That´s it. After so many years of evangelical churches, conferences, books, CDs, DVDs, sermons, songs, denominations, etc., I have decided to leave. Sure there are nice people in evangelical churches. Sure they help others. Sure I have learned a thing or two.
But to think of the blood spilt from the Emperor Constantine 1700 years ago until now: – the holy wars against Muslims, Jews, polytheists and other types of Christians – the partnership with empire-building European nations such as Britain – the genocide of North and South American indigenous peoples (not to mention Australia and New Zealand, etc.) often in the name of Christ – and the recent wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. (To reach these conclusions along with me, you will need to read other entries on my blog later on).
Anyways, it´s hard to be eloquent late at night. The gist of my blog is: I need something else. I want Yahweh, I cannot go back from following the Messiah. But the people who drive me crazy are the ones who claim His name, and vote in government leaders who further oppress First Nations peoples and many other groups such minorities, low income, physically or mentally challenged, people at risk, etc.
I do not want be a part of a bloody stream of history. I do not want to be a part of the pride, the arrogance, the exclusivity. Yes, like any other religion, I am convinced of the rightness of Yahweh and the only way to Him as mentioned in the Bible, Yeshua the Messiah. However, I would like a community without blood on its hands. We Westerners have expanded all over the globe like a virus, bringing destruction and sorrow with us. This unbiblical, violent faith, including its various manifestations, such as Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, liberal and the thousands of sects, who all claim to represent the Messiah, has worked hand-in-hand with the imperialistic Western nations.
This is the tragedy of the ages: the very religion that claims to save humanity has actually destroyed humanity. The truth of the Messiah has been turned into lies, a battering ram, a Gatling gun, a nuclear bomb, to oppress anyone who stands in the way. Yahweh sent His Son to us to save us from ourselves and bring us back to Him. But the very people who said they loved Him and wanted to spread His joy and peace to the nations have instead brought Empire: political, economic, military, cultural and religious control.
Look at evangelical churches around the world: they are carbon copies of their Western tutors. Same leadership, same sermons, same music, same schedule. The only difference may be the language or a few cultural traditions. People have not been free to adapt the Bible´s directives into their own cultural. They must follow their Western gurus lest they be branded as syncretists or idolaters.
And the others who have not accepted Christianity these many years? Many people think the religion is aggressive, deceitful and downright disgusting. I once met an aboriginal man who called Jesus Christ an ¨a-hole¨ and told his story of how a male religious teacher had molested him in residential school. I also encountered Muslims, when discussing Islam’s battles with Christianity, question the Crusades, when the European Christian armies poured into the Middle East on their blood-thirsty drive to the so-called Holy Land. Another example of Christian brutality has been the treatment of the Jews, many of whom were persecuted and slaughtered for centuries by Western Christians simply because they would not accept the religion of their oppressors.
Now, getting a bit more personal, I have to say that I really can´t stand the boring music and lectures in church services. It´s either one extreme of a mini-Woodstock rock concert, or sleep-inducing colonial hymns. There is so much poorly written, cheap quality ¨Praise & Worship¨ that I think Yahweh in the heavens must be shouting, ¨Hey people, enough of the praise! I can´t stand it anymore!¨
And the church system: where in the Bible does it mention church buildings, paid pastors who are oh-so-coincidentally resemble Catholic “fathers” (priests), tithing, denominations, crusades, revival meetings, etc? Check out Barna and Viola’s Pagan Christianity. A lot of what evangelicals are doing is more influenced by European paganism than New Testament faith.
Yes, I admit, there are a lot of churches who are trying to do a lot of good in their communities. Good stuff, I applaud you. But the majority of you still vote for parties, prime ministers and presidents whose policies are causing more people to end up on the streets, whether paupers or criminals.
Guess what? Abortions are still at record levels, and more people are choosing to live gay lifestyles! Your buddies in office promised to do something about it, but actually did little. However, they got your vote. These are the politicians who claim the name of the Messiah and yet cancel relief to the most vulnerable of our society and give tax cuts to the wealthiest. You evangelicals rally for the leaders who are paying off their rich corporate pals and swelling the ranks of the unemployed and impoverished! In the end, I ask you, whose side are you on?
Read the book of James. Chapter one says the rich will fade away (verse 11). It states that true religion is to care for the suffering ones of the community and not get sullied by the world system (verse 28). Chapter two tells us not to favour the rich over the poor (verses 1 – 13). It demands we prove our faith by meeting the needs of others (verses 14 – 18). Chapter four asks us not to greedily boast of plans to make money, but instead to rely on Yahweh´s will for us (verses 13 – 17). And finally in chapter five, James blasts the rich who have increased their riches through oppressing their workers (verses 1 – 6). I would suppose that this includes buying and selling stocks of companies who are abusing their workers and the community surrounding their operations. James and a host of other Bible authors condemned catering to the rich and denying the poor their rights. Shouldn’t we?
Yahweh takes His words seriously and so should the people who claim to follow Him. Western Christians don´t. We have been so busy supporting the ongoing project of promoting Progress, the never-ending process of expanding technology and capital into every sphere of the globe and human existence. We are partnering with others who oppress indigenous peoples, workers and other easy-to-bully folks, and destroy the environment while we´re at it. We claim to represent Yahweh, and send teams all over the planet from our churches and mission agencies to preach to people, train locals, build houses, dig wells, etc. Yet our lifestyles, our support of multinationals, and our own governments´ oppression at home and overseas, are empoverishing millions of people. And their blood is crying from the ground!
So my solution, or at least Stage One: step out of this bloody stream. Leave the religion whose past and present have fulfilled the Scripture: ¨the name of God is blasphemed among the nations because of you¨ (Romans 2:24).
The next step? Live free, then seek out others who would like to love Yahweh and neighbour without having to align ourselves with a bloody religion. And then walk the talk. Live by the words of the Almighty without following American, Canadian, British or any other Western forms of the biblical faith. Struggle to flesh out the sacred scriptures in our own culture, in our own age.
The time is short…