Tag: become

Conservative Christian, Do You See The Person You Have Become?

It’s subtle.

It’s illusive.

Easily, it disarms the radar screens of our conscience—without notice, burrowing its teeth into our soul and spirit.

At first, it feels like life—this is what’s been missing. The answers are so clear; the plot so straight forward. I have finally found a path to travel and a people to travel with.

It’s not your fault; it’s happened to the best of us. 

Conservative Christian, do you see the person you have become?

I didn’t, not until it nearly cost me everything—almost my life.

Just in the nick of time, after 21 years of being a conservative Evangelical pastor, I was thrust in front of a mirror and forced to take an honest look at my true self, along with the perspective to see just how far I had fallen from Grace. I had become a monster disguised as a Messiah follower. Certain that Jesus was at the center of my faith and life, I was oblivious to the darkness that had truly taken over.

What about you? 

At the feet of conservative Evangelical Christianity, what kind of person have you truly become?

Are you even willing to ask the question, to take an honest look? 

As hard as it may be to do so (as I know it was for me), imagine for a moment what set of dominoes must fall in your own heart to actually become convinced that you, among all the people of the earth, have been divinely granted the one true interpretation of a book, while holding to the adamant conclusion that your interpretation, and the book from which it is derived, is nothing less than the infallible, perfect word of God. Regardless of the book’s indisputable human history, contradictions, and abuses, you willingly drink deep the cocktail that insists God wrote it, it all fits together for those who have true faith, and your brand of interpretation is sanctioned by the Divine for use in correcting, condemning, and asserting your beliefs into and over the masses. Conveniently, you interpret some texts literally when, to do so, it supports your agenda. Yet, other passages receive your demand for proper contextualization in order to be understood correctly the way you do. In the end, you believe that you alone possess the secret interpretative sauce for understanding and applying the Bible. 

Maybe you would never say it in that exact way, but inwardly it’s true. You believe the Bible and your conclusions about it give you a special appointment among and above all others. In the end, though there are some thirty thousand different Christian denominations who read this same book yet come to entirely different conclusions about its meaning, you have dug your heels into insisting that God penned it, you know what it means and says where others do not, and it gives you a special authority and mission to commandeer the world into you specific brand of believing. 

Is that not all true?

Why is it so important for you to hold such a death grip onto your personal beliefs that God wrote the Bible and your interpretation is exclusively authoritative? 

What’s really at stake for you? 

I’d like to somehow think that it’s because you’re humble, not willing to lean on your own understandings, desiring to sacrificially serve humanity, and attuned to the Spirit. Yet, it feels like much the opposite. 

In fact, every interpretive move I see you make with the Bible appears to be centered on you—condemning those who are different from you, insisting on your own beliefs and ways in all of life and society, winning arguments, fostering division, rationalizing sin, and spiritually justifying that which clearly stands against the heart of Jesus when it serves your interests to do so. It’s almost as if, without your beliefs that the Bible is God’s perfect word and your interpretations hold exclusive authority and accuracy, your ability to control people is lost, your power is eroded, and your faith system loses all meaning and purpose. 

With all due love and respect, I have to ask or nothing will ever get better. I know this to be true because it’s my story too. I cast no judgement; I’m just trying to be descriptive. Conservative Christian, do you not see the person you have become? 

A person who has allowed their God-given mind to become a playground for the very religiosity Jesus so vehemently stood against.  A person who is willing to stand so strongly on their own spiritual understandings of a book, that they are willing to hurt, harm, abuse, justify sin, and rape the message of Jesus into a self-serving scheme disguised as faith and faithfulness. 

And that’s just the Bible.

For a moment, imagine what it takes to adopt the mindset that the entirety of the Christian life is about you. 

Imagine the self-deception required to believe that Jesus was actually a white guy who loves guns, pledges allegiance to the American flag, and lives to serve your prosperity. Imagine the addiction to self that must be allowed a foothold into the soul in order to believe that “church” is to be a place where, instead of resting in Grace and sacrificially serving humanity, we are to be enticed into a self-serving flesh trap of pursuing the never ending task of trying to do better, pray harder, sin less, give more, and become all we can be for Jesus that He might bless us in this life and keep us from hell in the next. Imagine the narcissism that must ensue to believe that the ultimate fruits of the Christian life are big churches, big budgets, big bank accounts, big mission trips, big book deals, big speaking tours, big conferences, and big “success.” Imagine the sheer idolatry that must be given full reign of the heart and mind in order to believe that the fruition of Jesus’ work upon the earth is the cleansing of the world of all that is different and disagreeing to you.

Please help me understand, why is everything all about YOU? YOUR salvation. YOUR peace. YOUR prosperity. YOUR well being. YOUR beliefs. YOUR righteousness. YOUR fulfillment. YOUR growth. YOUR freedoms.

Truly, I’d like to somehow think that it’s just a phase and you’ll soon be turning away from such childish priorities and spiritual fetishes as you become a selfless, unconditional loving, human serving, manifestation of Grace and goodness. Yet, from everything I’m seeing, it actually appears you’ve strongly concluded that you, and all your you-ness, are the final apex of all things Christian. 

With all due love and respect, again, I have to ask or nothing will ever get better. I know this to be true because it’s my story too. I cast no judgement; I’m just trying to be descriptive. Conservative Christian, do you not see the person you have become?  

A person who has a nearly unbreakable focus on self, self-preservation, and self-sustainment. A person who believes they can actually love a god whom they clearly fear with deep seated trepidation. A person who has convinced themselves that all their spiritual navel gazing and “to do” steps are actually working so well that the rest of us can’t see you faking it. A person who has allowed their faith to become a harbor for racism, sexism, white privilege, and the nationalization and politicalization of their creeds.    

But sadly, even that’s not all.

For a moment, imagine what it takes to come to a place of such twisted spiritual rationalization that it enables you, in the presence of evil, to switch off and override every moral alarm placed within your soul by God. Imagine the disconnect from holiness that must be established in order to support a President such as Donald Trump and claim faithfulness to Jesus in doing so. Imagine the idolatry of self interest it takes to unplug every spiritual warning system within your spirit so that your conscience and the character of Jesus are rendered powerless to direct your decisions, beliefs, and loyalties away from a President who is playing you, the Christian faith, the American people, and the Jesus whom you claim to love like a middle school clarinet. 

You want me to believe it’s all about abortion, Hillary, and making America great. Yet, sadly, it’s become all to clear, it’s always been about you—your privilege, your power, and your faith system creating a world that bows to and serves the cleansing of all that is different, threatening, undesirable, and disagreeing to you, at whatever the cost.   

With all due love and respect, one last time, I have to ask or nothing will ever get better. I know this to be true because it’s my story too. I cast no judgement; I’m just trying to be descriptive.

Conservative Christian, do you see the person you have become?  

I did. 

Before it was too late.

I hope you will too.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

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In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris chases the evils of conservative Evangelicalism out of the shadows and gives powerful voice to the cries of the religiously oppressed. Confronting issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, religious greed, hypocrisy, nationalism, white supremacy, privilege, and the weaponizing of the Bible, Leatherbound Terrorism pulls no punches. Endorsed by best selling authors Steve McVey and Baxter Kruger, Leatherbound Terrorism will challenge you, inspire you, and most certainly cause you to rethink your faith and life.

Dear Conservative Evangelical Christian, Is This The Darkness You’ve Become?

I know, because it was me.

I’m the guy—I’m the pastor who once embodied the very evils that often become of those who sit at the feet of conservative Evangelical Christianity.

I was seduced, deceived, and wasted years of my life adopting and exuding a kind of religious hate and harm that levels nearly everything in its path. Little did I know, the person I had become while nursing at the cold steel-plated breasts of conservative Christianity. What I thought was the way of Jesus, was no way at all—a twisted gospel so sinister and callous only Grace could free my soul and break my fall.

To those who have ears, let them hear the alarms sounding from the halls of heaven—these are the evils, the darkness that will surely become of those who eat of the demonic fruits glistening as they dangle from the tree of conservative Evangelical Christianity.

It wasn’t my fault, and surely not my intention—neither is it yours, or anyone who becomes a conservative Christian. We are good people with good intention, tractor-beamed by the Death Star of conservative Evangelical Christianity.

Search your soul, let honesty rule the day—are these the dark, diabolical things you are subtly becoming?

A Person Who Makes Faith An Exclusive Club- For at the feet of conservative Christianity, “making disciples” who simply awaken to the Grace of Jesus has sadly eroded into the pursuit of “making people into people just like us.” New converts don’t become free-thinking, free-living “learners” of Jesus, but spiritual lapdogs—molded to submit and serve conservative churches, denominations, and faith constructs. Instead of falling in love with Jesus, they are led to fall in line with conservative Evangelical Christianity. Faith becomes, not a journey to be traveled but an ideology in which to be conformed. People are intentionally evaluated based on their willingness to comply and manifest the prescribed behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes. Nothing could be clearer than the lines that are drawn by many conservative Evangelicals as to who is in, and who is out—who is faithful, and who is not. Proud of this exclusive privileged club, conservative Evangelicals excel at the use of control, fear, guilt, and power to herd the cattle, milk them for all they’re worth, and brand them into the fold. There is perhaps no greater darkness than one who rejoices in an exclusive, pretentious, and people-manipulating faith.

To those who have ears, let them hear—is this the person you are becoming, one who would dare embrace a faith that makes Jesus into an elite cult of conformity and limited accessibility?

A Person Who Embraces Collateral Damage- For in the halls of conservative Christianity, people are not the primary purpose. Rather, preserving the conservative Evangelical institution trumps all other pursuits. If in this process of furthering, protecting, and extending conservative Evangelical Christianity, a person is harmed—so be it. Doctrine, power, and dominance are lifted above all things. When push comes to shove, theological submission, creedal conformity, institutional preservation, an ideological alignment are determined to be far more important than serving, sacrificing, and putting the needs of others above ones own. If, in order to preserve and prosper conservative Evangelicalism, people must die in war, sinners must be condemned to hell, disagreers must be demonized, non-conformers must be cast out, and people must suffer emotionally, spiritually, or physically—that’s just a part of the cost of following Jesus. Easy come, easy go—there is perhaps no greater darkness than one who could be so callous and ruthless in the name of Jesus.

To those who have ears, let them hear—is this the person you are becoming, one who would dare participate in a faith that allowed and fostered such religious oppression, brutality, suffering, and violence?

A Person Who Belittles Jesus and Sin- For at the center of conservative Christianity is the fundamental tenet that sin is actually manageable, spiritual growth is possible, and holiness is attainable through the exertion of human performance in concert with Jesus. Faithfulness is seen as a team effort—God does His part, but we must do ours. Sin is softened to a depravity that is within human capacity to overcome through spiritual disciplines and the harnessing of our will. Jesus is belittled into a life-partner who bestows his presence, favor, blessings, and power in as much as we spiritually perform correctly. Jesus didn’t die on the cross because sin is so sinful that only He could manage, conquer, and destroy it and give us righteousness, holiness, and sanctification as a free gift. Rather, Jesus died because sin isn’t so sinful and He isn’t so powerful, the best He could do is offer its management, conquering, and destruction through a conditional contract of mutual performance between us and Him. Therefore, at the table of conservative Christianity, self-righteousness is not only a thing, it’s the centerpiece of ones entire faith. It’s a living hell of rule-keeping, sin-managing, and do-gooding in fear and pressure to meet expectations, never truly knowing when enough is enough. But not just that, it’s the imposition of this hell onto others through the judgmental, condemning, and people-measuring attitudes that surely grow when self-righteousness is the meal upon which you are feasting to stay alive. There is perhaps no greater darkness than one who replaces Jesus and His Grace with a self-righteous, judging, fear-driven, legalistic, Jesus-minimizing and sin-minimizing faith.

To those who have ears, let them hear—is this the person you are becoming, one who would dare belittle Jesus, the cross, and the power of sin?

A Person Who Demonizes God- For in order to justify the very existence and legitimacy of conservative Evangelical Christianity, one must choose an interpretation of hell that is filled with eternal torment for the unbelieving and disobedient, and a picture of God who is willing and just in sending His creation there. Without this Dante-inspired characterization of hell and a God who is complicit in its rendering, the house of cards that is conservative Christianity crumbles to the ground. To accomplish the ultimate end of conservative Christianity where the unrepentant are damned to an eternal suffering beyond human imagination, God must be demonized into the most diabolical parent in all the cosmos and an impotent deity who loves His own creation less than the devil himself.

With the sure presence of alternative, scholarly, and faithful interpretations of Scripture that view God as pure Love. With the sure presence of alternative, scholarly, and faithful interpretations of Scripture that see Jesus as the One who overcomes the dark systems of the world for all humankind. With the presence of alternative, scholarly, and faithful interpretations of Scripture that understand hell to be an eternal existence in the presence of God, where Grace is so fully, powerfully, and inclusively extended that it becomes unbearable to the religious who would limit it with condition. With all the many faithful interpretive options, believing in a hell of eternal torment and a God who allows it, is not just a convenient interpretive choice, it’s an affront to the cross and a murdering of God. There is perhaps no greater darkness than a willing blasphemer who warms their self-righteousness around the religious bonfire of a hell-loving conservative Evangelical Christianity.

To those who have ears, let them hear—is this the person you are becoming, one who would dare to error on the side of demonizing God and misrepresenting the wondrous life and future He has secured for all people?

A Person Who Steals Life, Joy, And Freedom- For on the horizon of conservative Evangelical Christianity there is always a sin to point out, a behavior to avoid, an issue to stand against, a debate to be argued, a rule to keep, an expectation to meet, and a “to do list” to accomplish. With so much to be against, so many battles to fight, and a life lived in a constant state of trepidation—all joy, enjoyment, rest, and true surrender to the Spirit is quickly and thoroughly snuffed. The blackhole of conservative Christian living not only sucks the life out of its adherents, but many of the bystanders who get caught up in their downward spiral. Deep within, the unsettling reality constantly rears its ugly face—the truth is, you’ll never measure up, your faithfulness eventually breaks down, you’re doing more damage than good, and all you can do is pretend and hope it’s enough to fool God, others, and yourself. The freedom that you’re convinced exists because of the confines and obediences of your conservative faith is in fact the very prison in which Satan has seduced you—believing that life is found in what is in reality, a ministry of death. There is perhaps no greater darkness than a strung-out, exhausted, judging, sin-focused, and performance-driven Christian.

To those who have ears, let them hear—is this the person you are becoming, one who would dare to waste your God-adorned life bewitched by Satan into living a life that is no life at all, bringing death to every good thing in and around you?

A Person Who Has Made An Idol Out Of Their Understanding- For there is perhaps no Christian faith-expression on all the earth more insistent that their beliefs about God, Jesus, and the Scriptures possess the exclusive divine stamp of approval, accuracy, and authority than conservative Evangelical Christianity. With a kind of callous arrogance, there is little consideration among conservatives that perhaps their understandings of the Bible are not exclusively faithful and could even be flat out wrong. With cocked and loaded phrases like, “the clear teachings of the Bible,” many conservatives sit on the thrones of their biblical interpretations eagerly waiting upon anyone who would dare challenge their long-held perspectives. With interpretive blinders restricting their view, many seldom see their evil idolatry of Scripture. For if our understanding and revelation of Jesus is restricted to the Bible, we have not only fashioned the Scriptures into an idol, but have silenced the mind of Christ within us and the work of the Spirit. There is perhaps no greater darkness than an arrogant, ignorant, bible-worshiping believer who builds their house upon the sands of their interpretations.

To those who have ears, let them hear—is this the person you are becoming, one who would dare lean on your own understandings of Scripture to the squelching of the Spirit, the dethroning of Jesus, and the detriment of other people?

A Person Addicted To The Accessories- For in order to feed the fleshly addiction of conservative Christianity to “get more Jesus” and prove yourself to be “sold out” for Him, one must be constantly consuming from the spiritual drug lord that is conservative Evangelical Christianity. With every book, conference, worship chorus, building project, concert, revival, retreat, group, event, and prayer marathon, many conservative Christians see faithfulness as moving from one spiritual fix to the next. Because Jesus isn’t enough, Grace isn’t sufficient, and Love doesn’t win, conservative Christianity creates famished consumers hopelessly addicted to the accessories. Mesmerized by the latest Christian fad, worship album, book, mega-pastor, or “secret” to taking your faith to the next level, adherents to conservative Christianity are stripped of their cash, drained of their souls, and imprisoned to a life chasing after a God who is already there and a peace you can’t fabricate. There is perhaps no greater darkness than a spiritual junkie addicted to the consumerism of Jesus.

To those who have ears, let them hear—is this the person you are becoming, one who would dare turn Jesus into a corporate franchise and good people into the spiritual addicts that fuel it?

A Person Who Spiritualizes Arrogance and Greed- For it’s not enough for evangelical Christianity to worship, believe, and express their faith within the framework of the freedoms of our country. It’s not enough that they enjoy the rights that all others do under our Constitution. It’s not enough to follow the call of Jesus to serve, sacrifice, and consider others as more important than self. Instead, in every arena of life, society, our nation, and our planet, conservative Evangelical Christianity is aggressively insisting on its own way to the discrimination, the reducing and restricting of rights, and the suffering of other people. Greed and arrogance drive conservative Christianity to be a brand of faith whose ultimate goal isn’t to lead the way in serving the world, but to lead the way in dominating it. There is perhaps no greater darkness than a religious glutton whose heart and aspirations have been poisoned with the cancer of conquering.

To those who have ears, let them hear—is this the person you are becoming, one who would dare turn Jesus into a world bulldozer driven by religious pride and the desire for power?

Search your soul, let honesty rule the day—conservative Evangelical Christian, is this the darkness you’ve become?

Grace is brave. Be brave.

© 2019 Chris Kratzer

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