“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Paul and Silas to the Philippian jailer
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh? 4 Did you suffer[b] so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
Paul to the Galatian church
Above are three Bible verses. I hope that you have read them because they and a multitude of other verses in the Christian Bible have a lot to say about what Jesus did and what we “do”.
I became a Christian way back in the stone age (1982) and almost immediately was taught that I needed to assimilate into a “do/don’t do list” that all respectable Christians adhere too. So I did, and for the next 15+ years I tried my hardest to be a good Christian. I failed, but I was good at keeping it hidden because to admit failure was to admit I was not spiritual. But all this is for another days’ post.
Today I want to show you some of the “bewitching” that is going on the Evangelical Church today that is “another Gospel”. Let me first give you the Gospel in a nutshell. Jesus is God in human flesh, coming to Earth to give Himself as a sacrifice and substitute for our sins before a Holy God. He became our sin on the cross and died. Three days later He rose as confirmation that His sacrifice was more than sufficient to appease God’s wrath for our sinfulness. All we do is believe as we are inspired and led by the Holy Spirit. We then can have a relationship with God because Jesus made us perfect and holy. You see, our relationship with God is based on Jesus, never on us.
That being said, there is another gospel being perpetrated against believers and non-believers alike. Here are some of the hoops individuals need to jump through in order to be in, stay in or get in the church.
Be a Republican, tea partier, or at least a social conservative. Believe that it is the responsibility of the church to “save america” from moral bankruptcy. Stand against abortion, marriage equality, bullying laws, legalization of marijuana or other drugs, see welfare as anti-biblical (if someone don’t work, he shouldn’t eat), believe in a 6 day creation and vilify science, and see America and Capitalism as God’s gift to the world. And I will end with this…believing it is the responsibility of individual believers to confront non-believers with their moral failings.
Let me just say without apology…none of the things on the above list are “Gospel” but it is what many churches spend most of their time and resources disseminating.
It is wrong, and it is muddying the clear, life-giving Gospel water with a toxic sludge repulsive to most people in the world and to an increasing number of people with in the church.
It must stop.
4 thoughts on “Jumping Through Fundamentalist Hoops”
I too believe that the cultural and political trappings of so many in the churches offend God and bring great disrepute on the name of Jesus Christ. When conservative theological beliefs became substitutes for Holy Spirit guidance the original fire of the then labeled fundamentalist group was lost and a dire phariseeism took its place. All of this simply fulfilled the warning of Christ and scripture. The law (legalism in any form) kills.
Then the capture of the label Conservative Christian and its twist to mean Conservative politics became the logical next step in the loss of a life of faith under the leading of the Holy Spirit. That step transformed us from strangers and aliens in this world (citizens first and foremost of the Kingdom of God) to a party under the factions in this world. And, yes, a similar transformation occured in the liberal branches of Christianity.
I am grieved by so much done and said in the name of Christ. I am horrified by the beliefs and actions which clearly nullify the example of Christ concerning “how then shall we live.”
The turning of the main culture against Christianity and Christ simply parallels this downward spiral among those who are Christian by human claim only, in name only, but not by the power and life of a resurrected Lord. It is so hard to not want to lash out, or to isolate myself. It is so much harder to present truth. To call out “thus says the Lord.”
The price paid – rejection, vilification, etc. – sometimes has very practical physical and mental effects. How, O Lord, how can I remain faithful when the grief and struggle lead so closely, so constantly, toward death?
Thank you Wayne and I can agree with you wholeheartedly. You make some great points. It sounds as of you have experienced fundamentalist wrath? It is very painful and hurtful and sometimes very cruel. I have a whole story to share.. some time I may, I almost walked away from the Church at one point but God has other plans, I guess.
I am grieved at what fundamentalism has done to the Gospel….and I believe that if we are to ever have credibility again as a faith with a focus on Love. Forgiveness and Grace through Christ, we have to come together, those of us that understand it and risk. But I think that risk is worth it.
Peace to you brother,
We limit God. We limit God’s grace. We limit the Gospel when we paint our understanding to be the standard of what Christianity is about.
Yes Leanne, it is at the very core of fundamentalism…we limit God when we think that we have Him figured out. We have done great damage to the Gospel…and we have blasphemed His name among non believers. I am very sad about this.