Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Misguided Christianity in the Kingsport Times

This summer, the following letter was published in the Kingsport Times News. I was pretty irritated and felt the need to respond. First is the aforementioned letter, followed by my reply which was published shortly after.

Immorality is destroying America

Modern day America is just about as immoral as Sodom and Gomorrah. The people of this day and age are unthankful and unashamed.

Back in my day, people shouted as they walked to church, and they shouted all the way home. Now people don't even go to church. They took prayer and Bible study out of the schoolhouses and brought in sex education and witchcraft. You parents that let your children read these Harry Potter books are guilty of witchcraft and idolatry and you're going straight to hell.

Instead of getting a thrashing for misbehavior, the parents, teachers and doctors today get these children heaped up on ritalin. You could give ritalin to a cocaine addict and they wouldn't know the difference. Then, they wonder why this generation has amounted to nothing more than drug addicts, fornicators and murderers.

Back in my day we didn't turn to a pack of pen-pushing pantywaists and labcoat Larrys to tell us how to live. We turned to the word of God.

It seems like every time I go to the store I see a teenage girl carting around three or four young ones. You used to not see that kind of thing around here.

The women in this day and age ain't worth marrying. The Bible says a beautiful woman without virtue is comparable to a gold ring in a pig's nose.

If I had my way, I'd have it to where these women and their children wouldn't get food or medicine through welfare. The Republicans tried to do this in 1996, but Clinton vetoed the bill twice until Republicans finally gave in.

You people ain't smart enough to come in out of the rain. I never thought the good Lord would let me live to see this day.

Bill Sullivan

Kingsport, TN

My response:

Mr. Sullivan,

Your myopic diatribe reeks of the ignorance and irrational judgment that send scores of people away from Christianity every day. As Christians, our purpose is not to condemn everything that appears evil. Our purpose is to extend the love of Christ to unbelievers, to fellow Christians, and to strangers. The judgment placed on unwed mothers and Harry Potter readers simply is rooted in your tradition, not in scripture, and certainly not in love. We see Jesus explicitly condemn this practice in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7. He rebukes religious leaders after they insist that Jesus and his disciples follow man made laws above God's law. Bible Belt Christianity is often guilty of the same. Judging another man is not our place, aligning ourselves with scripture is.

To those who found this letter offensive; on behalf of loving Christians everywhere, I apologize. I don't seek to defend sin, I seek to defend sinners. None among us can claim to be without sin, thus no man can claim to be more righteous than another. The religious (not Biblical) judgment Mr. Sullivan, Fred Phelps, and others profess does not reflect true Christianity, simply the misguided opinions of cold hearted men.

Religious Judgement says: "You're going to hell," Biblical judgment says: "I deserve it too."

Religious Judgement says: "I hate sinners," Biblical judgment says "God hates sin, not sinners."

Religious Judgement says: "Your past is condemning," Biblical judgment says "Jesus doesn't care."

Religious Judgement says: "Change, then come to Christ," Biblical judgment says "Be changed by Christ."

More and more I sympathize with Gandhi who said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

The fact that millions refuse Christianity due to Christian behavior sickens me. Christians must desire above all to share Christ and His truth, not the fallacies and ignorance of man.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jesus and Bruce Springsteen

've always had an eclectic taste when it comes to music, and think it stems entirely from my parents and older siblings. I have vivid memories of being a little guy, and listening the likes of The Temptations, The Eagles, The Beatles, Bon Jovi, Rich Mullins, Billy Joel, and James Taylor among others. I loved that music, to the point that I had my sister dressed me up as Bruce Springsteen one Halloween! Now, at seven years old I could understand the concept behind "My Girl," but I had no idea what James Taylor meant when he sang "I've seen fire and I've seen rain." I'm thankful that my family exposed me to this music because now I'll go back and try to understand what the artist was conveying. Though I'm aware many of those songs lack any true meaning, I've learned that some artists spoke real truth. For example, I recently saw a televised Bruce Springsteen (my 1989 Halloween hero) concert and he made a striking comment. He was playing a song titled "Jesus Was an Only Son" which was written from Mary's point of view; watching her son crucified. After playing his song, the Boss, visibly emotional, stated that he was overcome with compassion for Mary having to watch her son be murdered. So he decided to write a song about it. He closed with this comment: "If we lose our compassion, do we really have a claim to the divine?"

I don't know your feelings about Bruce Springsteen. You may think he can't sing and you may disagree with his politics. Regardless, his statement is truly profound. Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians that God is the author of compassion. However compassion is more than just a feeling, action follows. Seven times the gospels mention Jesus having compassion on someone. Every time, that feeling of compassion was followed by an action to help. So how often do we truly have compassion on our fellow man? When we see a man standing on a corner asking for food/money/gas are we compassionate? Or do we think "Deadbeat, he should get a job." In John 21 Jesus tells Peter that if he truly loves Him, to care for his people. In Matthew 25, Jesus teaches that what we have or haven't done for "the least of these brothers of mine," we have or haven't done for Him. So maybe Bruce was right. When our compassion is gone, when we dismiss someone else's burden, what claim do we have to loving Jesus?

"Ain't no doubt in no one's mind that love is the finest thing around." -James Taylor 1968

"And now these three things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."-The Apostle Paul AD 55

Love God. Love people.