Why Would Anyone Consider Christianity Today?

I’ve been a Christian most of my life; raised in the faith since before I could remember, and serving as a local church pastor for the past twenty years, much of that time here in the American Bible Belt.

Though it is a fairly tenuous connection these days, I am still tethered to my religious tradition by a combination of present personal conviction, along with the spiritual muscle memory of my past—and right now it honestly feels like more the latter than the former.

There is an attrition to my joy lately. I find it more and more difficult with each passing day to outwardly claim this faith because of what that declaration now immediately aligns me with in the eyes of the watching world. It now aligns me with transphobic politicians and Muslim-hating celebrity evangelists and perpetually oppressed Christmas warriors. It now aligns me with gun-toting preachers and damnation-wielding social media trolls and predatory Presidents. It now aligns me with the least-like-Jesus stuff I can imagine.

To some people, this is all Christianity is—which as a professed Christian now makes me an a**hole by association. These people believe they know me. They believe that know my politics and my passions. They believe they know how I feel about gay marriage and immigrants and women’s rights. They don’t realize that I am sickened by this thing professing to be Christianity too. They don’t know that I am as burdened as they are to resist its damage. They don’t see that I totally get that this monstrosity claiming to be of Jesus would be unrecognizable to him—that he would be as horrified by it as they are. 

I know that I am primarily still a Christian primarily because I have always been a Christian; because I know what I know about Jesus, and I can see when people are stealing his identity and bastardizing his legacy. I know when they’re twisting the Scriptures to subjugate people, when they’re fashioning God in their own bigoted image, when they’re slapping a veneer of religiosity on something with no redemptive value. I’m able to see the frauds and the false prophets because I’m experienced the real and the beautiful of this faith—but not everyone has, and so I don’t blame them for rejecting it all. It is profoundly reject-able.

At this point, I don’t know why anyone would choose Christianity if they weren’t already a Christian. If all I had to go by was this homophobic, power-hungry, bullying, bitter thing I see running amok every day in America, I’d run from it to. If following Jesus meant signing-up for this, I’d have no interest either.

The American Bible Belt Evangelical Church has become the greatest argument for someone not becoming a Christian, for them rejecting organized religion and never looking back.

But there are other expressions of this faith here, though they may not have the megaphones and megachurches. There are loving, inclusive, beautiful communities filled with people of compassion and generosity and mercy. There are men and women of faith in every corner of this country who are striving to emulate Jesus and who are rightly embarrassed by the hatred perpetuated in his name.

We believe in loving our neighbor as ourselves.
We believe in welcoming the outsider and the outcast.
We believe the table is open to anyone who comes hungry.
We believe compassion is our highest aspiration.

They are millions of Christians who reject the bigotry that you reject, who are sickened by the hypocrisy you are sickened by, who condemn the violence you condemn, who deeply grieve over the hatred you grieve over.

Maybe these things aren’t enough for you to reconsider your aversion to organized religion, but hopefully it will be enough to let you know that people like us are standing with you; that many of us who claim faith in Jesus have no interest in this kind of Christianity either—because we know Jesus wouldn’t either.

Be encouraged.

 

Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.

  

 

58 thoughts on “Why Would Anyone Consider Christianity Today?

  1. I turned away from organized religion when the Church started preaching from the pulpit about how and for whom to vote. I walked away when they decided to judge someone else’s sins different than their own. I left when they wanted money for a gym and to fund the pastor’s new mega mansion versus following Jesus’ request to take care of each other, including the poor, the immigrants with a different skin color than mine, the single mothers trying to eek out a living on minimal wage and no healthcare. I left in the middle of a sermon one Sunday. It was not easy walking up the red carpeted aisle while the Pastor spewed out his version of God’s word but I could no longer sit there and waste my time with bastardized words of untruth.

    I’ve never looked back. I have a closer relationship with Christ now than ever before. I’m no longer duty-bound to the whims of a close-minded Pastor and “his” flock.

    Jesus lives inside each of us. We just have to set Him free. Right now, we have imprisoned him with barbaric rules based on ego and power versus the mystical magical Power that is His. He reigns … we just have to free Him from the shackles of organized religion and politics. I am here on Earth to serve the Lord. No one else.

  2. Have you ever considered that the Protestant religion is a lie and that the so-called “Reformers” were most certainly not doing the work of the Lord? Have you ever considered that the vast majority of American religion is a stooge of Satan designed to turn as many people against Christianity as possible? The Council of Trent was coming regardless of the Protestant revolution.

    Protestant religion is unreformable, for the only things that can fix Protestant religion are those things that will undermine its very pillars. Protestant religion was damned from its very inception to become the perversion that it is now. The only thing that can be done to save Christianity in America is to return to the Christianity of the first thousand years

    Has the thought ever come across people’s minds that the Russian toll operation that persuaded so many Evangelical Protestants to embrace Trump was a mousetrap designed in large part to destroy Protestant religion by forcing people to see the vast depths of evil it contains? The Russians, who are now the leading force in global Christianity know full well that Protestant religion is a cancer that must be eradicated in order for the Christian Faith to be healthy.

    Protestantism must die so Christianity can resurrect!

      • The early church? So we’re going back before the Crusades? I was raised in the Christian faith but could not reconcile with it’s barbaric history. I also could not settle in with the idea that there was only one path to god. I applaud your sentiments, though . Most religions have ugliness in their history. It happens when humans decide that they own god. I think we are not evolved enough as a species to have religion.

  3. Oh yeah I git ya there Mr. John. No I’d never put you into the category of the average christian, no sir. Nor would I put my self there (I’d say aloud without reservation). However, I like you, Mr. John, choose to listen t the words of Jesus, not the church or any religion. Okay yeah blah, blah, blah, you’ve heard it before, I understand.

    But here’s the deal here there, I feel sorry for the Christians. What a freak’n place to be in these days, my God, a sect of the human species gone nuts. Of course I’m sure it’s only a small portion of Christians, but also a portion much too powerful. Don’t worry Mr. John, you have no associations with these wayward “Christians”. Jesus is still Jesus with all his wisdom in tact. The concept as well as the word Christian is a made made thing, more or less, while following Christ is your own business.

  4. I hold three ministerial ordinations … and no longer call myself Christian. Rather, I call myself a believer in Jesus’ teachings.

    Why? For all the reasons you cite. I refuse to be painted with the brush tarred by those who have co-opted Jesus’ name in order to give what they see as legitimacy to their hatred.

    Thank you for this article.

      • You are mistaking “hatred” from what is truly felt. It is deep sorrow, grief, a refusal to be ugly to others owing to made up judgemental references. Perhaps you read it as hatred, is this is what is in your self, unseen? To judge others in order to deflect from one’s own self hate? I do not read hatred, rather a plea to follow Jesus, whom practiced what he preached. Jesus would not deny anyone LOVE. Jesus would not demonize the LGBTQ community. Jesus would give to the widowed, the poor, the sick and the hungry. He would not “focus” on self’s “beliefs, waste energy accusing others of hate, of being demons, He calls for unconditional love. I am sorry you are caught up in literal belief of metaphorical words. We need more love in our world. Have you truly not noticed that this form of Christianity has ALWAYS had a scapegoat, again to deflect from one’s shame or guilt. First were the “witches”, next it was POC, the disabled, the poor (pull yourself up by your bootstraps- unlikely to come from the mouth of Jesus. Current demons are the LGBTQ, most expecially the T. Biology proves the truth of their differences, is a child born with a heart defect evil? Is a child born with their spine outside their back, evil? It is all genetics- one doesn’t judge others by their “organs”. Our USA immigrant beginnings, when the American Indian was deemed Satan’s Devils, were annihilated. These protestants weren’t fleeing “persecution”- they were wanting a land to develop in their literal beliefs, and England was weary of their fire & hate as a church. Again, it saddens me to see how some feel belief is fact, rather than focusing on what GOOD may I DO today?

  5. Maybe, it’s time for another reformation revolution.
    Maybe it’s time for people to stop using the term “Christian” to refer to those people who act in ways that would make Jesus weep.
    Maybe it’s time to, instead of saying “Our Christianity isn’t like *that*”, find a new name for yourselves- one that doesn’t cling to an identity that no longer has any real meaning because it’s been ground into the mud by zealots, fundamentalists and bigoted ideologies that are more about making themselves look good, and following Jesus.

    • THAT would be great! This was as I was raised, humbleness, give what one can to those with less, or suffering. This is true CHRIST-ianity. I find Bible judgements by others- they ought be called BIBLI-anity. I miss the Christianity I was raised with.

  6. Why choose Christianity? Because as someone drowning, Jesus feels like a float one might be able to trust. But everything seems in such flux; as if we were swept into disgusting flood waters. Organisations and places and individuals one used to trust in seem corrupt, including much of the various churches. We need turning to silence, or silent prayer.

    • Not just silence. Outrage too. But we must remember silence. Humility. How can anyone alive today not feel the desperation?

  7. I posted this to the page of a particular hard-headed friend of mine with this message:

    Well written article by a Christian pastor talking about people who claim they follow Jesus, but still want to follow those who are against anyone who is “different” from themselves – other races, other religions, etc. They believe that our leaders are making our country better, when in fact they are creating divisiveness and encouraging others to follow their hateful rhetoric.

    One example: There are churches who teach that same-sex couples are sinning, but the only reference against this in their Bibles is in the Old Testament. They forget that there was no Christianity during that time, and many of those old rules were no longer valid after Jesus started teaching. Jesus never condemned any person for their gender identity or sexual orientation, but taught us to love your neighbor as yourself.

    Anyone that is not a Christian can see those problems in Christian churches, and would stay away from any group that teaches such hypocrisy.

  8. Amen. The more divided and judgmental our country becomes, claiming that groups should be outcast in the name God, the deeper my Christian faith becomes. I’ve posted before that those who stand on their pedestals–hatred in one hand, the Bible in the other–that they might try opening that Book. I have yet to find to see the words “love thy neighbor EXCEPT….”

    We have to live and be examples of the Christian faith, talk when asked, and use the hatred in the political climate to start rational discussions.

  9. I was discussing religion with someone I know to be from the church called “Disciples of the Light”. They worship Lucifer, the angel of light. This follower has some really good points.

    He believes in the pursuit of all knowledge, especially scientific knowledge, and he believes that it goes against God because he punished Adam and Eve for gaining knowledge of good and evil. In fact he kills them after hundreds of years of a hellish, painful existence. Not being satisfied in killing of humans after hundreds of years after he creates them he cuts their lives short, from a few dozen years, and in many cases, just years, months, or days. In Genesis, over and over again, he punishes people for not “staying in their place”. In Exodus he frees the Hebrews only after murdering thousands and thousands of Egyptians and then once they get away God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, instead of blessing him with understanding, just to murder his troops and humiliates him. God apparently likes to torture and kill people, subjects and “heathens” alike, he says.

    He believes in doing anything you want as long as you hurt no one and that God does not, as evident in the Torah. He won’t worship a God that condones the murder of innocents that had no opportunity to worship him. The deal seems to be “Worship the God of Abraham or all of you, including the defenseless, will be painfully and brutally killed”.

    He believes that everyone, including the powerful, need to face the due punishment for them hurting people while Christians seem to excuse the powerful, if they scream “Lord, Jesus, Lord” for them hurting the powerless.

    He believes in not hurting children when teaching them self-discipline while God says “spare the rod and spoil the child”.

    He believes in accepting everyone, especially the oppressed that the Christian God seem to be forsaking. He won’t worship a Jesus that eschewed power instead of fixing the world, and telling everyone else to do the same. He believes in using any power he can get to make his world a better place, especially for those still being abused by Christian Churches.

    He believes that Lucifer is the angel of light, knowledge, and betterment of the human race while God must be the opposite, because if it wasn’t there wouldn’t be so many horrible Christians abusing people.

    There is something horribly wrong when a follower of the big, bad, horrible Devil is a better person to be with than many Christians.

    • It probably seems that way to you because you excuse your sins. Until you repent and get back on the straight and narrow path, the Devil will seem better to you than Christians, because he loves you as you are and wants you to be with him forever.

    • That actually makes sense to me. I’m a pagan, actually a witch. (Boy, won’t this set off Joe Catholic! I’d better buy asbestos long johns.) Oddly enough, I do believe in there are true Christians in the world, as I was raised by two of them. I also believe that there are many paths one can take (I know, not a popular view around here) and mine is quite different. I do find it amusing that I live my life much closer to Jesus’ teaching than many so-called Christians do. Keep the faith, John. This world needs all the good people we can get!

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  11. I know there are still good Christians out there in the world I see some of them. I see some of them here.
    I, myself, walked away from Christianity decades ago and have never looked back for a variety of reasons.
    I hope that good people, smart, kind, loving people. People who believe in the message Jesus spread about compassion, and love and understanding can become the voice of Christianity. It would be wonderful. Because I’ll be honest, so much of what I hear right now from the voice of many “christians” makes me think if they ever did come face to face with Jesus he’d have a few choice words for them and they wouldn’t be nice ones.

  12. I converted to Christianity because the message of Jesus reflected how I think the world should be. I follow these teachings although as a rational , thinking person I cannot repress my common sense and buy into the supernatural mythology.
    That being said, I am being driven away by what Christianity has become. Fortunately, as an Episcopalian , I see loving , accepting people in the church which somewhat counters the negatives. It is a very delicate balancing act at this point. The outcome remains to be seen.

  13. You’re not doing enough.

    For years I have listened to liberal Christian WHINING about how “we aren’t like those HORRIBLE Christians, look at how nice we are!”

    Frankly, the rest of us are sick of your whining about how nice you are compared to those bad Christians and how you just nicely ask them to please stop being naughty.

    Stop being cowards and call them out for being the murderous sinners they are. Tell THEM they are going to hell. Picket THEIR churches. Do something besides write blog posts. If you don’t want to be lumped into the same category as them stop sitting passively by and just hand-wringing every time they do more heinous crap.

  14. i understand why you believe in the tenets of christ. that’s easy. but how can you, an educated man, believe in fairy tales like a virgin birth?
    a visible ascension to heaven? a world killing flood? it’s hard to respect frankly. i get the love thy neighbor and i try to do it. i get the beatitudes. its all the other miracle bullshit ……how can you buy into 2000+ year old mythology written by ignorant desert dwellers that mostly seem to care about hatred and fear of women and anyone different from them. it’s a puzzlement

  15. catholics. violent nuns and pedophile rapist priests. catholics seem confused about what constitutes sin. and crime

  16. Good grief. What a self righteous and judgmental pile this essay is. I’m no friend of these conservative evangelicals you’re decrying, but their hypocrisy and self love don’t hold a candle to the progressive puritanism on display here.

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