I just watched a documentary on the Evangelical church in the USA. Can’t say I was exactly estatic for the faith after seeing the show – and some of the absolute mis-nomers I seen being taught and thought – as the true teachings of Jesus.
(1) Jesus’ name: There was a variety of different methods being used to push the gospel and get conversions – and all of them stake their claim in Jesus and his teachings. They must have shown about 10 various ministries and all of them more unique than the last (a comedian, rodeo, wrestling, creationists, protests, poltical agenda’s, putting up $25,000 crosses, huge rallies, a car show, skateboarders, etc). It got me thinking – how much of this is actually in the gospel message? If you look closely – not a single one of these ideas came from the original message.
(2) Politics: Why are Christians so ‘hell-bent’ on joining this faith with politics and spouting useless rhetoric like ‘let’s take this country back for God’? People like Falwell, Dobson, and others think this is one of the core mandates of the faith – heck, the Evangelical union helps to register all their congregants (and supplies them with the platform of the candidates according to what they label ‘Christian Values’). There is a very strong tie between Evangelicals and politics – and I am left speechless on the issue.
All I ask is one simple thing – show me where the gospels or the letters back this idea – and I will follow suit. It seems to me this an addition by the Evangelical church into the faith – as a direction – more than it is from the gospels/letters. The teachings seem to point more to working with people in a supportive level – locally and personally – than about swaying political agenda’s. Why mix your faith with Capitalism? – When the faith is more communal in nature. If politics was the answer I think the gospels would of mentioned that – however – they do not. I have to side with the teachings – and the teachings seem to proport the idea of acceptance, invitation, working as a support system, and working on behalf of one another – in such a way as to help those depleted and drained in society from the prisoner to the poverty stricken.
(3) Money: I couldn’t believe the amount of money being spent by the Evangelical’s on petty and useless things – like rallies, crosses, protests, cars, buildings, etc. I mean some of those political agenda’s and rallies were costing a pretty penny (one event even had fireworks). They booked the finest stadiums, had the finest press releases, and got some of the best entertainment – all of this adding up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars – dare I say, millions?
Simple question – where is this type of monetary extravagance in the teachings of Jesus? Show me and I will also donate to these ‘worthwhile causes’? I can’t find this type of teaching anywhere in the gospels – but it’s very prevalant in the Capitalist manifesto’s. So who’s fooling who here? All the teachings of Jesus seem to reflect that money is not what we want to gain in this life (nevermind churches storing it up for these big events) – but life is more important than money. Why isn’t this money being spent on worthwhile programs for people depressed, drug addicted, poverty stricken, disabled, elderly, etc…I mean, that’s life right there. Isn’t the biblical teaching about investment in other people and not about ourselves (or our agenda’s)?
(4) Salvation: The whole ordeal of this money spending and variety of gospel messages was about one simple thing – conversion or change. I am all for the salvation of the individual but I think the church is missing the mark here – these ‘one night stand’ conversion events. Isn’t our version of salvation a little deeper than that or more sacred than a ‘simple prayer’? Where is this version of salvation in the gospels? I mean people got ‘saved’ but the communities were a lot smaller – and if I am correct – in Acts they shared all they had with one another – they took care of each other (again – a support group). To me, conversion is a process and it takes time to create a whole new paradigm for life – do these big events provide that kind fo attention to detail?
(5) Acceptance: Mel White, a former ghost-writer for Jerry Falwell, was on the video also. He talked about his ‘coming out of the closet’ and how he still attends Jerry Falwell’s church – even though he is banned. He wants to know what they are saying and what their next political campaign against him is. I watched that in absolute horror and dismay – this attitude of self-righteousness and bitter hatred – where is this in the gospels? I saw Mel crying in the crowd, a man that loves his faith, and I couldn’t help but well up also – they treat this guy like he’s already dead. I just imagine that Mel see’s the same thing I do – crying for the people that are so hard-hearted they can’t even stop to pretend to care about people un-like themselves.
I commented after I seen the show ‘I wonder if Jesus was to walk into one of their services if they’d even recognize him?’. Then I realized ‘whatever you do unto the least of these (my brothers), you have done it unto me’.
I’d gladly shake Mel’s hand and invite him in to any place I went. I’d gladly take my money and donate it to people in society that are struggling. I’d gladly lay my life down to see another human have as much chance to succeed as I did. But I won’t lay my life down for a system that rejects ‘the least of these’ and does so with justification that can only be explained as additions to the teachings of Christ. I ain’t no skeptic – I’m just saying ‘show me where’?