Thursday, May 25, 2017

Rejecting Conservative Christianity

If Jesus walked the earth today, what would His reaction be to the church? Would He see all the broken people encouraged by the place, or would Jesus spew the whole thing out of His mouth? For sure Jesus would show love and extend grace. Whatever He said or did would confirm scripture, and certainly not contradict. Would He ridicule immature Christians for their  baby steps, or would He gently prod and encourage them to greater things? I’d hope the latter.
These days few people leave their comfortable lives and families and sell their possessions to follow God’s call. Are we the rich young rulers of today, sadly going back to our jobs and lifestyles instead of serving Christ? Probably. I have my reasons for living my life, but they are just excuses. But if I were bold enough to go out and serve, I know I need to follow the scriptures, to do nothing unbiblical. God’s message is simple, to love others and extend grace to those hard to love. But I can’t throw out the rest of the Bible. Jesus hated sin, and so should we. He loved sinners, and gave His life for them. Jesus did not condemn, but accepted and loved. So should we.  
As much as the Christian Church today gets wrong, they still do a lot of right for millions of people who need love. It’s never enough.   
Guy I used to go to church with posted this article on social media. I take these type things to heart, and when I have the time I give them a good read – not just the headline and article but also the reactions from readers. Kratzer has the right idea, that we should love others and live by grace. At face value the guy makes a point (several, in fact) but the closer you read, some are outright un-Biblical.
“I’m Sorry Conservative Christianity, I Just Can’t Do It Anymore, by Chris Kratzer
His main points:
1. I can’t see people as being inherently evil and lost. Grace is the great equalizer.
2. I can’t support a consumer driven Christianity. Me: goodness gracious. Some people surely less spiritual than you may feel better about themselves and closer to God if they have a special bookmark or T-shirt. Remember point number one.
3. I can’t live with one eye open in fear of a bipolar deity. God is love. “Hell, wrath, judgement, and God’s discipline…all highly debatable and open to be differently interpreted, but all silenced at the foot of the cross.” “I refuse to live my life fearing…god who could love me one moment and cast me into hell the next.” Kratzer may be talking about some incorrect theology he heard preached. That doesn’t mean he should throw the baby out with the bathwater.
I am far from a theologian, and I won’t be able to define God correctly here. People want a loving God, not a God who judges and allows bad things to happen. We do not live in Heaven, but on a fallen, imperfect world. God loves us so much that He gives us free will, allowing us to choose whether or not to love and serve Him. Even when we do, we are subject to the bad things that can happen in life: cancer, death, hunger, pain. In life God never said He would remove these bad things, but can help and comfort in our suffering.
4. I can’t ask my wife to submit to me. Again, someone has their definition / interpretation wrong. Perhaps his entire article was meant as a response to a pastor he previously served under, that he didn’t see eye to eye. Years ago the church made a bigger deal about this than they do today. A line in the marriage vows, taken from scripture.
5. I can’t deny the validity of science. Kratzer is correct to say “that scientific discovery and spiritual revelation don’t have to be enemies, but are important threads that are actually woven together.” This is true. But these days the scientific community often presents mere theories as fact, then shouts down and name-calls anyone who points that out.
This same close-mindedness can be applied to those accepting “science” and the theories the world today claims as fact, without doing due diligence. Like Christianity, those believing in evolution, climate change, and even atheism must have faith that what they think is indeed true. When molecules to man evolution flopped, it’s followers pointed to microscopic evolution as proof. When global warming proved to be a fallacy, the nomenclature was changed to climate change. An old earth is based on inaccurate tools of measure: an airplane was discovered under a layer of ice said to be millions of years old. Yesterday’s “truths” continue to be updated as new information comes in. Yet so many adhere to theories as fact, when actually the opposite is true. Like Christianity, faith is required to believe scientific theories that are impossible to prove. Even the Bigfoot video proved to be a hoax.  
6. I can’t turn off my brain, deny my individuality, and freeze dry my beliefs. No, but that doesn’t mean one can pick and chose what parts of the Bible to believe and which parts to ignore.
7. I can’t believe the Bible is perfect. Yes, you are free to believe anything you want. But that doesn’t mean you are right. “…aren’t we all inspired by God anyways…” Yes, but that doesn’t make your words the Word of God. The Bible is the word of God. There are various translations, but I’m not aware of major differences that would lead people to discount, change, or remove entire sections of scripture. I must be careful to focus on the Bible and not the words of man – like this very article! Can the heart of the author be seen in how he replies to his readers? He thanks and encourages those who agree with him, but is considerably more terse with those who disagree. A couple of responses detail where the author strayed from God’s truth – but Kratzer did not bother to respond to these.
8. I can’t compete with you and your “sold out” family. Kratzer’s argument falls apart here, showing his impatience, intolerance, and disdain for people who express their Christianity differently than he. I may have some of the same prejudices, but to include such in this list is downright immature. Why would I follow someone so petty and unloving?
9. I can’t love people conditionally. “I want to boldly approach the throne of God having loved too much.” ME: not by posting blogs like this. Sounds like he can’t love people unconditionally. Which is impossible, apart from God. He certainly doesn’t love those Facebook-post, knickknack displaying “Christians” he slams in his previous bullet point.
10. I can’t condemn the LGBTQ community. “I just want to live my life outside of the condemning, discriminating, and sin-labeling mantra of conservative Christianity that shoots first and consults Jesus later – if at all.” Sounds like Kratzer is doing the same. How can he lump the entire church together on this? Just because the church has been wrong in the past doesn’t mean it can’t learn from its mistakes. More conditional love.
The church in general has failed to show love to the gay community, for sure. Many got it wrong to begin with, saw the error of their ways, then responded in love. Even so, the world condemns even these for their words from years and years ago. God has forgiven these leaders, but the world has not. It is my goal to love all people. Sometimes this is hard. Like straight people, there are gay people that are easier to love than others. It is easier to love the easygoing, and harder to love the argumentative and militant. Easier to love the open minded, and harder to love the close-minded and hateful.
11. I can’t embrace a gospel that is for me, no gospel at all. Again Kratzer seems mad at humans for adding conditions to God’s love and grace. Pastors don’t get it wrong on purpose. At least I hope not. Some may be motivated by impure motives like power or money. Kratzer seems angry he believed someone’s false gospel, and he wants to spoil everyone else’s experience. Who exactly is this “Conservative Christianity” he disdains?
Kratzer talks about what’s wrong with the church. Not HIS church, mind you. He didn’t make this mess. What is he doing to make things better? One red flag is when he invites seekers to dialogue if they’re “interested in learning about my spiritual journey and transition to the beliefs I now hold “ without mentioning God, Jesus, or the Bible. Does he just want to stir people up? Is this the best way to address these issues? Does he just want to draw attention to himself? He sure is an angry elf.
Perhaps Kratzer is just now realizing things that I discovered long ago. The church is not perfect – only God is. I cannot place my faith in a human, or an institution run by them. Like many I have problems and issues with the behaviors and comments and stances taken by some representing the church, just as I have problems by political parties, local/state/national governments, news networks, advocacy groups, universities, and sports teams. To expect perfection from any of these is unreasonable.
I have to keep reminding myself to keep my eyes on God and His Word. People will always fall short. Nothing wrong with that, as long as I remember it. Many people work in an industry for many years, then weary and disillusioned, seek out a new career. Nothing wrong with that either. Christians are called to a high standard. It’s tough work. I certainly get it wrong. Sometimes so do those in the church. With the best intentions they may get things wrong. This may drive people from the church, sometimes permanently, sadly. Had these driven away people known to trust in God and not in people, perhaps they could’ve figured out the difference.
Perhaps millennials and gays are attracted to Kratzer’s me against them approach. Contrastingly, when Andy Stanley preaches (if you can call it that) he makes it clear that he’s preaching to himself as much as anyone else. Andy knows he needs love and grace as much as anyone else. I have no problem with someone calling out the church for something they’re doing wrong. Nothing new about that (in fact it’s old and tired).What bothers me about Kratzer is the unbiblical parts.

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