Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Five Things I Reject

5 Epiphany
4 Hilary

Now, surely you knew this one was coming.

Guilt-based religion. Jesus wants you to be the best you can be. Or he’ll be quite unhappy. Remember, Jesus loves winners. If we didn’t believe that and live and move and find out being in that, we wouldn’t try to hard to be and look spiritual.

Christ, have mercy.

Hating on the people who taught me Christianity
. I won’t do it. They introduced me to Jesus. So what if there’s a lot about Jesus and about being the Church that they didn’t understand? Like I’ve got this stuff wired? And come on, we’re big boys and girls now. We can make friends with whom we want, read whatever we like, and have our pick of spiritual directors. We’ve got a great big church and two thousand years of Christian history at our disposal, both the good and the evil. Let’s leave off our complaining that nobody dropped “a good way of being Christian” in our laps and rather do the hard work of discovering it ourselves. Take some responsibility. Come on, we’ll do it together.

Christ, have mercy.

Being a purveyor of religious goods and services
. The Church of Jesus Christ does not exist to meet a felt need in anybody’s life. The Church of Jesus Christ is God’s new community, the eschatological people of God who are experiencing together how God is saving the world. You want to count the cost, pay the price, and get on board with that, you are very welcome. If you want to hear a nice sermon, get some warm fuzzies and feel spiritual, do some yoga while you watch Joel Osteen on television.

Christ, have mercy.

An inclusive Church. Well, let’s define our terms. The worldwide, universal church is meant to include persons of every tribe, language and nation. It is inclusive in the sense that it is natural and sensible that there should be culturally distinct manifestations of the Church, and that everyone is eligible to be converted. But it is exclusive in that no one is meant to be part of it who seeks to shape the Church rather than be shaped by it. It is not a club, not a purveyor of religious goods and services, “equal opportunity” or otherwise. We are called and commanded to love the world. Calling people Christians when they have no intentions of being disciples is not loving. Refusing to let the world know that it’s the world is not loving.

Christ, have mercy.

Any and every last bit of pop theology that masquerades as wisdom about our life in Christ when in fact it destroys souls by eroding trust in God’s love and the hope in his promise that he really is saving us from death and darkness.

Gods who do not raise the dead must die.

Christ have mercy.

Will you say "Amen" to these things?

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Jared Cramer said...

Amen, especially to the rejection of hating the people who taught you Christianity. I refuse to exchange on intolerance, one sectarianism for another. One of the reasons I came to the ECUSA is in an attempt to be "religiously noncompetitive." I never would have had the tools, skills and/or character to be where I am now without it being gifted to me by those who were with me before.

Christ, have mercy

naak said...

I can give an amen to all of these Kyle, good writing.

+ Alan said...

All cool - but what if Joel Osteen introduced you to Christ?? hmm? :)

Here's the thing. "Hating on" people of course is always wrong - that's what I think anyway. Oh, I also think shooting people to kill them is in the category of "hate" but that would just be me throwing a wrench into the mix. - back to it - while "hating on" is wrong - I wouldn't say that "calling out" is. Maybe that's just stating what is. Perhaps it is even done out of love for the People of God whom we desire to be transformed.

So, connecting things up here - your last statement - "Gods who do not raise the dead must die" - what if those who introduced you to Jesus preach a God who does not raise the dead? Will you stand back and say "aaa well that's OK, bless their hearts, I love 'em, they showed me my first picture of Jesus (even though He had blond hair and blue eyes with hell fire and brimstone bubbling in his heart)." No, well, you haven't. You've called that nonsense out. But I don't think by doing so, you've "hated on" anyone. By doing that you've loved God and His People. That's what I think.

Anonymous said...

yeah, I can definately agree with you on how we shouldn't hate the people who introduced us to Christianity. Even though I don't agree with everything that I was taught in church as I was growing up, I still benefitted from much of what was taught to me. When I went away from home to college at first, I thought that I knew everything and that the people who had taught me Christianity were so blind because now I supposedly knew much more than they did. Then I came to the realization that I was just being a jerk and that I really don't know that much after all.

Good post.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Easier said than done. But, it is truly the command of Christ.

Amen and Amen.

Anonymous said...

These posts were very very nice! I wholeheartedly agree with all points, with the (I think minor) exception of the meaning of the eucharist which I've talked about before in other comments.

Matthew Francis said...

Yep. Amen!

Kyle said...

Everybody, thanks for your kind comments.

Jared, I sympathize with your reasons for "hitting the Canterbury Trail."

Alan, I think you speak well here. By "hating on," I do indeed refer to the tendency of evangelical burnouts who amble about talking about how much some other christians suck without offering specific criticisms or working out any kind of positive Christian lifestyle. "Calling out the nonsense" and calling out idolatries? That is indeed what we should do. Blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus need to die. And I will kill him by talking about and living in the community of the real Jesus.

Hey Josh, that really is part of growing out of that and into the future that God has for us. Many of our peers spend years in the "jerk" phase. ;0)

Peace, everybody.

Anonymous said...

have i told you lately just how awesome you are?

Kyle said...

No. You could stand to do so a little more often. ;0)

I've been thinking of you; one of us needs to write soon!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kyle,
I agree with you about the selling of Christian goods. Bit of a problem though: right now your AdSense is asking me to check out "Free to join. 1000's of pictures of Beautiful Christian Singles." Does it get any worse than this? I have amazon ads on my site, but I refuse to link to Christian products. Just good, secular roots music and some Keane.

and I have to echo one of the comments above. You're right to be down on hating other Christians, but that Joel Osteen swipe seemed a little needless. There are lots of people who can't get out of their homes and so they watch shows like his for that part of the Gospel they illuminate. Like it or not, there are many who have come to faith in Christ through his ministry. I guess it's cool or something to joke about the low church and preachers with accents and mullets, but your call to realize that we're all big boys and girls should be extended here, too.

"You want to count the cost, pay the price, and get on board with that, you are very welcome. If you want to hear a nice sermon, get some warm fuzzies and feel spiritual, do some yoga while you watch Joel Osteen on television.". Very us/them, very my way or the highway, very much undermining the larger (and better) point you're trying to make.

Kyle said...

As I told a friend, "you compromise with capitalism your way, and I'll compromise in mine." :0) I'd put a disclaimer up, that I don't endorse whatever's being linked, but that's a bit obvious, I would think.

While I'm sure lots of things can be inferred from the Joel Osteen reference, the only thing that was implied is that his ... ministry ... seems to me to epitomize consumerist religion. That has to do at least as much with how it's recieved as how it's presented.

I didn't call him a bad man or an unfaithful Christian, and my previous point dealt more with angry, ad hominem attacks. I certainly didn't say anything about accents or mullets! I care about what's good for souls, not what's cool.

In that vein, calling out what needs to be called out, like consumerist religion seems consistant enough to me (you might take note of Alan's comment above). I don't advocate refusing to criticize people and ideas, but attempting in good faith to be fair in criticism.

And yes. When we get to talking about a prosperity gospel, self-fulfillment stuff, I am very happy to take an "us/them ... my way or the highway" posture.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for responding. These blogs of ours aren’t good for anything unless we’re talking to each other. I often find that lacking, so this is good.

A further thought on AdSense for the sake of conversation (heh – it’s now asking me to check out “Retire Young, Retire Rich.”) Though obviously no one would assume that every blogger endorses all ads or products profiled by content based programs, I still think AdSense compromises something, and I don’t mean the compromise with capitalism you mentioned. I have a gut feeling that we have a responsibility to avoid endorsing (or being paid for providing a venue for the endorsement of) products or services that contradict the kinds of stands we otherwise take. Maybe I’m prudish on this. Maybe the logical extension of what I’m saying is that we can’t buy any products whatsoever unless we know everyone up and down the system is being treated fairly. Obviously not a possibility, but I’m wondering about the stands we can take and for my money, this is one of them. In either case, I don’t think linking to specific products we value is a compromise with capitalism, though apart from this conversation I still have uneasy feelings about peddling Christian goods, but that’s another line of thought.