Riven

The Politcs of Christianity

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 I wrote this to be a blog post, but frankly, I think this forum gets more "guest readers" that could still be Christians, so I hope this has more impact in this forum. Also: trigger warning. I did use bible verses.
 

There are days I get so incredibly sad and frustrated. Let's face it, the 2016 political season was brutal on so many levels. Now, in 2018, it's still brutal. And, it seems as though it's not going to stop. More and more, it seems like my Christian friends are "facing off" against those who don't agree with them politically. And this includes facing off against other Christians.


I can hardly believe that during my lifetime, it became controversial to live out the teachings of Christ to other believers. Prior to my exit from evangelical Christianity, I'd actually been called a liberal by other Christians for engaging in homeless outreach. Homeless outreach! You know, to the least of these! Remember that guy you said is your savior? You know, I believe you call him Jesus? He has a lot to say about reaching out to those populations. But, evidently in the United States of America, in 2018, reaching out to the poor and marginalized makes you a liberal, not a Christian. News flash: then you have to call Jesus one too.


Over the years, I've learned to shut my mouth in my evangelical friend circles about politics. It only took a few times of being told I'm a "baby killer" by voting differently than they do, for me to understand there is a zero tolerance policy for discussion on these matters. I guess I can't be too surprised. Christianity rewards black and white thinking, also known as all or nothing thinking. This is a cognitive distortion. It's a developmental level during childhood that is supposed to be left behind. Unfortunately, many adults never do grow beyond this stage, and Christianity promotes it as the desired state to live in. You must live in black and white thinking to survive in the Christian system of thought.

 

I've also come to accept that I'm going to see vicious comments from evangelical friends on Facebook. Snide, cutting, vitriol. This is the new normal in evangelical America. Assassinate the character of anyone you don't agree with. Even if it's another Christian. Are you familiar with John 17:20-21? I didn't think so. That's where Jesus prays and asks god for believers to be unified, so that the world would believe god sent him. So, I guess god didn't answer Jesus's prayer. And you don't give a flying crap about that prayer either. Clearly.


Am I saying that we shouldn't have political opinions? Not at all. What I am saying is that if you claim to be follower of Jesus Christ, then you might want to check your hatred, vitriol and anger at the door of your hearts. As believers, you are called to a higher standard. You are allowed to have political opinions, but you most certainly are not allowed to spew hatred at those who don't agree.


How in the world does that attract anyone to the message of Jesus? (Bonus Hint: It doesn't.) Even when I was a Christian I was repelled by it. I'm pretty sure everyone else is too.


You are called to honor God first.

Quote

Isaiah 33:22 For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is He who will save us.

 

The Republican Party is not who you call on to save you. Donald Trump is not who you call on to save you. Making America Great Again will not save you. If you really believe your bible, why do you behave as though the direct word of god is not important enough to govern your behavior towards others?

 

Jesus told you very clearly that you are just strangers passing through. This world is not your home. Yet defending America seems to be where Christians have planted their swords. Patriotism and American Evangelical Christianity have so tightly fused, I don't recognize Jesus in the equation anymore.

 

You are called to pray for our leaders (Bonus Hint: No matter the party affiliation)

Quote

1 Timothy 2: 1-4 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

 

I cannot express enough how distraught I was to see the behavior of evangelical Christian friends during the presidency of Barack Obama. I saw the most vile memes, I read the most vile comments. And everyone felt completely justified in doing so. Why? Because he advocated for things they disagreed with. Never once, in eight years, did I see calls from Christians to pray for him. Not once. But the "pray for Donald Trump" requests are flowing down the new stream of my Facebook every week.  

 

You are Biblically mandated to seek justice, defend the poor, and help the oppressed.

Quote

Isaiah 1:17: Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
Proverbs 31:8-9: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Then, of course, there's Jesus speaking directly to this in Matthew 25:45-45.

 

Helping the least of these is not optional for the Christian. Sure, if you don't think the tax payers should pay, that's fine! Political discourse, debate, honest disagreement -- all fine! But personally, and as a church body, you don't have a choice if you want to follow the Bible. And yet, the disgust I see for the poor -- in the church, from my Christian family, from my Christian friends is overwhelming. Where is your love of Christ as a church body? As a believer? You've abdicated your responsibility to a political party's position. Case closed I guess. 


Where in the words of Jesus do you ever see that we are supposed to fight for "our rights?" Since when are your rights, your views, and your political party more important than serving others, loving others, feeding the poor, praying for others?


Last time I checked, your Jesus was pretty big on teaching surrendering of self. What happened to loving your neighbors, or your enemies? Again, something mentioned specifically in the bible. If someone asks you for your shirt, you give it to them. What about turning the other cheek? Inviting in the stranger? Helping the sick? All of this Jesus directly spoke to.


Somehow, the Christian religion seems to have allowed the cultural ideal of American Exceptionalism to seep into the churches. It has made you act as if you are more important, and your rights are to be defended at all costs. Everyone else can just fend for themselves. That's super-biblical of you. Hypocrites.

 

None of this lines up with how Jesus taught you to be. The only fighting you should do is against hate, against oppression and injustice.


When I was a Christian, and could no longer stand Christian culture -- what does that say? I didn't recognize Jesus in the actions, hearts and minds of people who claim Christ. So, I left. For these reasons, and a whole lot more. But this was my tipping point.

 

I'll tell you what Christians say this means: I was never a believer. I'm much more easily dismissed that way.

 

I'll tell you what else it means: That you're never going to be willing to look at your own behavior.

 

Sensing a theme here?


These days, Christ is being used to claim America for Christians. To hell with those that believe differently. Literally.

 

And, hasn't that been the point all along?
 

 

 

 

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Feel free to interface with these Evangelical Christians you identify to work towards a better understanding (by them) of the contradictions between their professed religious tenets and their political beliefs and actions.  It's not very different from the dissonance between their professed religious tenets and their understanding of science and many other things (e.g., the Enlightenment, freedom of speech and ideas, empathy, justice, equal rights, etc.).  I suspect your time could be better spent.

 

Evangelical Christians make up about 25% of the American population and are mostly located in the Southeastern United States.  Their political power is evident, at least for the time being.  Their actual voting power is quite limited.

 

Another strategy is to encourage non-Evangelicals, i.e., non-Christians and non-Evangelical Christians, who make up 75% of the American population simply to get out and vote this November, in November 2020 and in any special elections in the interim.  This group tends to be more rational, pragmatic and less dysfunctional.

 

 

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The Church of Christ literally believes they are the only true Church on earth. And obviously they also believe they are the only true Christians on earth. Everyone else,  especially those that are members of a denomination, are lost.

 

Just to second Rivens point. The Church of Christ does not believe everyone in the Church of Christ is saved  or that every Church of Christ congregation is part of the one true church. They frequently disfellowship members and even other congregations for being "unscriptural".

 

Some even believe every time a Christian sins they lose their salvation and remain lost until they confess their sin and repent. They take Acts 2: 38 literally, meaning they believe baptism is what saves a sinner. 

 

When Christians can't even agree with each other, when they are part of the same group,  why would anyone expect members of different Christian sects to agree on much of anything? 

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Hateful christians. Its almost like christianity doesnt actually work... weird. 

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16 hours ago, sdelsolray said:

Feel free to interface with these Evangelical Christians you identify to work towards a better understanding (by them) of the contradictions between their professed religious tenets and their political beliefs and actions.  It's not very different from the dissonance between their professed religious tenets and their understanding of science and many other things (e.g., the Enlightenment, freedom of speech and ideas, empathy, justice, equal rights, etc.).  I suspect your time could be better spent.

 

Evangelical Christians make up about 25% of the American population and are mostly located in the Southeastern United States.  Their political power is evident, at least for the time being.  Their actual voting power is quite limited.

 

Another strategy is to encourage non-Evangelicals, i.e., non-Christians and non-Evangelical Christians, who make up 75% of the American population simply to get out and vote this November, in November 2020 and in any special elections in the interim.  This group tends to be more rational, pragmatic and less dysfunctional.

 

 

 

@sdelsolray You are so right. Thanks for pointing out all the other areas of "understanding" where their views are also off. I hadn't considered it as such a broad list! It's kind of amazing when you think about it. (At least for me.) I swallowed all of it, hook, line and sinker. 😡

 

Right now, this is my way to process, so for me, it's time well spent. I'm a writer, and I'm going to write about all the BS and inconsistencies I swallowed for 25 years, and quite honestly, I hope LOTS of Christians visit here and see it. I never had a forum to speak to all this, until now. (Well, a place where my words would stay up.) As I jokingly tell my friends, "never piss off a writer, you could end up in one of my books!" 😂 😉

 

And yes, to voting! Hopefully, the statistics will continue to skew downward for the evangelicals. I don't think they need my help (lol), their doing a pretty good job of effing it up for themselves right now.

 

14 hours ago, Geezer said:

The Church of Christ literally believes they are the only true Church on earth. And obviously they also believe they are the only true Christians on earth. Everyone else,  especially those that are members of a denomination, are lost.

 

Just to second Rivens point. The Church of Christ does not believe everyone in the Church of Christ is saved  or that every Church of Christ congregation is part of the one true church. They frequently disfellowship members and even other congregations for being "unscriptural".

 

Some even believe every time a Christian sins they lose their salvation and remain lost until they confess their sin and repent. They take Acts 2: 38 literally, meaning they believe baptism is what saves a sinner. 

 

When Christians can't even agree with each other, when they are part of the same group,  why would anyone expect members of different Christian sects to agree on much of anything? 

 

I had no idea! I have a friend whose mother is in C of C. I knew they had some weird beliefs (at her church, they don't do music at all and I was never sure exactly why that was a sin...), but I didn't realize they also would deny their own members too. Harsh. I did know about the baptism, because when I was an evangelical, my friend told me that now her mom considered I was saved (after I was baptized by dunking in my church). I can't imagine surviving in this particular system (brand) of Christianity. You not only need to fear god's wrath, but also your fellow parishioners! 

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13 hours ago, Jeff said:

Hateful christians. Its almost like christianity doesnt actually work... weird. 

 

Epic reply!! :yelrotflmao:

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14 hours ago, Jeff said:

Hateful christians. Its almost like christianity doesnt actually work... weird. 

 

Jeff,

 

Can I borrow this please?

Christshairymooseballs  this is perfect!

 

kL

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14 minutes ago, Riven said:

 

@sdelsolray You are so right. Thanks for pointing out all the other areas of "understanding" where their views are also off. I hadn't considered it as such a broad list! It's kind of amazing when you think about it. (At least for me.) I swallowed all of it, hook, line and sinker. 😡

 

Right now, this is my way to process, so for me, it's time well spent. I'm a writer, and I'm going to write about all the BS and inconsistencies I swallowed for 25 years, and quite honestly, I hope LOTS of Christians visit here and see it. I never had a forum to speak to all this, until now. (Well, a place where my words would stay up.) As I jokingly tell my friends, "never piss off a writer, you could end up in one of my books!" 😂 😉

 

And yes, to voting! Hopefully, the statistics will continue to skew downward for the evangelicals. I don't think they need my help (lol), their doing a pretty good job of effing it up for themselves right now.

 

 

I had no idea! I have a friend whose mother is in C of C. I knew they had some weird beliefs (at her church, they don't do music at all and I was never sure exactly why that was a sin...), but I didn't realize they also would deny their own members too. Harsh. I did know about the baptism, because when I was an evangelical, my friend told me that now her mom considered I was saved (after I was baptized by dunking in my church). I can't imagine surviving in this particular system (brand) of Christianity. You not only need to fear god's wrath, but also your fellow parishioners! 

 

Well, not everyone in the Church of Christ is actually that harsh and judgmental. I grew up in the "C of C", and most people that I have known are actually pretty nice. A bit too rigid and given to "black-and-white" thinking, but not as "fire-and-brimstone" as you might think.

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1 hour ago, Tsathoggua9 said:

 

Well, not everyone in the Church of Christ is actually that harsh and judgmental. I grew up in the "C of C", and most people that I have known are actually pretty nice. A bit too rigid and given to "black-and-white" thinking, but not as "fire-and-brimstone" as you might think.

 

 

Wow, you must have been in a really, really, liberal c of C. You guys were definitely apostate. Happy, but lost. What a shame, you thought you were bound for heaven, but you weren't. So sad, so very sad.  :( :fun: :yelrotflmao:

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1 hour ago, Tsathoggua9 said:

 

Well, not everyone in the Church of Christ is actually that harsh and judgmental. I grew up in the "C of C", and most people that I have known are actually pretty nice. A bit too rigid and given to "black-and-white" thinking, but not as "fire-and-brimstone" as you might think.

 

I agree. Many of the people I knew in my church "system" are nice. They are raising their kids, being good neighbors, etc. As I process so much during deconversion, it's easy to forget this. I tend to focus on the concepts, doctrine, and people who hurt me. But you are right. I would love to set them all free, but just looking at my own journey, I know how incredibly hard it is.

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50 minutes ago, Geezer said:

 

 

Wow, you must have been in a really, really, liberal c of C. You guys were definitely apostate. Happy, but lost. What a shame, you thought you were bound for heaven, but you weren't. So sad, so very sad.  :( :fun: :yelrotflmao:

 

I went to the Hendersonville Church of Christ and the Crieve Hall Church of Christ, both in the Nashville, Tennessee area. They were both big enough congregations that there were actually many different sorts of people in them. Not all were so "churched up". So, yeah, goin' ta hell, an' all that....

 

Don't get me wrong -- I knew people who were much more fanatical, as well. But I didn't spend too much time with them.

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29 minutes ago, Riven said:

 

I agree. Many of the people I knew in my church "system" are nice. They are raising their kids, being good neighbors, etc. As I process so much during deconversion, it's easy to forget this. I tend to focus on the concepts, doctrine, and people who hurt me. But you are right. I would love to set them all free, but just looking at my own journey, I know how incredibly hard it is.

 

Oh, for sure! I had the distinct advantage of not ever actually "buying in" to the church doctrine to begin with, and not being a part of a "hyper-christian" type family, with preachers, elders, deacons all over the goldang'd place. We were much more "on the periphery", especially me. Growin' up, most of my best friends weren't COC'ers. And I read secular books on history, paleontology, etc.

 

But i realize that, if your family is really ensconced within the leadership structure of the "one true church", it must be indescribably difficult to leave the nuttery behind.

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On 6/12/2018 at 2:37 PM, Riven said:

 

I agree. Many of the people I knew in my church "system" are nice. They are raising their kids, being good neighbors, etc. As I process so much during deconversion, it's easy to forget this. I tend to focus on the concepts, doctrine, and people who hurt me. But you are right. I would love to set them all free, but just looking at my own journey, I know how incredibly hard it is.

 

But the blinders, though. Even the nice people are so blinded while they're "under the influence." 

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On 6/11/2018 at 7:31 PM, Geezer said:

The Church of Christ literally believes they are the only true Church on earth.

 

And there's the logic flaw right there.

 

I was listening to a podcast the other day where they were interviewing a Mormon guy who left his church. He wrote a pretty well-known letter to the governing body about his questions/issues with the doctrine. It's now a book (cesletter.org). He was talking about the Mormon church being the "one true church" and that he really believed it. Felt special and blessed because he was born into it.

 

That really hit me. It's exactly what evangelicals believe -- that they are the only ones that have it right. (And then there's all the subsets of evangelical Christianity that also believe that only their subset has it right -- like the CoC folks).

 

When you step back from that and logically look at it, you realize that it's all man-made thinking. I know I've said this before, but I'll never understand how I was so bamboozled. Or why it "worked" on me. UGH.

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2 hours ago, Riven said:

When you step back from that and logically look at it, you realize that it's all man-made thinking. I know I've said this before, but I'll never understand how I was so bamboozled. Or why it "worked" on me. UGH.

 

It's obvious once the blinders come off. And it's the natural flow of protestant reformation. Gaining the scriptures to read and make their own sense of led to all of this, everyone honing in on one aspect or another (while disregarding what ever doesn't gel) and claiming to have found the one and only truth, that the others are missing. The 19th century was full of people thinking they'd found some unique niche to insert themselves into. The chosen few, elect of god, the remnant of Israel, etc., etc. 

 

I grew up in SDAism based upon Daniel and Revelation interpretations. Florduh, apparently went off to study Revelation at the Moody Bible Institute. These exclusive claims of protestants are completely untenable, and if you spend a lot of time in Daniel and Revelation that can become increasingly obvious. I'm of the opinion that even though the "end times," and end of the world predictions have gone on for so long, I don't think they'll keep working as a carrot-on-a-stick indefinitely. Modern kooks have fixed so much investment into claims that hinge around modern Israel that their time will run out. As time goes on there seems to be more and more "none's" rising, and people who are not interested in religion. The power of afterlife rewards and punishments just isn't working that well anymore. I think in broad terms people are growing out of it here in the states and catching up to Europeans who have long since grown out of it already. 

 

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@Joshpantera - I actually just made a post about man-made thinking, as it's something I've been pondering a lot, and today I had an insight (I'll leave it for my post to explain though.)

 

But to your point, I'm always amazed at how there are still people that are hooked into these "end of the world" cults. I mean, it's not that hard to know about others who said that same, and were wrong. And, if that's not enough, there's the Bible itself saying, "No man knows the day or time..." and that anyone saying so is a false prophet. I realize the dynamics are complicated and multifaceted. Sometimes it's the leader's personality, or other factors. 

 

Re: Daniel and Revelation. I'd be interested in learning more about how those books might dissuade someone from believing in exclusivist claims!

 

I agree about Europe and their post-Christianity. In fact, I went on a mission trip to Europe in the 90s, and that's all we talked about. How lost they were, how they didn't understand what a "personal relationship with Jesus" was, etc. OMG. So, fast forward 20+ years and I'm actually rooting for that dynamic to come to the U.S.! 🙄

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7 minutes ago, Riven said:

...

And, if that's not enough, there's the Bible itself saying, "No man knows the day or time

......" and that anyone saying so is a false prophet.

 

I can't remember the source (it was Ehrman, Carrier, or someone else) but the 'no man knows the time' is plausibly an interpolation added to Matthew at a later time to address the 'this generation shall not pass' problem because all who lived at the time of Jesus had died.

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57 minutes ago, sdelsolray said:

 

I can't remember the source (it was Ehrman, Carrier, or someone else) but the 'no man knows the time' is plausibly an interpolation added to Matthew at a later time to address the 'this generation shall not pass' problem because all who lived at the time of Jesus had died.

 

Mind = blown. I had NO idea! 🤯

 

I looked it up. It was Bart Ehrman, Orthodox Corruption, p. 91. (I have Google skills!)

 

You know, this is exactly the problem. The "scribes" have had thousands of years to either fix up, or produce reams of commentary, to obfuscate the obvious. The Bible has all kinds of consistency issues. And adulteration throughout the centuries.

 

I'll just add this to my growing heap of knowledge. This is a good one! Thanks!

 

OH! And P.S. --- It also creates a "Jesus can't be divine" problem too!  If he and the father are one, "he is in me and I am in him," as Jesus said, then how would HE himself not know? (Cue the theologians screaming that Jesus "gave up his divinity while on earth" so he wouldn't have known.) I know all the arguments.... lol.

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