There was a time, I tried.
I wanted to fit in, to be a shining star of conservative faithfulness lighting up dark skies. The dream of being successful for Jesus and gaining the gleam of His eye seemed like the apex of all pursuits. I could feel good about myself as I strapped in and revved the engines of the Monster Truck named “Conservatism,” enjoying a kind of favor that positioned me above a world of sin-obstacles and rebellious human traffic—it was perfect. With conservative Christianity there was a stage upon which to spiritually perform, a pre-defined system of belief to simply absorb and plug in, and a self-validating mission to assimilate everyone and anyone who would listen and buy in. It was all so cut and dry—a faith that was calculable, concrete, and clear in defining who was in and who was out, who was faithful and who was not, and who was right and who was wrong.
Yet now, things have changed—I would say, much for the better. A revelation welling up from my soul of a different way of believing and living has shown itself to be an unstoppable force. I can’t deny the air that I am breathing for the first time and the life it is giving—Grace has awakened me. No, it doesn’t all add up in my mind like ducks marching in a row, but it doesn’t have to when it’s all adding up in my heart and soul.
It’s not that I don’t love you anymore—I do. It’s not that I don’t accept you without conditions—I do. It’s not that I don’t believe you are filled with good intention and tremendous God-adorned worth and value—I do.
I’m sorry conservative Christianity, the bottom line is this— I just can’t do it anymore.
I Can’t See People As Being Inherently Evil And Lost- I’ve come to learn that Grace is the great equalizer—none of us are better, only different. That’s why the religious conservatives sought to kill Jesus and this, His message. When we are all equal before heaven, there can be no controlling, condemning, and fear-driven coercing. We are all loved and accepted equally by the Father—all of us in Christ from the very beginning. Faith is merely awakening to all that has already been given—Grace. People are good, whether they believe incorrectly or behave differently. This is the way Jesus sees all creation, the entire expanse of humanity—I just want to live my life seeing people the way He does.
I Can’t Support A Consumer Driven Christianity- For all the books, buildings, blogs, branding, conferences, concerts, movies, ministries, jewelry, t-shirts, stage-lighting, bumper-stickers, worship bands, cheesy comic-sans font-ladened Facebook memes, and church groups and activities, who have we become? I dare say, not nearly as sacrificial, serving, and loving as we are consumer-driven in our faith. In fact, the greatest passion inducer in many churches is sadly the conflicts that center around the style of worship. Nobody prays harder, studies the Bible more, and gets more involved than a Christian who is trying to assert and defend their personal preferences in church. From what I’m learning, the way of Jesus was sacrifice, not spiritual self-absorption—I just want to live my faith in a way that gives and contributes, not consumes with a rampant kind of spiritual appetite bordering on addiction.
I Can’t Live With One Eye Open In Fear Of A Bipolar Deity- The Spirit of Jesus within me has convinced my heart, God is love—wholly, completely, and purely. He has nothing but affection for me and every human being. No condemnation, no punishment, no desire for revenge—He perfectly loves me with perfect consistency. All this fiery talk about hell, wrath, judgement, and God’s discipline—it’s not only all highly debatable and open to be differently interpreted, but all silenced at the foot of the cross. Captured by Jesus who adores humanity without limit or restriction, I refuse to live my life fearing, doubting, and in a constant state of paranoia of a conservatively-imaged god who could love me one moment and cast me into hell the next, simply because I don’t love Him back in precisely all the right “conservative” ways. I just want to live my life seeing God through the lens of Jesus—perfecting me on the cross and perfectly loving me without conditions for eternity. God is for me, whom shall I fear?
I Can’t Ask My Wife To Submit To Me- My soul tires of being summoned to dismiss women as lesser and inferior human beings by a male-driven conservative Christianity that seems insistent on their sexist way of contextualizing and interpreting the Apostle Paul and his teachings. My wife and I are a team on completely equal footing—for that’s what it means to be one flesh. Jesus speaks, equips, calls and empowers her in all the same ways He does with me—her potential in life, church, family, and ministry is no less than mine. She can do anything and everything with complete freedom in Christ. She is not weaker, less capable of leading, nor deserving of anything unequal because of her gender. I just want to live my life seeing my wife and all women as Jesus does—completely, thoroughly, and unequivocally equal in all things—period, full stop.
I Can’t Deny The Validity of Science- Forcing a literal biblical understanding upon every aspect of an entire world view, to me, is no longer honest nor embracing wisdom. Demanding that the earth has an age of merely 6,000 years, evolution is fake news, and global warming is a myth, is to create a war of intellect, science, and common sense where there need not be. In both matters of the spiritual and scientific, our human capacity to fully comprehend, define, and know for certain is highly limited. Our faith would do well to simply conclude what is truly most important—God created and creates. I just want to live my life with my brain turned on to the awareness that scientific discovery and spiritual revelation don’t have to be enemies, but are important threads that are actually woven together in the great divine tapestry of life. God is neither threatened, separate, nor necessarily contradictory to science and its discoveries—therefore, neither will I be.
I Can’t Turn Off My Brain, Deny My Individuality, And Freeze Dry My Beliefs- I’m on a spiritual journey, not a destination. God gave me a brain with common sense and a conscience. I’m convinced that God’s desire isn’t that I land in a cold existence of conformity to a certain set of approved beliefs, but that I’m always growing in my awakening to His Grace—forever fluid to where that might take me emotionally, spiritually, physically, and confessionally. Jesus created me as a complicated, unique, divinely loaded individual that should resist all human-born labels that would seek to limit, control, own, cage, or define me. Where conservative Christianity largely desires to assimilate and mold me, I just want to live my life enjoying the freedom for which Jesus freed me.
I Can’t Believe The Bible Is Perfect- Grace has convinced me, nothing and no one is perfect but Jesus. He is the only Word of God, everything else is human words about God. Yes, they can be deemed as inspired, but never infallible—for aren’t we all inspired by God anyways, with a story to tell and perspectives along the way? For how can you not be—He is all and in all things. Inspiration never guarantees accuracy. I’m tired of reducing the Bible to a playbook for living, debate winning, and lording over my disagreers and those conservative Christianity deems to be sinning. I just want to live my life captivated by the mystery, experiences, and faith stories God uses in Scripture to lead me into a personal, life long, and ever expanding encounter with Jesus—progressively awakening to Him who is Grace.
I Can’t Compete With You And Your “Sold Out” Family– With all the ways you say you are so “blessed,” the religious art and nicknacks decorating your house, and the sheer height of your hands lifted up in worship, I simply can’t keep up. For all the times you commit to people, “I’ll be praying for you,” I wonder how you have time for nearly anything else. The never ending litany of Facebook pictures of your highlighted Bible next to a coffee cup, scripture quoting memes, and subtly self-congratulating celebrations of faithfulness, I have a hard time resisting the conclusion that there must be something wrong with me. You’ve got it going on with Jesus in so many ways I simply don’t and can’t. As much as it all seems so impressive, I just want to live my life outside the pressure and lifting up of all that—stuff. You will always be more spiritual and faithful than me. I’m finally learning to enjoy the joy that comes from being completely at peace with that.
I Can’t Love People Conditionally- It takes so much work, judgement, reservation, and energy. Who is deserving, who is not? How much is too much, or just right? What’s the perfect mix of conditions, clauses, and confronting? Where does one even begin in mixing a perfect love-with-conditions cocktail? When have they changed, repented, believed, and behaved enough to unlock the door to love or at least let them peek in? The truth is, Grace has shown me, that’s not how Jesus loves me, nor anyone that has ever been or ever will be. In fact, He loves without restraint, conditions, restrictions, or fine print. I just want to live my life with the “love conditions” radar screen turned off, knowing and trusting my purpose and scope is to love people unconditionally and let God untangle the rest. And if I error, I will boldly approach the throne of God having loved too much, if that ever could be a thing.
I Can’t Condemn The LGBTQ Community- There is perhaps nothing that has become more clear to me than the sure reality that the “clear teachings of the Bible” aren’t clear at all. I can’t ignore the real stories and journeys of the LGBTQ community, and the truth they bring to the table. I can’t deny the faithful scholarship of Bible-loving, truth-seeking, Jesus-loving, and unbiased scholars who find no other alternative but to conclude that the Bible is actually affirming of LGBTQ people—as I do. I can’t condemn where there isn’t certain certainty, but rather, the sure potential that conservative Christianity could very well be completely wrong. With an undeniable history of wrongfully judging, disapproving, and damning things later proven to be benign and even divine, I am learning to never lean on a conservative Christian understanding. I just want to live my life outside of the condemning, discriminating, and sin-labeling mantra of conservative Christianity that shoots first and consults Jesus later—if at all.
I Can’t Embrace A Gospel That Is For Me, No Gospel At All- I’ve tasted and seen that God is pure Love and Jesus is all Grace, and now my soul won’t let me consume nor settle for anything less—for to do so would be a blasphemy against the Spirit and His work in me. I believe the Apostle Paul was centered onto divine truth when He charged that a Gospel mixed with any level of Law, conditions, or human performance is in fact, no Gospel at all—even to a level of being accursed. I take sin so seriously that it is my deep confession and personal experience that no one can master, manage, nor overcome it but Jesus, who is Grace. It is the Grace of God that empowers, teaches, and inspires us to divine change and right living—nothing else can or will. The conservative Christian gospel filled with “to do” steps, conditions, rule-keeping, fear-living, and hell-requiring is to me, no Gospel at all, but rather a sure ministry of death. I just want to live my life truly living because my heart has been overcome and irrevocably endeared to a Gospel that is nothing but Grace, life at its very best, and pure freedom.
It’s not that I don’t love you anymore—I do. It’s not that I don’t accept you without conditions—I do. It’s not that I don’t believe you are filled with good intention and tremendous God-adorned worth and value—I do.
I’m sorry conservative Christianity, I just can’t do it anymore.
Grace is brave. Be brave.
Thank you. Be Brave
Thank you, Sara!
There’s nothing more freeing than knowing that God is happy with the whole Cosmos. There is no little black book. Everyone and everything has infinite value and love is what sustains all of Creation! You hit it out of the park again, Buddy!
Thank you Paul! Much love to you and your family!
when you see god in all religions than I’ll know you get it
When Jesus became real to me i remember going to work and thought to myself “i am going to go talk to Sally” I did not know why i wanted to do that because i hated her. I sat to talk to said “hi” Sally started talking and a thought came to my mind. “Look at her she is beautiful, i love her”
Well, i must say i was SHOCKED by that thought. I wondered where it came from. Of course it was God. From that day forward any hate i had towards her was GONE. This was 20 yrs ago. It was that one incident that helped me break through the conservative grip. Because as i read the bible all i could see it telling me to do is love, thats it! I do stumble at times, but i turn back again with a very loving nudge from God.
I also want to say that when i was given the thought of the beauty of the woman and loved her.
I was never given another thought of
“If only she was not gay, if only she was christian..”
It was simply she is beautiful and loved deeply.
Martha, those are powerful words and a powerful story. Thank you for your bravery!
Bravery would be to tell who believe (“the future shall not belong to those who slander the prophet of islam”) Muslims to their face their Quran is phoney. Why not confront them? Christians are the most likely bunch to turn the other cheek. Maybe that’s why you have no problem slandering Christianity. If you weren’t such cowards you would put my suggestion to the test, then try patting each other on the back for your bravery. I would respect you much more.. Until then you are nothing but cowards.
Corey, you are more than welcome here. But, naming calling and displaying an attitude that is not desiring of true dialogue and the fruition of mutual respect will not get you very far in this thread. I want to better understand your story and the energy behind the obvious angst you have towards my article, However, that’s going to be very difficult if you aren’t willing. Let’s get a peaceful discussion going, otherwise, let’s move on agreeing to disagree.
Corey stand strong and stay God’s course. Scripture doesn’t change just because others don’t understand or agree . To say the Bible is fallible is dangerous ground to stand on. It is clearly a guidebook gir the living . If one believes in Heaven how can one deny Hell. Life /People offer many choices, eternity only two, And the choice about eternity has to be made while you were still living when you draw your last breath it’s too late to change your mind . ♡I think it takes great love for other people to speak the truth and by the word truth I mean not altering God’s plan for men when you speak about Grace and salvation .♡ When you alter God’s word you become a stumbling block to others.
Should the electrician tell the carpenter his profession is wrong? The plumber the roofer? A carpenter would hear that better from another carpenter.
I also have to wonder how much you yourself have exercised your own suggestion face to face with anyone.
And you, poor Corey H., are nothing but a hater. You are ignorant and loveless, and certainly no Christian. Your hatred renders you idiotic. You are so very Satanlike, it makes me laugh to think you view yourself as otherwise. Luckily for mankind there aren’t many with your intense hatred who walk the face of the earth these days, and your numbers are dwindling. Oh, yes, you are loud and violent, but you are small and cowardly. Hate never ever wins, keep shouting and spewing out your venom though, poor Corey H. Let’s see where it gets you.
Corey H., You prove the point of this article loud & clear. It’s why it was written. Enjoy your day.
Hi Corey. I have a friend who came from the Middle East, and has educated me in where the hatred comes from. But I also see her constantly falling by her own feet too. Not because she hasn’t been given justification, but because she does as her enemies do – she hates, instead of rising above it. I know she’s better than that, and she certainly does too – but it’s a deep vein of injury, which can only be remedied through forgiveness. This goes on both sides, as Christianity is guilty of it too. This article certainly points to that.
My challenge to you, is when you feel those hateful words emerging, reconsider if they are better than your enemies words? If not, why not? Your Quaran, if inspired by the divine, would not seek to use it as a weapon – for it could surely destroy the whole world. Mankind is capable of great destruction, when they believe they are unequivocally right. In reality, we meet somewhere in the middle. All of us. The bible is not to be used as a weapon either. It is for wisdom and unity.
I have no problem with the Quaran or the Bible, so long as they’re not used as a weapon of hate. For that was not their intended purpose.
Martha, about a year ago I read an article by Chris Kratzer coming out as a gay-loving pastor. Jesus immediately spun me around 180 degrees in my attitude towards LGBTQ folks. I felt an overwhelming love for this community and wept as I read his powerful testimony. There is nothing but love for all God’s creatures, hallelujah!
Paul Appleby, “There is nothing but love for all God’s creatures”. I believe this is quite wrong. God is love, but He is also holy and righteous. It is Him who speaks of judgement and hell.
And it is because I love people, that I sometimes give a word of warning to those whom God has said are going to hell if they continue their present course.
You always seem to write exactly the things I need to ‘hear’. I still struggle with God (and his people) after leaving conservative evangelicalism. I have not been in a church for 10 months now. It was a part of my life since I was born. I miss community. Your words are a salve to a still weary and recovering heart. Thank you for that. Don’t stop speaking truth. Much love from Texas ❤️
Cherie, you are so sweet and kind. I am honored to be on this journey of faith with you!
We have just left outlet church for all the reasons in this essay. I’m so lonely and I miss being closed man need, as it was much easier. Narrow is the gate, indeed.
Our not outlet!
You said everything I’m feeling, Cherie! Hugs to you,
It gets easier. I left christianity back around ’89, and time has only proven to me how right that decision was.
We left the church 15 months ago. After growing up in the church (both my parents are pastors) and almost becoming a pastor myself, I have no desire to return. Since I have left the church I feel more connected to those around me. I feel evangelicalism has caused more harm than good. Yes, I miss the community. Maybe someday we’ll return, but as of right now it doesn’t look like it’ll ever happen.
As always, thank you Chris for your words.
Love you Dana.
There are other churches. You may be able to find a group of people who are less judgmental to be in community with. Keep looking.
Kris, I do agree with everything you say, and I wonder how many other CUs truly hold to the same vision, that there is no punishment, no judgment, no condemnation, for anyone. So many seem to be caught up in this “AOINIOS”-driven theosis idea that given enough time – like maybe millions of aeons – everyone will rise up out of their sin-stemming stupor and claim their inheritance through the riches of grace in the dying and rising of our Savior Jesus. Hell, we don’t need any more time, for God has done what we could never do for ourselves; “He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us safe into the reign of his dear Son, by whom we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven.” (Colossians 1:13).
Rich, thanks so much for reading and commenting, I enjoyed reflecting on your insight. Thanks for adding to the conversation!
There’s a whole church, called Universalists, who believe in universal salvation. For a while, they were the biggest religious movement in America. There are few left — apparently Americans prefer hell. They joined with the Unitarians in 1961.
When I became a Christian, I dove deep into the intellectual side of Christianity. I read the Bible multiple times, read and participated in Bible studies, read all kinds of books on Christian theology, and listened to a lot of Christian music. That went on for a long time. I was already a pretty ‘judging’ person, so with my new found knowledge I had all kinds of new ways to back up my ‘judgements’.
Fortunately, I came to realize that knowledge is not faith. Knowing is not faith. When I finally really started to work on my own self (i.e. individual and group therapy) I found out what was driving my judging attitude. When I started to really forgive myself and started to just experience faith and God’s love; then I could express and share that faith and love with the people around me.
I am part of a community of Christians that tries very hard to live out God’s love in deed and word. They encourage me to keep growing and I hope I do the same for them.
May God bless you and keep you; may God’s face shine on you and be gracious to you; May God face you and give you peace.
Thanks David for sharing a bit of your journey! It’s nice to know none of us our alone along this path!
Dude great work, I have come to the conclusion that we are called to put on display what a world changed by Jesus looks like. This world is free of violence, injustice, and oppression, the biggest injustice is not seeing everyone as an image bearer of God. Keep creating a world that is more compassionate, more loving, and more just.
You are an inspiration.
Thank you so much Chris, it’s an honor to live out this faith walk along side you. Your comment is spot on. Thanks for reading and sharing such encouragement!
How about this..I can no longer blindly vote Republician like I’m helping God out when I do. I won’t be bullied into supporting a Republican agenda that is anti-poor people, anti-environment, and anti-intellectual. Becoming a Christian caused me to become a reader and encouraged me to finish my education. Why am I being asked to deny facts, mock scientist, and treat the earth like God is going to repair all the damage we do right before it actually destroys us? What does that have to do with Christianity? I’m not supporting Conservative Chistianity any longer even if I have to go it alone.
Bob, thanks for reading and commenting. I like it! Preach on!
In not a US citizen, so cannot relate to the political angle, but appreciated the sentiments about God fixing the damage we create for ourselves. Because Jesus not only pointed to us being God-loving, but his examples stem from the natural world. I’m convinced the man who did not invest his dollar, the reason why he was taken away and killed, is because he buried it in the earth, and did nothing with it. Likewise, we take the money we get from the natural resources, and give nothing back to the earth of any value. The earth does not do well, when money is only the nourishment. It requires the kind of natural collateral, God endowed it with and we strip bare to (ironcially) prosper.
We will bring the hellfire, by putting money before God’s natural equity. He has been setting it aside for billions of years, as trust for future generations – in stability, food, and community. How have we squandered it, and dare to blame God for the hellfire to come? It is our own hand, that buries the money, for no benefit to the earth, stability, food and community. It is our own hand that will cause the hellfire, to reign over the earth.
So I agree with your sentiments, only I will add, it is by our hand we can start redeeming God’s creation again. Not by superstition or magic, but by understanding what we take from the earth, has to be returned 5 to 10 times more! As those were the two servants who were given compensation for investing their money and getting a return. They were given “much” and “some” of their Lords’ estate.
The parable where this Lord reaps where he does not sew, is the blueprint of nature. Nature (God’s creation) disperses MORE seeds than will ever germinate at one time. It also grows more plants than will live to occupy the ground. And then we come along and take what we want. without any consideration for the natural estate that went before us. We certainly do not invest as much back, for what we take – and therefore, we will be killed for our fear of losing, what we chose to bury in the earth. Money and our ignorance along with it.
What good is our lip service to God, about heaven to come, when we destroy the miracle under our feet? Be that fellow people, plants or any kind of community worth raising up. It’s our own fear-based ignorance which kills us, not the master of the estate who endows us with opportunity to invest.
Lord… I really needed to see this.. I thought it was just me but now I see that I am NOT alone. Thank you for posting this.
Parris, thanks for commenting! Trust me, it is not just you, there are countless people awakening to Grace and its impact. Let’s be brave together!
What you ascribe to is greasy “grace”. It’s so greasy you’ll slide more quickly and easily to perdition.
Amanda, thanks for reading and commenting. It doesn’t seem to be that “greasy” as it appears to have confronted your heart enough to feel the need to deflect its truth through defensively commenting on this post. Just my observation, I could way be off.
The Bible says His grace is sufficient. You talk of “greasy” grace and defame the goodness of God.
Yet in this article, it is mentioned that the bible is fallible. So how can you be sure those are indeed God’s word? How can we be sure His grace is really sufficient if you believe the fallibility of scripture? Problem is, you can’t if you agree with the majority of this article. If the bible is fallible, how can we be sure Jesus is the person he says he is? It could’ve been the complete opposite, but because the writers didn’t like certain things Jesus said or did, they in fact changed them to make it easier to digest. Love is not God and God is not only love.
Very well said. If you believe the Bible is falliable then you can believe anything you want like the author is doing. That way he can believe that the LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ community are not living openly in sin against our holy God.
If all the words in the bible, point to Christ, and this author pointed to Christ, where is he fallible?
I have solid historical and existensial reasons to believe in Jesus. Jesus speaks highly of Scripture so I hold it in high regard. I don’t need it to be infalliable to be true. Jesus is the Word of God . The Bible is Scripture and it’s job is to drive me to Him.
God is indeed only love–it is His essence–it’s not just an attribute.
I never understood how the Bible could be the “mouth-breathed Word of God.” There are something like 2500 translations in existence, none identical, some quite different. So which one is “right?” No Christian I have asked has ever been able to answer this question.
Linda, thanks for the thoughtful comment. To be sure, you raise questions that many of us are asking!
Lots of scholarship has been done on how we got the Bible we have today. Check out James White’s work on the topic. This is not an excuse that Christians have a luxury of using.
(before he lost weight lol)
I can’t tell for sure, but it looks like my link wasn’t posted. So, please ignore my second comment…otherwise, it looks like I’m being really rude.
Jordan, I am removing your comments here as you are using this page to promote your beliefs which links people to a message insisting that the KJV Bible is the only true word(s) of God. Go else where please and troll away, but not here.
Agree. Solid points that mirror my own beliefs. Thank you!
Thanks Michael, appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment!
You speak of the commercialization of the Christian faith. Isn’t it an oxymoron to write and sell, making beaucoup bucks, on “Christian fiction”? If the storyline is made up and the story ends in glorious good news isn’t that the category of fairytales? Yet, this is a multimillion dollar industry and nothing is real. I have trouble with this industry and clergies acceptance of it.
Also would you write sometime on the telling of our faith experiences with other folks. I remember well someone telling the news reporters that God saved him from being upon the bridge in Minneapolis when the bridge collapsed some years ago and killed many people. This man was at Menards and a friend detained him because he wanted to greet him. Therefore, he wasn’t on the bridge when it collapsed. Therefore, the public deduced that those who went down on the bridge were folks that God didn’t care about. Talk to us about accepting God’s touch while caring about how we tell our faith stories. Thanks for all your great articles!
Beautiful and perfect. Completely loving, without condition, and overflowing with grace. Either God has been speaking the exact same message to both of our hearts or you’ve somehow plagiarized the words and convictions that the Lord has been screaming into me heart’s ear for many, many years.
The wonderful thing I’m starting to see is that we are not alone. He is moving in many like us and many from very different traditions, as well. This brings my heart incredible joy and hope.
Robert, thanks for the uplifting comment and words of encouragement, appreciate you taking the time to read and comment!
Thank you for this. I hope you don’t mind if I copy and paste parts before I share this on Facebook. I always thought the Bible was to uplift people. Not beat them down with it. To see hatred in the eyes of those that hold the Bible, is a sad and horrifying thing to see. Im so glad I’m not alone. Be Brave.
Msajay, thanks for reading and commenting, you are not alone!
Do we all go to heaven? Does God have standards to live our lives by? If you think the Bible is not the Holy inspired Word Of God , than how are you so sure of Jesus and your salvation? Think carefully before you influence others. It could be the difference between eternal life and death.
“I Can’t Compete With You And Your “Sold Out” Family”
OMG, this! You put it into words for me. The exhaustion of having to do, do, do for God. Never being quite active enough as a “church leader”. Needing to keep up with the more “godly” family next to me. Feeling like it was a competition to prove I was as good as them.
Thank God I got my life back!
Amen to that Living Liminal!
Wow! This sums life up for me. Thank you for writing this. This is so good that I want to make an of line copy to print out and/or email to give to my friends, family and ex-pastors,etc….
Gavin, thank you so much! Appreciate you reading and commenting. I hope the article serves you well!
You don’t need to apologise for what you can’t do anymore! Your reality is your reality no one else’s and really no one else’s business either. Just get on with living it instead of a huge long blog explaining and defending it. Your truth will make its own space and achieve its own purpose. So you don’t need too a long wordy explanation as too your why. So Best of everything in your endeavours with living from your current truth. Blessings!
And yet, Chris’ words seem to be encouraging and uplifting to a great many people.
I’m troubled by the inherent hypocrisy of your admonition, Maureen. Isn’t the whole point of ministry and evangelical activity to share a worldview with other people? Are you suggesting that the evangelical ministries should be shut down because people should be free to find their own truths without interference?
In fact, it seems like you have no trouble with people writing tweets, posts, speeches, sermons, and indeed bibles so long as they reinforce your view of how the world works. If someone parts from the herd, it’s time for them to put their pens down? Hardly.
Stop living in fear of having your viewpoints challenged or rocked. If Chris’ words start a revolution, you should celebrate them.
This is your absolute best, right here. Thank you for speaking my heart, Chris.
Thank you Meredith, much love to you and your family!
Really excellent. Have shared
You must have been sitting next to me in churches where I grew up! As an adult, I switched denominations, and have felt more at home here. My only problem with your article, is that I read in it my own judgements of others, rather than seeing God in them. I have always known that I have a problem with this, and wanted to do better, but slip into the same kind of attitude, “There, but for the grace of God…” My problem is that I forget, it’s the grace that erased the condemnation! I need to see Jesus in all (I am visualizing a sort of Jesus film over others faces or coming through), and I will be less able to judge them or their situation. Thank you so much for putting into word what my heart has felt for some time, and for stepping on my toes!
Stacy, thanks so much for sharing your heart and experiences. I am glad this article has impacted you positively! I hope we can stay connected! Thanks again for reading and commenting!
‘ knowing and trusting my purpose and scope is to love people unconditionally and let God untangle the rest. And if I error, I will boldly approach the throne of God having loved too much, if that ever could be a thing.’
Perfect. Thank you.
Thanks Elizabeth! Sure appreciate you reading and commenting!
So many others have already voiced what I would say. Let me only add – our world is in sore need of more people with the depth of true faith that we have in the ministry that you and Amy bring up the table. Thank you for being brave and stepping out into the real world. That space, full of hurt, lonely, broken, loving, searching, needful people, is exactly where the presence, love and sheer grace of God is needed most.
Thank you so much Stephen for the thoughtful and very kind words and for acknowledging my wife, Amy. So appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment!
Thank you for writing this piece. It is reflective rather than attacking, and therefore I can share it on my feed (which I have done).
Thanks Thad, appreciate you sharing the article!
I enjoyed the article greatly. There was one sentence that made me cringe though:
I Can’t Live With One Eye Open In Fear Of A Bipolar Deity
I thought your paragraph under it was excellent but one who has seen mental Illness (Bipolar); I just cringed.
Once again though; great article.
Jeff, thanks for reading and sharing your comments. I appreciate you calling my attention to your concern. I apologize for any way that I have offended you or others.
Thank you for this article. It’s honest. It is hard, but necessary, to do the right thing.
Thanks Eva, appreciate your kinds words and for reading and commenting!
Thank you so much for this.
Anna, thank you!
“I can’t see people as being inherently evil or lost”. This one hooked me. I 100% agree with you here and as I read, I realized it is this belief that makes it very difficult to understand decisions that are made based on greed, hate, bigotry, etc.. I believe people are inherently good. I believe people think they are doing what is best for their family, their neighbors, their country (ahem), so when I see a decision made that I can’t find the “good” in, I get hyperfocused. I search and search (the internet, my brain) to determine what the spin is that makes this a “good” decision. Lately, I find myself incredibly disappointed as I am left with lots of unanswered questions. Thanks for writing. I needed this today!
Danni, thanks so much for honoring my writing enough to truly ponder it word for word. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and a a bit of your spiritual journey. Thank you!
Danni, thank you for honoring my writing by being willing to ponder it word for word. I appreciate your honesty and for adding to this conversation in such a profound way.
I don’t think I knew how much I needed to read this. As a gay woman who was raised Catholic, I’ve long struggled with faith. I’ve long struggled with belief because, how can I be who I am and believe in science without question- and belong to a church that denies everything. I have conservative evangelical relatives who have continued to make me doubt the existence of God because, I can’t believe in a God or Jesus that would be so hateful and have his followers condemn their own family.
But this was such a beautiful message and the words touched me so deeply. To know that there can be a mixture of all these things- and still a profound love of the divine.
So thank you for this gift. It’s definitely what I needed, even though I didn’t know it until this moment.
Toni, I am touched by your encouraging words. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, and for authentically sharing your experience.
Why exactly do you believe Jesus had to die on the cross? God sacrificed his only son and made him endure humiliation, ridicule and torture, even though God was going to save everyone. How does that make God a loving God? Why would you believe in a God that is shaped by your limited and narrow mind? Looking forward to your answers. I’m also curious since you reject the Bible as being accurate why you even believe in God?
Matthew, thanks for reading and commenting! I appreciate your questions. In my view, God did not kill Jesus, we did. Jesus didn’t die to appease an angry God requiring the death of His son in order to forgive, He died at the hands of the religious Spirit that desires to kill Grace itself and Him who is Grace. The death and resurrection of Jesus is a result of God’s forgiveness, not the cause of it. I would suggest you study out the issue of “penal substitution” from the side of those who see the Bible refuting it for a deeper understanding and consideration. Thanks again!
Amen! God willingly enters a suffering world, confronts the evil, injustice, speaks to our hearts longing for something more than the world can give, and this world–power over others, judgement, greed–was so threatened it had to kill him. Resurrection shows what Jesus pointed to all along, something more real and important than the limitations of the other answers we embrace and that fail us. Love is indeed at the heart of Jesus’ message. That God might condemn us for all those times we fall short of our own message…that condemnation is proven to be dead, on the cross. The power of sin to define us dies on the cross, but that started with Jesus’ incarnation, continued w/his resurrection, and then the coming of the Holy Spirit. BTW, the Episcopal Church welcomes you: straight, gay, trans, questioning, women and men, divorced, single, old, young. We encourage you to bring your faith and questions, intellect, doubts, and your heart. And that welcome is to full participation as congregation members, lay leaders, ordained priests and bishops, affirmed in wedding rites, and all other worship, sacraments, and liturgies.
Toni, thanks so much for such encouraging words and for sharing your experiences. So appreciate your authenticity and willingness to be real.
Why exactly do you believe Jesus had to die on the cross? God sacrificed his only son and made him endure humiliation, ridicule and torture, even though God was going to save everyone. How does that make God a loving God? Why would you believe in a God that is shaped by your limited and narrow mind? Looking forward to your answers. I’m also curious since you reject the Bible as being accurate why you even believe in God?
To defeat death and the Evil One. He conducted the greatest rescue mission of all time! CHRISTUS VICTOR!!
Can’t condemn the LGBT community? While you witness as they mock the cross as a sex toy? Pussy hats on naked women in front of children? Putting the cross in urine and calling it art? You a phoney, go away!
Cory, even LGBT community have stern athiests just like straight community.
I have not seen any cat ears (pussy) hates on naked women in front of children.
Cross in urine is YEARS old. Fact is, it does not negate what this article is expressing.
No phoneyness in article. It expresses the heart of God.
Sorry to hear you are deep in phoney christianity.
No mention of islam which is the far bigger REAL threat. Go ahead, keep tearing down the back bone of this nation. You fools will get what’s coming if you keep allowing the enemy in while you attack the shepherds.
1. This article is not about Islam…
2. And, I suggest, if you are truly Christ-like, to do as He would….go meet some Muslims and show them grace and love…not hate and fear.
I’m sorry, but I do disagree with this. I don’t see many others who have said so. The Bible is the inspired word of God- the whole Bible. You can’t pick and choose to believe part of it and not all of it. If you do the research you will see that there are hundreds of manuscripts that have been found and the translation has not changed over hundreds of years. Yes, God loves everyone and if I look at others as he does, as made in His image, I can love everyone too and I truly try to. If you believe the whole Bible though, it also speaks to a righteous God who will judge the whole earth by His standard of righteousness and none of us are righteous. The Bible speaks about sin and we are all sinners. That is why Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us from our sin. He took our sin upon Himself so we wouldn’t die eternally ( go to hell). There is something we have to do though and that is to repent and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Welcome to the table, Linda. I respect your views as I used to share them as a former conservative, Evangelical pastor of 22 years. We don’t have to agree. Yet, if you are interested in learning about my spiritual journey and transition to the beliefs I now hold, I am more than willing to have a dialogue with you. If not, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I agree, Linda. While this blog post does make a number of good points as it relates to some issues with “conservative Christians, the theology displayed is flawed.
The Bible is very clear that we are born sinners. This isn’t specific to any denomination. The early church fathers, the Reformers, Wesley, etc., would confirm that we are born sinners and “lost.” This isn’t conservative… it’s orthodox consensus. The above may explain it differently but orthodoxy (and the Bible) would confirm that we are lost.
Jesus/God is Love, yes. But Jesus does not condone sin. “Go and sin no more.” Paul spends much of his time telling Christians to pursue holiness. Again, this isn’t conservativism, this is the Bible.
I used to be a fundamentalist Christian. Even then I knew something was wrong — cherry picking verses, contradictions in beliefs and actions… The Bible is fallible because it has been changed over the centuries, many times. I often think evangelicals worship a book vs Jesus.
Jesus challenged those who condemned him for “picking” food in the fields on the Sabbath. Jesus said you can, if you intend to help someone selflessly. You can pick and choose, how God’s word is applied, so long as it is to help another who needs aid. That is righteous judgment.
As this author has pointed to Christ, and those who are being denied access to his love by a worthy example, he has not denied the true word of God.
Amen and amen.
That’s the part left out in this blog. I am in total agreeance up to the point where it implies that eternal life is automatically bestowed upon us all. It’s simple, John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Bible is our “How to” guide so to speak. To deny any part of that is essentially to deny God. The Bible teaches (1) accept (2) believe (3) receive and you will be saved. Hell is real and it’s not meant to be a scare tactic, it’s a reality. If indeed I am wrong, I have lost nothing. If you are wrong, however, you have doomed yourself and taken all of your followers with you. That, my friend, is a heavy load to bear. I wish you the best and I hope you find the peace you are looking for. I would like to make this last point. Why is my choosing to go to church, lead a bible study, have “in God we trust” on my license plate, carry my bible, commit to praying for those in need, wearing my Jesus Freak T-shirt, etc., so offensive or considered overkill to you? It doesn’t change who I am. I don’t live that way out of fear, I’m free, but I choose that because it is what I’m called to do. You’ve heard the saying, ” You do you, I’ma do me”. In other words, I don’t think it is necessary for you to bash conservative Christianity to bring attention to your way. That, Sir, to me, is not showing love.
You left out the part where john says “the word became flesh”
Why did you leave that part out?
Indeed, all touching prose, until you delight in your hate for conservatives. LOL..
God IS Love, and yet, there is no love, just judgement about something you seem to have set in your head about conservatives. Ya Know, not all folks are alike when associating with any group. I see judgement and hate in your gentle “im better than them” rant.. it, frankly, made me laugh at first, then made me sad.. because i think you actually believe this drivel.
A Christian is simply that, a real Christian is simply that, a Christian. There is no mention in the Bible about Christianity being different for one political party (They are a business, did u know?) as opposed to another. I find you did not address Libertarians, Greens, Constitutionals, Communists… Where do they fall into your judgmental spectrum? So, here i am judging you, making it clear the “Judge not lest ye be judged” is for true. Im trying not to, Im trying to point out the irony of your post, yet, yea, im feeling the judging. Im trying very hard to put it into the Lord’s hands and ask him to take this negative action out of my heart, and i hope you will do the same. I am trying to see the beauty in you, and yes, i do rejoice that you know God. Im going to leave it at that and hope that you understand we are all fallen sinners and need the love and guidance He gives us.
LR24, thanks for reading and commenting!
Hmmm, i got an email expressing to Chris to check James White about church history and can not find it here.
In my conservative christian yrs i ate all he had to give. For the record James White is a 5 point Calvinist which should be a red flag. He has a chatroom
As i was being led away from conservative christianity, i attempted to share that God wants us to love i was told i am a hertic.
Beware as you look him up.
That is all i will say.
I feel like this person got the sad experience of trying on our worst hats.
1. We do believe those without Christ are lost. This is no different than people who believe in original sin. All have fallen short of the glory of God.
2. People love books, people buy stupid stuff, it’s only natural that people would sell Christian themed stuff. It’s odd that this is vilified… probably by the person who has 10k Pokémon cards.
It isn’t saintly or required but it is strange the way this is approach in this article, as if every praying precious moment gets you more favor with God. No one teaches that except infomercials.
Also service and sacrifice and being Jesus’s hands and feet is the core of so many denominations that I’m not sure where this person got their experience.
3. My SBC pastor said it best, “God isn’t a cosmic killjoy”. People who live and teach this theology are bound to the consumer culture referenced above. They have to. God forbid they take the wrong step.
It breaks my heart.
4. Differences in the way submission is explained lead to this, and the antiquated “women barefoot and pregnant” view is not ok with me either. God created woman to be a helper. Not out of a foot to be walked upon, not out of a hand to be used as a tool, but out of a rib to walk beside. Different strengths for sure, but not a subordinate slave child.
For me submitting to my husband is treating him with respect and not walking all over HIM, valuing his worth, and allowing him to be the leader when he can. Keep in mind I’m the one running the banking and bills and paperwork because that’s not his strong suit. He fixes the cars and makes the money because I don’t have a clue about cars and I can’t work anymore.
5. People who dismiss science are something else. I don’t think this is theology as much as some kind of cultural, generational bias. I tell you what- the min they need science they will convert asap. Or die.
People say they deny science but they head to a tornado shelter when the siren goes off.
It’s a lack of education and it is sad.
6. Again the writer has had some really bad experiences here. I feel bad for them. Maybe my personality is too strong to mold, but I don’t think anyone has tried. I don’t drink the Kool-Aid, even if offered, but no one has ever said be like me or you are not a Christian. Except Jesus.
7. Welp this person has an issue then. We believe the Bible is infallible so they have an issue here.
8. Perfect Christians don’t exist. We are all human and most people are perfect on Facebook. There is no competition here, you don’t have to be perfect- if you were perfect you wouldn’t need Jesus in the first place. This is a maturity deficit not a critique of conservative Christians. People who claim to be perfect are actually highlighting their problems.
9 and 10.
Love should never be conditional. This is actually a good critique of conservative Christianity. Jesus never said I will love you if. This is why I love my non denominational churches. We don’t love you if you are ______, church is a hospital for the broken not a club for the cool kids.
As for the lgbtq community I will never understand the hate the gays train of thought. All sin is equal, you can’t love the lying corrupt and hate the gay and still say that. Everyone should be loved the same. Just because you disagree doesn’t mean you hate them. The people who do are bigots and it’s honestly harder for me to love a bigot.
11. Again too many churches act like a list will get you to heaven. It won’t. Jesus did that already, the list helps you grow in faith- without it you are still saved you just are not your best educated self.
I’m so sorry that our churches have done such a poor job explaining this. My last church set a goal that everyone completed a college level class called journey, after journey you took discovery, then there was more. It didn’t make you more saved it just gave you more than a Sunday sermon.
Even when it was clearly explained like that people still thought it was like Christian 2.0. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it understand simple English!!
I am so grieved that this persons experience was so negative. It isn’t a good example of what most of us are trying to say.
Yet somehow in rejecting the concept completely, they got the point.
You’ve twisted the Word of the Lord to justify your viewpoints.
You’ve taken things in the Bible out of context.
You say you “can’t condemn the LGBTQ community”, once again twisting the words of Christians, who have reiterated over and over that they condemn the sin, not the sinner.
You say you can’t deny the validity of science, yet that is what many of the left (i.e. liberal) side of Christianity do when they condone abortion even though it is the killing of life.
Over and over you’ve done nothing but distort God’s word to make it sound like only conservatives who call themselves Christians are bad. You take things out of context. You paint God as a sky fairy who does not offer justice/punishment for those who don’t believe in the divinity of his Son.
And worst of all, you’ve gotten comments from people who feel justified in now trying to morph the Word of God into their own personal vision of Christianity, where nothing is wrong and sin does not exist.
The only “good” thing about this hit piece is that I agree that “consumer-driven Christianity” has been a bad thing for Christianity as a whole.
I pray you recognize the error of what you’ve posted here. It has nothing to do with liberals or conservatives. It has to do with simply knowing the Truth and adhering to it, living it, and sharing it with others. No distortions. No personal interpretations. No “you can do whatever you like because Christ has your back” attitude. If you don’t (recognize the error of the overwhelming majority of this piece), you will answer to God on Judgement Day. You may not like the outcome of that meeting.
A Brother in Christ wishing only for Truth
Ken, which covenant are you traveling in?
I agree. For the most part, what Chris is calling Conservative, is actually him railing against what is orthodoxy. He is railing against basic tenets of Christianity. Mainly original sin and the legitimacy of God’s Word.
I read everything so far and your comment “legitimacy of God’s Word” caused me to pause and write back. God’s Word is not the literal words in the book you call the Bible. God’s “Word” is the message, the lesson, the subtext behind the words. First of all, Jesus didn’t speak English. So, until we all study Greek, Hebrew, Latin and Aramaic to the point of really understanding the underlying message, we need to take the written word with some latitude. Yes, there are contradictions in the Bible, and until we all search for the lesson, and not take the words so literally, we will all argue about what is Truth. Everyone selects what verses s/he finds suitable for living. Everyone. Even me. I don’t like some of the Old Testament rules. The verses that support one’s own biases and needs are the ones that feel like that person’s Truth. (Look for the LESSON!) As for the people commenting on the tone of the author, I must say, I agree with almost everything written. My house church, “congregation,” if you will, is comprised of people who have been judged by, persecuted by, misunderstood by, and hurt by the organized Christian Churches. People who are indeed wanting a closer relationship with The Infinite Divine, but have hurdles of confusion, ostracizing and hurt that have been planted by well-meaning Christians, such as those referred to by the author. Nobody has it right. We are all on a path. All we can do is to hold each other up on the journey. And, paraphrasing poorly from the Dalai Lama – just because my journey doesn’t look like your journey, doesn’t mean either one of is lost. Love and Light, Rev. Gaioma
Ken, are you suggesting there are no elements of truth, except the one about Christian Commercialism? None at all?
I’ve experienced many a fallen and fallible Christian, running a religious organization. Not meaning to be such, but cannot help it. Sinners will sin, even in the clergy. Suggesting there is no truth, but your own truth, is understandable. But that’s not how it plays out with free will. That’s not what people see and experience, with those wearing the same uniform as you.
To say you disagree with the interpretation is one thing. To suggest it’s an outright “twisting” of reality though, well, that’s something entirely different.
I didn’t discover “conservative Christianity” till I was 30. I was going through a major depressive episode and desperate for help. I wandered into an evangelical church that was nearby, walked through the door, and heard songs about a God I didn’t know – one who helped people, supported people, loved people as they were, broken and otherwise. I had grown up going to a Catholic church and had come out of that understanding God as the ultimate “judger” who was just waiting for me to screw up and punish me. That God hadn’t been too attractive to me, but this God…
I plunged into the Bible and read it cover to cover. I read about such love and sacrifice and grace and acceptance. I was thrilled and on fire. I read it again and had epiphanies of love for all people and acceptance and forgiveness of those who’d wronged me in the past and that love -the giving and spreading of it – was THE reason for my life on earth.
I came back to the church and joined a Bible study to learn more from people who knew more about God than I did. But it was strange. I learned that my gay friend would not be allowed in the church because of his sins. But weren’t we all sinners? And then our gay worship leader (who brought me into the church, coached me to sing and breathed all sorts of love and life into me) was fired. I left that church and went on to experience several others that were as fraught with judgements about people who were out, and the fragile nature of being “in” with God and all it required. I spent over ten years looking for the church of the God that I’d read about.
Till I finally quit. I felt lonely and without community, and knew I was still in love with God – in a way that nobody else was, apparently – so I must be wrong.
And then, like a miracle, I started reading new things, books and articles like this that you wrote. And I recognized the Jesus and the love and the joy that I had touched that first time I read the Bible – when I was unschooled and had only my soul to trust. I discovered a large pool of people who still recognized that same God and Jesus and didn’t attach Him to a Republican agenda.
This article beautifully said what has been in my heart for a long time. Thank you for sharing it.
Debbi, thanks you so much sharing your powerful story, I am blessed to have you share it! You are not alone and you and your story are beautiful! Thans again for reading and commenting.
Coming out of Conservative Christianity is like your spiritual world turning from black and white into colour.
Yup, it’s like breathing for the first time! Thanks Jeremy, appreciate your comment!
I think I understand where you are coming from. However, I respectfully disagree with you. You’re correct – Christianity does not equal modern conservatism. That being said, what is the Gospel, what is salvation without needing to be saved? I do believe we are all sinners. Inherently evil. It’s not hard to see from looking around. So you’re right, no one is better than another. None have more worth than another in God’s eyes. But that doesn’t mean all are saved. Most of our disagreement springs from your lack of belief in the inerrant Word. If the whole thing is not true, then it is naturally left to each individual to pick and choose what they believe is and isn’t.
I don’t love people conditionally. I love all and hope they come to the knowledge of the truth. But I can still believe that people are in sin. Didn’t Jesus, when He stopped the crowd from stoning the woman caught in adultery, tell her to go and sin no more?
Of course we can’t master sin on our own, Christ has done it for us. That doesn’t equate to all being saved. It isn’t our to-do list that saves us. It’s Jesus. That doesn’t mean we can live in whatever manner we choose.
In the end, it seems like yours is a pick and choose gospel. One where we decide to tell God how we want it to sound and who we want Him to be. But God doesn’t play by my decisions. He revealed Himself to us (through the Word and ultimately The Word, Christ). That’s how I know who He is. Not by my own feelings, but by His divine truth. That’s how I know God’s will for me: to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. For me to repent of sin, recognizing that Christ took my punishment on Himself.
My “conservatism” is only acknowledging that there is a way that God desires for people to live. Not in order to save themselves, but because it reflects His perfect nature (as shown throughout the Bible, old and new testament) and is thus right and good.
I want to end with this verse and a question:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not of yourselves – it is a gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8. Is there salvation without faith?
I apologize for how long this is. I write this with the intent of absolute respect.
Andrew, thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns. As a former conservative Evangelical pastor of 22 years, I am highly familiar with your line of thinking and theology–I used to share it. I know all the biblical verses and interpretations. I appreciate you respectfully disagreeing and fulfilling your sense of responsibility to correct me. If you are ever interested in understanding my beliefs and journey, let’s begin a true dialogue. If not, thanks for your comments and for reading my article.
Andrew, you said, “what is the Gospel, what is salvation without needing to be saved?” Good question! Very good. Because that’s what we struggle with, after being saved. What do we do next? We struggle to embrace God on the daily things, to make him the center of our belief, without drawing on “conflicts”. Either preexisting ones within ourselves, we still need to work through, or conflicts with others and the general world view.
I struggle with this all the time – the conflicts, and it stops me from loving unconditionally. All the blessings in my life, weighed against all the sin I am yet to deal with? In this Jesus has been teaching, relentlessly, not to extract or expect a toll. To overcome is hard enough.
To be saved is what the Gospel is for, but being saved is about being liberated too, so we can offer more to our fellow man – not less. When I see others (not saying you) caught up in this same struggle of what next, now I am saved – it saddens me to see the tolls of sin, being the first token offered to Christ.
four simple words is all you really needed….”for those who think”. Instead, which is a common practice and mistake made by many; you decided to label all your “I can’t (s)” and collectively put them with Conservatism Christianity…when most of your sentiments would be agreed with most Christians and are certainly far from most conservative thinkers- and practice- as well. Labeling was you error, and my guess is it was purposeful. It would have been brave(r) had you not…..
Hmm, this is an article written by Satan. In all your piety, it’s all so clear what this is about in the first two sentences. It’s about you. You ha e no idea Who Jesus Christ is or the Father or the Holy Spirit. It’s interesting to me how you think you can just shrug your shoulders at the Word of God as if you were the judge of who He should be. You want to refer to a couple pieces of scripture that you like and also fits the god you want to worship which is essentially yourself. Tremendously sad article!!
Glad you liked it Cory, thanks for reading and commenting!
Chris knows who Jesus is better than any conservative “Christian” I’ve come across. His life shows it. He lives as Jesus commanded, and he doesn’t worship the Bible as so many do.
Linda, it sounds as though you are idolizing and following Chris instead of Christ. It’s okay to agree with what he says, but you have no idea who he really is, that’s for him and Christ to know, do to say he knows Christ better than anyone is believing blindly.
I love this. This is exactly where I am in my journey right now. My family is checking out a new church tomorrow and I am so excited because I know it is the right thing though I am going to miss my old family. Thank you for the article. This is what I needed.
PS-As a bipolar woman, I found the use of the term to be in poor taste. I wanted to encourage you to consider a less marginalizing way to get your point across. That is not what bipolar looks like, it is a caracature.
Every point in this article makes Christ Jesus and His work on the cross irrelevant.
Amen to that! There are a lot of itching ears out there. Not one word about sin or repentance. They are making God into their own golden calf.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 1 Jn 2:19
Peace out bruh.
Bravo, Chris! Having experienced both the evangelical traditions as well as the progressive Christianity of the UCC, I deeply appreciate your article and I think you are spot on. Jesus leaned over backward, NOT to judge others. He taught us all unconditional love. The evangelical churches sometimes remind me of the Pharisees who Christ tried to show a different approach to, against their systems of judging and categorizing. He leaned over backward to uplift the dignity of women. He was faulted so many times for having lunch or supper with folks that were outcasts “sinners”. In progressive Christianity we still have a lot of work to do, combatting poverty and working for justice. But it is because God’s love extends to all people, regardless of race and gender and sexual orientation and immigration status. We are commanded to love one another!
Angela, thanks for your encouraging words! It’s amazing to me how perhaps the primary argument we Christians are having is on the topic of loving too much. Priceless.
Sadly, this is a huge departure from biblical Christianity. If you cannot affirm that all of the Scriptures are authoritative and true, on what basis do you decide what parts of the Bible are true or false or once were relevant but are no longer? We cannot change the Scriptures to fit the liking of our modern day culture. What (or who) needs to change is us.
Tell that to the 40,000 different Christian denominations who all read the same Bible but come to entirely different conclusions, each believing to hold the real truth. I never said the Bible isn’t authoritative or not true, but rather in what ways. If anyone is changing the scriptures to fit modern day culture, it is the conservatives who are doing so. Translating greeks words to mean “homosexual” in 1945 when they had been translated entirely different in all of history is just one example. Thanks for reading and commenting Jason!
All Scripture isn’t equal in authority. “You’ve heard it said but I say….” Jesus
Pssssssst…..I’ll take Jesus over everything else.
Also I don’t think it would go over very well if I stoned my son for being rebellious… Telling women they have to be silent, have their hair covered and uncut, AND that they cannot wear any jewelry or other adornments.
#nuance #context #JesusistheWordofGodtheBibleisScriptureanditsjobistodriveustoHim.
One of our priests said: “what if you are the only opportunity for someone to see Jesus today?”
How I live my life effects others. Can they see God’s love in my actions? I want the freedom to show God’s love to everyone. Not just some.
Preach on Elizabeth! Thanks for reading and commenting Let’s be brave together!
Well, that wasn’t brave at all.
Thank you for this article, which I am forwarding to many of my friends. I have never been dragged into the conservatism that you describe so well. I am training for Anglican ministry, and as you’ll know, the Anglican world is a broad one. There are the proverbial ‘clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right’ and luckily a fantastic bunch of people, who on the whole encourage healthy debate.
That said, there is a huge recent lean towards the conservative evangelicalism that you describe. I find myself in our ‘broad’ landscape where that range of views still exist, and peaceably, but the conservative voice is the one shouting loudest. They’re the voice that can quote scripture verbatim the best. They’re the ones that seem to have the greatest conviction in their belief. I’m in the UK, and my perception / assumption is that the situation is even greater ‘over the pond’. I pray for a resurgence of your type of Christianity – that is to say ‘Christianity’, as that is what I believe Christianity truly is. We are never in the Bible called to do God’s judging for him. We are only taught to love. God bless you my friend!
Richard, my best wishes to you as well. Sadly, there is a growing divide in the Christian world over the issues I address. Yet, there is also a great awakening to Grace that is occurring across the globe. This gives me hope and encouragement.
Just a quick note: Jesus submitted to the Father, but wasn’t less than the Father.
Thanks for this post. I escaped a conservative sect when I was 19. After realizing I was gay at 12 and praying and fasting for years, I finally decided that was never going to work and that I needed to leave the church and explore what life would be like as a gay man. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was stepping out on faith. After rejection from the church and my family I spent many years working through all of that pain, and trying to sort out which parts of my experience and my walk with god were real and which ones were harmful distortions of reality. I came to define myself as an atheist. Only a few years ago I found a church community near me where people share many of my beliefs. I’m still an atheist with respect to that sect I grew up in, but I’ve found that other people have very expansive ideas of how god is defined.
These other Christians believe that love is all that matters and that Jesus really was a counterculture human who sought to bring love and healing into the world. Many of them absolutely do not not believe in the kind of god I grew up with — the vengeful and unpredictable supernatural old guy in the sky with the big rule book. These Christians don’t react to different kinds of people with “you ought to do such-and-such”. Instead, they listen to other peoples’ stories, and are interested in their journeys. I was shocked when someone thanked me for ‘ministering’ to them after our long discussion about the nature of god and goodness. Me, an atheist, ministering to a Christian? Exploring these ideas and being a part of this supporting church community has brought me a lot of healing. I’m encouraged because there are many, many people, like you, who are living and speaking in the spirit of love. We’ve had enough hate, guilt, marginalization. The world needs healing and love and liberation.
Monte, I am so glad you shared your story and found a positive community of Jesus followers! Thanks for the bravery of your journey and sharing a bit of it here in this space! Appreciate you!
I really agree. Except that I am not the least bit sorry. I will not repent of trying to live a life of grace & mercy. There is too much love, joy & peace in this for me. The trick is in trying to not be impolite. I don’t want to be rude or prideful about this grace. But sorry? I can’t use that word.
Joy, I understand. No regrets here either. Thanks for reading and commenting!
What you write about submission…biblical submission means nothing of the sort. You are confusing submission with subjugation. Submission is not antithetical to “equal footing”. As a matter of fact, submission IS ABOUT equal footing.
Many women who are passionately in love with Jesus would beg to differ with you.
I found this from a friend of a friend on Facebook. Your core point – “conservative” Christianity, is often not “right” Christianity – is good. However there’s a couple statements you make that I may be misunderstanding your intent on: (and I don’t mean any of this to belittle you or to win an argument. I’m providing my viewpoint in response to yours, and I’m interested in your clarification 🙂
1. You say people are inherently good and that Grace is the great equalizer. Now I fully agree that everyone is equal under Grace, but that’s not the same as saying people are inherently good. If we are at the very core good, why is Grace necessary? If deep down we naturally desire God, why is the Spirit (both ours and His) in a constant battle with our flesh?
2. You say you cannot serve a Bipolar diety, and that God has no judgement or condemnation, and He is only love. If there is no judgement, why is there Grace? When a man asked Jesus “what must I do to be saved?”, why didn’t Jesus respond “there is nothing to be saved from”? Grace is choosing to not call in a debt that is owed, but if no debt is owed, how can Grace exist? Telling someone they don’t have to go to prison is meaningless unless that person deserved to go to prison. (Now I could be totally misunderstanding this, and you just mean there is no judgement after salvation, in which case I completely understand and agree with you).
There were a few points you made that were really really good, and few others I disagreed with, but these were the two major things I wanted to ask you about.
Thanks for taking the time to voice hour opinions!
Thanks John for thoughtfully reading my article and commenting. I believe a person is not defined in any way shape or form by their behaviors etc. nor do I see the flesh as you do. We are created in the image of God regardless of our performance, attitudes, or bent, and everything God created is “good” and is still “good,” as Paul later affirms. As I stated in the article,when we awaken to Grace we awaken to that which God has already been provided and seeing things as such. To be sure, we are not perfect beings. Our lives fall short daily. God’s desire is that we accept our acceptance, not for His benefit or to turn the key to salvation, but for our benefit in knowing Him thoroughly, enjoying our salvation, and living life at its best. The flesh is everything and anything that we turn to because we are not fully rested in His Grace that is completely sufficient. Jesus came, not to save us from an angry God, but from believing that He is. We are not saved from an God who would reject us, but from a life of religious death that would convince us He could.
Thanks for the reply!
I may be misunderstanding you, but it sounds like you’re saying that salvation is only something that affect this life. That everyone will go to heaven, but the if you’re “saved” you can rest in His Grace in this life, as opposed to not. Is that what you’re saying?
I read tired, and disillusioned.. mostly tired and weatherbeaten, with a touch of discouragement tossed in for good measure.
Christian Universalism is a sect of theology which includes the belief in the doctrine of universal reconciliation, the view that all human beings will ultimately be restored to a right relationship with God in Heaven and the New Jerusalem. problem is, it ignores writings to the contrary in the Word of God Himself.
For instance, The thought of losing one to their personal choice to reject salvation is disheartening. Doesn’t mean we don’t love them, but leave them and their choices to God, but taking a daily prayer stance in battle for them.
Take heart, God doesn’t require you be be anything but yourself, and the surrender to His will in personal life is when the Holy Spirit Himself works within to change us into the mold of Christ. Realizing we could not ever become perfect by putting on a mask and coat, and trying to play Christian was never His intent. In fact, because He is already in the future and Knows “whomsoever will” ; and while His desire is that all people will be saved, without His call we are lost. His own words are that the road is narrow and not all will come to that salvation..by personal choice. By definition, that negates universalism. It is not ours to judge the actions of others except in the perspective of law and impingement upon others rights. God reserves that right entirely unto Himself. Essentially love the sinner, hate the sin. Leave Judgement to God. Don’t dwell on the failings of man.
(ps..God doesn’t value women any less than He does men, and instructs is to care for them in a partnership. Ever read song of Solomon? So, quite the way you currently are, not in your misinterpretation of semantics. A sure sign God IS working in you.) CHristianity has done more to liberate women from repression than any other faith or movement in the history of the world.
“aren’t we all inspired by God anyway” No..with or without accepting Jesus’ atonement, and without the Word of God to guide us, we are in darkness and rudderless;.. no better than a ship tossed in a raging sea, pushed one way or the other by the ever changing winds of desire or emotion, or demoralizing society, or best yet, by the push to do or be SOMETHING, ANYTHING..just to be active.
essentially; Proverbs 3:5..5Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight”.……If GOD calls it sin, avoid it for your own good,
Be of good cheer, for God KNOWS the inward heart, He KNOWS when you get tired or disillusioned, doesn’t judge you for it, rather sends His Holy Spirit living in you, to heal and restore you on a daily basis. Let this be the year of Jubilee.
1Cor13:12 Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know **in part** ; then **I shall know fully**, even as I am fully known.
Best of God, !
watching man profit on the teachings of God doesn’t make HIM very happy either, but those people will atone one day for their motives and heart.
I see a lot of you in this article. Are you trying to follow Jesus? Isn’t that where it starts?
Giving up and taking the easy road? So brave! What a hero!
You were predicted.
2 Timothy 4:3New International Version (NIV)
3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
Are snark, contempt, dismissiveness, derision fruit of the Spirit? You can do better Jonathan.
Jonathan, that scripture could be applied to anyone – even you.
I have been on this same journey for about a year. Thank you for putting into words what I have been feeling. My closest friends are conservative Christians and think that I am believing heresy.
Laurie, thanks for reading and commenting. Glad to be on this journey with you!
Thank you for this!! You’ve articulated what I have felt and believed for so long. Very well done. Grace wins. Grace gets the final word.
Holly, thanks for this comment! Amen, amen, and amen! So appreciate you taking the time to read and comment!
If youre christian left, why didn’t you leave Christianity? Signed someone that sees what Christians do not.
Following Jesus isn’t left or right–those are political constructs. Oh….yeah….maybe it is for Christianity. …. I’m thankful I am a simple Jesus Follower.
I went on my own spiritual journey, my path is not the same as yours and for many reasons. For one, I do not see Christianity as a religion of peace, love and tolerance. For another, my own personal experiences showed me that Christianity in general was wrong, at least for me it is. Ive been verbally attacked by fundamentalist and liberal christians both. I seek only approval of myself. I have been through a lot of emotional abuse in life, and meditation helped greatly, however, i dont like nor approve of Christian Buddhism, to me, those that practice both cannot understand what i have been through in life. As for liberal christians, it was a liberal christian that made me deconvert, because after my family fought over Jesus, a liberal christian told everyone visiting his blog about “true Christianity” and i thought about how self serving that statement really was. To me, spirituality has NOTHING to do with Christianity or believing in Jesus. End of story. But thanks to Christians hijacking terms, i refuse to use the term spritual because I am a Buddhist, first and foremost.
I will just say one thing; THIS GUY NEVER even open the BIBLE in his life! His best friend is his opinion which is the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability and no understanding. One more things, Paul makes it very clear about homosexuality in Romans 1, go and educate yourself.
Not so clear–many scholars are not convinced that the 6 verses that remotely refer to homosexualty have anything to do with same sex married couples. There was no such thing then. #templeprostitution #heteromenhavingsexwithboys.
BTW the dude was a pastor for 22 years…. I am guessing he may have opened a Bible a few times at least 😉
You cannot hide in the eisegesis of ‘temple Prostitution’ and paedophilia. Paul specifically uses the phrase “men with men committing indecent acts” to remove that option. This article goes through the main objections:
But heterosexual men having sex with men would indeed be unnatural correct?
I can assure you–that I have deeply EXEGETED this passages. I find it interesting that often the word eisegisis is thrown out when one is in disagreement with a point. I find it dismissive…
But men having sex with men would indeed be unnatural correct?
Coldyham, castrating male servants to avoid sexual liasons with highly valued women in regal households, wasn’t technically natural either. Nor circumcision. Two things approved of in the bible though.
Coldyham–Only if they are straight….
I could have written that. I have never been happier with my relationship with Christ. Being away from church, strengthened my faith. I had to step back when I was touting “my church was the best” becoming more involved because of the people, instead of for Jesus. Feeling like I was in a popular click, and part of a ” Christian Sorority”. All these things happened because I was hungry for the Lord. But they morphed into something I didn’t like in me. I cannot conform to rituals, rules, and deeds. When you only look straight ahead you miss everything else around you. Me n God, I’m good with at that.
Thanks Cathy for sharing your thoughts, journey, and reflections upon diving into this article. Appreciate you adding your story to the conversation, I know it will encourage others in their walk of faith.
Well done, I came to that place too after many many years in Evangelical Charismatic teaching. Thanks to Eckhart Tolle & Richard Rohr I recognised that the huge internal earthquake was God! All blessing on you as you continue to follow Jesus. I recommend “Wisdom Way of Knowing” by Cynthia Bourgeault if you have not already read it.
I now work as a Spiritual Director and have four directees in this shift, God is at work, keep on loving! K xx
Thanks Kate for the nice comments and well wishes! Appreciate you and the work you are doing!
I Can’t See People As Being Inherently Evil And Lost
But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
Matthew 15:18-19 NIV
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
Colossians 1:21 NIV
He perfectly loves me with perfect consistency. All this sfiery talk about hell, wrath, judgement, and God’s discipline—it’ not only all highly debatable and open to be differently interpreted, but all silenced at the foot of the cross. Captured by Jesus who adores humanity without limit or restriction, I refuse to live my life fearing, doubting, and in a constant state of paranoia of a conservatively-imaged god who could love me one moment and cast me into hell the next, simply because I don’t love Him back in precisely all the right
I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’
Luke 14:24 NIV
John 14:15 ESV
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.
Job 5:17-18 NIV
My son, do not despise the Lord ’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
Proverbs 3:11-12 NIV
For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.
Proverbs 5:23 NIV
I Can’t Ask My Wife To Submit To Me
He does not ask her. Because he lives her she will submit to him.of her own accord.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
Ephesians 5:21-23, 25-26 NIV
Demanding that the earth has an age of merely 6,000 years, evolution is fake news, and global warming is a myth, is to create a war of intellect, science, and common sense where there need not be. In both matters of the spiritual and scientific, our human capacity to fully comprehend, define, and know for certain is highly limited.
This is what God the Lord says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
Isaiah 42:5 NIV
I’m convinced that God’s desire isn’t that I land in a cold existence of conformity to a certain set of approved beliefs, but that I’m always growing in my awakening to His Grace—forever fluid to where that might take me emotionally, spiritually, physically, and confessionally.
The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.
Proverbs 14:15 NIV
John 14:15 ESV
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
I Can’t Believe The Bible Is Perfect-
I tasted and seen that God is pure Love and Jesus is all Grace, and now my soul won’t let me consume nor settle for anything less—
From the psalm where he quoted.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord , you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth.
Psalm 34:8-9, 13-16 NIV
For the word of God…judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
All scripture is God-breathed”
Ilinca, thanks for your listing of biblical texts you are apparently hoping will refute my article. When you take a text out of its context, you can make a con out of any text. Every single passage you sited does not disprove my thoughts, in fact, the ones you reference actually affirm them. Thanks for reading the article and listing bible passages.
However, when you make an article with no references beyond your own feelings, you can say absolutely anything you want, it’s already a con.
If I have to show you, verse by verse, all the Biblical texts that were referenced in this article, then perhaps some study would help you in connecting the dots. I assume that anyone approaching this article with a desire to critique it biblically will be knowledgable enough to not require being hand held through all the biblical references that are woven into it.
Chris, Why apologize to conservative Christianity? It’s Jesus you’re leaving. Of course some of your criticisms I agree with. The problem is that you pretend as if there were not a stronger position in the middle, i.e. a “Conservative Christianity” which is not consumer driven, has no problem with science, etc. It is not the Spirit of Jesus within you who is leading you to these conclusions, though it is a spirit. How can we know? Because the Spirit is the One who wrote the Book. The Spirit and the Word are in full agreement. The bottom line is this: We all have to choose a standard, and your standard is yourself (yourself, basically conformed to contemporary culture, that is). The Christian is someone who, by the power of God’s Spirit, is being conformed (and works to conform themselves to) the Word of God. God’s Word is the true standard, not our own desires.
Thanks for reading and commenting Dave!
Jesus leaves no-one, who accepts Him as the Son of God. Christ is faithful, and individuals are free to leave a religious institutional belief-systems behind, without leaving Christ behind. He’s portable like that. That’s how he reaches into the places, others right off as where the lost dwell.
I couldn’t agree more with your list. I had struggled with many of the things you mentioned but the final straw for me came when I was in bible college. I had to do an assignment on whether gay men could be church leaders – according to the bible. The thing that struck me was how few verses in the bible mention being gay. A handful at most. Many in the old testament where we’re all happy to assign “cultural relevance” to things like stoning uncontrollable children or it being an abomination to wear clothing of mixed cloths.
There is much more “biblical evidence” that it is wrong to be greedy, be self-righteous, or be judgmental!
I too began study at that time. Psychology. I was told it was dangerous. I was asked how I could justify learning the “wisdom of men” and still say I had faith. I answered that I love people, and psychology is the study of people. What do accountants love? And why does every church need at least one? Surely accounting is the wisdom of men???? Conservative Christianity constantly contradicts itself.
Sadie, thanks for your reflections on this article and for sharing a bit of your spiritual walk! An important ingredient in much of conservative Christianity is controlling the Biblical narrative in ways that legitimize a deeper desire to control people and justify their self-righteousness. Rejecting things that bring freedom or critical thought is often not uncommon, sadly. Thanks for reading and commenting!
Call your religion what it is. This isn’t Christianity, it’s a creation of your own desires, a fictional deity which does whatever your heart feels (Genesis 6v5, that’s not a good thing).
Your language reveals this self created god: “I’ve tasted and seen”, “Grace has convinced me”, “The Spirit of Jesus within me has convinced my heart”. There is no certainty here, no truth. In fact, you even dismiss the Bible while claiming to follow “the faithful scholarship of *Bible-loving*, truth-seeking, Jesus-loving, and unbiased scholars”.
On sin and hell, there are too many passages to go through, but I’ll take you to words from Jesus himself in Matthew 25 on the sheep and the goats, where two very different paths for sinners and the faithful are shown:
On homosexuality, I’m not going to leviticus, or sodom, much as they demonstrate God’s fury against sin (not only this sin), or even to Paul, but again to Jesus (the real, biblical one, not your power fantasy), who, in Matthew 19 reaffirms old testament teaching on gender and sexuality as God’s words: “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’
Thanks Coldyham for reading and commenting!
Our world has long left behind, male and female, as God made them. Today, I’m talking about plastic surgery for older women, to still look good for their husbands. I’ve heard female ministries on this. Because it’s biblical to please your husband, and you wouldn’t want him to be tempted by someone who looked more desirable. Or artificial insemination when a longed for child, cannot be conceived. We knew Sarah did not believe God about her late conception, in a similar fashion. So Abraham laid with her servant, and look at all the trouble that caused. Would God have approved, if AI was used on Sarah instead?
We do all these new things, outside of what God created, then pick the group we want to ostracize as not being Christian enough. It’s all hypocrisy.
Mathew 19:12 “For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others–and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
It’s all about choice. Jesus did not condemn the eunuchs made by others (traditional practice back then, when you wanted a male servant in a regal household, taking care of women). This was not a natural practice, and actually contradicted with the sin of wasting one’s seed, by spilling it on the ground. But then it was okay if you were a wealthy guy, to cut another guys, seed satchel off.
This kind of hypocritical interpretation of scripture is rampant all through the bible. And is no different today. Cut a man’s God-given organs off, or put a knife to a woman’s face and body – to serve the kingdom of God. Because you can find some reference in the bible, to appease those completely unnatural virtues too. But if someone chooses to follow Christ, even though “they were born that way” (acknowledged is possible with eunuchs) they are not Christian and neither does their creation, align with God?
I personally don’t believe same sex relationships were intended in God’s original design either. Like eunuchs – which is why Jesus didn’t condemn them. But there’s a lot of perversion of God’s design to get through – where do we start? And who do we blame, after we come down from the cross?
You cannot teach the love of Christ, while busy condemning sin. And it is the love of Christ, through God, we are told, we are saved.
“People are good, whether they believe incorrectly or behave differently. This is the way Jesus sees all creation, the entire expanse of humanity—I just want to live my life seeing people the way He does.”
Looking forward to seeing your re-write of the Bible, removing the bad stuff that Jesus didn’t really say and clarifying the stuff that He didn’t really mean, and correcting the stuff He got wrong.
Maybe you could add a couple of books to it to correct Paul, as well?
Thanks A.J. for reading and commenting! More to come soon!
With you all the way, A.J.
For many years I felt the Bible was a weapon being used against me to be submissive, to be better, to be everything I was not. As well I used that Bible as a weapon against many a person, and have asked forgiveness of many.
Every sunday the service focused on, altar calls, and 1 1/2 hour long worship songs, 15 minute message and another 1/2 hour altar call. By the end of it all the majority would feel like they were evil sinners, and run up for prayer. I was taught Homosexuality was a big sin, and was scared of Gays because of the teachings. I felt by associating with one I too would become “dirty”. Lots was said of the love of God, mostly that God loved you enough to send his only son to die for our sins. But that God could not look upon us because we were/are sinners so Jesus stands in the gap so God does not need to see us and our unworthy ways. I was in a constant state of feeling I would not meet God’s expectations.
I finally left the church 17 years ago, all churches in fact, and never bothered to go again. I could not meet the expectations of God or the Church. About 6 years later, I started studying the Bible again, this time with an open mind, and not how I was taught to interpret the words of the bible. I quickly came to the conclusion what I had been taught was completely wrong, and I had been right to leave. I found Jesus speaking of love, and not only to those who repented, but towards everyone. I can not love everyone, but I can stop being judgemental about other people’s sexual orientations, races and other religions. I have many gay friends now, and I accept them where they are at, and love them dearly. I see muslims, and realize they are loved too, as well as any other religious denom that is out there. They are either all loved, by God or they are not. I realized it can’t be both ways, love some and hate others. I still will not go to church because I feel I am not strong enough to be able to withstand the peer pressure of so many people, and I will keep my faith to myself and work it all out, knowing I am loved.
Sheila, thanks so much for sharing your story. Your transition is not unlike mine and many others. I am thankful for your courage and willingness to be open to the Spirit of God working in and through your life. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
The arguments by so-called conservative Christians about “hate the sin, love the sinner” is pure fallacy. Any “Christian” that claims this argument is either ignorant of the reality or a liar. In 28 states, an LGBQ person can be fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartments. When you include Transgendered, increase the number of states to 32. LGBTQ+ persons can be denied service at any number of vendors including restaurants, grocery stores, etc. It is not “hating the sin” as CCs would have you believe as holding down a job or getting an apartment or walking into a grocery store has nothing to do with their sexuality. LGBTQ+ can also be denied emergency health care if the responder happens to “hate their sin”. There is no such thing as “hate the sin, love the sinner”. There is a systematic, organized effort happening to drive LGBTQ+ into isolation, poverty and despair. If you don’t believe me, ask the next conservative Christian you meet if an LGBTQ+ should be able to hold a job and be protected from being fired based on their sexual orientation. If they are honest, they will tell you that they should be discriminated in every way for their sexual o. If they are dishonest, they will give you the “hate the sin, love the sinner” line because that way they can continue to discriminate and feel good about themselves.
Dan, thanks for sharing this insightful comment. Unfortunately, what you say holds significant truth. Thanks for reading and commenting!
I want to thank you for this article. Two years ago I moved to a small town in rural Oklahoma that is overwhelming conservative Christian, and I have never felt more isolated, confused, lonely, and sad in my entire life. I thought it was because there’s not much to do, or because since I’m not from here, I didn’t fit in. I have never lived near or spent much time with Conservative Christians, and I absolutely do not understand the culture around me; your article helps me understand the “issues” I have encountered a little better.
I identify as an atheist, meaning I don’t believe in God; I don’t practice anything in terms of religion, but I have a full spiritual life, filled with introspection, learning, listening, meditation, curiosity and openness. I studied ancient history and religion in college and spent a year living and studying in Israel; I have friends who identify as atheist, agnostic, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist, and I love and accept them all, as they do me. What you describe in this article is true acceptance and unconditional love; it is something that I have not encountered in this rural community, and since I don’t belong to a church, maybe I won’t encounter it (since as you point out it often is conditional). It feels crappy to be judged and excluded for having different, more inclusive beliefs. It makes me sad to think about it all, but you also give me hope that there is another way of being that can bring groups of people together rather than drive them apart.
Maria, thanks so much for sharing a bit of your spiritual journey. Glad to be on this spiritual journey with you!
This is banal emotionalism, unfortunately
No one except Calvinists compel you to believe human beings are inherently evil. Evil is a privation of being, not something that exists positively. For that reason no one is evil as to their essence, only in certain respects, given wicked deeds.
The notion of Justice is not bipolar. God is Reason itself, and as such is never capricious. If you love God by keeping His commandments and living in His grace, you will not be inaccessible for the Beatific Vision.
the submission of a wife to a husband does not render he wide inferior to the husband, but protects her dignity who while submitting to you is entitled and deserving of love and sacrifice on your part. Headship mirrors the headship of Christ, who shows His headship principally through sacrifice
As for biblical inerrancy, if the Scriptures come from a God whole and entire, there can be no error. Nevertheless we must remain sensitive to genre, and a literal interpretation of what’s in scripture is not always necessary as we must refer always to the Fathers of the Church for our exegesis
As to homosexuality, this is an emotional argument. Homosexuality isn’t wrong because the Bible says so. It is wrong because it runs contrary to the ontology of Man’s nature, which is confirmed in Scripture. I can go into this more in depth if need be
The simple fact is that you need to consider the principle of non contradiction a bit more. Either Christ is God or He is not. If He is, we must submit our intellect and will to ALL of His teachings and to the Church which He gave the power to bind and loose. Otherwise, is we are simply living in accord with our own desires. It’s really all or nothing
Thanks for reading and commenting Alex!
Banal emotionalism…….Smh . Next!
There are so many straw men, false dichotomies, false equivalencies and fallacious arguments in this it’s truly staggering. To equal Conservative Christianity with much of this nonsense…man, either you are blatantly dishonest and disingenuous or wildly ignorant. Let me guess, Westboro Baptist and Billy Graham are on the same team? Ridiculous.
Thanks for reading and commenting Keith!
This article is mostly a canard kabob. If you reject the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints, just say so. Don’t set yourself and your druthers above it and persist in calling yourself a Christian. This just makes you a wolf.
Thanks for reading and commenting Jim!
I really enjoyed your article. Has God’s word changed, or has mans interpretation changed Gods word? If you haven’t heard Rosario Butterfield’s testimony it definitely is worth listening to. Jesus died for our sins, a perfect sacrifice, what he didn’t do was ever approve of sin, no matter what sin it was. There has been a real disservice to the gay community, there is even a greater disservice being done now allowing them to believe God is ok with their sin, he isn’t ok with my sin. In my humble opinion I do believe God’s grace is absolutely wonderful and amazing, if you believe the Bible at all then you have to believe he’s coming back not meek and mild, but as a roaring lion. God is certainly love, that love shines through time and time again as a beacon of hope for all, and all can experience that love. God has always been in my life, even though I wasn’t following him, thanks to the Holy Spirit never leaving me, and Gods love for me, I was able to repent from my sins and start that walk with Christ.
I believe God’s word is clear on gays, if they act on it then it is a sin just like all sins, sins has to be dealt with at some time for people to truly have that relationship with Christ. I appreciate your time, have a blessed day!
If your walk with God as inspired through the Bible works for you that is wonderful and you do not need to seek out the following, but if you are looking for more answers and seek a more comprehensive understanding of God, the life and teachings of Jesus, and a scientific view of the universe that integrates Diety, please try the URANTIA book.
As a Satanist I approve of most of this message.
Truth: Conservative Evangelical Christians are fantastic at singing about Grace, but not so hot at understanding it.
Truth: God is Love. We are also told that God is Spirit, and God is Light.
Truth: We (humanity as a whole, and individually) are not God.
Truth: Something is broken…
The Bible tells us that the words (all of them) it contains were inspired by God and are true. So I would simply ask that you carefully consider this issue. I would suggest that in the original language as first written by the author(s), the words of the Bible ARE infallible. When fully and correctly understood – which is the issue. Our understanding, not the Bible. And of course how many of us read the Bible in the original languages from perfect copies? None. But still I do believe that it is vitally important that we acknowledge the Truth that the Bible represents – God’s Word in written form, twisted and abused though it continues to be. Jesus Himself was twisted and abused – people could look at Him and see nothing but pain and suffering and humanity…. People saw the marks put upon Him by human hands. Let’s not make the mistake of dismissing the Truth of the Bible because of the marks upon it from human hands…
If we do dismiss the Bible as never having been the perfect Word of God, then we have no choice but to pick and choose from it and create for ourselves one by one a religion that we approve of…. That fits with our perception of the world and the problems we face within it.
The problem of sin is actually a simple (simple does not mean easy!) one. We are all sinners. Sin is anything or thought or word or action that denies God’s authority as our Creator. We all sin, millions of times throughout our lives. The core of Grace is that Jesus paid it all. We have access to the Good, despite the bad we have done. And the core of Mercy is that we are saved from living an endless life separated from God.
There is a clear danger present in running away from any system that we find (rightly or wrongly) too constrictive. And that is the tendency to throw out everything and start constructing something ‘new’. And without the completeness of God – in ALL His attributes (Love, Justice, Holiness, Truth, Righteousness…) we have nothing.
Yes, we need to let God through His Spirit strip away all that is hateful and hurtful about the religion of Christianity. Yes, above all else we should seek to love (and BE loved) as Christ commanded….
But there IS order. There IS authority. There IS submission. There IS right and wrong…
Sorry for the ramble!
I agree with you, but only to a point. There is order, authority, submission, right and wrong – but not without free will. God honours free will. And Jesus was the perfect example of why, people would want to do all those things. He didn’t have to threaten people with God’s wrath to keep them. He even introduced a new way to treat women (by what they did, not how they were preceived) and he also became equalizer, to those who were abandoned by society, and left outside of God’s temple.
If you respect free will as God does, and send a champion to show the perfect example – then use his name, and not the champion – what good is there in the bible, which is worthy of God? A book can be used as a weapon, but God’s champion cannot. I believe in order, authority, submission, right and wrong too – but only to God’s champion. What mankind believes about a book, is irrelevant, if they place it before Jesus. Because only he knows how to interpret it, to apply to others.
Well written and I wish I could have but these words down on paper for it is the same that I feel god bless us all and hope he will guide us all down the right path for all of us !!!
Thank you Dereck, appreciate you and your encouraging words! Be brave!
Thank you, Rosetta!
Pretty weak stuff.
You praise the soft virtues of God like love and grace and mercy but forget that He is true, righteous and just.
He is soft and merciful to his people, even so we still deserve discipline. He is also the hardest, most unrelenting, immovable God and He will crush us with the cornerstone and put us through the winepress of His wrath for not accepting Jesus.
So don’t place your Judeo-Marxist drivel up on high. You are simply taking the morality of the current year and covering it with cherry picked bible verses out of context. Absolutely degenerate and disgusting.
You should be ashamed of yourself for this. Men are meant to lead, this is obvious. You really believe Christians were wrong for nearly 2000 years up until the suffragette movement?
No, of course not. Women shouldn’t vote, end of story.
The bible is our moral compass, not how secular humanists feel in 2017. Take your Jewish fables of racism, sexism and discernment in general being evil and shove it.
People that teach the gospel of Marx should be careful, God holds those that teach to a higher standard. Which is yet another example of people not being equal.
Stephen – was the woman at the well crushed by the winepress? What about Mary Magdalene? Did Jesus pound her to dust with righteousness? What about what CS Lewis said about the human perspective of God’s word – that sometimes we may find many meanings (braided hair, for instance) and other times we are very very sure (He is the WAY!)… I find it hard to accept that you personally believe that you know the practical application of every Bible verse. Furthermore, Christian doctrine has changed innumerable times in different locations for two thousand years! (Eating meat, for example) The waxing and waning of popular and comfortable or uncomfortable truths is part of Christian history. I’m just wondering, respectfully, if you have looked at any of this and how you have come up with your worldview. It seems truly rigid and based in traditionalism and patriarchy rather than scripture.
Yes, it is based in traditionalism and patriarchy because I believe the bible to promote that way of living for humans.
That isn’t to say that this kind of attitude brings about salvation, we are only saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
I believe that we would be better off if we all had a more biblical perspective about gender roles, nation building and multiculturalism, feminism, etc. These modern day humanistic ideologies are in direct opposition to the biblical teachings of our forefathers.
S Birmanns – Thank you for your respectful rebuttal. I second it. The world is and has always been changing – along with beliefs about the meaning of the Bible. Yes, we are becoming a nation more grounded in love and respect for all people of all nations, all genders and identities. Love is winning. And I believe, God is joyous about having us finally love those around us as He has always tried to teach us – and in the spirit of the woman at the well.
I have always relied on her testimony (the woman at the well) “Come meet a man who knew everything I ever did!” And I hear an echo: forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. And I do not feel free to sin more but to weep in gratitude for that simple moment in time. Thank God, he forgives.
You casually forget Jesus said He brings the sword, not peace.
Honestly, your hippy Jesus character is a caricature, innaccurate.
If you don’t have the Son, you don’t have the Father.
“Respecting” other people’s cultures? It’s preposterous. That’s why the post-Christian west is being overrun by foreigners with strange and violent religions.
You guys are too weak and stand for apostasy. Which God will punish as He always has, with a foreign invasion and occupation and the destruction of His people.
You guys are hilariously promoting the mystery religion of Babylon in the name of Christ. Give your head a shake.
I am shaking my head, and sadly. We will simply have to agree to disagree.
Stephen-Hippy Jesus? The One that said the last is first? weak are strong? Poor are rich? The One who said the meek inherit the earth? What did He say about peacemaking?
Ah yes He tells us to forgive and love our enemy AND be willing to die for him.
Abba’s Kingdom is upside down and counter intuitive as it relates to this world.
If this is being a hippy–than may we all don the tie-dye 😉
I indeed am shaking my head my brother–
The sword Jesus refers to, was a parable. He was referring to his ability to bring division – not that he did not desire peace. It was a warning. Matthew: 10:36 “a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” That is the division he was speaking of. If it is possible for the sword of Christ to bring enemies from his own household, then it is possible in the church also.
Matthew 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
That is the literal interpretation of swords, which you are applying the parable Jesus used about his presence among his own house. Would you raise a literal sword to your own family, as easily as you would a foreigner?
So sad… inevitable result of self as decider in a Moralistic Therapeutic Deistic society.
Wiki’s definition of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism:
There is a god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
1. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught by most world religions.
2. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
3. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
4. Good people go to heaven when they die.
Love this! So eloquent and well written and deeply felt. Thank you.
Thanks Joe, appreciate your kind words!
This is excellent. I left my conservative Christian Church in 2013, when it became abundantly clear that I had to address my gender issues. I was part of the church leadership there, so I had to extricate myself. I was told that Satan was lying to me, that this was all Satan’s doing, that I had to unlearn 40+ years of experience, according to a pastor who knew me for 3 years. Two weeks later, I was gone.
A month later I landed in the most wonderful congregation I could imagine, and there I was able to transition and finally begin to thrive.
Total Depravity, the T in TULIP, never really set right with me, and neither did predestination. I could not accept that humans were completely evil and worthless, but yet God saw fit to choose a subset of them to “save”.
Thank you for writing this!!!
Thanks Christa, so appreciate you and your kind words! In my opinion, Calvinism is nothing but pure evil. I am proud of you and your bravery!
My friend, you may not realize this but you have summed up the Church Jesus started – the Catholic Church. Now I’m not talking about what individual Catholics or priests might SAY is Catholic, I am saying the actual doctrine. Check it out. Christ is fully present in His Church.
In your theology is there “an end time”? Who or what is the spirit of antiChrist? What question or action will identify grace Christians and conservative Christians?
The short answer Roxie, I have written about these topics in other articles on this site. A simple search should get you started. Thanks!
You have given in to a humongous lie my friend. That lie is that you can be saved by a Jesus of your own design. You claim Jesus is the only true word of God, well the Bible is the word of God. Please read John 1. If you sincerely believe that you cannot take every word of the Scriptures as true and literal, then you have absolutely no hope for eternity, for how would you, a simple man be able to sift through the scriptures for absolute truth? If there is a single falsehood, then it then becomes a heaping pile of garbage, having no power or authority to bring people to Heaven. You claim that every “Rule” is a destruction of grace, but yet in the very word of God James warns us that Faith without works are dead. Tensions in scripture are not contradictions. God is both Love and Hate. You cannot love something perfectly and not hate it’s opposite. If you love life then you must hate anything that ends life. You cannot have love without hatred. You cannot have forgiveness if there was nothing to forgive, if there were no punishment. This god that you have created sounds pleasant but it is not the God of the Bible. There is still time for you to repent and believe the Bible.
Jesus did not hate on the cross, Josh, and that action is what saved mankind. If you witness believers not hating, it’s because the spirit they are saved by, only recognizes the love of God. Hate leads to the deception of the forefathers’ descendants, who killed Jesus. For they were not saved through grace, before Christ’s sacrifice. Why repent from God’s love, when this is how we are saved?
Granted there are a lot of problems in Christian circles. I agree with several listed in this article. Yet this is just pragmatic humanism dresssed up as a Christian position. I am sure this will appeal to many Biblically illiterate people. So sad, I saw this starting over 30 years ago when I left Churchianity for many of the reasons you listed. Yet the answer is precisely where you thought the problem was. In the written Word of God. It is through the written Word we come to know the living Word of God. I am afraid that you have made up a god of your own imagination and are leading others to also worship your false God. John 12:48
“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” I know you will not want to hear this, but you should fear that judgement because you are not heeding His Word today yet you say you follow Him.
Who are the LGBT scholars that affirm same sex marriage is affirmedn in the Bible??
Stan Mitchell, Matthew Vines, James Brownson, Megan Defranza, Justin Lee, Peter Gomes– to get you started.
I see a lot of people actually disagree with Matthew Vines that are prominent Biblical scholars. His arguments are not very strong.
Of course there are people/scholars who disagree. No one should be surprised at that, for with 40,000 different Christian denominations, we can’t even get central issues like salvation to the agreement table.
It all comes back to authority. What is your authority? If one doesn’t believe that scripture is in fact the infallible, God breathed, transcendent word of God then the reference point for truth becomes self. This is the oldest lie in the world going back to the garden. Eve set herself up to be arbiter of truth. She would determine for the first time in human history what truth was. She would determine her own truth and all human beings since have been doing the same thing. This lie will lead to condemnation as God has determined to make a public display of mans wisdom. Believing the lie of human autonomy will end in condemnation.
I am a former, conservative Evangelical pastor of 22 years. I am very well aware of all the arguments, texts, and doctrines of the theological framework to which you subscribe. In fact, I used to hold to all the talking points you have articulated. I respectfully disagree with your views, interpretations, and biblical conclusions.
Right, so you have another authority other than scripture. How does that contrast with my point?
1) One does not need to believe in the infallibility of the Bible to believe it is authoritative. 2) Your points are based on your own interpretation of Scripture, nothing more.
Since truth is ultimate and not relative your first point is a contradiction. If the Bible is not infallible then where there is error there must be a higher ultimate authority. Not only this but the Bible claims it is infallible. If it’s claim is not true then it isn’t authoritative. You can’t have it both ways. Either it is true from cover to cover, authoritative and trustworthy or it isn’t true and therefore none of its claims are trustworthy. As soon as you start saying which parts are true and which aren’t you have now become the ultimate authority. You can spin it how you choose but after you whittle it down your left with two options. Either the Bible is the written word of God or it isn’t. Again, what is your ultimate authority?
The risen Christ, whose mind, Spirit, and very essence lives in me and as me. He is the only perfect Word and authority–period, full stop. Thanks for the interesting conversation, blessings to you as we respectfully agree to disagree and you continue to wrestle with the truths of this article. Peace.
Hi Shane. The Bible represents the word of God, but Jesus was God’s Word, made flesh. John especially, testifies of this. God evolves, so his word can apply to every generation. Which is why he adopted strangers into his kingdom through Christ. Because he can manifest new things from old.
John 16 starting with verse 13
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
I know you want to say Jesus is talking about Scripture, but he doesn’t say that. Jesus says the Spirit RECEIVED, in YOU.
Perhaps you refuse to acknowledge the Holy Spirit is real and does speak to you?
What you say is very much out of line with what the Scriptures teach. My final authority is not other denominations (sadly, many of them have lost sight of the gospel and sound doctrine in our day), it is the Scriptures. This is where we go to know who God is, who we are, our problem (sin), and God’s solution to our problem (the substitutionary atonement of Christ).
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”
– Romans 1:18 (ESV)
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
– Romans 1:26-32 (ESV)
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
– Romans 3:23 (ESV)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Romans 6:23 (ESV)
We all have a natural inclination towards sin. We are all guilty of sinning against God in our thoughts, words, and actions. If we were basically good we would not need a Savior. Jesus came to die for sinners. To come to Christ you must acknowledge your sin and come to Him by faith, not trusting in your own goodness, but trusting in His perfect work on the cross in our place. Jesus overcame sin and death in the place of all who trust in Him. Those who do not trust in Christ and continue in their sin will experience the justice and wrath of God. This is the biblical gospel.
I am a former, conservative Evangelical pastor of 22 years. I know intimately all the arguments, texts, and doctrines of the theological framework to which you subscribe. I respectfully disagree with you on your biblical conclusions.
Sin has been dealt with by Jesus on the cross Jesus went to the cross because God so LOVED THE WORLD.
You keep going backwards. You keep saying to people “you awful disgusting person”
You SHOULD be saying God LOVES YOU so much that He gave of Himself!!! God says you are worth EVERYTHING to Him!! I know you may feel dirty BUT GOD has made you perfect!! Because of Jesus!
Thanks for sending this to me. I’m passing it on!
Chris, is resonate with much of what you say in this blog but I think that you miss one big point – it doesn’t matter how we evaluate people (we never do it accurately- always slanted in our own favor), what matters is how God sees us and He clearly says that we are not basically good. You state that you are a follower of Jesus but there is no reason for Jesus to equate healing with the forgiveness of sins if we are all basically good. There would also have been no reason for Jesus to have said to the woman caught in the act or adultery that He did not condemn her and that she should go her way and sin no more. There would also have been no reason for Jesus to say “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me”. If we’re also basically good then there would be no need for the forgiveness of sin but Jesus and His close friend John both speak clearly about forgiveness for our sin.
We do need to both receive and extend more grace than what we already do.
Ted, thanks for your comment. I am a former, conservative Evangelical pastor of 22 years. I know intimately all the arguments, texts, and doctrines of the theological framework to which you subscribe. I respectfully disagree with you.
Chris, it seems that you have a stock answer to all who disagree with you. I see no attempt to respond to any of the specifics that have been stated. In essence you are saying “I perceive this to be ‘conservative/evangelical’ and I will not dialog about any specifics”.
Thanks for acknowledging my post and also allowing it to exist on your comment string. Clearly a sign that you are willing to allow others – both us “conservative/evangelical” and your other readers – to see all sides of the discussion so they can make their own decisions. There are definitely some other threads that would not have that openness.
Ted, with people I sense who have a true desire to learn and understand a different view point, I am more than happy to respond and address specifics. Unfortunately, most people want to simply communicate their disagreement and ask questions that aren’t real questions at all, but statements of their beliefs and disapproval hoping to bate me into an argument. I have little time for that and long ago learned of its futility. To those who have ears I have an openness for true dialogue and going deeper, where I have the time to do so. And typically, not in a forum such as this.
Great, so in the spirit of true dialogue, please explain why you ignore the major biblical theme of repentance. Jesus preached a gospel of repentance. So did John the Baptist, and the other prophets and apostles. Why don’t you?
Dude, with all due respect, I have been nothing but patient and accommodating of your views and spews. However, if you think after all your flippant comments on my article you can turn a switch and convince me you desire true dialogue, you are sadly mistaken. This isn’t my first rodeo. If you want to learn of my understanding of repentance, do a search of my other articles.
Jim, I’m not the same “Chris” the author is, we just share the same name. I’m not answering for the author either. I wanted to add my own thoughts to your question: “Jesus preached a gospel of repentance. So did John the Baptist, and the other prophets and apostles. Why don’t you?”
Acceptance of Christ, is repentance. The prophets and apostles, all pointed to Christ. But we all do so, as we are given to. Jesus loves all, but he certainly didn’t treat everyone in his company the same. He knew Mary had a stronger faith, than her sister Martha. As Martha was distracted with her work. So Jesus dealt with them differently. Whose work was more important? Jesus didn’t judge. What he said to Martha was (to the effect) don’t concern yourself with Mary, because of the work at hand – as Mary is playing her part, for me.
Accepting Christ died without cause, is repentance to our own cause. Then we follow the spirit of God, according to what we are given. People will differ. Paul and Peter certainly did. God had different paths for them to take though, both of which you quote now as relevant. Paul and Peter eventually found peace with each other, through Christ – for it was him (not each other) they were following. They concerned themselves with God, alone – not who had the entire message correct. Christ said he would (through the spirit) reveal all truths. So we haven’t been given ALL truth yet.
John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
What is yet to come. So there is more truth to come, which could not be revealed before it was prepared. Paul and Peter, didn’t have the bible with what rules were most important to declare the truth. What declared repentance, and what have you. They only had the spirit, Jesus gave them, and what he spoke of. Then they followed. If they clung to the scriptures of their forefathers, instead of listening to the Spirit, in their present day – there would be no Christianity. The Gentiles would not have been adopted. At least, not through Peter. But God found the one who would listen – the one who said he loved Jesus, then betrayed him three times. He did this in front of witnesses who were in the midst of betraying Jesus. He did it to conform to their understanding of God’s word – all the prophets. But then he didn’t have the Spirit of God yet, to guide him.
I do not mean to reply for the author and I do not mean to be argumentative.
I am also far from an astute theological scholar (although there are those in my family who are).
The way I understand it there is a kernel of pure goodness and love and God in every person. But we are highly fallible and suggestible and with free will we all allow sin into our lives and sometimes a veneer of ick forms on a person through the experiences of their life and it can be very hard to see God’s light in them.
But it is there. So we are all basically good (and deserve love and respect) AND we all sin. It’s not one or the other, black and white, or binary. At least that’s my perspective.
Anyway, something to think on.
We will have to respectfully disagree. I am familiar with your theological view and the verses you have brought to support it. There are also theological scholars that will site other verses to support the other point of view.
So there we are.
Yes let’s all find the type of Christianity we are most comfortable with.
Yes, I believe much of conservative Christianity has done a great job at that Marty, great point!
With much love for Jesus, I write this response. I hope you read it. The “Grace” that you have found is half of the Gospel message. Jesus was not only full of Grace, but he was full of Grace and Truth. Jesus is the one who said, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus’ encounters with everyone (some more harshly than others) was so that people would repent and be right with God. This is true love. Not only that, the Apostle Paul says in Romans, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” There are those waiting judgment. You fell in love with what you idealize as the Gospel. Half Gospel is no gospel at all. Not only is Jesus love, but He is judge over all creation in how we obeyed His commands in love, in grace, in truth, in hope and in faith. Yes, there are many things wrong with conservative Christianity, but let’s fix our eyes upon Jesus, to please Him and not be distracted by all the noise. May He become greater as I decrease. God loves you and may He be your source of significance. Blessings.
To qualify something unclear I said in my previous post in quoting Romans 8:1 is to point out that there are some who are condemned. It is those who are in Christ Jesus who are not condemned. Thanks
With all due respect, I highly disagree. The Bible does not teach grace and truth as though they are two separate realities. To the contrary, Scripture inseparably joins the two together in the person of Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).John says here that grace and truth came to fullness (to fruition) in the person of Jesus Christ. He wasn’t part grace and part truth. He was 100 percent grace and 100 percent truth! Grace is the Truth and the Truth is Grace–period, full stop. If you’re going to draw a line, draw it between grace and legalism—not between grace and truth. Anytime I hear people like you say, “Well, this message of grace is good, but you have to balance that with truth,” I recognize what they are doing. Whether they are sincerely mistaken or committed legalists, you can know that it’s a lie, because grace and truth are not on two different sides of the dividing line. They’re on the same side of the line. Legalism is on the other side of the line. Grace and truth are synonymous because they are expressed (or personified) in the person of Jesus Christ, who is “full of grace and truth.” Grace is the Truth and the Truth is Grace.
The lie that we need to find a balance between grace and truth might sound good to those who don’t know better. To suggest that we should find balance within the topic of grace is an insidious lie. Any attempt to do that is to compromise grace. Grace is Jesus, and He doesn’t need to be balanced with anything. Balance Him with truth? Reject that nonsense. He is truth! People like you Jason, who say that we need to maintain a balance in the teaching of grace are suggesting that it needs to be watered down so that it’s not so offensive to the legalist. Remember, the legalist feels like there must be something that we have to contribute to this life we have received in Christ.
It’s not that I don’t accept you without conditions—I do
But if that were true, you wouldn’t be leaving conservative Christianity.
Not in my view, my acceptance of conservative Christianity doesn’t require me to believe the same.
If I heard you correctly, and I’m using my own words here, you basically believe in basics like found in the Apostles’ Creed, is that right?
The apostles didn’t have conservative Christianity, when they were following Christ.
So moral relativism is the truth? not so sure about that.
Thank you for your post. I’ve been struggling between thoughts of a loving God, an actual God or nothing at all. My hardest problem has been the hypocrisy of so many, including myself. I see so many conservative Christians whose statements seem to have nothing to do with Jesus words on love, the poor, the diseased and disabled. They sit and judge others and feel secure that when the End Times arrive they will be at the right hand of God. I am a hypocrite at times, maybe more than I realize myself, but when I find myself judging someone I try to overcome it. As one comment said, there are so many versions of the Bible, conflicting with each other, errors in translations, and I’m sure some are deliberate. We hear or read of many more books which were never included at all. If God is love, if we are made in his image, how do WE decide others are less than ourselves. Struggling with all of this most days, wanting to believe but perhaps too proud to take a chance, we all need to take a step back and breathe. Thank you again for making me think and reflect.
Roxanne, thank you for such a comment that brings such fresh air to the conversation.
Like we care. Begone. Every mouth will be stopped, including yours.
What do you mean to,say Tom?
AMEN! I’m with you on this. Thanks for affirming my thoughts with your words.
Thanks Christy, blessings to you!
Really appreciate these words. It takes bravery to state where we are, knowing all the while that when out words challenge others core beliefs, anger will most definitely ensue. I don’t agree with everything you said, but just want you to know how deeply I admire you saying all this just the same. And that which I do agree with far outweighs what I don’t. So thank you.
Jade, thank you for reading and commenting, and for appreciating it all!
Late to the party, here – but thank you for your post and welcome to a more enlightened and humanistic world view. I grew up in a conservative, Christian home/church and they gave me some of my darkest days. Hope you find peace soon.
I was an elder in a non denominational church until I reposted one of your articles. I was called in and told that I had undermined the church and the pastor’s reputation because I posted an article that said the Bible wasn’t infallible. Suddenly everything I ever did at the church from cleaning the toilets to creating programs were of no value. The relationships and discipling fell away, only reputation in the evangelical community mattered. I resigned as an elder. I was devastated that I was judged because of a Facebook posting. I now realize it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I am not afraid. I am free. The Bible is inspired and God breathed as encouragement for my journey. I love Jesus. And I have been set free. Thank you for every word you write. Let’s all embrace freedom and the wonderful hope it brings. I’m ready to be brave
Cheryl, I am so sorry for your experience, that is terrible. I truly am glad you have experienced freedom as a result. If you are like me, it feels like you are breathing for the first time. So honored to be walking this journey of faith along side of courageous people like you! Let’s be brave together and stay connected!