This post is going to be about trying to dispel the feeling that some have that I am anti-religious. We don’t need less religion, just better versions.Read more
With this post I am going to bring back my Sunday talks about spirituality and my enlightened view of things religious. This post is about praying to God.Read more
One of the biggest tragedies of this early 21st century is how Jesus’ church has morphed into something very contrary to his teachings.
I thank Minnesota Pastor Stephen Mattson and Sojourners Magazine for helping me to realize that fact.
American Christianity brought us to this point. It preached nationalism and sanctified American imperialism — promoting Manifest Destiny as ordained by God. The prosperity gospel baptized capitalistic greed, its preachers vilified the poor, and its theologians manipulated scripture to rationalize global colonialism. Salvation was no longer personified through Jesus, but was redesigned to be a political machine, fueled by its ability to control branches of government. This methodology was packaged as “Christianity,” and the gospel became a message of gaining social power and control rather than a call to follow Jesus’ life of selfless service and sacrifice.Source: Sojourners – Stephen Mattson
Christianity used to be our nation’s conscience but now it is becoming our tool of destruction. Christianity helped us look backward as well as forwards follow Jesus’ words about “brother keeper”, and “the least of these…” Now is it used to promote things very contrary to those teachings.
The “Evangelical” who like to call themselves Christians have tainted that label beyond recognition. They say those who believe in the humanity of man, otherwise called secular humanists are destroying America. That very proclamation is about like Hitler saying “I am doing what I am doing for the good of Judaism”.
Tragically, there are far too many who might otherwise have come to Jesus are running as fast as they can away from it because of “white Christian Nationalists”. Has the Christian brand been permanently destroyed by these very misdirected folks? Why can’t they even begin to fathom the damage they are doing?
There is a battle going on in the Christian Church now for its heart and soul. That battle is between Progressive Christians, aligned with the Catholic Church, and the Evangelical movement who is determined to take over the label of Jesus and in the process destroy his teachings and legacy. We simply cannot allow that to happen any more than we can allow a second term for the current Oval Office occupant.
I want you to know up front that I think there is a lot wrong with the practice of Christianity, especially in America. Despite the thousands of congregations and leaders who stick to the words of Jesus, it has far too often been polluted by the radical right/religous political extremists in our society.
Now that you know where I am coming from I will explain the title above. I have come to be annoyed by the term “God Bless America”. It is almost as if we think we have a lock on Christianity.
The Bible is the story of an occupied and oppressed people trusting that God will guide them toward liberation. The main characters who modeled faithfulness most often were those OUTSIDE of power. Many of us have been taught (albeit subconsciously) to read ourselves into the biblical story as the protagonist when in reality — whether we like it or not — we have more in common with the antagonist.
We live in one of the most powerful and wealthy countries in human history. We don’t need to be ashamed of that, but we do need to be honest about it. And, if we are honest, we have more in common with Pharaoh than with Moses. With Pilot than with Jesus. With those on the side of empire extinguishing the good news of the kingdom. As my friend Tony Campolo says, “We may live in the best Babylon in the world, but it’s still Babylon.”Source: Red Letter Christians
I love that the quote above helped me realize that America, me included, is more aligned with the antagonists of the New Testament stories than the oppressed. More in common with the Pilot than with Jesus. Those are startling revelations!
Getting back to my annoyance with the phrase “God Bless America”, yes I recognize that we in America are certainly blessed with material goods. We are all the 1% when it comes to the world’s riches. We need to claim that mantel and the obligations that go with it. We need to be our brother’s keeper, not just in our families or even country, but in the world. For that reason, I very much favor the phrase “God Bless Us All”.
So I close this post with the idea that everyone in the world is God’s family and
God Bless Us All
I want to end this fatiguing year of 2018 on a positive note about Jesus’ church. First of all, I want to celebrate all those thousands of congregations and religious leaders who have become the crusaders for Jesus in an otherwise very polluted spiritual world.
The term Evangelical has become widely accepted to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing when it comes to spiritual matters. Their true agenda is man-made and very political in nature. But there are folks like John Pavolitz, Shane Claiborne, Philip Gulley, Robin Myers, Phyllis Tickle, Gregory Boyd, Harvey Cox, and Diane Butler who among many others stay true to Jesus’ words. They are true crusaders for Jesus in a time desperately needing them. No, they don’t get the press that Franklin Graham, who destroyed his father’s legacy, gets simply because they don’t resort to screaming falsehoods as he often does.
Another person who I want to single out in this regard is Pope Francis. He is stubbornly intent on putting the teachings of Jesus back to front and center in the Roman Catholic church. Yes, I recognize that the hierarchy of that establishment pretty much turned their backs on a sexual predator scandal. I also recognize that an establishment of that size has its institutional players who look out primarily for themselves and oppose much of what the Pope is trying to do.
We must always recognize that the Pope and all the aforementioned names here are human beings with their own frailty and biases. There are none that are infallible.
Finally, although I can’t name them there are very likely thousands of congregations in the US among the 350,000 or so out there that focus on Jesus’ words and reject all the man-made things that have wrongly been attached to him. I am convinced that they are a thousand points of light that will eventually take the church back to where it belongs. I celebrate them all at the end of this very tumulous year.
To all my Christian friends of the many different flavors, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
Let us always every day, try to live by the teachings of our founder He and his teachings are the star to latch onto.
I am not one of those Christians who complains that I am no longer allowed to say Merry Christmas. That statement is a cop-out if you ask me. Of course, I can say Merry Christmas but I also recognize that there are many others around who celebrate this season in a different way. To all of those friends of mine, I would like to wish you a very Happy Holidays.