Saturday, April 12, 2008

What the hell happened to Christianity?

That's what I'd like to know!

Cut & Paste time! This is a commentary from Jay "Revolution Church" Bakker & Marc Brown written for CNN in 2006. I think it's worth a read (link to CNN above):

Bakker, Brown: What the hell happened to Christianity?

By Jay Bakker and Marc Brown
Special to CNN

Editor's note: Jay Bakker, son of former Praise The Lord leaders Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Messner, is minister of Revolution Church and subject of a new documentary series, "One Punk Under God," on Sundance Channel. Marc Brown is a Revolution staff member.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- What the hell happened? Where did we go wrong? How was Christianity co-opted by a political party? Why are Christians supporting laws that force others to live by their standards? The answers to these questions are integral to the survival of Christianity.

While the current state of Christianity might seem normal and business-as-usual to some, most see through the judgment and hypocrisy that has permeated the church for so long. People witness this and say to themselves, "Why would I want to be a part of that?" They are turned off by Christians and eventually, to Christianity altogether. We can't even count the number of times someone has given us a weird stare or completely brushed us off when they discover we work for a church.

So when did the focus of Christianity shift from the unconditional love and acceptance preached by Christ to the hate and condemnation spewed forth by certain groups today? Some say it was during the rise of Conservative Christianity in the early 1980s with political action groups like the Moral Majority. Others say it goes way back to the 300s, when Rome's Christian Emperor Constantine initiated a set of laws limiting the rights of Roman non-Christians. Regardless of the origin, one thing is crystal clear: It's not what Jesus stood for.

His parables and lessons were focused on love and forgiveness, a message of "come as you are, not as you should be." The bulk of his time was spent preaching about helping the poor and those who are unable to help themselves. At the very least, Christians should be counted on to lend a helping hand to the poor and others in need.

This brings us to the big issues of American Christianity: Abortion and gay marriage. These two highly debatable topics will not be going away anytime soon. Obviously, the discussion centers around whether they are right or wrong, but is the screaming really necessary? After years of witnessing the dark side of religion, Marc and I think not.

Christians should be able to look past their differences and agree to disagree. This allows people to discuss issues with respect for one another. Christians are called to love others just as they are, without an agenda. Only then will Christianity see a return to its roots: Loving God with all of your heart and loving your neighbor as yourself.

The Apostle Paul describes this idea of love beautifully in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."

But don't take our word for it; look at what Jesus and his followers stood for in his time and what Christianity stands for today. Then come to your own conclusion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like what they have to say here even though I will always read these types of messages through the glasses of "where's the balance?" I believe that there is balance in the Scripture of truth and love.

Let me explain....I agree that the church is diseased right now and needs serious talk, serious love, and to be honest about these downfalls. I think Christ is addressing the present day church in his letter to the church of Ladociea in Revelation 3: 14-22. He told them that they were neither hot nor cold and he wishes they were one or the other because he's about to spit them out of his mouth. HOWEVER.....

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

In other words, if the church would humble herself, God is already ready to go and just waiting for the church to answer His call.

All this to say, I believe it is real to talk about the challanges in the church, to reach out to her, and to even call her on it but watch how much we beat the church up in a new kind of self righteousness instead out of a concern for her.

The other area of balance I watch for is the presentation that Jesus was all about the hugs and that was it. Again, that is 99% true and would rather the church error more in that direction than the other.

However, He was also about truth. The only times I saw him be over the top bold and down right scoulding about sin was not a "sinner" was the religious leaders. Jesus hated and saved his toughest words for those within the church who did not show love....."you broad of vipors", "you hyprocrites", and a whip made out of cords to chase out the money makers.

We do see however that while Jesus showed great love, great grace in His language, he never compromised the truth of the message. On one day, he had 10,000 people come to hear him speak and spent a couple days with him. At one point, he told them what it took to follow Him, total submission to Him and His, submission, purity....... and about 9,850 people said "Ummmmm, that's too tough and walked away."

If that happened in most churches, both the emerging churches and the conservative churches, they would have an emergency leadership meeting of what they were doing wrong and try to apologize to those who left and water down their message. However, Jesus didn't do anything wrong....He spoke the truth in love and people still didn't like it. Doesn't mean it wasn't truth.

All this to say as a member of the church, we are all one body and we need to address any illness in the body and heal it, even in progressive ways. Not see the illness in the leg and just amputate but go through the treatment. His message we have been entrusted with must be presented in truth and love, not one or the other.

Now side notes....

Homosexuality - while you know I believe there is a sinful element in homosexuality, it is not an area of morality that needs to be legalized. As you know, I am for dropping the laws against it.

Abortion - Since my belief is that life begins at conception, I must be consistant and believe abortion is wrong. So, since the taking the life of another is a legal issue and not just a morality issue, I do believe it should be illegal.

Of course I do not see it as proper how some Christians treat abortion doctors, clinics, or even women who are struggling with the possible decision or a past descision to have an abortion. Again, see above for my thoughts on grace and love.

OK I babble too long. Love ya C!