The Woman in the Yellow Dress

October 20, 2012 2 comments

When I was in my freshman year at UC Santa Cruz, I was heavily involved with the dominant campus ministry, our chapter of Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship. I went on the annual urban ministry trip over spring break, that year it was in some of the worst parts of San Francisco. While I was there I saw my share of criminals, drug addicts, prostitutes, and homeless people. The one person that stands out in my mind the most though, was the woman in the yellow dress.

We spent the week sleeping on the floor of a Mission District church, and in the middle of the week we were afforded the luxury of a shower. As the church itself had no facilities we sojourned down the street to the local YMCA. The building was on one of the most statistically crime-ridden blocks of the city and to be honest, was a bit scary itself. As we entered the building and our group leader paid our admission to use their shower, I kept wondering if this was the YMCA that inspired the song. Being shy, I kept my query to myself.

The males and females of the group were separated and led to different floors, each with its respective gender’s shower room. The men followed the signs that eventually led us to a large locker room area. In the back of the room we could hear the distinct echo of a shower. To my chagrin, the shower area was not what I hoped, a row or two of individual showers with privacy doors, like I had used when on a mission trip to Mexico some years prior. The shower area was one large tiled in room with shower heads protruding from the walls at standard intervals. It was like what you might see in a prison movie, or in a school much older than any of those I attended. I had never been naked with other men before, and my anxiety began to rise.

I disrobed with the half dozen other men in group; I say men in a legal sense, the eldest was 22 and the rest of us were 18. We placed our clothes in lockers near the shower and coyly entered the room. Already there were about a dozen other men, all totally nude and several eagerly looking us over. One such man stood in the corner and stared at me the entire time, He was tall with neat brown hair and a handlebar mustache. He kind of looked like the biker from the Village People, so I therefore assume this was the YMCA they sang about. I cleaned myself as quickly as I could and nearly ran back to my waiting towel. As I dried myself off, I felt scared and vulnerable. I tried my hardest to expedite the process as much as possible.

While still in a state of total undress my worst fear was realized, another fully nude man walked directly up to me and reached out toward me. I was startled and paralyzed with fear but before I could react his extended arm moved past me to the locker directly next to the one I had chosen minutes earlier. The man, a slighter framed middle-aged man with a receding hairline and a tamed mustache that reminded me of the one my dad sported, stuck out his free hand and offered it to me.

“Hi, neighbor,” he said as if we had run into each other in a shared front lawn as we both returned from work.

“Hi,” I timidly responded.

He was very chatty and friendly, and he made small talk as we both toweled ourselves off. He asked me why I was in San Fransisco, and upon learning my purpose began to ask me all kinds of questions about the ministry I was there with. Again, perfectly normal conversation between two naked strangers.

Being in such proximity, I will admit that caught a glimpse of his “private area.” The first passing glance alerted me to something out of the ordinary and I tried as nonchalantly as possible to look a second time for further investigation. My first glimpse was not mistaken, there was a clear oddity about this man. He did have a penis. What he had was a gaping hole where it should have been, directly above very normal testicles. My mind began trying to figure out what I had just seen while I did my best to simultaneously keep up with the small talk. I naively came to the conclusion that he was just born with one so small, that in the cool air it had receded inside of him. Granted, this wasn’t a great theory, but it was the best I could formulate on such short notice.

Trying not to think about, I focused on drying and clothing myself as quickly as possible while entertaining his conversation. He matched my pace and as began to put on my underwear, so did he. But wait, that’s not underwear he had pulled from his locker. It looks like, yep, it is pantyhose.  He gently pulled them up his legs and continued dressing. Next, he pulled a yellow sun dress from the locker and slipped it over himself like he had done it his whole life.

“Well, now I’m just damn confused”, I thought silently to myself. Just I was finishing pulling down my t shirt until it met the top of my jeans, he pulled out a blond wig. It was short, with pronounced bangs like the ones people would wear when dressing up as Hillary Clinton (when she was First Lady) for Halloween. He turned to the mirror and carefully straitened it, as if to make sure he was a presentable lady, albeit one with a bushy brown mustache. I stood there waiting for my friends to finish dressing so we could leave when he told me that he was a woman, and he had been all his life. He said that he had lived as man since his birth and even got married and raised a son, but he knew in his innermost core that he was a woman. Abandoned by his wife, he found solace in his local church just outside of this then home of San Jose. One night, after a night of heavy drinking, he told me, he summoned up the drunken courage to grab a pair of bolt cutters and cut off his penis.

I’m going to let that set in for a moment.

He told me that he then drove himself to the hospital so that doctors could stop the bleeding, but not before discarding of his penis (he did not say how) so that there was no chance of reattachment. After he recovered he went shopping and bought a new wardrobe fit for a queen. When he returned to his church a few weeks later, he told me that people starred at disbelief over his new appearance, which I assumed bared a resemblance to the person who stood before me. He said that he had prepared himself for the looks, and assured himself that they were still his friends, but they would need time to adjust to his big change. Unfortunately, his optimism was never realized, as a few days later he was visited in his home by the pastor and a few people he had called friends. Without seeking explanation, they informed him that he was an abomination and was no longer welcome at the church. After they left, he convinced himself that they couldn’t possibly speak for the whole church, and he would return the next Sunday. When he arrived the next during the next service, every head turned toward him, most of the people with scowls, some seething with visible anger. The pastor shouted at him from the stage his earlier declaration and several other voices rose up from the congregation telling him to leave.

He told me that his only response to the crowd was that he was a sinner before and a sinner now, and after all, weren’t we all? A voice rang out from the crowd, “You’re a pervert, get out!” He left and never went back.

The man in the yellow dress told me that he wished more than anything that he could go back to his church. But he knew that it would never be.

Not knowing what to say, I simply told him I was sorry for his pain. He looked down and I looked to see that my friends were preparing to leave, a walked away and never saw him again.

I thought about that encounter for the rest of my trip. While it’s doubtless that other people from my group saw the exchange, none ever asked me about and I did not volunteer a word but it was etched into my mind nonetheless. I don’t know what was going through his mind when he cut off an appendage. I don’t know what his thoughts were growing up and raising a family in the “normal” fashion. I did know that he was sincere in his self-understanding. In his mind he was a woman and always had been, he was just born with a penis for some unknown reason.

If I woke up tomorrow and to my surprise found a vagina where my penis had once been, I would still be a man. No matter what you tell me, you would not dissuade me from that fact. I was born a man and will always be one.  I will always be attracted solely to women, as I have been my whole life. My self-identity doesn’t come from any physical attributes, but rather an indefinable knowledge that resides in the very depths of my soul. I would hope that my friends and family would understand.

I never saw her again, but she occasionally occupies my mind. I know that she knows she is a woman, and you could not convince her otherwise. Her physical being relented to her inner being one drunken night, and her life has been filled by pain ever since. No sane person would ever put themselves through so much pain unless they knew the stakes were that high. I am sad that a church of sinners could not accept  a sinner in her greatest time of need. I am sad that they did not seek to understand but only judged. Her answer to the greatest question, “Who am I?” was not what they wanted, so she was cast away. In their minds, her humanity was apparently tied to her gender, and the abandoning of one meant the forfeiture of the other. I am not as wise as them. I cannot believe that I could know someone as much as I know myself, and even that is a knowledge I have yet to master. I am strong enough however to say, I don’t understand, but that’s okay.

This then is my prayer: that I meet her again one day, and that she is happy and joyful and loved by people as much as she is loved by God.


Faith and Works

September 23, 2012 1 comment

During my seminary education I struggled deeply with the relationship between faith and works. My previous background as a minster to young people in a megachurch setting and my dedication to learning in a vehemently Reformed graduate school have both emphasized that great tenant of the Protestant faith, that we are saved by faith alone. I have questioned the legitimacy of this belief.

I am not saying that I take issue with justification by faith alone, although I believe we are justified by grace, not faith. But this is not the problem I am dealing with. I do affirm that we are only justified by God’s grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. To argue contrary falls in the realm I am comfortable with calling heresy. However, justification is not salvation, it is the beginning. Salvation does not occur solely in some heavenly book, apart from our earthly life, for Jesus spoke of salvation as being born again (John 3), a totally transforming experience. Salvation is holistic in its effect. Protestants have traditionally called this part of salvation sanctification, but I don’t believe it is useful to separate justification and sanctification, as theology has done in the minds of many Christians throughout the ages but especially lately. Justification simply doesn’t happen apart from sanctification. Justification may occur instantaneously at some point, and sanctification is an ongoing process, but they are both present in the “saved.”

I believe that this division of terms has led to bad theology and even worse behavior in the church. In my classes I encountered seminarians who are astoundingly prideful, who verbally abuse both faculty and female students, who cheat on a regular basis, and display all sorts of greed and avarice that would make the most depraved men blush. Put bluntly, some of the worst people I spend time with are leaders (or future leaders) of the church. All of the people I have witnessed, even the vilest (and yes there are a few I would call vile) are convinced not only of their own salvation but of their ability to lead other Christians. They tend to be extremely defensive of the doctrine of salvation through faith, and mention of works elicits condemnations of “papist heresy.”

It would be easy to end the post here. I could just be pointing a finger and yelling “hypocrites!” But that is not my intention. I earnestly believe that one of the reasons these young (mostly) men act and think the way they do is because they are simply a product of modern evangelical teaching. This theology is a reductionist view of Reformed teaching that states “its not about what you do, its about what He did.” And while that is a nice sentiment, it is just not what Jesus said. Jesus spent most of his time teaching his followers what to do, not how to formulate theology. When it came to being “saved” Jesus seemed far more concerned with actions than beliefs. I don’t know that Jesus would actually separate beliefs from actions like that. He seemed to teach throughout his ministry that actions show true beliefs. I think this is an important point for one practical reason, I don’t know what you (or anyone else) really believe. The best I can do is look at your actions and try to discern your beliefs based on those actions. Is that fair? Jesus seemed to think so.

Jesus told his followers to judge teachers by their “fruit” (works).

You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
(Matthew 7:16-20)

But does this negate the belief that we are saved by our statement of faith? Jesus says in the next verses…

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
(Matthew 7:21-23)

This teaching about the coming judgment shows that Christ is more concerned with our acts (as true confessions of faith) than our words (which can state anything). Put another way, I can call myself a tiger, the fact that I am typing an essay right now, and was born to two human parents, etc., etc., places serious doubt on my claim. In the same way calling Jesus “Lord” doesn’t make is so any more than I can define my species with mere words. So who is saved if not the ones who declare that they are based on their statement of faith? The above text states that it is those who do the will of God (works). Is Jesus teaching justification by works? No, that language would be completely foreign to him. He is looking at the big picture of salvation, not the pieces that form it. If sanctification and justification are bound to one another, this makes perfect sense.

Jesus’ half-brother James puts it plainly…

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”–and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
(James 2:17-24)

James hits on several key points here:

  1. Statement of belief in God is insufficient, even Satan knows who God is.
  2. The example of Abraham (Paul’s favorite reference to faith) acted (works) as a result of his faith.
  3. Faith without works is dead, useless, etc.

I don’t think that any of my peers at the seminary would overtly argue against this, but their actions do. Evangelical Christians (more than other types of Christians) seem to be so wary of mixing justification and sanctification that they would hesitantly agree that a “saved” person could act in any way he or she pleased, since salvation was independent of works. I have even heard it boasted that a sinner as great of Hitler may have been saved, because our God is so great. Foolishness! How could the saved man bear such copious amounts of such bad fruit and know God? While it is true that before conversion there is no sin so great it cannot be wiped away (just look at Paul, murderer of Christians) after being saved we are made new, and cannot go on in our previous ways. Paul would agree (Ephesians 2), as would John (1 John), and the rest. I don’t even need to mention Jesus, who made this one of the cornerstones of his teaching.

To what degree does the sin leave our lives? This I do not know. My reading of Scripture tells me that I should be sinning a lot less than I do. The same sentiment haunted John Wesley for decades as he tried to reconcile plain biblical understanding with his practical experience.

To sum up, I believe that the dichotomy between faith and works is unjustified. Faith and works always travel together, and in the practical life of the believer and teacher, we should always remember this. We cannot go along sinning without concern, convinced that it doesn’t really matter because we are saved by faith alone. Faith never comes alone. I believe we should try to live like the woman caught in adultery, who after encountering Jesus told, “You are forgiven, go and sin no more.”

Don’t Want to Be an American Christian

September 9, 2012 4 comments

I don’t want to be an American Christian.

I don’t want to make public events out of prayer when Jesus told me to pray privately.

I don’t want to go to war for revenge when Jesus told me to forgive my enemies.

I don’t want to “help” the poor help themselves when Jesus told me to care for the least of these.

I don’t want to tell non-Christians how they should live when Jesus told me to love my neighbor.

I don’t want to withhold my riches from the poor to protect my future when Jesus told me I could die tonight.

I don’t want to lie to get ahead when Jesus told me to tell the truth.

I don’t want to hate those who “seek to destroy our way of life” when Jesus told me to love my enemies.

I don’t want to believe that America is the only hope for the world when Jesus told me that he is.

I don’t want to be an American Christian.

I want to be a Jesus Christian.

Do Christians Actually Like Christ?

September 3, 2012 2 comments

Jesus and the crossI was teaching Sunday School in Birmingham, Alabama while completing my seminary education when the brutal truth of modern Christianity hit me. I was doing lessons on the teachings of Jesus, trying to reorient people who had lived their lives in church to think about what Jesus actually said, rather than the conventional wisdom that churches sometimes pass of as divine revelation. I believe I was talking specifically about the part of Matthew 25 where Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats and the future judgement of all people. I said it as clearly as I understood it– Jesus will judge us based how we treat the poorest and “least” among us. Jesus’ words seemed clear to me, and while the majority of the group seemed to accept Jesus’ teaching at face value, one person couldn’t contain his disagreement.

“But what are we actually supposed to do?” he asked.

“Uh, take care of the least among us?” I answered tentatively.

“Well I know what he said, but we can’t really do that. It’s just not realistic. Or fair to us,” he once again volunteered. “I know Jesus said that, but what should we really do?”

I was for a rare moment in my life, speechless. Although I had taken part in many conversations where people had rejected one of Jesus’ teachings or another, I had never had someone say it so overtly. The person who protested what was clear to me was a person who had grown up in the church, his father read Scripture from the pulpit nearly every week, and he had been involved in the higher echelons of church leadership since he was very young.

The young man didn’t come to my class much after that. But the exchange stuck with me.

Some years earlier, when I was a lowly undergraduate myself, I had an unpleasant exchange with a professor at my conservative Baptist university. Our point of debate was allegiance to Jesus above all else. The professor told me quite matter of factually that if he ever found himself in some foreign land, he would deny Jesus if it meant saving his own life. I was floored. Although still a young Christian, I had come to understand that our lives were to be for Jesus’ service, and throughout history that has meant death for thousands of martyrs. Moreover we should not expect to be above such a sacrifice.

My professor scoffed at my argument. “That is just not realistic. That is idealism, and I have no stomach for idealists.” I never really spoke to him after that.

Over the years I have watched many Christian leaders call people to “moderate” their allegiance to Jesus, to take his more radical ideas with a grain of salt. Ironically Jesus seemed to indicate in John 3 that being born again, a given concept for most Christians, was the most radical of all his teachings.

Although it has been said by many others many times before, I do not believe that our domesticated brand of Christianity has any actual similarity to the brand that Jesus lived and died for.

I wonder what would happen if we actually believed all that stuff Jesus said.




Glory Versus Grace

August 19, 2012 1 comment

One day while I was in seminary, a sat on a bench and had lunch with a young Christian leader who had entered during the same semester as me. He ran a rather large parachurch ministry at a public university in our city and often spoke at various churches. I had been to his house and he to mine and we both knew each others wife. We were both sharing ministry stories when the subject of the homeless ministry I ran for several years came up. After recalling several anecdotes from my time there, my friend spoke something I was not expecting.

“I don’t give money to the homeless,” he said in a very assertive voice. “If they don’t earn it, they shouldn’t have it.”

“Well,” I responded, “I did it because God freely gave me a great gift when I did not deserve it and in return I just freely give to others what little I have. It’s just my way of modeling the gospel.”

“Don’t give me that,” he retorted. “You did something for your salvation, so did I. I don’t know what we did, but we did earn it a little.”

I didn’t know how to respond. I had never heard a Christian leader say out-rightly that we “earn” our salvation. The lunch hour was coming to a close and our conversation was finished. I don’t know if it stuck with him, but it stuck with me.

The greatest threat to Western Christianity is not encroaching secularism, not radical Islam, nor the “homosexual agenda.” The greatest threat to every Christian and Christian church in the world we live in is the neglect of grace. Since mankind first left the Garden of Eden, way back in Genesis 3, we have resolved to reject the grace of God in favor of what we believe could be accomplished through our own works.

When God created humans it was an act of grace. Our very existence cannot be credited to ourselves, any more than I should take credit over my mother for my physical birth. Yet for aeons we have deluded ourselves into thinking we can thrive autonomously. It should not be surprising that humans think this way, but what should be utterly shocking is that the Church grows ever more seduced by the idea that there is no need for God’s grace. Jesus spent his ministry fighting against the notion that the people of God were born naturally (see John 3, 7,9 etc.) and that by their works could they save themselves.

Jesus told the story about the labors in the field who verbally attacked the owner for paying the same generous wage to those who did little work as those who did much more. Jesus’ message was simply stated in the owner’s response to their criticism. “Is it not my money that I am free to with as I want? Why do you begrudge me for being generous to them even when you have received your reward?” Our human nature is so wrapped in our own merit that we cannot accept the fact that God gives his grace freely.

While most churchgoers in America will readily answer that grace is the reason they are saved when asked directly, probing deeper often unearths an underlying belief that they somehow earned God’s favor wither by their actions or their ingrained nature. Put another way, many seem to think, “I earned or it or my people did.”

We often speak of Christianity as not about what we have to do, but what Jesus did. Yet we hold to countless formulas for what one must do to be saved. Did you say the “sinner’s prayer?” Did you walk down the aisle? Do you go to church?Did you repent from swearing and drinking? Have you done enough to be saved? Many Christians I know will tell you the date they were “saved.” It was September 8th, 199… when I trusted, when I accepted, when I was baptized, when I made a decision, when I, I, I. Why is the nexus of our salvation based on a moment when we did something, instead of the moment that Jesus did something? When people ask me when I was saved, I tell them, “about 33AD.”

jesus' graceI don’t mean to be flippant about this, but this is a serious error in theology that has last repercussions on how we live our lives. It was this “Theology of Glory” as a former professor of mine so often labeled it, that led the Catholic Church in decline during the Medieval Ages and sparked the Reformation. Reformer Martin Luther began his separation from the Catholic Church because of the very notion that God alone is our salvation; we did nothing to earn it. Yet over the years, Christians, seeking to control others and to define the parameters of unique individuals’ walks with God have reverted little by little back to the same theology of works they supposedly grew out of.

Today this deep-rooted mindset affects all Christians who live by this myth of self-salvation. A person of this error sees non-Christians as bad, the poor as lazy, the different as wrong. They clothe themselves in their own self-righteousness, at the same time piously claiming that all glory belongs to God alone. In their hearts they believe that because of their actions, or because of where they came from, they are something special. Everyone else in the world who is not part of this select group is dammed because they failed to do something about it. This type of self glory does not leave room for the humility that comes only from knowing that you were saved by God because of God. Only when the self is removed from one’s understanding of salvation (and I mean salvation in the holistic sense) is there room to love others. Only when one knows that God is the source of salvation can one truly understand that they are connected to all those around them. There is not an “us” and “them.” There is only “we.” And we are saved by God alone. My prayer is not that you do anything today, but that God fills you with the presence of his grace.

Ayn Rand, Joseph Smith, and Jesus

August 12, 2012 1 comment

joseph smithThe Republican party has in recent decades painted itself as the “Christian” party. Evangelicals (at least white Evangelicals) have embraced the GOP as their preferred political organization. This November conservative Christians across America will have to choose between a president they decidedly do not like for his supposed attacks on their faith, or a team made up of a Mormon and an unabashed devotee of philosopher Ayn Rand. This presents a dilemma.

Since the last election season, many prominent Evangelicals have criticized current president Barack Obama not only for policies which they disagree with, but his apparent lack of (similar) faith. The President’s faith in word and in policies he has supported seems to be typical of African-American Mainline Protestantism. While this stream of Christianity is philosophically distinct from White Evangelical Christianity, it nevertheless falls comfortably within the realm of historic American Christianity. However, many evangelicals have argued that Obama’s religion is not “Christian” enough for the nation. The argument has also been made that the POTUS must be a Bible-believing Christian for various reasons. During the run up to the 2008 election, then Senator Obama faced many religiously based smears, most frequently that he was a Muslim. While most sensible Americans rejected that claim, there was still a feeling that his Christianity, being both ethnically and socially distinct from conservative evangelicalism, would lead him astray philosophically. The underlying premise of this belief was that only a “true” Christian could lead America in the way God wanted. Of course no one ever seemed to agree on what exactly it was that God wanted, but it was clear (supposedly) that Obama’s brand of faith was not sufficient to guide him to right decisions.

Four years later, Evangelicals are embracing and even crusading for a Mormon and a trumpet of Atheistic Objectivism. While I am not advocating that a presidential candidate has to be of a certain faith, many Evangelical leaders are, or at least, once did. During the nomination process, especially when avowed Evangelical Rick Perry was still in the race, many pastors decried Romney’s religion as a “cult” whose influence would certainly disqualify him from being a God-endorsed (if there is such a thing) president. Now we are witnessing an about-face from one evangelical leader and pundit after the next. One prominent Evangelical, went from extremely pointed words against Mitt’s religion to a full-fledged endorsement of the man and his worldview once it clear that he would be the Republican nominee.ayn rand

Likewise, one of the main calls of the Evangelical movement in recent decades is the denunciation of encroaching secular philosophy in the United States. While this charge has been often levied against the Left, the same critics have been virtually silent when Romney chose Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. Ryan has stated time and time again that he loves the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and that America is “living in an Ayn Rand novel.” There have been few philosophers so vehemently opposed to not only religion in general, but the core of the teachings of Christ, as Ayn Rand. The center of Rand’s teaching is what has been labelled “Objectivism.” In this framework, the universe is knowable (contra Ecc 3:11), all life is born of different merit (contra Gal 3:28), and charity and love for those “less” than oneself is deplorable and only serves to hold the race back (contra Matt 22:37-39). In short, Rand advocated Social Darwinism as the highest ideal. Ironically, Christians have been long arguing that acceptance of evolution would only lead to such terrible beliefs as the Social Darwinism that they now, tacitly through Ryan, support.

Although he is predictably backtracking on his love for Rand, Congressman Ryan has made a name for himself taking positions that are transparently Objectivist in nature. Most famously is the “Ryan Budget,”  introduced to the House of Representatives but predictably failing to be adopted. In a nutshell, Ryan proposed slashing virtually all public programs and raising income (labor) taxes on the lower and middle classes (because of America’s deficits) and slash or eliminate taxes that affect the wealthiest Americans, including taxes on not labor, but on investments (in spite of America’s deficits?). In almost no time at all anyone with familiarity of the proposal called it the coldest budget ever seen in American history. Religious groups appropriately derided it as anti-Christian in the way that it prospered the already rich at the very real peril of the poor. Despite his words, it is clear that Paul Ryan’s heart is clearly with his philosophical mentor, Ayn Rand.

jesus and the poorJesus taught that the highest duty of humanity was to love God and love others. All people are created with value purely by the fact that they bear the image of God. At the end of Matthew 25, we see that people will be judged not based on their individual achievements of human-defined success, but how they cared for those that were less “successful” than themselves. The Christian God is one of grace, one that recognizes that people fail and still gives Himself to save them. Christians are called to model such grace, not to be economically prosperous or politically dominant. Christians are called to give, not because we are earning points with God, but because God already earned our salvation.

Mitt Romney belongs to a religion of merit. Mormonism is not in line with the teachings of Christ, who proclaimed grace apart from saving works. There is a fundamental difference between these views. Likewise, Paul Ryan has, for the duration of his recorded life, adopted a secular philosophy of individualism with no collective social responsibility; this is even more antithetical to the teachings of Christ. According to my faith as a Christian and understanding as an American citizen, they both have the right to believe and advocate for whatever their compass tells them. However, it is not Christian. For Christian leaders to stand up and endorse these men and their philosophies is wrong. If any organization or individual wants to support the ideology of these men, fine. While I believe they are wrong, I understand where they are coming from and their right to do so. But to shroud this type of individualistic meritocracy in the cloak of Jesus Christ is disingenuous at best, satanic at worst. Also, what it shows clearly to the world is something that has been proven time and time again. Many of these Christian leaders bear no allegiance for or against any particular theology, even though they vehemently claim that they do. Rather, many are willing to disregard their supposed convictions for the sake of political expediency.

My prediction is that a few years from now, regardless of the outcome of the election, the American Church will have slid even further into secular thinking, not having any clue what Jesus actually taught, but accepting whatever the “conservative” viewpoint is as gospel truth. In the end, this church will die because no one will be able to differentiate it from the World.

I’m Back

August 11, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s been nine months since my last post. In that time I have quit one job, gained another, been promoted twice, and have become a part-time roller derby announcer. Also during that time I have made many new friends and have been called upon to opine on various issues. I have seen a lot of things that have not sat well with me, but in the interest of humility restraint I have remained (relatively) silent. I now feel that I am under conviction to write again. American culture has again and again attacked the godly truth of grace, and has violated the value of all people as given to them by their being of the image of God. As someone I respect once said to me, “When you hear b******t from people, you can’t be silent, you need to tell them that they are wrong and need to shut the f**k up!”

Now is the time catch up on old posts, or read them for the first time if this is the first time you’ve heard of my blog. Looking back over the last few weeks at what I have written, I can say that I am proud of it, and that I believe it is of some value. At the very least it will make you think.

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