Religion or Relationship?Evangelical Christians (ie: those Christians that are NOT Catholics) will often allege that they are not part of a “religion” and thereby, you cannot compare many of their offensive stances, viewpoints, prejudices, hatred and discriminatory behavior with every other religion. I’m not a Catholic, but I presume they realize they are indeed a religion, and are not denying they are the major world religion in every way, and always have been. Evangelical Christians on the other hand, will agree with you all day long on many criticisms you have against other religions, such as Islam, for example, because Islam is merely “a religion” in their view and they can clearly see how harmful religion is and can be when forced on others who don’t happen to agree with their exclusive teachings. Being “religious” used to be a compliment. Now, even Christians realize that calling them “religious” has negative connotations. So they deny it. And many will cutely repeat what they have heard their pastor say, which is this: “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.” What they mean is, all that matters to the “true” Christian, and the key to salvation, is your “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ. Not any religious system, or logically, any adherence to religious requirements outside of trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation. But my experience is that they are hypocrites when it comes to this point. Let me ask you, committed Christian man or woman: Can a man have faith in Christ while rejecting some of the religious nonsense contained in your holy book? Or some of the nonsense preached by “god’s man”, your pastor? Or disagree or question even one single passage or teaching of your religion? If so, what you preach is a religion, NOT a relationship!
Again, Catholics understand the need for a “right relationship’ with “the Church” and with the dogmatic teachings of that church, in order to be saved. But evangelicals, who claim not to be religious, ironically, question a man’s salvation if he trusts in Christ for his salvation, but merely doesn’t believe all the religious nonsense that their paid, professional clergyman doles out to them for a fee each week.Let me ask you a personal question, Christian man or woman, does your Bible’s plan of salvation include any requirements that a lost person truly believe ALL or none of the ancient texts? Do you share with them not only that man is a sinner, he cannot save himself, that Christ died for his sins, and by grace through faith, he can be saved? Or do you also tell this lost person that he must tithe, that he must serve the Lord by serving in the church, and most importantly, do you tell him that what he believes ABOUT the Bible will determine his ultimate fate. In other words, are you honest with him and tell him up front that unless he puts his faith in the Bible itself (that every jot and tittle is the infallible, inerrant, and perfectly recorded inspired word of God ), then his trust and faith in Jesus is worthless and he is not a Christian, can’t be a child of God, and ultimately, will burn in hell forever and forever without being consumed? If so, that is not “Good News”, that is horrible news.
So my dear Bible believing evangelical friend, either proclaim unashamedly your trust and faith in the Bible itself (not Jesus and his work) and all of its religious teachings and practices, or stop telling people they must believe it all or none of it. You are being intellectually dishonest, you are not telling them the “whole gospel” and you are lying to them about Jesus and what he did. I challenge you to find anywhere in your trusted, sacred, scriptures where Jesus told a man “you must believe the Bible to come to me.” Or “whosoever believeth it all, will be saved.” Or, “either all of the bible is true or it’s all false.” No. You know it’s not there. So please quit being a hypocrite and demanding that others believe it lest they be cast into hell. Shame on you. Your pastor is paid to preach this line of nonsense. Their livelihood depends on gullible supporters who look up to them as God’s representative and as wise holy men. If they start preaching other nonsense that you must do to be saved, run from that church. Love Jesus enough and care about God enough and love your family enough to take the time to explain to your children and your wife that the man is lying about God. Tell them that God loves them. Jesus died for their sins. That they can have peace in their trust and faith in Jesus. Warn them about the dangers of religions. Warn them about the dangers of blind fanatical adherence to an ancient holy book. If your family and your wife love and respect you, they will listen to you over the lying holy man of God. Good luck. If your wife, children, parents and friends are religious fanatics, or members of a cult, they will end up shunning you, have disdain for you, and you will feel worse about yourself then you did before you called upon the name of the Lord when you were lost. Oh, religion can be so hurtful and divisive. We know it can lead to centuries of war between nations and peoples. But we also see how, if not put in the proper place in a believer’s life, it can destroy families.
John 14:6: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”John 3:15 and 16: “…that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The writer of this tripe is woefully ignorant of the God he purports to speak for and the Scriptures that he insults. He has no concept of regeneration, no clue as to what takes place in a person at the instant of salvation, much less the eternal effects on a person who was cleansed with "the washing of water by the Word." He poses the question(s) in such a way so that no matter the answer that most will give he will immediately cry 'foul' and state that you have proved yourself a hypocrite, thus proving his point of the fallacy of the salvation you claim to have, the inconsistencies and double-speak of the Bible, and the fact (according to the author) that God has once again been caught lying to man. He says we are being "intellectually dishonest" in the beginning of the third paragraph, the truth is this author is a clever deceiver and an outright liar.
He goes on to state we say "whosoever believeth it all, will be saved." Again, he speaks from a blinded mind, an evil heart, seeking to trap the gullible in their own words. He has never known nor understood that all a man can know at the time of his regeneration is his own sins and the mercy and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only AFTER regeneration that he even begins to understand, believe, and appreciate the whole of Scripture (up until that time they were just words on a page).
This author has encountered and probably has been 'brought up' on the "easy believism" that is taught in 99.9999% of the "churches" of our day and this nonsense he writes is his 'coming out' speech of rebellion against the lies spoken from the pulpits (on that account, some of what he says has merit). There are few that dare to utter the word "repentance" and fewer still who knows what it means to repent. "Obedience" is another lost word in the vocabulary of nearly EVERY preacher of our day. They opt instead for "freedom in Christ" so as to excuse all manner of sins and comfort the lost in their pews with easy sounding words, assuring them of their place in heaven just so long as they were "sincere" when they 'prayed the sinner's prayer.'
So the author is wrong on so many points, but correct in his disgust for what passes as "Christian" in our day. If you could not fashion an answer for this in your own mind, then it's time to pray----or go back to sleep.
I like the new background for your blog.
Any chance you might change the title of the blog as well since you no longer report on anything happening at FBC JAX?
Just a suggestion.
Darren: "He has no concept of regeneration, no clue as to what takes place in a person at the instant of salvation, much less the eternal effects on a person who was cleansed with 'the washing of water by the Word.'"
Sorry, but however affecting or transformative, private psychological experiences are not data and are not trustworthy guides to reality. On this very day, for instance, somebody somewhere has had the private psychological experience of realizing he is actually the incarnation of Napoleon, and somebody else has had the private psychological experience of realizing that the Creator of the Whole Big Universe really-really-really wants him to strap-on a bomb-vest and go blow-up some Americans or Jews.
As Nietzsche said, "A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything."
Darrell, you make Watchdog's point. Your post leaves no room for grace toward Watchdog. Just angry rhetoric that you have the inside scoop on spiritual "truth"
Believers like Darrel sadly cannot stand for the gospel to be simple.
If it's simple, then it's "easy believism," or some kind of cheater's way out, which confounds to no end those who want to depend on works.
I am sorry Darrell, you are the reason why people are in the growing "Done" or "None" groups of the religion world.
Got to follow whatever some angry harsh person says. Obedient ! Obedient!
More " works based doctrine."
Sorry, you're not saving many " lost souls" with that attitude.
The author of this piece remains anonymous. It would be highly disappointing if the author and the blogger were one and the same. Would the real author of this insanity please man-up and identify yourself?
"Darrel" remains anonymous. Come on Darrel, "man-up".
I'm surprised this article hasn't caught on fire, it's so full of straw men.
Dog, why don't you just go ahead and come out as non-Christian. Come on, you know you want to do it, and it's pretty obvious to anyone who's been reading you for any length of time.
I agree Anon 6:00. Dog, you've totally jumped the tracks with this one. You've done an excellent job over the years of exposing foolishness in the contemporary evangelical megachurch culture. But now it appears your target is, in your words, "all Christians except Catholics." You've clearly got some major hostility toward Christians and Christianity and you're painting with a bigot's broad brush. Not only that, but some of your criticisms are just downright inane.
So when I say you should "come out" as non-Christian, how am I proving your point? Indeed, what is your point? I can honestly say after reading the above I don't fully understand what your'e trying to say.
Why does my use of the phrase "come out" apparently touch a nerve with you? Gays use that term when they decide they don't want to hide their homosexuality anymore. That's not a derogatory or pejorative term in any way. I was saying that it seems to me like you're secretly non-Christian and should just come out as non-Christian instead of being ambiguous about it.
Your tactics here would make Peter Lumpkins proud.
I loved this post. I am shocked as to how many people out there preach Jesus + whatever. They try to control you by telling you that you must believe x+x+x+x.....
Deep down inside, I believe some of these people are fearful for their own salvation. So, they dream up a series of things that you must believe to be a Christian. And, of course, those things are the things said person does. Therefore, they are saved and you are not. My pastor calls that "cooking the books."
Tom, you are a man strength, character and faith without defaulting to a set of rules like some of these folks do. You go!
Salvation is based on accepting the Gospel. the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of JESUS Christ AND IT IS FAITH AND FAITH ALONE!!
Reading you twitter feed is interesting. You refer to the last comment by anon of 8-7 @10:20 pm and ask "where's the love?" So I will ask you the same, dog, where's the love for the Lord Jesus Christ? If indeed you are the author of this insane nonsense (your dead silence on the matter is deafening) there was a grand total of ZERO love shown to Him in anything that was said. Your unwillingness to own what you have said is even further evidence (the Bible calls it "fruit") that you are indeed a part of the "great falling away", not a member of the Body of Christ, and are still in your sins. But you seem to be good with that, as you piously sit at your computer and chuckle at your detractors and scoff at the God that you have claimed to speak for lo these many years. Mock your Creator and His servants and live out your days expecting no consequences for doing so---all of your apostate friends are doing it, why shouldn't you?
Anonymous @ 10:20pm.....I doubt you understand what it means to be a Christian.
There are a lot of us who pray to Jesus everyday who think pretty much along the lines of Dog.
A true Christian does not practice shunning. A true Christian does not preach that obedience is necessary for salvation. A true Christian knows that belief and trust in Jesus, faith in his death and resurrection as evidence that he is God, is sufficient for salvation. Of course, one remains human and susceptible to sin. E.g., mega church pastors seem to be rather greedy, a terrible sin (see the previous post). And that behavior can be changed, and should be, if one is a true Christian. The only question to as is: What is your relationship with Jesus?
Too many demand that you believe in other positions of famous pastors -- like that the earth was created 6,000 years ago, or that women are cursed and cannot be in a full and complete relationship with the Christ unless married and under the rule of some man or men, etc., etc., none of which did Jesus say are necessary to salvation!!!. No, you do not have to take the Bible literally to be a Christian. Just put your faith and trust in Jesus -- that is what He taught. The rest is all unnecessary surplusage.
So what are these "series of things" you are referring to which you say some people say you have to do to be saved but you are telling us it's not necessary? Let's deal in specifics rather than abstractions.
This should be interesting if you will engage. Salvation is rejected by most. Jesus said broad is the way to destruction and many go there but narrow is the way to life and only a few find it.
Yes but faith is a whole heap more than just professing that you believe and then going about your business. True faith is hard. So hard that most reject it.
You seriously need to quit getting your theology from blogs and study the classic Christian writers. Start with the Bible.
Anon 9:30 - perhaps you should quit getting your theology from seminarians, professional religious men whose livlihood depends on you believing this or that.
Years ago, a 17 year old teen was watching Star Trek and skimming through an article in Life Magazine on "The Groovy Christians of Rye, New York. In that article, a young man was was quotes as saying "It is not a religion, it's a relationship."
At that moment, that nonChristian teen, raised in non Christian home in Salem, Massachusetts, said "I believe." That teen was me. My life, from that point on, was committed to that relationship between Jesus and me. I still get tears in my eyes whenever I think about it.
And I still love science fiction!
Why believe in Christ in the first place if the Bible is mythology? Poisoned well and all that.
Dog, I agree with you that in order to be reconciled with God we must recognize our, need, confess, and repent. Nothing more. I do believe there will be fruit in the lives of true believers but that fruit may be imperceptible to me and others. Contrary to what I've heard in Baptist church we are not called to be a fruit inspectors.
I have only one question for you. Do you now deny biblical inerrancy? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is necessary for salvation, I'm just asking.
I think you've hit the nail on the head with the fear part, Dee. Have been thinking same lately. So much fear so little love.
-Because if everyone does not believe as I do, maybe just maybe I need to rethink. But if I do, the whole thing will come crashing down...so let's just get angry instead and project our anger into the people we insult.-
Truly, it does come down to a lack of confidence in the goodness of God.
But it is not those who say they believe but those who do the will of God who are saved, right?
So there is a work of the Holy Spirit in someone who is saved by grace through faith and if there is not, in fact if the fruit is bad, there must be cause for concern.
Christian character matters, and no amount of Bible knowledge can produce fruit of the Spirit in one who does not know the love of God in Christ.
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