I live in Vancouver, Salish Unceded Territories, on the West Coast of Canada. Here we have the rich getting filthy richer and the poor getting miserably poorer. And the Christians, who were my tribe for 30 years, keep going, playing church, and not really giving a damn about the society around them. Why should they? They’re not only going to Heaven, or so they think, but the Lord will miraculously airlift them out of here when the poop hits the fan. The “Rapture”, which literally means “ecstasy”, they call it. Maybe the Christians have been popping ecstasy pills, because they must be high on something. Reality evades them.
Talking to a Christian friend on the phone tonight. He says Canada’s never been better. Whereas as it was more racist before, now people are aware of these issues, and we all have more human rights than before. Or so he thinks. He has no issue with Stephen Harper, the Canadian Fascist Prime Minister. Or, Dimitri, perhaps you have a psychological problem. Haven’t I heard that before. If the truth is too painful, the messenger must be bipolar, schizophrenic, border-line or something.
And this was all one hour after one IT Specialist at the library I work at on Fridays told me that Stephen Harper is a dangerous, heartless man, must hate his country, and is but selling out to the corporations and now to China. He sees that the Evangelicals in the U.S. and Canada have been co-opted by the Right, to be used as a socio-political tool for Right Wing, corporate interests. Many non-Christians can see it, but why are these supposed Bible believers still supporting Stephen Harper and his Neo-Conservatives? I was telling my Evangelical friend that his denomination, the Christian & Missionary Alliance of Canada, should definitely kick out Stephen Harper and issue strong statements denouncing his political machinations. Will they? There’s more chance of the Pope converting to Buddhism!
Evangelicals! I’m calling you to wake up! When you read the Gospels, you find out all about the Pharisees. And yet, you can’t see yourselves in them. They ARE you, and you ARE they! Don’t you get it?
Matthew 23:1-39 ESV
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, …
Luke 18:10-14 ESV
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Mark 10:2-12 ESV
And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Luke 7:36-50 ESV
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Matthew 21:31-32 ESV
Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
“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.’
Here’s a quote about Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus by Phil Zuckerman & Dan Cady on Huffington Post:
The results from a recent poll published by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (http://www.pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/Tea-Party-and-Religion.aspx) reveal what social scientists have known for a long time: White Evangelical Christians are the group least likely to support politicians or policies that reflect the actual teachings of Jesus. It is perhaps one of the strangest, most dumb-founding ironies in contemporary American culture. Evangelical Christians, who most fiercely proclaim to have a personal relationship with Christ, who most confidently declare their belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, who go to church on a regular basis, pray daily, listen to Christian music, and place God and His Only Begotten Son at the center of their lives, are simultaneously the very people most likely to reject his teachings and despise his radical message.
Jesus unambiguously preached mercy and forgiveness. These are supposed to be cardinal virtues of the Christian faith. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of the death penalty, draconian sentencing, punitive punishment over rehabilitation, and the governmental use of torture. Jesus exhorted humans to be loving, peaceful, and non-violent. And yet Evangelicals are the group of Americans most supportive of easy-access weaponry, little-to-no regulation of handgun and semi-automatic gun ownership, not to mention the violent military invasion of various countries around the world. Jesus was very clear that the pursuit of wealth was inimical to the Kingdom of God, that the rich are to be condemned, and that to be a follower of Him means to give one’s money to the poor. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of corporate greed and capitalistic excess, and they are the most opposed to institutional help for the nation’s poor — especially poor children. They hate anything that smacks of “socialism,” even though that is essentially what their Savior preached. They despise food stamp programs, subsidies for schools, hospitals, job training — anything that might dare to help out those in need. Even though helping out those in need was exactly what Jesus urged humans to do. In short, Evangelicals are that segment of America which is the most pro-militaristic, pro-gun, and pro-corporate, while simultaneously claiming to be most ardent lovers of the Prince of Peace.
What’s the deal?
Before attempting an answer, allow a quick clarification. Evangelicals don’t exactly hate Jesus — as we’ve provocatively asserted in the title of this piece. They do love him dearly. But not because of what he tried to teach humanity. Rather, Evangelicals love Jesus for what he does for them. Through his magical grace, and by shedding his precious blood, Jesus saves Evangelicals from everlasting torture in hell, and guarantees them a premium, luxury villa in heaven. For this, and this only, they love him. They can’t stop thanking him. And yet, as for Jesus himself — his core values of peace, his core teachings of social justice, his core commandments of goodwill — most Evangelicals seem to have nothing but disdain.
And this is nothing new. At the end of World War I, the more rabid, and often less educated Evangelicals decried the influence of the Social Gospel amongst liberal churches. According to these self-proclaimed torch-bearers of a religion born in the Middle East, progressive church-goers had been infected by foreign ideas such as German Rationalism, Soviet-style Communism, and, of course, atheistic Darwinism. In the 1950s, the anti-Social Gospel message piggybacked the rhetoric of anti-communism, which slashed and burned its way through the Old South and onward through the Sunbelt, turning liberal churches into vacant lots along the way. It was here that the spirit and the body collided, leaving us with a prototypical Christian nationalist, hell-bent on prosperity. Charity was thus rebranded as collectivism and self-denial gave way to the gospel of accumulation. Church-to-church, sermon-to-sermon, evangelical preachers grew less comfortable with the fish and loaves Jesus who lived on earth, and more committed to the angry Jesus of the future. By the 1990s, this divine Terminator gained “most-favored Jesus status” among America’s mega churches; and with that, even the mention of the former “social justice” Messiah drove the socially conscious from their larger, meaner flock.
In addition to such historical developments, there may very well simply be an underlying, all-too-human social-psychological process at root, one that probably plays itself out among all religious individuals: they see in their religion what they want to see, and deny or despise the rest. That is, religion is one big Rorschach test. People look at the content of their religious tradition — its teachings, its creeds, its prophet’s proclamations — and they basically pick and choose what suits their own secular outlook. They see in their faith what they want to see as they live their daily lives, and simultaneously ignore the rest. And as is the case for most White Evangelical Christians, what they are ignoring is actually the very heart and soul of Jesus’s message — a message that emphasizes sharing, not greed. Peace-making, not war-mongering. Love, not violence.
Of course, conservative Americans have every right to support corporate greed, militarism, gun possession, and the death penalty, and to oppose welfare, food stamps, health care for those in need, etc. — it is just strange and contradictory when they claim these positions as somehow “Christian.” They aren’t.
As Yeshua wept over Jerusalem, we should weep over our fallen culture. And weep over the Evangelicals, atheists, and all else who have made Westernism the local and global force that is destroying communities everywhere. Westernism = Babylon = The Matrix and it will be done away with one day. In the mean time, let’s fight it together. Non-violently, but with a ferocity that scares Beelzebub. Isaiah 61 – imitate the Messiah and sacrifice for the liberation of your neighbours. Amen.
Now before I sign off, just wanna let you know, the “Church” is NOT “well fed”. All that Baby Pablum their pastors and book writers have been pumping out for the past few decades cannot even qualify as apple or cranberry sauce. Especially when they keep throwing around the whole “Grace” thing, which is their excuse to forget about ethical, non-violent, environmentally-friendly behaviour. Connected with this is the entire, human depravity doctrine, which almost dooms everyone to be constantly sinning, unless you have a rush of Holy Spirit Speed flowing through your veins. Yes, they think, the Jesus Drug will cure you of your propensity to sin. Just tank up at your nearest sanctified Fill-Up Station. Made in Heaven. Quality guaranteed.
Let’s be honest, folks, a shot of Grace or the Holy Ghost isn’t going to do it. You need to fully commit to loving Yahweh heart, soul, mind & strength, and to loving your neighbours as yourself. All your neighbours. Including gays, atheists, Muslims, socialists, climate change scientists, evolutionists, Buddhists, Baha’is, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Parsees, Hindus, Daoists, Orthodox, Catholics, Liberals, and those dog gone Evangelicals.
Just slapping a label on your forehead isn’t going to cut the mustard. Just sitting your butt on a church seat for 2 hours won’t either. Claiming to be a follower of Jesus neither.
“With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:6-8 ESV)
Here’s the late Keith Green with his eyeball-popping song:
ASLEEP IN THE LIGHT- Keith Green
Do you see, do you see
All the people sinking down
Don’t you care, don’t you care
Are you gonna let them drown
How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job’s done
“Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord”
You know it’s all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear
But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds
And He cares for your needs
And you just lay back
And keep soaking it in,
Oh, can’t you see it’s such a sin?
Cause He brings people to you door,
And you turn them away
As you smile and say,
“God bless you, be at peace”
And all heaven just weeps
Cause Jesus came to your door
You’ve left him out on the streets
Open up open up
And give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries
So how can you delay
God’s calling and you’re the one
But like Jonah you run
He’s told you to speak
But you keep holding it in,
Oh can’t you see it’s such a sin?
The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can’t fight
Cause it’s asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When you’ve been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can’t even get out of bed
Oh, Jesus rose from the dead
Come on, get out of your bed
How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job’s done
You close your eyes
And pretend the job’s done
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t pretend the jobs done
Come away, come away, come away with Me my love,
Come away, from this mess, come away with Me, my love.