Tuesday, October 2, 2007


"Conservative Christians will throw down the gauntlet to the Archbishop of Canterbury this week and demand that he disown the US church over gay bishops." [For the full article, see here.]

Although I have used the label "progressive Christian" in some of my writings, I've never felt comfortable with that term, any more than I feel comfortable with the designation of others as "conservative Christians."

You are either a Christian or you're not! A Christian adheres to the Gospel of Christ, a Gospel that is not open to interpretation!

That Gospel mandates us to be agents of God's grace in this world; live by implacable trust in Jesus to guide us and deliver us through (although not necessarily from) our sufferings and hurdles in life; live lives of love; peace; reconciliation; inclusiveness!

There is no other Gospel, and there is no other Christianity! When one seeks to exclude any of God's children from full and equal fellowship and/or seeks to deny others civil and sacramental rights, he or she is not a Christian, regardless of what he/she calls him/herself!

Of course, there is a large tent within Christianity that can, and should, accommodate all types of theological perspectives! However, those perspectives must be circumscribed by the Gospel message as outlined above, or else those perspectives can't in any meaningful way be considered to be within the Christian rubric!

Christians aren't handmaidens to the secular powers that be; they are not haters or hate-mongers; they do not in any way advocate prejudice and/or discrimination, either through rhetoric and/or action; they do not remain silent in the face of the oppression of others; they seek to impact the culture by preaching and living out the love of God for all of our fellow human beings; they exude kindness and harmlessness to people, and have the faith in God that requires us to speak truth to powers that undermine, if not contradict, Jesus' call for us to realize that the Kingdom of God can easily be grasped by living up to the mandate of Jesus that we love God and love others, even those whom we perceive to be our enemies.

Let's not be suckered into believing that there are different stripes or kinds of Christianity! Let's not be sanctimoniously "liberal" in thinking and saying that some Christians are more "Bible-believing" than others! The fallacy that "conservative Christians" are more "Bible-believing" than are the "progressive" or "liberal" Christians is patently false!

Those who selectively choose Bible verses that support their preconceived prejudices and conveniently ignore those verses that contradict those prejudices are not "conservative Christians!" Indeed, they are not "conservative," in that they don't adhere to the Gospel of Jesus; they are not "Christians" as they don't adhere to the Gospel of Jesus!

Biblical literalism doesn't denote a Christian! Indeed, knowledge of the Bible doesn't denote a Christian!

Being called by God, obedience to God's call on one's life, showing forth the love of God, and loving and trusting God through Christ define a Christian! Indeed, even if one doesn't know or understand a word of the Bible, he or she can be a Christian, if he/she loves God and loves others! Christians worship God and not the Bible!

The Church of Jesus Christ is a large, open tent! Yet, it will never be large enough to embody hateful and exclusionary rhetoric and actions by those who are wolves in sheep's clothing who demean and humiliate others in the name of "God" and in the name of "love!"

The institutional Church, unfortunately, has within it all too many leaders and members who embody those hateful values! On the other hand, the Church of Jesus Christ (not to be confused with the institutional Church that can, but frequently does not, intersect with the Church of Jesus Christ) only contains within it people who adhere to the only Gospel to be found in Christianity, and Jesus' Church is impenetrable to, and has no place for, those who refuse to adhere, or are incapable of adhering, to that blessed Gospel!

For professing Christians to advocate prejudice, discrimination, exclusion, and the oppression of others makes a mockery of the term "Christian," and shows that they are not agents of the Prince of Peace, but are witting or unwitting agents of the Devil whose rhetoric and/or actions do untold damage to others, as well as to the credibility in the minds of so many others of Christianity itself!

It's high time that it was made very clear: Those who profess to be Christians and who, by their hateful rhetoric and/or actions, make a mockery of the Gospel and of Christianity are deluding themselves!

However, none of us is to be deluded by them, and we are to educate intelligent, decent, and sensitive people to this fact so that they are not deluded by them either!
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Annie said...

Well said, Jerry!

I think we are in the same place right now. Keep speaking the truth in love!


Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks so much, Annie. God bless you!