Tag: grace (page 1 of 10)

If Today, Your Heart Breaks And Your Hope Is Fading

There is perhaps no heavier and more gruesome weight to bear than to be a person living under the oppression of another.

Good people with worthy causes never seek nor require the submission or subservience of a fellow human being. Rather, only the heart captivated by the evils of privilege, power, and greed would ever connect its mind and actions to that which desires to rule and control.

Sadly, spiritually justified and inflamed by conservative Evangelicalism, we now live in a culture where white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian privilege is clawing and scrapping for dominance. A dominance that is apparently willing to adopt nearly every form of oppression and abuse to accomplish and secure its aspirations. Emboldened by the lusts of entitlement, the good-ole-boys club that has become of much of right-wing Christianity now licks its chops at every opportunity to push their sexist, racist, self-serving, duplicit, and bigoted ideology onto the center stage of America.

What started with the rape and murder of the American Indian and the brutal slavery of black people, has now poured over into the condemnation of the LGBTQ community, the abhorrent discrimination of women, and the ruthless exploitation of the least-of-these. It is becoming all too clear, as history reveals their blood ladened trail, that conservative Evangelicalism in America will seek, kill, and destroy anything that presents a threat to their power and privilege. No woman, no minority, no disagreer, no individual, and no free thinking freedom-lover is safe.

In fact, now like never before, at the hands of much of conservative Evangelicalism, women are openly and permissively seen and treated as objects of male, sexual gratification and service, the LGBTQ community is openly and permissively seen and treated as divinely declared abominations, minorities are openly and permissively seen and treated as inherently inferior, and non-believers and non-conformers are carefully marked as the enemy. Indeed, the horrific realities portrayed in the popular television show, “The Handmaid’s Tale” are what life truly looks like if conservative Evangelicalism gets its way. Sadly, there are no exaggerations.

To that end, with every headline it seems we are frightfully moving closer to the evil, dystopian dreams of right-wing Christian conservatism. And now, with the recent, deplorable, and national mocking of Christine Blasey Ford, the belittling of female sexual assault survivors, and the rushed and manipulated confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, it’s enough to make ones heart sick and hopes surrender to the darkness.

For sure, these are terrible, frightening times that we live in as an evil Empire rises and breathes its fire from white privileged steeples everywhere.

Yet today, if your heart breaks and your hope is fading, there is good news that comes forth from our shared misery.

For out of the ashes of our disdain, you can be well assured…

Your Soul Is Calibrated To The Divine- Though, at times, it may feel much the opposite, there is nothing wrong with you—I promise, and I repeat, there is nothing wrong with you. Your disgust, as you gaze upon the nation and people we are becoming at the hands of right-wing religiosity, is not a sign of illness nor insanity, but rather, a sure declaration of beautiful health and clarity. With every prompting swelling up from within to vomit in dismay, the goodness of your heart is ringing true with divine confirmation. For this you must know, God also hates so much of what our nation has been and is now aspiring to further become. With every moment of brutal injustice, discrimination, condemnation, greed, violence, and the religious rape of Jesus and His Gospel of Grace, a soul calibrated to the divine cannot help but to become enraged. In times like this, it’s a painful thing to have a heart in sync with the Creator. Yet, this is the bravery that is needed for these important hours. A bravery of heart willing to endure the burden of being good and of God in a bad world of evil.    

You Are Further Awakening To The Darkness- Every time a woman opens her eyes and sees the sexism she once believed was her God-given role in life as now being abusive and contrary to the heart of God, a human being awakens to the darkness. Every time a white man or woman acknowledges their inherent privilege and falls to their knees in repentance for their ignorance and callousness, a human being awakens to the darkness. Every time our hearts mourn all the more deeply in witness of the manifestation of religious greed, injustice, and oppression, we are further awakening to the darkness. In these times, to have a heart filled with brokenness and a soul standing at the edge of hopelessness is to be a human being further awakened to the darkness that would devour us. And in this awakening to the darkness, we are further embracing the Light, knowing the difference that we might finally enter the fight instead of becoming its victim.  

Resistance Is Its Own Victory- No heart that collides with the person of Jesus can avoid the call to resist the ever reaching venomous tentacles of the conservative Evangelical Empire. For it is our good responsibility and highest honor to stand in solidarity with the least-of-these and to never surrender the values of Grace, unconditional love, equality, truth, justice, freedom, and divine affirmation for all. Not because we are superior, but because our redemptions our mutually intertwined. We are brothers and sisters—none of us better, only different. In our willingness to unravel from the fetal position of despair and stand tall in our commitment to resist, we break the cycles into which the enemy would have us forever seduced. Resistance is the refusal to allow evil to be done against another, and the refusal to become the evil done against us. In so doing, we have already won—breaking the chains, unleashing our hearts, partnering with the Divine, and standing on the right side of history. This, is its own victory.

Change Is A Vote Away- In the end, grab ‘em by the ballot box, I say. Not just in the elections, but in all of life. Decide to be a person of true equality where many will discriminate and cling to privilege. Choose to be a person who speaks out where others remain silent. Embody the bravery to stand in solidarity where others shrink back into the shadows. Take hold of the moments to be the nonviolent change you desire to see.

Every day we cast our vote.

When facing that bigoted family member with whom we fear their rejection or the awkwardness that would surely ensue. In the words of LGBTQ affirmation we so desperately want to type into our Facebook status, cringing in panic at the relational dominoes that might soon tumble down. In the store where the person standing in front of us is being discriminated, and yet everyone remains unengaged. In the workplace where closed door sexism runs rampant, yet a call to HR would jeopardize everything. In church, where deep down inside you know better, but the cost of resistance, free thinking, and charting a new course comes with a price seemingly too high to pay.

Every day, in every moment, we cast our vote.

Yet today, if your heart truly breaks and your hope is truly fading, may this be the day your bravery becomes more powerful than the Oppressor and the oppression they hope to bring, that our future might not become the sum of our fears, nor the result of yielding to them.

Be like Blasey.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

Purchase Chris Kratzer’s new book, Leatherbound Terrorism…

The Love Conservative Evangelical Christianity Refuses To Give

The greatest problem within much of Christianity is not in its ability to draw a crowd, build buildings, debate creeds, lure people onto a spiritual path, or assert its agenda, but rather in its unwillingness to simply love.

In substitution, large segments of conservative Christianity have become skilled at spiritually rationalizing violence, discrimination, condemnation, and religious greed. Under the guise of biblical faithfulness, a white male heterosexual desire for supremacy has carved a never ending trail of religious atrocities upon the maps of history. From black slavery to sexism. From the rape of the American Indian, to the violent condemnation of the LGBTQ community. From the pursued nationalization of their faith ideology, to the duplicit rationalization of their own sinful behavior. From the denial of freedoms for the immigrant, to the brutal murders and imprisonment of black males. Right wing conservative Christianity has staged a diabolically brilliant performance in skillfully hating its perceived enemies while convincing itself, and those who would drink of their Kool Aid, that it’s all one big beautiful manifestation of divine love and biblical faithfulness.

Sadly, nothing could be further from reality.

For what do all these declared enemies of right-wing conservative Evangelicalism have in common? The answer is not sin, evil, or the powers of darkness. Instead, it is simply that they’re either not white, not male, not heterosexual, or not privileged. In fact, when we begin to connect the dots of what conservative Evangelicalism truly worships, a clear picture quickly emerges. Tragically, it’s not the face of Jesus that is revealed, but rather a sure reflection of white male heterosexual supremacy under the dark veil of religious Christian faithfulness.

This is the evil that crucified Jesus upon the cross, as He came boldly manifesting a Love that exposes and confronts the privileged self-righteous spirit of the religious. In fact, He insisted on a Love crafted by the Divine that first embraces Grace and then stands in solidarity with ones neighbor—who is anyone and everyone, especially the least of these. He came to declare human equality and divine affirmation, and to defend the oppressed against all other messages. In the heart of God, everyone is included in the everything of Himself—always has been, always will be. This is the Gospel.

It was this love that Jesus put on display as He defended the women caught in adultery. The right wing religious conservatives of the day had her surrounded with weapons of every kind—stones, proof-texts, snap shots of her Facebook page. Jesus stepped in and between with rage on his face, writing one simple word in the sand that sent the religious screaming like schoolgirls…”Grace.”

It was this love that Jesus drank to overflowing as He sat dining with those the religious would call, “sinners.” Certainly, among them were repeat offenders, illegal aliens, minorities, gays and lesbians, and even a liberal or two—oh my goodness! There was no condemnation, guilt trips, or shaming. Their evenings together around the table never led to accountability partners, programs, or “to-do” lists. To Jesus they were just neighbors, like everyone else. That’s why they called Him, “friend.”  

It was this love that compelled Jesus to endure, without violence or physical retaliation. In the face of religious hate, He took upon Himself every kind of hell that the self-righteous could muster. Flogged beyond recognition, backed into a corner, He would never betray the Love who sent Him by manifesting anything different—love of neighbor, even unto death.

It was this love that fed the masses, clothed the naked, and healed the sick as the first priority without discussions of worthiness, qualification, or pre-existing conditions.

It was this love that saw no difference based on skin color, and welcomed the immigrant even without proper papers.

It was this love that died not just as a human, but as all humanity—every single one of them. Gay, straight, transgender, male, female, poor, rich, liberal, conservative, majority, minority, black, white, brown, and everything in between. All neighbors under the cosmic Jesus tent.

For those who may agree that conservative Evangelical Christianity has had its failings, there is still a deafening unwillingness to lift the sounds of their repentance to the level of their sin. Truth and reconciliation are sequential. There can be no peace and understanding until the poison has been fully understood and acknowledged. Perhaps, in fear that their privilege might become threatened and compromised by the emergence of true equality, conservative Christianity has instead become an expert at tone-policing, demonizing, deflecting, and minimizing those who would point to the brutal truth of their evil. For the emergence of genuine equality always feels like war to the privileged.       

Make no mistake, the heart of Jesus is this… love of neighbor as yourself, because we are all neighbors, we are all each other—none are better only different. All are affirmed and included. Grace upon Grace. 

Sadly, this is the love you refuse to give.

This is the gun you refuse to put down in exchange for taking up the cross.

This is the last-in-line that you refuse to fall into because you always have to be first.

These are the feet you refuse to wash lest you acknowledge that yours are filthy too.

This is the equality that eats at your skin because yours is an image believed to be superior.

This is the servanthood your soul can’t stomach as it guts the very pillars of your privilege.

This is the Jesus who sees everyone as a neighbor to be celebrated, while you seem determined to view the world as a nuisance to be converted.

So, while you’re tone-policing, trolling, and deflecting my every word, I’m just trying to love my neighbor by standing up for them in fierce solidarity with a willingness to shine a light on the horrible religious darkness they endure, and give voice to the true cries of their soul. Call it hypocrisy, overgeneralizing, or a message of “deconstruction”—whatever helps you sleep at night. The truth is, this is the love that Jesus came to bring, the world needs most, and that right-wing conservative Evangelicalism largely refuses to give.

Show us the scars of your solidarity with the LGBTQ community.

Show us the bullets you’ve taken for the black American.

Show us the refuge you have given to the immigrant.

Show us the healthcare you have provided for the vulnerable.

Show us the women whom you’ve given equal honor, pay, opportunity, and dignity.

Show us the outcast, condemned, and marginalized that call you, “friend.”

Show us the tears in your eyes and the cries of your heart as you live your life to bring the Kingdom of equality to all humanity—divinely affirmed as beautiful by the Father.

Until then, this is the love you refuse to give.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

What So Many Really Want To Say To American Christianity

To be sure, there are good people doing good things within American Christianity. Not everyone has taken the message and cause of Jesus and raped them of their unconditional love, beauty, and purity of Grace.

Yet sadly, much of American Christianity, as well intentioned as it may be, has largely become a religious machine of institutional self-preservation, self-righteousness, condemnation, and power-seduced privilege—some, not aware of the evil in which they participate.

In its wake, there is a disillusionment and disgust that has long been building in the caverns of many a soul. With the full capacity of discernment, countless have tasted and seen that what has become of much of American Christianity is not good, not good at all.

Despite the aggressive efforts within significant segments of American Christianity to minimize, discredit, and demonize these voices of dissent, good people everywhere aren’t fooled by the slick circus show of American Christianity with its endless maze of funhouse mirrors. They see the dark fruits growing on the tree, requiring very few brain cells to discern their obvious evil.

Perhaps, what is most challenging and elusive along this journey through religious darkness is the permission and freedom to be fully enraged, and the words to express it. Most resolve that the problem is somehow within themselves, what they feel must be wrong, or it’s a useless endeavor to resist and hope for change. In the end, many remain largely silent or extremely careful with their words, intimidated by the Death Star that has become of much of American Christianity.

Yet, there is a new level of urgency that has been thrusted upon our time. A spiritual civil war is emerging that is threatening the very foundations of our nation and all of humanity at large. There is no more time for squabbling over messages of “deconstruction” by those who wish to carve out some kind of “higher” ground and rationalize their lack of courage. There is no time for tone-policing the truth of people who have suffered in the concentration camps of religiosity. There is no time for feathery fantasies of long tables filled with conceding conversations. There is no more time for declaring peace where there is no peace as much we might desire its full fruition. There is only time for truth, and truth doing whatever it will wherever it lands. Either the Gospel of pure Grace faithfully reflects the complete heart of Jesus, His ways, and all the ramifications thereof, or it does not. With a religious conservatism that vehemently seeks to rule the world and a progressive passivism that might just allow it, there has been perhaps no more important time in all of history for the bravery of unbridled evil-confronting Grace to find its voice and to speak it loudly without restraint.

Dear American Christianity, this is what so many of us really want to say to you…

“Stop Being So Damn Selfish”– Whether it’s your intention or not, it truly feels likes everything about Jesus has become all about you. In fact, the average American church spends 75% of its budget on staff and buildings, and 80% of its time and energy on self-serving endeavors that ultimately benefit their own sustainment. If Jesus applied that same formula to His ministry, He would have never made it the cross, let alone out of the manger. Sadly, in most congregations, self-preservation and institutional success is the pendulum from which decisions are weighed and rationalized. Nearly everything about American Christianity speaks of a self-serving desire to franchise Jesus and build exclusive clubs with crosses on top. In both progressive and conservative circles, pastors and leaders dream of ministry fame, book deals, speaking engagements, conference presentations, Facebook shares, Twitter retweets, and overall personal ministry empire building–many of whom will steal, kill, and destroy in order to build and protect their throne of popularity. For others, the consumer-driven nature of American Christianity has forced them to spend their time and attention on keeping church people happy, entertained, and committed to their ministry, lest they hop to a better show down the street and jeopardize their future.

Yet sadly, the moments when we do finally see you serving altruistically beyond your own interests, it still feels like it’s all about you. From photo-ops posted on Facebook holding babies from third world countries, to emotionally crafted and carefully placed video clips during worship to display your good deeds in the community. From tales of late night prayer meetings where you “win” people into the Kingdom, to your public declarations of your “radical” living for Jesus. From the unique niche and brand that you have created for your personal ministry, to your self-promotion of everything you are doing for the Kingdom. Every light you seem to shine into the darkness has a way of ultimately swinging the attention back onto you. For Christ’s sake, can’t you just serve for the sake of serving without any fanfare, Facebook pics, name-dropping, attention seeking, slick branding, empire building, or the hoisting of trophies won as you play the never ending game of Christian competition?   

“Your Worship Is Empty”- In fact, it’s not only empty, it’s thoroughly insulting. Insulting to God, insulting to Jesus, and insulting to humanity. Have you ever considered that perhaps God desperately tires of all your singing, repenting, preaching, praying, and staged spirituality, especially when hours upon hours of ritual rarely lead to a minute of seeing you in true worship through genuinely serving, loving, and extending pure Grace unconditionally to anyone and everyone who is willing. I think God gets it—you love Him and He loves you too. Great, congratulations—now what the hell are you going to do about it? The truth is, God doesn’t need your dressed-up Sunday morning gatherings, so why is it alarmingly apparent that you can’t live without them? Perhaps, it’s all become a spiritual veil to an empty life. For all the effort, time, and resources you put into it, I wonder if an offering wasn’t taken from the crowd you’ve gathered, would it be such a big deal to you? Besides, when do we get to sing the hymn, “God I Hate You Right Now, Life Is So Depressing?” Let me guess, that probably wouldn’t be good for business, and besides, how could you ever program the right mood-lighting? When do we get to feed the poor, clothe the naked, affirm the condemned, protect the minorities, rage against the religious spirit, and stand with those discriminated–not as a side item on your spiritual menu, but the main thing? When do we get to love people unconditionally without fine print, restrictions, or fear-pedaling? When do we get to stop trying to convince God we love Him, but instead, spend our time convincing the world they are loved, affirmed, and included? When do we get to stop erecting and maintaining buildings to hide in, and start seeing all the world as our sanctuary and loving people unconditionally as our worship? Quite frankly, ask around, it doesn’t matter about your style nor flavor of liturgy, so much of your worship seems completely superfluous—all leading to the sermon where you weigh me down with formulas for life improvement and God-appeasement, and then ask me for my offering and energy so we can hop back on this religious treadmill again next week. Listen to the Spirit moving among you—staged spirituality is out, and true worship through sacrificial service, unconditional love, human affirmation, and pure Grace extending is in. Not just in, but the only thing that matters—especially to Jesus.        

“I’m Not Your Spiritual Bitch”- Every time you try to turn me into your personal Chia Pet for Jesus through growing me into a “fully devoted follower of Christ” who believes and acts like you, every gag reflex in my body violently begins twitching, and it’s all I can do to keep myself from kneeling into a full body vomit. With all due love and respect, while I appreciate your efforts, I don’t need you to save me, especially from the god of your faith understanding who tortures people forever in hell simply because they didn’t follow the proper codes for loving him back in return. The more you see me as a problem to be solved, a project to complete, and a mission to fulfill, the more your image of Jesus shows itself to be filled with far more of you and far less of Him. In fact, your leatherbound terrorism of proof texts, clobber passages, claims of inerrancy, and the weaponizing of Scripture has only served to convince me that you are devoid of the cure and filled with the cancer. I don’t want to be a part of your club, denomination, or Christian supremacy. The way I see it, there is enough useless division and inequality in the world, and to me, it’s a sin the way you use Jesus to foster it. So, you can take all your accountability partners, incense ladenned sanctuaries, and crusades to save the “lost,” I refuse to become enslaved by the tyranny you are wielding upon the earth. When I see that your faith is about unconditional Love from the Father through the Son, from the beginning to the end, maybe, just maybe, I’ll want to sign up. Until then, I’m not your spiritual bitch. Never have been, never will be.

“Zip Up, Your Privilege Is Showing” With every ounce of praise and worship you sing towards our lying, adulterous, carnal, bullying, and pubescent President. With every push for the nationalization of your faith ideology. With every white, male, heterosexual demonization and condemnation of minorities and those you deem to be sinning. With every spiritual rationalization of greed, discrimination, and inequality, your addiction to power and privilege is showing, not Jesus.

With every grip you refuse to loosen upon the guns you worship at the bloodied sacrificial altar of our children. With every segregated church service on Sunday morning. With every denial of the equal calling, value, and gifting of women. With every mission trip that serves your interests more than truly serving the needs of others. With every committee purposed on reaching the “lost” through your Christian supremacy, your privilege is showing, not Jesus.  

Stop complaining that the world can’t see Christ when you’re the one standing in the way.

For what’s most certainly clear from the shadow you cast upon the earth is this—it’s not about sin, it’s not about Jesus, and it’s not about extending a Kingdom of unconditional love and Grace. For you, it’s about the fruition of your white, male, heterosexual power and privilege disguised as the ministry of Jesus.  

“Get Your Shit Together Or Close Up Shop” The time has come, there’s too much at stake. People are dying, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Sadly, any light you bring to the planet is being eclipsed by your dark religious blanket. If you aren’t willing to reboot your entire system of faith, then power down altogether for Christ’s sake. The truth is, you have become much more of the problem and an antagonist of the solution. For when there is no turning the Titanic around, perhaps it’s better to send it sinking to the bottom. 

If anyone needs to be sidelined until their repentance is louder than their sin. If anyone needs to choke on a good swallow of their own medicine. If anyone’s tree should be laid bare to the stump. If anyone needs to kneel down at the altar of recommitment, it’s you—American Christianity, it’s you.

You are the wolf in sheep’s clothing. You are the Judas reclined at the table. You are the Herod whose addiction to power would kill the person of Jesus. You are the Jezebel whose greed and desire for domination is insatiable. You are the demon dressed as an innocent angel. You are the Ephesus that has fallen from Grace. You are the white-washed tombs that reddened Jesus’ face.

This is why we rage, this is why we cry.

This is why refuse to be silent.

This is why we will not comply.

American Christianity, this is what so many of us want to say.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

  

 

The Conservative Evangelical War On Easter

There has been no greater and deceptive evil wielded upon all the earth than right wing conservative Evangelical Christianity. For history tells the tragic tale of the countless lives that have been emotionally, spiritually, and physically destroyed and the good-hearted people who have been led astray and spiritually imprisoned by this diabolical system of faith.

Sadly, this toxic brand of demonic spiritual trickery is not without a past as throughout the Scriptures, the religious people who postured themselves as being full of the divine and uniquely centered on faithfulness were often revealed to be those who were furthest from truth and the sure enemies of God. In the presence of Jesus, so much of what appears to be sacred is revealed as scandal, and that which is condemned as scandalous is revealed of its true sacredness.

In the same way, across America, conservative Evangelicalism arrogantly trumpets an infallible understanding and exclusive authority on all things Christian. With a plastic white Republican Jesus as the hood ornament of their world bulldozer, they scan the cultural horizon eagerly waiting to demolish anything they deem to be sin or an enemy to the full fruition of their dominance. Yet tragically, with their assault-bibles in hand, like a mentally ill child-killer armed for destruction, they break down doors in pursuit of their adversary only to find it’s the Bethlehem-born, crucified, and resurrected Jesus of Nazareth and His pure Gospel of Grace. For in all of history, there has been no greater affront to the heart of God, the true person of Jesus, and the Easter He brings for all of humanity than right wing conservative Evangelical Christianity.

For Easter is the message that violence never wins. Not knives, not guns, not missiles, not crucifixions, nor even proof texts. In fact, the cross bears undeniable witness that the ultimate expression of divinely sanctioned power and favor is not aggression, bullying, revenge, greed, punishment, dominance, political gain, religious control, nor prosperity, but rather, service and sacrifice on behalf of the least of these.

Yet sadly, like the religious and political elite that murdered Jesus, conservative Evangelicalism is addicted to power and privilege with a willingness to harbor and exude nearly every form of spiritual, emotional, and physical violence and oppression in order to obtain and protect it. Through Easter, what Jesus resurrects as the ways of non-violence, sacrificial service, and the denouncement of every form of spiritual, emotional, physical, religious, and political greed, conservative Evangelicalism is quick to nail back upon the cross and crucify to death, lest the nationalization and globalization of their white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian privilege be thwarted and dismantled.  

Easter is the declaration that all are equal and divinely affirmed. For Grace is the great equalizer, none of us are better, only different. That Jesus is “all and in all,” what could possibly be clearer? For Easter is God’s vehement decree on behalf of all humanity that condemnation from the divine is impossible and human equality is irrefutable. This is thy Kingdom come—white, black, brown, male, female, gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, transgender—all are equally beautiful God-adorned threads in the divine tapestry of humanity. For equality is what the Gospel looks like when manifested upon the earth.

Yet sadly, the very same religiously oppressive spirit that flogged Jesus beyond recognition, finds its returning demonic manifestation in a conservative Evangelicalism that whips, beats, and pulverizes anything and everything that breaks the mold and refuses to conform to their ideology of privilege. Leading the way in the influence of transgender suicides, the spiritual rationalization of sexism, the barbaric continuance of racism, the insatiable discrimination of minorities, and the ruthless condemnation of the LGBTQ community, conservative Evangelicalism pimps a full-court press towards the goal of firmly putting to death the human equality and divine affirmation of all humanity that Jesus so purposefully gave His life to resurrect.    

Easter is the revelation that heaven is all inclusive. To the temper tantrums, dismay, and sheer disgust of the religious, Easter reveals a God who is far greater than any one creed and devoid of the exclusiveness many so desperately desire Him to embrace. The evil religious lines that are drawn to distinguish the faithful from the faithless, the believers from the nonbelievers, and the heathens from the saints are all obliterated by the One whose resurrection erases all labels and undermines their religious application. For under Grace, there is no “in” or “out,” “saved” or “lost,” or “faithful” or “faithless,” there is only people created in His image and included in His Trinity from the foundations of eternity—period, full stop. Therefore, Easter is the certainty that Hell, wrath, and divine hatred are the propaganda of the religious who desire control and submission above all things. In fact, nothing disarms and renders impotent the power and legitimacy of a false gospel more than when its fiery hell of religious construct is shown of its blasphemy, and heaven is revealed of its all inclusive beauty. For Jesus didn’t die to save us from an angry God, but to save us from believing He is.

Yet sadly, the fear-mongering religious who love to draw lines and build separation, and ultimately sentenced Jesus to his death because he wouldn’t hate, exclude, and condemn all the right people, are the very same ones who today worship a god who conveniently drop kicks all their enemies into a hell of eternal torment and rescues all the “good” people for an eternal home of white picket fences, two story houses, leatherbound name engraved Bibles, and Kari Jobe worship cd’s. For nothing wages war against the resurrected Jesus who reveals the inclusivity of the divine like the contrived god of conservative Evangelicalism whose exclusivity and wrath seem to always bend and sway to every pretentious wish and pursuit of right-wing religious conservatism.

Easter is the finality that Grace alone is the Gospel. For there is no other message from the throne of heaven than Grace. There is no condemnation, divine reckoning, nor final examination. All are beloved and masterfully created with an irrevocable divine stamp of approval etched upon every molecule of their being. No one can out run, out rebel, out sin, out betray, out disbelieve, nor out deny the power of Grace nor undo its capacity to capture the most restless and resilient heart. For nothing else heals, repairs, and sets onto a path of goodness and victory other than the Gospel of pure Grace. Everything else is religious pretending, a hopeless fictitious game of God appeasement.

Yet sadly, the pure Grace that Jesus so powerfully resurrects and proclaims with every fiber of His divine being, is the very Grace that sends conservative Evangelical Christianity into full blown fits of rage and declarations of war upon His true Name and proclamation—Grace. For Easter beholds the most important revelation that splits the sides and send crashing to the ground the entire Evangelical empire—”it is finished, it finished, thank God almighty, it is finished.” All is grace, and grace is all. This is the Gospel that conservative Evangelicalism crucifies with blood dripping down. Why? Because everything about their religious system is in the balance. For if Grace is the Gospel (which it is), their faith understanding is most certainly not, having participated in and fostered nothing less than pure Easter-raping evil.          

Easter is the assurance that to believe is to rest. For as well intentioned and spiritual as it all may seem, there is no such thing as a “relationship” with God or “inviting Him into your heart.” These are deceptive religious constructs that forever place ones connection and closeness with Him as being within the reach and responsibility of human control and performance. This is a hopeless arrangement as even on our best day, our spiritual performance will always and eventually breakdown, placing our connection and closeness with God in sure uncertainty.

Thankfully, Easter is the divine reckoning that desires to awaken us all to the sure reality that God didn’t come to sell us a relationship or offer us a divine maintenance plan established by our personal performance and do-gooding. Instead, Easter declares that we are the relationship—living Trinities with skin, established from the foundations of eternity. The Christian life, therefore, is not a process where we feverishly seek to become something that we aren’t already through good behavior and spiritual striving. Rather, it is the awakening to the fullness of who we already are in Christ—whole, pure, secure, and fully redeemed. In simple terms, “there is nothing wrong with you”—this is the Gospel in six words. Belief, therefore, is simply resting in the full sufficiency of Grace alone, a Grace that completely and irrevocably finished its work in you on Easter morn–period, full stop.

Yet sadly, in stark defiance to our unconditional and irreversible communion with God through Jesus Christ, conservative Evangelicalism desperately asserts a religious system of personal faithfulness, rule-keeping, sin-management, behavior modification, compliance, and accountability in hopes of guaranteeing its necessity and capacity to control. This is a foundational pillar within the conservative Evangelical Borg and its quest to addict people to their neverending self-righteous system of Christian being and living.

With every effort to riddle the Christian life and faith with conditions, clauses, and fine print, conservative Evangelical Christianity declares war on the freedom, life, and joy Easter meant to declare and bring.      

Easter is the divine megaphone pronouncing that God is love—unconditionally. Through Jesus’ cosmos-altering resurrection, He puts to death every religious assertion that predicates God’s love with conditions. For God doesn’t, “hate the sin and love the sinner,” He simply loves. God doesn’t, “bless those who bless Him,” He simply loves. God doesn’t, “save those who say the right prayers,” He simply loves. The cross is where God forever removes the word “but” from the vocabulary of heaven. In fact, there was never, “God loves you… but.” There is only “God loves you… period.” To the pubescent protest of the religious, this love-revelation doesn’t reduce love into becoming soft and slippery, it resurrects love into becoming real and divine.

Yet sadly, like the religious people who mocked, ridiculed, bullied, slandered, spit at, and pierced the sides of Jesus, conservative Evangelicalism despises unconditional love and its expression. For nothing sends right wing conservative Christianity into fits of declared unfairness like the full fruition of unconditional Love. Surely, when we all get to heaven, in disgust, the religious will see those they once labeled as the wretched enemy and bury their faces in torment. With joy, the rest of us will see those we’ve always and only known as friends, and lift our hearts in praise. For God is love—always has been, always will be.

With every rationalization of violence and weaponizing of the Scriptures. With every politicization of Jesus and nationalization of conservative Evangelical Christianity. With every pursuit of power, elitism, and privilege at the expense and deterement of the least of these. With every demonization of God through a hell of eternal torment for those who think, believe, and live outside the lines drawn by right wing conservative Christianity. With every condition placed on Love and the giving of it. With every belittling of the Gospel of pure Grace and the burdening of humanity with rule-keeping and self-righteousness. With every condemnation of the LGBTQ community and the flogging of their inherent divine beauty. With every spiritual rationalization of bigotry, sexism, and racism, right wing conservative Evangelicalism declares war against the Jesus of Easter.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” -Matthew 23:37     

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.

No, Conservative Evangelical Christianity, This Isn’t About Sin

If there’s one message that much of right wing conservative Evangelical Christianity desires for all people to hear with crystal clarity, it’s their frequent declarations of that which they vehemently stand against and hope to convince the world they should do so as well.

Vigorously combing the sands of our culture with their high-powered sin detectors in hand, much of conservative right wing Christianity seems to revel in moments where they can point the finger at perceived sin and parade their admonishment of it. Their aggressive stances, statements, and resolutions against the LGBTQIA community, including the recent “Nashville Statement,” are some of the many striking examples. To be sure, conservative Evangelical Christianity would love nothing more than to have us all convinced their agenda is altruistically focused on what they perceive to be sin and its negative impact on people and society.

Not true.

In fact, there’s something much deeper and disturbing under the surface.

For if the focus, mission, and heart of conservative Evangelical Christianity was truly pointed towards confronting sin and its devastating effects, several things would be happening that certainly aren’t.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity would be aggressively focused on their own sin, not others’. The teachings of Jesus that call our attention to give personal sin far greater importance than the speck perceived in another, would be given top priority. The primary sounds you would be hearing from conservative Evangelical Christianity would be the continuous cries of their own repenting for the countless atrocities that have been wielded from their system and manners of faith. Statement after statement and resolution after resolution would declare their continued remorse and commitment to personal change and soul searching. Thousands would be desperately ridding their lives of gluttony, greed, judgementalism, racism, sexism, bigotry, legalism, discrimination, imperialism, nationalism, and countless double standards. Churches would be selling their multi-million dollar state-of-the-art facilities and moving to much more cost effective solutions in order to gain the resources to reach the “least of these” instead of building ministry empires and franchising Jesus. Countless churches would be begging for mercy in response to all the ways they have put the color of carpets, the style of music, their personal preferences, the worshiping of the Bible, their spiritual navel-gazing, and the keeping of traditions far ahead of extending the love of Jesus to people. The world would tire of hearing the deafening laments and pleas for forgiveness pouring out endlessly from conservative Evangelical circles—if it was all about sin.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity would be communicating far more Grace and kindness. In fact, conservative Evangelical Christians would be ascribed as undeniably being the kindest most gracious people on the planet, trumpeting the message of the pure Gospel of Grace at every opportunity—knowing and teaching that, “It is God’s kindness that leads to repentance,” and “It’s the Grace of God that teaches us to live rightly.” Sin would be taken so seriously that pure Grace would be valued as the only solution. Change away from sin would be so important that kindness and Grace would be uplifted and protected as the only catalysts to freedom. All because, nothing else works and we don’t have time to waste prescribing the cancer and not the cure—if it was all about sin.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity would be truly and completely trusting the Spirit. For the Christian calling isn’t to change people, but to love them unconditionally while the Spirit does what only the Spirit can do. In the presence of perceived sin, conservative Evangelical Christians would be doing everything possible to get out of the way of the Spirit and to doubly make sure they didn’t serve as a detriment or distraction to the Spirit’s work. They would be so sensitive to this movement in people’s lives that to potentially error on the side of thwarting God’s transformative hand through fostering guilt, shame, and condemnation, would send shivers down their spine causing them to value restraint above all else—if it was all about sin.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity would be serving and loving to the extreme. In fact, conservative Evangelical Christianity would be declared the greatest friend a person could have, especially those labeled as “sinners.” The way conservative Evangelical Christians generously served, put their needs aside, and extravagantly loved people who have been marginalized, condemned, and demonized would be so world-renowned that people might become attracted to engage in sin or experience religious oppression just for the overwhelming love and selfless serving they would receive in response from conservative Evangelical Christians. In fact, the unconditional love and serving of people deemed to be sinning would become such a priority for conservative Evangelicals, there would be little time for much of anything else to do, dream, or desire—if it was all about sin.

But sadly, it’s not, and these actions, values, and attitudes are rarely seen within much of right wing conservative Evangelical Christianity.

Why?

Because here’s the revelation of the century, for so much of conservative Evangelical Christianity, it’s not about sin and it never has been.

It’s about power—their power.

Sin has been used, abused, and fabricated into an ultimate diabolical distraction away from their primary aspiration and goal—power.

For if it were all about sin, there is no clearer example than much of conservative Evangelical Christianity’s election and continued support of President Donald Trump. It would have never happened, but it did. Why? Because it’s never been about sin, it’s always been about power.

Conservative right wing Evangelical Christianity, we’re not fooled—at least not anymore.

What’s the bottom-line allure beneath your insistence on biblical inerrancy? Power

What’s behind your aggressive necessity to continuously condemn and demonize the LGBTQIA community? Power

What’s at the center of your determination to believe in a hell of eternal torture for those who believe differently than you? Power

What’s underneath your mixed-gospel filled with conditions, loopholes, “to do” lists, and spiritual gymnastics? Power

What’s at stake behind your continued manifestation of sexism, nationalism, and elitism? Power

Power to condemn, power to control, power to Lord over, power to legitimize your existence, purpose, and actions, power to spiritually justify hate, and power to manipulate people into your fold.

No, conservative Evangelical Christianity, this isn’t about sin—it never has been.

It’s always been about power.

Thankfully, the good people of Nashville will have nothing of it, and neither will I nor countless others.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

For Those Skeptical Of Prayer, You’re Not Alone

Prayer—a popular part of the Christian life.

Perhaps for you, prayer is believed to “change everything.” Seek Jesus with all your heart while plugging in the right spiritual algorithms and prayer becomes a powerful tool to influence God towards your desires and unlock His. The measure to which God is working in your life is in direct proportion to your prayer skills, faithfulness, and persistence. God gives the gift of prayer as a way for His followers to open the heavens, learn of His specific will, and unlock the blessings and capacity of God to benefit your life, pursuits, and those for which you pray. From prayer warriors to prayer chains, the accessing of God, moving Him to do the miraculous, or simply wrenching a blessing out of His hands are all just prayers away for those who crack the code. In fact, don’t expect to hear much from God or land the key to His blessings if you aren’t seriously getting on your knees and prioritizing purity. Pray more and pray better, get more and live better—it’s that simple. To those who believe differently than you and do not share your same prayer experiences and vigor, a simple answer is ready to thwart their reservations—”If your prayers aren’t working, the issue isn’t with God, the issue is surely something with you.”

Or maybe for you, prayer is more complicated and mysterious. You love Jesus, feel a responsibility to pray, and sense it’s probably a good thing. But, how it works and whether it works is, at times, certainly uncertain. When things are clicking in life and all the pistons of firing, prayer feels awesome and is rendered such a powerful experience. Yet, when the chips fall and the ground crumbles from underneath, prayer is met with suspicion and secretly questioned to be a spiritual gimmick that can’t be trusted nor can the God to which it is directed. As a result, prayer becomes a kind of protection from being caught with your pants down. You do it, not necessarily believing it really works, at least not consistently, but because you don’t want to take the chance of not having checked it off your spiritual “to do” list. So, you go through the motions, just in case God’s in a good mood or it’s your special day. In the presence of your doubts and lukewarmness toward prayer, your Christian friends and church leaders encourage you to adjust your methods, strengthen your faith, give God the benefit of the doubt, be more patient, and remember “God works in mysterious ways.” Yet, when all is said and done, in your mind, if you are honest, prayer is hit or miss—perhaps even a bit misleading, cruel, and unfair.

Well, no matter where you are in the spectrum, chances are you have been taught that prayer is a transactional exchange.

That is, we are down here, God is up there—and prayer is largely how we connect with God, access His mind, and move His hand to work from there to here on our behalf. Prayer is that which bridges the gap, the disconnect, and the distance believed to be present between us and Him. It’s a kind of life-line, necessary for communication and the delivery of His will, blessing, guidance, movement, and favor from His world into ours. Without prayer, only the autopilot default interactions between God and humanity would be possible, filled with significant limits, disconnects, static, and separation. Therefore, prayer is what opens the flow of the divine spigot so that God can greater move in response to our greater movements of faith, faithfulness, and asking—it’s all transactional.

With that as the popular Christian view, no wonder why you’re skeptical of prayer and I gladly join you at the table—you’re not alone.

For if prayer is transactional in any way shape of form, then God is an unfair, callous, inconsistent, limited, humanly codependent god, and prayer is a scam and scheme of the most diabolical flavor.

For I have witnessed repentant Christ-worshipping alcoholics desperately pleading with God to be released from their addiction, only to be tortured with a life of unending vigilance and unequaled burden. I have watched humble Jesus-loving sacrificial pastors begging God for revival in their church only to be unfairly sent to the curb by the Deacon Board who is there today and gone tomorrow. I have watched good-hearted Christians ask God to bless the food on the church picnic table only to spend the next three days knee-bent at the porcelain altar. I have heard the despair of Jesus-worshipping church-attending parents who pray day and night, week after week, every year of their children’s adolescence only to see them grow up and face severe tragedy or embark on unyielding rebellion. I have observed numerous believers pray in and around their local schools, only to have them fall victim to devastating violence and murder. I have seen my fair share of faithful Christian fathers and mothers praying in tears for the cure to their child’s cancer only for their son or daughter to tragically die months later.

I know, I’ve heard it all before—God is going to use the death of their child, their addiction, their termination, or their misfortune to work out greater things in their life or that of others, and besides, He was focused on meeting their “needs” not their “wants.” Really, that’s how prayer and your god works? God is impotent to prosper people without pain, death, and difficulty, and everything He gives is predicated on stinginess? The same Jesus who fed the multitudes with a few loaves of bread can’t afford the healing of a cancer-stricken child? I know, “His ways are not our ways and His timing is perfect.” Really, for who?

If that isn’t enough, I’ve also witnessed countless people who couldn’t give a rip about Jesus, God, or their fellow human, seemingly blessed at every turn and miraculously spared of tragedy. In fact, the only explanation to their success, deliverance, and good fortune is to attribute it to the Divine, though they would surely never acknowledge it. If God truly “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,” then this transactional understanding of prayer is the child making a Christmas list of hopes, dreams, and wishes with a special note of their love for Santa, all while the evil Parent has already determined what they will and won’t get—love letter or not.

For if this is the sum and true essence of prayer, and God gives it to us in hopes of convincing us of His love and goodness, then He surely has a funny way of going about it, and you are not alone in questioning it.

Thankfully, our relationship with God and the essence of prayer have been widely misunderstood—the truth is so much better.

Thank God almighty, the truth is so much better.

First, because of Jesus and the cross, there is nothing transactional about our relationship with God. Any needed exchanges and transformations between us and God were completed at the crucifixion on our behalf. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it. The cross obliterated any distance, conditions, and transactional kind of relationship present between us and God. All of those are now relational relics of a covenant long past.

In fact, truth be told, we really don’t have a relationship with Jesus at all—certainly not in the conditional, transactional, distanced, and compartmentalized way we think of it. No, what we have is so much better. For we are nothing less than perfectly interwoven into the Trinity having full communion and union with God. He is us, we are Him—His life is our life, our life is His life. This is the power of Grace sealing us indistinguishably and irrevocably together with Him in a divine togetherness that is impenetrable and irreversible.

In fact, everyone you see, including yourself, is a walking Trinity in the flesh. As Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit are One, so are we with the Creator of the universe.

This is the mind-blowing cosmos-shaking reality the biblical writer Paul tasted on his lips when He penned,But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” It’s the same Grace-bomb Jesus desired to explode in our understanding when He announced, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Notice, according to Jesus, our inclusion and infusion into the Trinity was a past reality already established in the heart and mind of God that He longed for us to awaken to in the present. This is why Paul could confidently declare we “lack no spiritual blessings” from God. For God extends His generosity as far as possible in fully giving Himself to us, to be us, with us, as us—living, breathing, walking Trinities sharing completely in everything He is and possesses.

Are you ready for this?

Therefore, the true essence of prayer must reflect the true essence of our inclusion and infusion with God.

Prayer isn’t the inferior language of a transactional, conditional, and distance-ladened relationship with God, it’s the divine language of our full union and unconditional communion in, with, and as the Trinity Itself. It’s the voice and echoes of our heart reverberating with His in the living mystical chamber of our inclusion into the fellowship of the Trinity. Prayer as a life-line is rendered woefully obsolete as He is our life, and our life is His—inseparably.

Prayer is the longings of our heart in conversation with the Father, Son, and Spirit within and all around, with every word continually recalibrating our soul to the unstoppable, fully capable, and beautiful human we are in Him, lacking nothing in capacity to face our every moment.

It’s not a pleading with a distant God to receive something we don’t already possess or He might not give, but our words, feelings, and thoughts being shaped and sounded into faith by the Trinity within and all around—convincing us that everything He is and has is already ours—self-sustained Trinities with skin.

It’s the gaze of our insecurities into the Trinitarian mirror dwelling inside and out, showing us who we truly are—whole, righteous, divine, loved, affirmed, inseparable from the Father, Son, and Spirit—popping and sparking with life.

It’s the every step we take, not into the divine or in pursuit of gaining closer proximity to His presence, but rather as the divine and as His presence in this world—this is prayer, for you are the Trinitarian conversation that changes everything.

It’s the crying of our heart that is met with the shared tears of the Father, Son, and Spirit when our divinity interacts with the insanity of an insane world.

It’s the rage of our anger that is met with the shared angst of the Father, Son, and Spirit when the Trinitarian chord of justice indistinguishably interwoven into our being is sought to be silenced and defeated by the darkness.

It’s the desperation in the depths of our soul that is met with the shared compassion and passion of the Father, Son, and Spirit within, when unfairness seeks to devour the perfect sufficiency of Grace that fills us and all things.

It’s the fierce and courageous solidarity we express that is met with the shared unyielding inclusiveness of the Father, Son, and Spirit within, when discrimination, inequality, and condemnation seeks to undermine the Kingdom of Love we are and bring.

It’s the thanksgiving we feel welling up in our hearts when the Trinity within assures us there is no distance nor lack from God to us in any way or anything.

It’s the asking, seeking, and desiring that is supplied and resolved instantly and effortless without pause, not with pithy answers, clear paths, miraculously changed realities, and instant Jedi powers, but with nothing less than an awakening to our complete seamless inclusion into, with, and as the Trinity Itself—together navigating life on planet earth as One.

No more wondering, have I been heard?

No more questioning, has God turned His back?

No more doubting, maybe I’m not good enough?

No more believing God is inconsistent, distant, callous, stingy, and downright unfair and un-trustable.

For the more we pray the more we realize, God is moving in, through, and as our lives, not because we pray, but because it is who He is and who we are with Him.

Living in the Trinity, as the Trinity, the ultimate unstoppable force in a forceful world.

 

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.

What Is The Douchebag Density Of Your Christian Life?

Never has there been a greater disconnect between conservative Evangelical Christianity and its awareness of the evils it has adopted. Its blind capacity and determination to condemn, judge, discriminate, marginalize, and force its ideology upon the masses is at an all time high, not to mention its legalistic and exclusive understanding of the Gospel.

In response, numerous terms like “modern day pharisees” and “right-wing religious nuts” have been coined for the purpose of giving voice to the experience of the religiously oppressed and calling out the privileged, judgmental, and conservative Christians that are causing such emotional, spiritual, and physical damage—leaving countless cringing with seemingly endless face-palms.

No, the world doesn’t need more verbal ammunition for labeling and name-calling, that’s for sure. However, the Christian world certainly and desperately needs more mirrors upon which to reflect and awaken to the privileged religious spirit viciously rampant within. In fact, every new negative term that’s invented to describe conservative aspects of our modern Christian faith is a direct result of its continued unwillingness to listen, be humbled, and smell its own stench.

As a result of the growing callousness, ignorance, and aggressiveness of much of conservative Evangelical Christianity, a new vernacular Sheriff has trotted into town with a shiny new descriptive word in hopes of being heard.

“Douchebag” is here, and it’s not just an emerging racial slur to describe white privileged people in general, but it’s also becoming perhaps a surprisingly perfect match and mirror for taking a hard look at the true essence and nature of our own Christian faith while putting a descriptive finger on what many experience in the presence of privileged conservative right-wing Christians.

To be sure, there are many with good hearts and intention who are truly unaware of the evils they have adopted or empowered within conservative right wing Christianity. The manipulative, controlling, seductive, and conforming powers of conservative Evangelical Christianity are a sure force to be reckoned with.

Yet, intended or not, in the minds of many a good people, conservative Evangelical Christians have largely become nothing less than consummate “douchebags”—some, exceedingly and extensively.

So, to those who have ears, let them hear. To those who care, let them care.

Look in the mirror, search your soul, take surgical inventory—here’s a few characteristics useful to discern the overall “douchebag density” of your Christian life.

You Defriend People on Facebook for “Unchristian” Posts- Nothing says “I’m a douchebag Christian” like believing your faith makes you better than others while being so insecure in it that you can’t handle differing views nor being in community with people whose attitudes and actions challenge or even offend your faith understanding. The “sinners” and the “offensive” of Jesus day knew Him as a sure “friend.” Sadly, many today know us best as sure “douchebags” because, whether intentional or not, our Facebook pages serve as a clear reflection of our overall Christian arrogance, judgmentalism, and elitism.

You Say Stupid “Christian” Things- Perhaps your heart is centered on all the right motivations, but with every “I’ll be praying for you,” “I’m too blessed to be stressed,” “God never gives us more than we can handle,” “hate the sin, love the sinner,” and “you just need to press into Jesus,” you might as well write “douchebag” upon your forehead. People are smarter than that and sense that true faith can’t be canned with religious talking points, clever sayings, and oversimplified sentiments that ultimately serve as a cop-out to truly walking an authentic journey of faith. Nothing spells “douchebag” like prepackaged cut and pasted spiritual cue cards that leave people comatose with every attempt at a perfect “Christian” response to a life and faith that most certainly isn’t—perfect.

You Practice Escapism Parenting- With every effort to separate you and your children from what you believe is a carnal world of “lost” and lesser people, you’re adding serious poundage to your douchebag density. For nothing says “douchebag” like limiting your children to “Christian” or “Christian only” groups, clubs, schools, and activities. Teaching children that people who believe, act, and live differently than you are intrinsically to be avoided and seen as an inferior is nothing less than evil. Racism, sexism, discrimination, elitism, xenophobia, hate, classism, self-righteousness, and bigotry are all learned attitudes and behaviors. Every parent home-schools their children no matter where their children attend school—you are the ultimate example and teacher in your children’s lives. Nothing screams “douchebag” like modeling and teaching a curriculum to your children that sees people of differing beliefs, lifestyles, status, colors, nationalities, and genders as being intrinsically dangerous and an automatic enemy to ones faith.

“All lives matter” is Your Goto Answer to “Black lives matter”- When your level of compassion is so lacking that you are devoid of the capacity to navigate the nuances of racism and discrimination in such a way that lifts up the broken above your concern for self, you have no business complaining when people crown you as douchebag royalty. The very fact that “black lives matter” is a necessary declaration in our society is reflective of the disturbing reality that all lives don’t truly matter to your faith. No wonder why pungent words like “douchebag” must be called into commission to give proper voice and reflection to the evils of right-wing white religious privilege.

You Believe in Hell But Sit On Your Leather Bound Couch- How easy it is to be all about a hell of eternal torture when you don’t believe you’re going there, but all your enemies surely will. The reality that you believe in an eternal hell for the unbeliever, proclaim to have the cure, but don’t spend every waking moment of your life frantically and desperately trying to keep everyone on the planet from going there, elevates you to nothing less than beast-mode levels of douchebag-ness. How one who truly believes in hell could ever have time for flashy worship services, weekend long conferences, cozy small groups, hour long prayer meetings, and creating cheesy Facebook memes is beyond the comprehension of many who gaze into your faith. It all reeks of spiritual hate, phoniness, and unfortunately, being seen as a sure “douchebag” Christian.

You Say You’re Pro-life But Use The Bible For Death- There is no doubt that faithful interpretation is required in understanding and applying the Bible. Yet, where sound interpretation leads you to a crossroad of understandings, instead of moving in the interpretive direction of Grace, unconditional love, inclusiveness, equality, affirmation, nonviolence, forgiveness, peace, and life, you choose every way possible to march down an interpretive path that leads to condemnation, conditions, legalism, sexism, violence, fear, labels, judgmentalism, greed, privilege, imperialism, war, and death. You don’t have to harbor such beliefs and attitudes to remain biblically faithful, you choose to—period. Which, in the eyes of many, is a sure manifestation of what it means to be a “douchebag” Christian—and a highly dense one, at that.

You See People As Projects- While you’re sending the sure message to everyone in your path, “I need to fix you in order to love you,” the world is crying out with its passionate reply, “If you’d just love me, there would be nothing that couldn’t be fixed.” No matter how much awareness the Spirit reveals of your incapacity to change people, you seem further emboldened to see it as your calling and responsibility to do just that—change people and spiritually police the world. To you, everyone is a project first and a person last, if a person at all. If you want to shed some serious “douchebag” pounds, make it your life and purpose to love people unconditionally and leave it at that—period, full stop.

You Live The Competitive-Christian Life- Though you may never admit it, so much of your Christian life is about appearances and comparisons—at least, that’s the way it seems. From all the “Christian” bumper stickers on your car, to your hands raised the highest in worship. From the pictures you post on Facebook of your highlighted Bible, to elaborate displays of your children’s trophies from Bible memorization contests. From your public declarations of your latest fast, prayer challenge, or Bible reading goals, to the pride in your voice when you subtly complain of your over-scheduled church life. From your inability to simply use the restroom without thanking Jesus or saying something “Christian” for all to hear, to being super quick and eager to whine about how bad the world is but how great your faith is to overcome. It all feels like your Christian life is a constant one-upping of everyone else—leaving many with no other choice but to summon forth the only seemingly appropriate term, “douchebag.”

To be sure, no one likes being labeled, boxed, or called a name—we are all more complicated than that. However, if the term “douchebag” is so offensive to you and seemingly unfair in declaration. Perhaps it’s time to make sure your Christian life isn’t a fitting reason or cause for its use.

“Don’t be a douchebag” -Jesus

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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