Tag: hell (page 1 of 3)

When Evangelicals Get To Heaven

At the center of conservative Evangelical theology is the centerpiece of heaven and hell.

For them, nothing is more important. In their minds, hell is God’s eternal punishment for those who don’t respond in faith and faithfulness to the death and resurrection required of Jesus to save humanity from God’s wrath. With unending, unimaginable, and unbearable torture, fire, and pain, for Evangelicals, hell is the holy solution God creates for those who don’t respond properly to His unfailing love.

With this nearly singular focus on matters of eternity, conservative Evangelicals have been quick to first ensure their place in heaven, and then meticulously define those who will be sent to hell. Additionally, as they run their fingers through the Bible, they have been sure to carve out what they believe are the God-sanctioned requirements that must be met for one to truly have “saving” faith. From Calvinism to Arminianism, there are many different stances among conservative Evangelicals in regards to what “true” salvation involves. Yet, congruent in all of it is their focus on who’s in and who’s out. 

Inconvenienced and frustrated by what they see as a filthy, sinful, God-hating world, most conservative Evangelicals can’t wait to get into their heaven. For them, it’s a place absent of all their enemies, disagreers, problems, and cares filled only with people who believe, act, and look like themselves. Therefore, in the meanwhile of their earthly sufferings, the planet is theirs for their unlimited taking, prosperity and priority are entitled to the faithful, and people are projects to be converted into their believing that they might further create an earthly existence unto themselves of the like-minded and like-believing.

This is their heaven, devoid of diversity, disagreers, doubters, and the people who believe, act, and sin differently than they. It’s a walled-off place accessible only to the spiritually elite who have ascended to a certain set of beliefs and behaviors. Rewards and privileges are granted to the most faithful, and worship is joyfully extended to the god who sends, even from among their own, the unbelievers and rebellious to burn in hell. 

Yet, I wonder what their reactions might be if they aren’t rewarded with the heaven of their dreams. What would become of the expressions on their faces if eternity with God turns out to be an experience far removed from their expectations? What if, in heaven, the tables are turned on all the things they had hoped for and, instead, much the opposite is manifested and celebrated? What if the divine One isn’t as forever angry, cruel, and opposed to all the things they are?

Oh, the unconditional love of God in heaven that will forever feel, to them, like raging wrath as they are confronted with an eternity that is carpeted with an all-inclusive diversity of every size, shape, color, creed, sex, identity, spectrum, and orientation.

Oh, the torture that will forever plague their hearts as their eyes can’t escape a heaven where Jesus is robed in reams of rainbowed cloth, the sky snows glitter, and unicorns rule the fields.

Oh, the white hot coals that will forever heap fire upon their heads as they traverse a heaven that is ruled by pure Grace and overflowing with the presence of all their enemies happily reclined in the lap of Jesus.

Oh, the blood boiling rage that will forever consume their souls in a heaven where gay marriage, Transgender people, religious pluralism, women pastors, and racial equality dance in the streets while Jesus and George Michael spin the tracks.

Oh, the frustration that will send their bodies into uncontrollable tremors in a heaven where God is revealed to be genderless, colorless, flag-less, and gunless. 

Oh, the shame that will break their knees and press them into the fetal position in a heaven where the least of these are the greatest, the first are the last, the sinners are the saints, and the condemning, bigoted Christians are exposed of their folly. 

Oh, the fits of rage that will forever melt their skin from the inside out as the halls of heaven reveal the countless, earthly evils to which they subscribed and committed in the name of Jesus.

Oh, the embarrassment that will forever haunt their conscience in a heaven where God is Love, Grace is the Gospel, all are saved, the Bible is under, and Jesus is shown to have been over all and in all, all along—every person, every creed, and every place.

Oh, the dismembering dismay that will forever disarm their every faculty in a heaven where the clouds give constant witness that those outside the church were the most genuine in faith, the doubters were the strongest believers, the religiously oppressed were the favored, the nonbelievers were the included, and the questioning and resisting were the faithful.  

Oh, the psychotic mind-attacks that will forever terrorize their thoughts in a heaven where trumpets blast with crystal clarity as God parades the socialistic liberal, the desperate immigrant, the late-night McDonald’s worker, the foreign-born convenience store owner, the elderly Walmart greeter, the brave single mother, the caring stay-at-home father, the mentally ill, the disabled, the homeless, the uninspired, the undecided, the wandering, and the wayward as equal to all others, pure reflections of the Divine, and special recipients of the gleam in God’s eyes.     

Oh, what a terrible eternity that will be.

In fact, when Evangelicals get to heaven, for them, I’m thinking it’s going to be hell.

 

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

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

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

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

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

Conservative Trump-Supporting Christian, You’re Wrong. There, I Said It.

In a world where diversity should be celebrated, we need to demonstrate the maturity to peacefully and fairly live life among people with whom we disagree. Being open to conversation, dialogue, and differing opinions are critical ingredients. 

Yet, where harm, injustice, inequality, greed, suffering, and evil are the poisoned fruits served at the table, clear distinctions must be made and boundaries must be asserted. For there can be no peace until there is first truth.

In fact, sometimes, division is a necessary and holy outcome from the interactions between those who side with that which is right and those who stand with that which is wrong. Light and darkness, universally, cannot and do not mix. 

As a white, male, former conservative Evangelical pastor of 21 years, I intimately know the system of belief to which you hold. That’s why my ardent confrontation is not with you, but the evil brand of faith that has seduced you, as it once did me. We are all human, beautifully and wonderfully made—each one of us.

Yes, I want to save you. 

I want to rescue you from the religious claws that suffocate you. I want to emancipate you from the disease that sucks the marrow out of your soul. I want to wipe clean the scales that blind your sight. Not as one who is judging, but one who has wept and suffered in your same prison, who now is breathing for the first time and embracing true freedom.

“You’re wrong. You’re flat out wrong.” These were the words, these were considerations, and these were the ringing bells that silenced my religious intoxication and dragged me to liberty.

I fought it at first. How could this be? It’s what I’ve been taught all my life. People I respected told me, sold me, and groomed my mind and spirit. I’m not stupid, gullible, or easily misled. No, as it turns out, just selfish, afraid, and impressionable. Like you, I thought that the Gospel, a white Jesus, and the American dream were ultimately all about me—my future, my freedom, my success, my faith, my fulfillment, and my destiny. I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. All I had to do was cut and paste what the pastor said, and peace, prosperity, and living-my-best-life would follow. 

Trust me, I’ve been there, done that, and have the t-shirt. 

So, from a place of real experience and genuine understanding come these urgent words. As much as I hated hearing them, it’s equally uncomfortable to speak them, but nothing gets any better without the truth… conservative Trump-supporting Christian, you’re wrong.  

You’re wrong about the Bible, wrong about God, wrong about Jesus, wrong about the Gospel, wrong about faithfulness, wrong about America, and wrong about freedom. 

How do I know that? How can I be certain?

It’s simple—by the fruits of your beliefs. That’s what Jesus taught me—see the fruit and you’ll see the foundation. And sadly, with all due love and respect, when it comes to your Trump-supporting Christian conservatism, it’s all so disturbing if you’re willing to look.

You don’t insist on being last, you insist on being first.

You don’t sell all your possessions and give to the poor, you line your pockets with greedy systems of personal prosperity.

You don’t welcome the stranger, you cage them.

You don’t see the meek, the poor in spirit, and the mourning as blessed, you see them is inferior, problematic, and roadblocks to your future.

You don’t gather crowds and feed them with equality and grace, you exploit the masses and leverage them for your gain.

You don’t pray in closets, wash feet, and take up your cross, you insist on your own way in all of society. You seek to nationalize your faith, lord it over people, and gather in religious clubs with crosses on top. You take up your guns, the American flag, and your Bibles as weapons to prosper and preserve your self-centered brand of believing and living.

These are the fruits of the Trump-supporting conservative Evangelical spirit.

You don’t give without fanfare and personal attention, you send shoeboxes of white Christian superiority to poor black and brown children. You create memes of your morning coffee with a highlighted Bible and quotes from Scripture hoping to impress others. You take selfies with brown and black kids, post them on social media, and pray they stay in their own countries. 

You don’t live less sinful lives, you live quite the opposite. The faking it, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, and carnality surpasses most other humans. In fact, conservative Christians have a divorce rate of 50% compared to 20% for atheists. More conservative Christians have been arrested for inappropriate behavior in bathrooms than any within the Transgender community. 60% of conservative Christian pastors admit to frequently viewing porn—some, even on Sundays. Conservative Christian celebrity pastors end up living far more expensive, gluttonous lifestyles than nearly anyone in their cities, let alone their churches. The Native American Indian was murdered and pillaged at the hands of conservative Christians. Black slavery and murders were committed largely by conservative Christians. Mass shootings in America are the highest of any country largely because of the worship of guns by conservative Christians. Truth be told, America has become a far less moral, holy, and divine country because of conservative Christianity—period, full stop.

How can this be?

Because of a false faith system that entices sin instead of resolving it. It inspires selfishness, not sacrifice and service. It empowers hate, violence, and greed, not subduing and rendering it Godless. It solicits useless and inaccurate anxieties instead of embracing peace and goodness. 

In fact, when it’s all said and done, the conservative Evangelical brand of faith simply doesn’t work. That’s why you have to keep coming, giving, trying, striving, performing, lying, pretending, fearing, and condemning. It’s a religious treadmill that only sends you backwards as it keeps you running—running from truth, running from Grace, and running to appease an angry god and cleanse the world of all that is different and disagreeing. 

This is what you fear, and this is why you fear.

You’re afraid, like I once was, that the confirmation of global warming, the emergence of human equality, women’s rights, faith plurality, cultural diversity, economic equity, and a universal morality will all reveal the truth—you’re wrong. Not just wrong, but evil. Not just evil, but the enemy, as these long held beliefs have long been a part of the problem, not the solution. They work against the Kingdom of God and stand contrary to the heart and ways of Jesus. Everybody sees it, but you refuse.

So like a drunk, it seems to be all too clear, you’d rather die than admit your addiction and deception.

That’s why you blindly support Trump. That’s why you deny the refugee. That’s why you resist gun control. That’s why you give a pass to white supremacy. That’s why you demonize democratic socialism. That’s why you seek to nationalize your brand of believing. That’s why you twist, abuse, and rewrite the Bible and the Constitution.

You’re afraid. You’re afraid of what you know deep down in your spirit—you’re wrong. 

Jesus says so, and you know it.

You don’t have to discriminate in order to insure your value and importance in society.

You don’t have to believe in a hell of eternal torture in order to motivate people to cling to your beliefs and validate the purpose of Jesus.

You don’t have to hold onto a faith of personal performance in order to have the peace of mind that your future is eternally secure and God’s not going to abandon you.

You don’t have to deny science in order to secure your economic future.

You don’t have to pre-qualify people for love, you can just love unconditionally.

You don’t have to believe the Bible is inerrant and infallible in order to assert the divinity of your creeds and control people towards your ideologies.

You don’t have to be first, supreme, entitled, privileged, and deemed the only partakers of truth in order to see your faith and values have a meaningful place in society.

You don’t have to foster the downfall of all others in order to see your own success and prosperity. 

Others don’t have to lose in order for you to win.

Isn’t it beautiful?

Yes, indeed, salvation has come as we don’t have to be so self-absorbed and hijack Jesus to spiritually justify it.

Instead, we can learn and trust the ways of the Master—to give more than take, to confess instead of condemn, to serve rather than to be served, and to put others before, instead of behind and below. We can embrace and trust the divine within all things, instead of only recognizing Her within ourselves and our own. 

We can truly love and be loved in return.

Yes, conservative Trump-supporting Christian, you’re wrong.

There, I said it.

 

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.

Conservative Christian, When Is Enough, Enough?

You say that you love Jesus. 

You posture yourself to be a divinely sanctioned dispenser and guardian of Godly morality. 

You want to convince the world that your brand of faith is the only way, truth, and life. 

Yet, with all due respect and love, from where I sit, there seems to be no line of integrity you aren’t willing to cross, no fact you aren’t willing to overlook, and no example and mandate of Jesus you aren’t willing to dismiss.

I want to believe otherwise, but when I put two eyeballs upon what’s in front of me, I find it increasingly hard not to believe that you have, in fact, become a force in opposition to the Kingdom instead a bearer of it. Perhaps, you don’t realize the evil in which you participate nor the diabolical system of faith to which you subscribe. I keep hoping to hear your fierce denouncements of what conservative Christianity has largely become–spiritually, morally, and politically. Yet, much of what I experience from you feels like a calculated silence coupled with a callous ambivalence, as if all you care about is religious power and privilege.

I can understand succumbing to the seductive deceptions of Christian conservatism, for I too  was once held captive by the tractor beams of the conservative Evangelical Death Star. Yet, how much revelation is it going to take before the religious scales fall from your eyes? 

I want that question to haunt you, to pound at the doors of your soul. 

Please help me understand, I’m genuinely perplexed, when is enough, enough?

The word “salvation” in your Bible is the Greek word, “sozo.” It actually means, “to bring wholeness to the entire person.” Sadly, it seems that your faith system has twisted and raped this beautiful word and conveniently fabricated it into a singular issue of hell and heaven. Yet, Jesus created it to be so much more and nothing of the eternity you have carefully imagined. 

Instead, His “wholeness” is about the removal of condemnation, guilt, and shame, not the piling on of it. It’s about the equality of all humanity, not the discrimination and demonizing of it. It’s about peace with God, others, and creation, not fear, violence, and abuse. It’s about the complete ”wholeness” of all with all, not separation, imperialism, greed, and conquest. 

In fact, Jesus purposed this “wholeness” for everyone, not just you or me, and not just for some distant future reality. Instead, this “salvation” is for anyone and everyone–today, tomorrow, and forever. It’s a cosmic manifestation secured for all by Jesus, unconditionally. So much, that when religious people pridefully tried to make their “belief” a determining factor in who experiences this “wholeness” and who does not, Jesus said things like, “And if any man hears my words, and believes not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” 

See, now THIS is the Gospel of Jesus–wholeness for the entire person for every person: right here, right now, unconditionally and irrevocably, welling up into eternal life.  

Yet tragically, it appears you are bringing far more brokenness into the world than you are “wholeness.” You manifest the poison, not the cure; a prison, not salvation. In fact, truth be told, at the hands of your conservative Christianity, the American dream is, in reality, the American scheme. Heaven for you, and hell for everyone else. 

The proof is in the fruit.

I mean, do you really believe that whole raping and pillaging thing by conservative Christian settlers was Jesus’ best idea as to how to bring “wholeness” into the lives of the American Indian? 

Do you really expect me to bite the conservative Evangelical apple and believe that whole lynching, abusing, and enslaving thing that was inspired, supported, and justified by much of conservative Christianity, was Jesus’ best idea as to how to bring “wholeness” into the lives of black people?

Truthfully, how in the world can you even begin to imagine that your brutal condemnation of the LGBTQ community is bringing any level of “wholeness” into their humanity? I mean, do you really think your discrimination against women, minorities, and the vulnerable is the “wholeness” Jesus has in mind? How about desperate children and families seeking asylum? Perhaps you have mistaken the “wholeness” that Jesus admonishes us to manifest for the inhumane hell your system of faith often embodies. 

With all honesty, I’m struggling to understand, because it seems to be all too clear that your understanding of the Gospel and the way of Jesus is salvation for you and enslavement for everyone else.

When is enough, enough?

Will it be the day your gay or transgender child commits suicide after refusing to live a life on the receiving end of your relentless rejection and condemnation? 

Is that enough?

Will it be when your faith is finally persuaded by the person of Jesus and not the allure of political power, your lordship over people, or the fallible pages of an ancient book?

Is that enough?

Will it be when your honesty forces you in front of the mirror where you can’t escape the truth that your conservative Christian faith hasn’t made you a better person, but only a more judging, hypocritical, restless, fearful, and loveless one whose only improvement has come in learning to fake it? 

When is enough, enough?

How many lies must President Trump tell? How many women must he sexually assault? How many racists comments must he make? Give me a number.

How many children must die in cages at our border? How many false equivalencies and hypocrisies must be rationalized?  How many actions, attitudes, and examples that are clearly contrary to the person of Jesus must be put on display? How many laws, constitutional foundations, and freedoms must be forsaken? To what level must the least-of-these be exploited and even erased?

How much white supremacy, bigotry, sexism, greed, and hate must be welcomed and adopted by your conservative Christian faith?

When is enough, enough?

To wake up your soul, to resurrect your conscience, to enlighten your mind, to release your love, to ignite your rage, and to free your life?

When is enough, enough?

I pray, before it’s too late.

 

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.

No, Christian, I’m Not Your Spiritual Bitch

I wonder if you can truly handle what’s on my mind. You’re not going to like it, I suspect, which is probably why I never give it full flight—at least, until now. Honestly, I just can’t shackle the voice in my soul any longer. Neither can I expect you to reconsider your ways if I’m not forthright with their true effect upon my life—however brutal these words might be perceived.

You believe it’s your job to change me, to partner with God to lead me to repent of my sins, surrender my life, and follow the Jesus of your understanding. In your mind, if your divine tag team efforts with the Father don’t work, my eternal destiny could be one of hellfire and forever torment. With such a daunting possibility at the forefront of your beliefs, I appreciate your concern and respect your efforts.

Yet, underneath and far beyond that, it seems you’re pridefully convinced that it’s your special responsibility to point me to the towering endless ladder of your customized, “to do” and “not to do” steps. If my careful ascension isn’t forthcoming and certain, in your mind, I’ll never be successful at activating the neon “Genuine Christian” sign you have conveniently dangling from the top—all to my sure demise and doom. Measuring up and fitting in are of the highest importance. No area of my life seems off limits to your inspection, assessment, and admonition. In the end, it feels like I have become, for you, some kind of Chia Pet-for-Jesus, where you’re hell-bent on making it your personal project to grow me into a “fully devoted follower of Christ” that, in reality, actually looks mostly like you. Oh, the horror that will ensue if I fail to come into compliance and therefore reap the consequence of your rejection.    

Still, I’m going to assume that your intentions are met with a goodness in your heart. Yet, all the same, I’m not so ignorant to be devoid of the awareness that some of the greatest of evils have started from the good intentions of people who feel spiritually justified in their actions—especially Christians. In fact, if I’m honest, more so than not, your efforts to save and sanctify me, no matter how well intended, leave me feeling thoroughly defaced as a human being, raped of dignity, condemned unfairly, and judged highly hypocritically. How could that ever be the work of Jesus?

That’s why today is the day of my emancipation.

I mean no disrespect nor lack of love in saying so, but I’m finally breaking free from your apparent determination to convince me that my future and my worth are somehow tied to your spiritual opinion, discernment, evaluation, counsel, influence, and religion. I’m pushing past the seemingly required belief that God is specifically using you to save me from Himself and all that He will do to me if I don’t love Him back in return; of course, with compliance to all your specifics. I’m breaking the chains of, what feels like, your continually condescending glare into my soul that clearly sees me as an inferior person who needs your intervention, lest I perish and waste my life.  

Why such resistance and seeming rebellion?

Because the mind of Christ within me has overridden your mind that’s trying to conform me. With heaping helpings of Grace overflowing, He has convinced me of perhaps the most important and liberating revelation of all, “I’m not your spiritual bitch.”

I’m not a misprint in need of your correction. I’m not a floundering vessel requiring your rescue. I’m not a lost cause simply absent of your assistance. I’m not a notch on your belt to appease your quest to earn favor with your deity.

I’m not a blemish the requires your erasing. I’m not a vote deserving of your hacking. I’m not a shame that needs your permission to be unashamed. I’m not a sinner in need of your salvation. I’m not a question mark that needs your answer. I’m not a disease that needs your cure. I’m not a stronghold that requires the strength of your religious prescriptions. And most of all, I’m not an inferior human being whose hope lies within your privilege.

No, I’m a beloved child of God—not by your doing, approval, or securing, but by His.

In fact, here’s what I’ve discovered in my awakening to Love and Grace, yours is not a position from which you should have any position in my life, anyways—only Jesus.  

Besides, the God I know, who lives and dwells within me, the One with whom I have full communion unconditionally, would never use hurtful, selfish, inhumane tactics postured from religious pride in order to bring about goodness in me and from me.

So, you can stop pretending I’m your patient and yours is a medicine I need taking. You can stop putting Laws where there are none, and conditions where there never have been. You can stop pimping God as punishing, the Bible as perfect, and your interpretations as exclusively authoritative. You can stop touting your spiritual gymnastics, spiritual navel gazing, and highfalutin exegesis. God’s not impressed and I’m no longer listening.  

Why?

Because…

I’m not your spiritual bitch.

And neither is He.

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.

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.

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.

Dear Conservative Christian, What Am I Supposed To Believe?

I’m trying to understand, I really am.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why not just be honest?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until then.

Dear conservative Christian, what am I supposed to believe?

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

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

Grace is brave. Be brave.

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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