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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12 Comments

Filed under christian life, ethics, faith, Political Commentary

12 responses to “Embarrassed to Call Myself a Christian

  1. Lee Milliner

    On target Padre.

  2. Cathy Cunningham

    Steve, love this article and want to share my take. I don’t belive either, but if I did I don’t think people can just announce they are Christians and a miracle from their God annoints them one. If there is such a thing as a Christian then I feel it’s a continuous work in progress and you never are able to achieve the title that so many like to bestow upon themselves.

  3. David A. Budka

    It is tough to call one’s self a Christian in today’s society. I frequently ask myself, “Have I compromised my faith so much that I can no longer call myself a Christian?” Do I, or can I, follow the doctrines of the church to the degree that I can honestly make such a claim? The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do call believers to an absolute trust in them, to the exclusion of all other gods and belief systems. On the flip side, from the very start, I always assumed a confession in Christ as savior was a voluntary thing, and that I needed to show tolerance and understanding toward those who did not share my belief.
    One thing I learned very quickly after March 17, 1979 (When I made my profession of faith) was that I am not a hard line fundamentalist. I fall into that category of people called evangelicals, a cross between a general Baptist and a Presbyterian. I grew up Presbyterian, but developed a belief more like that found in the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church or other evangelical denominations.
    The obsession over homosexuality by some Christian leaders really began to trouble me back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The fear expressed by these people was based on the premise that our nation was following ancient Israel into a rejection of God, His principles, and ultimately into dissolution and captivity (destruction). Is it our place to dictate how people live, or is it our calling to live as God’s examples to the world? On the opposite side, if Christians don’t stand up for their beliefs, they themselves might end up being discriminated against, sent to gulags, or exterminated. I was infuriated by the accusation that people like myself were blamed for AIDS when I had spent my life trying to avoid STDs or impregnating women of my age group. I am sorry, but people are responsible for their OWN actions.
    Right now I don’t attend a church, though I am looking at a small Evangelical Covenant congregation in our neighbor. The CMA church we are still members of is too far away. I work 65 to 75 hours per week, just to maintain a median income, and I have to get myself up and dress my wife (who has cerebral palsy), to get us to church.
    Politically, I have either been a Non-partisan or moderate Republican. I find it very hard to follow either party’s ever increasingly polarized ideologies.
    I subscribe to your e-mails and I read them when I have the chance.

    • padresteve

      David, thank you for you kind words and for sharing your journey. I think that there are many people like both of us who are not being well cared for by the church and who would rather see some civility and pragmatism from both political parties. Blessings! Steve+

  4. My mother, she is now 93, she is a devout Roman Catholic.

    When a priest, theologian filosofer or any other that were expressing their views making sometimes a total mess of it all, she did say:
    The message God has given us stays the same, LOVE.
    The problem is often His groud crew not His message.

  5. Fredo Hernandez

    Padresteve,
    Regular reader, but until now I have never commented. However this entry struck a chord with me. All I can say is that the marriage of religion to politics is to the detriment of both. It in fact is one of the main contributors to the fact my generation of thirtysomethings and younger are so turned off by both.

    The cynicism and hypocrisy in the association of the two is what caused my eventual loss of faith in both. However, keep your chin up sir, after all, baseball season is around the corner!

    • padresteve

      I hear you Fredo, thanks for following me and reading. I appreciate your comments here. Blessings! Steve+

  6. GramzW

    Thanks for posting this. I actually googled “I am embarrassed to be a Christian” lol I’m glad I’m not the only one with this struggle.

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