Easily, it disarms the radar screens of our conscience—without notice, burrowing its teeth into our soul and spirit.
At first, it feels like life—this is what’s been missing. The answers are so clear; the plot so straight forward. I have finally found a path to travel and a people to travel with.
It’s not your fault; it’s happened to the best of us.
Conservative Christian, do you see the person you have become?
I didn’t, not until it nearly cost me everything—almost my life.
Just in the nick of time, after 21 years of being a conservative Evangelical pastor, I was thrust in front of a mirror and forced to take an honest look at my true self, along with the perspective to see just how far I had fallen from Grace. I had become a monster disguised as a Messiah follower. Certain that Jesus was at the center of my faith and life, I was oblivious to the darkness that had truly taken over.
What about you?
At the feet of conservative Evangelical Christianity, what kind of person have you truly become?
Are you even willing to ask the question, to take an honest look?
As hard as it may be to do so (as I know it was for me), imagine for a moment what set of dominoes must fall in your own heart to actually become convinced that you, among all the people of the earth, have been divinely granted the one true interpretation of a book, while holding to the adamant conclusion that your interpretation, and the book from which it is derived, is nothing less than the infallible, perfect word of God. Regardless of the book’s indisputable human history, contradictions, and abuses, you willingly drink deep the cocktail that insists God wrote it, it all fits together for those who have true faith, and your brand of interpretation is sanctioned by the Divine for use in correcting, condemning, and asserting your beliefs into and over the masses. Conveniently, you interpret some texts literally when, to do so, it supports your agenda. Yet, other passages receive your demand for proper contextualization in order to be understood correctly the way you do. In the end, you believe that you alone possess the secret interpretative sauce for understanding and applying the Bible.
Maybe you would never say it in that exact way, but inwardly it’s true. You believe the Bible and your conclusions about it give you a special appointment among and above all others. In the end, though there are some thirty thousand different Christian denominations who read this same book yet come to entirely different conclusions about its meaning, you have dug your heels into insisting that God penned it, you know what it means and says where others do not, and it gives you a special authority and mission to commandeer the world into you specific brand of believing.
Is that not all true?
Why is it so important for you to hold such a death grip onto your personal beliefs that God wrote the Bible and your interpretation is exclusively authoritative?
What’s really at stake for you?
I’d like to somehow think that it’s because you’re humble, not willing to lean on your own understandings, desiring to sacrificially serve humanity, and attuned to the Spirit. Yet, it feels like much the opposite.
In fact, every interpretive move I see you make with the Bible appears to be centered on you—condemning those who are different from you, insisting on your own beliefs and ways in all of life and society, winning arguments, fostering division, rationalizing sin, and spiritually justifying that which clearly stands against the heart of Jesus when it serves your interests to do so. It’s almost as if, without your beliefs that the Bible is God’s perfect word and your interpretations hold exclusive authority and accuracy, your ability to control people is lost, your power is eroded, and your faith system loses all meaning and purpose.
With all due love and respect, I have to ask or nothing will ever get better. I know this to be true because it’s my story too. I cast no judgement; I’m just trying to be descriptive. Conservative Christian, do you not see the person you have become?
A person who has allowed their God-given mind to become a playground for the very religiosity Jesus so vehemently stood against. A person who is willing to stand so strongly on their own spiritual understandings of a book, that they are willing to hurt, harm, abuse, justify sin, and rape the message of Jesus into a self-serving scheme disguised as faith and faithfulness.
And that’s just the Bible.
For a moment, imagine what it takes to adopt the mindset that the entirety of the Christian life is about you.
Imagine the self-deception required to believe that Jesus was actually a white guy who loves guns, pledges allegiance to the American flag, and lives to serve your prosperity. Imagine the addiction to self that must be allowed a foothold into the soul in order to believe that “church” is to be a place where, instead of resting in Grace and sacrificially serving humanity, we are to be enticed into a self-serving flesh trap of pursuing the never ending task of trying to do better, pray harder, sin less, give more, and become all we can be for Jesus that He might bless us in this life and keep us from hell in the next. Imagine the narcissism that must ensue to believe that the ultimate fruits of the Christian life are big churches, big budgets, big bank accounts, big mission trips, big book deals, big speaking tours, big conferences, and big “success.” Imagine the sheer idolatry that must be given full reign of the heart and mind in order to believe that the fruition of Jesus’ work upon the earth is the cleansing of the world of all that is different and disagreeing to you.
Please help me understand, why is everything all about YOU? YOUR salvation. YOUR peace. YOUR prosperity. YOUR well being. YOUR beliefs. YOUR righteousness. YOUR fulfillment. YOUR growth. YOUR freedoms.
Truly, I’d like to somehow think that it’s just a phase and you’ll soon be turning away from such childish priorities and spiritual fetishes as you become a selfless, unconditional loving, human serving, manifestation of Grace and goodness. Yet, from everything I’m seeing, it actually appears you’ve strongly concluded that you, and all your you-ness, are the final apex of all things Christian.
With all due love and respect, again, I have to ask or nothing will ever get better. I know this to be true because it’s my story too. I cast no judgement; I’m just trying to be descriptive. Conservative Christian, do you not see the person you have become?
A person who has a nearly unbreakable focus on self, self-preservation, and self-sustainment. A person who believes they can actually love a god whom they clearly fear with deep seated trepidation. A person who has convinced themselves that all their spiritual navel gazing and “to do” steps are actually working so well that the rest of us can’t see you faking it. A person who has allowed their faith to become a harbor for racism, sexism, white privilege, and the nationalization and politicalization of their creeds.
But sadly, even that’s not all.
For a moment, imagine what it takes to come to a place of such twisted spiritual rationalization that it enables you, in the presence of evil, to switch off and override every moral alarm placed within your soul by God. Imagine the disconnect from holiness that must be established in order to support a President such as Donald Trump and claim faithfulness to Jesus in doing so. Imagine the idolatry of self interest it takes to unplug every spiritual warning system within your spirit so that your conscience and the character of Jesus are rendered powerless to direct your decisions, beliefs, and loyalties away from a President who is playing you, the Christian faith, the American people, and the Jesus whom you claim to love like a middle school clarinet.
You want me to believe it’s all about abortion, Hillary, and making America great. Yet, sadly, it’s become all to clear, it’s always been about you—your privilege, your power, and your faith system creating a world that bows to and serves the cleansing of all that is different, threatening, undesirable, and disagreeing to you, at whatever the cost.
With all due love and respect, one last time, I have to ask or nothing will ever get better. I know this to be true because it’s my story too. I cast no judgement; I’m just trying to be descriptive.
Conservative Christian, do you see the person you have become?
Before it was too late.
I hope you will too.
Grace is brave. Be brave.
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In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris chases the evils of conservative Evangelicalism out of the shadows and gives powerful voice to the cries of the religiously oppressed. Confronting issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, religious greed, hypocrisy, nationalism, white supremacy, privilege, and the weaponizing of the Bible, Leatherbound Terrorism pulls no punches. Endorsed by best selling authors Steve McVey and Baxter Kruger, Leatherbound Terrorism will challenge you, inspire you, and most certainly cause you to rethink your faith and life.
Great writing. Spot on. And I used to be that way too. So sad.
Thanks Chris, appreciate your readership and encouragement.
Sadly, this message will fall upon the deaf ears of those who deserve most to hear it. These people are NOT Christian. Their “faith”, such as it is, is in word only; not in action. Worse, their word(s) are vile, hurtful; filled with hate and a miscreant theology.
The sweeping corruption and contamination these false prophets have injected into what was, in fact, “faith”, a toxic brew of self-righteousness; intolerance; stone casting; judging. These cancerous phonies simply would again crucify Jesus.
Thanks for reading and commenting Vince!
Pleased to have done so! I enjoy reading your thoughts.
I’d suggest that folks so deeply convinced that their particular interpretation of the Bible that they feel empowered to oppress others consider the idea of the AntiChrist: someone sent to bring disrepute upon Christianity by using Christ’s name to promote evil ideas contradicting Christ’s actual teachings.
I was a Conservative Christian who was more right wing than most others.
I look back at all my social media posts and realize the racism, hatred, and bigotry.
I was an evangelical, but not a Christian.
I was the one with a faith that could move mountains, but did not have love.
Jesus would have said to me “Away from me, you evil doer. I never knew you!”
Today, I am a Christian, Veteran, Patriot, Father of a Soldier, Lifetime Pro-Lifer, Not a Bigot, the Husband of One Wife, and a Republican for over 25 years.
Trump has nothing in common with me.
Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear …
I have to say, I’m glad I left Christianity a few years before the deranged narcissist got elected. It was painful enough wrestling with doubt and alienation from the only social group I’d known my whole life without the added difficulty of being surrounded by such hypocrisy. Best wishes and much respect to each one of you thoughtful people as you do your best to live and act like the man from Galilee and not the one from Queens.
I have to laugh at anyone who calls themselves “Christian” and votes for a politician who will force strangers to pay him/her.
“The cult of the omnipotent state has millions of followers in the united States. Americans of today view their government in the same way as Christians view their God; they worship and adore the state and they render their lives and fortunes to it. Statists believe that their lives — their very being — are a privilege that the state has given to them. They believe that everything they do is — and should be — dependent on the consent of the government.” ~ Jacob Hornberger
Those who call for human sacrifice are anti-human. Everyone alive is selfish, otherwise they would die from not caring for themselves.
If someone is doing something you don’t like, either sue them for victimizing you, or leave them alone.
The “cult of omnipotent state” is an interesting concept. But, I see its application bifurcated between the haves and the have-nots. This current moment in America’s history raises concern among many of us. We know the context of “being American” in fact has been corrupted and contaminated by “Christian” evangelicals.
A large population of the faithful have gone silent about our Faith because we do NOT want to be coupled or identified with these heretics. The mantra, “Silence equals complicity” comes to mind, yet most of us do not want a simple conversation to turn into the equivalent of a barroom brawl. Usually, one cannot have a balanced, informed conversation about faith or politics among the evangelical and fundamentalist crowds.
As to your, “Leave them alone”, I was taught that by my parents (mostly my mother) as I was growing up. She cautioned me not to try to change people who were/are diametrically opposed to my way of thought. “Find your own group, your own niche, and join them.”
Silence does not necessarily equal complicity, but it does equal yielding the floor. The relative silence of moderate and liberal Christians has allowed the pro-Trump, anti-gay Evangelicals to become the public face of Christianity in the US. It’s a contributing factor to why younger Americans are leaving Christianity in droves.
Chris Kratzer is at least trying to provide an alternative voice. No, the right-wing Evangelicals won’t listen to him, but he’s chipping away at their position as the dominant voice speaking for Christianity.
Only one disagreement. When it comes to the GOP, silence absolutely equals complicity. There is not one republican in Congress who has truly, forcefully, loudly rebuked trump or called him out on his obscenity (which, actually, is his very existence — an obscenity). Remaining a member of the party that brought him to the White House is absolutely complicity.
Trump is the incarnation of consummate evil. If/when one ticks off all of Trump’s similarities to Adolf Hitler, the reality screams out in volumes. Republicans have sold their collective souls to the dark side, embracing vile and evil platforms; defying the rule of law and genuflecting before our Machiavellian Frankenstein who systemically siphons off the public largess while simultaneously spewing out a trail of horrid lies.
“Faithful Republicans’ (I use the term loosely) are faithful in word only. There was a common mantra repeated during my graduate study at seminary: “If you talk the talk, you must walk the walk”.
Did you mean “elusive”?
Nope, I meant “illusive.”
I am struck by two things from this post:
First, it begins not with (rightly) attacking the misguided faith of those who believe Trump is a Christian who can do no wrong, but instead attacks the very foundations of Christianity itself, including describing the Holy Scriptures as infallible, human written, abusive, etc. It seems to me if as a fellow Christian you are attempting to convince your Christian brother or sister he is misguided in his/her support of Trump, you should at the very least share belief in the same basic tenets which makes one Christian. By attacking it, you not only call into question your own faith, but you cause Christians who need to examine their support of the man to question both your motives and message.
Second, the post is long on stereotypes and short on substance. The idea that those who are conservative Christians are all white, gun-loving, selfish and wealthy dolts is a tired trope that is pretty disconnected from reality. Sure, there are certainly some of those people out there, but the truth is, Trump won not because of evangelical, wealthy white Christian support, but instead because of conservative, blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt who got tired of their economic position.
The truth is, neither side has the market cornered on Christian values. HRC held some pretty despicable views, contrary to the Christian faith in many regard, and the scriptures that you apparently don’t see as authoritative. In short, voting for HRC was no more un-Christian than voting for Trump.
I guess Chris does not like dissenting opinions, which would explain why my comments did not get posted. Conformity of thought it is…
Actually Brandon, I am just now getting to approving comments, so your assumptions are misguided and your inherent bitterness is showing. Your comments are appreciated but seem to be more of a reflection of your desire to deflect from the truth of the article than to present any real substance for discussion. There are more Jesus-loving, truth-valuing, Scripture-honoring ways to view God, the Bible, salvation, and Jesus than just your views.
Thank you for putting into words what I’ve been seeing and felling for the last 18 years…..
Thanks Ted for reading and commenting!
Thank you for fighting the fight. It is difficult to overcome the Hitleresque propaganda that plagues our nation. So often I hear from conservative Christians an idea of love and judgement that is twisted all together… that they think showing love to others means telling these others that they are the worst kind of humanity. How did the pure, true, and easy to see love that Jesus showed others become so watered down and evil. Love thy neighbor does not include any hatred in any sense of the word. What really grabs me is the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin”. I was a kindergarten teacher for 20 years. Time and time again I saw four and five year olds struggling with their sexuality and sexual identity, even at a young young age. It broke my heart to hold their sobbing little bodies as they tried to find their identity. No one would chose to be hated, belittled, and bullied if given the choice. LGBTQ teens are eight times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers. This is why I fight the fight. Spread the love. Do not yield.
Well said, Trina!
Wow…just WOW!! Thanks for having the courage to write this. You have hit the nail squarely on the head.
With all that is going on in America today, I often feel like I am the only person in this area who loves Jesus, but hasn’t drunk the Kool-Aid.
I really needed to read this today.