Churches Are Misleading….

For my winter 2018/2019 project, I have decided to study the topics of philosophy and spirituality and how they intermingle. I am starting out this study by reading a book entitled “Belief without Borders” by Linda A. Mercadante. I will be putting out numerous Sunday posts about it in the coming weeks. Associated with that study, I have also been visiting some of my more than 500 posts over at one of my other blogs at RedLetterLiving.net 

This post was originally written on February 18, 2013. 

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All of this makes me wonder if pews are misleading in churches. They trick people into thinking that Christians learn best by sitting quietly in rows, listening to lectures, and memorizing ideas about the faith. But churches should not be lecture halls. 

The above quote grabbed my attention. It is from a book by Diane Butler Bass entitled Christianity After Religion.  I came to the same conclusion a couple of years before I read these words.  Churches, in general, are very misleading of what Jesus expects of us. Yes, I know some of my Christian friends believe that all we are supposed to do is to accept Christ as our savior and then spend the rest of our lives laying back and letting his grace flow over us.  To me, nothing could be further from the truth.

I am not one to have memorized the Bible so I can’t say for sure but I don’t believe that Jesus put much emphasis on us being passive followers. I suspect the folks who are aligned with that belief can quote at least a verse or two that if you twist it just right might infer that we are supposed to be passive.  I know I read the red letters frequently and what I see is Jesus telling me again and again to actively love my brother and to love God.

Getting back to the quote at hand, I think churches in general do trick people into thinking they are following Christ by just spending an hour a week sitting in the air-conditioned churches listening to  lectures and memorizing selected words to back up their static beliefs. To be quite frank, I just can’t understand all the lavish cathedrals built through the ages by the church. I believe in my heart that Jesus never intended that to happen.  I totally agree with Ms. Bass that churches should NOT be lecture halls and that includes lectures by the clergy of your favorite flavor.

If we truly want to reflect the heart and message of Jesus we should shut down our lavish palaces we have constructed in his name and move out into the community as he taught us.  Jesus did spend a few sparing times in the synagogue but he did not live there, or hide there as Christians today seem to do.  As a matter of fact one of the most visible bible stories is about Jesus going into a church to upset the local traditions of the time. He upset a lot of carts in that story and I think we need to do the same for him today.

Let’s quit spending all the money we collect in God’s name on ourselves and instead put it out in the community. Lord knows there are plenty of opportunities for us Christians to make more of a difference in the world today. If we want to be a follower of Jesus we should take his examples to heart and get out there loving the tax collectors, prostitute, poor and destitute in our day as he did in his.

Humanism And Jesus…

2018-03-05_15-42-33My conservative Evangelical friends would like me to believe that you can’t be a humanist and also be a follower of Jesus.  From what I have discovered in the last few months, that is categorically false. The two beliefs align very well with one another.

Yes, there are differences in beliefs for different versions of humanism, but since there are over 39,000 versions of Christianity that kind of seems a lame argument to me. I’m sure some humanists are more aesthetic in nature just as there are Christians who basically ignore the teaching of Jesus.

Jesus was about caring for “the least of these”. It was a core part of his nature and teachings.  Show me where the words in the graphic above are contrary to that? I have always been uncomfortable with the anti-science nature of many versions of Christianity. That, and the political one are the reasons I no longer call myself a Christian.  To me, those folks who reject science are simply too stuck to a few limited words in the Bible that they take far too literally.

It seems that in my old age I am just not much of a joiner so I no longer call myself a Christian and I probably won’t call myself a humanist either but I do agree with much of their philosophy. I definitely don’t call myself a Republican or a Democrat for that matter, both are now stained beyond recognition.

Christianist Cult of Trump…

I will admit up front here that I cherry-picked the quotes below and the Facebook shot from a very long, agonizingly long, article from a Catholic site entitled Patheos.  The author is Mark Shea who is evidently a regular contributor to that venue.

The gun debate is an obvious case in point.  Virtually everything I have had to say about it turns on a very fundamental moral point, summed up here:

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The Christianist cult of Trump advertises itself to the world as the face of Real Christianity.  So proud is it that it routinely declares the pope a heretic as it cheers for the lies, corruption and sometimes appalling cruelties to the poor and contempt for common decency that characterize this Administration.  And the world watches and believes them when they say they are the true representatives of the gospel. They see when Christians give Trump a mulligan for fornicating with porn stars and join in declaring his victims to be liars. They see every lie and cruelty excused and know Christianists are full of crap.

via Why Don’t you Talk about Theology Instead of Politics, Mark?

Like many theologians, the author just can’t seem to come to the point directly. He needs to circle around it many times. But I think what I pulled out of the post is tantamount to what “Christianist cult of Trump” is doing to damage the face of Christianity.

But then again I firmly pray that these cult members are actually a minority fringe whose time will come.

I want to close out this post with another quote re-inforcing the damage these fringe groups are doing.

2018-02-25_11-58-04.pngAt a certain point in “God and Donald Trump,” the recent theological gymnastics on display from Tony Perkins and Jerry Falwell, Jr., among others, to explain ongoing conservative Christian support for a president who (allegedly) paid off a porn star weeks before Election Day so she would keep quiet about their (alleged) affair become clear. There will be no point at which Trump’s most loyal evangelical and charismatic supporters declare they have had enough. Because to do so would be to admit that they were wrong, that God wasn’t behind Trump’s election, and that their Holy Spirit radar might be on the fritz. That it was, after all, about something as temporal and banal as hating his Democratic rival.

via Millions of Americans Believe God Made Trump President – POLITICO Magazine

Of course, they are wrong that God put Trump in the Oval Office.  We now know that Russian trollers did it. 🙂  Will there come a point in time when Christianity will totally morph into a political organization without any reference to the spiritual one or even to the messages of Jesus? Will the word “Christian” like the word “gay” become something totally different than its previous definition? The jury is still out on that.

 

Sunday’s Religion In America Series..

ISOA Banner  My intention going into the new RJsCorner was that I would use Sunday to sometimes post about things religious. With that in mind I thought I would start a new series about the founding of the U.S. by people escaping religious persecution in other countries. I probably have a couple of dozen of these type communities I have visited over the years of traveling across this country. This post will start us off on this direction.

canstockphoto18444062.jpgThese posts will probably be more about our country’s history than religious beliefs. They will highlight communities throughout the country that were started by groups of people  with a particular set of beliefs that oftentimes differed from sect they originally belonged to. So, it is hard to categorize them in one particular category. They will often be “Reports” in my journey In Search of America.

When most people, especially those from outside looking in, see Christianity they think of one homogeneous community with one set of religious beliefs. In reality that could not be further from the truth.  There are over 35,000 different versions of Christianity and that number is increasing year after year. There always seems to be reason for one segment of a sect to separate from another. To many, like Martin Luther, latch onto one particular sentence of the Bible and disregard much of the rest.

Of course my personal bias will show through in these reports. How can that be otherwise?  So, I want to tell you a little about my beliefs here. I currently do not call myself a “religious” person but I am an avid follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  To me it just seems that most, if not all, of the current religious denominations almost ignore Jesus’ teachings and instead fixate on some words invented by someone long after his death.

Closing this post, this will be an interesting series for me and I hope you will learn a few things from it.  In Search of America is a broad topic indeed and this is an important segment…

About Being American

I just love this Facebook entry on my friend’s page. It says it all on what being an American should be about. You can do your thing but don’t try to prevent me from doing mine.

Diversity……

 

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Wicked Theology

When I came across this post a while back it got my immediate attention as the topic is probably one of the primary reasons that more and more people are declaring themselves spiritual but not religious.  There is just too much baggage attached to too many of our religious institutions today.  Too many twist the words  of Jesus to match their current view of the world.
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It is kind of surprising that the author of the words above is a Baptists professor. Flat- Bible advocates, of which many Baptists are a part, believe that every word in the Bible comes directly from God and that no words found there are any more important than any others.  For those who call themselves Christians but don’t think Christ’s words are of any particular value beyond the thousands of other people in that document is beyond comprehension to me.

Putting a particular, and often wrong-headed, spin on the Bible and particularly Jesus’ words totally turns my stomach.  To take perhaps the most important words of Jesus and to twist them to take the focus off poor people is heresy as far as I am concerned.  Almost as bad is to use the Bible to justify war,  inequality, and exploitation. It is sad that so many famous Christian preachers have followed Jerry Falwell in that latter endeavor. The most disheartening is the son of Billy Graham who takes the words of his father and turns them on their head!

I know the words hypocrite are used a lot to describe Christians but that is far too often a very appropriate phrase.  Yes, I am aware that there are many many Christians who, like me, cling to the words of Jesus but we are really shadow Christians. We don’t often enjoy the attention that the famous preachers have.  But as far as I am concerned we are the real face of Christianity…. but far too many people don’t realize that fact…