Facebook, post it in replies to people on other sites who need the truth. Email it to your religious friends. “Go tell it on the mountain” so to speak!

      • I would say that the best thing the people in the choir can do is to personally open their homes to those who have no place to live. Many that I know who are “in the choir” have never provided housing, clothing, food, and love with those who are in need. Unfortunately it is much easier to spout about what is wrong with other people’s responses than to close one’s mouth and actually DO something. Although you may not be able to take in a refugee family, is there someone near you who is homeless? Take them in! Is there someone near you who doesn’t have enough clothing? Give them some of your. We don’t need to continue to debate the geo-political aspect – just DO it!

      • Nancy we all have different gifts, abilities and capacities. Speaking/spouting is one of them. I disagree with your characterization of the ‘choir’ so easy to be disparaging…. I know too many who are in the ‘choir ‘ who give whatever they can.

  10. Great stuff, John. Thanks for so eloquently illustrating this frustrating state of the American church. I only have one complaint. Every other remark left here is in agreement with you. Which means you seem to be preaching to the choir! My hope & prayer is that many of those currently trapped in this church Matrix will read this article, or something similar, and choose to take the red pill. Time to wake up, America. We all have dogmatic and religious remnants that color our thinking and actions. Thankfully, Jesus lovingly and patiently waits for us to figure this out. Let’s not keep Him waiting any longer.

    • Yes, I wanted to post it on my FB page but then realized it would not be read unless I copy/paste the whole article, and then folk still won’t read it – those that need to.

    • Don Garberg:Every other remark left here is in agreement with you. Which means you seem to be preaching to the choir!

      True Don, and the choir is here to be heard . . . but how many are there who sit invisibly in the pews and quietly listen . . . and perhaps hear a different voice than they hear elsewhere?

      A light shining in the darkness is often the most important light of all.

      May it be so.

  11. John,

    You’ve approached a subject that’s troubled me since my return to faith… and that’s the subject of violence. It’s been my impression of what Jesus commands, that he abhors violence. “Turn the other cheek”, he commanded. He ordered his disciples to put down their weapons when the soldiers came to take him to Pilot. Jesus was, as you so eloquently describe, full of love and compassion… it defies my own imagination that he would EVER pick up arms against anyone — LOVE your enemy he commands! So, with all that, how can ANY violence be tolerated by those who would claim to be followers of Jesus? I personally wrestle with this, because — as a member of the U.S. Military — I have been a proponent of violent actions in response to evil. Yet, how can I call myself a Christian and have this desire to strike down someone who is trying to hurt me, my family, my loved ones… OR my country?

    I read your post, and I see and hear you calling on us “Christians” to behave more like Christ… but honestly, I’m not sure how to do that in circumstances such as these. I wouldn’t invite a murderer into my home… but you seem to advocate that those of us who would close our doors are behaving UN-Christ-like (and I’m not sure I disagree with you!).

    I’d like to paint an analogy, and I’d really like to hear your opinion of how to live as Christ: Let’s say you are sitting at home one night enjoying a quiet evening with your wife, and children; and the news comes on. In the news announcement comes a report that there are large groups of people roaming the streets where you live, homeless and hungry people — BUT, also among them are known murders, people known for killing any and all others they come across in order to further their religious ideology. The report cautions everyone in your neighborhood to be cautious. And shortly after this report there’s a knock at your door… when you open it, there’s a small group of people who look ragged, hungry, and desperate; they ask you for shelter and food.

    What should YOU do? According to Jesus, you should let them in, right? you should feed them and clothe them and provide them shelter for as long as they need. Is this something YOU are prepared to do? You know that it is highly likely that one or more of these people are murderers — your family’s lives are at risk — but we should let them in, right? That’s what Jesus would do. Let’s say, for the sake of argument you DO let them in and you begin to feed them, and provide for their needs… then, suddenly, one of them grabs a knife from your kitchen and says, in the name of Allah, he’s going to kill your family (and you), and plans to make a huge show of it for the media. What do you do THEN, John? At what point is is “permissible” to become violent… to protect yourself? To protect your family? What is the magic point at which we can become UN-Christ-like and take action? Or… is it never permissible? Maybe the Quakers have it right after all(?).

    Honestly… I think this reason alone is the sole reason I’m not a very good Christian. I would (in Oppenheimer’s words), “become death” and bestow as much violence which I was capable of in order to protect my family. In order to prevent that violence in the first place, I probably would not let this group in to my home… and hence, I fail at following Christ, and that saddens me deeply.

    You call it Americhristianity… but I fail to see where else in the world, the “real” Christianity is being lived, so it irritates me that you would levy this UN-Christ-like behavior solely at the feet of Americans. It’s more like Human-christianity.

    I’m an avid reader of your posts, John. I’m not in a real disagreement with you… in most cases you often remind me of how badly I follow in Christ’s footsteps. I think you might have gone a little too far on this one though(?)… please help me see more clearly on this.

    • I think you have to ask yourself whether you are acting out of fear or out of love. Love requires you to take risks without fear of the consequences. If these poor, ragged, hungry people turn out to be religious terrorist fanatics you’ll take a quick ticket to heaven. Is that bad? Is it easy? No! It requires total submission to Christ to love in the face of attack. My prayer is that I won’t shrink in fear when it happens to me.

      • You don’t have to wait! Go out and round up some homeless people from underneath a bridge and bring them home. Test yourself today!

    • I hate you feel that you think you’re un-Christ-like because you don’t have a completely pacifist look at life. This man does not have the whole book on what Christianity should look like. He’s a man. Study, pray, and continually strive to do what is right according to the Bible and Christ. Go to church, attend study groups, and find a mentor. They won’t give you all the answers, but you are not alone and not alone in the thinking that you are failing. We ALL fail and fall short of the Glory of God, but that does not make us un-Christian. We are forever a work in progress. Wanting to protect your family doesn’t make you un-Christian. God protected the Jews through fire, water, and war.

      • Angela I loved your comment, I have read many of the other comments even the authors and they don’t talk prayer. Many including the author slam conservatives of being rightwing if they do not agree with them, and then they go on to promote their self Christianity. I do believe that prayer is the number 1 step for all Christians to have in their arsenal for all situations, including the Muslim refugees. Progressives in today’s society will continue to label and attack those who not follow their self proclaimed wisdom. It is a form of elitist mentality. I believe the author falls into this category, and they need to be in our prayers as well.

    • Steve, Jesus was also a realist. At the Garden before he was taken he told disciples that they would need to sell their kits and clothes for swords. I am not a bible scholar, so I cannot give you verse and exact quote. Our Pastor did a sermon on it this weekend. And he made so much sense. When he said to turn the other cheek it was in reference to putting aside our Egos, not putting aside our right to defend ourselves. Remember in Jesus’ time a slap in the face was a great insult. He did not turn the other cheek when he was preaching in a temple and one of the Pharisee’s guards slapped him. He looked right at the guard and asked him why do you hit me when I speak the truth. It is up to YOU to prove me wrong.He may not have hit him with his fists, but he hit him with his words. HE didn’t just walk away.
      There were times he did not turn the other cheek or accept violence. He may not have struck back with his fists, but he did with his words. The scene in the temple where he turned over tables and whipped the money lenders out of the temple was not a pacifist move. He did NOT SEEK out violence. He did not seek to do harm to others.
      That is the difference between a Christian who wishes to practice Christ’s ways and someone who just spouts they are a Christian. I don’t promote hate or racism. I do not promote hate. I do not go out and seek to do harm to others. I seek to do what is right, but do so with caution in a situation like what you describe.
      Let the people in your home but be wary. I would personally set them up in my garage and keep my family in the house. I would bring them food and blankets and try to help them. But, I would not let them in my home until I was sure who they were. I am still showing compassion, I am still trying to do the right thing and keep my family safe. It can be a fine line.
      Let the refugee’s come. But, until I see these people who tell me that I should be all compassionate and without fear take them into their own homes I will be cautious. I will do what I can and keep my family safe. It is not out of fear. It is out of common sense. And what easier way to do away with Christians than to use the very tenets of Christianity against them. And you had better believe I will defend the helpless, the aged, children and others against anyone who would seek them harm. I will not go out and seek to do harm, but I will do harm if you intend to harm me or my family.

    • Steve, I was touched by your honest questions and searching (as i have had the same myself) and wanted to offer what I have learned as a Christian striving to follow Jesus’ model of radical love.
      First – the tough questions, like these, deserve and require deep searching and studying through the word and in prayer. If you get a (Strong’s Concordance) and study the hebrew/greek meanings of words- it might unlock some of your questions I think. Specifically, your struggle to align loving others unconditionally and yet the desire to protect your family (as you mentioned you are in the military as well)… and the questions of killing someone in defense of a loved one- is God ok with that? To be honest- in the Old Test. God even sometimes ordered his servants to kill other groups/cultures… how does that align with the same God we see in the New Test./Jesus teachings of unconditional love and peace- making and turn-the-other-cheek mentality? The answer is in the hebrew/greek words for “kill” and “murder” used in these instances- they have very different meanings. I heard a sermon once on this and it really helped me to have a better understanding and have peace with this question at least. Maybe it will help you too?

      Here’s the link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/7667/62635-murder-vs-killing-part-1

      And every question and situation is different- sometimes answers are not so black and white either. Like the situation you created of people roaming the streets homeless/hungry/or possibly murderers and then theres a knocking at your door and the question of “What should YOU do? According to Jesus, you should let them in, right?”… well, not necessarily.. (and I have done this specifically in a similar situation…) you should immediately pray and ask God for discernment IF you should open the door. (He has given us His spirit and the holy spirit is there to guide and protect us…) and at times I have gotten a “no” and not opened the door…and other times i’ve gotten a feeling of overwhemling peace and knew it was ok and opened the door and it was ok. (But learning to hear and know the voice of God and trust his still small voice takes time… )

      And as for your comments about yourself and that you think you’re “not a very good christian”. that saddens my heart. You need to see yourself as HE does. He is the Lifter of your head and the ONE who puts you in RIGHT standing. We all fall short of His glory every day. Thats not the point though. The point is if you are striving and seeking Him with your WHOLE heart. THATS what He desires. He looks at your heart. And He asks you to come with all your questions and doubts and worries and fears. He can handle them and in due time (if you are seeking Him- He will progressively reveal Himself to you and the answers you seek.)

      Peace to you Brother.

      Sam

    • Thank you for your honest struggle. If we are talking abut accepting refugees from Syria, however, it is a false analogy, since they do not make the same journey here as they do through Europe. All of the terrorists were European, some at least were of Moroccan descent. Their headquarters was in Brussels. Refugees from Syria that come here, come through the Jordanian camps, are highly vetted over as long as three years. They are trying to get away from the horrors they lived under in Syria. They had nothing to do with the bombings, nor could they be confused with those who did it, none of which were Syrian. It is much more like Iraq, where we blamed an enemy of the Taliban for 9/11, went to war with them, and created a monster called ISIS – whose leaders are mostly former Iraqi Baath military. We attacked the wrong people for 9/11 (not that Hussein wasn’t awful); now we want to blame the victims of ISIS.

      The other matter, of violence and Christianity, I’ve thought a lot about over the years, ever since I was faced with the draft during the VietNam war (yep, I’m an old guy!). I don’t think it helps to be ideological about it. “Always” and “never” should generally be banned from such discussions. We must recognize that when we kill someone, we are killing one of God’s children – so it is never easy, never to be taken lightly, and never a “righteous” act. It is sometimes the best of bad possibilities. Like the police, a soldier’s call is to protect others. It is a difficult calling, and often troubling. Killing a person should always be a last resort. But, in a fight, a soldier must be fully convinced that this is what they are doing. Then they must place it in God’s hands, admit that they are a flawed human being, and let go of it.

      In the VietNam war, I have to say that I was not a CO – I couldn’t claim to be opposed to every war. But I refused to fight in that one, because I was convinced it was unjust. I ripped up my care and sent it back, fully convinced that I would be prosecuted and sent to jail. Apparently, they decided instead to ignore it. We must all decide where we stand on these matters, and stand upon our faith, trying to live under the reign of God.

      • I really love how you put this dilemma, Gary. A wonderfully wise response. Faced with a similar situation in my own country of a compulsory call-up to do my supposed part and fight against an enemy that I was not totally convinced was an enemy anyway, and being too much of a coward to stand against popular conviction in my culture at the time and become a conscientious objector (not sure such a thing was even possible at the time) I went ahead and did my service, but I remember praying much that I would never have to shoot at an “enemy” and perhaps kill him with a bullet from my rifle, and how that is what happened. There were many times I came close to contacts, but each time I escaped somehow, sometimes very narrowly, and was always prevented from being in direct shooting combat with an “enemy”. Praise the God of Heaven! And now in our country we who fought that enemy now live with him as our ruler. Lol! I do think God has a sense of humour even in all this.

    • Steve, please read Luke 22:36 (the verse pavanneh alluded to):

      “He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”“

      This was Jesus addressing His disciples. He was telling them to have be provided for and armed as they went out into the world after the crucifixion. Jesus was opposed to violence, but self-defense is not violence. As a soldier you are not automatically a murderer; you don’t go around killing people just because you want to see them dead. And while I pray that you never have to kill anyone, if killing someone means saving the lives of others, that to me seems to be a fair choice to make.

      Later Jesus rebukes Peter for striking the ear of the high priest with his sword, but it was because Peter attacked first — he acted violently. He was living by the sword. Again, this was not self-defense.

      Jesus did not intend for his disciples to be penniless and vulnerable to whoever might try to strike them down. The image of the armed American Christian, doing charity but also making a practical living and being ready to defend the innocent is not such a far cry from what Jesus intended for His people.

      Just trying to give you a word of support — there’s no reason to think that Christians can’t be soldiers, or cops, or bodyguards.

      • Montoya, Yes, Christians can be police officers, and should be police officers if called to that helping, protecting profession. One of my best friends has been a police officer for many years in a large city. He rarely has ever had to draw his gun, and always does so in defense of the innocent. Plus, his main purpose wasn’t in killing like in armies at war, but in stopping killing, even of the guilty.

        In contrast, Christians shouldn’t go into the military (except as medics) because armies almost always kill the innocent, are intent on killing the soldiers of the other country who often aren’t guilty at all but just got drafted by their government. Furthermore,most soldiers destroy, steal, lie, curse, abuse, etc.
        If you doubt this read a few of the many scholarly history books published on our U.S. wars that our country has fought. Our soldiers did much evil, killed hundreds of thousands of innocent humans including thousands of children:-(

        The only war that wasn’t totally unjust and immoral was World War II where the Nazis were so evil, it appears that there was only the lesser of two evils. Even the famous Christian pacifist Dietrich Bonhoeffer, finally gave up on hope in God and attempted to kill Hitler and his henchmen.

        But in all of the other wars the U.S. fought, we were in the wrong, and sometimes acted very evil. Please read what our soldiers did in these other wars. It will bring you to tears. Their actions were totally contrary to God’s way.

    • Well said.

      I fail to see where this whole issue is based on “fear”.

      I am a Christian and I am not afraid. Yes, we are to welcome strangers, but the Bible also tells us to be as shrewd as snakes (Matthew 10:16)

      And why are suddenly turning this into a “Christian” thing anyway. It is the United States borders and its citizens were a protecting. Many in this country are not Christian and have the same sentiments. We make it out to be a “Christian” thing and then on the next big political crisis (such as Marriage), the same people will squash religious views in the name of the American Constitution.

  12. John,

    You’ve approached a subject that’s troubled me since my return to faith… and that’s the subject of violence. It’s been my impression of what Jesus commands, that he abhors violence. “Turn the other cheek”, he commanded. He ordered his disciples to put down their weapons when the soldiers came to take him to Pilot. Jesus was, as you so eloquently describe, full of love and compassion… it defies my own imagination that he would EVER pick up arms against anyone — LOVE your enemy he commands! So, with all that, how can ANY violence be tolerated by those who would claim to be followers of Jesus? I personally wrestle with this, because — as a member of the U.S. Military — I have been a proponent of violent actions in response to evil. Yet, how can I call myself a Christian and have this desire to strike down someone who is trying to hurt me, my family, my loved ones… OR my country?

    I read your post, and I see and hear you calling on us “Christians” to behave more like Christ… but honestly, I’m not sure how to do that in circumstances such as these. I wouldn’t invite a murderer into my home… but you seem to advocate that those of us who would close our doors are behaving UN-Christ-like (and I’m not sure I disagree with you!).

    I’d like to paint an analogy, and I’d really like to hear your opinion of how to live as Christ: Let’s say you are sitting at home one night enjoying a quiet evening with your wife, and children; and the news comes on. In the news announcement comes a report that there are large groups of people roaming the streets where you live, homeless and hungry people — BUT, also among them are known murders, people known for killing any and all others they come across in order to further their religious ideology. The report cautions everyone in your neighborhood to be cautious. And shortly after this report there’s a knock at your door… when you open it, there’s a small group of people who look ragged, hungry, and desperate; they ask you for shelter and food.

    What should YOU do? According to Jesus, you should let them in, right? you should feed them and clothe them and provide them shelter for as long as they need. Is this something YOU are prepared to do? You know that it is highly likely that one or more of these people are murderers — your family’s lives are at risk — but we should let them in, right? That’s what Jesus would do. Let’s say, for the sake of argument you DO let them in and you begin to feed them, and provide for their needs… then, suddenly, one of them grabs a knife from your kitchen and says, in the name of Allah, he’s going to kill your family (and you), and plans to make a huge show of it for the media. What do you do THEN, John? At what point is is “permissible” to become violent… to protect yourself? To protect your family? What is the magic point at which we can become UN-Christ-like and take action? Or… is it never permissible? Maybe the Quakers have it right after all(?).

    Honestly… I think this reason alone is the sole reason I’m not a very good Christian. I would (in Oppenheimer’s words), “become death” and bestow as much violence which I was capable of in order to protect my family. In order to prevent that violence in the first place, I probably would not let this group in to my home… and hence, I fail at following Christ, and that saddens me deeply.

    You call it Americhristianity… but I fail to see where else in the world, the “real” Christianity is being lived, so it irritates me that you would levy this UN-Christ-like behavior solely at the feet of Americans. It’s more like Human-christianity.

    I’m an avid reader of your posts, John. I’m not in a real disagreement with you… in most cases you often remind me of how badly I follow in Christ’s footsteps. I think you might have gone a little too far on this one though(?)… please help me see more clearly on this.

    • Steve, Jesus was also a realist. At the Garden before he was taken he told disciples that they would need to sell their kits and clothes for swords. I am not a bible scholar, so I cannot give you verse and exact quote. Our Pastor did a sermon on it this weekend. And he made so much sense. When he said to turn the other cheek it was in reference to putting aside our Egos, not putting aside our right to defend ourselves. Remember in Jesus’ time a slap in the face was a great insult. He did not turn the other cheek when he was preaching in a temple and one of the Pharisee’s guards slapped him. He looked right at the guard and asked him why do you hit me when I speak the truth. It is up to YOU to prove me wrong.He may not have hit him with his fists, but he hit him with his words. HE didn’t just walk away.
      There were times he did not turn the other cheek or accept violence. He may not have struck back with his fists, but he did with his words. The scene in the temple where he turned over tables and whipped the money lenders out of the temple was not a pacifist move. He did NOT SEEK out violence. He did not seek to do harm to others.
      That is the difference between a Christian who wishes to practice Christ’s ways and someone who just spouts they are a Christian. I don’t promote hate or racism. I do not promote hate. I do not go out and seek to do harm to others. I seek to do what is right, but do so with caution in a situation like what you describe.
      Let the people in your home but be wary. I would personally set them up in my garage and keep my family in the house. I would bring them food and blankets and try to help them. But, I would not let them in my home until I was sure who they were. I am still showing compassion, I am still trying to do the right thing and keep my family safe. It can be a fine line.
      Let the refugee’s come. But, until I see these people who tell me that I should be all compassionate and without fear take them into their own homes I will be cautious. I will do what I can and keep my family safe. It is not out of fear. It is out of common sense. And what easier way to do away with Christians than to use the very tenets of Christianity against them. And you had better believe I will defend the helpless, the aged, children and others against anyone who would seek them harm. I will not go out and seek to do harm, but I will do harm if you intend to harm me or my family.

    • Steve, I was touched by your honest questions and searching (as i have had the same myself) and wanted to offer what I have learned as a Christian striving to follow Jesus’ model of radical love.
      First – the tough questions, like these, deserve and require deep searching and studying through the word and in prayer. If you get a (Strong’s Concordance) and study the hebrew/greek meanings of words- it might unlock some of your questions I think. Specifically, your struggle to align loving others unconditionally and yet the desire to protect your family (as you mentioned you are in the military as well)… and the questions of killing someone in defense of a loved one- is God ok with that? To be honest- in the Old Test. God even sometimes ordered his servants to kill other groups/cultures… how does that align with the same God we see in the New Test./Jesus teachings of unconditional love and peace- making and turn-the-other-cheek mentality? The answer is in the hebrew/greek words for “kill” and “murder” used in these instances- they have very different meanings. I heard a sermon once on this and it really helped me to have a better understanding and have peace with this question at least. Maybe it will help you too?

      Here’s the link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/7667/62635-murder-vs-killing-part-1

      And every question and situation is different- sometimes answers are not so black and white either. Like the situation you created of people roaming the streets homeless/hungry/or possibly murderers and then theres a knocking at your door and the question of “What should YOU do? According to Jesus, you should let them in, right?”… well, not necessarily.. (and I have done this specifically in a similar situation…) you should immediately pray and ask God for discernment IF you should open the door. (He has given us His spirit and the holy spirit is there to guide and protect us…) and at times I have gotten a “no” and not opened the door…and other times i’ve gotten a feeling of overwhemling peace and knew it was ok and opened the door and it was ok. (But learning to hear and know the voice of God and trust his still small voice takes time… )

      And as for your comments about yourself and that you think you’re “not a very good christian”. that saddens my heart. You need to see yourself as HE does. He is the Lifter of your head and the ONE who puts you in RIGHT standing. We all fall short of His glory every day. Thats not the point though. The point is if you are striving and seeking Him with your WHOLE heart. THATS what He desires. He looks at your heart. And He asks you to come with all your questions and doubts and worries and fears. He can handle them and in due time (if you are seeking Him- He will progressively reveal Himself to you and the answers you seek.)

      Peace to you Brother.

      Sam

    • Steve, please read Luke 22:36 (the verse pavanneh alluded to):

      “He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”“

      This was Jesus addressing His disciples. He was telling them to have be provided for and armed as they went out into the world after the crucifixion. Jesus was opposed to violence, but self-defense is not violence. As a soldier you are not automatically a murderer; you don’t go around killing people just because you want to see them dead. And while I pray that you never have to kill anyone, if killing someone means saving the lives of others, that to me seems to be a fair choice to make.

      Later Jesus rebukes Peter for striking the ear of the high priest with his sword, but it was because Peter attacked first — he acted violently. He was living by the sword. Again, this was not self-defense.

      Jesus did not intend for his disciples to be penniless and vulnerable to whoever might try to strike them down. The image of the armed American Christian, doing charity but also making a practical living and being ready to defend the innocent is not such a far cry from what Jesus intended for His people.

      Just trying to give you a word of support — there’s no reason to think that Christians can’t be soldiers, or cops, or bodyguards.

  13. I may agree with the above– because like it’s stated above in response to my questions, we are to see that all muslims are not terrorists (completely agree), and give HOPE to them so they are not to become so hopeless to be attracted to radical islam. But my question remains…HOW? How exactly do we give them HOPE? By taking them in & paying for their needs, much like the above illustration (we can’t/don’t even do that for our own homeless communities here). It all sounds so Christ-like, but in reality, it’s just foolish behavior. Furthermore, they don’t want or recognize our hope, anymore than we do theirs. They don’t want our christianity. Are we thinking we will be so kind to them that they will leave their faith? Or that they will stand together against terrorism to their own detriment if this group continues? I don’t think the idea of providing hope or being Christ-like is actually going to suffice in a realistic way. When there comes a time to make laws to protect public safety, and come up with actual plans, it’s for our protection, and the fear is real because it has materialized. When our protection includes keeping more of us alive, it may be the lesser of two evils, even if it isn’t considered loving and accepting. I don’t have an answer, but I think the best one lies somewhere in the middle.

    • Compromise or the middle road seldom works but ends up being wishy washy and ineffective. The only answer is to love, love, love, even in the face of the very acts of terrorism. That is the Christ way. Did he shrink from the cross and take a middle way? It’s all or nothing. And in giving all the worst an enemy can do to me is kill the body, not the soul, and then I’m off to a better place anyway.

    • I think you mean “not all Muslims are terrorists” rather than “all Muslims are not terrorists.” Of course, they’re not. I just don’t trust our gov’t to figure out which ones are and which ones aren’t.

  14. Sorry, I was saying I agree with Steve. And referencing his illustration about bringing people into your home and providing for their needs.

    And I don’t want to appear to not have compassion for them, because I do.

    But, I also have compassion for those who have been killed & their family and friends. And I’m not sure Christ-like behavior is going to help this from happening more and more. That’s all I’m saying.

    Love the blog.

    • One thing I know I can do tomorrow is smile at everyone I see. Far too often people scowl, just in general from the stress of our busy lives. To those who are already “different”, those scowls feel personal and directed at them, be they Muslim, Sikh, Amish, Catholic, LGBT, or those who simply don’t quite fit in with the local mainstream culture. For those who might be ripe for “radicalization”, be it by any religion or ideology (including gangs), a simple smile at the right time can turn their thinking, at least at that moment. And it might be the critical one.

      People only become capable of inhuman acts when they have dehumanized those they oppose. It is very hard to dehumanize someone who is smiling at you.

  15. Sorry, I was saying I agree with Steve. And referencing his illustration about bringing people into your home and providing for their needs.

    And I don’t want to appear to not have compassion for them, because I do.

    But, I also have compassion for those who have been killed & their family and friends. And I’m not sure Christ-like behavior is going to help this from happening more and more. That’s all I’m saying.

    Love the blog.

    • One thing I know I can do tomorrow is smile at everyone I see. Far too often people scowl, just in general from the stress of our busy lives. To those who are already “different”, those scowls feel personal and directed at them, be they Muslim, Sikh, Amish, Catholic, LGBT, or those who simply don’t quite fit in with the local mainstream culture. For those who might be ripe for “radicalization”, be it by any religion or ideology (including gangs), a simple smile at the right time can turn their thinking, at least at that moment. And it might be the critical one.

      People only become capable of inhuman acts when they have dehumanized those they oppose. It is very hard to dehumanize someone who is smiling at you.

  16. What John has described here is the reason I left the mainstream Christian church, and why I don’t generally identify myself as a Christian. Jesus is way cool. The exclusionary religious cult built in his name is not so cool. The way Christianity has come to be practiced in our culture is so often totally uncool.

    I became a UU because in it I found a community where I can let go of the parts of “Americhristianity” that just don’t feel like Jesus to me, freely integrate the experiences of other traditions that are much more in harmony with the God of my understanding and still retain the parts of my Christian upbringing that reflect the Jesus I always understood:
    The Jesus of compassion
    The Jesus of hope
    The Jesus of forgiveness
    The Jesus of justice
    The Jesus of unconditional love

    I would rather be what I feel is a “real Christian” on the outside of mainstream Christianity where I have found a home that feels so much more like Jesus to me, even if we don’t invoke his name all that often.

    I think he’d be more comfortable with that anyway.

    Live in blessing.

    • “the God of my understanding” and “the Jesus I always understood” are key phrases in your comment. The only God/Jesus that matters is the God/Jesus of reality Who has revealed Himself in Scripture.

      • ““the God of my understanding” and “the Jesus I always understood” are key phrases in your comment. The only God/Jesus that matters is the God/Jesus of reality Who has revealed Himself in Scripture.”

        That’s precisely the Jesus he’s referring to.

      • Yes Paul –

        The God of my understanding is the God of reality, revealed in every absolutely miraculous breath I take, every intricate flower and blade of grass I observe, the wonder of the vastness of the universe, the warmth of every human embrace I experience . . . and every moment of this unique and unbelievably precious gift of live I have been given.

        The Jesus of my understanding walked as one of us . . . lived as one of us . . . died as one of us . . . and on his journey challenged us to live in love.

        That’s my scripture.

        I’m not so sure how yours may differ.

        Live in blessing.

  17. Finishing my thought….I also have compassion for the people in America who work hard & want a safe place to live, who don’t want our country to be a safe haven for refugees, on our dollar. I have compassion for them, too. Because not everyone here is living a life of luxury, and we didn’t get a say in this. At the end of the day, is this not at our expense? At what point do you draw that line? It’s just not clear cut. There are a lot of people to have compassion for! The victims of terrorism, for one. Following Jesus gets muddled when we are discussing real life. If we really took his words literally, we’d not be living the lives we all are, and we’d all be in danger, willingly. As much as we don’t take the OT to the literal extreme, we really can’t live by Jesus’s words that way either. Unless of course, you are a missionary, living on nothing, in a foreign land, willing to die for your faith. Then, perhaps.

      • Please report back when you’ve gone out and brought into your home a couple of homeless people from under a bridge somewhere and are feeding, housing and supporting them in every other way. Then I’ll listen to your opinions on this topic.

    • You come to your own good conclusion in the end. Do you want to live a safe, compromised life that is colourless and without faith, or do you want the faith of Christ that gives all, just as you say missionaries might. We should all be living this missionary faith. That would change our world.

    • Ellen perhaps we think this way and feel helpless to do anything because it is all we have known. It’s not easy at all and we are in trap because we are well off, we don’t want to lose what we have, eh? What can we do? We have kids and mortgages and cars and bills and educations to pay for. What is important? Perhaps for us who live in wealthy countries the mission field is two steps outside our front door. Each and every person we meet is in need. All we have to do is find out how we can help— our neighbor— that is all it takes. But as for the refugees we are not even going to get a chance to offer them help if our countries won’t let them in. I think they deserve a chance. This country and everything in it belongs first and foremost to God —so we can share with others what God has provided for us.

      • I always thought this country operated on an “innocent until proven guilty” model. When did it get to the point that we’re always constantly needing to prove our innocence?

  18. Brilliant! Having been raised in Americhristianity (perfect name for it), I was enlightened in religion courses I took in college 25 years ago. Ones in which we were taught the actual history of our religion, and then asked to reflect on passages from the Bible like “are the ten commandments absolute?” This changed my thought process from one of black and white to WHAT IS THE POINT??? I decided Jesus and his loving, generous, forgiving nature was the point. And, accepted this as my new religion. I was raised in the deep, Bible thumping south, where my family was at one time Pentecostal. Oh, the blasphemy that dripped from lips according to my family. What is this kindness, generosity, love and tolerance religion you speak of??? The point is getting to Heaven! That’s the point! For 25 years I have had conversations/debates with family about the same topics in your article. I have never been able to form them so eloquently as you have . But, my mom is now a follower of your blog and actually sent me this article! She understands the truth. I speak blasphemy no more.

  19. Missionaries who are willing to put their own lives on the line are a tiny minority of christians. The majority of us are here living our comfy lives, unaffected from acts of terrorism, and have little room to talk about how much we love our middle east neighbors.

    “Compromise or the middle road seldom works but ends up being wishy washy and ineffective. The only answer is to love, love, love, even in the face of the very acts of terrorism. That is the Christ way. Did he shrink from the cross and take a middle way? It’s all or nothing. And in giving all the worst an enemy can do to me is kill the body, not the soul, and then I’m off to a better place anyway.”

    Again, only a missionary would likely live up to this extreme ideology. I am not willing to put myself in harm’s way to go to a better place, and neither are you. That is why you buckle your seatbelt, take the chemo, fill the prescription, lock the doors. We all live in fear of death & why we take measures to keep us alive. Nobody is willingly being nailed to a cross, or asked to! I’m not buying this “we need to love our neighbors so much we will die for them and then go to a better place so we can be like Christ” message. It’s completely unrealistic. And really, even if you are willing to be killed by the tiny majority that may be a terrorist, that doesn’t mean I am. And if you’re willing to pay for them, great– but that doesn’t mean I am.

    There are a lot of things to consider and it’s not a simple matter.

    • Actually Erin, our mission field is all around us— we are all missionaries. In the Anglican church I attend the Priest says at the end of the service, “And, now the service is over but your work has just begun”

      • I am sure your priest is not implying much more than “Now it’s time to go help at that soup kitchen, help a friend in need, meet a new friend for coffee to talk about Jesus, donate some clothes…” What he is likely saying is, within reason, help your fellow neighbor. I do not think he is saying “Now it is time for us to allow potentially dangerous people into our country, thousands of them, to live off of us” anymore than he is saying “Bring all the homeless into your home, give all your clothes away, feed them even if you have no food for yourself…” It’s a matter of drawing the line between loving and plain crazy. And we all draw that line at some point.

        • Okay fair enough I am not telling you what to do let’s all bring our actions before God. But let’s not mock gentleness or generosity for the sake argument because those are fruits of the spirit.

  20. Missionaries who are willing to put their own lives on the line are a tiny minority of christians. The majority of us are here living our comfy lives, unaffected from acts of terrorism, and have little room to talk about how much we love our middle east neighbors.

    “Compromise or the middle road seldom works but ends up being wishy washy and ineffective. The only answer is to love, love, love, even in the face of the very acts of terrorism. That is the Christ way. Did he shrink from the cross and take a middle way? It’s all or nothing. And in giving all the worst an enemy can do to me is kill the body, not the soul, and then I’m off to a better place anyway.”

    Again, only a missionary would likely live up to this extreme ideology. I am not willing to put myself in harm’s way to go to a better place, and neither are you. That is why you buckle your seatbelt, take the chemo, fill the prescription, lock the doors. We all live in fear of death & why we take measures to keep us alive. Nobody is willingly being nailed to a cross, or asked to! I’m not buying this “we need to love our neighbors so much we will die for them and then go to a better place so we can be like Christ” message. It’s completely unrealistic. And really, even if you are willing to be killed by the tiny majority that may be a terrorist, that doesn’t mean I am. And if you’re willing to pay for them, great– but that doesn’t mean I am.

    There are a lot of things to consider and it’s not a simple matter.

  21. Folks. I think John is doing something that I frequently do on this blog—thinking out loud. This is a very difficult issue, and I think he has not come to a firm conclusion on it. I think he is searching for an answer that makes some sort of sense—and he is bouncing ideas and thoughts off of us. I have long sought out” “What is the right Christian thing to do in a given situation?” I am seeing one extreme—which I am not otally sure is a Jesus extreme—being advocated in these comments. The other extreme is we go into Syria and Iraq and kill every living thing so there will be no more refugees to take in. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle—where it almost always resides with all issues. And I do not think confession that this truth is somewhere in the middle is a Christ-hating compromise. God!!! When you start doing that, you have bought into the fundie mentality that disowned the refugees and sent them to us—that being that the only true answer to a question must be the one that is in the extreme.

    For example. I am picking up a total pacifist stance from Jem wherein the policeman fails to protect the man in the theater seat from the terrorist. Instead, Jem and the policemen go to the terrorist together, fall down on their knees before him, tell them how much they love him, and say, “Oh wise and loving Mr. Terrorist whom we love. We present ourselves to you now as a living sacrifice for….God knows what?” No offense intended Jem—but I think even Jesus would see the stance you are sitting on as unnecessarily extreme—and I will be the first to admit that Jesus is a lovely radical extremist.

    Truthfully, after what happened in Paris, i think we are all just sad, tired overwhelmed, confused, and looking desperately for some sort of Christian act or response that can balance our outrage at what happened with the love that Jesus modeled. In doing so, I do not think we should forget that Jesus did take a whip to the moneychangers in the temple.

    • Dove I think you are missing the point. I like Jems stance. It is strong whether it be pacifist or not. I admit I am a pacifist. Yet I have had to defend myself in the past and did not hesitate one bit to show my strength without attacking back and every time the aggressor has backed down. so no one is saying we should not defend ourselves. Being peaceful is being strong. You take risks— you let people in— you love them— you accept them and this promotes an equal reaction of peacefulness and cooperation. No one is suggesting we bow down to any terrorist but the point was made that many people are now not offering help any Syrian or Islamic refugee. They are all being painted with the same brush and the suggestion by Jem is that we can take the risk and offer our help because that is the loving thing to do. If that means someone turns on us we still take that risk because it is more important to help those in need. That is the principle Jesus taught. And when we talk of missions, well the mission field is our our nation, our cities, our workplace our community that is where every Christian can help people and engage with them and come together. Kingdom work is inclusion— Kingdom work is is peace and love and caring for others—loving the stranger, loving the naked, loving the hungry, loving the sick, loving the orphan-— there is nothing in the Kingdom that harms either people, animals or the land. This is the all or nothing radical love that Christ teaches. It is sacrificial. Christ’s invitation to us is to come out of the world and not partake in any of it’s sins and yet to be in the world but not of the world, that is the challenge we must face privately and personally with Him.

    • Finally, someone countered the “Jesus never did anything violent” line! You stated above: “The other extreme is we go into Syria and Iraq and kill every living thing so there will be no more refugees to take in.” I’ve not heard anyone say this, unless you consider the bumper sticker that says “Nuke ’em all. Let God sort ’em out.” I think the idea of bombing the ISIS training camps we’ve discovered is a good one.

  22. A very simple explanation for a very complicated scenario! There is no blanket answer, only what your heart leads you individually to choose.

    • As long as “what your heart leads you individually to choose” doesn’t involve others’ money or others’ safety, that’s fine. God has established government to punish evildoers and do good for the rest of us (Romans 13:1-6).

  23. A very simple explanation for a very complicated scenario! There is no blanket answer, only what your heart leads you individually to choose.

  24. Kathy, I’m sure this will be offensive, but you sound like you live in a make-believe world, where all the nations to sit and sing kumbaya to eachother. In the real world, people are blowing themselves and others up. And it’s all in the name of religion.

      • No problem, I’ll answer that. What offends me is potential terrorist attacks when I leave the house to go somewhere with my kids. I’ve already lost one child; I don’t take their safety lightly, and I surely am not going to put them in harm’s way for my wild love for Christ. The reason this all offends me, much more than the financial/logistics issues, is that people are dying in cold blood. And although I am quite certain there are not some great number of evil syrian refugees, I don’t think it’s a smart decision for our country.

      • I really appreciate you telling me all that. I would not stand by and do nothing and we have to support our nation cognizant of our place as human being in the world. I guess being a pacifist for me means peace is something to work towards and an aspiration a goal. So there has to be a balance or a recognition that the characteristics of God embody mercy as well as justice —but we have never really seen peace in history or in our time. So it is hard to grasp.

    • Sorry for the LOL it was inappropriate. Once again I assure you I am not offended. No I don’t live in a make believe world I am just hopeful. The violence we see in the world is heartbreaking and vile. The refugees are victims and are just normal like us. The terrorists need to be identified and brought to justice but not at the expense of innocent people.

      • What would be the justice if violence isn’t the answer? We can’t just “love them to good”. Evil exists and how do you deal with evil if not to rid the world of it? There was no way we could love Hitler into not killing millions of people or the Hutu for killing hundreds of thousands of people in just hours. With this logic of ONLY LOVE and no sort of defense or ridding the world of the violence every single person in this blog would be speaking German or some other language, oppressed, and asking God to free them from their situation.

      • Yes ONLY love as you put it will prevail. But love does incorporate defense. Defense mechanism within us are actual reflexes so I am not saying love is weak or refuses the protective instinct. We can take steps to defend ourselves and stop violence of course. This either OR argument doesn’t leave room for the opportunity to show grace. What people are advocating is turning their backs on the suffering of others. Many people survived the Holocaust and the Rwawanda massacre without resorting to violence. And many of those people took courageous acts without resorting to violence to save others. But I know it would be impossible for me to stand by and not do anything if it is within my power to act and stop aggression but the refugees are not posing a threat. They deserve a chance as every human being does.

      • Angela, actually you can “love them to good”. I have witnessed at least one dramatic conversion of a person who I thought was pathological. It took years to see the results of Jesus pouring out His love in to that individuals life. Yet people continue to bring up his past and remind him of his sins not realizing that Jesus is working in his life. Jesus wants to redeem us all — the good, the bad and the ugly. Some of us are good but only good as far as human goodness goes. We love only our friends but then we fall and sin because our goodness is not absolute— then realizing our imperfection and how much we fall short of God’s goodness we wake up one day to realize we need Jesus; some of us are bad and lead lives that take advantage of others. A life in which we only think of our own desires and interests. Living a life of ‘TAKE’ and greedy consumption — then one day we recognize we are a sinner and call out to Jesus. Some of us are ugly, abusive, mean, and wretched; who lie and steal and destroy those around us without a second thought or out of desperation and misery— then one day the light shines so bright that it cracks open the heart of stone and the light pours in and we rejoice to be set free from the darkness!

        You see the refugee crisis is a time of opportunity for those who are in need not only of food and shelter, meaningful work and protection but those who are in spiritual need. Who knows if reaching out to them might save a potential terrorist in the making. Jesus is all about changing hearts. Standing strong in LOVE is the only want to trust that what God proposes about His Kingdom of Peace is true.

  25. You know what really irritates me about all this? You’re entitled to be a pacifist all you want. In the meantime, I have kids to protect. I don’t take that lightly. What may or may not happen to you, may happen to someone else. Or someone else’s kid.

  26. You know what really irritates me about all this? You’re entitled to be a pacifist all you want. In the meantime, I have kids to protect. I don’t take that lightly. What may or may not happen to you, may happen to someone else. Or someone else’s kid.

    • Okay you are upset I get that, but what is it specifically that upsets you? People often get angry at me for being a pacifist and I don’t understand why. It’s as if the term pacifist is a bad word. I am perplexed :/

      • It’s not you nor the word “pacifist.” It’s the arrogant and condescending way some pacifists (not necessarily you) look down their noses at those who don’t share their views as if they are heartless monsters.

      • In answer to your question Kathy, speaking as an anthropologist, I think her problem with your position is that you are breaking the age old mutual pact of the hunter-gatherer band that probably in human evolution goes all the way back to Homo erectus. That mutual pact is: “I got your back because you are my band sister, you can rest assured that I have your back.” What Ellen hears you saying is this:

        “Ellen, if I have my back turned and some third party is going after it with a knife, I understand that you are going to intervene and protect me in any way necessary. What I need you to understand is if that same man is coming after your back with a knife, I am going to fucking walk away and let you die.”

        That sort of thing really pisses most people off at a profoundly deep and visceral level. It really does. And there is a good Biblical reason for it. Cain said to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The rest of the Holy Bible answers Cain’s question: “You bet your sweet ass you are!!!” You are offering to NOT be Ellen’s keeper—and she thinks that is unChristian of you.

        That’s not an attitude on my part. I just think it is what is going on in this discussion between you and Ellen.

      • You make me smile Dove Honestly I can assure you …and my brothers will attest to it I have a reputation for being tough and someone who will stand up to anyone. I am not a pacifist of my own choosing but I am a broken person now who realizes I need to put my trust in Gods strength. I think Jesus demands more of us in order to bring about peace.

  27. love your blog, love your thoughts, respect them because they are clear and reasonable. mostly. but I disagree with this. bear in mind that I am an atheist, but I am painfully aware that I owe Christianity a huge debt for the privileges I enjoy today. we will not discuss morality, but reality. the West, with all its faults, is a place that fosters freedom and safety, and it is a place created and enabled by Christianity. but, applying the “turn the other cheek” logic because Jesus said so, is naïve and ignorant and irrelevant today. applying one’s understanding of Christian love, and offering it to someone who neither understands it, appreciates it, respects it, lives it nor reciprocates it, and has a hidden agenda to boot (you are naïve and hopeful that they don’t have an agenda, but only because you refuse to see the signs and the writing on the wall) is spiritual, cultural and personal suicide. I am not sure which part everyone is not getting about the insidious cancer that is Islam? – it’s pretty obvious to me. harbouring refugees is one thing, harbouring refugees with an agenda and a mandated obligation is another, and it frustrates me that people cannot see this because their “love” blinkers are on. the reality is that Islam, and its followers, don’t love you, nor would they extend you a helping hand in your time of need. you are welcoming the disease with open arms, which is absolute madness.

    • What you miss in this is that Jesus calls us to love in His way which is unconditionally, radically, with a faith that believes He enables me to love in this wildly extravagant, give-all manner. We cannot ever do it in our own limited strength and means. It requires faith to believe in His love and that somehow against all odds and conditions He will use us in these very times and places to make all things right in His time.

    • You said: “applying the “turn the other cheek” logic because Jesus said so, is naïve and ignorant and irrelevant today.” As a Christian and a Pastor, I disagree that it’s “irrelevant today.” It’s just not appropriate in this particular circumstance. Context is everything. I’m grateful that you recognize that Christianity has brought freedom and the wonderful life we enjoy in America. Jesus can set you free, too (personally, spiritually), if you’ll put your trust in Him.

  28. love your blog, love your thoughts, respect them because they are clear and reasonable. mostly. but I disagree with this. bear in mind that I am an atheist, but I am painfully aware that I owe Christianity a huge debt for the privileges I enjoy today. we will not discuss morality, but reality. the West, with all its faults, is a place that fosters freedom and safety, and it is a place created and enabled by Christianity. but, applying the “turn the other cheek” logic because Jesus said so, is naïve and ignorant and irrelevant today. applying one’s understanding of Christian love, and offering it to someone who neither understands it, appreciates it, respects it, lives it nor reciprocates it, and has a hidden agenda to boot (you are naïve and hopeful that they don’t have an agenda, but only because you refuse to see the signs and the writing on the wall) is spiritual, cultural and personal suicide. I am not sure which part everyone is not getting about the insidious cancer that is Islam? – it’s pretty obvious to me. harbouring refugees is one thing, harbouring refugees with an agenda and a mandated obligation is another, and it frustrates me that people cannot see this because their “love” blinkers are on. the reality is that Islam, and its followers, don’t love you, nor would they extend you a helping hand in your time of need. you are welcoming the disease with open arms, which is absolute madness.

    • What you miss in this is that Jesus calls us to love in His way which is unconditionally, radically, with a faith that believes He enables me to love in this wildly extravagant, give-all manner. We cannot ever do it in our own limited strength and means. It requires faith to believe in His love and that somehow against all odds and conditions He will use us in these very times and places to make all things right in His time.

  29. I feel I need to extricate myself from some of the comments made above and really ask people if they understand what they think Christ did when he was here on earth? He may have taken a whip and drove out some money changers in the temple but no one ever talks about what happened after the money changers were gone when the lame and sick came into the temple and Jesus healed them. Jesus did not take out a whip every single day nor was that what framed his life. As well Jesus did not drive out the money changers so that his life would be protected. His intent was to help those in need and rid the temple of those exploiting others. I am sure his actions on that day as well a whole host of radical things he did amounted to his arrest and execution. Primarily Jesus led a life of self sacrifice. He lived at the time of the Roman Empire— a brutal regime. I am sure he saw much worse things than us. But, still he spoke about the beauty of peace— blessed are the peacemakers, the poor in spirit, the humble. It’s naive and it’s a make believe world we cannot even fathom because we have become so scared and fearful of all the threats around us. But it is a promise— a beautiful place where every tear will be wiped away and every man will sit under his own grape vine and be at peace. What Jesus did was foolishness to others. So foolish that Peter could not follow him on the night of his arrest; instead he denied him three times. Still,Jesus, despite the foolishness of the gospel the outrageous naivety of his love — let people in, tax collectors, prostitutes, fishermen, centurions, Pharisees, possessed people, gentiles, and ultimately people who would later betray and kill him. He opened himself up to the disease of mankind with the hope that they would take him up on his invitation. Because only God can cure a diseased heart and it is through the sacrifice that he made on the cross that our sins, and evil deeds and foolishness and idiocy and naivety lay. So we can let refugees in and embrace them because if we are indeed Christians then it is our duty to lead people to Christ by caring for them not turning them away.

    • “His intent was to help those in need and rid the temple of those exploiting others.”

      How do we do that if not by protecting them? How do you do this if we only display love? I am not saying you cannot love these refugees or even love the followers of ISIS, but how can you protect these folks and rid them if not through some sort of force? God used war as a means of protecting His people in the Old Testament. We would do well to remember that sometimes you have to protect yourself and use force. It would be great if the military was not necessary, but it is. I joined it to protect His people here in America and a way to bring about peace and love of God to the world. Give them an opportunity to enjoy what we have in America in their own country. How about we make their homes safe so that they can enjoy God’s love in their own home!

      • I suppose it depends on what I mean by ‘letting in’ and what you mean by ‘letting in’. For clarification I was referring to ‘letting in’ as the invitation to know him and that invitation is an open door policy in fact Jesus is knocking on closed doors. He leaves himself wide open and available to us and by doing that it leaves no room for anyone to say that Jesus ever excluded them. How are we supposed to know Jesus if He keeps his back turned until we reach the required stage of appropriate repentance. It is knowing His goodness that turns our hearts to Him. Jesus goes out in advance of our conversion He is not sitting back waiting for us. The Holy Spirit is at work moving forward like a rushing river through the world and the hearts of people —we need to keep in step.

    • In this long line of responses, I think two different issues are being inadvertently conflated. Just to be clear and separate the two:

      1) I have no problem with taking in refugees and someone using my tax dollars to help them. Jesus would insist that we do that and that is what any loving heart should do. However, I also think, within basic reason and common sense, that the incoming refugees should be screened for possible embedded terrorists. That cannot be done perfectly—but we should at least try.

      2) If a terrorist is coming after your back with a knife, I have your back and will do anything I can to prevent you from being hurt. Yes, God loves the terrorist too—buy stupid is as stupid does—he should know that going after a stranger’s back is a really good way for him to get hurt or killed. He too has a responsibilty before God to do the right thing and put down the knife—and if he had a choice and failed to do the right thing—then if he gets hurt or killed—that was his own stupid choice.

  30. I feel I need to extricate myself from some of the comments made above and really ask people if they understand what they think Christ did when he was here on earth? He may have taken a whip and drove out some money changers in the temple but no one ever talks about what happened after the money changers were gone when the lame and sick came into the temple and Jesus healed them. Jesus did not take out a whip every single day nor was that what framed his life. As well Jesus did not drive out the money changers so that his life would be protected. His intent was to help those in need and rid the temple of those exploiting others. I am sure his actions on that day as well a whole host of radical things he did amounted to his arrest and execution. Primarily Jesus led a life of self sacrifice. He lived at the time of the Roman Empire— a brutal regime. I am sure he saw much worse things than us. But, still he spoke about the beauty of peace— blessed are the peacemakers, the poor in spirit, the humble. It’s naive and it’s a make believe world we cannot even fathom because we have become so scared and fearful of all the threats around us. But it is a promise— a beautiful place where every tear will be wiped away and every man will sit under his own grape vine and be at peace. What Jesus did was foolishness to others. So foolish that Peter could not follow him on the night of his arrest; instead he denied him three times. Still,Jesus, despite the foolishness of the gospel the outrageous naivety of his love — let people in, tax collectors, prostitutes, fishermen, centurions, Pharisees, possessed people, gentiles, and ultimately people who would later betray and kill him. He opened himself up to the disease of mankind with the hope that they would take him up on his invitation. Because only God can cure a diseased heart and it is through the sacrifice that he made on the cross that our sins, and evil deeds and foolishness and idiocy and naivety lay. So we can let refugees in and embrace them because if we are indeed Christians then it is our duty to lead people to Christ by caring for them not turning them away.

  31. Completely absurd. people are killed for their differing beliefs daily. The NIV Bible mentions kill 445 times and fear not 82 times. There is no protection from anything other than your own common sense and inherent survival instinct.

  32. I wish I could say I agree with your post wholeheartedly. I agree that love is necessary and we should be showing faith, hope, and charity as commanded in the Bible. However, God also deemed it necessary to use war to protect His people… this is shown time and time again in the Old Testament. God is the God of love, but He is also the God of protection. You can’t love evil out of the world. You CAN love the people who do evil things, but you can’t love it out of existence. By your logic, we should never have gone to War with Hitler and the Axis powers or even during WWI. We should have loved Hitler into not killing millions of Jews. He wasn’t going to stop in Europe. He was going to go throughout the entire world and rid the world of anyone who didn’t conform to his views. ISIS is no different, but we’re so afraid to offend anyone because it’s only a small portion of Muslims who are doing this. I’m sorry, but this is a very naive way of looking at things. The Bible clearly states… “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8). The Devil isn’t going to bow down to us because we are loving, opening our arms to every person regardless of if they will rape, maim, or murder our families.

    God also doesn’t just tell us to sit by idly while Satan walks around the world destroying people. He tells us to arm ourselves, does he not? “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:10-18).

    I’m sorry, but I think you have to look at the whole scripture and the whole message regarding how to deal with evil. Jesus did say to love your neighbor and it’s the MOST IMPORTANT commandment, but you also must be vigilant and protect yourself from evil and Satan.

    • Also, read Romans 13:1-6. God ordained government to “bear the sword,” to be “an avenger” and to carry out “God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

      • Yes of course I agree government is a reality. That is a heavy responsibility Paul, and this is not the point that is being made here. The refugees are not the wrong doers here. They are fleeing the aggressors, they have no weapons. God is not ALL about vengeance, retribution and punishment. In fact God is merciful and his character is complete love but that love is not a platitude it is a fiery passion which no human can stand up too.

      • Yes. I would assume that is true if you are an individual subject under the authority of that government. The problem is that it is not clear that this same authority extends to one nation having authority over another nation that just happens to be rankly evil. I am not aware of anywhere in the Bible where all nations of the future are told that they must go out with an army during every period in world history and slay all the evil nations that exist in that period of time. The world would be at war constantly—not that it isn’t already.

      • I don’t think any of us are against protecting the Syrian victims of ISIS; it’s figuring out which ones they are that is problematic.

      • I guess that is the point we can never know until people reveal their true side or do something terrible. Evil people hide so how can we separate the bad from the good? Isn’t that the whole point of the wheat and the tares parable in the Bible. We have to let it go and love anyways— do good anyways— find ways to help the helpless anyways. God says vengeance is mine— those reassurances are given by Christ to help us during these kind of times when we don’t know what people are planning or thinking but we still have to live, and help others and serve God.

        We do the best we can to protect people without having it limit our ability to give aid to those in need.

    • You quote the most amazing verses in defence of your position but the very Scripture you quote is very clear that these methods of war are not of flesh and blood. That is they are spiritual. So we not talking of guns and violence. It mentions peace not war. It talks of faith, and love operates in faith, not knowing all the answers but believing and trusting that He who is ruler of all has the answers and is well able to fight whatever fight needs to be fought for protection, for life, for goodness, for truth, for love.

      • Yes, but more often than not God uses humans to do just those things. Many a couple has let their child die from infection by praying over his living body for God to personally intervene and heal him with a miracle. And all the while, God was responding by saying:

        “Take your child to the damned hospital. My revealed miracle is called Penicillin. I had men create it to heal your child.”

        They held out for a bedroom miracle and got a dead child.

        • You are a hopeless case of introducing other topics that are not at this point relevant. What has that got to do with our response to violence? Are you saying that God say, Hey, Buddy, there’s a gun, shoot him!?

      • Well Jem. What I heard you saying was that people should just disengage from the terrorists, realize that God has the whole terrorist situation in hand, and let him take care of it all while we sit it out of the sidelines. That is precisely the position Christian scientists and other people who do not believe in the miracles of modern medicine take. ” Except for our prayers to you dear God, we now disegage and leave all of the healing of little Johnny to you.” And the next morning little Johnny is dead. Just sayin’.

        • Not sure where you are coming from half the time and it seems like you just like to argue about things. If there’s no argument you make one. I don’t like that. You disagree with the fundies and you disagree with the non-fundies. Seems whatever anyone says you find something to make an issue out of even when there’s no issue. Poor man. I think you need lots of prayer! Lol! I just don’t understand how you make issue with something that wasn’t even there. But nevermind. Guess that’s just you.

          • Actually Jem, I just look at issues from all sorts of different perspectives. Argument and conflict are not my favorite things. I just think very widely and very deeply on many, many, many things. Most other people run around each day worried about the rip in their hose, whether they can get little Billy to the doctor on time and still make the boss’s 5:00 p.m. meeting, what will I make for dinner, will my husband Jim be angry at the new dress I bought, an I too fat to trim my toenails now, etc. I spend my time thinking about far more serious stuff and all of the complex connections that link up with it—including the rare things most other people never think about or never see. I was not attacking you, even friends can disagree occasionally. I generally agree with most things you have to say..

      • “He who is ruler of all has the answers and is well able to fight whatever fight needs to be fought for protection, for life, for goodness, for truth, for love.” HE is fighting, how? Through us. That’s what Dover is saying (and argument for argument’s sake causes people to THINK…) The words you are using here imply that we as humans need not DO anything, don’t take the medicine, turn away the terrorist, etc…because God is in control. We can sit and let things happen to us and make no decisions in life because everything is unfolding as it should. Meanwhile that restaurant is blown up by the terrorist and the child dies of the sickness (just a few examples). I am not of the mindset that being passive in life equals following God’s plan, but I know the type. They look for signs and sit back and let things happen and have peace it’s all how it is supposed to be. In reality, they aren’t using reason, logic, and the mind God gave them to navigate through life.

        • I beg to differ. I never said anything about not doing anything. Where did you get that? You just have such a preconceived ill view of faith and think that because you can’t take any risks but have to do everything yourself and lack any faith at all it seems. Now I am probably being as extreme as you have.

      • Ellen no one is saying we should do nothing to the contrary we must stand up to our enemies – – …..we are not doormats but we don’t need to be the aggressors. Any one who lived during the Cold War understood that the arms race was building up defeneses against the threat of nuclear attack (whether that threat was real or not the US kept itself from pre-emptive strikes. and then finally the Berlin Wall came down. Tearing down walls is a violence I would gladly participate in ????

      • “He who is ruler of all has the answers and is well able to fight whatever fight needs to be fought for protection, for life, for goodness, for truth, for love.”
        This I interpret as humans doing nothing. If I interpreted that wrong, I am sorry.
        That is fine you do not believe I have any faith. I don’t have a charismatic/emotional faith so it may not be recognized as true faith. I don’t walk around giving Satan credit for every bad thing and God credit for every good thing, which may or may not be bad or good for someone else. I don’t presume to know a lot about God, and I tend to run away from most people that claim to. I enjoy listening to different view points.
        That’s just me.

  33. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

    – Matthew 25:35-40

  34. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

    – Matthew 25:35-40

  35. Thanks for writing. I have lost many friends maybe family this week on the moral issue of helping the syrian refugees and to stop the hate toward another religion. I am a american christian and tired and alarmed on how many christian americans dont follow example of Christ with the poor and homeless. First I am a sinner so not perfect, Just trying to be a very small voice to help the poor and homeless jackie

  36. Paul Russell,
    If you have some books I could read that have given you your thoughts I appreciate it. I am a vocational warrior who is seeking to connect my faith (from Bible) with what I’ve done in life and do.

    Thanks

  37. Paul Russell,
    If you have some books I could read that have given you your thoughts I appreciate it. I am a vocational warrior who is seeking to connect my faith (from Bible) with what I’ve done in life and do.

    Thanks

  38. We got off of John’s original subject: Americhristianity. I would like to talk about that for a minute and make a few points:

    1) First I need to define Americhristianity, which is not an easy task, (but basically) I would define it as a historical, common man’s, folklore-based conflation of the elements of the Christian faith with certain elements of American history and traditional American patriotism.

    2) Some fundie religious traditions believe that when the Temple of Herod was torn down by the Romans circa A.D. 70, the Jews were scattered out of their homeland in the Diaspora, and Israel ceased to exist, God was officially disowning Israel, which meant that God needed a new nation on Earth to be his Tigger. He waited about 1,776 years to do it, but in 1776 God himself (by his own personal, selective, and creative hand) founded the United States of America as—now catch this—the New Israel on Planet Earth. Thus, the United States is God’s own specially created nation above all other nations, and the citizens of the United States are God’s new “Chosen People” who replaced the people of Israel.

    Now before you “pooh-pooh” the statement in the last paragraph as impossible and that no Christian in his right mind would believe such a thing, I would just like to say that I was actually taught this one morning in a very serious Sunday School lesson at Central Baptist Church, a highly conservative Southern Baptist Convention megachurch in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

    3) When Item No. 2 is seriously bought into by Christians, it opens up all sorts of new “revelation vistas” (otherwise known as bullshit) in American history. For example, if you think God created the United States as the New Israel, then that of course must mean that—yes—wait for it—the founding fathers were God’s new patriarchs and prophets—the Holy Spirit-touched men He used to do the creating of his New Israel. This then makes Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Franklin, etc. be—wait for it—Holy Men of God. Are you with me?

    4) And what do the Holiest men of God who are the closest men to God’s own heart do? That is correct!!! They write Holy Scripture!!!! Therefore, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and God knows what else are all Holy Scripture.

    5) Therefore, the United States of America was….wait for it…officially created by God as a CHRISTIAN NATION. Then we go to the next big thing. Why did God create the United States of America?

    6) God created the United States of America to be salt and light to the whole world—not just in spreading the gospel—but in all other things as well. The United States was created to be an example nation to sit in perpetual judgement over all other nations and to point out the need for correction to all the other nations of the Earth and say things like: “You stupid shits!!! That’s not the way you do it!!! Get out of my way and let me show you how to do it right!!!” And just remember—Lady Liberty is not speaking this to you United Kingdom or Australia—the voice of the United States of America is the DIRECT VOICE OF GOD HIMSELF to all the nations—and the President of the United States (like him or not) is God’s very own HIgh Priest. Are you with me so far?

    7) God knew the nations of the Earth question too much. Therefore, God knew that He must find a way to demonstrate to the whole Earth that his New Israel (the United States) is his own special nation—the New Israel. Therefore, He would do so by bestowing upon his Chosen People wealth like the world had never seen and never even thought possible. He would give the USA a military force so mighty that it would dwarf anything the Roman Empire could ever conceive in its vainest moments. He would create great universities, and great men would create wonderful inventions that seemed like miracles from Heaven… and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on. And God knew that the peoples and nations of the world would look upon all these mighty things and with great despair say that: “Surely these Americans must be the appointed Representatives of God Himself (the many mighty things being called AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM)—and by them the nations and peoples of the Earth would know that God was—ONE WITH—the United States of America and that they must follow, bow down to, and do as the United States dictates—-or suffer the wrath of God.

    There it is in a nutshell folks. That is the basic 7-point outline of “Americhristianity.” I need not remind you that “7” is the God number.

    How about it Pavlovitz respondents who live in other nations? What do you think? Now, lest you think this is foolishness, and large numbers of Americans do not really think like this, I grew up in the American South in the 1950s and 1960s. While it may not have been laid out and articulated like I have done above by our parents, schools, and other sources, this is basically what we southern children were taught to believe in a more disorganized and piecemeal way across 18 years of growing up. Otherwise, I would have never been able to put those pieces together and articulate them so well for you. This is how the Religious Right in the United States thinks about it today. This is view of the United States and the American Way of Life that the followers of the Religious Right fear is on its way out and that they desperately want to recapture and restore. When the Islamic hordes come over the hill with an army of millions, they know that an American kid will not fight hard and face almost certain death for the Ben Franklin that screwed Paris. That was fornication. But if this kid believes he is in God’s army, he will fight to the death with all his strength. The Religious Right wants millions of these unquestioning soldiers because they envision a world where the United States is in a state of continuous war with all the evil nations of the earth that refuse to submit to God’s will, that just happening to be the will of the United states of America.

    And how did all of this mythology and folklore get started in the early 1800s? I will offer my opinion here. The early 1800s were the so-called Federal Period in American history. It was a period of great new American pride and good feeling. There was pride for being a separate nation (which Andrew Jackson had finally secured in New Orleans in 1814) and pride in who they were as Americans. They caught up in the consumption of anything and everything American, firmly believing it was all wholly good, wholly blessed of God, and worth passing only the BEST OF IT ALL along to their children. And that was the problem—the “ying” of passing along the BEST of it all up against the “yang” of the blacker truth.

    We could not tell the kids that Benjamin Franklin had screwed every 10th woman in Paris. We could not tell them that John Hancock’s primary stock and trade in Boston had been illegal smuggling under the guise of a legal shipping company. Much of the truth was all too human, all too sinful, and all too dark to tell (as anyone who reads the Bible should know about people). Enter the American writers—especially those writing for American children. Throughout the 1800s, these writers created for American children a wholly positive and patriotic—but often mythical—American history where George Washington chopped down cherry trees (and could tell only the truth about it), where he threw mythical silver dollars across the Potomac River, and how God made him immune to musket balls (we are talking like Superman here) during the Revolutionary War. By the time Soviet Communism arrived as a threat in 1945, several generations of Americans had been saturated in this mythical hogwash during their childhoods. Many of them really thought that all of the old myths they had been taught were real American history, that God really had established the United States as his special nation, that the United States was an exceptional nation, and so forth—which I guess was great inadvertent propaganda coming together at just the right time to unite people against the Godless commie menace.

    However, like the scriptures say, we Christians are supposed to have and operate with sound minds. Operating on mythological American history constructed for over 100 years by writers for children is not the sign of a sound mind. We should instead do what all Christians should do—look the truth square in the face and operate on the basis of the truth—on facts. We know that Benjamin Franklin did not discover electricity by watching a key light up on a wet kite string. It would have fried off the penis that bedded down Paris. Americhristianity is just as much a myth—the product of men’s conjured assumptions. The Bible does not address any of the 7 points above. The only way you can get it in there is to read it in from the outside the Bible—as a few have tried to do—and even that works out looking just plain silly.

    However, despite all of the mythology, Americhristianity is today both foolish and dangerous because so many Americans who should know better have bought into it so deeply. The Religious Right touts much of it as truth, and people like Ben Carson have bitten into it deeply—even though it is the historical and religious version of “Gods from Outer Space” in worldwide pseudo-archaeology. Citizens of foreign nations should be especially concerned about it because the true believers in Americhristianity think that what the United States wants to do is God-driven (when it ain’t) and that you foreign peoples must do whatever the United States dictates—and some of these deluded Americans are not beyond roughing you up good to force you into doing God’s will (see George W. Bush and the Iraq war).

    The part that worries me is the future day when one of these Americhristianity nutjobs (like Ben Carson) is faced with an incident like the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. While that future day will certainly be a time for all of us to pray to Jesus for deliverance, I would like to know that the elected and appointed men and women working the issue are dealing with it in terms of facts and truth rather than a bunch of false, but assumed-to-be-true, religious notions and mythologies about the United States of America being the New Israel and Americans being God’s chosen people. People do mighty dangerous things when they start to equate the actions they choose in a crisis with the will of God.

    • Hmmmm…..really, Dover1952? Are you for real? I can’t believe I read this- “God created the United States of America to be salt and light to the whole world—not just in spreading the gospel—but in all other things as well. The United States was created to be an example nation to sit in perpetual judgement over all other nations and to point out the need for correction to all the other nations of the Earth…”

      Heavy sarcasm coming. Somehow I missed that passage in the Bible that says, “Yea, therefor God hath created, thusly for the Free and Righteous, the Holy and the Brave, a Nation for Christians. Thus was wrought upon the Earth the land taken from the infidel, pagan natives, whom God ordained should be enslaved and banished, and converted into blessed sanctuary of white and purity. Thus begat the United States of America.”

      I thank you for enlightening me why the good ol’ US of A was created and is thus infallible. Hey, let’s wage a religious war! Let’s pick on non-Christians- if we can’t convert ’em, kill ’em. Let’s all decide that what God really meant when he said “Love your enemy” was that if we truly love ’em, we will just let ’em die or kill ’em. Or figure out how it’s not our problem to end suffering. Except if it’s your dog. Don’t want Rover suffering. Shoot him if he is suffering. Let’s do our own Christian Jihad! Let’s become what we fear! Wow, that’s a bad-ass idea.

      Get real.

    • Thanks for the hate mail. Here’s a big (((((smooch))). However, the philosophy in that post is NOT MY PHILOSOPHY. Rather, I was trying to explain to other people here (who already know me) just how “Americhristianity” is defined and what its 7 characteristics are in the minds of a considerable number of Americans who have actually bought into the garbage laid out in that post of mine above. Many people do do know what “Americhristianity” is, and I was trying to define it for them—although I think there may actually be alternative and somewhat lesser variations on what I have described there in existence. I was just attempting to capture the most hard core essence of it that I have heard.

      I would suggest, based on my experience in dealing with their ideology, that the past and current conservative faction members on the Texas State Board of Education (TSBOE) in Austin, Texas, hold to the hard core ideology I have described above or some variation on it. They have been attempting for many years to insert elements deriving from this philosophy into the K-12 curriculum standards and textbooks in Texas. They recently succeeded in inserting language into K-12 textbooks defining the Jewish Patriarch Moses as one of the “Founding Fathers of the United States.” Texas school children are learning that now: Washington, Jefferson, Moses, Hamilton, Franklin, etc. You can read all about it at the Texas Freedom Network blog (http://tfninsider.org/). You’ll have to do a search or scroll down way far when you get there.

      You can apologize by making a generous donation to charity or by sponsoring a poor child for years through Compassion International. But please, if you sponsor a child (as we have done with two kids here at our house) sponsor them from age 6 all the way through high school graduation. In a letter sent out to us by Compassion International several years ago, they said the BIGGEST PROBLEM they have is with Christians who sponsor cute little kids (age 5 or 6) in third world countries because of “their cute little kid in poverty” picture—and then when the kid hits puberty—they dump the kid like a piece of living garbage. What is it about sexual maturity and Christians?

      • The same could be said about the Bible but that would not make it true. We are not told to practice all the Bible, some of it is given as History.

      • “The same could be said about the Bible but that would not make it true. We are not told to practice all the Bible, some of it is given as History.”

        This is also true about the Quran.

      • Many things could be said to be commands straight from the Bible or Quran, but it doesn’t make the claim true. You can’t pull a verse out of either holy book completely out of its context and declare it to be God’s law for all people for all time in all cultures.

    • Methodist Reader is right. Most people in most religions are smart enough not to let their fundie whackos run their faith. To some extent we have failed in that here in the United states—something we need to turn around—and the Islamic world is in the process of failing under the pressure of worldwide cultural change and economic globalization. The truly unfortunate thing for us Americans right now is that we are being forced to deal with our own fundie nutjobs at the very same time we are having to deal with a similar minority of nutjobs in Islam. We are dealing with what was once called a “double-whammy.” We must be on guard to give in to neither extreme.

      • The conservative Christians consider the liberal wackos to be the problem. To compare conservative Christianity with radical Muslim is a misrepresentation or a case of not understanding what either believes.

        • No. I feel fairly certain conservative Christians will be just as rabid as the Muslim fundies beginning not too many years from now. All it needs is a little more time of not getting your way until the frustration hits the boiling point—then out come the guns and bombs. Remember this message when that day comes.

      • Many things could be said to be commands straight from the Bible or Quran, but it doesn’t make the claim true. You can’t pull a verse out of either holy book completely out of its context and declare it to be God’s law for all people for all time in all cultures.

  39. Did he tell his followers to steal from his neighbors like the CIA and the US did in 1953 when we destroyed Iran’s fledgling republic, reinstalling the hated Shah so we could steal their oil. Did he tell us to lie, like GWB did when he told us there were WMDs in Iraq? Modern Conservatism isn’t about making a nation that works, it’s about stealing from the public while making it appear legal. I’m sick of the lies.

  40. Reading through the dissenting comments, it seems there is a strong undercurrent of making sure the Syrian refugees aren’t terrorists before letting them in. Don’t get me wrong, this is a reasonable request, but it leads me to ask why is that the default assumption? Why do we assume from the start that the refugees might be terrorists and they must prove they are not?

      • Nice strawman there. I never said we shouldn’t screen refugees. The only point I’m making is that there is no reason to assume that refugees are terrorists until proven otherwise. My point is that it is extremely unlikely that there will be a large group of terrorists within the group of refugees.

  41. Reading through the dissenting comments, it seems there is a strong undercurrent of making sure the Syrian refugees aren’t terrorists before letting them in. Don’t get me wrong, this is a reasonable request, but it leads me to ask why is that the default assumption? Why do we assume from the start that the refugees might be terrorists and they must prove they are not?

  42. More and more people are walking away from their faith, I spoke with a friends yesterday who said to me she may be turning into an atheist, why? Because radical right wing Christianity is doing more to hurt Christianity than anything else can. I have been saying for years now that these crazy radical Christians are more detrimental to Christianity than anything else. If you speak in their own language it could be said that in the apocalypse false profits would come, they are the false profits.

  43. I prefer the term hypochristians (hypocrite+christian) to better explain the Americanized version of the religion. I just more more real Christians would stand up against these hypochristians and called them out publicly on their misguided views

  44. I don’t see John Pav rushing out to offer his wife and daughters to ISIS. After all Jesus said, ‘if your enemy takes your outer coat, offer him your undercoat as well. If he slaps one side of your face, turn and allow him to slap the other side.’

    We have Christian sisters being enslaved and given to ISIS soldiers to use as sex slaves.

    Step up, John. Offer your wife to the enemy who has taken another brother’s wife and daughter.
    Seeing as how you have a corner on the “truth”.

    Otherwise, all you are is a babbling fount of nonsense along with the other Progressive “Christians” commenting here. Let’s see you fearlessly give yourself to ISIS.

  45. Thank you SO much for writing this. In this post, you have expressed how I’ve been feeling for months, and even more so, this last week. Thank you for having the courage to write this and say exactly what you believe. I am in 100% agreement with you. And thank you for so eloquently expressing what I have been trying so hard to do myself. God bless you, my friend.

  46. Man looks on the outward appearance, God looks on the heart. Pavlovitz’s response, and proclamation that his article is ‘truth’, is just another knee jerk response based upon the narrow slice of society the media allows the masses to see. While I may agree with some what the article says, the labeling ‘Americhristian’ is not helpful nor truthful.

  47. As an atheist formerly raised as a true-believer Pentecostal, I do see you’ve got your work cut out for you. It’s more important to me, though, that you reclaim the Sermon on the Mount in your chosen faith than you adopt my view.

    It’s not your fault that so many christians have got their Jesus Christ mixed up with Chuck Norris.

  48. As an atheist formerly raised as a true-believer Pentecostal, I do see you’ve got your work cut out for you. It’s more important to me, though, that you reclaim the Sermon on the Mount in your chosen faith than you adopt my view.

    It’s not your fault that so many christians have got their Jesus Christ mixed up with Chuck Norris.

  49. why dont we all just bend over grab our ankles and tell all the terrorists we love them…so u want to behead me..can i have my last supper first..yes i feel sorry for the sincerely poor refugees and those in poverty..we must discern…christ said if you dont have a sword sell a garment and buy one..we should not allow or put ourselves in unnessacery danger

  50. Christianity is always going to be how we are going to be like Jesus. He is the ultimate scale in which we measure our faith and strive towards perfection, anyone trying to justify an action that He won’t agree with is merely slipping away from the faith.
    To terrorism, i believe to condemn terrorism should be to condemn all of it. I don’t get the logic in airstrikes in Syria and in Nigeria where over 20,000 people have died in just 6 years are left to walk free from airstrikes. War doesn’t promote peace but it gives us a break when all parties are tired.
    People say war in Syria won’t solve the problem, i agree, it won’t solve it but Christians should know the more we refuse to do something about this, the more we get harmed.

  51. We are not to live in fear, but we are admonished to be “sober, and vigilant because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour. We are also told in Romans12:18 IF IT IS POSSIBLE, AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, live your life as peace with everyone. We are instructed to care for family, widows and orphans. And in Luke 22:36 Jesus instructs his disciples to arm themselves with swords. Lastly Jesus did not welcome all with open arms. In John 22:36 we are told that Jesus fashioned a whip from cords and drove out the money changers ……. MONEY CHANGERS ….. not terrorists. I most certainly do not advocate violence, or turning away all refugees (which is not what our governors are suggesting). I do not however recommend that we take reasonable precautionary steps to keep those that want to cause us harm out and physically protect ourselves and family when necessary.

    • That last sentence should have read.
      I DO however recommend that we take reasonable precautionary steps to keep those that want to cause us harm out and physically protect ourselves and family when necessary.

    • I don’t know if we are splitting hairs on this but Jesus does say ‘all’ many times when he is referring to his invitation. The only apparent condition (which is not really a condition but an attitude) is that Jesus says “come all who are thirsty” from Isaiah or “ Come to me those who are weary” from Matthew. So the criteria seems to be our submission and yieldedness to God. And the thing about driving those out of the temple- they are the ones who are exploiting others and taking advantage of people they didn’t come in the temple to get living waters from Jesus but to find ways to cheat others. We don’t have the ability to know the difference ourselves between who is thirsty and who will take advantage. So you make a good point let’s take measures to guard ourselves but let’s also help the needy. Much like don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    • I too believe that we should keep out all those who mean us harm. However, what I am hearing many Christians say here is “screw the 100,000 suffering, cold, and starving people. If even one terrorist who means us harm is among them—then screw all of them in the name of Jesus.”

      I think trying to make a case for that in the name of Jesus would be very hard and would require an asbestos suit on Judgement Day.

      • ‘asbestos suit’ !! that takes the cake! you have a very dark sense of humor, dearest Dove, I tried to stop the guffaw, I tried not to smile but you made me do it. 😉

  52. We are not to live in fear, but we are admonished to be “sober, and vigilant because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour. We are also told in Romans12:18 IF IT IS POSSIBLE, AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, live your life as peace with everyone. We are instructed to care for family, widows and orphans. And in Luke 22:36 Jesus instructs his disciples to arm themselves with swords. Lastly Jesus did not welcome all with open arms. In John 22:36 we are told that Jesus fashioned a whip from cords and drove out the money changers ……. MONEY CHANGERS ….. not terrorists. I most certainly do not advocate violence, or turning away all refugees (which is not what our governors are suggesting). I do not however recommend that we take reasonable precautionary steps to keep those that want to cause us harm out and physically protect ourselves and family when necessary.

  53. Pingback: Freeing Christians From Americhristianity | Hervormend

  54. But you are clearly afraid. How you handle your enemies is indistinguishable from the way that you claim they handle theirs. Two primary concerns: first, not all prudence is, as you imply, “fear.” We are also REPEATEDLY told in the Bible to “Beware!” Have you successfully re-interpreted the Scriptures so that we must conclude that all the Apostles and even Jesus himself were, as you imply, fearful fear-mongers? Wrapping all “fears” together into one cowardice hardly reflects the Bible’s insistence on prudence. And even if your re-interpretation and re-definitions were legitimate, does that really give you the right to mock people’s fears, founded or unfounded? On what grounds did you decide (not at all explained in this article) that those fears were unfounded? Were the Holy Family, the Magi, and a host of other Bibilical people “afraid” because they were redirected away from danger, because they were wary of this or that alien force? Do you think that “Rachel and her children” would not have fled the child-murdering tyrant if they had been given the chance? Would you have stood in their way, too, lecturing them on their previous comfort-levels?

    Second, why is your fear and opposition to “Americhristianity” preferable to the fear and opposition you oppose? It cannot be because you fear less and love more — your demonizations suggest otherwise. You certainly seem no less comfortable — if every bit as fearful, so you claim — as they are. Many of the people you demonize as “fearful” are actually seeking some compromise that would allow us to protect our own AND help the refugees. I see no such prudence in your sentiments; I do see you using this issue (and those refugees’ pitiable plight) to bludgeon the “right” people.

    Ironically (or not), there are some of us of a very conservative, “non-inclusive” bent who would agree with you that there is such a thing as “Americhristianity,” but who see your sentiments as being an emblem of it. Committing every sin that you say its citizens commit, while implying that you are beyond such sins — all under the illusion that you are on the “right” side to commit them, that they can be committed by the right sort of person — is hardly a genuine way of leaving “Americhristianity” behind. You are what you oppose, but unlike your opposition, you are under the illusion that your opposition is without fear or hatred — that your hate is love and that your fear is courage. And yet you and your kind are so obviously afraid, and you so obviously hate, couch the language of it in “love” as much as you want.

    • Huh!!!????
      It is a puzzle to see how you come to such conclusions as you do and turn all that John has to say completely upside-down. It makes absolutely no sense what you are saying. Why do you think he is even the same as those that he is making a case against? I don’t understand that at all. I think you have to be somehow projecting your own emotions, fears, opinions into this and twisting them to suit yourself. I have to ask myself if you really did read the article in the first place, and then I am left totally baffled by your take on it.

  55. I don’t think this is anything new and certainly is not exclusive in America. I do believe there were a group of followers hiding in fear after the crucifixion. I do believe someone who Jesus called the rock on which the church would be built, denied our Savior out of fear. If I recall, there were a group of men filled with fear in the middle of a storm on a boat when Jesus was present. I also seem to remember someone losing faith out of fear as he walked across the water to the outstretched hand of Jesus. Fear is nothing new. Rather than labeling Christians who fear as practicing a counterfeit religion (the writer’s words), I would rather focus on Jesus words: “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27). I could go on, but Jesus addressed fear among his followers often, but never in an accusatory tone, but in a loving tone. So, I would rather focus on why we should not fear rather than a negative for an emotion, that as humans, is impossible to control.

  56. “When the Europeans cleared away the debris and the carnage from their streets and fields at the end of World War II, they stopped to rest. They looked up and there was the Church, which had been complicit with the State in the xenophobia and the militarism and the nationalism that had killed so many millions of their family members and neighbors going back for the past several hundred years. And they looked at the steeple and the stained glass but they did not see Jesus anymore. They only remembered the helmets, scrawled with chalk: Gott mit uns. The priest swung open the door with a big smile on his face and said, “It’s safe now. God has saved us. The war is over. Come inside!” But they walked right past him and went home. And they haven’t come back to the Church since then, except for weddings and funerals.” Bart Styes

    • Your understanding of Post-World War II history and the current sad state of the church in Europe is perfect. That is precisely why their pews are bare on Sunday mornings—and they will tell you that to your face. It is what happens when the church loses its courage to speak the truth and crawls into bed to be humped by a political party.

  57. “When the Europeans cleared away the debris and the carnage from their streets and fields at the end of World War II, they stopped to rest. They looked up and there was the Church, which had been complicit with the State in the xenophobia and the militarism and the nationalism that had killed so many millions of their family members and neighbors going back for the past several hundred years. And they looked at the steeple and the stained glass but they did not see Jesus anymore. They only remembered the helmets, scrawled with chalk: Gott mit uns. The priest swung open the door with a big smile on his face and said, “It’s safe now. God has saved us. The war is over. Come inside!” But they walked right past him and went home. And they haven’t come back to the Church since then, except for weddings and funerals.” Bart Styes

  58. You can Love Jered Fogle, But one does not simply invite him over to play with their children. You can love the Refugees, but it does not mean we must let them in… We are NOT letting them in, in a means of Christian Charity. It is being done by a secular government. We are not letting them in to tell them the message of Christ. So why is it that we are unchristian by your standards to say lets not bring in a large amounts of possibly dangerous people? You can love and preach to a murderer, but do you invite him to stay at your house?

    • Jared Fogle is one person who is a convicted offender and we are aware of it. The Refugees are a diverse group of people in need of help so we can’t paint them all with the same brush.

    • Oh, so we can let them in if we can Preach to them?

      “Hey Bill—I got three more commits down here!!!! That’s great Fred!!! I got six of these Muslim bastards shakin’ in their shoes in fear of Hell down here. Man, oh, man!!! When our numbers hit the Southern Baptist Convention Salvation Totals Office, our personal stock is going to go way up. Why, we might even get special, high-paying administrative jobs in Nashville.”

      Listen up. You have no evidence that these people are all murderers. You also have no understanding of your Bible. Jesus makes it clear that loving your neighbor is in the DOING not in the SAYING.

      “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? (James 2:14-16)

      Did you get your faith out of the Sears Roebuck & Company catalog? I don’t believe you people!!! This just incredible that you people can think this way and still claim Jesus.

      • First, no one has said they’re all murderers. We’re concerned that some of them are, and they’re purposely mixing with the non-murderers in order to successfully infiltrate the US to commit mass murder. Second, the passage you quoted in James 2 is referring to a “brother,” as stated clearly in the passage. As far as I know, no Muslim is my “brother.”

        • Every man is your brother. Have you forgotten that Adam and Eve were the two original parents, and we men and women on Earth are all members of the same family. They are your brothers and sisters—like them or not—some siblings are hard to get along with—but they are your siblings nonetheless.

          • Obviously, you and I differ in our understanding of the NT’s use of the term “brother.” I use it to refer to those with whom I share a common Father, namely, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I believe that the Apostle Paul, when he uses the term “brother,” uses it in the same way.

            • Obviously, I already knew that. That does not change the much earlier and more foundational Biblical perspective that we are all brothers and sisters in the sense that we humans all had two initial, foundational parents—Adam and Eve. It is pretty hard to get out of that without cherry picking scripture to make a point, but like Keith Ward says, when it comes to cherry-picking scripture, you can accuse us of it—but you guys are the “best ones at doing it.” Right now you are desperately trying to cherry pick your way out of having to concede that Muslims are your brothers and sisters in the family of Adam and Eve. No way out of it. That door is slammed shut and locked. Well, I take that back. There is a way out of it scripturally, but it would require that you concede to evolution to get there—and really—not even that would change the point God is making and how He looks at the issue—regardless of evolution. Door shut.

  59. “It’s simply Americhristianity. It is a Frankensteined faith made as much of rabid nationalism, political posturing, and fearful self-preservation…

    Wow, what satire! May I quote you? Frankincense versus Frankenstein

  60. You’re wrong. I look at Christianity from the outside, and even *I* can see that the majority of American Christians are considerably more like (for instance) Jimmy Carter than Ted Cruz. They are good people trying to follow their faith, not the monsters you paint them.

    The ugly phenomenon we’re seeing and trying to cope with these days is not ‘Americhristianity’ as you call it, not expressive of American values as a whole; it is Christofascism, and it’s raising its ugly head all over the world. Perhaps more here than elsewhere, but it is not exclusively American and it is definitely not what most American Christians are. The question we must answer is how decent people — Christians and other folk — rid ourselves of these fascist demagogues.

  61. You’re wrong. I look at Christianity from the outside, and even *I* can see that the majority of American Christians are considerably more like (for instance) Jimmy Carter than Ted Cruz. They are good people trying to follow their faith, not the monsters you paint them.

    The ugly phenomenon we’re seeing and trying to cope with these days is not ‘Americhristianity’ as you call it, not expressive of American values as a whole; it is Christofascism, and it’s raising its ugly head all over the world. Perhaps more here than elsewhere, but it is not exclusively American and it is definitely not what most American Christians are. The question we must answer is how decent people — Christians and other folk — rid ourselves of these fascist demagogues.

  62. I cried pretty hard the other night. I just became overwhelmed by what’s going on in the world. More so than I have been in a long time. Which is silly I know. This has been going on for years. The worst part is the feeling of knowing that many don’t really know. They don’t know what it’s like to be chased out of their own country and forced to fight for survival, family in tote, praying somehow that some group of people will show compassion and let them in for a while. Honestly, I don’t know what that’s like either. But I have imagined. And it isn’t pretty even in my mind. It also hurts to see my brothers and sisters in Christ cling to their fences and slam their doors so quickly, without even trying to ask questions of what we could do or how. (The American media for you) That’s not the way the Jesus I read about ever acted. I’m not saying I’m perfect. I struggle with my own fears. But our drive should be to live fearless. Not stupid and reckless mind you, but fearless. Americhristianity is real. But it needs to go away. I refuse to join that wave, to become one of the many who turn their backs, cling to their fences, slam their doors, and do nothing while the world suffers. I choose to love and act as Christ does.

    P.S. I saw a post on FB today that may be good for some to see, the actual process of accepting refugees into this country is multi layered, quite detailed, and extremely thorough. https://www.facebook.com/BryanScottHicks/posts/1187326084630475?fref=nf&pnref=story

  63. Dear American friends,

    I can’t help myself not to reply, reading posts like this on FB everyday. I live in a country the immigrants, not refugges are crossing to get to Germany and the rest of Western Europe every day. First of all, a refugee is a person that is running from war to the first safe country, nearest to his/her homeland.
    Syria has been in war for four yeras already and until summer of 2015 there was very little “refugees” fleeing from Syria. Please, ask yourself why is that? Besides Syrians, there’s people from Afghanistan, Iran, Marocco, etc. Most of them are middle- aged men, less than third are women and children. One more news… I guess media in the US isn’t showing where these people are boasting with money and Iphones. They are explaining openly that all they want is a ride to Germany. They don’t want to apply for assilum in Croatia or Greece…You guys are very naive. This is all orchestrated.
    I’m a Christian and I believe in feeding the hungry, taking care of widows and orphans, but this is much more. Here is a mass of people, going to Germany not becuse of war but because Angela Merkel invited them and they want a better life.Which wolud be ok, if they had documents and visas. If I want to go to work to Germany, I need a work permit, but they can cross five countries witohut any kind of documents???? Man should be fighting for their own country and send widows and children to a better place. Here it’s the other way around. A relative of mine is a policeman and from the first hand I know there are mostly young man that only use women and children to use them for naive folks. Many of them are agressive, not willing to cooperate. Children and women should be taken care of, but with young man extreme percossion should be taken.
    I’m not afraid of this situation, but let me tell you something… i’m not gonna invite anyone into my home, without knowing who they are, what their real name is. I’m not stupid to expose my children to just anyone.
    It took only 8 men to bring destroction to Paris and France. Am I afraid? No, but I consider myself wise and alert.
    Dear autthor, Jesus was not poor. First of all, He’s a Son of God, the Creator of all. Secondly, his earthly father was a business man- he had a carpenter business and thirdly, three kings brought Him very precious and expensive presents even at birth, How do you think, he could support twelve disciples for three years of His ministry on earth.
    Dear Americans, I pray that your eyes would open. It’s so amazing to se your willingness to help and make a difference, but ask God for His wisdom on this subject.
    To understand Islam, I strongly suggest you read a book “A Son of Hamas” .

    Be blessed! 🙂

    • Yes but…if you are from Hungary or Romania or any other such area in southeastern Europe, you also have to know that educated Americans are familiar with your own deep historical struggles and prejudices with the long Islamic intrusion into southern Europe and your long wars to drive them out—all of the bad historical bad feelings toward Muslim peoples associated with that. The first question I have to ask is :” How much is that coloring your current perspective on the influx of Syrian refugees into Europe.” I am also aware of Germany’s Post-World war II distrust of its own internal Turkish immigrant population, which made me quite surprised when Angela Merkel was so easily accepting of so many Syrian refugees. That was a puzzlement.

      • I’m from Slovenia, which wasn’t as influenced by turkish invasion as Macedonia, Serbia or Bosnia. I must tell you that people here are very open to other cultures and not prejudiced at all. But anyway, educated Americans haven’t lived here and therefore can’t be a relevant observer. We here, are experiencing first hand. We’re a nation of 2 million people and when tha t people cross our ground, it influences even economy. People in the area close to borders are losing business.
        Once again, dover, less than half of these people are from Syria. Do you know that BMW factory opened a new department and gave a chance to some “refugees” and offered them a job. Guess what? Did didn’t take it, because they’re better off with social support. Only God knows the reason for Angela Merkel’s decision.

      • Slovenia is a part of ex Yugoslavia, not Cshechoslovakia. I don’t think you quite understand my message. I’m not against muslim people and I’m truly happy, seeing them getting saved in the middle east. It’s amazing. But don’t think that Angela Merkel’s decision has God’s stamp approval. Why would that be so?

  64. Thank you for sharing this. Your message was simple and straightforward. Faith not fear. I try to live this, using words to encourage others in little ways, sharing life experiences and humor to build community. I shared your words on WP and through my FB.

  65. Thank you for sharing this. Your message was simple and straightforward. Faith not fear. I try to live this, using words to encourage others in little ways, sharing life experiences and humor to build community. I shared your words on WP and through my FB.

  66. Why is it fear to be wise and careful when dealing with a potentially dangerous situation? Why is it fear simply holding your governmnt accountable to develop a system that possibly can limit the possibility of terrorist entering through our refugee system? Why is this bigoted, racist, or unchristian? In the second half of Matthew 10:16, Christ says Therefore be as wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove. This is not being fearful. Question If you were asked to help a person battle alcholism would you enter the situation without setting any ground rules? Setting of the ground rules is not fear, it is simply recognizing the reality of the situation and being wise about it.

    • That system is already in place. Many fundies just do not want to believe in it because it is presided over by a black man who is secretly Muslim and was also secretly born in Kenya. All untrue charges that have been leveled against President Obama for years, even though those charges have been demonstrated many times to be untrue.

      This is where you sit in your shack in Georgia and say:

      “Well, Homer Freeland is a Baptist. He never saw the inside of a church is whole life, but we know for a fact that his daddy was a Baptist, so that makes Homer a Baptist too.”

      Sorry, that old rule applies only to Baptists who live in Georgia shacks. It does not apply top Barack Obama or anyone else—and they have the birth certificate in Hawaii.

      The system to vet Syrian refugees is already in place.

  67. Why is it fear to be wise and careful when dealing with a potentially dangerous situation? Why is it fear simply holding your governmnt accountable to develop a system that possibly can limit the possibility of terrorist entering through our refugee system? Why is this bigoted, racist, or unchristian? In the second half of Matthew 10:16, Christ says Therefore be as wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove. This is not being fearful. Question If you were asked to help a person battle alcholism would you enter the situation without setting any ground rules? Setting of the ground rules is not fear, it is simply recognizing the reality of the situation and being wise about it.

  68. If you don’t believe in islam and someone who follows islam’s rules finds out and starts to rape your daughter and enslave your wife because his koran says it’s ok and encourages that, what do you do? Are you one of this weak people who are not willing to protect your family from harm? What if this person starts to come at you with the intention of killing you in the most violent way possible…is it wrong to pull out a gun and kill him?

    Are you hiding behind your faith and vilifying Americans and Christians because you are a coward? Are you a person who stands by and watches as someone is being raped or murdered?

    How do you square the call in the koran for everyone to convert or die, child marriage, genital mutilation or better yet, all the acts of the prophet including bestiality…do you just let them do as they want and put your head on the chopping block as a martyr? Is that really your plan and what you would do, especially if your family is staring this evil in the face and you have the ability to fight it? All I can say is, I’m glad I don’t depend on your brand of cowardice for help with the security of my family and friends.

    I agree, God doesn’t need help but on the other hand, God can use us as tools to do His will. It’s how we dispatched the Nazis right? You know, the democrat socialist party? Is it wrong to take up arms and defend yourself, your family and your country from evil? I think not….but as I do exactly that, I pray that I am doing God’s will and find strength and courage in this fight against evil. I also pray not that God is on my side, but that I am on His.

    If I was in that Paris theater with a weapon, I would have had no problem putting a bullet into each of their evil heads…it would have been righteous.

    • Calm down. That is not what we are talking about here. I would shoot your assailant for you in the theater. The problem with you and your fellow fundie zealots is that if a man named “Williams” kills your wife, you immediately turn to hatred of every person with the surname “Williams” on planet Earth. Grow up and reign in your passionate excesses to some place reasonable.

  69. If you don’t believe in islam and someone who follows islam’s rules finds out and starts to rape your daughter and enslave your wife because his koran says it’s ok and encourages that, what do you do? Are you one of this weak people who are not willing to protect your family from harm? What if this person starts to come at you with the intention of killing you in the most violent way possible…is it wrong to pull out a gun and kill him?

    Are you hiding behind your faith and vilifying Americans and Christians because you are a coward? Are you a person who stands by and watches as someone is being raped or murdered?

    How do you square the call in the koran for everyone to convert or die, child marriage, genital mutilation or better yet, all the acts of the prophet including bestiality…do you just let them do as they want and put your head on the chopping block as a martyr? Is that really your plan and what you would do, especially if your family is staring this evil in the face and you have the ability to fight it? All I can say is, I’m glad I don’t depend on your brand of cowardice for help with the security of my family and friends.

    I agree, God doesn’t need help but on the other hand, God can use us as tools to do His will. It’s how we dispatched the Nazis right? You know, the democrat socialist party? Is it wrong to take up arms and defend yourself, your family and your country from evil? I think not….but as I do exactly that, I pray that I am doing God’s will and find strength and courage in this fight against evil. I also pray not that God is on my side, but that I am on His.

    If I was in that Paris theater with a weapon, I would have had no problem putting a bullet into each of their evil heads…it would have been righteous.

    • Calm down. That is not what we are talking about here. I would shoot your assailant for you in the theater. The problem with you and your fellow fundie zealots is that if a man named “Williams” kills your wife, you immediately turn to hatred of every person with the surname “Williams” on planet Earth. Grow up and reign in your passionate excesses to some place reasonable.

  70. American Christianity is actually the worship of Satan, in a devilish disguise that only the Father of Lies could devise. This is lucidly explained here: http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com.tr/2013/12/a-christmas-speculation.html. “On the other, one of the classic titles given Satan by Christian theologians is “the father of lies,” and it’s easy to see how the thought of remaining ostensibly Christian while practicing devil worship in private, and perhaps leading others down the Left Hand Path, might have seemed like the most delectable option available to these new Satanic converts. As the number of devil worshippers in evangelical churches and the Christian end of the Republican Party increased, though, their most pressing need would have been some surreptitious way to signal their involvement to those who shared their convictions, without believers in the Christian gospel being any the wiser…”

  71. A quick time out should be in order. Everyone take a breath. How many have scanned through all the rhetoric exchanged because there is a battle within our own community to be right, rather than do right? The enemy is not external, but internal. The threats we fight about are only bringing out the profound divisiveness we have within our Christian community. Funny, and sad too, is the fact, the Islam community has the same kind of divisiveness within its ranks too. In America we justify our right to be different as being a part of our American identity. We should be able to exchange ideas and beliefs without building walls between us. On the same note, we should become fear mongers. Know who the real enemy is. There will always be “radical groups” terrorizing others because they understand how fear and ignorance increase their power and influence over others. Lets not submit and succumb to the exact infighting that brings a smile of victory to these “radical groups.” Lets remember by claiming to be Christians, the name means we are “little Christs.” Are our actions, attitudes and words testifying to that claim?

  72. A quick time out should be in order. Everyone take a breath. How many have scanned through all the rhetoric exchanged because there is a battle within our own community to be right, rather than do right? The enemy is not external, but internal. The threats we fight about are only bringing out the profound divisiveness we have within our Christian community. Funny, and sad too, is the fact, the Islam community has the same kind of divisiveness within its ranks too. In America we justify our right to be different as being a part of our American identity. We should be able to exchange ideas and beliefs without building walls between us. On the same note, we should become fear mongers. Know who the real enemy is. There will always be “radical groups” terrorizing others because they understand how fear and ignorance increase their power and influence over others. Lets not submit and succumb to the exact infighting that brings a smile of victory to these “radical groups.” Lets remember by claiming to be Christians, the name means we are “little Christs.” Are our actions, attitudes and words testifying to that claim?

  73. I would like to say something here. It is just my opinion, and I’m sure I’ll get some flack for this but I’m going to say it anyway. I have been struggling with my faith for years, and I have struggled with American Christianity. I have also thought that one of the main problems with American Christianity is that we make Jesus what we want instead of accepting Jesus for what he is; the Son of the living God who is our template for living. And, I believe that the refugee crisis has brought this out better than anything lately. This crisis has been brought about by a war with a group that is intent on global domination through attrition. There are thousands and tens of thousands of people who are escaping for their lives and their family’s lives so they can exist in peace. All types of lives, too; Christian, Muslim, and many others. It isn’t about rejecting refugees. In fact, as a Christian, we have a duty to help those escaping and lead them to safety and security. But, since these poor people are trying to escape this oppression and animalistic behavior, how are we keeping them safe by possibly allowing the radicals to sneak in and gain a new battleground? And, since a lot of people quote the passage about Jesus telling us to lay down our own lives for friends, why is it acceptable to risk other people’s lives, including our friends, family, and neighbor’s? Self sacrifice is good, but sacrificing others isn’t what Jesus had in mind (in my opinion). And, since the issue of safety and security was not what Jesus meant, what else can we offer in this life to the refugees? I mean if food, shelter, and getting people to a safe harbor isn’t about safety and security, what is it about then? We can’t offer anything else, except to share the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Bible, and our own experiences. My point is that I personally believe that, after reading this article, that American Christianity does need to be addressed, and this article exemplifies making Jesus into what we want him to be, and not what he actually is. We can offer safety and security, but not at our neighbor’s expense. And, this isn’t an American problem; no one should offer asylum until the people who are seeking it out can be verified. We can’t trust our respective governments to get it right; there are ways to get around these background checks and the government in Syria is in shambles (where else would we get the information?). Plus, the more a government tries to do, the more it makes a mess of things. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that it isn’t a bad thing or un-Christian thing to want to make sure everyone is safe. Not just the refugees and not just those taking them in. Just my opinion.

    • I agree and I hope you don’t get any flack. I think the tone escalated because of some outrageous comments and then there were some slights and touchiness over distinctions about who the refugees represent. They are you and me in a different pair of shoes. I pray that our governments can find the balance between protecting innocent people and offering a helping hand.

      • Thank you for saying that, Kathy. I was thinking about what you said about not getting any flack, and I thought of something; it’s actually good if I do get feedback, negative or positive. I believe through reading the Bible that we should be able to converse with other Christians and discuss our differences. If we don’t talk about these things, we can’t learn about God and Jesus and the plans for our lives. If we can’t handle contradictive feedback and defense of our beliefs, maybe they aren’t beliefs we should be carrying. That is why I welcome it now. I didn’t always think that way, but I’m growing and learning. Even though I’ve been a Christian for many years, there is always more to learn. We can never learn all there is to know, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying and from trying to preach the Word of God’s love for all of us. Hopefully, we’ll all discuss instead of blame each other, and learn from each other and use the Bible and prayer to find what God’s will has in store for us.

        • Yes! I agree ATA

          I have been thinking along those lines as well. I am fed up with the polarization of ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative ‘ Christians. I think 99.9% of the time we are just different parts of the body speaking to the different needs of the body and to the greater needs of humanity which God loves and came to earth to save. The liberals more social justice and the conservatives more justice- justice haha (sorry I have been in a good humour these last few days .)

          However, I think there is something terribly wrong with some of the messages in evangelical/fundamentalist Christian culture which has hampered many Christians and damaged trust. I think we need a real conversation. The silence of Christians is grievous and the shooting of grenades from across the room is grievous. And I feel bad for some of my own faux pas in blog chatting and I really want to connect we every Christian I meet. I think God desires us to be harmonious. Some of the disharmony boils down to our clinging to rhetoric and ‘old language’ and terminology because we know the words we use contain ammunition. We want the biggest bang for each syllable but the beauty of scripture is how it nurtures and feeds us. So I agree with you exhortation “We can never learn all there is to know, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying and from trying to preach the Word of God’s love for all of us. Hopefully, we’ll all discuss instead of blame each other, and learn from each other and use the Bible and prayer to find what God’s will has in store for us.”

          But will we be able to accept were we differ in our understanding of God’s will or with how we receive His word?

          • Ah, Kathy, I do love your thinking. You are representing “The Repairer of the Breach” in such a marvelous way, and so very eloquently. You really, really, really need to start a blog on your thinking because you provide such needed balance in so many ways, and you express yourself so very well.

            • I appreciate your feedback Jem. I have been chewing on your comment. I am not familiar with the idea of the “Repairer of the Breach” or what you mean by it. I know that Isaiah 58:12 mentions something about it, what a powerful read that whole chapter is!! I know that in the OT Nehemiah and many Israelites were inspired to restore the temple. My thoughts along those lines are that Yes! there is a kind of a breach in the church but it is not like the temple which was made up of hard stone blocks but more like an organic body, and parts of the body are suffering neglect. It reminds me of Ezekiel 36:26,27 “ And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules”. Ezekial 36 is a wild read as well!! I am thankful for your encouragement. 😀

              • Yeah! Precisely! And you are such an instrument of His in all this to bring some healing, shine some of His light, and throw some of His balm into those places that have been breached. Thank you. You often manage to pour some oil on troubled waters.

          • I agree, Kathy, that we should be harmonious and that Scripture nurtures our spiritual well being. Where I think the problem lies, in my opinion, is that we have 2 sides of our Christian Family that have very strong, extreme beliefs. And, no one on those sides wants to discuss, they want to pontificate. I grew up in a conservative, Baptist church and I’ve come to disagree with some of the messages and beliefs from that church. I’m not saying they’re bad people, I just didn’t agree with enough to make me think that I was growing spiritually. I left in my early 20’s, and searched for a different church. After searching, I found a church that some would describe as more liberal. After a few years of that church, I started to feel the same as in my old Church; something is missing. Once again, nothing against the people of the church, I just didn’t agree and felt I wasn’t growing. And, to my shame, I admit that I had been slothful in reading my Bible and praying (which I still struggle with, but am working on) during both periods in my life. Then, I just stopped going. Lapsed for a couple of years, I started reading my Bible and praying more diligently. I’ve found a church now where I feel God speaking to me and working through me. And, what I’ve learned is something odd but good; I’m definitely a fundamentalist, but that doesn’t mean conservative or liberal. In fact, I would say that being a true fundamentalist means your going to disagree with both sides of the equation equally; some theology that I’ve learned will cause problems for the more strict conservatives, some will offend the more progressive liberals. But, I’ve seen the same fire and anger in both sides when preaching. I think it’s both sides who let Satan get into their heads and override the true love of God and sacrifice of Jesus Christ with rigid ideology and overzealous behavior. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not condemning; it’s a struggle for me to control my passion when discussing because it gets into my head, “Why can’t I just get through to this person?”, and get angry myself. I’m 40 now, and just now feeling like I’m finally understanding some of God’s will. And, I owe it to God for the suffering (He doesn’t cause the suffering; that’s not what I’m saying) and asking questions to God and reading his word and praying. I think that’s what’s missing; an attitude of learning instead of “knowing”. I’m not sure if we can get everyone on board with what you’ve said, but we should never stop trying. All this is in my own humble opinion.

            • Thanks for sharing some of your story with me ATA (wish I knew your first name). Your journey can help others to see that all who wander are not lost and sometimes those moments of not reading the Bible or praying formally, can be times when pastures are left fallow. During those times the fields rest and build up their nutrients again.

              I hear what you are saying. You make valid points. I wonder what people are thinking sometimes! (me included, so we have to continually go to Christ)

              It is a beautiful thing when we can fellowship in cyberspace 😀 So nice to interact with you, all my best in Christ

              • You’re very welcome, Kathy. Maybe God will use my story to help some other poor soul who’s struggling. Peace be with you, and God bless.

                By the way, my name is Toby. 🙂

  74. The infighting and disagreements on this thread is happening because there are two different mindsets— or maybe three or four. I went to a dinner party the other night and we talked about Bonhoeffer’s decision to join the group that tried to assassinate Hitler. An analogy was given:

    There are those who see a terrible crime against someone. One person’s reaction is to stop and help the victim another person’s reaction is to chase the criminal and stop them so no one else gets hurt. Neither one of these reactions is wrong so maybe most of us are at odds because of those different approaches. Yes we are all scared and fearful but some of us are care takers and some of us are defenders, we need each other, So I hope we can come together as Christians realizing we might be saying the same thing. So I can join hands with my brothers and sisters who want to help the refugees in need but also want to stop the terrorists.

    • You are almost there Kathy. Please allow me to take it the rest of the way for you:

      Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals want to talk about a liberal/progressive church vs. a conservative moral church. This is convenient evolved language for them because they made the initial separation in the early 20th century when they declared themselves to be the moral righteous church vs. the immoral apostate church (hated by God—which means the fundies are to hate them too). When Paul Weyrich decided to politicize the churches in the 1970—not for God but for the benefit of the Republican Party—this earlier “versus” was a perfect and natural “fit” for the already existing Republican Party duality of conservative Republican vs. Liberal Democrat. So basically, two different wars (one political and one religious) got fused into one war as a matter of political convenience.

      Earlier “Christianities,” which existed before the fundies showed up on the scene in the early 1900s, had placed a more or less equal emphasis (with some off and on variations of varying degrees over great time) on BOTH—and I want to emphasize that word “BOTH” because it is extremely important—on living a moral life (without being an extreme Old Testament legalist) AND living a life of outgoing love towards one’s neighbor. In other words, there was a more UNIFIED GOSPEL AND CHURCH.

      Enter the American Christian fundamentalists in te early 1900s. To them alone, with the fervor of the Great Awakenings in mind, the Christian faith had evolved to a point in their minds where it should be solely about man’s sin in this life, the use of powerful legalism to stop it, and EVANGELISM, which was seen as an emergency rescue operation to save people from Hell because Jesus was going to show up and end time ANY SECOND. They thought too much money was going to feeding, clothing, helping, and loving people—and that most all of that money should instead be spent on EMERGENCY EVANGELISM. So, this is what they did. Thy reduced helping and loving people to almost nothing and fed nearly all of their money, time, and energy into evangelism. Whether they intended to do it consciously or not—PERSONALLY I THINK IT WAS CONSCIOUS FROM THE ACTUAL HISTORY—they simultaneously CHERRY-PICKED ALL OF THE LOVE out of the New Testament, which left behind a cold and hard Christian fundamentalism (and later conservative evangelicalism) that put great emphasis on the Old Testament law (LEGALISM) and evangelism alone.

      Now, I want to insert a provision here. If you talk to a fundie or conservative evangelical, she will say. “Oh, that’s not true. We spend plenty of time in the New Testament and our preacher man mentions love quite a bit.” That is no doubt true—BUT. I would submit by the things I read in the books at Christian bookstores and on-line that they are just MOUTHING WORDS when they use the word LOVE. Jesus said it best of them when he said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” I actually have seen Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical preachers go on TIRADES AGAINST CHRISTIAN LOVE in books and on-line, and it is usually clothed in bitter and anger-dripping language about Christian love being too permissive, too soft, too bleeding heart kind, not tough enough, and not mean enough. In other words, their idea of love is BEING TOUGH AND MEAN. Moreover, I would put it another way to be more clear. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have REDEFINED NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIAN LOVE from the softness and kindness that it was in New Testament times and most other times to most other peoples in the Western World. They have redefined love in our time to be a COLD-HEARTED HATRED. Jesus said that this would happen in later times to many Christians (not a few—many), and He also indicated that those who did this WOULD NEVER BE SAVED. Here is the verse. Read it slowly and carefully here:

      “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Matthew 24:12-13).

      I am absolutely convinced that this verse is talking specifically about the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals among us today—and more specifically—the ones who are REDEFINING LOVE TO MEAN HATRED of one’s fellow man. They look around, see all the lawlessness and immorality in American society—and it makes them angry—and any love they might still have in their hearts towards sinners and their other fellow men (which are all sinners—including themselves) grows cold. Jesus made it clear in the Gospel of John that LOVE was the MOST IMPORTANT THING. If you read the Book of John and all the later New Testament writings as a whole—this is clear as crystal. If you do not truly love sinners and your fellow man in a way that “DOES GOOD TO THEM,” then you have in effect ABANDONED JESUS AND DENIED THE CHRISTIAN FAITH. This is why the Book of Revelations says plainly that all men will be judged by their DEEDS. In short, DID THOSE DEEDS OF MEN IN THIS LIFE REFLECT LOVE. I am not saying here that salvation is by works. What I am saying is that salvation by grace should result in a heart that loves God the Father, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and All of Mankind—true love—real love—kind love, cuddly love—but not a love redefined as hatred. That love will express itself in good and loving deeds—like taking in 10,000 Syrian refugees. And we will be judged by those deeds because they are the ENGINE OIL DIPSTICK of the love of Christ that lives within us in the form of the Holy Spirit.

      The problem today is that Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have SPLIT THE CHRISTIAN FAITH into two far-distant and disjointed pieces. Their side is Biblical legalism, a preoccupation with cleaning up societal sin, a sole emphasis on country-hick-style evangelism for its own sake, and the purging of CHRISTIAN LOVE from the Gospel, which is precisely why I refer to Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism as the “Bad News Gospel.”

      The ONCE UNIFIED CHURCH OF LOVE that Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals split in half 100 years ago needs to be put back together again into ONE WHOLE CHURCH WITH FULL LOVE BACK IN IT. The only way to do that is to KILL OFF the excesses of Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and extreme nutjob Christian liberalism—and put the VERY BEST PARTS OF THE TWO SPLIT PIECES back together again AS ONE CHURCH in a loving, sensible, and reasonable way.

      • Once again some of the things your write ring true especially the redefinition of love pattern . I have been to churches whicj only focus on sin and never mention love exception the pastor tells you what love is and isn’t. God loves people but not the feel good permissive love but the strong stern eyed kind of love. I took a tally at one service didn’t mention love once. So yeah I get that. But how many churches are this way ?

              • I was thinking of the inflammatory video Morris posted in the comments above. People giving a standing ovation to the minster preaching the contempt of others. I guess the message of love is not exciting.

                • Oh. That guy. I would bet my last nickel he wants a career in right wing extremist politics. I had never even heard of this pastor until a couple of years ago. He is the Head Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. He sits in the former chair of Dr. W.A. Criswell, a former pastor of that church who was in his own time a living legend on almost the same par as the Pope—in Southern Baptist minds and hearts. To sit there in that chair is to sit in the “cat bird’s seat” that is in just the right place at just the right time to move on to bigger and better things for YOURSELF (all in the name of Jesus—of course). Texas is near the top of the list of right wing extremist nutjob state Republicanism, and pastors like this guy know that Texas politicians look to high-up fundie priests like him to ally with them to keep the blind, deaf, and dumb fundie Christian sheep of Texas in line and on the straight and narrow in the voting booth. From his end, the pastor knows that these alliances offer the eventual opportunity to play on those political alliances to make his own way onto the road to a high-profile political career—and eventually deal himself into the BIG GAME in Washington, D.C. I have noticed that his sermons are often very political of late—which suggests to me all the more that this is his intended direction. Whenever I see a pastor doing this, especially on the fundie side, I am almost always inclined to think that this is a pastor who has secretly said within himself: “Screw this Jesus shit—I am not getting any older or any richer. This mortal life is really all there is—and then only blackness after that. I am going for money and power why I still have time left to do it—and “Political Jesus” is my ticket. That is just my opinion.

    • Kathy, your analogy and ending thoughts are well put and hits the nail right on the head. Our goal should be to help everyone TOGETHER. We’re all brothers and sisters in Christ. There are different mindsets, and I’m not saying mine is perfect. I’m probably considered conservative. I know I’m fundamentalist. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about others.

  75. Reblogged this on ShiningThrough and commented:
    This is my first time to re-blog another person’s post, but John Pavlovitz says so well what I’ve been feeling that I’m doing it today. For the past week the hate and fear-filled language coming from some politicians and some Christians is, in my opinion contrary to the example Jesus’ life provides for his followers and also helps the terrorists achieve their goals.

  76. Reblogged this on ShiningThrough and commented:
    This is my first time to re-blog another person’s post, but John Pavlovitz says so well what I’ve been feeling that I’m doing it today. For the past week the hate and fear-filled language coming from some politicians and some Christians is, in my opinion contrary to the example Jesus’ life provides for his followers and also helps the terrorists achieve their goals.

  77. Pingback: High Notes {Week of November 16, 2015} - Sheri Dacon

  78. Like many in the comments, I can only offer circumstantial evidence, but perhaps my circumstances are valuable to share. Today in my home, my family and I will host two Iraqi refugee families for an early Thanksgiving feast. For one family, it will be their first Thanksgiving since their arrival to our country; for the other, it will be the first time they have been invited to celebrate Thanksgiving with American citizens, despite having lived here for over six years. Both families underwent the long wait, intense scrutiny, and background investigation that distinguishes the U.S.’s strict refugee acceptance program (see USRAP’s website for more info).

    My family got involved in a Refugee Mentor program in our state over the summer and, together, we have been walking alongside one of these families as they have been transitioning into life in America. It has not been an easy transition; in the month before we met them, they even considered returning to Baghdad.

    You must understand, refugees start at the bottom rungs of our society–they come with few possession, they live in Section-8 housing with people whose languages and customs are as foreign to them as they might be to many Americans, they are desperately lonely and homesick and isolated and ignored.

    Unless someone notices them.

    I could write a book about what I’ve learned as a mentor–about all the stereotypes that have been defeated in this process. But what I really want to do here is to encourage those of you in the comments to take the first step forward to answering some of your questions.

    Here is a list of agencies in the US that help resettle refugees who have arrived in our country: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/voluntary-agencies

    Choose among any of these agencies. Check out their websites. Find their volunteer pages. Ask yourself, “How can I get involved?” If you want to actually DO something about the global refugee crisis, and if you actually CARE about how refugees are received into our country, into our communities–whether you are more than eager for them to come or less than thrilled–IT IS ON YOU to get involved!

    When you do get involved, I’m telling you, the difference you can make is powerful! The father of the family that arrived six years ago, Dilshad, is friends with the father of the family we are mentoring. When he met us, he was fascinated to learn about the refugee mentor program, which his family had not had access to. After asking many questions about our motivations, Dilshad paused for a moment. Then he told us that he was overwhelmed by our kindness, that he could only imagine how much of a difference it would make for his friends to get to know Americans, how he wished the same might have been true for he and his family, and–by the way–if there was anything he could do to help us, he was at our disposal.

    Since that day, both families have become close friends to us. When, unprompted, Dilshad asked about our religious views, we were so surprised when he followed up by requesting to visit our church–he and his wife had always wanted to see the inside of a Christian church. What a motley crew we were when both Iraqi families, moms wearing their best hijabs, accompanied us to church the next week, and the week after that! What an image of the body of Christ we were when we worshipped God together! What a blessing it will be, today, to celebrate Thanksgiving–a holiday about coming to America and struggling through hard times together–with our new Muslim friends who are teaching us so much about what it means to be Christians!

    • God bless you. One of my relatives attends church with an Islamic friend in their small town. There is no mosque in this small town. My relative knows that he is devoted to Islam, and my relative is a devoted Christian. They are close friends and have been for many years. Both need a place to worship each week, so they go to her church. No one is trying hard to change the religious views of the other. They just want to worship God—so they do.

      • Dover, must be a crazy world to think you are a prophet of Jesus and know exactly what Jesus is thinking. Does he come to you for direction, because you put yourself on very high ground.

        • Brad. I am not a prophet of Jesus and do not claim to be–at least not like Jeremiah and those other guys. However, I do have gifts of the Holy Spirit, gifts specified in the Bible as being given to believers. Every good Baptist I have ever known claims that each believing Baptist is responsible for identifying and using the specific gifts they are given. My clearly known gift is the gift of spiritual discernment (sensing and smelling out spiritual crap) and an uncanny ability to accurately predict the future—not as an occultist—because I am not one—but rather as a prophetic spiritual gift. A sudden voice out of nowhere tells me that a house is about to burn, everything looks normal at the house, 20 minutes later the fire engines show up, and the house attic is on fire. Things like this have happened to me off and on all my life. I can shake hands with a person, and in 5 seconds tell you whether that person is dangerous or is going to be dishonest or is going to screw my company with a competitor behind our President’s back. Been there. Done that. Many times. And it all turned out to be true.

          I am sorry if you do not like the fact that I have these gifts. Maybe you can drop a complaint card in the Suggestion Box attached to the Pearly Gates?

    • I am sure it’s not ALL Brad’s fault nor the total fault of a certain type of American Christian. We have been indoctrinated and instead of having the freedom to think for ourselves we have listened and obeyed church teachings without question. We think it is wrong to say anything critical or question what the church teaches. Yet church leaders have been leading congregations this way and that for centuries.

    • I am sure it’s not ALL Brad’s fault nor the total fault of a certain type of American Christian. We have been indoctrinated and instead of having the freedom to think for ourselves we have listened and obeyed church teachings without question. We think it is wrong to say anything critical or question what the church teaches. Yet church leaders have been leading congregations this way and that for centuries.

  79. From an earlier comment: “…which will no doubt be a soothing bomb for your soul.” I think the word was supposed to be “balm”, LOL!

  80. From an earlier comment: “…which will no doubt be a soothing bomb for your soul.” I think the word was supposed to be “balm”, LOL!

  81. Thank you for this article. Christians should be rejoicing at hearing refugees are coming to this country. Our response should be, “We are so blessed to have this opportunity to show the love of Jesus by taking care of these refugees. Many of them will be Muslim and will have to opportunity to show them our faith and what it can do! I am so overjoyed and excited!”
    To think that these refugees, who are fleeing the same enemy we are fighting, are any threat is laughable.

    • No one thinks that “these refugees . . . are any threat.” It’s the ISIS wannabes who blend in among them who are the threat. The President’s own FBI Director and Homeland Security Secretary admitted that they have no idea who some of these people are.

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    • Again, no one has a problem with the refugees. It’s the ISIS wannabes who blend in with the refugees who have us concerned. The President’s own FBI Director and Homeland Security Secretary have said that they have no way of knowing who some of these people are.

      • Hi Paul. It is a tough question in some ways. However, just my opinion, my conscience would not feel right dumping 10,000 ordinary people like you in me out into the cold with no food and water just on the chance that a couple of terrorists are present in their numbers. Also, with these lone wolf terrorists, they are right here among us already, and we have no really good clues who they may be or where they may be. They just pop up out of nowhere and turn out to be the boy that has lived next door to us for 18 years. So really, I cannot see that we would really be in any more danger than we already are.

        However, as Christians, I do not think we can justifiably take the position that says: “All them damned Muslims believe in an Anti-Christ religion. Every last one of them. That makes all of them be tools of Satan. Why them bastards just don’t value human life the same high way we good Christians do. Who gives a damn what happens to the children of Satan. Throw’em all out in the cold and let’em all starve to death. Serves’em right.” I am guessing that if you were to poll 100 fundies, a majority right now would be thinking something along those lines.

        People I was around here in Tennessee when I was growing up—Christian people—thought like that often times. A fundie Christian uncle of mine in the late 1970s, a Navy man in the Pacific theater during World War II (never saw combat) was invited over to a friend’s house for dinner in Nashville. This friend had also invited a local teenager who was a Japanese high school exchange student. The word that came back to me from that evening was that my Christian uncle had treated this young man very coldly and with no kindness or friendliness at all—and that he had to severely restrain himself from reaching across the table and ripping the kid’s throat out—all because he happened to have been born in Japan sometime after World War II was over and done. So, please do not try to tell me that fundie Christians do not think like this because I have experience with it in my own family. I am sure not all do—but again—I would go with a “substantial number.”

  83. I find Mr. Pavlovitz post both ridiculous and insulting.. If he TRULY wants to see “Americhistianity” in action, he would do well to follow the countless Christian organizations as they reach out to ALL people throughout the world.. By acts of Charity, Love and Compassion spreading the Word of Jesus Christ… Not by random attacks, NOT by bombings or cowardly be-headings or murders committed from the dark shadows, or even feigned ignorance of atrocities committed in the name of religion. It’s disappointing that he doesn’t seem to know the difference

    • Uh-h-h-h. You seem to believe that Muslims in general always spread their faith by violence whereas Christians do it differently. However, prior to the 1991 Gulf War, no one in modern Christianity ever heard even a “peep” of violence out of the Islamic world in general about spreading their faith.

      If you look at the further back histories of both Christianity and islam in more barbaric times, both spread their faith with violence. Go find a history book and read it—please.

      • P.S. I once had a fundie mission worker in Africa tell me in a church sermon one morning that he and his entourage did not give a damned about whether the people in Africa were suffering from medical problems or even if they died from them. All that was important was to save their souls, and the new hospital they just built in their corner of Africa was just BAIT to lure the rural natives in to hear about Jesus. The specific place this sermon was presented was the Southern Methodist Church in Goodletsville, Tennessee. That is a small, rare, and little known fundie denomination that likes to identify with the Wesleyan tradition—although one has to wonder why. In the 1970s, it was also known as a denomination where the few remaining Methodist racial bigots could find shelter from those awful liberals and civil rights people who were selling out America to the “jungle bunnies.” They were heavily into: “Evangelism Explosion.”

        How do you square all that dark heart and not really caring about the rotting right arm with the words of Jesus about “caring for the least of these.” I would have liked to have seen them build that hospital to help the African poor people first and do the evangelism incidental to the heart that really cares.

        Christian Fundamentalism = Share Jesus first and who cares if their arms rots off later. (“Sh-h-h-h-h!!! The medical care is only a PR gimmick. Keep it quiet.”)

        Real Christianity = Help them with the arm first to show the love of Jesus—because your heart really does care—and let any evangelism flow later from that heart that cares.

  84. https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fuser%2FSamaritansPurseVideo&h=oAQGO6svI

    The point of the reference to ‘Samaritan’s Purse’ was that they, and HUNDREDS of other Christian organizations have, and will continue, to spread the values of Love, Compassion and Charity throughout the world …NOT by violence, or ‘flag waving’, Rather, by the message of God’s Love.. Unfortunately we’ve seen what the practice of religion by ideology looks like, in the middle east, in France and in Mali … Once again, It’s sad …. and disappointing that you can’t seem to see the difference

  85. Thank you so much! When Jesus said be anxious for nothing, well, he meant NOTHING! Fear not, little children. For I, the embodiment of LOVE, have overcome the world. And you, as my many brethren, same Father of Lights, can do the same–if you FEAR NOT. YOU—ALSO as perfect LOVE, the Light of the world can cast out all fears!

  86. Thank you for so eloquently expressing what has increasingly burdened my heart. Christ commanded us to do one thing: love each other. The opposite of love is not hatred but fear. To truly love negates fear.
    A couple of previous posts indicated the lack of love in churches (and frankly the world at large) is because it is too soft for our world, simply not popular or doesn’t have a wow factor.
    I think it is because to love without condition is just really, really hard.
    It is far easier to scrap and scrape and judge and condemn and to have no sense of obligation to another, whether it is family members, neighbors, folks in our communities or people half way around the world. It is so much easier to be angry because then you can wash your hands. It is easier to be sanctimonious because it frees you from trying to understand. It is easier to sit in judgement because then you don’t have to respect. It is easier to fear because then you don’t have to reach out, to engage.
    Loving requires sacrifice, selflessness, commitment and action. Few throughout history have been able to able to demonstrate this kind of love. And they haven’t all been Christians!
    Finally, Christ’s command to love one another was not a request, a suggestion, an idea to consider. It was an order! These simple words — love one another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU — rest at the root of our faith and when we do not wholeheartedly embrace this command, we undermine the very foundation of our faith.

    As a side note. I was raised an independent baptist, a fundamentalist and am thankful every day for pastor and teacher John Widenhour who encouraged questioning and thoughtful discourse. I am not sure he would be embraced in many fundamentalist pulpits today.
    Thank you again for a thought provoking and affirmative article. God bless!

    • Yes! What you say is so true. My belief is that we cannot fulfill this command of love unless we rely on Jesus to work it in our lives, and that He designed it this way so that His followers would know they have to depend wholly on Him in all things. Be blessed!

  87. I quit reading the comments. It seems satan is winning the war on separating the faithful. Wouldn’t it be great if the Christian faithful came together…as one?

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  91. Maybe you could start with “It’s all made up” instead of overthinking it and wrenching it into a debate. I guess it’s less popular to say IT’S ALL MADE UP, STOP BEING STUPID, YOU’RE HATING EACH OTHER OVER NOTHING than to say “Satan is winning the war on (something else you made up).”

    There’s nothing to fight over. Just be nice. Thanks for starting the conversation I suppose.

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