Tag: hate

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

It’s subtle.

It’s illusive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about you? 

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

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

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

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

Is that not all true?

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

What’s really at stake for you? 

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

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

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

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

And that’s just the Bible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But sadly, even that’s not all.

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

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

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

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

I did. 

Before it was too late.

I hope you will too.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

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

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

Dear White Conservative Christian, I See You

I can’t say that I don’t love you, because I do. 

In fact, I used to share the same beliefs and values as you.

Not just that, I pastored you, led you, walked beside you, bought into everything about you.

Twenty one years of life and ministry with you.

White conservative Christian, I was you.

Yes, I walked away. Not just walked, but ran. As soon as the revelation of God’s pure Grace confronted me, I dropped the religious nets that imprisoned me, wrapped me in death, condemnation, and spiritual misery. Jesus, colliding my heart with the God who is Love and lives completely, unconditionally, and irrevocably within me and all things. Breathing for the first time, all of Life released like an emancipated stream. Deep calling to deep, flowing and freeing. 

For so long, what was I thinking? So much time, relationships, and purpose burnt and wasted. 

I couldn’t before, I was too close, too seduced, too buried, too blind. But now, I see. 

I see everything, so afresh, so anew.

Dear white conservative Christian, I see you. No, I really do.

I see you birthed into a system of faith. Thoughts that were thought into you. Thoughts that were thought for you. Thoughts that became you, all in subtle acquiescence. Passed down from belief to belief, memory to memory, fear to fear, and verse to verse. The spiritual web that feeds and feeds off you. Such a deceptively deceptive spiritual symbiosis that formed you. 

It’s not your fault, not even your choice, really. Who among us could climb against the white powdered avalanche that engulfs us? Doubts, questions, concerns, all frozen into capitulation. It’s life in the white conservative Christian Borg, where resistance it truly futile. 

I see you, I really do.

I see you convinced that the truth you believe is the only real truth to believe. It feels like faith, like the right way to see. Every piece seems to fit into place, all of life so easily coalesced into a black and white reality. Right or wrong, in or out, saved or condemned, faithful or backslidden—every question already answered, every doubt already relieved. No matter the debate, decision, or distress, there’s a verse for that, ready to roll off the tongue. One book, one interpretation, one conclusion. All so simple and seemingly divine.

I see you, I really do.

I see you wanting to fit in, we all want to love and be loved in return. I see the gravity of conformity pressing down, nearly impossible not to succumb. It seems too late to look back, too far gone to jump off now. The train is miles down the track. The doubts in your heart, the questions in your spirit, the concerns you have. You see evil within the system, contradictions within the creeds, cracks within the foundations. Yet, it’s as if you’ve surrendered to a life of destined deceit, imprisoned upon a spiritual locomotive that was never designed for course correction, thinking, or the mind of Christ within. You kid yourself with clever choruses, but Jesus doesn’t have the wheel because there’s no wheel to be had. Only tracks, power, and staying in your seat.

I see you, I really do.

The privilege of being a white conservative Christian, though you may not be aware of it, affords you things you certainly enjoy that others certainly do not. Perhaps you don’t recognize it within, for a long time I didn’t, but it’s there shaping your every moment. Being a white conservative Christian has rarely, if ever, positioned you as a minority or one who is the subject of negative assumptions simply because of the color of your skin or the creeds you confess. Your race and religion have never started you on anything less than equal footing in the eyes of American society. That, in itself, no matter your true character, competency, and condition, puts you ahead of so many others, unfairly. Yet, it seems, you refuse to even consider it.

I see you, I really do.

The very thing you claim doesn’t exist (your white conservative Christian privilege) is the very thing you seem so adamant to protect. Prayer belongs in public school, as long as it’s not from the Muslims or the Atheists. The Ten Commandments should be displayed in public buildings, but certainly not words from the Koran or Buddhist confessions. When white people protest it’s called patriotism, when black people protest, it’s called rioting. In your mind, America was most certainly founded as a white conservative Christian nation blessed by God above all others. Yet, it was built on the backs of black slavery, murder, and the rape and pillaging of the Native American Indian. Somehow, in the face of this brutal, diabolical history, you still claim to embrace the words of Jesus that admonish that good fruit doesn’t come from bad motives and foundations. Does this not bother you or at least challenge your thinking?   

I see you, I really do.

Pretending that it’s all working—all the “to do” steps, talking points, and spiritual prescriptions to “do better” and ”give more” to Jesus. Oh how tiring it is to keep all the juggling acts of sin-management and faithfulness going. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt. I understand, I really do. So much is falling apart no matter how hard you keep trying. Deep down you know, the only thing that’s improved in your “Christian” living is your ability to fake it and convince yourself you are growing. Your secret life and secret thoughts are nothing like the garments of purity you wear for the public. Hands in the air for worship, the Bible on the coffee table. It all looks so convincing.   

I see you, I really do.

Performing every spiritual gymnastic and biblical convolution that could ever be contrived in order to rationalize the evil that protects your white conservative Christian way of life, beliefs, and place in society. You’re scared of diversity, equality, and a Love that loves unconditionally. So much, that all of a sudden, where the Bible is so clear to you about homosexuality, a hell of eternal torment, and the submissiveness of women, it’s now super muddy about immigrants, refugees, adultery, lying, violence, murder, greed, the poor, equality, racism, hate, and grabbing women’s pussies. Not to mention, the socialistic heart of Jesus who clearly declared, “The first will be last, and the last will be first,” “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,” “It would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  

Brown kids in cages compel your thoughts and prayers while your true outrage is reserved for unfair judges at your children’s beauty pageants. Greed, adultery, bullying, lies, and profanity are now signs of Godly leadership. In fact, you equate President Trump to David of the Old Testament. Problem is, David repented. Yet, Trump has declared he’s never asked for forgiveness and wouldn’t bring God into his brokenness anyways. Oops.

Everything gets a pass or a creative excuse, as long as it serves to put money in your pocket, further your white conservative Christian way of life, and subdue or eliminate everything in our country that you perceive is a stumbling block to your comfort, prosperity, religion, and privileged place in society. 

There you sit, watching the bullies do the dirty work, cheering from the sidelines as you pass it all off as God’s work to cleanse and renew our society of all that is different and disagreeing to you. Maybe you’re not involved directly nor support it all whole heartedly. Yet still, the very things that would send you into fits of rage if they happened to you and your family, are now the very things that you are willing to believe are awarded with God’s stamp of approval when they happen to your perceived enemies. As much as I wish it were different, the duplicity, hypocrisy, and evil rationalizations are impossible to ignore. If not them, certainly your silence or passive indifference to it all. In the end, what am I to conclude in the absence of your denouncement and clear resistance? You seem to be increasingly immune to the ever growing darkness as the elixir of white, conservative Christian power and privilege takes over. So much, that all you hated about Obama you now magically support in President Trump. It’s the height of idol worship to believe that God is on your side to the detriment and destruction of all others, is it not?  

Dear white conservative Christian, I see you. I really do.

The question is, will you ever see me?

Will you ever see the refugee, the immigrant, the transgender person, the gay teenager, the black man, the brown woman, the poor, the Muslim, the Atheist, the female, the marginalized, the vulnerable, the outsider, the different, and the less fortunate? Will you ever see all whom God has created as humans beautifully formed in the image of our Creator–equally loved, valued, redeemed, authored, and affirmed by the Divine, needing not your rescue nor repair, but rather to be seen and celebrated as they are—fully equal to you and included just the same in the tapestry of the One who holds all things together?

See, the question is, will you ever see America?

Better yet, will you ever see Jesus?

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

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

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

Sorry, Christian, You Can’t Love Jesus and Support Trump

It’s time.

It’s time to draw the line.

Jesus did the same.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” Matthew 23:15

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:17-28

In all of these instances, Jesus makes it crystal clear, there comes a certain point where if you hold to certain things, allow certain things, and do certain things, you can’t claim a love and faithfulness to Him, period. Your devotion to one is to despise the other. There is no in between. 

In the same way, the Spirit again is raising Her voice. God isn’t going to let anyone fake it anymore, play their self-righteous cards, nor disguise the wolf inside of them under the cover of sheep’s clothing. The prepackaged excuses that, “He was better than Hillary,” “I can’t stand abortion,” or “Our country needs to get back to Christianity,” are like filthy rags before the Lord. 

The time has come for the truth to be revealed and declared upon the mountain tops, you can’t support Trump and love Jesus. Your devotion to this man is to despise the Son of Man. There is no in between. 

To be sure, beyond a shadow of doubt and party politics, President Trump is an unrepentant, habitually lying, bullying, racist, glutinous, profane, special needs mocking, sexual assaulting man whose character, vision. and leadership stand in stark opposition to that of Jesus. In examination of his past and present record, he couldn’t even pass the screening process to serve in a church nursery. 

However, was it most alarming and defining is what the Trump presidency reveals about you who support him and your brand of Christian believing. As our attitudes and actions in regards to money reveal who we truly worship, your actions and attitudes in regards to Trump unveil the same. You believe Trump was sent by God, I believe that is true. Yet, you believe his purpose is to return our nation back to you, your prosperity, and your faith understanding. I believe it is to reveal an x-ray of your heart, soul, and the god you truly worship. And sadly, the results aren’t good, in fact they are terrifying—inhumane, anti-Christ, and even un-American.    

By your support of Trump and what he represents, it’s clear that you love your own financial security and prosperity more than Jesus, whose way is to place special care, sacrificial favor, and first priority to the vulnerable, poor, and marginalized.

It’s clear that you love the dominance of your Christian faith in society more than you love morality, Godliness, biblical holiness, and ethical integrity.

It’s clear that you love white privilege and supremacy more than God-authored equality and the divine image God mirrored into all humanity, regardless of color, creed, race, or sexuality.

It’s clear that you love the kingdom of white American Christian conservatism more than you love the diverse, color-blind, least-of-these focused, servant-hearted Kingdom of Jesus.

It’s clear that Christian prayer and priority in the public square is more important than your living of Jesus at home, work, and in all of society.

It’s clear that you worship the Bible when it serves your agenda to lord your brand of faith over society, but cleverly discard it when it serves the agenda of Jesus to align your creeds to His ways of service, sacrifice, and placing others above self.

In the end, by your support of Trump, your true confession of faith rings for all to hear.

Money is more important than morality.

Power is more important than principle.

Privilege is more important than people.

Your faith brand is more important than freedom for all. 

Loving your way of life is more important than loving your enemies

Your will and ways are more important than the will and ways of Jesus.

In fact, when it’s all said and done, it’s increasingly clear, the only reason why you support Trump is because of what you perceive he is doing to protect and prosper your white, conservative Christian power, privilege, and elite way of living. So much, that it seems as if Satan were to agree to accomplish the same, you’d find  a way to embrace every rationalization needed,  and proudly wear his hat and chant his slogans too. For with over 11,000 proven lies and misleading statements since taking office, with an average of 15 lies per day, the Father of Lies apparently has an eager understudy, his name is Donald Trump. 

Yet, most tragic, is the sure result of how his lying and misleading of the American public has greatly increased your capacity and willingness to lie and mislead yourself. 

In fact, it’s hard to look away as the hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance has become overwhelming.

You’re pro-birth when it favors you politically, but anti-life when minorities threaten your majority.

You’re pro-Jesus when He’s portrayed as being wrapped in the American flag, white-skinned, Republican, and carrying a machine gun, but you’re anti-Jesus when He’s welcoming the immigrant, defending the marginalized, loving people equally and uninterruptedly, treating the outcast and vulnerable with favor, condemning violence, and confronting your selfish imperialism.  

You’re socialistic when it pours wealth into your cup, no matter the economic divide it creates, but anti-socialistic when it calls you to pour out from your prosperity, privilege, and power to close the systematic oppressions that keep people from challenging and sharing your status.

You say it’s all about making immigration “legal” while you chant “send her back” to a brown-skinned, female, “legal” citizen and Congresswoman of the United States of America who isn’t politically loyal to your agenda. 

Like a serial killer who enjoys holding His grandchildren, your love of people only extends as far it benefits you and doesn’t distract for your underlying and overriding impulse to feed your insatiable lust for power and privilege, no matter who or what it kills in the process. 

Just because you have color-skinned friends, adopt a child from another country, go on mission trips, give minorities jobs, or raise their level in society a few pegs, doesn’t mean you aren’t a bigoted racist. It may just mean you can’t help but deceive yourself into believing that allowing people some crumbs off your table and fashioning the appearance of caring makes you a genuine follower of Jesus and justifies your brand of believing.

Unfortunately, to the detriment of your integrity and faith credibility, the way of Jesus isn’t to merely tolerate others as a lesser human being, but rather to see yourself as completely and thoroughly equal to them and in inseparable divine kinship with them. 

This is the love and way of Jesus you refuse, and quite frankly, your brand of Christianity stands vehemently against. This is the Kingdom of Jesus coming down upon the earth that you rush to wall off from entering into your heart, home, schools, government, society, and country. 

The thought that, under heaven and by God’s design, you are no better, no more favored, no more anointed, and no more approved than any other sends your heart into a tailspin of hatred and frustration. The call upon your faith and life to go to the back of the line, sacrificially serve those who believe and act differently than you, and give priority and favor to the minority and the marginalized causes your veins, like those of the rich young ruler and the workers in the field, to swell up with rage. This is why, even when given biblically faithful alternatives, you are determined to use and interpret the Bible in ways that give license and promotion to your desires to rule the world, highjack America and her equal freedoms, be granted privilege within it, cleanse it of all that is different from you, and subdue your perceived enemies under your feet. 

Claiming to love Jesus while supporting Trump may be fooling yourself, but it’s not fooling God nor the rest of us.

You can sing, pray, and declare that you love Jesus with every breath in your lungs, but your actions confess your true beliefs and the god of your ultimate worship… self.  

In your mind, what this life, what this world, what your god, and what this country should be centered upon is you and your white, conservative Christian faith, prosperity, and way of life. Apparently, even it means the exclusion of all others, even Jesus.

For until you seek true equality for all, you seek Trump, not Jesus.

Until you value morality more than money, you value Trump, not Jesus.

Until you prioritize people over your privilege and power, you prioritize Trump, not Jesus.

Until you place self last and others first, you place Trump first and Jesus last.

Until you are pro-all-of-life, not just pro-birth, you are pro-Trump and anti-Jesus.

Until you desire mercy, sacrifice, and enemy love above condemnation, greed, and violence, you desire the kingdom of Trump, not the Kingdom of Jesus.

Until the mind of the perfect Christ within you is more influential than your imperfect, biased interpretation of the imperfect Bible in front of you, Trump is more influential to you than Jesus.

Until you welcome and give safe harbor to the immigrant and the refugee, you welcome Trump and wall off Jesus.

Until you stop condemning, marginalizing, and demonizing those who believe, choose, live, love, and act differently than you, you condemn, marginalize, and demonize Jesus and idolize, normalize, and worship Trump.

In much the same way that you can’t serve God and money, you can’t love Jesus and support Trump.

So, as the words of an Old Testament writer admonish, “Choose this day whom you will serve…”

Sadly, it’s becoming all to clear, you’ve made your choice.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave. 

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

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

Trump Supporting Christian, Where The Hell Is Your Rage?

(Cover Photo: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

I really want to know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where the hell is your rage?

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

Where is your rage?

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

I ask you, where is your rage?

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

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

For Christ’s sake, where is your rage?

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

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

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

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

Show me.

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

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

For heaven’s sake, where is your rage?

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

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

And so, I ask you.

Holy crap, where the hell is your rage?   

Sadly, I think I know.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Grace is brave. Be brave

 

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

There is no greater evil being wielded upon the planet than Conservative Evangelicalism, and Chris Kratzer’s life and ministry journey are undeniable proof. In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris tells of his 21 years as a conservative Evangelical pastor and the radical change of heart and mind that led him to walk away from it all. With a new sense of faith centered on Jesus and His pure Gospel of Grace, in Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris chases the evils of conservative Evangelicalism out of the shadows and gives powerful voice to the cries of the religiously oppressed. Confronting issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, religious greed, hypocrisy, nationalism, white supremacy, privilege, and the weaponizing of the Bible, Leatherbound Terrorism pulls no punches. Endorsed by best selling authors Steve McVey and Baxter Kruger, Leatherbound Terrorism will challenge you, inspire you, and most certainly cause you to rethink your faith and life.

The Apology Every White Christian Needs To Give To Black America, Now

I am white, I am Christian, I am the problem, and I am sorry.

I have sinned against you and God in thought, word, and deed—even more so, in the brutal absence of these on your behalf.

Where words of fierce solidarity were desperately needed, I have been cowardly silent and withdrawn. Where you have been crying out to simply be heard, bestowed justice, and afforded basic human rights, I have been tone-policing your every move while sitting in the comfort of my white Christian couch, staring down my nose at your plight.

My ignorance to my own white privilege, my apathy to your suffering, my comfort in comfortable living, and the worship of my status—all complicit evils to the undeniable hell you have been living.

History tells the disturbing and diabolical tale, I am the reason for your slavery, your continued discrimination, and your unending quest to grasp what God has already bestowed upon you—equal value, capacity, dignity, and worth in every way and in all things.

For I have declared peace where this is no peace—to your destruction and my shame.

I have highjacked Jesus and turned Him into my personal cruise director, sipping Christian cocktails while the conservative evangelical Titanic plows through and pollutes from sea to shining sea spewing out hatred, bigotry, racism, and greed—especially towards you and every minority—the LGBTQIA community, the impoverished, and the immigrant included.

At times, I have assumed the worst in you while blatantly dismissing the obvious systematic and intended desire within significant segments of my faith and country to erase you.

I have not resisted nearly to the needed measure, but rather have even participated in a faith system that has been the source of more discrimination, abuse, and destruction of your being and community than perhaps any other racist evil manifestation on earth.

I have become the onward Christian soldier who pierces your side as you hang on racial crosses.

I have blindly turned my brain, conscience, soul, and mind off at church and in society—numbed and satisfied with only having, at best, a passing knowledge and compassion for your history, story, suffering, divine worth, and life experience.

My shrinking back at the Thanksgiving table, the church picnic, the office water cooler, the Facebook comment thread, and the sideline at soccer practice. My carting off the kids to schools where diversity in status, intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence, and color of skin is subtly but surely discouraged. My laziness and chilling absence in being an active force for equality in the public arena with my words, my votes, and my resistance. All, scream of my resounding confession—I am the reason for your living hell. Charlottesville, just another page in the nightmares of your story.

When you were thirsty for equality, I was watering and walling-off my privilege.

When you were naked and vulnerable as a despised minority, I looked away sitting on my hands, and therefore exploited you and raped you of your humanity.

When you were hungry to create a world where all are given equal value, opportunity, freedom, and worth, my irresponsiveness and complacency stole from the table of your divine affirmation and significance in order to fatten my own.

I am appalled at myself as I come face to face with the control I have surrendered, the indoctrination I have allowed, and the contamination I have embraced through the spiritual justification of hate spewing out of the sewers of America, largely from the toilets of right-wing, conservative Evangelical Christianity.

I repent and agree with God—until my voice and actions of non-violent solidarity are as loud, numerous, and desperate as the cries of your oppression, I have deeply failed in being Jesus, living His Gospel, and extending His Kingdom to you.

For Jesus did not consider His heavenly privilege with God as something to be used to His own advantage. Rather, He made Himself a minority by taking the very nature of the religiously oppressed, being made in true human likeness and meekness. And being found in appearance as humanity, He humbled Himself, standing in fierce solidarity with the least of these unto death—even death on a cross.

As Jesus has done for me, I will do also for you. We are all equal, affirmed, and loved in His sight—period, end of all debates.

Black America, my heart is sickened to the core at the evil racism I have allowed and therefore have adopted as my own.

For I am white, I am Christian, I am the problem, and I am deeply sorry.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Christian, What Your Continued Support Of Trump Is Screaming To The World

Perhaps it’s not your intention—that is, the true message your continued support of President Donald Trump is sending to the world. In your mind, you’ve been innocently choosing between lesser evils, seemingly caught in a no-win conundrum. Initially, your vote for Trump to become President was birthed with an underlying hope that he would shed his campaign antics and mature into a more solid presidential leader that supports your values with integrity and poise. Yet, despite consistent clear evidence to the contrary, as neither his character nor his leadership competencies have improved whatsoever, still to this day he retains your allegiance. Twittering like a middle schooler, bullying his disagreers, lying blatantly, harboring serious duplicity, and exuding strong levels of narcissism and greed still don’t seem to phase you the least. In all the ways that Trump and Jesus clearly and undeniably don’t mix, your continued loyalty is sending a deafening, disturbing, and revealing litany of messages to the world that you may not fully realize.

Whether it’s your desire or not, with every ounce of continued support you garner for this President, you are trumpeting these sure declarations to the world about you and your brand of Christian faith.

“We Seriously Lack Discernment and Spiritual Maturity”- As much as your creed declares to know and have the Spirit, perhaps you’ve somehow triggered the “turn off” valve. For either your capacity for spiritual discernment is all but nonexistent, or you’re taking every opportunity to turn a blind eye—the epitome of immaturity. From “pussy grabbing” to denying healthcare to millions. From blatantly racist comments to trash-talking his perceived enemies. From lusting after his own daughter, to having multiple failed marriages. From the temper tantrums of Spicer to the “not sucking my own cock” of Scaramucci. The undeniable ever growing list of immoral and inconsistent red flags and sounded alarms is staggering with this President, especially when compared to your corresponding silence and excuses. With every pass you grant to Trump’s ungodliness, you reek of your lack of ability to put spiritual eyes onto the President in front of you and have the maturity to confront reality. Perhaps, so seduced by a conservative right-wing Evangelical ideology, it’s as if you’re convinced that denial, rationalization, and double standards are now spiritual gifts that can be excused as necessary evils to the furthering of your mission. Whatever your conclusions may be, this is not spiritual maturity nor discernment, it’s joining forces with the darkness—the sure message your continued support of President Trump is screaming to the world.

“For Us, It May Be About Our Faith, But It’s Certainly Not About Jesus”- As innocent and benign as your intentions may be, the days are surely over when one can support President Trump and still yet claim their brand of faith is founded and centered on Jesus—period. A house divided cannot stand nor manifest spiritual integrity. With all due respect, to praise Trump and Jesus at the same time is to declare to the world your faith has little to do with Him—Jesus. Directly or indirectly as you continue to support President Trump, you join forces to nationalize conservative Evangelical Christianity, further white privilege, condemn the LGBTQIA community, turn a deaf ear to sexism and racism, belittle minorities, demonize perceived enemies, and foster xenophobia—telling the world everything they need to know. If it was ever about Jesus for your brand of Christian faith, it certainly isn’t now. For Jesus has never and would never condone such bigotry, hatred, self-centeredness, imperialism, condemnation, elitism, and discrimination—in fact, He died at the hands of such things in order to put an end to such things. Keep on lifting your hands in worship, building more buildings with crosses on top, sending missionaries across the globe, and declaring your solidarity with the Bible—the world isn’t buying it one bit, but rather hearing the sure message screaming from your continued support of President Trump, “For us, it may be about a lot of things, but it’s certainly not about Jesus.”

“Our Gospel Bottom Lines On Personal Power and Privilege”- Perhaps you are truly unaware or blinded to the moment, but while Jesus is washing feet, your continued support of President Trump intimately connects you with those licking their chops to step on them—especially if that’s what it takes to move the conservative Evangelical machine forward. With assumptions as sickening as those that equate unchristian immorality as being connected to a person’s tendencies to need healthcare, nothing is more clear than right wing religious conservatism’s desire for power and privilege. The underlying diabolical promise that your support of Trump declares is that if you think, believe, and act the way we do, you’ll be blessed above and have power over others. Don’t be fooled or live in denial, “Make America Great Again” was first born in the incubator of your faith understanding which has reduced Jesus down to a personal white republican gun-carrying Savior whose chief desire and calling upon your life is to make you great and give you a great life, no matter the expense to others. Sadly, while perhaps your gospel is great news for you and those who conform and fit the mold, it’s terrible news for all others, particularly those your brand of faith deems to be the enemy. Just ask Muslims, minorities, women, immigrants, and the LGBTQIA community. The message your continued support of President Trump is screaming to the world is that you’re completely at peace with using Jesus as the hood ornament of your conservative Evangelical world bulldozer, fueled by your ultimate desire for personal power and privilege.

“Our Brand Of Christianity Is A Scheme Not A Dream”- For let’s be honest, no dream remains a dream the moment it must take advantage, condemn, discriminate, or harm another in order to see its fruition. No matter how spiritual and noble your brand of faith postures itself, your continued support of Trump engrafts you to a political and religious scheme pimped as the American dream—eroding it all into one big nightmare. For how many people must suffer condemnation, discrimination, marginalization, and even death as a result of your brand of faith’s efforts to survive and prosper? How can denying millions of people healthcare be in concert with the dream of Jesus for their lives? How does your continued support of Trump serve to feed the hungry, heal the sick, foster true equality, uplift the downtrodden, give shelter to the homeless, love the enemy, extend mercy, bless the meek, empower the minorities, and rescue the least of these? How does your continued lifting up of Trump as a God-appointed leader inspire future generations towards the ways of Jesus? The truth is, it doesn’t, none of it—for it’s all one great big scheme. It’s always been about you, moving your faith ideology forward at all costs, but yours—that’s the message your continued support of President Trump is screaming to the world.

“We Have Become Inhumane People At Best, And We’re Basically O.K. With It”- Perhaps this is the message heard round the world the clearest. In every way you should be leading the way, you are desperately falling behind. Instead of holding up love as the highest of priorities, it’s violently thrown to the ground and deemed an accessory at best. Instead of looking for every way to live at peace, you’re always searching for an enemy to conquer—contriving them into existence when a real one can’t be found. Instead of extending the table of hospitality, tolerance, freedom, grace, and true equality, you’re insistent on building walls to protect and prosper your privilege. If it wasn’t for your ultimate benefit, prosperity, or greedy fulfillment, so much of what we as a country and people do for the world you would have ceasing to exist—for you’re always looking out for number one—you. At the end of the day, it’s all about protecting your way of living, believing, and doing, even at the expense of Jesus and your fellow human. For apparently, Trump is merely a manifestation of your true creed, character, and aspirations—what else are we all to believe when the one message we never hear is that of you renouncing him? At the end of the day your continued support of President Trump screams a clear message to all the world, “We don’t give a sh*t, call us inhumane, evil, or whatever you want, this is our faith and this is our nation—like it or leave it.”

Whether it’s your desire or not, with every moment of your continued support for this President, you’re blasting these sure declarations to the world about you and your brand of Christian faith.

Perhaps, now would be a good time to listen to the echoes—asking yourself a simple question, “who or what do I truly serve?”

Jesus and the world surely know the truth.

The questions is—for you, does it even matter?

As it stands today, your silence, excuses, and continued support of President Trump tell us all the answer—apparently not.

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

Trump, The Middle Finger Of Conservative Evangelical Christianity

To be sure, these are not easy words to write, but necessary, and nonetheless true.

The spiritual influences of darkness pulling the strings behind nearly every political headline in America is alarming—especially when the true culprit portrays and positions itself to be the only and ultimate cure.

Pulling the mask off perhaps the greatest spiritual scheme on planet earth is not a pleasant task nor one easily received.

As a pastor of 23 years, it has been my experience and it has become my conviction that much of conservative Evangelical Christianity manifests an evil unlike any wielded upon the earth. Its presentation of a false, mixed-Gospel of highly conditional love, a schizophrenically violent God, a spiritual justification of hate and condemnation, a weaponizing of the Bible, a legitimizing of self-righteousness, and a ruthless desire for world-domination has been the catalyst and cause of more death and destruction (spiritually, emotionally, and physically) than perhaps any other influencer—world history, a sure source of evidence.

Indeed, some who participate in this system of belief have genuine hearts to do what is right and are truly unaware of the evils and antichrist attitudes in which they have been indoctrinated and participate. Yet, nonetheless, much of conservative Evangelical Christianity aggressively stands as an intentional, religious movement that embodies the desire to eradicate the planet of anything that would disagree with and stand against its ideology—condemnation, conversion, and conquering its primary tools. Under the guise of Jesus, love, moral purity, and goodness, conservative Evangelical Christianity has become perhaps the greatest spiritual deception ever misted upon the masses—a pungent blasphemy against the Spirit, who is Grace.

As much as I wish all of this was unfounded and overly exaggerated, nothing confirms these strong assertions like conservative Evangelical Christianity’s undeniable lust and insatiable appetite for power and control. Their willingness to embrace blatant hypocrisy and double-standards, justify deplorable violence, and spiritualize human discrimination. Their willingness to rape the earth and its cultures, enable greed and materialism, conveniently usurp the teachings of Jesus, and arrogantly position themselves as the sole possessors of truth above all others, all for the furthering of their agenda and the needed power to do so, affirms the darkest of suspicions and the most urgent of calls for resistance. Strip away all the spiritual veneer—the heart and soul of much of conservative Evangelical Christianity is the spiritualized pursuit of power and control, virtually at any cost.

In fact, most everything you see in Donald Trump, his election, and life under his leadership is deeply intrinsic to the ethos of conservative Evangelical Christianity and what it’s truly like to be a part of their ministry world. Sadly, Donald Trump is merely the tip of the conservative Evangelical iceberg, mostly frozen to the core.

Trump focuses on aggressively giving our highest national priorities to self-serving interests regardless of their detriment to others. Conservative Evangelical churches have long focused their existence on self-preservation, internal interests, and increasing their numbers, facilities, and budgets, all while countless good people needlessly suffer just outside their doors. You don’t have to attend many a church meetings before you’re smacked in the face with the sobering conclusion—as spiritual as it all gets packaged, the bottom line for many churches ultimately revolves around the preservation and promotion of themselves—at times even displaying a cold callousness to the alarming needs around them.

Trump favors preserving the comfortable lives of the privileged and seeks out the wealthy and powerful for the most intimate of counsel. Conservative Evangelical churches have long catered to those who garner the highest financial and political means, enthusiastically gathering them into the leadership of their ministry. There is perhaps nothing more white, upper middle-class, pretentious, and privileged than what has become of modern, contemporary conservative Christianity. Big visions of big buildings and big campuses as far as the eyes can see, state-of-the-art worship venues, marketing, branding, books, concerts, conferences, and so called “reaching people for Christ” all costs big money. “Making church great again” for the white and well-to-do comes with a hefty price tag and the necessary appeasement and leveraging of the privileged.

Trump surrounds himself with primarily white, male influencers who are vetted by their unwavering loyalty to his unilateral leadership. Conservative Evangelical churches have long been dominated by white, male pastors and leaders who demand unwavering loyalty to their vision with the overall goal to increase their own power by the limiting of others. The contemporary move towards staff-led and pastor-led church leadership models often serves as a rationalizing and spiritualizing of the pursuit of power and control, energized by the ego and desire for ministry fame so rampant within modern Christianity.

Trump manifests a culture of fear and inequality where those who color outside the lines of conservative ideology and values are quickly condemned, discarded, and belittled. Conservative Evangelical churches have long been largely unwelcoming and un-wanting of those who are different in color, orientation, lifestyle, creed, or status. In fact, many on the fringe are largely deemed the enemy, unless of course they convert, clean up, behave, and buy into all things conservative. As Trump raises the level of our national defenses to an all-time high, conservative churches have long made what they stand against in the world to be their primary commission, often creating battles where none need to exist in order to justify their worth and mission. Listen in to a few church conversations and you will soon hear the clear underlying sentiment, “We are good, the world is so bad. What a shame. Let’s build some more walls and send some Bibles.”

Trump embodies callous arrogance, greed, bigotry, sexism, immorality, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and a foundational desire to conquer those who oppose him and gain the power to dominate them. What Trump has positioned as the “art of the deal” is merely a business version of the conservative Evangelical pursuit to “make disciples of people into people just like us.” No matter how much spiritual lipstick is plastered on the face of conservative Evangelical evangelism, the underlying goal is the same—the fruition of self-serving desires through spiritually packaged manipulation, coercion, and exploitation. Still to this day, many conservative churches see women as inferior, the LGBTQI community as needing of reparative therapy, financial prosperity as a sign and goal of faithfulness, the world as “lost,” and immorality as that which can be overlooked or minimized if you know the inside Evangelical handshake. In fact, any given Sunday between 11 a.m. and noon at just about any conservative Evangelical church near you, could very well serve to be the most sexist, homophobic, hypocritical, xenophobic, transphobic, racist, graceless, greedy, privileged, and spiritually arrogant hour you’ll ever experience.

Put a steeple on top of the White House and the workings, dealings, and ethos of the current administration and the leadership of president Trump, and one might easily confuse it all with their local, conservative Evangelical church. When it’s all said and done, the connections between the rise of Donald Trump to the presidency and the true soul and ambitions of conservative, Evangelical Christianity are undeniable and highly disgusting.

In fact, over the past several years, conservative Evangelical Christianity has perceived itself to be losing in a cultural war it actually created all by itself. Surprise—good, thinking people have awakened to the highjacking of Jesus, the Bible, and the cause of Christ by religious, Christian conservatism. Like a spoiled child throwing a temper tantrum in response to not being granted their every wants and wishes, conservative Evangelical Christianity has long been whining, pouting, and insisting on its own way in the private, public, and political square. The emergence of true equality always feels like war to the privileged.

Desperate to see their ideology survive and fulfill its twisted version of the “great” commission, conservative Evangelical Christianity savagely licked its fingers and led the way in electing Donald Trump as president. Whether you like him or not, voted for him or not, it’s all too clear that Trump serves as a message to all who would oppose and stand apart from religious, Christian conservatism, “We won, you lost, and now we’re gonna shove our way down your throat and do whatever the hell we want.”

As a middle finger raised boldly for all to see, Donald Trump is the true sum of conservative Evangelical Christianity and a clear sentiment of its dark soul of spiritualized hate, self-righteousness, duplicity, and greed. Though conservative Evangelical Christianity might not ever say “FU” to the world in those specific words, their messiah Donald Trump is gladly doing it for them—loud and clear.

Make no mistake and be not deceived, much of conservative Evangelical Christianity is a monster, that monster has a middle finger, and that middle finger has a name—Donald Trump.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Christian, You’re Worried About Transgender Bathrooms? Seriously?

Christian, I’m not buying it one bit—all your huffing and puffing about the morally deplorable and safety-shattering realities that would become if transgender people were allowed to use the public bathrooms of their true identity and choice.

I gotta give you props, you don’t let the paint dry in stepping up to the plate to bark out against all the wrong things—showing the true teeth of your creed. You want to convince me that there is something alarming of which to be afraid that should awaken in me dire concerns for my country, family, and children. Yet, the truth is, you’re more desperate to deflect attention from the real issues than Johnnie Cochran in a murder trial. The rest of us, Jesus lovers and alike, we’re hip to all the smoke and mirrors you position in an effort to justify your inner hate and religious arrogance against that which you don’t understand or agree. Quite frankly, you’re going to have to do a lot better than this if you want to be taken seriously. Your ignorance, pew-packaged talking points, and religious ideology of self-righteous superiority show up like skid marks on a 5-year-old’s underwear—you’ve crapped your pants, and we know it. All these religious charades you tout in hopes we will go nose-blind to your stench, would all be so laughable, if it wasn’t all so serious.

You’re a Christian parent, for crying out loud, who sexualizes your young daughters with dance and cheerleading groups pimping every hoochie-mama gyration their makeup ladened, pubescent bodies can muster in skin tight uniforms fit for a Beyonce’ video, all while forty-five year old men who live in their mom’s basements hoot and holler in the audience—and you’re worried for your kids about transgender friendly bathrooms, and you want me to be too?

You take your sons to stand in line for hours at the local GameStop, licking your chops to purchase the latest violent, salvage, blood spewing, graphic video game because “boys will by boys” as father and son imagine, enact, and fantasize violence—and you want me to be worried about transgender friendly bathrooms?

You friggin put Sundrop in your kid’s Sippy Cup. You send your children to school with a lunch bag laced with Little Debbie Snack Cakes, Cheese Puffs, a slice of baloney and a 25-grams-of-sugar loaded Juice Box.

You’re a parent whose life revolves around the activities and temper tantrums of your children as their demands drag you around like a dog on a leash—and yet you’re worried for your kids about transgender friendly bathrooms?

You teach your children to disrespect adults and throw shade at their teachers because in your mind (and now theirs) it always has to be the teacher’s fault. Whose else could it possibly be?

You think the best God-honoring activities to solicit the spiritual growth of your children are to jack them up with Bible drills and memorization contests, and outsource them to every vacation Bible school program you can map out on your GPS—and you want me to buy into your worry about transgender friendly bathrooms?

You’re a parent who spoils, over schedules, and parades their children around like a circus show because your self-worth is tied to appeasing the opinions of others, vicariously living through your children, and winning the competitive-parenting game that rules your every move and Facebook post.

At a blink of an eye, you’ll lay down wads of cash for the latest pair of Nike shoes, Vera Bradley purses, and concert tickets to Miley Cyrus, just because they ask, and you can’t stomach their displeasure.

You give little to no pause to publicly scolding your children with harsh rants of profanity. You watch porn on your computer one moment, sing songs of Jesus on your church’s projection screen the next, and then sit the family down for Sunday evening devotions like nothing ever happened.

More Republican politicians get arrested for sexual acts in public bathrooms than transgender people—and you want me to be worried about them taking a piss in a public bathroom?

The truth is, what should be frantically sending parents and kids into the streets screaming with fear isn’t transgender people showing up in a restroom. Hell no, we should be going bat crazy at the thought of the likes of your ignorance, arrogance, and hate bellying up to pee beside us or take a dump next door —hell hath no violence, harm, and fury like a conservative Christian.

If there is any social terrorism going on, monsters showing up in your local water closet, you’ll have a lot better chance at finding the culprit by looking into the mirror than under the bathroom stall.

When we finally see you as a Christian refusing to boycott things that are simply more humane than you, punch things just because they’re different, and wallow in the shelter of your religious pride and ignorance, then we may just give serious ear to the things for which you want us to be concerned and afraid.

Until then, we’ll kindly love people and treat them equally, fighting for their divine dignity, rights, and respect.

Spoiler alert, that’s what Jesus would do.

That’s what Jesus is doing.

Hate it for you.

Learning To Love ISIS, Starting With The ISIS In You

Everything is spiritual.

We can mud-sling political views around. Debate historical data. All, painting each other into corners. We may feel a release, but there won’t be a resolution.

ISIS is a spiritual manifestation and a human problem.

On the surface, it reveals itself as terrorism, murder, hatred, war, and violence. Terrible realities, worthy of our anger and conversation. Yet underneath, there is a cancer much deeper, a catalyst much darker. Until this is healed, there will be no healing. It is beyond the reach of missiles, religion, sanctions, politics, rhetoric, ideologies, and war. All, perpetuating the cycle.

Everything is spiritual. Requiring spiritual evaluation and application. This is why we must talk about the root of all that is terror… condemnation.

It’s a simple story.

In the creation poem that opens its scroll at the front of the Christian Bible, God speaks the world into being. With hands coursing His artistic beard, He pauses between breathes to evaluate His living imagery. In rhythmic cadence, with each step He declares, “it is good.”

Soon after, the Tempter in serpent form, exploited the Garden of its goodness, playing his sole card of condemnation, the only one in hand. The first human ones bit the bluff, that God is holding out because of something they can’t handle. Convinced they lacked in some way, unworthy of the worthiness etched into their being. What was natural became naked, and the yarns of shame and guilt slithered their coil through the threads of inherent goodness. It is a complex weave. And we, are a complex people in the arduous journey of trying to unravel from condemnation’s relentless entanglement.

This is the story of every human being, bobbing and weaving, wrestling to come out from under condemnation believed. The genesis of all contortions, twisted personas, and justifications. It is the root of all sin. The birth of all religion. Compelling us into the dance to heal or conceal a shamed heart. All of us have a life that tells a unique, complicated story and reveals a personal shaping from our quest to be released from the lie we swallow as truth… condemnation.

This is the essence of all religion. The soul trying to heal its concluded unworthiness through efforts of appeasement and pleasing… people, self, Gods, standards, expectations. A never ending list.

Religion, it is a contrived system, all to place the conquering of condemnation in human hands and within human reach. It has names like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, but it’s reach is far greater, and origin far more universal. For it is first a human system, and then a human system falsely projected onto God. Starting from humans, and within all of humanity. Religion is not of God, it’s of us.

Living up to the Jones’ next door, or living up to a Diety in heaven, it is all equally religion. Striving to feel good about you, people feel good about you, a Being above to feel good about you. It’s all religion.

People pleasing, God pleasing. Earning self approval, God approval. Call it what you may, a path, a pursuit, a faith. Jesus calls it religion. Evil, from its beginning, especially in what it becomes at its fruition.

For the ultimate manifestation of condemnation is religion. The ultimate expression of religion is… violence.

Just ask Cain and Abel.

A mere stones throw from the Garden, the first act of terrorism. From condemnation’s stem, the religious barbs grow. Cain and Abel believe they must please God, offerings of show. Covering over guilt, justifying their concluded lack. Cain and Abel enter the sanctuary to perform their religious act.

Cain’s perception? God sees his offering as inferior compared to that of Abel. It’s lacking, unworthy. He is therefore, lacking and unworthy. Internalized condemnationSentenced to disapproval, the cell is too much. If only to break free. To even the score. To bring one down, to lift one’s self up.

Murder, terrorism, its origins the same. Cain bites the bluff and kills out of shame. All in attempt to clean, clear, lift, and better his name. To win at playing this religious game.

Be it Christianity, Islam, or ISIS, there is no difference. The root of terrorism is condemnation fully grown into religion.

Violence is born out of people who see the lowering, hurting, or death of another as a path to the validation or justification of self. It is born out of those seeking to perpetuate or defend the religious system they use to justify away concluded condemnation. For the death of their religion is the death of their self-justification, the self-healing of self, their very salvation.

All the way to believing they are better, instead of only different.

Crusades, planes, bombs. Christian or Islam, makes no difference. All is religion.

Isn’t that what most of Christianity has become, just another religion?

Isn’t that who we are as people, mostly religious in prescription?

Living to overcome condemnation through our performance, be it spiritual or secular, it makes no difference. Causing us to believe we are better than another, where in truth, we are only different.

All is spiritual, and most all, have simply become religious.

In doing so, terrorism is already here.

For we are a terrorist nation, because we are a religious nation. Our violence just looks different.

Infidels declared. Homosexuals, transgenders, all condemned. Those on the left, those on the right. Immigrants, refugees, or somewhere in between. Pro-life, pro-choice. Those who have, those who have not. All sighted as targets, candidates for open season. None, it seems are exempt from hate. We are a hating, violent country, because of our religions.

Where we are a religious person we are a terrorist person, our violence and evil nonetheless violent and evil.

Bringing people low to lift ourselves up, terrorizing with the planes of our disapproval. Crashing people to pieces to fabricate an affirmation of self and shame’s removal. Pushing people behind simply to get ahead. Pimping dreams that are merely schemes. Condemning, judging, isolating, labeling, all to win in this religious game. Ultimately, to believe we are better, instead of merely one in the same.

Missiles of marginalization, bombs of bigotry. Shrapnel-laced blog posts, and weaponized rants of ideology. Whether it’s a pen or a pipe-bomb, legislations, labels, or land-mines, they are nonetheless, mere extensions of a heart poisoned by religion. Purposed primarily on justifying ourselves, our faith system, or our position.

Even that we are better, instead of merely different.

Murdering people, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. All is terrorism, nonetheless.

Just ask Jesus.

For Jesus, to hate in heart is to murder in action. At the core, either choice changes not our position. To pray “thy Kingdom come,” to give Jesus your adoration. This diagnosis must become our admission. We all need Grace, and all equally. Non are better, only different.

There is ISIS in us all, because there is the religious in us all.

This is the true battle within and without. Where external or inner condemnation attempts to engage our performance, spiritual or otherwise, to cover over or rise above areas where one feels lack. Be it appeasing a God, living up to religious standards, using success to medicate inner insecurities, bringing another down to lift one’s self up, ISIS is within us all. To choose religion over Grace.

Grace is God’s best idea to show the heart that believes it’s condemned, that there is no condemnation to believe. Grace is based on the eternal truth, that through Jesus none are condemned, none are lacking, all our whole, righteous, complete, and without blemish, all because of Jesus’ performance, our only hope.

Religion is based on the lie from Satan, that all are condemned, lacking, incomplete, poisoned, and their only hope ultimately rests in some level of their performance to appease an angry, conditional-loving God who requires something of their actions to trigger His.

Where we choose religion over Grace, ISIS is not just them over there, it’s you and me, right here.

Until the world awakens to Grace and dies to religion, there will always be an ISIS within and without.

Until you can see the ISIS in the mirror, you will not see yourself in ISIS. We are all human, none are better, only different. This is the scandal and humbling of Grace.

Terrorism is a complex issue that needs many levels of response.

But until we believe within Grace lies the way, we really don’t believe Grace all the way, and we will forever miss its capacity to heal the true root of all that is terrorism, and rid our planet of its power.

Until ISIS is you, you will not believe you need the same enormity of Grace necessary to be given, for ISIS to be no more.

You can’t give what you don’t have, and you don’t have what you don’t believe you need.

Religion, retaliation, revenge, only serve to arm and rearm.

Only Grace, disarms.

Our only chance to find true healing, of the ISIS within and the ISIS without.

© 2019 Chris Kratzer

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