If this isn’t real Christianity, it’s really close

I’m a bit disillusioned today. Actually the last few days. I don’t deal well with pride and elitism.
Then I read something.

I’m not above a good fight, but I was so tired. I’d been fighting fundamentalist Christians for 20 years, had left my denomination, and had washed ashore with the only congregation that would have someone like me as their pastor. I didn’t have any fight left in me.

So I said the first thing that came to my mind.

“[expletive] A, man. [expletive]-A.”

I have found over the years that with some people, a well-placed “F-bomb” is the best pastoral move I can make. It’s like a conversational “Ctrl-Alt-Delete”. If nothing else works, just reboot and start over.

It’s the story of a hard-cussing preacher and one of his friends. It made me uncomfortable. So did the implied attitude that all you have to do to be a Christian is show up in church on Sunday.

But he had a real point: Show up. Leave the door cracked a little and see if God walks in. You don’t make yourself a Christian. God makes you a Christian.

As for the implication that all you have to do is show up on Sunday, read his own story and you see otherwise. So that apprehension was misguided. And he had Sundays right. Show up. Listen. Sing. Pray. Talk to people. Help put stuff away.

I used to have a church like that and I miss it. The Preacher is one of the most profane blogs I’ve seen. But he’s not wearing a mask. He even says he doesn’t necessarily believe in God all the time. He’s honest and he’s real, and that’s refreshing. I like him even if he makes me a little uncomfortable.

Read about The Preacher and George yourself. Then read The Preacher’s own story.

8 thoughts on “If this isn’t real Christianity, it’s really close

  • January 19, 2003 at 9:49 am
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    hmm, so called christians – don’t you love em?

    You can get them to pray (or pretend to), you can get them to meetings (to meet their friends), you can even have discussions about the bible with them.

    Send one email to them about the peace protests yesterday and they go mad with you. How on earth can they see it as a political or religious battle?

    All I asked them to do was support world peace, something which they pray about far too much anyway.

    OK, rant over – feel free to delete this comment if you like.

  • January 19, 2003 at 1:10 pm
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    Ah, the eternal struggle. I’m as guilty as anyone of holding Christians to a higher standard than other human beings. Having a literally perfect teacher and a literally perfect example to follow doesn’t make us much more capable of attaining perfection, unfortunately. The difference, hopefully, is that when we screw up, we hopefully eventually recognize it and want to make it better and do better next time.

    “Peace” is an unfortunate word because most Christian teachings on peace are concerned with peace between God and human beings. Now if we all had true peace with God we’d also have peace with one another, but peace with one another doesn’t necessarily lead to peace with God. The word definitely deserves an entry in the Christianese-English dictionary.

    Personal stances on individual issues, such as war with Iraq or war with North Korea are just that, personal, and shouldn’t be held just because someone else tells them to think that way, whether it’s Pastor on Sunday telling you what to think or Sheryl Crow at the American Music Awards. I’m always disappointed when someone isn’t willing to listen to the issues when they’re raised, Christian and non-Christian alike.

  • January 19, 2003 at 2:32 pm
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    Dave, Thanks so much for this – it was just what I needed to hear 🙂 I’m in one of those “big for bigness sake” churches and sometimes, as much as I love the Anglican tradition, the place just gets me down. This guy’s writing was exactly the sort of smack on the head I needed today…

  • January 19, 2003 at 10:59 pm
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    If you can come up with a way to make billions on peace, the industrial military complex of the world might change their business plan.
    Poor people in poor countries are the perfect place to use the old products.
    Dictators have their place in the overall scheme of things. We need someone to scare us into voting for politicians that will save us.
    Saying this, I think Saddam should have been hung by the Kuwaitis years ago. I also believe Bin Laden should be introduced to some of the practices of the Comanche nation as practiced in the 1800’s in Texas.
    Only G_d came make a difference in this world and it will only be through the individual.
    Joseph

  • January 19, 2003 at 11:25 pm
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    Intriguing take on the preacher. Too many of them just don’t seem real.
    My father-in-law was real — a country preacher who could pull his weight helping his members with the harvest, and taught me some valuable lessons, and also mixed some mean drinks.
    Current pastor is real — came to faith later, after getting a degree in philosophy and logic in college. He has a take our salvation that makes it all make sense, not dogma. Just like your summary, Dave, God makes us a Christian.
    I’m blessed

  • January 20, 2003 at 5:00 am
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    There’s something very interesting going on over at the Preacher’s Blog. What I’ve found there so far has had me awake at three in the morning composing the next entry in my diary. Preachers says he didn’t start that Blog as a MINISTRY among other things. Dave had the perfect comeback for him. Amen! Dave.

  • January 20, 2003 at 9:27 am
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    The first impression I received when I read this article was “something is missing”. I went over to the links provided and although there were elements of truth, other elements were not so good.

    A hard-cussing preacher may at first, seem to an honest, real and up-front individual. However, not according to what is written in Ephesians where it states, “To live as children of the light” and “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth”.

    To use the grace of God as a license to sin is not being real but hanging on to some parts of the “old” life rather than trying to put on the “new” man.

    Being “real” means living out the gospel by putting on the new rather than giving in to the old. (ref. Eph 4:17 to 5:21, Col 3:1-17)

  • January 20, 2003 at 3:19 pm
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    I have to agree with Andy. As a long-time SF reader, the Preacher seems to me like somebody that Robert HeinLein would have put in a book or three – gruff and grungy, but earthy and warm-hearted. I read what the Preacher said. I feel sad for him, that he hasn’t (yet) found what I and many others have – he apparently hasn’t had a genuine encounter with the Real God Who Is Alive And Speaks To People. When you genuinely encounter Him, you stop doubting that He exists, even on your Bad Days.

    The Preacher seems to have made the mistake that so many people make – of believing that the place to learn about God is in seminaries. Whew! If the people who teach theology actually knew God, they wouldn’t be wasting their time teaching people to doubt that God exists or that the Bible is His written message to mankind – they’d be acting like the Preacher’s parents acted; they’d be out getting their hands dirty.

    Yes, the preacher does that. “Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” The Preacher has it partly right, when he says that it’s not crucial what a person “believes”, if you use the word “believe” to mean “intellectually assents to”. Faith and belief are not actually synonyms in the Christian thesaurus. They’re related, but as cousins, not as twins. Faith, as C. S. Lewis commented, is more an act of will, in which a person determines during a Bad Day that the things they believed to be true during the last Good Day are still true, even when emotion doesn’t “feel” it.

    As Lewis also said (my paraphase), “Yes, there are occasionally days when I doubt. But back when I was an atheist, there were days when I doubted that, too.” His point was that his FAITH didn’t switch on and off according to external circumstances or internal emotions, but kept him steady when those things made him stagger.

    Is the Preacher a great guy? Beyond question. Is he a Christian? God knows, I don’t. And maybe the Preacher doesn’t, either. But please – let’s not make the mistake of believing that we can become Christians and not have our lives changed. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews demonstrated at great length that works without faith are dead, and James the half-brother of Jesus demonstrated in his epistle that faith that doesn’t result in works is also dead.

    “Faith is all that matters” or “Works are all that matters” – they define the opposite ends of the spectrum of Christian belief and practice, but the real truth lies closer to the middle. Faith and works are two sides of the same coin, inseparable from each other in every genuine Christian. Is it OK for the Preacher to curse and doubt the existence of God, and yet call himself a Christian? According to the teachings of the New Testament, no. No more than it’s OK for me to act holier-than-thou and never get my hands dirty helping people.

    I hope the Preacher finds God for real. If he does, he won’t seriously doubt that He did. He’s a great fellow, and his actions set a good example for people to follow. But Jesus claimed explicitly to be the only way for people to get to God. Anybody that doesn’t believe that doesn’t have an argument with me – they have an argument with Jesus. The good news is, we can still today have the same experiences that we can read about in the Bible. I have, Dave has, and I personally know very many others for whom these things are a living, breathing, daily reality. May the Preacher find so, too.

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