Tag: condemnation (Page 1 of 5)

Conservative Evangelical, Why Isn’t Jesus Enough For You?

Conservative Evangelical, I’ve been watching you, especially lately. Your political loyalties, your social desires, your faith declarations, your life values, and your national pursuits. I read your posts, observe your gatherings, and hear your passions. You’re putting a lot of energy into a lot of things. 

Your church buildings look amazing, along with all the specialized lighting, sound, and staging. The way people raise their hands in the air, dress their best, and give their emotions to the moment, it’s very impressive. So many of you are working so hard—at church, at home, in the public square, in politics… everywhere. There’s a lot of moving parts to your faith and faithfulness. Do this, don’t do that. More of this, less of that. Quite honestly, I don’t know how you pull it all off. Evidently, there must be a lot at stake to warrant so much effort.

Which, in all honesty, leaves me wondering, what’s really behind it all? 

Is it really just about Jesus?

Then why such urgency, angst, and determination?

Is there something you’re afraid of? 

Is there something missing?

It all leaves me with a question that actually rises from the confessions of your own faith… 

Why can’t Jesus be enough? 

For example, why do you so desperately need President Trump? It’s pretty obvious that you do. I mean, the way you give him your unwavering loyalty, excuse his unrepented sin, and vehemently defend him at all costs, it’s as if you’re deeply worried that your brand of faith won’t go on and your desires won’t be granted without him. 

All of which, leaves me wondering… isn’t Jesus enough for you? You know, the One you declare as having the Name that is above all names and the Author and Finisher of your faith. You don’t fully trust Jesus with your future and that of your brand of believing? You need a man to save it?

Or, what about the Bible, why does it need to be inerrant? It’s pretty obvious you believe it does. I mean, they way you wield it around like a weapon for battle to chop down your disagreers and defend your brand of faith, it’s as if you’re convinced that you are powerless without its inerrancy and incapable of spiritual influence. 

All of which, leaves me wondering… isn’t Jesus enough for you?  You know, the One who holds all the stars in His hands. Isn’t He powerful enough and fully capable of any needed persuasion? You need the Bible to be perfect in order to make the Perfect One effective?

Not to mention, the children—the children who come to our border for refuge, the children placed in cages, the children separated from their parents, the children taken off food stamps, the children in poverty, and the children who are disabled? It’s pretty obvious they’re unwanted. I mean, the way you are willing to take selfies with black and brown children when on “mission” to other countries, but see to their denial, abuse, and rejection when they knock on the door of your Inn. It’s as if you’re determined to limit the amount of black, brown, and impoverished people finding sanctuary, equal rights, and shared freedom and blessings in “your” country. 

All of which, leaves me wondering once again…isn’t Jesus enough for you? You know, the One who, by grace, freely gave you life, salvation, and meaning. Hasn’t He given you more than enough to share? You can’t live in a world where everyone is as valuable, blessed, free, and empowered as you? I think Jesus calls that the Kingdom.   

Or what about minorities? You know… women, black people, brown people, homosexual people, Transgender people, and the disabled. Not just them, but all the people who are different, act different, and believe differently than you. It’s pretty obvious they’re below you. I mean, the way you condemn, marginalize, discriminate, abuse, exploit, deny, displace, reject, and even murder, it’s as if you’re desperately afraid of losing control, privilege, power, and prosperity. Is that what you mean by your, “family values?”  

All of which, leaves me wondering… isn’t Jesus enough for you? You know, the One who you declare to be in control, all powerful, and admonishes, “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” Do you not trust Him to give you every good thing without your needing to deny the same for others? You think that in order for you to have, there must be have-nots? Is that the true essence of your gospel?   

I could keep on going, but the list simply keeps repeating. Name just about everything and everything your faith brand stands for and is pursuing, and my question still keeps persisting… isn’t Jesus enough for you?

By the looks of all that captures your heart, ambitions, and actions, He clearly isn’t. For if He was, you wouldn’t have to be so demanding, determined, desperate, demonizing, and insistent. 

So, with all due love, respect, and seriousness, please help me understand, what’s missing that Jesus isn’t supplying? What is it that you want that Jesus isn’t supporting? What is it that you desire that Jesus is denying?

Perhaps, it’s not your faith that you fear won’t go on without Trump, it’s your power and privilege.

Perhaps, it’s not the inerrancy of the Bible that you’re worried about losing, it’s the control and manipulation of others that you’ll lose without it.

Perhaps, it’s not the faith and lives of children that are your “mission,” but rather the preservation of your prosperity, white privilege, and “Christian” priority that reflect your true purpose and passion.

Perhaps, it’s not reaching people, dealing with sin, and ushering in the Kingdom that invokes your allegiance and faithfulness, but rather making sure true equality and freedom for others never emerges to the extent that your white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian power, privilege, prosperity, and supremacy are in any way diminished, disturbed, or inconvenienced. 

It’s been over 2,000 thousand years since the birth of Jesus, and yet, here we are years later, having traveled a long global history of white, conservative Christian violence, abuse, greed, and the pursuit of dominance and power over people, and now asking the same question yet again…

Conservative Evangelical, why isn’t Jesus enough for you? 

Perhaps it’s because, like it was for Herod it is for you, it’s never been about Jesus being The Way, it’s rather about using Jesus to get your way and never allowing Him to get in your way.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

Check out Chris Kratzer’s new book getting rave reviews… Leatherbound Terrorism.

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.

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.

Check out Chris Kratzer’s new book getting rave reviews… Leatherbound Terrorism.

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.

Trump Supporting Christian, Where The Hell Is Your Rage?

(Cover Photo: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

I really want to know.

You say you love Jesus, trust the Bible, and faith is the most important thing in your life.

You want me to believe that you are in divine harmony with the heart of God and aspire nothing less than to reflect Him throughout every area of your living.

You tenaciously use the Bible and its verses to give justification and foundation for your every move, belief, and desire.

The bumper stickers, coffee table books, memes on Facebook, and the pictures covering your walls, all seem to point to one who is most certainly, “sold out” for Jesus.

Surely, you are familiar with the clear communication of the Bible as to God’s special love and value of children.

Surely, you are equally in tune with the many verses that demand our unconditional hospitality and sacrificial service to foreigners, immigrants, and the like.

Surely, you are not ignorant of the resounding biblical denouncement of leadership characterized by greed, lust, dishonesty, bullying, and self-centeredness.

Surely, you are more than familiar with the nonviolent example of Jesus and His willingness to confront religious oppression and stand in solidarity with the least of these, especially those who are deemed, “sinners.”

So, with all due respect, as surely as all of this is at the forefront of your faith, I surely want to know…

Where the hell is your rage?

You’re not blind, you’re not ignorant, and you’re not incapable of discernment. No, in fact, you are fully accountable and fully responsible. Every week, you see President Trump display clear and blatant traits that are not only grossly unbecoming of basic moral leadership, but nothing even close to that of a Christian—much the opposite.

Where is your rage?

You certainly aren’t afraid to name the names of those you believe to be errant and sinning against your Creator. Sermon after sermon, article after article, interview after interview, all point specifically to those you believe to be living counter to the ways of God with stern warnings against admiring or supporting them. Yet, when has President Trump ever been a subject on that list?

I ask you, where is your rage?

You have eyes to see innocent children being tear-gassed at our borders through the calculated permission of President Trump and his administration. You hear the broad labeling of human beings seeking asylum as “gangsters,” “rapists,” “criminals,” and “animals.”

With your clothes still freshly smelling with the scent of the church pew from which you raised your hands in praise of the immigrant Jesus, how could this ever become justifiable for you? How many “last straws” does it take to finally draw out any humaneness that might somehow still remain in your faith?

For Christ’s sake, where is your rage?

Why aren’t you frantically loading up your church vans, setting up youth bake sales, and leveraging every “mission” dollar you can commandeer to get your “sold out” self to that border and defend the most vulnerable? I mean, you don’t seem to have any problem sending them shoeboxes at Christmas when they’re miles away and no real threat to your privilege or the cleanliness of your sanctuary carpeting. But all of a sudden, when they show up at your Inn, spraying them with toxic chemicals becomes your best idea?

Why aren’t you demanding that Trump and his administration stop condemning and marginalizing those whom Christ demands we give special aid, service, and sanctuary?

No, don’t even take one step towards trying to convince me that you don’t like it nor support it, all while you refuse to engage your voice with shouts in fierce defiance. I’m not buying it one bit.

In fact, I’m going to ask you again, where the hell is your rage?

Show me.

You say you want America to be filled with Jesus, but seem to have no problem with policies that keep the poor at arms length. You say you want America to be filled with Jesus, but seem to have no problem with a president who desperately wants to keep minorities and immigrants from threatening white power and privilege. You say you want America to be filled with Jesus, but support a president who wants to erase those you deem to be deplorable, just because, in your mind, they sin differently than you.

Do you not see the duplicity into which you have been deceived?

For heaven’s sake, where is your rage?

You see the very people Jesus died for, being crucified. You see the very children Jesus drew up into his arms and sat upon his lap, being denied, denounced, deported, and demonized. You see the very people Jesus bent over backwards to feed, being starved and left to hunger. You see the very people Jesus baptized in Grace, being soaked with chemicals. You see the very people Jesus wrote with divine penmanship into the fabric of all creation, being condemned, marginalized, abused, and erased. You see the ways of Jesus being nothing less than stomped upon, twisted, and raped by the people who claim to know Him best.

And yet, at most, your lips can only muster a whisper, but largely, remain oh so eerily silent.

And so, I ask you.

Holy crap, where the hell is your rage?   

Sadly, I think I know.  

It’s buried deep underneath your white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian privilege—the true god of your worship.

That’s why he’s president. That’s why you support. That’s why you fashion the hat. That’s why you rationalize. That’s why you entertain darkness as Light. That’s why you’re numb and refuse to engage. That’s why there is no rage.

And, that’s why Jesus weeps and vomits out your tepid faith.  

For hear me and countless others, and hear us well.

Until we see your rage, we only see your evil idolatry of self.

As we all wonder, along with Jesus, perhaps, that’s all there is.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave

 

Check out Chris Kratzer’s new book getting rave reviews, Leatherbound Terrorism…

There is no greater evil being wielded upon the planet than Conservative Evangelicalism, and Chris Kratzer’s life and ministry journey are undeniable proof. In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris tells of his 21 years as a conservative Evangelical pastor and the radical change of heart and mind that led him to walk away from it all. With a new sense of faith centered on Jesus and His pure Gospel of Grace, 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.

America Is Not Great, And Evangelicalism Is Not Good

Countless women and men of selfless valor have died for her.

Many have given their life’s work to prosper her.

To be sure, she embodies many good things worthy of honor and thanksgiving.

Yet, no matter how many times we pat ourselves on the back. No matter how loud we cheer ourselves on. No matter our resilience to believe in brighter days ahead. No matter how vigorously we attempt to wall ourselves off from our own shameful realities. The truth that we desperately don’t want to hear is in fact the one bell whose ring could free us all, if we’d only listen—America is not great.

Privileged? Yes. Powerful? Yes. Wealthy? Yes. Domineering? Yes.

Great? No.

In fact, the foundational attributes that make greatness truly great reveal themselves to be much the opposite of who have we become. Search through the tenets of nearly every world religion, especially the very Christianity many deem to be foundational to the fabric of our country. There you will find common definitions of greatness that cast an epic dark shadow across our history, current realities, and aspirations.

Jesus, Gandhi, Buddha, and many others of divine wisdom all sit at the table and sing from a familiar chorus—”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

Yet, sadly these are not the sounds of our national anthem nor our ethos.

No matter how large the flags we unfold onto the playing fields of American life with jet fighter flybys and fireworks. No matter how subtly we sanitize our history to insure the ignorance and compliance of future generations to our atrocities. No matter how many “bread and circus” shows we materialize in order to deflect from the evil of our endeavors. There is a prophetic chant of life-giving truth crying out from the wilderness of our nation, “America is not great, not great at all.”

Just unravel the American scroll but a few inches.

Consider the bloody rape, murder, pillaging, and displacement of millions of native Americans for the purpose of personal and religious conquest largely driven by white conservative Christian males seduced by evil visions of a twisted sense of manifest destiny. Consider the brutal enslavement, abuse, and murder of millions of black people for the purpose of personal and religious conquest spiritually justified by white conservative Christian males addicted to their privilege. Consider the vial discrimination, demonization, and marginalization of thousands of people in the LGBTQ community for the purpose of personal and religious conquest largely influenced and orchestrated by white conservative Christian males intoxicated by power and the control afforded by their bigotry. Consider the diabolical invasion of countries, the false flagging of wars, and the killing of innocent women, children, and men without legitimate provocation for the purpose of personal and religious conquest predominantly authored by greedy white Christian conservative males whose appetites will stop short of nothing less than ruling the world.

We have long lived by the swords of spiritually justified violence, greed, and imperialism, and now we are dying by them as we bury our heads deep into the sand and numb our collective conscience with the opioids of mass denial.

Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in most every other country. Gun-related murders in the United States rate 25 times higher than all of the high-income countries of the world. America is ranked 16th on the world’s top 100 corruption list. We are cited as one of the top 10 most racist countries in the world. America is home to the highest number of overweight and obese people. In fact, we throw way 200,000 tons of edible food daily. 34% of billionaires are Americans, yet the US poverty level is the highest in the developed world. Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy. America makes up 37% of the 1.6 trillion dollars spent globally on military expenditures. Not surprisingly, the US military budget is the largest in the world. All, while US college students face tuition rates that far outrun inflation rates with more than $1.2 trillion in student debt, an increasing middle class and elderly population that is being further denied adequate health coverages, and Social Security projections that significantly decrease future payouts. And to top it off, America, the land of the free, ranks 47th in press freedom—no surprises there.

There is no doubt, for those with eyes willing to see and ears willing to hear, we have become the bratty narcissistic child who has warped divine freedom into barbaric ferociousness. With all the world our sandbox, we have become consummate experts at casting blame upon everyone else for our problems, gas-lighting the crap out of our dissenters, and bullying anyone and anything that challenges the elite’s quest for power and privilege.

Make no mistake, in the eyes of Jesus and the common sense goodness of humanity, we are not great, not great all.

Yet sadly, we have long been blind to the evil Wizard pulling the strings behind the American curtain, and therefore, have wielded little power and success in turning the Titanic around. For conservative Evangelical Christianity is increasingly showing itself to be perhaps the greatest evil ever manifested upon the earth—nothing less than the foundational fuel behind the moral and spiritual decline of America. Yes, as hard as it is to hear and as difficult as it is to say, the very entity that has long postured itself as having the Savior is being exposed as harboring the Satan.

With a gospel that is no Gospel at all, as it actually further imprisons and entices people to sin while pimping the poison, not the cure. With a prescription for Christian living that most assuredly and directly leads to self-righteousness, judgmentalism, hypocrisy, duplicity, double standards, and pretentiousness. With a church culture overflowing with greed, consumerism, conformity, selfishness, exploitation, ministry empires, pastoral fame, and the franchising of Jesus. With a driving leadership of white heterosexual males fueled by their egos and an addiction to grandiose aspirations of ministry and cultural supremacy. With a declaration that they hold the infallible exclusive inside scoop to all things God, the Scriptures, and truth. With an overall purpose and vision of world domination that divides the planet into the converted-to-heaven and the condemned-to-hell. With a belief in a god who spiritually justifies violence, condemnation, sexism, murder, conquest, elitism, and imperialism, all under the twisted auspices of love—not to mention the worship of a white Jesus who encourages and enables personal prosperity and separatism. As has become America, conservative Evangelical Christianity is perhaps the most gun-loving, enemy-bullying, defensively postured, greedy, gluttonous, bigoted, oppressive, marginalizing, sexist, freedom-killing, narcissistic, imperialistic, militant, and controlling manifestation on the planet.

Truth be told, now like never before, America and conservative Evangelical Christianity have become two evil peas in a evil pod, creating a death cocktail that intoxicates the privileged and religious, and drowns out all others. Find me places in the history of America and our current endeavors where we have done and aspired to evil things, and there you will have found the underlying direct influence of a white heterosexual male-driven conservative Evangelical brand of Christianity. No wonder how such a deplorable president as Donald Trump could have been elected and remain continually supported.

For where in America are freedom of speech, thought, and belief most likely to be squelched? Where are women most likely to be shackled by sexism? Where is the LGBTQ community most likely to be demonized, condemned, and driven to suicide? Where are minorities most likely to be discarded and discriminated against? Where are the poor and vulnerable most likely to be exploited for personal or corporate gain?

Where? All at the feet of conservative Evangelical Christianity, that’s where.

And sadly, if this corrupted faith system has its way, it will be at the feet of all of America too.

To those who would criticize me as being harsh or overgeneralized, the truth is, these realities are just that deeply disturbing and widely infiltrating. I refuse to shrink back in fear and be recorded by history as one who became complicit out of an unwillingness to sound the alarm and stand atop the walls of humanity and shout the truth. For we are not far from a tipping point from which there will be little to no return.

No, there is no pleasure taken in shining a light into these caverns of darkness. No, not all conservative Evangelicals are willing participants or knowingly support such abhorrent things. Of course, no church, group, denomination, or faith expression is perfect. Yet, make no mistake, conservative Evangelical Christianity as a faith system is nothing shy of pure evil. And now more than ever, we are witnessing before us on a national and global scale the devastating fruitions of its hollow fruit.

These are desperate times that call for determined bravery—a bravery that begins with brutal honesty. For we have met the true enemy of all that is Jesus and all that is good—and it is us. We are the false accusers, the bulliers, the conquerers, the oppressors, the condemners, the deceived deceivers, and the exploiters of humanity and abusers of all that is God who is Love.

America is not great, and Evangelicalism is not good.

That’s the truth, and it’s high-time we wake up to it.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity, You’re Damn Right I’m In Rebellion

You and I, we disagree on just about everything, that’s for sure.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it for your listening pleasure, at least not this time.

You say, “tomato,” I say, “testicles”—see how far our worlds are apart? I’m breaking all the religious rules and coloring outside all of the conservative lines. And not just that—I’m pretty sure I’ll be going straight to hell, too.

The precise moment our mutual paths of faith started to diverge, I’m not exactly sure. Yet, one thing is certainly crystal clear, we sing from very different songbooks now.

Perhaps to your surprise, however, there is one particular chorus you’re constantly barking into my ears that I can gladly meet with one hundred percent agreement and enthusiasm—conservative Evangelical Christianity, you’re damn right I’m in rebellion.

You got me, you caught me, you smoked it out of my soul—quick, call the Elders to hold me accountable with a “come to Jesus” small group intervention. It’s true, I’m pushing back and even punching at the throat of nearly everything you hold to be true and life giving.

I’m sorry, but enough is enough—your tone policing, guilt tripping, glare giving, bible thumping, fear mongering tractor beams aren’t going to suck me back into your Evangelical Death Star anymore. I’ve tasted and seen the fruits of your faith convictions, my days of grin-and-bear-it are over. Today is the day of my emancipation, I’m finally drawing the line by erasing all of yours. Bravery has overcome and broken my heart wide open—my truth will not be silenced and my life imprisoned any longer. I have a song to sing, a verse to put down—and it just so happens, the opening lines go a little something like this, “Conservative Evangelical Christianity, you can bet your ass I’m in rebellion…”

Every time you play school-yard-bully to the LGBTQ community, I’m going to be all up in your kindergarten Kool-Aid until the Teacher blows the whistle. For who the hell do you think you are, speaking divine condemnation over an entire group of God-adored people? Is your head so far up your ideological rear end you don’t realize the lives that you’re destroying?

Oh please, don’t give me anymore of this, “The bible says…” crap as your spiritual justification and defense. We heard you pimp that same evil rhyme to justify black slavery and lynchings on trees—yah, that’s the ultra-lame level of your exegetical capacity. Your slight of hand with the Scriptures may have seemingly sanitized your schemes in the past, but people are starting to unshackle from your spiritual control tactics and fully engage the mind of Christ within them—all to your apparent dismay and obsessive fear of freedom. For a great awakening of divine revelation is sweeping across the planet, your “clear teachings of the Bible” aren’t so clear, but one thing certainly is—to increasingly follow Jesus is to increasingly come into fierce rebellion against your bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, and bible idolatry.

So, yes, you’re damn right I’m in rebellion, especially when you seem to have an unprecedented expertise in drawing people onto the wrong side of history, the Bible, and the heart of Jesus.

Every time you push your white conservative male heterosexual privilege on church and society, I’m going to be calling your scheming lust for supremacy out of the shadows. In fact, I gotta hand it to you, you’ve been super slick with your starch-pleated packaging. That whole, “Men should be the spiritual leaders of the home,” “America is a Christian nation,” and “God didn’t create Adam and Steve” mantra might appear, to the untrained eye, to simply be a noble reflection of your desire to honor your faith convictions. Sadly, the truth is much more perverse and diabolical. In fact, wipe the lipstick off that conservative Evangelical pig and your real aspirations ooze like pus to the surface—power and privilege.

Why can’t women be truly seen and treated as equal to men in all things? White conservative male heterosexual power and privilege—that’s why.

Why can’t America be a place of true religious freedom where all faiths are equally valued, recognized, and observed? White conservative male heterosexual power and privilege.

Why can’t we be a nation of true equality where all colors, genders, orientations, nationalities, ages, and classes are afforded equal human dignity, value, and rights? You guessed it—white conservative male heterosexual power and privilege.

So, let’s get real.

For you, it’s not about Jesus, it never has been. It’s not about true Christianity, it never has been. It’s not even about sin and faithfulness to God, it never has been. That’s all one big spiritual veil to your monstrous agenda—power and privilege.

For if it were all about Jesus, true Christianity, sin, and faithfulness to God, here’s what I do know for sure—you’d be doing so much house cleaning there’d be no time or energy for all your religious bloviating, condemnation, and insisting on your own ways in society.

The truth is, when it comes to “God, country, home, and church,” it’s always been about white male heterosexual power and privilege, and sadly, it seems it always will—even to your ultimate demise. For the spiritual and biblical gymnastics you’re apparently willing to go through in attempt to make Jesus the hood ornament of your white conservative male heterosexual world bulldozer are not only baffling, but finally being exposed for their true evil.

So, yes, you’re damn right I’m in rebellion against your white conservative male heterosexual ego trip and world pillaging tour, and I have this sense, so is a brown-skinned Jewish-born middle-Eastern refugee named Jesus. And together, we’re going to be chasing your junk out the temple.

Every time you come at me with a faith understanding that requires me to turn off my brain and reject common sense, I’m going to be defending my sanity and questioning yours with the mind that Christ gave me. In fact, though faith in the unseen and incomprehensible is a healthy and necessary ingredient to following Jesus, I find that the more faith I place in Him, the more He desires for me to rethink yours.

I’m sorry, but the mind of Christ within me won’t stop setting off alarms deep inside my being nearly every time you quote the Bible at me. You’re so insistent on its inerrancy and your exclusive interpretations of it—which is more than enough reason for anyone’s suspicion. For the time has come where I can no longer subscribe to a God who smashes babies on rocks, a 6,000 year old earth, and a sadistic Father who requires the brutal death of His own Son to prevent Him from sending the very people He claims to love into a hell of eternal torture if they don’t love Him back in return—precisely.

With all due respect, this is my stop, and I’m going to have to cash in my chips this time. But I promise, I do so giving you the benefit of the doubt in believing you don’t truly subscribe to this twisted level of theological insanity. Rather, you hold to a literalism and inerrancy of Scripture like a stripper to a pole because you desperately need it in order conform, control people, and justify your blasphemy to the doubts, insecurities, and inconsistencies you suppress deep within.

So, yes, you’re damn right I’m in rebellion, for the Spirit of Christ within me has convinced my soul that turning off my brain is the last thing He desires for me to do—especially around your funhouse of smoke and mirrors.

Every time you try to grow me into your own personal ChiaPet for Jesus, I’m going to be breaking every mold and pushing past every barrier in which you hope to contain me. In fact, God already finished His work in my life through the cross where He perfected me, so anything you’re hoping to add on, I can know for sure, is nothing but just a steaming pile of horse shit religion.

You can take all your rules, to-do steps, sin-management tactics, growth formulas, and attributes of a genuine “sold-out’ Christian. You can have all your worship concerts, schools, conferences, t-shirts, books, movies, and clubs with crosses on top. None of those drugs work, but only serve to keep people strung-out and addicted to your religious prescriptions.

Hear me, and hear me well. I’m not a project for your spiritual gratification where everything you pour into my life is ultimately purposed on growing me into your own conservative Evangelical image. I’m not a toy to play with, a robot to program, or an action figure for you to bend, twist, dress up, and march into your battles to condemn and conquer the world. I’m not a seed engineered to fill your fields, produce your fruits, and feed your insatiable conservative Evangelical ego. And most of all, I’m not a title belt from your fat-bellied conservative Evangelical smack down upon the world.

So, yes, you’re damn right I’m in rebellion, and I’m going to be all the more. For every time you seek to lobotomize the minds and souls of good people and assimilate them into your conservative Evangelical Borg, I’m going to be the resistance you can’t stop, control, or keep from exposing your evil agenda to rid the world of true freedom and joy.

Every time you prequalify people for love and encourage me to do the same, I’m going to be loving people all the more lavishly and unconditionally with a Grace that frustrates you to the core and exposes your shame. For the unstoppable force of Grace cannot be overcome—bending every religious knee and breaking down every wall. Watch, as every pretentious, judgmental, religiously-spirited, greedy, hypocritical, and imperialistic fruit dangling off your conservative Evangelical tree is being shaken to the ground. For nothing makes a better compost than the ruins of your evil system of faith, out of which God is resurrecting a Grace-awakening that gathers the broken and sends the religious scattering in its wake.

I will not stop, and I will not hesitate. Everywhere you bring your condemnation, I’m bringing divine affirmation. Everywhere you bring your exclusiveness, I’m bringing divine inclusiveness. Everywhere you bring your rules, conditions, and regulations, I’m bringing divine emancipation.

And not just that—everywhere you bring your conditions, qualifications, and fine print, I’m bringing a Love that overcomes them all.

For everywhere you bring your evil, I’m going to be bringing Jesus.

So, yes, conservative Evangelical Christianity, you’re damn right—I’m a free-thinking, Grace-preaching, LGBTQ-affirming, equality-defending, craft beer-drinking, occasionally-cussing, Jesus-lover in rebellion.

Not just rebellion, but full force resistance.

Which leaves me with the ultimate question of the century—with all your talk about Jesus and how much you love Him, why aren’t you in rebellion too?

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity, Tell Me, What Am I Supposed To Do?

We’re not face to face, so these words must serve the hope of connecting my heart to yours.

There’s a lot I really want to say, and even more that I hope you will hear.

Yes, I’ve changed—nearly everything about me. I know that can be a hard pill to swallow, especially the way our spiritual paths seem to be diverging, and at times, causing great tension between us. I’m a different person now, having traveled a complete one-eighty in beliefs, values, faith, heart, and my sense of self and purpose. I understand where this onset of change is met by the glares of your disapproval and anxiety. Perhaps to you, it feels like it’s happened overnight, but I can assure you, it’s been a long time coming.

Regardless, the truth is, I’ve stepped away and outside of the conservative Evangelical faith I once held so closely. My mind has been changed and my heart has outgrown the beliefs to which I once subscribed—not in some kind of arrogant way that renders me better than you, only different.

It’s all very concerning and perhaps even offensive to you—I understand.

But, with all due respect and love, please tell me, what am I supposed to do?

What am I supposed to do when everything you taught me to be true and life-giving simply doesn’t work? Being the best person I could be for Jesus was my ultimate goal—just like you wanted. I tried, I really did—praying, studying, worshipping, serving, giving—checking off every item on the list.

Yet, as much as I don’t want to disappoint you, there was this moment where I came to the edge of all that you had poured into my life. It was there that I took an honest look into the mirror and engaged in a thorough evaluation of my long-held beliefs. In that pivotal moment of clarity, I was confronted and collided with the undeniable reality, none of it was working—at least, not for me.

In fact, when I pulled back the curtains, a startling phenomenon appeared. Please don’t take this as being hurtful, demeaning, or lacking respect, but I can’t deny what my eyes were seeing. Everyone was faking it just like me—not because we wanted to, but because truth be told, that’s the best one can do while on the religious treadmill of conservative Evangelical Christianity. I know that’s hard to hear, but it is—reality.

All the formulas for prayer—didn’t work. All the steps for overcoming sin through behavior management—didn’t work. All the attempts to press harder into Jesus and lift Him higher—didn’t work. All the inspired teachings on growing the garden of my spiritual fruits—didn’t work. All the verses memorized, recited, declared, displayed, and prayed over—didn’t work. All the increased commitments to church, cultivating my relationship with Jesus, and becoming a promise-keeping man of God and spiritual leader of my home—didn’t work.

Not only did it not work, but it all left me exhausted, discouraged, empty, ashamed, and feeling even more distant from Jesus and the people He desires for me to love. At first I thought, surely the problem is with me, I must be doing it wrong somehow. Now, I’m not so convinced. In fact, not at all.

With all due love and respect, when nearly everything you taught me about the Christian life and growing spiritually erodes me into a phony, self-righteous, faking-it-to-make-it kind of person, tell me, what am I supposed to do?

What am I supposed to do when your spiritual prescriptions seem to bring far more death than life? I’ll never forget the moment, it was like no other. Face to face with a living and breathing human being who was desperately seeking hope and life, I sought to be the good and faithful Evangelical, taking everything that you taught me to be true and life-giving and apply it (verse by verse and line by line) into this broken, sin-labelled, religious oppressed person sitting right in front of me.

She had been brutally condemned by nearly every person and spiritual entity in her life, and was grasping at my counsel for one last ray of hope. Yet, with every conservative Evangelical prescription and pre-packaged talking point that vomited off my lips, it all fell flat and reeked of death, leaving this beautiful person all the more closer to giving up as the fading light behind her eyes was now all but snuffed out. What was “biblical” in your eyes brought death to hers.

In a way like never before, the alarms went off inside of me, “something is seriously wrong, and I just can’t do it anymore.” I mean no disrespect in saying so, but this whole, “hate the sin, love the sinner” crap is nothing like Jesus. Broken people didn’t cringe at His presence and leave defeated, instead they clinged to His every being and walked away with affirmation, freedom, and unstoppable courage. I know this will be met with your displeasure and even disagreement, but the cat was out of the bag and I could no longer deny it—the more of a conservative Evangelical I became, the less Jesus I portrayed. I’m sorry, when enough is enough is enough—tell me, what am I supposed to do?

When the fruits of being a conservative Evangelical leave broken people more broken, loved people feeling less loved, and Jesus curled up in the corner crying in disgust at the judging, condemning, pretentious people we have become, tell me, what am I supposed to do?

What am I supposed to do when most everything about conservative Evangelical Christianity turns out to be one big scheme? As hard as it is to say, and perhaps even harder to hear, there is no denying the conservative Evangelical fruit dangling off the tree. I’ve tasted and seen—and so much of it, it’s not good. Look around, just open your eyes to see.

It’s not about Jesus, it’s about power. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about personal ministry empire building and fame. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about million dollar state-of-the-art worship auditoriums carefully staged with tattooed skinny-jean wearing song leaders. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about the commercialism and franchising of His name. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about a false gospel of conditions, to-do lists, sin-management, spiritual performance, and a self-righteousness that seeks to leverage control by keeping people fearfully addicted to the cancer not the cure. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about spiritually policing the world, looking for ways to lift the sins of others above the weight of our own in order to justify hate, discrimination, judgement, and the condemnation of others. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about white male heterosexual privilege and perpetuating the conservative Evangelical Death Star that seeks dominance in every sector of society. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but with every bite deeper into the fruit of conservative Evangelical Christianity, it all becomes blatantly clear—it’s not about Jesus, and truth be told, it never really has been and probably never will.

When countless LGBTQ people are bullied, driven to depression and suicide, mocked, marginalized, and rendered as sinful abominations who need to repent, or else. When women are treated as second class citizens and a lesser vessel best suited for the kitchen, church nursery, secretarial services, sexual exploitation, and lower wages. When global warming, genuine scientific discovery, and the consideration of fresh biblical understandings of Scripture are eagerly dismissed in exchange for greed, a 6,000 year old earth, and the spiritual justification of condemnation. When homosexuality is vehemently demonized and labeled a sin despite sound biblical scholarship that refutes such claims, yet racism, supremacy, gluttony, duplicity, discrimination, greed, violence, xenophobia, and nationalism are met with ambivalence and a deaf ear. When countless conservative Evangelicals elect and continue to support a pussy-grabbing, racist, greedy, childish, adulterous, vulgar, inflammatory, discriminating, bullying, and war-driven President, please tell me, what the hell am I supposed to do?

There is no denying, your heart is good and your intentions are noble. There is no denying, good and great things have come from you and your ways of believing. Yet, when nearly everything about becoming more aligned to your creeds, attitudes, and actions results in a serious downgrade in my life where with virtually every moment I become less like Jesus, increasingly imprisoned to sin, and further nose-blinded to the stench of true evil, what am I supposed to do?

If I’m honest, I would rather hang on a torturous cross fit for the worst of criminals than continue to hang out in an evil system that, in my personal opinion and experience, has ransacked Jesus and morphed Him into a conservative Evangelical tyrant whose yoke is heavy with self-righteousness, condemnation, fear, arrogance, greed, and all things religious.

With all due respect, love, and appreciation, until I see conservative Evangelical Christianity acknowledging its catastrophic fall from Grace. Until I hear the sounds of its repenting becoming louder than the rationalization of its sins. Until I witness the full-force pursuit of conservative Christianity cleaning up its own act while ceasing and desisting from bullying and condemning others. Until I see churches jettison their spiritual club mentalities, fat budgets, and judgmental stances against the world. Until I see pastors fully reject the allure and onset of ministry fame and fortune. Until I see the LGBTQ community being extravagantly served with unconditional love, listening, protection, and true humility—putting their rights and needs above our own. Until I see ministries value and declare women as being fully equal in all things with unrestrained enthusiasm. Until I see conservative Christianity leading the way in thwarting racism, supremacy, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, violence, war, discrimination, and bullying. Until I see a faith that doesn’t encourage me to turn my brain off, reject science, require my wife’s submission, and ask me to pre-qualify people for love. Until I see the ways of Jesus becoming the ways of the conservative Evangelical faith understanding, what am I supposed to do?

Perhaps you’d like to me to sit down and shut up. Perhaps you’d like me to walk it all back and beg for your forgiveness. Perhaps you’d like me to yield to your tone-policing and soften my directness. Perhaps you’d like me to retreat into the land of silence, apathy, and self-preservation. I will not, and in the presence of evil, I cannot. Grace has made it so with a bravery that will not be contained—what am I supposed to do? For He alone has the words and ways of true Life.

I want you to know, it’s never been about a loss of love, I promise—at least not for me. There’s a special place deep within where cherished memories of our togetherness reside, and I suspect they always will. I wish things were different, but sadly they aren’t. We are all human, seeking the heart of Jesus. Which is why I pray you will know for sure, none of this has been easy—not one bit.

Yet, conservative Evangelical Christianity, tell me, what am I supposed to do when my heart has been so confronted and collided by Grace, love, and Jesus that I just can’t believe in you, as you, and be you anymore?

Not because I’m better than you, but because Jesus is so much better than this.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

I Will Not Be Silent—Chasing The Evils Of Conservative Evangelical Christianity Out Of The Shadows

No one who identifies themselves as a “Conservative Evangelical” is evil—no one. For God has fashioned us all in His image, and very few ever pursue the Christian life without the best of intentions and aspirations. We are all good people simply seeking the heart of God.

However, as much as it may be unpopular to express and I do so without any pleasure, so much of conservative right-wing Evangelical Christianity as a system and faith understanding harbors numerous tenets and values that are nothing less than pure evil—anti-Christ and diabolical for sure.

That’s the truth, and with all due respect, you should know it.

In fact, never has there been a more important time to open the blinds, connect the dots, and chase the evils of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity out of the shadows—countless lives are in the balance, and much of our future as a people and nation is at stake.

To be sure, conservative Evangelical Christianity can be so seductive to the flesh that even the strongest among us can be brainwashed by its witchcraft—many rendered completely desensitized to the evils in which they participate. That was me, 22 years spent as a right-wing conservative Evangelical pastor.

Yet, one need not look any further than to the callous person one can become and the cruel creeds one can adopt to see the rampant spiritual justification of hate and evil that spews out of significant segments of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity.

Perhaps it will serve as a challenge to your comfort zone, a deep offense to your beliefs, or blasphemy to your faith understanding, but I cannot be silent in laying before you the very evils that find their source, sanctuary, and sustenance in much of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity.

Stone me, crucify me, defriend me, withdraw your support, or turn your back altogether. Accuse me of painting with too broad a brush or speaking too harshly—I will not and cannot deny the evils I see nor shrink back from chasing them out of the shadows.

God help us all to wake up.

Grace is the Gospel, Not Repentance- Grace is the only power that changes anything—especially people. The good news isn’t that God offers us a gift but we must respond in order to receive it—that’s the conservative Evangelical interpretation of the Gospel and it’s not good news, it’s terrible news. For who knows when one truly believes, repents, and behaves well enough and properly enough for the exchange to truly occur, let alone remain. If it’s up to us in any way, shape, or form, there will always be doubt, fear, and uncertainty waiting eagerly in the wings—all sure fruits of evil.

Rather, the good news is that our unconditional irreversible inclusion in Christ with all its benefits is the gift—there’s nothing to receive only everything to believe. There is no such thing as a “relationship” with Jesus established and maintained by our proper responses to His love—that’s a sure evil construct of religion. Rather, there is only full communion in and with the Trinity, established and secured on our behalf from the foundations of eternity. He is us and in us, we are Him and in Him. Jesus is the message and manifestation of all that we already have and are—whole, saved, righteous, pure, affirmed, without blemish.

Faith is simply awakening and resting fully in this Truth—realizing it’s never been about our performance, always about His. Any repentance and relational aspects of Scripture must be understood, not as admonitions for our required response, but as cues to awaken to the fullness and sufficiency of Grace that is already ours, completely and irrevocably.

Sin Management Promotes More Sin- With all of its “to do” lists and prescriptions to grow spiritually through engaging in certain faith behaviors and commitments, conservative Evangelical Christianity is leading the way at imprisoning people to their sin and brokenness, not freeing them.

With every inspiring message peppered with new principles for living, lists of behaviors, and passionate admonitions to press in and try harder, we have created strung-out spiritual junkies addicted to the lures of the flesh to perform their way out of the sin and brokenness in their lives through some kind of partnership with Jesus. Becoming “successful” for Jesus and overcoming oneself and the trials of life through any kind of personal spiritual performance is the most diabolical trap in all the earth—loading people onto the train of sin-management and behavior modification with the promise to bless and emancipate their lives, only to end up in the gas chambers of the ministry of death—the Law.

At the feet of much of conservative Evangelical Christianity, we have nothing less than a spiritual holocaust in our country where the moral decline is ever increasing all because we have been preaching the cancer not the cure. Pure Grace is the only power of God to handle, manage, and transform brokenness and sin, and the people in which it resides. Any other message, prescription, step, action, or commitment is to extend condemnation and to rape one of the miraculous sin-busting freedom Christ bestows on us through our awakening to Grace. The Christian life is not a test, it’s a rest. Spiritual growth isn’t about becoming tomorrow who you aren’t today through ones spiritual performance, but rather the journey of our actions and attitudes catching up with who we already fully are in Christ—complete, whole, holy, pure, righteous, saved, and lacking no spiritual blessing. This is the foundation of Grace that enables in us and through us all good things, effortlessly—any other foundation is a sinking sand-spiral of death.

Jesus Is The Word, Not the Bible- Sadly, what a pacifier is to a baby, the Bible has become to much of conservative Evangelical Christianity—no wonder why we act so childish at times and elected one as our President. A pacifier is not a meal nor even a source of nourishment, so to it is with the Bible—for Jesus is the only Bread and the only Life offered. A pacifier isn’t the foundation of a child, not even for their growth—for Jesus is the only solid ground and the Bible simply an important catalyst and beginning to encountering Him, the true Word, Life, and Child in us all.

Yet, significant segments of conservative Evangelical Christianity suck on the Bible and their interpretation of it as if Jesus is secondary, or doesn’t exist at all. Nothing tells of their infantile dependency on the Scriptures more than when one pulls it from the clenches of their lips, challenging issues of inerrancy, proof-texting, and their weaponizing of its use. Kicking and screaming, they demand control and find no peace without declaring it infallible along with the exclusive authenticity of their interpretations. For their peace and faith is not in Jesus, it’s on the spiritual pacification their worship of the Bible affords them—forever perpetuating an evil spiritual adolescence. For no greater evils have come upon the earth than from Bible-sucking Christians whose faith is solely founded and directed by their Scriptural understandings, instead of the person, the only Word of God—Jesus, whose mind we possess and whose Life is ours.

The Way of Jesus is Inclusive, Sacrificial, and Nonviolent- With every push and plea for their values and beliefs to be legislated upon society, dominant in the public arena, given priority within our nation, and afforded special protections and privileges, conservative Evangelical Christianity departs from the way of Jesus and embarks upon its own evil imperialistic self-serving path.

The Kingdom of God does not come by way of weapons, demands, intimidation, legislation, or war, but through sacrificial service, nonviolent example, and all inclusive unconditional love—period. When the message of Jesus becomes militarized spiritually, emotionally, or physically, it is no longer the message of Jesus. With every moment conservative Evangelical Christianity fails to truly love its enemies, disagreers, and non-conformers as human beings created with divine dignity, freedom, rights, and value no less than theirs, they partner with the forces of evil to blaspheme the Spirit and twist Jesus into the hood ornament of their evil world bulldozer.   

Carving itself away from those it deems to be inferior through efforts to escape the “world” and retreat into their churches, charter schools, businesses, groups, and clubs gives sure example that much of conservative Evangelical Christianity gives priority not to the ways of Jesus, but to the ways of the religiously pretentious.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity will always be an evil system as long as it continues to fail to produce the fruits of true enemy love, putting others above self, serving those it deems deplorable, welcoming and wanting all people, being in community with all humanity, and choosing the ways of meekness, humility, and sacrifice over power, self-preservation, and greed.

Jesus Equalizes Everyone- For Grace is the great equalizer—none are better, only different. All are loved, all are affirmed, and all are valued and equal in capacity—Jesus makes it so.  Sadly, nearly everything about the conservative Evangelical creed speaks of and fosters privilege, the opposite of His Kingdom—we are the saved, you are the lost; we are the faithful, you are the heathen; we are the blessed, you are the condemned; we are the friends of God, you are the enemy; we are the sole possessors of Biblical understanding and righteous interpretation, you are the sure heretics; we are the faith upon which this nation was founded, you are the people that need to be converted and conquered.

No, it’s not going to be found written in the church bulletin or the carefully crafted mission statement of your local conservative Evangelical Church, but with white painted churches steepled with white crosses as far as the eye can see, Sunday mornings across America can be some of the most segregated hours of the week and a screaming indictment to the true fruits being grown on the vine of significant segments of conservative Evangelical Christianity—division, supremacy, sexism, racism, and classism, all of which, are deeply evil, intended or not.

The Spirit Changes People, Church Imprisons- In the face of a cosmically creative God, conformity is the sure work of evil hoping to thwart the brush strokes of the Divine. For conformity and forced unity kills spiritual growth and imprisons the soul, rendering it nearly incapable of genuine encounter with Jesus and the Spirit who sets us free. Perhaps the most frightening evil subtly being wielded across the planet is the false unity and forced conformity being fostered in many a conservative Evangelical Church where differing beliefs, perspectives, and values are feared and quickly labeled for assimilation or rejection—never community. Diversity is welcomed as far as it does not compete with nor challenge long held beliefs and traditions and people don’t outgrow the walls of the conservative evangelical system of beliefs and behaviors. Where the Spirit changes people and sets them on a path of free exploration, so much of the conservative Evangelical system manifested in churches is set up to conform people into compliance and condemn diversity that contradicts and challenges their spiritual Borg.

Condemnation and Conditions Are Messages of the Devil- Jesus didn’t die to riddle your life with condemnation. Jesus doesn’t love you to fill your heart with conditions. Jesus didn’t create heaven to lose you to the possibility of hell. For any message that declares condemnation from God or places conditions to love, falls drastically short of reflecting God and understanding Him who is Love. Sadly, the most popular talking points being spouted from conservative Evangelical Christianity are “God loves you BUT,” “Turn or burn,” and “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” All, sure messages of conditions and condemnation. For in God’s eyes, there is no such thing as loving the “sinner” because He doesn’t see anyone in that way nor make that label even a true possibility. Instead He calls them “friend,” “saint”, “child,” “blessed” “righteous” and “heirs” in the Kingdom, seeing all people included in Himself as Himself, unconditionally.

A gospel hinging on repentance is no Gospel at all—it’s evil.

A Christian life of sin-management and behavior modification is no life at all—it’s evil.

Worshiping the Bible instead of Jesus isn’t worshiping at all—it’s evil.

Twisting and using Jesus to spiritually justify hate, war, violence, supremacy, nationalism, greed, self-preservation, and power isn’t following Jesus at all—it’s evil.

Extending to the world a kingdom filled with racism, sexism, discrimination, classism, and marginalization isn’t extending the Kingdom of Jesus at all—it’s evil.

Doing church in ways that promote conformity, false unity, and the suppression of spiritual growth, diversity, and differences, isn’t doing church at all—it’s evil.

Mixing Grace with condemnations and mixing Love with conditions isn’t manifesting true Grace or Love at all—it’s evil.

Stone me, crucify me, defriend me, withdraw your support, or turn your back altogether. Accuse me of painting with too broad a brush or speaking too harshly—I will not and cannot deny these evils I see nor shrink back from chasing them out of the shadows.

God help us all to wake up and dismantle deception.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Dear Conservative Christian, What Am I Supposed To Believe?

I’m trying to understand, I really am.

I hear what you’re saying—the deep confessions of your conservative brand of faith. You’re passionate, determined, and believe strongly in your way. I respect the veracity of your convictions—that, we have in common. Yet, if I’m honest, more so than not, I’m left scratching my head in utter confusion. I listen to your speaking and then take notice of your doing—finding it very hard to pull together much consistency between the two. I want to believe in the best, applaud your efforts, and grant you a fair shake, but the discrepancies I just can’t seem to ignore.

You say that conservative churches are warm and welcoming—I guess I’m wondering, to who? If I color outside conservative lines or commit a moral miscue, I’m quickly distanced, given the cold shoulder, or even sent to the curb. If I believe differently or entertain some serious doubts, I’m rushed to a Jesus-101 class or a small group for the spiritually lost and confused. You may allow a member of the LGBTQ community to sit in your velvet padded pews—certainly, your hands are open to receive their Sunday offering. Yet, all bets are off when it comes to teaching Sunday school or having equal footing in your community. Thousands of people from every walk of life have real stories of fierce condemnation, marginalization, and demonization at the hands of your organized conservatism. Yet, you gregariously claim a genuine desire for everyone to come and attend your church. I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but what am I suppose to believe? Putting two eyes on what’s in front of me—you’re telling me this is warm and welcoming?

You say you’re all about Jesus—I guess I’m wondering, which one? The Jesus who won’t accept anything less than multi-million dollar state-of-the-art buildings, slick branding, and the worshipping of His Glory with perfectly timed smoke machines, stage-lighting, and Anthropologie-fashioned leaders sporting tattoos and skinny jeans? Or is it the Jesus whose greatest delight is in seeing the franchising of His church and the endless consumerism of His Name? Maybe it’s the Jesus who pours out special anointing and favor upon celebrity pastors and applauds their book deals, conferences, private jets, and their ego-driven personal empire building? Or maybe you mean the Jesus who clearly states, “Above all else, carpet colors, stained glass windows, keeping current members happy, and holding strong to traditions is ultimately what really matters most.” I’m trying to see things through your eyes and makes sense of your perspective, but what am I supposed to believe? This is what it means to be all about Jesus?

You say the “least of these” matter—I guess I’m wondering, to what extent? I’ve been to plenty of your conferences, especially the ones bent on church growth and financial campaign success. The mantra I keep hearing repeated is deeply unsettling—giving to the poor and serving the community bottom lines on being good for the offering. The “least of these” are en vogue and good for big budgets, people get emotional and open their wallets. Taking every opportunity to show carefully crafted videos of all your do-gooding and generosity makes it look so spiritual and less self-serving—oh the privileges of being so privileged. Of course, people don’t contribute directly to the specific need. Rather, it all goes into the master budget fueling the master ego of the charismatic visionary master pastor. When ministry to the broken and outcast doesn’t empower the conservative Evangelical church machine, all of a sudden, taking care of the “least of these” isn’t quite so appealing. Just ask the Transgender community or your messiah Donald Trump—banishing whole groups of God-imaged people to undergo “reparative therapy” and cutting millions from receiving healthcare for the sake of the wealth of the wealthy. I know it may sound cynical and even a bit crass, but what am I supposed to believe? This is what it means and looks like when the “least of these” truly matter?

You say that you care about me as a God-created person—I guess I’m wondering, for what purpose? From the moment we meet, it feels like you’re overall intention is to change me into a person who increasingly looks less like me, and a lot more like you. While the Spirit is compelling me to cast off fear and enjoy the freedom to be fully myself, you’re whispering in my ear that being me isn’t good nor pleasing, and freedom is something to actually fear. Not long after I’ve visited your church a few times, I’m being pulled in every direction. From serving in the nursery to attending some class to become a member—ultimately, so I can learn where I should best plug into ministry. Nearly everything you say and do rapidly convinces me—to you, I’m mostly just a fresh piece of meat, not a person. I’m a cog in your ministry puzzle to set quickly into place, painting a picture of world domination with a mission to “make disciples of all people into people just like us.” I’m trying to see the silver lining in it all, but what am I supposed to believe? This is what it means to care about me as a person, a God-adored human being?

You say that you hold the keys to the best way of living—I guess I’m wondering, why does it seem so lifeless and unloving? For all your spiritual gymnastics, fanfare, and adoration, I can’t help but wonder what’s your motivation? It’s like you’re on an endless pursuit to convince God, yourself, and everybody else that you’re really a real-deal Christian. Every moment is deemed a test of your faithfulness—will your performance live up to God’s expectations? It seems like yours is a rigorous life of constant pre-qualifying—afraid to love too much, enjoy too much, and have too much fun—the terrible things that might become. Sin is always on your radar screen as you size-up other people—nearly everything and everyone is branded an enemy. It’s like a disorder of some kind where depravity becomes the lens through which you see everything. The spiritual treadmill upon which you live, always trying to measure up, leaves you exhausted and forced to put on a Jesus-face while deep down inside, the best you can do is fake it. The spiritual growth you say you inspire, feels more like a conspiracy of doctrinal conformity—if not, flat out brainwashing. I’m not trying to be cruel or critical, it’s just an observation I can’t un-see. I truly wish your way of living was an upgrade of the finest, but it feels quite like it would surely be the opposite. I know your heart is good and your intentions are even better, but what am I supposed to believe? Is this truly the best of the best way to live?

You say that the Bible is the ultimate rule and guide for your faith—I guess I’m wondering, why such idolatry, what’s really at stake? I’ve been around the block enough to know, Jesus is the Word, not a set of words and pages in even the most sacred of books. Which leaves me wondering, what’s the big deal? Why is your interpretation the only one that’s real—often pimped as the way, the truth, and the life. Isn’t that supposed be a designation exclusive to Jesus? More so than not, you fire off Scripture like it’s a weapon and your chief desire is mass destruction—always trying to prove a point. It feels like you use the Bible as a crutch out of a lack of personal connection and revelation from Jesus. I appreciate and respect your level of loyalty, but wonder if placing it in a book and your interpretations is what was intended by the Spirit. I haven’t seen one good thing, only evil religion, coming from the building of your faith upon the shifting sands of a book rather than the Person. “What are you afraid of?” is my ultimate question—loss of control, power, and coercion potential? I’m trying to put myself in your shoes and assume the best of your intentions, but what am I supposed to believe? Is this what the Bible is really all about?

You say that your Gospel reflects the true heart of Jesus and God’s plan for humanity—I guess I’m wondering, then why is it so brutal and your faith so blatantly insecure? To think that your conservative brand of believing is so weak that you have to politicize it, nationalize it, demand it, and sleep with the enemy in order to preserve it. To think that you would abandon all moral conviction and spiritual integrity, and vote Donald Trump to be our president—all for conservative Evangelical power and glory for sure. To think that you would resort to insisting on your own way in nearly every public arena. It all makes one truly consider that not only have you lost your bearings, but your faith understanding is cruel, selfish, and entirely bogus. What you declare as the Gospel for all nations seems like in reality, a spiritual veil to a hatred, arrogance, and people-damnation addiction deep within the religious soul. Why else would you insist on a hell for people who believe differently than you? Why else would you declare to be pro-life—until, of course, it applies to the lives that aren’t in step with your ideology, pursuits, and religious thrills? Why else would you have a clear and present history of being on the wrong side of nearly every important issue? I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe you hold the heart of Jesus in all that you are and do, but what am I supposed to believe? This is what you call the Gospel, the ultimate good news?

Why not just be honest?

We can handle it, we really can—in fact, we’ve been handling it for years. You might even get some respect, as twisted as that sounds. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern how you truly feel and the content of your aspirations. Just come clean with it—be real.

It’s o.k., we have a pretty good idea what you truly believe and think anyways—for actions always speak louder than words.

We may be welcome, but we aren’t wanted.

It’s not really all about Jesus, it’s really all about you.

We, the “least of these,” matter only as much as you can benefit.

To you, we’re a project, not a person.

Despite how it appears, you’re basically faking it.

Without the Bible and the lording of your interpretation, it would be hard to justify your hate and protect your privilege.

Your gospel leads to a life of spiritual imprisonment—for misery always loves a good bit of company.

No, not every conservative church or person is manifesting these messages, but there are large numbers of people who’ve been tractor-beamed into the Death Star of conservative Evangelicalism. Seduced by the dark side, they have bitten the lie. Many conservative churches and Christians can’t help but spread the same infection, luring people into an evil Empire—despite their best intentions.

I know you disagree, I’m actually glad you do. Now, prove that I’m wrong through a conservative Evangelical revolution of changed behavior and tradition.

Until then.

Dear conservative Christian, what am I supposed to believe?

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.  Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)

“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.  Matthew 7:15-20 (The Message)

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Sorry Conservative Christian, I Don’t Owe You Anything

You’re right, I’m pissed.

Not just pissed—I’m disturbed, dismayed, and utterly repulsed at what has become of so much of modern Christianity. The undeniable carnage that rots at the feet of conservative Evangelicalism should send every soul into rants of injustice and blasphemy. I’m not going to apologize for my vehemence—in fact, I’m wondering how you can remain so acquiescent. Blinded to our privilege, arrogance, and greed, we have made a mockery out of Jesus and raped His Gospel into good news for the privileged and ideologically-conforming, but terrible news for the rest—how convenient. Marginalizing, condemning, and destroying whole groups of God-adorned people at the wave of our Evangelical wands, we cozy up to the devil himself while hoping to convince the world we sit at the right hand of Jesus. It’s terrible, disgusting, and flat out evil—and I’m determined to chase every fiber of it out of the shadows, giving voice and courage to all those it oppresses.

I know, you disagree.

In fact, you’re all but convinced I’ve gone plummeting off the deep end—steering my life, thinking, and believing straight into hell’s toxic ravine.

With seemingly everything I say, write, feel, and believe, the glare in your eyes and the rejection on your face shows me all I need to see. I’ve stepped outside the lines, disappointed expectations, and called into question the sacred cows of conservative Christian belief. You don’t like it one bit—that needling under your skin. If there’s one thing—that’s the one thing, that’s perfectly clear.

At times, I can’t help but notice—grinding down with every muscle in your being, you try to squeeze out some politeness to wrap around your disagreements. I appreciate that, I really do—your heart and noble effort are shining through. Yet as flowery as you hope I’ll receive it all and the sure goodness of your intentions, the time-released stench coupled with your corrective words is a scent I can’t ignore. Coated with the perfumes of religious condescension, so often your displeasures with me steep and steam of freshly spewed manure—as much as I may try, I just can’t un-smell it.

It’s not the reality that we don’t see eye to eye, or that you’re completely missing my heart. It’s your apparent determination to misunderstand, deflect, and reject without pause or genuine review that tells me any hope has vanished—jumping ahead with your assumptions and conclusions before the trigger sounds the start.

It’s not that I don’t respect your faith, beliefs, personal perspectives, and ways of thinking—I do. It’s not that I don’t care about developing or preserving some kind of relationship with you—I do. It’s not that I don’t desire peace between us and mutual understanding—I do. It’s not that I don’t want to hear from God what He might desire to say to me—I most certainly do. But somehow, it seems, a seat at the table for conversation and the sharing of differing views, just isn’t enough—for you. Instead, without my desire nor consent, you keep jumping the fence, claiming an entire space and authority in my life to call me into accountability—as if Jesus has surrendered the throne to your right-wing conservative ideology and made my entire being your imminent domain. With all due respect, when did God grant you exclusive access to the inside scoop on all things Jesus? Tailing my every move, turn, and twist along this spiritual journey, I don’t ever remember God assigning you to the role of spiritually policing me.

The truth is, I don’t owe you an explanation, justification, rationalization, or clarification. I don’t owe you a bible verse, proof text, theological reasoning, or an example from history. I don’t owe you a visit to your church, the reading of an article, or a talk with your pastor. In fact, when it’s all said and done, I don’t owe you a damn thing—in a manner of speaking. My freedom in Christ and His Spirit to guide me dismantle all pursuits from you or any other to control me and make me your project. There’s nothing like meeting the buzzsaw of my iron-plated identity in Him—wait for it, you’ll see.

Every time I speak, you’re cocked and loaded with the very same litany.

You say that I’m being just as judgmental and intolerant as the people with whom I disagree. With all due respect, I have found more so than not, that’s what people say who are ignorant of their privilege and the shadow it’s casting. It’s the height of all spiritual arrogance to wrap yourself in the garments of religious authority and elitism, and yet cry foul at the presence of constructive passionate criticism. That’s like the sun shaming the stars for claiming it’s hot, bright, and big. Until you’re willing to be last, you’ll never understand the sacred responsibilities of being first. If you have a problem with the people under your feet crying out to be heard as they protest your perniciousness and reveal it for what it is, you’ll need to take up your complaint with Jesus who was murdered for doing the same.

You say my observations, descriptions, and admonitions are too broad and sweeping—as if people don’t have the common sense to see themselves (or not) in the mirror my words are creating. With all do respect, I’ll start caring about your concerns regarding the presence of broad-sweeping descriptions when you reject a faith that condemns to hell whole segments of God’s sacred humanity. I’ll start worrying about making sure I’m painting by the numbers when you stop labeling entire communities of people as “sinners” in need of “reparative therapy.” I’ll stop making blanket statements when you stop boycotting entire industries. I’ll stop describing things in general terms when you come to realize that “all lives matter” doesn’t matter until, “black lives matters” matters first.

You say that I’m not loving unconditionally those I criticize, in the same way that I’m calling for it. You say I need to just “move on” to some kind of “joy” that comes from making peace with all of it. You say there’s a “healing process” to be had so I can “grow up” and put aside my angst and aversions towards religious conservatism. You say that I don’t include enough biblical references and sound theological reasoning. You say I’m always pointing out the problems and never shining light on the solutions.

Really?

Does unconditional love require the refusal to speak on behalf of those with whom conservative Christianity has condemned and abused? Does it require a passive silence in the face of evil at its purest?

You assume that God’s desire for me is a “joy” that comes from some kind of spiritual numbness to the pain of others and the evils of religion. Until my dying day, I refuse any such twisted “bliss”customized for the privileged who can turn their backs and look away—until that day, of course, when there are no privileged, but only people equal under Grace, all treated the same.

With all due respect, in regards to who I am or what I pursue, I don’t owe you a spin on your Scripture pole nor a lap-dance upon the legs of your orthodoxy. I don’t owe you a prancing around in your legalistic lingerie nor photos for your vacation from caring about humanity. Know this, and know this for sure, I don’t owe you a blasted thing, because the last thing God desires for my life is for me to start answering to you.

Instead, from the megaphone of heaven trumpeting in my ear, there is a sure and voracious calling to be fully me, free and alive—to manifest the heart of Jesus who called the religious evils of His day out of the shadows, and stood in solidarity with the religiously condemned. Jesus didn’t just “move on” as if people are disposable, rather He died and took everyone and everything broken unto Himself. How dare you entertain the idea that doing anything of a different flavor could manifest He who is the Bread, broken for the world.

Nothing could ever inspire me beyond the redemption of people abused at the hands of the brand of Christianity you seem to so desperately want me to appease and approve. I will not leave nor forsake the least of these until all of us can cross together into a land where Grace is given full room to rule and reign—now, welling up to eternity.

No, there is no “healing process” for me—by His stripes I am healed, and perfectly made whole already.

If you’re so concerned about solutions to the problems, why don’t you just go and be one.

As for me, hear me and hear me well. I’m gonna be all up your kool-aid—I’m not going away. I’m not shrinking back or bowing to your editorializations and expectations—hell no, no way.

Today is the day of my soul emancipation—I’m breaking free from your shame, guilt, condemnation, and loaded lines of questioning.

Sorry conservative Christian, play every card in your religious deck. I’ve come to realize the truth that Grace has convinced me—I don’t owe you anything.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Hell-Believing, Wrath-Preaching, Fire-Breathing Christian—What If You’re Wrong?

Chances are, it’s a belief you’ve grown up with all your life—God loves humanity so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross in order to save us from His eternal punishment of sinners who don’t love Him back in return through believing in His Son and repenting of their sins. As the story goes, through His crucifixion, Jesus took upon Himself the punishment from God that we deserve for sin. God required the death of Jesus in order to forgive sin, and personal faith and repentance are how we benefit from that event. Otherwise, the work of Jesus isn’t applied to our account and we are doomed to spend eternity in a place of unimaginable suffering where our greatest wish is to die, but by God’s design we are prevented from doing so—it’s hell, and it’s forever.

For those who might find this storyline of human redemption difficult to stomach with its dark portrayals of God, the Gospel, and Jesus. For those who wonder how God could claim to be so loving and yet act so sinister in not only imagining this kind of hell, but creating it and making the brutal murder of Jesus the only way out of it. For those who dare to look ahead towards the psychotic duplicity of what it might feel like enjoying eternity in the bliss of heaven while your loved ones scorch in unbearable suffering. For those this whole damnation-thing strikes their conscience as being a bit unsettling, unnerving, and confusing—we’ve been taught a simple fix. Hell is a necessary and natural manifestation of God’s divine holiness and justice. In heaven, we will encounter these attributes so completely and fully that any doubts we might have about God or people suffering eternally will somehow no longer haunt us, but rather rest peacefully and easily upon our souls. So much, that in the presence of God who allows for, created, and sustains hell, we will be forever desiring to sing His praises as millions of others suffer unimaginably.

In short, the brutal, violent death of Jesus and a hell of eternal pain and suffering have been handed down to us unquestionably as the ultimate reflection of God’s character and His best ideas for how to extend and make real His deep abiding love for humanity.

Maybe for you, these popular teachings regarding God’s narrative of salvation are a comfortable fit and central to your faith understanding. In your mind, if people go to hell, it’s their fault, not God’s. God can do whatever He wants, and if Hell is the setup, so be it. Besides, the Scriptures are clear, people have been warned—believe or burn, that’s the Gospel. If one rejects Jesus and refuses to heed His commands, they’ll get their just reward—an eternity of torture. God is holy, just, and sovereign no matter how vicious and brutal things play out—for His ways are not our ways, who are we to cross-examine the Divine? Therefore, you proudly and boldly declare the reality of a flaming eternity and the glory of God in sending (or allowing) people there who reject Jesus or live disobediently—thanking God, it’s not you, of course.

Or perhaps for you, as much as you dislike thinking about hell and are even inwardly perplexed by its reality in contrast to a loving God, your understanding of the biblical witness and teachings of Jesus seem to leave you no other choice but to conclude that hell is real and real people will be spending eternity in some kind of suffering existence that affords no hope and no way out. It’s not how you would draw it up, and the whole idea is secretly unsettling to you. When it comes to God’s wrath, burning in flames, and the brutal crucifixion of His own Son, you’d just as soon focus on something else and hope it all comes out in the wash. You have your doubts, a lot of questions, and significant uneasiness with it all, but that’s about as far as you’ve taken it.

Wherever you are on the spectrum, chances are, without a hell for unbelieving sinners, the foundations of your faith understanding make little sense and largely comes crashing to the ground. In your mind, if there’s no hell, there’s no purpose for Jesus. If there’s no hell, there’s no purpose for believing. If there’s no hell, there’s no purpose in being a Christian. If there’s no hell, what’s the motivation? If there’s no hell, what’s our message? If there’s no hell, what’s the Gospel? If there’s no hell, what happens to all the effort I’ve put into my righteousness?

So, as difficult, foundation-shaking, and faith-unraveling as this question could potentially be, I’m still going to ask it—what if you’re wrong?

What if hell is nothing like you think?

What if hell (if a place at all) is actually just as Jesus alluded, a literal place (Gehenna) located in Jerusalem associated with the valley of Hinnom that was used as the city dump where a fire was constantly kept to burn up and consume all of the city’s unwanted junk? In fact, the word Gehenna occurs 12 times in the Greek Manuscripts of the New Testament, each time being mistranslated to mean “hell” in several versions of the Bible, even though Jesus used it as a clear reference to a city dump.

What if it’s an embarrassingly huge stretch of theological abuse to determine in one moment that the admonition by Jesus to, “pluck your eye out” is certainly not to be taken literally, but yet in the next moment, His literal use of “Gehenna” in the same sentence should somehow be unequivocally understood to refer figuratively to a real place in the bottom of the earth where people are tortured by the wrath of God in eternal flames? Really?

What if the other three biblical words traditionally interpreted as referring to a “hell of fire and eternal torment” actually are grossly mistranslated and don’t actually mean “hell” at all? In fact, Sheol occurs 65 times in the Hebrew Manuscripts of the Old Testament, and it simply means “the grave” (the place of the dead) or “the pit.” Hades occurs 11 times in the Greek Manuscripts of the New Testament and it is the direct equivalent of the Hebrew word Sheol. Thus, it also simply means “the grave “or “the pit.” Tartarus occurs only once in the Greek Manuscripts of the New Testament in this verse: “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell (tartarus) and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.” Notice that God casts the angels (not humanity) who sinned down to tartarus and chained them in darkness, to be reserved for judgement.

What if the single word “hell” we use today and associate as “hell” (a place of fiery, eternal torture) is actually not found in the Bible—nowhere, and in no manuscripts? It’s true.

What if, in fact, much of modern Christianity’s convenient love affair with a hell of flames, wrath, and demons comes much more from the influence of Dante’s “Inferno” than ever could be derived from the true words of Jesus?

What if hell is actually a reality experienced in the presence of God, not apart from Him like commonly taught? In fact, two writers in Scripture describe this very notion: “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb,”  and “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” 

What if hell is not the result of God doing something contrary to His nature (love), but rather doing more of it? In fact, the Greek word for “wrath” in the New Testament is the word “orge.” Unfortunately, the way this word has been translated has been shaped greatly by our pre-existing concepts of God as being angry, temperamental, and hell-bent on punishing. The word “orge” actually means “any intense emotion.” It’s from where we get words like “orgy” and “orgasm.” At its core, “wrath” has to do with a very strong passion—not even associated to anger. In fact, the root of “orge” actually means “to reach out in a straining fashion for something that you long to possess.” 

What if the wrath of God is not Him pouring out anger, vengeance, or retaliation, but rather His furious love—grasping, reaching, shaking to possess every person that they might experience His Grace?

What if hell is the experience of religious-hearted people who despise the pure Grace of God and His unconditional love and inclusion of all people into Himself and the Kingdom? In the eternal presence of the white-hot love of God forever flowing out as a river from His throne (Daniel 7:10), their souls are scorched with frustration, rage, and torment as their self-righteousness, conditional love, and religious arrogance, bigotry, and intolerance are exposed—stripped, and rendered powerless and evil. All of it deemed as filthy rags fit for the lake of God’s all consuming fire—the blistering flames of Grace. The presence of all people of every color, gender, orientation, stronghold, sin, and creed sends them into legalistic episodes of uncontainable protest and rage—how can this be, how is this fair, how dare the cross include all of these? Resigned to spend an eternity in the presence of pure Grace, the only way it becomes heaven for them is to do what many will refuse—to repent of their demonizing of God, their worship of the Scriptures, and their own legalistic understandings of it all to the exclusion of truly knowing Jesus and His heart. For the same Grace and love that will be experienced as heaven by many, will be a sure torturous hell for some. Jesus forever flips over the tables yet again, and those whom religion joyously sends to the curb are given a prized seat of bliss, and those whom religion gives elite privilege are found to be pouting and wallowing forever in religious disgust.

What if Jesus didn’t die to save us from white-bearded, angry, and vengeful God, but to save us from a fear-driven faithless life of believing He is?

What if Jesus didn’t die at the hands of a God who required His blood-soaked death in order to forgive, but rather at the claws of the religious and their diabolical systems of evil whose chief desire is to murder pure Grace and all its self-righteous destroying, all-including implications?

What if, in the hands of a world dripping with oppression, Jesus, through the cross, chose the way of nonviolence, sacrifice, service, forgiveness, inclusion, and unconditional love to model and manifest the Kingdom that was already eternally established by His Grace?

What if Jesus didn’t die to forgive us, but to manifest to the world that God already had, long ago outside of time in the realm of eternity?

What if God isn’t schizophrenic after all—harboring unconditional love for humanity one moment and eternal hate the next?

What if the truth is, you can’t reject Grace—you can’t stop its presence, pursuit, favor, or blessings over your life or that of any other, you can only love it or resist it? Loving, believing, trusting Grace fills your life with heavenly rest. Not loving, believing, and trusting Grace fills your life with a hell of frustration, self-righteousness, bitterness, religiosity, judgementalism and angst—as long as you desire, even for eternity.

What if God isn’t an insecure, limited, and codependent parent, whose capacity to save, love, and forgive are restricted to and governed by the obedience (or disobedience) of His children—thus, making them the Lords of the future, not Him?

What if God never changes—He is love through and through, forever and always, no matter what or who?

What if the presence of alternative biblically-faithful interpretations regarding ones understanding of hell and God’s connection to it back you into an interpretive corner, so much that if you believe in an eternal hell of torment and torture for the unbelieving and a God who would author it, you are doing so solely by your own choice?

For the results are in—history paints the picture. We Christians have been drastically wrong before—wrong about racism, wrong about equality, wrong about violence and war, the list keeps on growing.

Hell-believing, wrath-preaching, fire-breathing Christian—what if you’re wrong, yet again?

If I’m wrong, then God will most certainly go ahead, around, and over me in a divine full-court-press to scare the hell out of the people I’m misleading—literally. For there’s nothing about me or my message that the Holy Spirit is powerless or unwilling to usurp. Any wayward guidance on my part can easily be reversed by the omnipotent leading of the Father. I would boldly stand before the Throne having exaggerated the goodness, love, and Grace of God—if ever that could be a thing.

But, if you’re wrong, you have participated in nothing less than the evil demonization of God and the sheer blaspheming of His Spirit. You’ve allowed your spiritual laziness, vulnerability to religious brainwashing, and twisted comfort with the notion of people going to a torturous hell and a God who would create it, to win over your heart, mind, thinking, attitudes and actions. You have leaned on your own understanding of the Scriptures to the spiritual abuse of others—imprisoning them into a life of fear as they are raped of their capacity to know the joy, freedom, and peace that comes from awakening to God who is love, Jesus who is Grace, and the Gospel that is truly good news for all.

Hell-believing, wrath-preaching, fire-breathing Christian—what if you’re wrong?

Paradise is the love of God, wherein is the enjoyment of all blessedness… I also maintain that those who are punished in Gehenna are scourged by the scourge of love. For what is so bitter and vehement as the punishment of love?  -St. Isaac the Syrian

“The flames of heaven will be hotter for some than the flames of hell could ever be”  -Dallas Willard

Grace is the celebration of life, relentlessly hounding all the non-celebrants in the world.”  -Robert Capon

Grace is brave. Be brave

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