6 Objections of the Church from “They Like Jesus But Not The Church”

I am currently reading “They Like Jesus But Not The Church” by Dan Kimball.  It is an interesting book on how the church is seen by those in the “emerging generations.”  The author does not hold back in calling out followers of Christ on both sides of the theological spectrum. In the book he list six objections people have to the church (they are listed below)

What do you think about these six?  Would you add or take any way?


Objection #1: The church is an “organized religion” with a political agenda;
Objection #2: The church is judgmental and negative
Objection #3: The church is male dominated and oppresses females
Objection #4: The church is homophobic
Objection #5: The church feels Christianity is right and all other religions are wrong
Objection #6: The church is full of “fundamentalists” who take the Bible too literally.

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When Intolerance/Difference of Theological Belief Leads To Unemployment

For starters, this post is not about me. I am not losing my job, but it is about a fellow minister who is currently in this unfortunate boat.

A minister colleague of mine posted on Facebook that his church had made the decision that they were going to withdraw from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination. On top of that, the governing body of the church had the right to terminate the minister, no congregational vote or anything.

The beginning of all of this started when the Kentucky Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at their last assembly voted to remove the restriction that stated that open homosexuals could not be ordained in the Region.  The measure passed by a wide margin and even church in the region had an opportunity to cast a vote and speak on the issue.   For my colleague’s church this was not enough.  They disagreed with the measure and thus have taken action.

The thing that I do not understand is that in the Disciples of Christ denomination, one our main tenets is the freedom of belief and the priesthood of all believers.  Under the notion of the freedom of belief, there are not hard and fast interpretations of the Bible broad casted from on high at some national office.  Each person is supposed to be lead by the Spirit to come up with an interpretation of themselves.  Now this does not mean that they are devoid of conversation with others or that they can not draw upon the knowledge of ministers and leaders, but it does mean that the conversation can not be had.  The Disciples are big proponents of local church authority and autonomy.  It is so the church can find an expression of faith that fits the congregation at hand.  No two Disciples churches look a like and that is a great thing.  The Bible is meant to expressed in a different ways to different people.  Gone are the days of cookie cutter religion and hello a place where questions are welcomed and discussions can be had.

Does this mean you can believe whatever you want?  In a sense yes and no… I mean you believed God was a water buffalo, you have missed the point of the gospel.  But for the most part, theologies are constantly in flux, they are growing and shaping over a course of a life time.  This does not mean that once you chose one particular way of believing or understanding the Bible that you are stuck with it forever.  This is where I believe this congregation might have jumped the gun.  What is wrong with having differing theological opinions   What is wrong with having a good discussion based on and around the notion that in the end we are still welcome and able to come around the Table of Grace under the common bond of Jesus Christ.  I hate to tell this congregation but even though they differ on this issue, there are still people within the remnant that do not see eye to eye on every piece of theology, its quite impossible for that to happen.

I am saddened for my friend and colleague and pray that he will find a church that will accept him and his understanding of the gospel.

 

May it be so.

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

August 2012 Top Posts

August was a HUGE month for the blog.  Even though I did not blog that often due to the busyness of my schedule, records were still set!  During the month of August the blog was visited 4354 times!  That is more that the previous 6 months COMBINED (4335)!

A GIGANTIC thank you for reading, supporting and sharing!!!

Here are the top five posts from the month of August

  1. The Problem With The Chick-Fil-A Debate
    • My thoughts about the “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day”
  2. Robots, Arrogance and the Gospel
    • This is an oldie but a goodie… people are still receiving robo-calls from Prophet Mannesh and they are googling the number…
  3. When Did We Stop Caring for People?
    • My thoughts on the amount of press “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” received verses the amount of reaction people gave to Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin.
  4. And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part VII
    • A church cancels a wedding due to race
  5. Opening Ceremonies = Acceptance?
    • What can  we learn from the Opening Ceremonies?

Thank you again for supporting me and I hope to post more in the coming future!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

 

And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part VI

In the wake of the tragedy of Aurora, Colorado, I give you another reason why people aren’t Christians.

I could spend all day everyday on why Westboro Baptist Church makes it hard for the rest of Christianity. The members and leader of Westboro Baptist have made waves for protesting homosexuals, preaching that homosexuality is a sin and because of this sin God is punishing the United States by allowing terrible acts to occur and not protecting US soldiers in the country’s current conflicts overseas. Because of this belief, this group has also begun a tradition of picketing at solider funerals which has caused national outrage.

Well the people from Westboro are at it again.

According to their fearless leader, Fred Phelps, the membership of Westboro are going to Colorado to protest during a vigil for the those killed at the “Dark Knight Rises” premiere. See the tweet below and read the story here

One of the many problems I have with Westboro Baptist Church is that in my humble theological opinion they are completely distorting the gospel message. Their message is one that is egocentric and one where to have a relationship with God one must also be completely afraid of messing up. This is not the relationship that God is calling humanity to be in. This theological construct makes God look worse than a bully god, rather this particular understanding of God is one where God is a supreme overlord of hate and destruction. No grace, no love, no care, no forgiveness, no acceptance of others. To the members of Westboro Baptist, God is a God who likes things separated into either this or that, your either in or out and surprisingly they believe they are on the “right” side of God, that they believe the correct theological understanding and they have it all figured out.

In this particular situation, how does protesting a vigil aimed at bringing a community together and remember the loss of innocent life bring people to God? Answer in a nutshell, it doesn’t it. Do they truly believe that the family of the 12 people murdered want to hear that God in punishing America because of their ‘wicked ways’ and this same God chose their loved ones out of the 300 million people in the United States to suffer this punishment? Where do they get off thinking that they have the audacity to speak this vile non-sense to the people of Aurora, Colorado? And who would ever want to worship this particular God? And isn’t convenient that they just happen to believe the perfect belief system that God is calling humanity to follow?

Westboro Baptist has been one of the several black eyes that has plagued the world of Christianity. Their message is one filled with righteous indignation. I guess their Bible left out the whole “speck in your neighbor’s eye and log in your own” message of Jesus and the one about the unity and ministry of all believers. While they are busy wasting money promoting the anti-gospel, imagine what good they could have done if they had saved their money (which by the way was donated to the church) and used it for a cause like stopping poverty, violence, rape. Why not give the money to organization that provide clean water for millions of people who do not have access to it? Is their God a God who is solely concerned with homosexuality and “wickedness” that the rest of the gospel message doesn’t matter? I find this hard to believe.

Followers of Christ from all walks of life are called to bring the gospel message of love, joy, peace, grace and reconciliation to the world. It through this love of Christ and devotion to God that one makes the choice to live a different life. It is not “live a different life so God will accept you”, rather it is accepting God will cause a life change. It will because of the overwhelming presence of God and the awareness of the Spirit that will cause the change. Changing for the sake of pleasing a mean, bully, hate-filled God doesn’t help anyone.

The people of Aurora, Colorado need comfort in a time of complete uncertainty and loss. It is not a time to put salt in already gaping wound.

I hope that the people of Aurora will do what the people of College Station, Texas did and make a wall of people around the protestors so that family members and loved ones can mourn, remember and grieve in peace.

And Mr. Phelps or any member of Westboro Baptist Church if you are reading this, go back to your Bible and count the number of times Christ calls us to love one another despite our differences. You might be surprised… Christ tends to focus on it a lot.

My thoughts and prayers are with all of the people of Aurora as well as those who are going to protest.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Smile, Get Punched In The Gut and Smile Again

Yesterday in the news it was a roller coaster of emotions. Generally due my schedule and the fact I have a 2 year old, generally I am watching Dora The Explorer not the nightly news. I try throughout my day to read varies news sites to garner what is going on in the world.

Yesterday a couple of friends on Facebook and Twitter (which sometimes is a good place for up to the minute news) posted an article about from the site Buzzfeed entitled “21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity.” These pictures ranged from a Subway that gives free sandwiches to those who are homeless, a dry cleaner who will clean clothes for those who are unemployed to Christians holding up signs of apology at a gay pride parade. All 21 pictures showed the power of humanity at its best. Take a look here.

Smile.

Later on in the day I saw a video that was quite disturbing and to be honest I didnt even finish it; my heart broke about 45 seconds into it. It is posted below and give the nature of the internet it was spread rather quickly. If you havent seen the video, you can watch if you want…again is hard to watch and there is some language involved.

In a nutshell a grossly underpaid bus monitor was verbally abused by a bunch of Middle Schoolers. The insults ranged from calling her fat, to wishing she was dead to claiming that her family wanted to kill themselves not to be around her.

Hateful… hateful… hateful speech. No human being should EVER be subjected to kind of abuse that she was put through.

I’m not sure (as of this writing) what the school will do if anything to the children that were involved. If I ran the show (and if my opinion mattered) I would expel the children from the district for abuse and assault of a school employee, give the bus monitor the entire summer off with pay and reassign her for the upcoming year. Maybe that punishment is too harsh and maybe I am allow my emotions get in the way, but I believe I am not alone in this. The Greece New York School District has posted a statement regarding the video, stating that they are looking into the situation. (Read it here)

You can blame the system, their parents, violet video games or language in PG-13 films; whomever you blame this is a problem of humanity in general. How can in one day we see the goodness and beauty of humanity and then be punched in the gut with the realization that we are flawed at our core?

Is there still hope for humanity?

Harnessing the same internet that brought this painful event to light, people from across the country and maybe the world, has poured out their thoughts and feelings as well as their pocket books all to send the bus monitor on a vacation of a life time.

At the publishing of this post, over 14000 people had contributed money to the total of $300,000 with 29 days left to go in the campaign; that is an average of $21 per person. At this rate, it will be well over a million dollars sometime next week. (You can track and contribute to the cause by clicking here.)

Smile again.

Once again, humanity triumphed over hatred. Maybe we have learned from our previous mistakes and try to instill them into the next generation as best as we can.

For me as a follower of Christ, I am overwhelmed by the number of times that Jesus called for love of the neighbor and love of the other. A friend of mine is working to start a new church plant and his new church’s vision statement is one that I believe has the possibility to change the world and even the Church as we know it.

Dare the world to radical selflessness

Imagine a world of selfless people, imagine a church with selfless people (I’m not saying that they are not there but we could use a few more). The possibilities of what could be done for the Kingdom of God are endless.

How many of these children on the bus claimed to be follower of Christ yet participated in this grave act? I’m not saying you have to be perfect to be a Christian but Christ calls us to a higher and better standard.

The world will always have selfish people in it. It is how we as followers of Christ are able to show that the world needs less selfish and more selfless what the message of Christ can be shared.

The gospel is more than just nice stories of written in a book. It is a testament of how the God of all creation is in the business of restoration and love than hatred and scorn. The gospel thus is only fully actualized when we do as Christ says and “deny ourselves.”

In Christ,

Rev. Ev


And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part II

Last week I posted a video about a minister in Florida who burned the Koran as an act of protest and I stated that this was one reason why people were not Christians.  (Read about it here)

Here is another example.

One question that I am asked at least twice a month (if not more) is “what do you think about homosexuals?” More often than not people ask me these deep theological questions I am usually getting my haircut and I can’t move.   Generally I have to bite my tongue and give them a smart alec answer.  Knowing this is a particularly sensitive subject for some people and one that elicits strong reactions I generally have to tread lightly.  I get a wide range of beliefs from people, some people are totally for the inclusion of homosexuals without questions, some are completely and utterly against it and some are of ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ mentality.  Due to other Christian’s reaction and somewhat fascination with homosexuality (I’m talking to you Westboro Baptist) many members of the homosexual community do not feel welcomed or loved in church.  This is a travesty.

Enter, Pastor Sean Harris the minister of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC.  Harris made national headlines when in a sermon he advocated to basically ‘beat the gay’ out of your children (on the heals of a state-wide election on same-sex marriage, which the state ultimately voted to keep marriage between one man and one woman).  During his sermon he said,

“Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist… Man up, give them a good punch, OK. ‘You’re not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you’re going to be a male.”

He continues and says that girls should be girls and wear dresses and smell good.

Hear part of the sermon here

On his blog, Pastor Harris tries to explain himself and says he was taken out of context, but he really doesnt explain himself fully.  You can read the entire post here.

He writes:

I apologize to anyone I have unintentionally offended. I did not say anything to intentionally offend anyone in the LGBT community. My intent was to communicate the truth of the Word of God concerning marriage. My words were not scripted. It is unfortunate I was not more careful and deliberate. I can understand how these words could be misunderstood without the context of years of ministering to the people of God at Berean Baptist Church… I have learned from this and will seek to be more articulate and deliberate with my words in the future.However, I do not apologize for the manner in which the Word of God articulates sexual immorality, including homosexuality and effeminacy, as a behavior that is an abomination to God.

So did he apologize or not? Basically he said, “I am sorry for what I said not that I dont believe I was right to begin with but that you took it offensively.”   Not really the greatest of apologies.

According to the CNN Belief Blog, Harris stated, “No, I don’t think that I need to apologize for preaching to my people what the word of God says. That’s my responsibility.”

Did God really say that?  Should the basis of your understanding of homosexuality based on a couple of scriptures?  Where is the acceptance that was shown to all people even the outcast and the despised by Jesus Christ himself?  Has Pastor Harris taken the gospel of love and made it into the Gospel of proper sexual orientation?  Of some people would argue that if it was that important to Jesus why didn’t he ever say anything about it?

Whether or not you believe homosexuality is sin, the fact of the matter is that love has to be at heart of all conversations and ministries.  Not many Christians ministers aren’t preaching about obesity being a sin or that women aren’t covering their head during worship or people arent greeting each other with holy kisses.  Why not the same fervor with these?

The issue here that because these Christians are not ‘preach the word of God’ they have missed the word of God.  Too many things have been done in the name of Christianity and that is why many people have left.  The homosexual debate is one that is not going away anytime soon but it can if Christians who are called to be followers of Christ put into practice what Christ advocated for.

People can interpret the Bible based on their own understandings and upbringing but when does it cross the line?  Pastor Harris’ comments out of context or not crossed that line.  It made every Christian look like they disliked other homosexuals, you could not be a homosexual and a Christian and that one of the charges of Christians is enforce predetermined gender roles on our children.

When my wife was in college she had to take education courses for her teacher certification.  One day the class was on teaching Kindergarteners and some said in the class that they did not stop boys from playing with Barbie dolls and did not stop girls from playing with Tonka trucks.  My wife told me she heard someone behind her say “I’m not letting my son play with dolls.  I dont want him to be queer.”  Odds are Pastor Harris would agree.

Christ came to restore all people back to wholeness and completeness with God.  Christ did not come so all homosexuals would get released from their “egregious sin.”

The church is called to bring wholeness to all NOT advocate for people hit their children because of the preception they are giving off.

Christians should not stand for a “man of God” who is charged to profess the gospel to speak just vile words in the name of their risen savior.

Would Pastor Harris say we should hit our children if they are getting fat and want another cookie?  I mean, gluttony is a sin right?

This debate is far from over and because of the actions of North Carolina and of the President I believe it just getting started.

Hopefully we wont have any more sermons like this one… here’s hoping.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan