Daily Archives: March 3, 2016

Embarrassed to Call Myself a Christian

  
Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I have to get something off of my chest. I saw something on a fellow clergyman’s political comments that were so ignorant and over the top in the hatred that seethed from them that I chastised him and told him that I was embarrassed by his comments. Honestly I do not care who someone votes for or against, what political party they belong to, what ideology they affirm, so long as they remain civil, and if they are a member of the clergy to at least not stoop to personal assaults on their opponents that would turn the stomach of Jesus while at the same time turning a blind eye to the faults and anti-Christian behavior and policies of the political leaders that they support. 

A few days ago I read a very provocative article by Russell Moore, the head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. In the article Dr. Moore wrote that he could no longer call himself an Evangelical Christian because the term in in the United States no longer has any real meaning. In fact he went out of his way to blast the crass manner in which leading so called  “evangelical” leaders have perverted the Gospel, especially in their politization of it. I was in his Amen corner  throughout the article. 

In the past I have written a number of articles about being afraid of Christians, well at least the kind of people who call themselves by the name of Christ that Dr. Moore referred to in his article. But I am more than afraid, I am terrified of them. I have n doubt that if they were given the chance that they would ruthlessly exterminate every political enemy that they have in the name of God. 

So I will do Dr. Moore one better. I am embarrassed to call myself a Christian, because that term has been so maligned by these people that it is meaningless. Dr. Moore said that he now refers to himself as a Gospel Christian. I can understand that and even on issues where I fail to see eye to eye with him I can respect him. But I cannot even call myself that, the term Gospel itself has been perverted by many of the people that Dr. Land rightly criticizes into an insipid morass of bad ahistorical theology, the blessing of greed, avarice, and violence to get the blessing of God and gain earthly power without any sacrifice, humility, repentance, not to mention the forgiveness of sin that the term Gospel has lost its power. 

Though I have been a Christian for most of my life, and have been an ordained minister an priest for over twenty-five years, I have a hard time calling myself a Christian. I struggle with faith, with belief, and the actions of so many Christians, including people that I once thought of as friends has been so corrosive that I have a hard time believing. A well meaning person asked me a couple of weeks ago if I believed. I told them that about half the time I do, about forty percent of the time I don’t know, and about ten percent of the time that I don’t. At least I am honest. There are times that I sense the wonder, grace, mystery and love of God, and there are many times that I don’t. 

But when I corresponded with my friend I realized that my issue with what he wrote had far less to do with his politics than what he said about people, especially in regards to words that they had not spoken and speeches they have not given. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “In judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace that others are just entitled to as we are.” Is it any wonder that more and more people are fleeing Christ and the Church and that the fastest growing religious demographic in the United States is the Nones, or people who have no specific religious faith? I don’t find it surprising at all, and when I see people who call themselves Christians make hateful, ill-informed comments and then say that they are tired of being politically correct I shake my head in bewilderment. That is the same kind of “Christian Faith”  that Bonhoeffer fought against in the Nazi era. But then Bonhoeffer noted that “if you board the wrong train, it is no use in running down the corridor in the other direction.”  Far too many people who call themselves by the name of Christ have boarded that train, and it has left the station. 

So I guess that I will call myself a follower of Jesus like the man who told Christ, “I believe, help me in my unbelief.” 

Until the next time,

Peace

Padre Steve+ 

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