No Longer Afraid—The Day My Heart Outgrew Conservative Evangelicalism

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I used to be, but today is a brand new day.

I’m not afraid anymore—something  has happened deep within my being. New perspectives, revelation, and spiritual understandings have changed my mind completely. No, not in some kind of condescending way nor with a joy that excludes you. I’m just a completely different person now—my soul convictions and overall posture are nothing of the same.

I understand. Perhaps to you, it seems like I’m out of control, descending into a death-spiral plummeting into everything and anything that is backslidden and heretical. Yes, I suppose it’s true, I am out of control and it’s such a beautiful thing—breathing for the very first time. I’ve lost no love for you, mean no disrespect, nor harbor any pride in saying so—but conservative Evangelicalism, it feels like my heart has outgrown you—I can’t lie.

Where I used to curl up in the fetal position, turn off my brain, play dead, tuck in my shirt, and quickly fall in line, a seismic grace-bomb has gone off within me sending waves of courage and freedom supplied with a simple message, “have no fear.”

Call it a spiritual emancipation, a soul-revolution, or a new found courage to walk away. All I know is this—today is like no other, I’ll never be the same. Conservative Evangelical Christianity—with all due respect, I’m no longer afraid.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Speak and Live my Truth, Without Fear of Your Rejection- I must admit, intended or not, you used to have me under your thumb and controlled a good bit of my headspace. But now, Grace has taught me who I am, full of divine splendor and perfectly loved by the Father. Without blemish, stain, or unrighteousness, God is well pleased with me, as is—just me being me. For I’m an unstoppable force of God-affirmation that is immune to condemnation, coercion, and the religious spirit. There’s no proof text, admonition, or guilt trip that could ever penetrate my Jesus-plated armor of identity. In a way like never before, I’m at peace with who I am, addicted to life outside conservative Evangelical control, guilt, and religious seduction—if I’m honest, that’s how I truly feel. My heart has outgrown your rejection.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Say You’re Wrong, Without Apology or Reservation- No, I don’t have all the answers or know things completely. Yet, I do have the Light of God’s Truth within me that confirms in my Spirit what my mind can’t always explain—sometimes you’re wrong, and now, I’m no longer afraid to say it. I don’t always have a defense or explanation, but the mind of Christ within me knows when something is amiss and you’re at it again, selling me more poisonous religion—no matter your intention. The difference now is this—I’m just not going to take it. In fact, I’m going to completely spit it out—for today, I’m no longer afraid. My heart as outgrown your religious spirit.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Live in a World of Grey- For the gravity of your controlling, fear-driven, and self-righteousness creed has long been pushing to reduce my heart and believing into a black-or-white right-wing religion, where God is on your side and the enemy of all others. Yet, here’s what I’ve discovered, I don’t have to align my faith to absolutes nor lord them over another, especially when God is so much bigger and His love so much more capable. My peace and centeredness is grounded in Jesus the Author and Finisher of a world of unlimited spectrum—far beyond my best conclusions and confessions—always revealing more. I’m not afraid to graduate from cut-and-paste conservatism and embrace a God of diversity, a world of differences, and a Jesus who purposely leads me to have more questions than answers. There’s nothing to fear in welcoming uncertainties—for today I’ve been awakened, it’s the place where true faith actually lives and flourishes. My heart has outgrown your narrow mindedness.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Embrace Science, Social justice, and Human Dignity. Jesus is all and in all things, for where can we go from His Spirit? How can I be afraid to consider facts, scientific wisdom, and their faith implications? In fact, when I gaze upon the Grand Canyon with all its rivers and layers, I’m not going to tremble anymore when my soul refuses to believe in a 6,000 year old creation. I’m not going to apologize for a practical faith and an all-inclusive human-loving compassionate Jesus, whose message and example applies to every aspect of life on earth and living. I’m not going to abandon human decency, rights, and dignity to embrace a conservative brand of faith that is skilled at spiritually justifying hate, privilege, and the dehumanizing of people with whom it disagrees or deems to be sinning. No-more-can-do—today is a new day of wisdom, mercy, and compassion—at least, for me. My heart has outgrown your apathy.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Look My Privilege in the Mirror with Honesty- It’s true, and I’m no longer afraid to admit it. I’m white, male, straight, and for so long, was totally clueless. The thought of being privileged was nowhere to be found blipping on my radar screen. Until that day when, because of my changed beliefs, I became a kind of minority. Mocked, maligned, betrayed, and presumed dirty and guilty, simply because I breathed—differently than you. The bias, racism, bigotry, sexism, judgmentalism, and elitism that was long undetected within me, revealed itself—shaking me to my core and haunting my every being. Now, this one thing I know for sure, I refuse to let fear win the day and live my life unaware, unchanged, and unmoved by the presence of my inherent privilege. I’m a changed man with new conviction, committed to being a force of true equality, as was and is Jesus—I believe. My heart outgrown your elitism.

I’m No Longer Afraid To See Women as Equal in All Things- The wizard is out from behind the curtain, there’s no theological slippery slope to fear, nor hierarchy to declare—it’s all smoke and mirrors. By God’s design, women are not inferior people nor lesser in capability—and I’m no longer afraid to look you in the eye and say it. I love and respect you, I really do. But, despite all the patriarchal pressure to see differences where there are none, I’ll be standing at the top of the mountain declaring full equality in home, marriage, society, work, and church—nothing short of in everything. It’s a new day, with a new me, embracing an eternal equality for all people. My heart has outgrown your discrimination.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Break Free from the Chains of Biblical Inerrancy- I know, it’s the Holy Grail of all that you believe. For you, it’s the foundation of everything—no one dare question it. But I have, and I will—I make no apology. In fact, I’m all together convinced that the Bible is much more a collection of our words about God than His perfect inerrant words for us. No, not because I want to twist it to say what I will, but to never commit God into saying and doing what He hasn’t. For He is the Word within me that reveals and guides me above all things, especially in regards to a book commonly used to condemn, control, and judge. My heart has outgrown your Scripture idolatry.

I’m No Longer Afraid To Love People, Without Fear of Aiding and Abetting Sin- What a constant pain and stress, prequalifying people for love, fellowship, and affirmation. Determining who is in or out, right or wrong, wayward or faithful—what a mess. If there is one thing for sure that emboldens my courage, it’s knowing that Grace and unconditional Love are the only things that truly change people. I’m not afraid to trust the Spirit to do what only She can, and for me to love unconditionally without fear, restriction, or restraint—trusting God with the rest. My heart has outgrown your conditions.

I’m No Longer Afraid To Affirm the LGBTQ Community- You believe it’s all sin and demonic manifestation—I simply don’t. You line up your passages as proof—I see them altogether differently. What else can I do, but believe what I believe with honesty? As much as your stereotyping desires to include me on your list of progressive, bible-ignoring people, I’m not afraid any longer to receive the stare-down of your disapproval. I stand in proud, full affirmation of the LGBTQ community. For me, it’s not a matter of Grace or biblical leniency, but of Gospel truth. My heart has outgrown your condemnation.

I’m No Longer Afraid To Go to the Hell of Your Faith Understanding- Yes, I’ve heard it a thousand time, “You’re in danger of going to hell” if not already guaranteed a reservation. I should be trembling in fear and confessing sins every moment of every day just to make sure. God is loving, but also just—and His will is to torture you eternally if you don’t love Him back in return—in precisely all the right ways. Thankfully, with all due respect, my heart has been captured by a Love that is permanent and unmerited. I have no fear of your hell or your conclusions that I’m going there. God’s Grace is sufficient and His love endures forever—who or what shall I fear? My heart has outgrown your hell and the god you’ve fabricated to send me there.

I’m No Longer Afraid To Walk Away from You and “Church” Altogether- If a bridge can be burned, it wasn’t worth it or its destination. I’m not going to be controlled anymore by your threats of abandonment and disassociation. At times, it feels like you leave me no other choice, but to walk away from you, and even “church” altogether. The fear I once had of life without you has shrunken in comparison to the regret I would certainly harbor if I caved to the fear of living and speaking my truth. I wish we could find a middle ground of peace, but if push comes to shove, I’m no longer afraid to leave. Thank God almighty, I’m free at last. My heart has outgrown your imprisonment of mine.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Resist, with Every Fiber of My Being- No more burying my head in hopes it all goes away. No more biting my tongue just to keep the peace. No more settling in order to appease. I’ve tasted and seen the toxins of your brand of believing, and now I just can’t idly stand and watch you seduce, abuse, bully, and deceive—no matter how sweet your fragrance or intention. I’ve come to realize, it’s not all just about me. When my moment of truth is before me and injustice and evil show their face, I will resist with non-violent solidarity no matter what it takes. Yah, there’s a new courage within me. My heart has outgrown your intimidation.

I’m No Longer Afraid To Do, What You Won’t Do For Me—Accept You Nonetheless. I’m not asking you to change, nor condemning you to hell. I’m not denying you rights or demanding my way in your public circles. I’m not labeling you a sinner or an abomination, nor peppering your life with condemnation. I’m not closing the church door or restricting your capacity to serve. I’m not sending you to the curb, if it turns out, you were one of my children. I’m not signing you up and dragging you to reparative therapy. I’m not keeping you from loving who you love or policing your bedroom. I’m not using the Bible to condemn all the people who sin differently than you, or beat you into repentance. No, I’m not afraid to affirm and accept you as is—a perfectly whole, beautiful, and God-imaged person whose faith happens to be conservative Evangelicalism. None of us are better, only different—Grace has made it so.

There was a moment, a cosmic shift in my entire being, the day I awakened and realized I was altogether different. There was a clarity that had never been so clear—a new wind blowing and filling my sails. I’ve lost no love for you, mean no disrespect, nor harbor any pride in saying so—but conservative Evangelicalism, it feels like my heart has outgrown you—all because, the one thing I know for sure is this, I’m no longer afraid.

Salvation has come—I’m no longer afraid.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

74 Comments

  1. Soon you will realize that there is no heaven or hell. Sin was created by those who wanted to control us and Jesus is a symbol within us that is realized through studying the self and nothing more.
    The final realization is, that you are god and the sole creator of your reality by working in cooperation with the laws of the universe and that everything is perfect and exactly as it should be.
    That realization is the death of the ego and the second coming, a new heaven and earth where I AM who ever I want to be.
    Keep studying and searching. Everything will be different and yet exactly the same.

    • ckratzer

      July 23, 2017 at 1:31 am

      JS, thanks for your readership and for sharing your experience and perspectives. I truly appreciate, respect, and give value to your journey. For me, everything is wrapped up in Jesus, and I sense, forever will be. Thanks for adding to the conservation and giving me much to think on.

    • Bible Belt Humanist

      July 25, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      After four decades of church membership in-and-out of various Christian churches/Sunday School/Bible study groups, four years of intense seminary studies and seven years obtaining ordination into the United Church of Christ (while in my 50s), plus two years serving a small Disciples of Christ church, I have come to the same conclusions as you. I now enjoy my Sunday mornings with my wife.

      Your reply is succinct and simple. Thanks for sharing!

    • I’m with you — and love how you put this, except on the part about everything being perfect. Everything is as it is, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my meaning of perfect to align it with reality. For example, we will all die. How we die can be quickly and painless (perfect to me), or it can be at the hands of torturers (not perfect). Maybe you mean something else.

  2. Isn’t freedom wonderful? The Gospel is not “good news”! It is unbelievable, mind-boggling, Earth-shattering, outrageously amazing, stupendous news! The Gospel of Unconditional Grace that Jesus taught totally dismantles, the Conditional Gospel that religion teaches to control people. That is why they are afraid of anyone who lives in such freedom. Knowing God’s true character, knowing fully who we are in Christ, knowing that God wants us to focus on Christ and not our sins and understanding all that Christ accomplished on our behalf will truly set us free. That type of freedom is, as God intended, the freedom that allows us to truly give our heart to Him and sacrificially love and serve others. Too bad this isn’t the message that most of the Church teaches.

    • ckratzer

      July 23, 2017 at 1:28 am

      Amen Randy, well said! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • There’s just one little point, the Bible is from beginning to end, the work of man, not God. The Bible is a great collection of ancient literature, but that’s all it is. A lot of good stories there, but they are just that, stories. I believe in the Enlightenment of the Dounding Fathers and the principles that they espoused, from the Great Philosophers of the time. We are mammalian primates that have survived throughout the ages by the herd mentality: protect and teach the young, protect the herd, evade predators and take care of yourself. Look into the FFRF.

      • Then I’m sure that you know, as a rationalist, that your assertion that the Bible is a purely human document is as much an unfounded claim as our assertion that it is an inspired document? That either assertion is impossible to affirm to the other’s satisfaction? To discuss this in so brief a venue as a comments section is also impossible, so allow me to refer you to the writings of Marcus Borg. He agrees with you, up to a point; he says (to summarize way too briefly) that it is a human document that stems from the community’s transcendent experiences (“God experience”), and therefore it becomes foundational, central, and sacred to the faith community. As you can see, this “leaves much room for many people to sit in the same room”, so to say, and be in respectful communion with each other. Pax!

  3. Kathleen Brennan

    July 23, 2017 at 3:49 am

    ” breathing for the very first time .” Oh, gosh. I can so relate. For several years, I held a mental picture of myself under water, kicking my legs with all my might and trying to reach the surface. I know now that my soul was truly suffocating and I was in desperate need of fresh air. Leaving behind most of what I had been taught as an evangelical Christian brought me, for a time, into unchartered territory where I often felt isolated and lonely. the “unraveling” . Took much courage, but what has happened to me over the next few years is nothing less than amazing. New perspectives. New perception of God. New, encompassing love for humanity. Thanks for your posts, Chris.

  4. Chris- please…… make it more about the SUBJECT, and less about YOU.

    • ckratzer

      July 23, 2017 at 12:52 pm

      Mick, thanks for your comment. When I write, I speak on behalf of many people and their experiences. That’s why, if you read through my writing and comment sections you’ll find people resonating and stating that I am saying exactly what they have long been feeling. Glad you enjoyed the article!

    • I think it’s a bit ironic that the commenter here wants Chris to be more about “the subject” and less about him as the subject of this blog is Chris talking about no longer being afraid of letting go of the hold conservative ebsgelicalism held on him. I’m in no way being disrespectful here; however, it’s a bit confusing to me that it’s not supposed to be about him when the title states this blog is about him overcoming something.

      I find your writing refreshing and challenging as usual, Chris. I just found it a bit perplexing to have someone chastise you about this. If I wrote a blog about how much I love ice cream, I’d expect it would mostly be a story I was telling about why I personally like ice cream so much. I might talk about ice cream itself…but mostly I’d relate why I personally enjoy it.

      Anyhow, It’s an interesting piece and gives me new ways of interpreting what I’m thinking about faith.

  5. Thank you for these amazing words. They describe exactly what I’ve been trying to piece together in my heart and in my mind. I’m going to use one of your lines for the rest of my life: “Grace and unconditional Love are the only things that truly change people.”
    Amen and amen.

    • ckratzer

      July 23, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      Thanks Ann! You are not alone, we walk this journey together along with many others awakening to Grace!

  6. This is hard to understand. If we don’t need saving from sin, why do we need a Savior (why do we need Jesus)? What is He saving is from, if not our wicked selves?

  7. Wonderful, courageous and clever. Loved reading it.

  8. Thank you so much. This is the best thing I’ve ever read that describes what I and thousands of others have been dealing and suffering with for many years. I do not deny that many in the Evangelical church find peace but at what cost? Jesus said it best; ” And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” Being “Born Again” in the conservative church promises peace and truth and freedom but brings slavery. They promise guaranteed eternal life but strip away the soul in the process. Some of us are poets and dreamers and lovers and prophets but the church wants soldiers and accountants and students. Brave on!

    • ckratzer

      July 24, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      Boris, thank you so much, it’s an honor to have you read and comment! So appreciate your encouragement as we all stand together and walk along this journey of faith. A journey that can be lonely and difficult, for sure!

      • I would like to add that if you are on this journey and feel alone, I would highly recommend Rob Bell’s “The RobCast” podcast and the writers Peter Rollins, Jim Palmer, Rachel Held Evans, Richard Rohr and Kent Dopson. There are many, many others but they have opened my eyes and heart to a deeper expanded understanding of the Bible. Many of them stress the wisdom tradition and the mystical nature of the Biblical texts that the evangelicals ignore and never teach favoring instead a dualistic (in or out, black and white) bullet point approach.

    • Wow, well said sir. ” Some are poets, dreamers, …..but the church wants soldiers.”

  9. This. Just this. You speak for me and many others. We love Jesus but abhor the western evangelical culture that is man-made and acts on the daily as if it is God-breathed. I have long felt this way on the inside but something has shifted and now I have no fear and a peace as you have described. I agree with every word that you have written and I pray that through the grace of God others will find this freedom, joy and certainty and contentment. Our tribe is growing !!

    • ckratzer

      July 24, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Luane, yes indeed, our tribe is growing! So awesome to be a part of it with you.Thanks for reading and commenting, your words encourage me!

  10. The pivotal moment for me was when a large majority of my friends were arguing against helping the Syrian Refugees because they were Muslim. It did not make sense to me and I was honestly faced with the first crack in my faith that was at that time rooted in Evangelical Christianity. The second crack was the election of a man who is the opposite of everything my religion taught me was right, and the fact that my family supported him was very painful. The final crack was when a man I respected for a very long time and I looked to for help raising my family, went into a close door meeting with Trump and emerged saying Trump is now a baby Christian and this is the man God has given America. That was it for me. I spent a long time feeling disillusioned and confused what this all meant for me and my faith. Leaving church and Evangelical Christianity was hard but also the most freeing thing I have ever done in my life. Shedding all the rules and their interpretations of the “clobber verses” and actually accepting people for exactly who they are was and is liberating. Not living in fear of the world and of people is liberating. I don’t know how I lived for so long in the dark. Thank you for your articles.

    • ckratzer

      July 24, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      SJW, everything you said! Perfect and well spoken. Thanks for sharing a bit of your journey and doing so in such a powerful way that will greatly contribute to the conversation!

  11. Greetings of peace beloved sibling in Christ, Iyour writing was engaging and a refreshing take on the liberation from fear by someone with your social location (white, straight, cisgender?). I’m queer cisgender, immigrant of color, healed from the wounds of “conservative evangelicalism”, and I resonate greatly with your salvation experienced
    I’d only encourage you to reconsider the dimension of “leaving the church”. Perhaps it’s my own reading or my own experience of leaving the church, but leaving the church is a very risky proposition if it’s in absolute terms. It must certainly happen if ones involvement has gotten to detrimental levels of toxicity, but I’d encourage the finding of a church/faith community that is either healthy or quote devoid of toxic theology, dogma, ecclesiology, etc. There’s no perfect church out there but there are alternatives to the kind of church you and I were blessed to be liberated from.
    My ultimate recommendation is that an encouragement for one to live their Christianity within a community of faith/church is paramount some of your readers might have missed it or worst, felt encouraged to “leave the church” as opposed leaving “the oppressive churches”.
    Just an initial thought upon a single reading of your work.

    Blessings on your liberation journey.

    Love, grace and peace,
    alex
    p.s. I got your blog through another queer colleague

    • ckratzer

      July 24, 2017 at 3:17 pm

      Alex, thanks for your thoughtful response and reflections on this article. I understand your thoughts about “church.” For me, the Gospel if Grace through Jesus, the planet is my sanctuary, and loving people is my worship service. In many respects, I am the church and community is found both in the Trintiy that exists within me and wherever I am interacting with anybody and everybody. Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  12. I wish I could say that I’m not afraid and I wish I could say I had love for the Evangelicals still, but I can’t… Thanks for sharing your journey and one that is so very similar to mine! I think my fear lies with those that are damaged by the Evangelical community, those that identify as LGBTQ+, those are tortured and told they are an abomination. I fear for them and for their lives (they are much more likely to commit suicide and are found to have the same psychological trauma as someone who was sexually abused)! I simply can’t hold any love for my former Evangelical community who cause this damage. Perhaps my journey will lead to a freedom from my anger and sadness… But alas I haven’t gotten there yet. Thanks again for sharing your story and please, if you have any insight in overcoming my feelings against Evangelicals… Please let me know.

    • ckratzer

      July 24, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Joy, I sure do understand and resonate with everything you say and feel! My love is not without fierce resistance, displeasure, and grave concern for those they abuse and damn. Well said, I stand with you and am honored to walk along side you along this journey! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  13. Thank you for putting so eloquently into words what I struggle to articulate in my own journey. From the comments of others here I see there are many others. If only there was a place online where people could share their journey in openness and safety!

  14. Brian Mueller

    July 24, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    You sure sound angry. Doesn’t seem at all like you truly love the evangelicals to whom you are speaking. I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but it’s dripping with insults and seething with resentment.

  15. Congratulations! And welcome! Doesn’t it feel great no longer trying to breath underwater?

  16. Well, after being kicked to the curb by two conservative religious organizations because I wouldn’t/couldn’t tow the conservative line, I guess it’s time to search for the freedom you’re speaking of. I pray I can find it!

  17. Paul in Seattle

    July 25, 2017 at 12:26 am

    It sounds like you have created Jesus in your own image.

    • ckratzer

      July 25, 2017 at 1:00 am

      Paul, in what way(s)?

    • Yeah, lots of people do that; maybe even everyone. I’ve noticed that people who are kind and compassionate see a kind and compassionate Jesus, and the people who are small and snarky see a small and snarky Jesus. Seems like that says more about us than Jesus, though.

  18. Dear Chris, thank you for articulating so well what I have been grappling to express for the past few years. I feel so alone in this journey and though I’m fine to go it alone, its good to know that I’m not. Kirsten

  19. Honestly, my path is similar, and both our convictions are deeply rooted in old Christian history from the earliest centuries, before the Western Roman orthodox dominated, with all its rules, and law, doctrine. Given to us many centuries later through Augustine and the demented mind of Calvin, the modern concevative christian mega church movement is perhaps the largest atheist producing engine this world has ever known.

    Thankfully, though you have to dig deep into history and language, our spiritual heritage is much more dominated by love and grace. Universal Salvation, where Christ died for us all, and all the cosmos, including all things in the earth, and beneath it, and above it, will in the fullness of time be brought to the Father, perfected through Christ. No hell. No condemnation. No death. God will be all and in all.

    Thank you for your story, and your holding onto Christ instead of stripping all your spirituality from yourself. Cheers.

  20. You sir are a good Christian. I can respect that. We were recently invited to a relatives wedding…with the caveat that my trans child could not dress “in drag” because the Mormons and bikers invited would not understand, and if she did we would be asked to leave. To progress to a better world hatred must die.

    • ckratzer

      July 25, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      Furious, so sorry to hear of this terrible experience. Would love to connect with you and your family.

  21. Excellently written, a nuanced expression of an epiphany.

    After 23 years on the mission field, 30 as an active Christian… by break was less of an epiphany, more gradual… almost as if it were a gradual unwinding of my original conversion experience.
    So for me, the jury is indefinitely out on the “divinity” of Jesus of Nazareth. I think I see him now more from the Baha’i perspective, as one on a line of prophets with a divine revelation for his time.

    Apart from that difference, I find that you articulated the EFFECTS of my “apostasy” very eloquently. The fear is still ramping down… and the freedom grows more with every passing day!

    Shalom

    • ckratzer

      July 26, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      GB, thanks so much. My journey has been a process as well. Honored be walking along this path with people like you! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  22. Forgive my ignorance, but what is Grace? Is Grace different than grace? Thanks.

  23. If you reject the inerrancy and sufficiency of God breathed scripture, please don’t claim that you know Jesus.

    To claim to know Jesus and then deny His very word is to walk in complete inconsistency. You can not know Jesus and reject the very words He has spoken to us.

    • ckratzer

      July 26, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Joe, thanks for sharing your opinions.

    • Gosh, that there are still people who hold on to the notions of inerrancy and literalism with the biblical scholarship available today is disturbing. And it completely ignores the fact that the Gospel was a way of life long before it was a book. And that shaming is incredibly insulting, both to the hearer and to the Good News. So many things wrong here…

    • This is precisely why we are leaving.
      We are tired of being shamed by fundamentalist cult gatekeepers.
      We are tired of Jesus and the Bible being turned into idols.
      Jesus taught that the outsider was in and the insider was out.
      He taught that it’s the heart and people that matter not religion and correct doctrine.
      Everything we need to know about Jesus can learned from the Good Samaritan story.
      God became man….the spirit became more human.
      God is Love and Love is God.
      If you are intrrested in learning how fundamentalism hurts and controls us please watch Meagan Phelps Roper’s Ted Talk and interviews she did with Joe Rogan and Sam Harris. https://www.ted.com/talks/megan_phelps_roper_i_grew_up_in_the_westboro_baptist_church_here_s_why_i_left

      • All he is saying is how can you know Jesus without knowing what he did and said? Doesn’t sound like “fundamentalism” to me, it sounds like logic.

  24. A giant in the Christian faith and a faithful explorer of religion, CS Lewis went through an amazing oddysey challenging the “church” version of faith. He has written wonderfully freeing books on this subject, including Mere Christianity.
    He was convinced that God is much bigger and more powerful and loving than most church systems allow for. And he went back to his original church system to preach on the subject! One of my heroes Thanks for writing on this.

  25. I’m sorry you have decided to remake God in your own image.

    • Actually, most people do. Kind, compassionate people see a kind, compassionate God, and small, mean people see a small, mean God. It’s all rolled up in living with the human condition, a condition created by God.

  26. This one, I like!

  27. Chris, you are a gift. I believe that life is inherently developmental as is the journey of faith. Reflecting and integrating our experiences is vital to the process of our life story. We should not remain stagnant. The ability to learn and grow is an intimate part of each of our stories. It is tragic and unhealthy when we are shamed for questioning and challenging the structures of our beliefs when they no longer fit. It can be a difficult and sometimes painful process of trying to break free. Thank you for sharing your journey in such a personal and intimate way.

    • ckratzer

      July 27, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      Holly, thank you such much for your beautiful encouragement. Sure do appreciate you and your words!

  28. Dear Chris:
    Response to: http://chriskratzer.com/no-longer-afraid-the-day-my-heart-outgrew-conservative-evangelicalism/

    I know exactly what you speak of Chris – EXACTLY. I was deeply buried in the cultivated soil of American-bred, Puritan-fed fundamentalist Christianity. As a child I had rejected the hollow liturgy of the mainline denominations and got caught up in the fired faith of the street preachers and the relevant daily table faith of the Jesus Freaks.

    I joined a street-focused charismatic evangelical parachurch of faithful and determined frontline navy seal disciples. We considered ourselves elite to the Sunday-Only faithful and if you did not have similar dedication you were not allowed to join but were instead directed to attend any of the many “lukewarm churches & fellowships” populating the city. We had no time for stragglers – the lost needed to be saved – and QUICKLY for the time WAS SHORT.

    It was a PATH and a TIME. I will neither call it right or wrong nor good or bad – for THAT is where we err in our judgements. As even Jesus asked, “Why do you call me good?” The soil from which that question blossoms is proof of its immaturity. A call for all people to arrive at a destination on a map will produce a multitude of paths and times – none of them wrong, incorrect, misguided or tardy – except only for those who miss the destination and never arrive having been detoured by their own desires.

    The Christian parachurch was a majority of Pentecostals favoring the heretical Latter Reign Movement paradigm. As a parachurch we did not meet on Sundays or Wednesdays because we did not want to compete with the Churches; our members were expected to continue attending whatever churches they were in to fulfill the Christian diet of family, fellowship, sermons and communion. We specifically met on Friday Nights to further cull-out those who preferred to “party with the pagans” rather than meet to do God’s work. Our meetings were a three to four hour singing, sharing, praying and preaching time led by three “elders” around which the group had organically coalesced. Saturdays the males went to preach and witness outside the bars and stores downtown while the females interceded for us at a home meeting. Any converts were immediately directed to any Sunday (next day) churches near their homes and also invited to attend our Friday night meetings.

    When the parachurch grew larger we added small Monday Night meetings at various points in the city (near other members) to function as localized cell group fellowship points where each member could be assured of receiving personal prayer, attention and material assistance along with intimate bible study, teaching and worship. It was such a beautiful and operational model of a motivated, selfless five-fold ministry in action. What could possible go wrong?

    We are firstly humans, flawed sinners who think higher of ourselves than we ought to think; and yet God gracefully uses us all in spite of our adamant errors, self-deceptions, god-egos, envy and greed as “iron sharpens iron” (imperfect sharpening imperfect) – not diamonds sharpening iron.

    As humans we are preset to build the Tower of Babel from our own designs and as believers we call it “Church” or as non-believers and call it “Righteousness & Justice” – while Jesus builds the Church that we so clearly see as flawed with bigoted, substandard or nonperforming members.

    “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” ~ 1 John 4

    It is highly unfortunate, if not spiritually illegal, that we can so freely “choose a church” here in America. On Sundays Christians get in their cars and drive by 45 other churches to get to the perfect church. In the majority of all human experience you were stuck in the community of your local Synagogue, Church or Temple with religious bigots, proud sinners and lazy parasites. Either you went as a member of the community or you forsook your community and became an outcast. Community is a perfectly designed furnace and lathe – but modernization has made it amazingly convenient for us to become self-deceived gods of our own design. Imagine if we were only allowed to walk to a church and thereby forced, merely by logistics, to worship and live in a community of disparate behaviors, liberties and expectations – where our personal isolated faiths would be laid on a community anvil to be tested. Should we not despise the luxury of our own contempts?

    Epitaph: Following the parachurch trainwreck decades ago, in which I was a grossly dismembered fatality, my journey in Christ became a knee-slapping, laugh-a-minute tragi-comedy sitcom that has played for decades.

    We cannot be Left and hate the Right, nor can we be Right and hate the Left. Jesus ate with both Pharisees and Sinners and both Pharisees and Sinners were converted. There are a dozen gates by which to enter the Holy City but there is only one Gate by which we can enter the Temple; that Gate and Path to the Holy of Holies requires our complete humility and service to others regardless of their worth.

    “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11)

    EPILOGUE: There are many side panels to this story because of how convoluted Man has justified the building of his self-righteous Tower of Babel – which he has never ceased in laboring over. Whether we engage in the political storms of the National Sovereignty vs Globalism, cultural storms of Morality vs Social Justice, legal storms of State vs Religion or the self-righteous storms of the Justification vs Sanctification debates we must first remember the admonishment of 2 Peter 1: 3-13 which leaves us no recourse of excuse.

    EPITAPH: Remembering the literal interpretation of the Hebrew understanding of “Righteousness”:

    The Righteous: Those who are willing to disadvantage themselves for the sake of the community.
    (Hebrew word: Tzadik; of tsaddiqim)
    Motivation: Not for merit over the wicked for a personal gain of favor from God but of duty to God as His ambassadors and stewards in/of His creation.

    The Wicked: Those who are willing to disadvantage the community for the sake of themselves.
    (Hebrew word: Rasha; of risha)
    Motivation: Envy, greed, lust, pride and misanthropy.

    -end
    -Dean Daniels

  29. Many thanks for this great article! It was the first I read by you, and you could not have stated more succinctly and correctly the things I have often thought but never put into such a perfect piece. Thank you for clarifying the grace message again to those of us who still remember why they ever became a Christian – and to those who mistakenly think it is about anything more than grace.

    • ckratzer

      July 28, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      Randy, such a wonderful comment. So honored to have you read my work. Glad it had a positive impact!

  30. Beautiful peice if writing, I can relate in part though my belief and faith is much more encompassing of all faiths these days and trying to learn and understand each one. I broke from the shackles of an abusive church six years ago, it took me months to admit to myself it had been abuse and that the wounds were deep, that healing would take time. I feel like I only began living life and being me that July 21st 2011 – I walked like I was flying in the air the weight lifted off from me simply stepping out from under the fear they had so easily bound be up in.

    • ckratzer

      July 28, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      Sarah, such a great story to hear! So glad you are on a path to healing. Honored to join you in this journey!

  31. Hmmm…I think your definition of “conservative” is a bit skewed. People who use Scripture to merely confirm their presuppositions are not conservative. I’ve experienced a similar journey to yours but I would consider myself more “conservative” now because I feel like I’m getting closer to what the Bible actually says, not what others in “positions of authority” say it says.

  32. I have come to the place where integrity imposes me to be true to myself. That doesn’t require me to be right or wrong. In the end the most honest thing I can admit is that I don’t really know. The thing I can do is to be honest with my own heart and my ability to empathize with my fellow human beings. In my journey Christianity ultimately interfered with that integrity, because I couldn’t reconcile with a god who claimed to be all powerful and loving, and yet stands by as incredible suffering proceeds unhindered through the world and who’s ultimate solution is the violent destruction of the earth preceded by the purposeful suffering of his son to establish this need for a very human concept of justice. That seems powerless and unloving to me. It seems like a god made in our image and it is rather more believable to recognize that god doesn’t exist.

  33. Beautiful testamony of the whole premise of God sending us Jesus Christ. The bounty of a life filled with the Grace of Jesus Christ is endless. One really doesn’t begin to live till they have found that Grace you have described! Very well written

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