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The Bankruptcy of the Evangelical Gospel

evangelical gospel

It’s Easter.

The real reason for Easter is___________________?

Come on kiddies, you know the answer.

Easter egg hunts?

Chocolate rabbits?


Dyed eggs?




No, silly. Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus! Shall we talk about Christmas next? You know, the “reason” for the season. Give me my presents, Santa. Uh, thank you Jesus, for, uh, well, for something.

I read a number of Evangelical websites and blogs. Some days, I want to pull my hair out or bang my forehead on the table as I read about the latest faux threat to modern civilization or the “persecution” American Christians are facing because they have to treat LGBTQ as if they are human. I derisively laugh, cuss, and shake my head, but I must continue to wade through the bovine waste river if I plan to be an informed and literate writer. It’s my cross to bear. Buncha homophobes, the lot of them

I subscribe to the One Million Moms newsletter. One Million Moms is a smelly armpit of The American Family Association (AFA). Million Mommies is what I call the female outrage wing of AFA. They focus on boycotting companies that advertise things on TV shows they think are offensive, immoral, or anti-Christian. Their website lists the current outrages and companies who have changed their ways due to a Million Mommies boycott or letter-writing campaign. (Uber, Oreo, Frank’s Hot Sauce) They are well-organized, avid letter writers, and by all accounts, obsessed with the sex other people are having.

Monica Cole is the director of One Million Moms. Several years ago, Cole sent out a weekly Million Mommies newsletter that was different from others I have received in the past. No call to action, no letters to write, no boycott, no panties in a bunch. In other words, none of the usual angst-filled Million Mommies stuff. Cole, concerned for sinners such as you and me, made that week’s newsletter all about Easter, the resurrection of Jesus, and the Christian gospel. She hoped readers would forward it on to lost friends and family members:

If you know of someone who is not saved, please pass this on to them. Share the greatest gift of all with them: a relationship with Jesus Christ and eternal life. Also, share this with your brothers and sisters in Christ so they may use this to share with others. God commands that we share the gospel with others. We need to help one another become passionate followers of Jesus Christ.

What I found interesting is how Cole explained the gospel and salvation, Here’s what Cole thinks the gospel is and what a sinner should do to find salvation:

Resurrection Sunday is a time to Rejoice! Jesus paid a debt for us that no one else could ever pay so that we could be in heaven with Him for eternity. God gave the perfect sacrifice, His only Son, and if we believe in Him, then we will be forgiven and saved from our sins.

To be saved, you must believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for EVERYONE’S sins, including your own, and receive Him as your personal Savior so that one day you can be with our Heavenly Father. If you believe Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins, you will also need to admit you are a sinner – as we all are. Romans 3:23 KJV says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” If you have never confessed your sin and belief in Christ, take time to do it right now. Jesus is the only way to be saved from your sins and receive eternal life.

On the third day, he rose again from the dead. This is the Good News that Christians celebrate: His Resurrection! He is ALIVE! And one day our Savior will return. He, and only He, sets us free from our sins! “Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’” John 14:6 KJV

The birth of Jesus is wonderful, but the resurrection is even more exciting. It is the finale to the Christmas story. Jesus accomplished what he came for. Jesus’ last words before dying on the cross were documented in John 19:30 as, “It is finished.” He knew that all was now completed and that Scripture would be fulfilled. To suggest that more needs to be done to earn your way to heaven is the same as saying Jesus died for nothing. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV

Nails were not what held Jesus to the cross. Jesus had the power to come down from that cross, but He knew this is what had to be done for His believers to be saved. He died on the cross for you and me because of His love for us. He loved us that much! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV

According to Cole, to be saved, people must believe and do the following:

  • Admit that Jesus died on the cross for their sins
  • Admit that they are sinners
  • Receive Him (Jesus) as their personal Savior

If people will do this they will:

  • Be saved from their sins
  • Receive eternal life
  • One day live with the Heavenly Father

That’s it!

Man, I am sooooo glad I did this 48 years ago. Praise Jesus, I am still gloriously, wonderfully saved! My eternal reservation is booked and I am ready to go when Jesus either calls my name or comes in the clouds to fetch me. I may be an atheist, but I sincerely prayed the sinner’s prayer. I’m good to go, right? A-w-e-s-o-m-e!

Sadly, this is the bankrupt gospel preached in thousands and thousands of Evangelical and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches. It is the gospel preached by the likes of the late Jack Hyles, Bob Gray, Sr., Franklin Graham, Joel Osteen, Bethel Church Redding, Joyce Meyer, Greg Laurie, and most Evangelical megachurch pastors. It is a gospel that requires nothing more than I’ve-got-a-pulse sincerity and mental assent to a propositional set of facts. This gospel is what Deitrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.”

I call this gospel the 1-2-3 repeat after me gospel. (Please see One, Two, Three, Repeat After Me: Salvation Bob Gray Style.) In theological terms, this truncated gospel is called decisional regeneration or easy believism. That I can still be considered a Christian should be offensive to every follower of Jesus, yet many people think that I am still a born-again child of God and Heaven will someday be my eternal home. I might lose some rewards, have my gym pass revoked, or my mansion might not be as spiffy as Charles Spurgeon’s, but my future is secure, all because I prayed the sinner’s prayer at age 15 at Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio.

By stringing a bunch of Bible verses together, many Evangelical churches and pastors have reduced the Christian gospel to meaningless drivel. Being a Christian should mean something. Isn’t the essence of the Christian gospel following after Jesus? Can people really be Christians if they aren’t following Jesus, if they aren’t committed to believing and practicing his teachings?

Part of the problem is that there are at least five plans of salvation in the Bible. In the Old Testament, salvation was procured through keeping the law and blood sacrifice. In the New Testament, we have the gospel of Jesus, the gospel of Paul, the gospel of Peter, and the gospel of James. Each of these New Testament gospels is different from the others, and this is why there are so many Christian sects, each with their own gospel. Which gospel a sect, church, or pastor emphasizes determines what a person must do or believe to be a Christian.

Here in the 21st century, the gospel of Paul rules the salvation roost. Some sects, churches, and pastors try to merge Paul’s gospel with the others, resulting in a hybrid gospel. But, if being a Christian means following Jesus, shouldn’t HIS gospel be the one preached in Christian churches? Why do so few churches preach Jesus’s gospel? Why do they focus on Paul’s gospel and doctrine, and not Jesus’s gospel? Could the reason be that Jesus focused on how a person lives, and not what a person believes? Could the reason be that Jesus’ gospel required singular love and devotion to God and mankind — the two Great Commandments?

Take the sermon on the mount. Did Jesus preach anything remotely similar to Monica Cole’s gospel or the gospel that will be preached at countless Evangelical churches this Sunday? He did not. Jesus preached a gospel of works, a gospel that called on people to forsake their nets, family, and everything they held dear and follow after him. Jesus didn’t say to those gathered on the mount to hear him: say you are sorry for your sins and promise to believe in me after I die on the cross. He didn’t ask Jews to ask Jesus into their heart or walk down the aisle and make a public profession of faith. Compare what Jesus preached in Matthew 5-7 with what is preached in the average Evangelical church. The contrast couldn’t be starker. Jesus called to people and said follow me. Evangelical preachers call to people and say, believe these facts, pray this prayer. and you will be saved! Oh, and throw a tenner in the plate while you are at it.

The sermon on the mount is Jesus’ manifesto. He wanted to make sure people understood what it meant to be his follower. Any casual observer of Evangelicalism can see that the gospel preached by Jesus does not remotely resemble what is preached in most Evangelical churches. And it’s not just an Evangelical problem. Mainline and Catholic churches birthed generation after generation of nominal, name-only Christians. What we really have in America is cultural Christianity; a Christianity that bears little resemblance to the teachings and life of its founder.

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus is quite clear about the essence of his gospel. Notice what he said:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Sheep and Goats. Saved and Lost. Everlasting Punishment and Life Eternal. All determined, not by what people believe, but by how they live. Evangelicals have all kinds of explanations for this passage of Scripture. It’s a difficult, complex passage, they say. Doesn’t seem that way to me. A literal reading of the text makes it clear: what separates the sheep/saved from the goats/lost are their works. Surely Jesus meant what he said, yes? Why all the ‘splaining and excuses? Why all the theological gymnastics? Yes, Jesus contradicts Paul, but aren’t Christians followers of Jesus, not Paul?

The late Keith Green, an Evangelical from the Jesus People era, sang a song about Matthew 25. I still remember the ending: the only difference between these two groups of people is what they did and did not do!

I may be an atheist, but I admire and respect any Christians who take seriously their faith and do their best to follow after Jesus. 

There are many mainline, progressive, and liberal Christians who think the essence of Christianity is loving God with their heart, soul, and mind and loving their neighbor. After all, Jesus did say that the law and prophets, the entire Bible at the time, hinged on two commands: love God, love humanity.

Matthew 22:34-40 says:

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Jesus also had this to say in Matthew 7:

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

I think I speak for many atheists, agnostics, and non-Christians when I say, if the Christianity on display in America remotely resembled Jesus’ gospel, I suspect we wouldn’t have much to complain about. If Evangelicals focused on loving God and loving humanity, the world would be a much better place. Instead, they focus on right beliefs, right morals, and right politics – my God, Evangelicals, again, overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump — and the result is what we see everywhere we look: hateful, mean, judgmental assholes who have no tolerance for any belief or way of life but their own. It is THIS Christianity that most of us find offensive.

No one should take this post as me saying that if Christianity was ______________, I would return to the fold. I think the historical foundation of Christianity is false and I cannot envision a way of looking beyond what I know in order to, by faith, “believe.” That said, I do admire people who take seriously the teachings of Jesus, and do their best to love others. I can say the same for any religion or worldview. The proof of its value is determined by the works of those who claim that particular religion as their own.

Keith Green? I am of the opinion that if he was still alive, he likely would have left Evangelicalism, thoroughly disgusted with what it has become.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    Logan G

    Bruce, great post! I was a long time fan of Keith Green starting in my late teen years and on into college. I still remember the Last Days Ministry tracts and mini-magazines and I had nearly all of his albums. He was a very talented musician and passionate man. I wonder too what and/or where Keith would have ended up had he and the others not loaded down that little plane too full of weight, that fateful day long ago….

    I still think his music was some of the most gripping and guilt-inducing stuff out there, and his sheep and the goats piece was at the top.

    Back in the 1980’s, I remember spending a lot of time with John MacArthur’s books and sermons, particularly around the topic of Lordship Salvation which included his prominent book called The Gospel According to Jesus. I remember a lot of internal conflict in trying to resolve the contradictory verses of Jesus vs. Paul vs. James vs. Peter. I ultimately believed that as a follower of Jesus, his message was the one to focus on.

    I’m so glad I don’t have to resolve that crazy dissonance anymore.

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      What you said, Logan. I was a huge follower of Keith Green back in the day, because I appreciated his considerable talent (I am still impressed even by that old video), and because he declared what he believed to be the true gospel, no matter what everyone else was teaching. I was just heartsick when he died. It seemed that Christianity lost one of its most effective evangelists and teachers – the type who could actually reach the masses…which caused me some conflict in trying to resolve why God would let that happen! I’ve always been sort of a nonconformist, so I never agreed with the easy church messages about salvation; I always believed you had to walk the walk, even if it was hard. I witnessed such a lack of real commitment by my fellow Christians that I am sure it contributed to my giving up on the whole thing eventually.

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    Thus the reason I am agnostic about it all, now. Interesting that I read this, today of all days. To this day my old church will not recognize the holiday or season, but continue a multi-part sermon series on the book of Numbers or other such nonsense. Sunday is the highest, holiest of Holy Days in Christianity and not a mention of Jesus.

    And they dare ask the question, “How can we bring young people back to church?”

    Well, any of them who can read will write the same post you did, Bruce. If they still believe at all, they went looking for Jesus.

    Thanks for this little bit of clarity in my jumbled mind on a [g]ood Friday, Bruce.


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    What a great post on the differences between Christianity and the philosophy of Jesus! Here’s a little story that pertains to your post: I just got back from a friend’s family Easter dinner where her (my friend’s) father cornered me and “witnessed” to me for the better part of an afternoon. I let him go through his spiel and even read, at his request, John 3:16 out loud to him. Wow, I haven’t done that in a while lol! He talked a lot about faith and redemption; about sacrifice, obedience and judgment. He had obviously put a lot of thought into what he was saying and it seemed important to him for me to hear what he was saying so I just shut my mouth and respectfully gave him the floor as he laid it all out for me. Even though I haven’t been a practicing Christian since I was in my teens I’ve been drawn more and more lately to the philosophical side of Jesus’ teachings; writings like the Sermon On The Mount and the Gnostic writings like the Gospel of Thomas have taken on a great deal of meaning to me the last few years. The one thing that I have taken from this philosophical treatment of Jesus’ teachings is the importance of loving-kindness toward our fellow man. I like this philosopher Jesus much better than the Christ-Jesus I grew up with and I am trying now to live a life more in harmony with this philosophy of loving-kindness. I guess that’s what kept me from reacting angrily to my friend’s father’s aggressive proselytizing. I don’t think he knew quite what to make of it when after he finished I just smiled and said, “thank you”. I’m having a bit of a laugh now at the irony of it all. That a Christian spent all that time and energy getting red in the face explaining Jesus-Christ to me but it only took me half a second to practice the philosophy of Jesus with a simple smile and a humble gesture of gratitude. The gesture of gratitude was for giving me an opportunity to practice the philosophy of loving-kindness. I’m not always very good at the loving-kindness thing but I’m getting better at it. I think that Jesus was a man just like the rest of us and he struggled with being human just like the rest of us. But unlike most other humans he saw that the path to discovering the divinity within ourselves was in the acknowledgement of the divinity in others through loving- kindness. I can’t prove any of this of course and I don’t expect anyone else to believe it. Hell I don’t necessarily “believe” it myself. It just somehow jives with my own life experiences and the inner processes of my psyche (in the Jungian sense). Anyway. Thanks again for yet another enlightening post Mr. Gerencser.

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      re: “…somehow jives with my own life experiences and the inner processes of my psyche (in the Jungian sense).”

      you might be interested in the book “Myth And Ritual In Christianity” by Alan W. Watts, avail for free download at:

      the first chapter should give you a overview of what he’s talking about. as i understand it, mythology evolved in many different cultures in response to our own psychology (and he specifically mentions jung’s view of mythology here, which is why you might find it interesting.). so while the mythology differs, the psychological impact is the same, and the commonality is the perennial philosophy.

      alan watts was originally an ordained episcopal priest, before turning into the eastern religion icon and popularizer he’s more well known for, writing numerous books on buddism, zen, taoism, etc.

      one quote from the book that i find very interesting:
      “That which has been held “always, everywhere, and by all” is the one common realization, doctrine, and myth which has appeared with consistent unanimity in every great culture, without benefit of “historical contacts” between the various traditions. It was even obvious to St. Augustine, though he later retracted the statement, that “the very thing now called the Christian religion was not wanting among the ancients from the beginning of the human race, until Christ came in the flesh, after which the true religion, which already existed, began to be called ‘Christian’.”

      – Alan Watts in “Myth and Ritual in Christianity”, page 136


      • Avatar

        SGL, thanks for the link. I have heard of Alan Watts but I’ve never read any of his works. The quote you mentioned sounds very interesting. I think that there is a common link between all true spiritual traditions sometimes hiding and often misunderstood within the context of organized religion. “The truth is one; sages call it by various names.”

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          i agree that there’s a commonality. unfortunately, it seems that at most 5% (and actually, probably more like 1% or 0.1%) of any religious group believes this. hence, even if you figure that out (probably on your own, or via a book of some long-dead person), there’s not much of an extant community that you can join anywhere, at least that i’ve ever found.

          you might also find the speech by J Krishnamurti of his dissolving the organization that was created to find the new teacher of humanity, and identified him at a young age and trained him to run it, only to have him dissolve it:
          “Truth is a pathless land”

          (he went on to spend the rest of his life writing books and making speeches on his own re: spiritual issues, and his books are still quite popular.)

          somewhere i saw someone argue that as religion gets too ossified (loses sight of that underlying commonality), a reformer comes along, tries to reform it, and it just makes a new religion/institution. eg, they argued that jesus attempted to reform judaism (eg, parable of good Samaritan, sermon on the mount) as opposed to the rules of the Pharisees. buddha tried to reform hinduism, and ended up creating buddhism. buddhism got off the track, and taoism and buddhism combined to create chan (china) and zen (japan) buddhism. martin luther tried to reform catholic church, and protestantism was created. quakers tried to reform, and created yet another branch within christianity. and each of these branches creates another set of fundamentalists. (actually rather comical at one level, but painful due to the volume of abuse and persecution that occurs due to it.)

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    The only church or group that I’ve found that even comes close to recognizing the common threads between various spiritual traditions is the Unitarian Universalist Church but my days of church going are well in the past. 🙂 There was a time when I yearned to be a part of a “community of belief” but I’ve found that since my spirituality is based on my own inner experience it’s hard to believe that there are very many other people out there with whom I could relate on that level. I think that it’s always been that way. Henry David Thoreau and Joseph Campbell had to retreat into the woods and delve deeply into themselves (and world literature) to find the truth that lies outside the bounds of socially approved belief. Jung likewise developed his psychological theories largely in isolation from society. But today we live in a much more connected world with the internet and social media so, who knows, maybe a community of sorts is possible.

    I think I may have come across some of J Krishnamurti’s ideas somewhere. It sounds familiar. I’ll have to look into more him as well. Thanks for the link.

    I think that the process you describe above has to do with the egoic nature of the human mind. Spiritual truth is a very difficult thing for the human mind to grasp. You can feel it and experience it on an inner level but as soon as you try to grasp it intellectually or think too much about it the ego gets involved and creates something called religion. Once religion takes hold and you have large groups of people you then have the human tribal instinct to deal with which itself creates its own monstrous tribal-ego and before you know it you have holy wars, inquisitions and the whole mess of mass psychological manipulation that goes on in modern fundamentalist churches. Every once in a while a revealer of spiritual truth will appear like an ember rising from an open flame, but only for a moment, and then the world goes dark again and the process begins anew. It’s the same sad story of mankind that has been playing itself out for millennia. Our individual egos and our collective tribal instincts evolved naturally over time and I would like to think that they will eventually decline naturally as we evolve as a species before we destroy ourselves.

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      re: “Unitarian Universalist Church”
      yeah, i’ve read of them, and also liberal quakers, and thought that if i was interested in any group, they’d be the most likely. the quakers, from what i’ve read, seem a little more focused on the mystical side, and the uu’s seem a little more focused on the rational side of things. however, like you, i think i’m beyond any church or membership sort of group association.

      re: “… egoic nature of the human mind. Spiritual truth is a very difficult thing for the human mind to grasp. You can feel it and experience it on an inner level but as soon as you try to grasp it intellectually or think too much about it the ego gets involved and creates something called religion.”

      i’d agree. you might find maggie ross to be of interest. she’s a 30 year professed solitary in the anglican tradition, and for many years spent 1/2 the year in alaska, and the other half teaching theology at oxford. plus writing books. i’ve read her entire blog, and excerpts from one of her books. she has some very interesting ideas about the role of silence in religious experience and understanding, and how important it is to understanding the religious texts, and how that tradition of silence has been lost since beginning in the ~1500’s. recently, (last 2-3 years), she’s discovered another researcher in brain science who’s theories support what she’s found from her own extended retreats and religious studies. (“The Master and his Emissary” by Iain McGilchrist) due to the nature of the 2 hemispheres of the brain. (there were some early theories in the 1970’s that have been discredited, but he wasn’t part of that, and has newer theories based on all the latest brain science research.)

      you can read the intro and parts of maggie’s book, “writing the icon of the heart: in silence beholding”
      at the “look inside” link:

      in the intro, she talks about how the word “behold” appears 1300 times in the original greek and hebrew of the old and new testament, and yet in modern translations, it appears only 27 times in the old testament and not at all in the new testament. if i understand her perspective, mcgilchrist’s, and your’s properly, this “beholding” is when one hemisphere understands something, but trying to grasp it with the other hemisphere, it slips away. ie, i think you’re all talking about the same thing.

      re: mcgilchrist
      i’ve read the intro to his book (avail online for free), and i’ve watched several very interesting youtube videos of his speeches about the book as well, and you might find watching him of interest too.

      lastly, there’s an interesting 3 hr video done by the bbc about taking ordinary people and sending them on a 10 day silent religious retreat. it was quite well done and very interesting.

      here’s a description of the program:
      it used to be avail for free there and on youtube, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. only a preview is avail on the ‘top documentary’ site, and youtube doesn’t show it in the top search results any more. however, you might google a bit more, as someone often posts removed things again.

      here’s maggie ross’ review of the program, which i think shows maggie doesn’t toe the party line re: religion!
      No Place for Silence

      … Jamieson’s sadness and puzzlement at the end about people’s alienation to putting what they had found in silence into traditional words and church structures seemed the only disingenuous moment. He was right on when he pointed to the relationship between silence and the evolution of doctrine, but oblivious of how those doctrines have been divorced from silence, twisted, and used to beat people up, keeping them immature and dependent, narrowing the parameters of what it might possibly mean to be human.

      How can Jamieson stand the conflict between what deep silence teaches and what being a Roman Catholic forces you to assent to? Does he just glaze over, tune out, the way so many RC monastics do when confronted by contradiction (as opposed to paradox)?

      I’m a professed religious and my sympathies are all with the alienated. Organized religion has become so embarrassing that it’s not surprising people don’t want to be associated with it.

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    After growing up in the Southern Baptist tradition, I found, as a young adult, the world wasn’t as black and white as I’d been taught. I started from scratch trying to figure out where I stood with the teachings of the church. That’s when I noticed that people had been putting words in Jesus’ mouth. So I just looked at his words for a while and tried to be that person. Although I no longer believe any of the supernatural stuff, I still appreciate the sentiment, which to me basically boils down to “Dont be an asshole”. Thanks to the commenters and their links. I appreciate Bruce and this forum very much.

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    Yes!! Thank you! I believe th majority of protestant Christians *really* worship Paul & not Jesus. Usually 98% of all sermons (in my experience) start with “now turn in your bibles w/me to Galatians, Ephesians, Acts, etc etc.’ Most of the time th gospels are only opened on Christmas & Easter. Great post!

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    dale m

    Well said and right from the heart. I know some Christian Evangelicals who follow their ❤️ . Have to admire them. Can’t dislike them. They would make great humanists.

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    The whole “gospel of salvation” taught by evangelicalism makes no sense and is, as you mentioned, cheap grace. It gives a “get out of hell free card” to those who pray a few words, walk down the aisle, and get baptized. Then they’re free to be as nasty or not as they want to be. Some evangelicals actually do try to do good deeds for others. But I find the majority are mean and judgmental toward anyone outside their tribe (and to those who don’t fully acquiesce to the party line).

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    I agree, Obstacle Chick. I know a lot of Christians–not all of them Evangelical–who profess to believe what they’re supposed to believe, but who do not much, if anything, of what they’re enjoined to DO. They insist they believe in what the Bible says, but aside from within their own families and their own churches, they’re often outright opposed to “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Those “others” are often judged and condemned for what seems to me like trivia–different beliefs, different lifestyles, different ethnicities. “They will know we are Christian by our love” seems to have become something of a joke. Whatever love they have is reserved for their in-group; the out-group isn’t getting any help from them. I don’t think that was what Christ had in mind for his followers.

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Bruce Gerencser