December 16, 2017

Another Look: It’s OK…to Just Be a Christian

By Chaplain Mike

I thought this post from last year (4/19/10) was worth another look. I hope you will too. It’s a bit of a riff on the question asked by the prophet Micah: “What does the Lord require of you?” (Micah 6:8) In the light of last week’s discussions on “radical” and other adjectives we apply to Christianity, these words came back to my mind. I’ve made a few minor editorial changes to the original post.

I hope this will come as a bit of good news to you today. Maybe it will help you stop beating yourself up unnecessarily. I hope it will help us all to that end.

What I have to tell you is:

It’s OK.

It’s OK to just be a Christian.

It’s OK to just be a person who knows and is thankful that God loves you and gave his Son for you.

It’s OK to just be a person of the cross, to know that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again for the world’s salvation.

Really, it’s OK.

It’s OK to be someone who only really cares about trying to love God and love your neighbor.

It’s OK to think that the Apostles’ Creed is a comprehensive enough statement of faith for you, and that you are willing to have fellowship with other people who think the same.

You don’t have to be a certain kind of Christian. Adjectives like “reformed” or “conservative” or”emerging” or “missional” or “radical” or “passionate” or any number of denominational or theologically constricting labels are not necessary.

It’s OK just to love Jesus and be thankful for what he’s done for you.

You don’t have to go to a “cool” church with a name like “Revolution” or “The Rock” or “Journey” or “The River,” though it’s certainly OK if you do. Your plain ol’ First Presbyterian or First Baptist or First United Methodist will work just fine too. It’s also OK if you attend St. Peter’s and your pastor waves incense around, or St. Basil’s, where intriguing icons invite your contemplation.

It’s OK if you don’t listen to Christian music, shop in Christian stores, wear Christian t-shirts, go to Christian conventions, become a Christian homeschooler or send your kids to Christian schools, patronize Christian businesses, participate in Christian causes, read Christian books, or identify yourself with Christian organizations. You can be a Christian without all that, it’s OK.

It’s OK if you don’t have a big library of theological books or Bible commentaries. It’s OK if you struggle reading through the Bible, because you can’t even make it past Genesis 5 because you can’t pronounce that long list of funny names. A great multitude of believers over the centuries never even saw a Bible, except maybe up front in a church somewhere, and even then they couldn’t read it. Guess what? God knew them and they knew him anyway. How about that?

It’s OK if you have no idea what it means to “engage the culture,” or “have an impact in the world.” You may not really understand what “social justice” is all about. If you’ve never been in a small group or taken a missions trip, never had your spiritual gifts inventoried, never tweeted the pastor during a message and wouldn’t know a PowerPoint sermon if it bit you, it’s OK.

I don’t think it really matters if you know John Piper from Piper Laurie, N.T. Wright from the Wright Brothers, YEC from NAACP, or Willow Creek from Nickel Creek.

You are OK if you stay out of the culture wars. Culture wars? You’re too busy visiting your neighbor who’s in the hospital, taking some food to the family, coaching that little kid who doesn’t have a dad, writing a note to a friend who’s discouraged, making coffee for the congregation on Sunday morning, volunteering at the school, mowing the lawn of a shut-in. Fact is, you’re smack dab in the midst of the real battle, the one those who do all the talking often avoid like the plague.

Oh, by the way, it’s OK if you say, “I don’t know” when people ask you about the burning issues of the day. It’s OK if you don’t have a strong opinion on gay marriage or stem cell research or global warming.

And it’s even OK if you are a bit fuzzy on your theology. If you can’t give a precise formulation of the doctrine of justification by faith or distinguish between the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed teachings on sanctification, you’re still gonna be OK. If you think “rapture” is what you felt on your wedding day, and have no idea of its theological meaning, that’s OK.

It’s OK to say, “I don’t know. Doesn’t make you less of a Christian.

Baptized as an infant? OK. Dunked in the creek as a young teen? OK.

Love to receive communion because you meet Jesus there, but have no idea how to explain it? In my opinion, that’s OK.

Because you trust in Jesus.

You know in your heart that you’re broken and need fixing.

It’s clear to you that he is the only one who can forgive your past, enliven your present, and guarantee your future.

And in response you have found simple ways to worship the One who means everything to you, with others who feel the same.

That’s what you know, and that’s who you are.

You’re just a Christian.

And that’s OK.

By the way, if you know someone like this, you might want read this post to them, because I have an idea they have no clue what the “Christian blogosphere” is, and they will probably never find my words.

That is perfectly OK with me. They’re gonna be OK.

Comments

  1. Thanks this is so true and I love the Good News Bible line drawings they illustrate the simple truths that make up our faith so well.

  2. Thanks so much for this. This is something I have been meditating on lately. At my Acts 29 network church I sometimes feel the pressure of the Reformed-Arminian debate. While I can appreciate some aspects of Reformed thought, I still can’t swallow the whole TULIP, as it were. All I know is, at this church I have been loved and accepted in a way that can only be described in terms of God. At the end of the day, I don’t want to have to feel like a Piper or Driscoll fanboy in order to fit in. I just want to know that I can come to a place where I am loved as I am, not as I should be, because I’m never going to be as I “should” be.

  3. “You know in your heart that you’re broken and need fixing.” that about sums it up for me : ) Somedays I do worry that I ain’t doing enough saintly stuffs, if we get jesus in our lives I think that is pry good enough —— today I would hope that jesus would just be happy with all the seeking him I did in his word etc. I’m going to try harder not to sweat it when I see every single sunday all the brother’s and sister scurrying away in the kitchen, they all about serving god that way ——— even if I had that kind of zeal and fire I don’t know where they get all that energy sunday morning cause inevitably I always stay up late saturday night : ) who I foolin it’s 9:38 p.m. right now : ) hahahahahahahahahahahah

  4. when i made a commitment to Jesus it was very dramatic. i began to read the bible like a crazy person. in months i knew it well. there was an elderly lady at a bible study i attended who i admired as having the character of what i thought was truly Christlike (i still think it). she was a Christian for years. one day we were asked to turn in our bibles to a certain book. she didn’t know where it was. i had to help her. made me realize how we are all made differently. she may not have been able to quote a passage like many do, but she displayed it like very few.

  5. Good stuff! The person who made a huge impact on my life was a sweet quiet lady at my church when a was a child. She loved us and we knew it, and that was enough. A simple person of simple faith who loved Jesus and loved others. Thank you, Mrs. Eyring.

  6. ‘Dunked in the creek as a young teen? OK.’
    Yeah, that was me. Almost forty years ago.

  7. You made my day!

    Let me add another “It’s OK if I am am not interested in Financial Peace University”

  8. This also reminds me of a struggle in my life. Just like some people experience God through music, nature, or art, I experience God through studying theology. I enjoy debating Calvinism/Arminianism, and I enjoy studying the early church fathers. I enjoy the debates of the Protestant Reformation. I enjoy reading on Roman and Eastern liturgies. But, I know that most people do not experience God that way, and that is OK with me.

    My problem is often that people assume I think that everyone should experience God the way I do. I purposely try to not say anything during small group studies, because I know it will come across to the group the wrong way. I know I come across as elitist or condescending, so I usually give up and and don’t say anything. My guess is that others on this blog have similar problems. I am open to suggestions.

    • Allen, it’s ok. Find some folks who enjoy those discussions and have at it. Some of us have found forums like this on the Internet to be good outlets for these interactions too.

    • I am reading “Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White” it might give you some ideas. The main thing is to ask and share with love. I used to not say anything and then found that people would find that condescending. i now share as well as listen. We each have our gifts and if we hide them, we are not being Christian.

    • Allen, I understand exactly where you’re coming from and have similar experiences myself. Love your reading list, by the way. In my own small groups, I try to share things from my readings that I think will be genuinely of interest or meaningful to the others, sometimes by translating imagery or analogies from ancient sources into modern contexts to get the same point across. The main principle I try to keep to is to keep comments focused on what will have a spiritual impact, rather than mere academic interest (unless the context warrants it). I’ve been privileged to teach some classes and it’s helpful to do so because I might prepare lots of really interesting things to me but when the class takes place, the questions from participants indicate that probably something much simpler would have been fine and probably more meaningful to everyone….after a few rounds, hopefully I’ve learned something about how to share and present ideas to a wider audience.

      Lastly, I think it’s important to actively practice humility. I try to keep in mind often Thomas a Kempis’ words that we won’t be judged by how many books we’ve read, but by what we’ve done. Many who have read fewer books than I have will be in better standing, I think, than me.

      Peace.

      • Radagast says:

        It’s all that receiving faith through our head rather than through our heart. I am a head guy too and gravitate towards the histories/compare-contrast/typology/theology. My wife on the other hand leads from the heart. In a way it can be a good compliment, as long as I practice humility, and listen, with her, in small group settings, and be concious of those times when I am approaching “Mr. Know-it-all” status.

    • Matthew says:

      I’d actually argue that the activities that the post recommends as unnecessary can be just as much complacency as anything else.

  9. This might be the best post I’ve read here yet! Made me laugh. And cry!

    Why? Because I resemble it and I crave it! All at the same time!

    I come from a family where my dad is a preacher, my maternal grandfather was a preacher and plenty of folks on my mom’s side of the family are preachers; brothers, nephews, etc. It’s what we do. Errr….THEY do!

    My dad has a library in the basement of his home filled with probably 10,000+ volumes: Theology, C.S. Lewis and the like. Mostly I wouldn’t understand the title, let alone the contents!

    In all honesty, I do not have someone I look back on and say, “YES! That person changed my life. They resembled Christ and showed His love to me! Simple, honest and quiet!”

    No…..it was always much more legalistic and defensive than that.

    My bailing on the church, the Christian people and my family’s belief system when I was just a teen was for a plethora of reasons, I’m sure the above had something to do with it. I just don’t have words to express my feelings at the time. I only have them now. Having returned Home to a Father that was waiting for me in anticipation, embraced me, forgave me and loved me fully, I can say this……

    I do not, repeat, DO NOT, have one iota of any kind of interest in learning all about the labels and their distinctions, every religion and their doctrine so that I can agree or disagree and do that loudly because of course YOU’RE WRONG and I’M RIGHT! I don’t care to get involved in all the debate on what’s radical or reformed or whatever…..I just don’t care!!!

    I want Jesus! Period. End of story! Well except for the part where I desire, more than anything, to be exactly what He has shown me of Himself to others!

    Thank you! From the bottom of this prodigals rebellious, uneducated, unchurched heart! Seriously! Truly! I needed to hear this today! And you can bet I’ll be telling someone else today that they’re OK too!

    • “I want Jesus! Period. End of story! Well except for the part where I desire, more than anything, to be exactly what He has shown me of Himself to others! ”

      I love that, Rebekah Grace. I want the same and nothing more. Peace.

  10. brandon copley says:

    Celebrate complacency.

    Revelation 3:14-15
    To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
    These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

    • Adventures in missing the point, Brandon. Something tells me not too many people are OK in your eyes.

      • Freedom in Christ has been just the opposite of complacency in my life. I don’t have all the answers, and it’s Ok for me to say so. I didn’t used to think that, so I’d take sides with whoever I thought I could trust. That is complacency. And, actually, I think I’m the one on the fringe now for only selling out to Jesus. I don’t think God is looking at how hot and cold I am on political issues or theological ones…for me, I was lukewarm in my relationship to God, on giving LORDSHIP to Christ, on meaning it when praying, “Your will be done.” Spit me out? Yes, I think He would have. That good church girl who was morally upstanding, looking good, saying the “right” things, doing mostly right, working in Christian publishing!…but then broken at the hands of one I so trusted…and finding God to be not only very personal, but the source of my true strength and hope…well, I am no longer complacent. I want Jesus. I want God’s will….and I think that is why I like this post. There are many people to label me. Many people can tell me how to think and what to think. Many can wish for me to take sides on more issues than I can count. I have learned that people only question my faith after I gained confidence to speak about it on my own—only from my own experience and relationship with God, not from a scholar nor pastor. This is OK with me. I have never been more aware of my sinful state, my need for Jesus as Savior, nor more desiring of Jesus to be my Lord.

        Peace.

      • scrapiron says:

        I don’t know if Brandon is totally missing the point, Mike.

        As my relationship with my wife has developed over the years, I have invested a great deal of effort in getting to know what she thinks and how that relates to how I should live my life. Our relationship is immeasurably more meaningful and more beautiful because we have invested a great deal of effort in learning about one another. It was great just gazing into the eyes of this relative stranger that I felt a mysterious adoration for all those years ago, but what we have now is so much better. That’s what learning a little theology can be for our relationship with Christ. When we know something about what Jesus taught, how Jesus lived, the historical and theological environment that set the stage for Jesus’ time on earth, how other members of His bride have responded to his teaching over the ages, we don’t HAVE TO love Jesus less. In fact, my experience has been the opposite.

        I think I get the point of this blog post and I agree with the gist of it. But I will go on encouraging people to learn more about Christianity. The danger comes when an ideology or creed becomes a replacement, rather than an enhancement to relationship with Christ and other believers.

        • Where in the post do you see anything about “no effort”? Where does it say our relationship shouldn’t grow?How does it any way give the impression that a creed can replace that relationship?

          No, Brandon missed the point completely. There is not a thing in this post that commends complacency. That is an absolute misreading of my words.

        • scarpiron,

          I agree that getting to know a person makes for an immeasurably more meaningful relationship. I followed your comment until the point you said, “That’s what learning a little theology can be for our relationship with Christ.” In my experience, I knew a lot about Jesus and how other Christians respond and responded to his teaching. For me personally, it did not increase my love of Jesus. I sometimes say I feel like I just became a true believer because it wasn’t until suffering deeply last year that I finally meant it when I asked God to have His will. My own had failed–and I had no idea if or how to forgive a loved one who had hurt me deeply. My world had fallen apart overnight, or so it seemed. All of the knowledge I’d stored up (and it was quite a bit–I read much–worked in Christian publishing–etc) did nothing for me. I didn’t have the deep relationship with God that I thought I did. I don’t need to know anything more about anyone (now or in history) to know Christ more. I read the red letters in my bible over and over. I clung and cling to Christ for strength and the love only He gives without condition or fail. No more religion for me. I almost walked away completely. But God in His mercy, came to me and made Himself so real to me when I cried for Him, that I am still standing. I want Jesus, and I want to share His love with others. I want to love God. I want nothing else. I don’t need anything else. This is why I agree with Chaplain Mike that calling this post a commendation of complacency would be misreading it, but he is the one who wrote it. And, finally, at the risk of sounding like I’m working for my salvation, I’ve never been entrusted with so many unlikely friends (the marginalized in my community) to love as I am now. To God be the glory.
          Peace!

        • Pattie says:

          Scrapiron…thanks for sharing my thoughts as well. As RC, we see marriage as a sacrament that mirrors the love of Christ for His bride, the Church. My darling husband taught me so much about sefl-acceptance and grace when we were young, and helped me see that I was not the hopeless, beyond help MESS that I thought I was. The love of my spouse helped me understand the love of God.

          And now, after 35 years of marriage and a lifetime as a Christian, I see even more parralels……The intense, obsessed, breathlessly desperate infatuation and need for all types of constant and focused intimacy of a young marriage has mellowed to the blessed assurance and deeply rooted love of an “old married couple”…..and that is OK. The intensity of my Christian struggles to learn, to be “perfect, as He is perfect”, and to control fear of failing have ALSO mellowed into a deep union that is as much a part of who I am as my heartbeat.

          And in marriage and my spiritual journey, there are moments and times of frantic involvement, and moments when we sit in quiet companionship. Sometimes I get annoyed with both my husband and my Lord. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with being loved and cannot convey enough gratitude. Sometimes I am a scholar and reader of the Christian life or marriage improvement, other times I am so BUSY with work, bills, and laundry that I coast along.

          But~ALWAYS~I know that being this man’s wife on earth and this Lord’s child forever are absolutes that under-gird my life.

          AND thanks for the original post……it can be easy to forget that God loves and has a place in His kingdom for all who call on his name, whether bishop or canon scholar or seminary student or developmentally delayed adult who can only tell us that “I love Jesus!”

    • Matthew says:

      I’d actually argue that the activities that the post recommends as unnecessary can be just as much complacency as anything else.

      • well said.
        i think that is the essence of this post. “complacency” is a tricky word, because so many hide behind their pet rules and think they’re stellar.
        the real thing is not so easily noticed. for example, if Jesus didn’t take the time to point out the old lady throwing in her 2 pennies at the temple, no one would have noticed. (not today, or at anytime).

        • dumb ox says:

          +1
          “Pet rules” is a great term. Pet rules give a false sense of self-righteousness, which leads to complacency. There are a lot of people who don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t [fill in the blank], who live in disobedience to Christ. The Pharisees obeyed the most minute pet rule, like tithing from their mint plants, but Jesus rebuked them for neglecting justice.

          Jesus said for those who were heavy-laden with the Pharisees’ pet rules to come to him for rest.

          Pet rules do not transform us into the image of Christ.

    • Brandon and CM. It’s escaping me at the moment…but what was that church in Revelation where God said “You know all my commands, you know my teacvhings…but you failed to show love.” I think that’s pretty indicitng of “being radical” and of many fundgelical churches today. I knew a lot of people who knew thte Bible but didn’t know love. Something to chew on….

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Less than eight hours after posting, and the Anathemas, Denunciations, and accusations of Heresy and Apostasy are already flying.

  11. stuart says:

    Adjectives….bah humbug. Whenever someone tells me they are an evangelical, I ask myself “evangelical What?” Maybe using stand-alone modifiers ending in “al” was convenient shorthand, back when the silent proper noun they described was commonly understood. But they have been exhausted of independent meaning. Empty symbols make me cringe. Thanks CM, it is definitely OK to just be a Christian.

    • When someone tells me they are an evangelical I cringe. In person I have no problem talking and discussing my problems or faith or God with a Christian IF they don’t wear their faith on their sleeve. Those fundgelicals who have religious sayings all over their work cube, bumper stickers on their car, proclaim their faith and their activities so that the entire metropolitan DC area will hear…I avoid. That said I’ve engaged in some deep and dififcult discussions with a couple of people who don’t advertise ot the world what they believe.

      • stuart says:

        It seems you find authenticity in faith emanating from the heart rather than from the rear bumper. I am ambivalent about those prominent displays of Christian kitsch because they often conflict with corresponding personal behavior, based on how many of those drivers I’ve seen give me the one-finger salute. Much of the Jesus marketing that prevails in the form of T-shirts, etc. makes little sense to non-believers, because in reality it is only intended as short-hand for gullible tribal members to spend money on, so they can self-identify within their sub-cultural group. Marketing Jesus as a product is a cultural aberration, and in many respects a force shield, which repels rather than attracts. Anyway, because I wear a 3XL shirt, I’d rather not let Jesus Apparel do the talking for me, if you know what I mean. So I agree with Barth, “One can not speak of God simply by speaking of man in a loud voice”. My comment was meant to simply reflect the reality that evangelicals, if it were ever possible to define the term rather than simply describe it, have a persistent tendency to eat the shell and throw away the peanut. Hanging onto labels instead of the Cross. Jesus is what it is all about for me, not the label or the package. Having said that, I don’t have any problem proclaiming the One I love and in whom I believe to anybody.

        • Pattie says:

          I use the Christian bumper stickers to PREVENT MYSELF from bad road behavior and driving, lest I be a bad witness. Yelling and hand gestures used to come too easily….

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        There’s a direct correlation between the number of Christian (TM) bumper stickers on a car and the Fundagelical X-Tremism of the driver. Out here in SoCal, I’ve seen a couple with so many stickers (usually of the End Time Prophecy/Turn-or-Burn variety) that you can’t see any paint between the stickers.

        Everybody gives them a wide berth; nobody wants to find themselves on the receiving end of Wretched Urgency Witnessing by surprise.

  12. David Cornwell says:

    This takes me way back to my childhood and teen years. Mr. Stevens went to the little West Virginia Methodist Church we had attended before moving a few miles away and to another state away. He did not know any of the theories or theologies.of the church and could care less. He had gray hair and a somewhat wizened face from his years of working on the railroad. To me he never looked young. He was known as “Old Man Stevens.” His grammar was terrible, but no one noticed. However Mr. Stevens knew some things with certainty. He knew the Story. And he knew the Main Character of the Story. When he prayed it was like Jesus was in the room with us. His faith was unwavering. When someone was terribly ill he would spend hours in prayer, sometimes at the kneeling rail of that little church, other times alone at home. Everyone knew a story of an amazing healing after Mr. Stevens prayed. One story is so personal that I cannot tell it without weeping once again.

    Old Man Stevens, a real saint.

    • More tears!

      David, you have shared another story of a similarly quiet and less than “radical” person in your history. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

      IMonk……may I suggest a post? All the writers here, Jeff, Chaplain Mike, Lisa, Damaris and others (sorry I don’t recall), sharing their stories of someone in their past, such as this “old man stevens” and then reaching out with the open mic and asking for more from our IMonk community!

      It would be inspiring, encouraging and strenghtening…..something we all, no doubt, could use a little more of!

      Much thanks!

      • David Cornwell says:

        Rebekah, it may have been the same person. I think of him often. And there are some others also. When you reach my age there is a tendency to repeat stories. Ask my kids and grandkids! But, some of them need repeating.

        • David, I do believe the other story was of a woman. So, no worries. In addition, my memory isn’t all that it used to be, so even a repeat I wouldn’t necessarily notice!

  13. steve h says:

    “By the way, if you know someone like this, you might want read this post to them, because I have an idea they have no clue what the “Christian blogosphere” is, and they will probably never find my words.”

    And that is why I have printed this so I can hand it to those I love, that they might read these good words. (and I can read it too, when I forget!)

    Thank you.

  14. Marshall says:

    Cool. Please ensure that it’s OK to not be Christian too.

    • It is ok in the sense that it will not change God’s love for you in the slightest. Nor will it cause me to treat you with any less love, respect, and dignity. Brother, neighbor, or enemy of the faith, you are loved and to be loved.

      • Marshall says:

        Cool again. Please keep preaching to ensure that the intended uplifter “Because you trust in Jesus” doesn’t (unintentionally) produce in-group out-group thinking against those who don’t. Consider the closet atheist teenager feeling unloved by a loving family – consider the Hindu high-schooler hearing the above idea from her friends. I would personally prefer to reduce “It’s OK to just be a Christian” by the latter two words.

        • I hear you, Marshall. You realize, of course, that this is a confessing Christian site, and therefore we are speaking primarily to an audience with a faith perspective from a faith perspective. I hope that won’t keep you from participating. It will influence the way we write and approach our subjects.

          • Marshall says:

            Realise then that this is exactly the type of audience that would benefit from hearing my point of view, but also exactly the type of audience that is unlikely be exposed to it. No, I’m not a regular reader – just stumbled upon your post and (nearly entirely) approved… even to the point where I thought you might be one to seed this idea once in a while throughout your audience.
            I see some other commenters taking things in the opposite direction to your “its OK” message, so I acknowledge that going a step further in my direction might be a difficult move to make. Good luck.

          • Marshall says:

            May well do, thanks. And just to labour a point, please note the relatively real-world concerns of the posters immediately below this one and the steps that might help ease their troubles, in comparison, say, to some of the more theological concerns of those further below. Commendably your responses to those latter posts seem appropriate, so I’m happy to assume my point-labouring is quite unnecessary – but internet posts are rarely driven by necessity 🙂

    • This is what I’m conflicted about and what tears me apart. I can’t find resolution to some of the spiritual problems and doubts that I have. I’m trying to let go of previous fundgelical experiences…maybe I’m going to have to learn to live with them. But one of the things I like about agnositicsm is that I feel like I can love more and show more grace than I did as a fundegelical, or in most Christian settings. How..? 3 to 4 years ago one of my friends got his girlfriend pregnant and being the the classic fundgelical I came down upon him like a load of bricks. I shamed him, and threw scripture in his face. He had a difficult time with the church and left it. It was later on I realized what an asshole I was, more so when my faith had problems and I had to live with the actions of a few Pharises I knew. Now the tables were turned and now I was enduring what my old friend endured.

      How would I react today to a similar situation mentioned above? I would be more loving, embracing, and supportive of whatever they would decide to do. If they keep the child, I’ll love, respect, and still think no less. If they have an abortion, I’ll still love, respect, and think no less of them. That’s one of the things I like about agnosticism is that you can show more love and grace that you can if you were a fundegelical Christian. You can’t find many situations or church environments where you can show someone who got pregnant unintentionally love and grace. Actually I wouldn’t be too surprised if some fundegelicals have abortions out of fear so they wont be shamed and attacked in a culture that worships moralty and to live out the classic evangelical facade. I hope that is not the case…that would be awful if true.

      • Hey Eagle……Speaking as one who was pregnant at age 16, then again at age 18. The lady who worked at the Dr’s office as the receptionist (as well as the Dr.) went to the church my mom did (at the time), of which I did not. Upon seeing me….AGAIN, for a pregnancy test she said, “Oh I’m sure you’re mother’s glad to see you back here!”

        Ummm….yeah! Thanks lady! That baby I was pregnant with will be 23 this November and I’ve never forgotten that comment, obviously!

        In regards to your post above, you don’t have to be a fundegelical Christian. What I see you sharing here more than your doubts is your desires….for love, forgiveness, grace, mercy….It’s out there! Well….not at large or in the majority, but it is! Ha ha! I’ve run into some real doozies! But, for me and my faith…..I know Jesus, as my Savior, is much more interested in how I treat people in my allowing myself to be a reflection of Him, more than my Christian “resume” or church activities.

        And that….is just my opinion. Kindly take it….or leave it! *smile*

        • And p.s., I was NOT sharing my story to drive home your pain from the similar situation. My bad. I was just sharing. Sometimes I shouldn’t. Sorry.

        • Rebekah…I’m still working through my feelings. Maybe things will change with time, at least I hope they will. Hugs from Washington, D.C. for sharing your story. I commend you and its nice to hear that kind of authenticity. I had one of the most spiritual conversations over a Miller in a bar in the Washington, D.C. area. It was better than any small group, Bible study, or mission trip activity I had. Why would have thought?

          *Hugs from DC*

          • Guess what…..I’m still working through my feelings too! It’s a process and I respect your candor and ability to share from the space you’re in.

            “I had one of the most spiritual conversations over a Miller in a bar”

            Works for me! It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!

      • cermak_rd says:

        Your post gave me pause. I’ve always assumed that Christian jerks were just jerks who happened to be Christians. Convert the jerk to Buddhism and you would wind up with a Buddhist jerk. I’m not sure what to think now.

        I have been, in my life, a Catholic, an Episcopalian (OK, a high Church right out of the Oxford movement not a fan of XXXIX Articles) and a Jew. Yet I think I still have the personality I had when I was 8. Sure I’m a little more mature now, but the same guide posts of being kind to others and trying to give the other guy the benefit of the doubt have stayed with me through all the religious changes.

  15. Thank you for this post this morning. I read this and took a deep breath.

  16. i actually focus more on being a simple Christian now than at any other time in my faith journey. i do like systematic theological studies, but not so i can be part of the self-appointed doctrinal sheriff’s posse out to correct all error & biblical misunderstanding i ferret out in others…

    i want to know more for my own edification. i like to have my own perspectives challenged in a written format, only because the response is not defensive because it does not involve another person that i may take offense with…

    i like learning. and doing more. finding out how to be sensitive & ready to act on a Holy Spirit nudge when a need arises that i can assist with. i mediate much. that is my connection with the Big Guy. i ruminate on my situation & those of loved ones. i meditate on my limitations & failings. i meditate on His love & goodness & how He has preserved my in the midst of some very challenging life disruptions…

    i want to be less knee-jerk in my responses to others. less defensive. less irritable. less impatient. i want to take more time to reflect before answering or to notice the almost imperceptible blessings of the day.

    like others that have posted more eloquently on this article, i want to be more of a blessing to others just by being who i am. however Jesus is transforming me. whatever it was He originally had in mind when He created me in the first place. i like how He is untangling me from the brokenness & woundedness of my past. how He is working out good in all the bad things i know i cannot go back & make better. i want to relax more in His grace. not strive to be someone i think i should be or others pressure me into being.

    i want to experience more freedom. freedom from guilt. from remorse. from despair. freedom to laugh more. to love more. to enjoy life more. life, & that to the full! to be content at my stage in life. yet expectant for better things ahead. i want to have courage to face the next challenge. faith tested attitude to brave the bumps & pot-holes along the way. less of me. more of Him & how that is expressed in & thru me…

    yeah. thank you Jesus…

    amen.

  17. Dharlette says:

    I respectfully disagree. Christianity is not a lazy religion, it is not for the weak of heart. It is a religion that tells us to abandon our worldly possessions, leave our families behind, and live off of the kindness of others as a “Lily of the Valley.” It is a religion that calls for intense socialism (see Acts Ch. 4) as we all share our possessions and take care of those less fortunate. If we all lived our lives according to the Bible then we would all be voting democratic and fighting tooth and nail for socialized medicine, welfare,and food stamps. We’d be caring for the sick, and the poor.

    And as for not caring about making some big impact on the world, all I can say to that is “show me your faith apart from your works and I by my works will show you my faith” (James 2:18).

    So no–it is NOT okay to just call yourself a Christian and assume that eternity is waiting for you just because you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior.

    • David Cornwell says:

      “it is NOT okay to just call yourself a Christian and assume that eternity is waiting for you just because you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior.”

      It seems to me to be just that simple. Eternity (Heaven I’m assuming), does wait for those who truly accept Jesus Christ as as Lord and savior. We do have to work that out in our own lives, but we don’t need to be constantly worrying about our relationship with God from minute to minute, or based on what works we have done in the last 24 hours. We are no longer under the Law.

      “…we would all be voting democratic…”

      I’ve also heard that we would all be voting Republican were we truly saved. Beware of wedding our service to Christ to a particular political ideology or party. It will always disappoint.

      Doing some of the things you mention here might, or might not, be part of our Christian walk.

    • Is that what I said?

    • Joseph says:

      Dharlette: just curious, do you have any affiliation with a group or denomination? is there a living person today you could name that emulates what you are describing as pure religion?

      how long have you been a, well, Christian? and have you always held to such a life style interpretation of what it means to be a Christian?

      since your response to the heart of the post Chaplain Mike made was to point how it may represent a misconception of what being a Christian should look like, i am just curious about your background unless it was simply a tongue-in-cheek retort intended to make a negative point? hyperbole maybe?

      • Dharlette says:

        My religious history is fairly mixed: my father was raised Roman Catholic, my mother Episcopalean. Both of them dropped out of college to join a community dedicated to living their lives in a way that emulated the lives of the apostles (including the voluntary socialism that is such a big part of the book of Acts) and later merged with the Greek Orthodox church. They stayed a part of that community for 19 years and left just before I was born. I personally was raised in the Methodist church and went to a Presbyterian private school.

        The main influence on my beliefs though is the bible itself, both old and new testaments. If you really pay attention when you read a lot of the old Testament, you realize that a LOT of the laws there essentially boil down to a safety net for people. The rule that you’re not allowed to glean your fields, for example, exists to provide women and orphans with a reliable source of food. Even weird laws like those surrounding the Levirate marriage exist to make sure that widowed women are taken care of in their old age. If you look at the new testament its even more radical: not only were the apostles communists, Jesus outright tells people complaining of Taxation to “render unto Cesar what is Cesar’s” (Matthew 22:21), talks about caring for the poor and the sick countless times, and as his comments to the rich man (Matthew 19:16-24) and his actions when he overturned the tables in the temple show, he was clearly no fan of big business. And yet, somehow, we have shackled ourselves to a political philosophy that consistently favors helping the rich over helping the poor. Sure, they claim to be anti-abortion, but thats a very easy claim to make when you have a supreme court case ensuring that you never have to act on those promises. I’m not saying we should vote unquestioningly Democratic…just that its time to stop and think about how your political choices actually represent Christian beliefs.

        • I’m not saying we should vote unquestioningly Democratic…just that its time to stop and think about how your political choices actually represent Christian beliefs.

          well, thank you for extending at least a little grace to those of differing political perspectives… 😉

          “My kingdom is not of this world.” “You will have the poor with you always.”

          in my mind the two kingdoms of politics & heaven not the best of bedfellows. so thinking a right representation of the kingdom can be done thru political ‘correctness’ is as destined for failure as your Republican counterparts thinking they can usher in their version of a Christianized America championing other policies+agendas…

          i do vote according to my understanding & that will always be infused with the worldview perspective shaped by my faith. however, the human machinations of political posturing, intrigue, legislation & ulterior motives are not going to fulfill, expand or establish the kingdom in greater jurisdiction in this or any other nation.

          i happen to agree with you in principle on your points. however, i do not agree with how to go about doing it. the wrongs with the world, the economic imbalances, the greed of men & the default condition of self-preservation is sin. sin in all its ugly expressions. and the socialized gospel of political demands that represent a new theocracy here in America misguided at best & at worst a reduction of the human intrinsic value to becoming subservient to the state.

          human socialism can provide some benefits to its citizens more than a democratic one that has different challenges doing the same things, but the answer isn’t simply socializing services.

          anyway, thanx for the responses. i think the principles of the kingdom should be expressed more visibly thru the American Church to those in need around them. and we do not have an excuse with our standard of living. that is why i have been trending to becoming a more generous saint & learning to be content with less.

          blessings…

    • please do not confuse humanitarianism with socialism. the people in the bible gave of their own free will.
      Acts 5:4 “while is remained unsold, did it not remain your own?”
      socialism is: what is yours, is actually not yours but everyones
      humanitarianism is: what i have, i give as someone who realizes that we are all in this together under grace as God’s children.
      socialism creates an obstinate, demanding, class of poor people.

      • Dharlette says:

        Canada, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and just about every other first-world country with the exception of the USA are all “socialist” countries, and frankly they don’t have an “obstinate, demanding, class of poor people,” at least not anywhere near as much as we do here in the US!

        • i am from, and live, in canada. most of my friends are social workers, in pretty much every area of the field; both with the government, and with non-profit. i myself worked at a shelter for 2 years, as well as had plenty of exposure through church volunteering.

    • “So no–it is NOT okay to just call yourself a Christian and assume that eternity is waiting for you just because you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior”

      Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. Eternity awaits. What you say is my assumption is, in all reality, my Living hope! Praise God!

      “Christianity is not a lazy religion, it is not for the weak of heart.”

      You got that right! It also looks and/or appears differently in people who are in a different place in the the process than you are. So, beware not to make general accusations.

      With love and grace…….

    • As the agnostic here I have to fair….Chaplin Mike never said what you are stating.

    • “I respectfully disagree. Christianity is not a lazy religion, it is not for the weak of heart.”

      First, I don’t think that this is what the post is saying. Second, while not lazy, Christianity is precisely a faith for the weak of heart, the weak of soul, the burdened and heavy laden, the outcast and forgotten. Jesus Christ is the hope and the savior of all humankind, not just the strong. The truth and efficacy of Christianity depends not on our works but on Christ’s completed work.

    • cermak_rd says:

      I left a religion because it insisted I could not vote for the democrats and stay in that faith. I suppose they were right. I left it and have never regretted it.

      But it seems to me that any entanglement between religion and political party ruins both.

  18. I love the heart behind this post. I always find this site refreshing and gracious (at least for the bruised reeds and smoldering wicks; when it comes to the other guys, you can be quite merciless 🙂

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Better “refreshing and gracious for the bruised reeds and smoldering wicks and merciless to the other guys” than the reverse. And according to a lot of the comments throughout IMonk history, the reverse is too often true.

      (Written as a bruised reed.)

  19. Martin says:

    Somebody once said to me: “The kingdom of God is always in the horizon”. Our Lord put it better: “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.”. Saint Paul also: “with fear and trembling work out your salvation”.

    I think that a true Christian can never say “I’m ok as I am”. Because we are disciples of Christ himself, we will always have lessons to learn, teachings to put in practice, feelings to change, and crosses to bear.

    Things like listening to christian music, and wearing christian t-shirts are far from being essential, but we must always strive for making Christ the very center of our lives. Saint Paul again: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God”.

    Then we have the rich young man (Matthew 19:16-26)… You just want to be saved? Ok, then (leaving theological debates aside) just believe and be a good person (Mark 16:16 and Matthew 25:31-46 for further reference). But “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field. Which a man having found, hid it, and for joy thereof goeth, and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”. Our entire self must be surrendered to the Lord.

    I strongly recommend the book “Transformation in Christ” by Dietrich von Hildebrand. For those more accustomed to lutheran theology, I understand that “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer offers a similar perspective, although I didn’t read it (yet).

    • Martin, you’re missing the point.

    • Martin, I wonder if we read the same post. What I took away from it was that both our emphasis and our security should be on Christ, rather than our own place in the kindom. Of course we are called to abandon our lives to God, but that has precious little to do with what Mike was talking about.

    • “Things like listening to christian music, and wearing christian t-shirts are far from being essential, but we must always strive for making Christ the very center of our lives.”

      Wait, really?? I could have sworn those were big parts of my discipleship. That and gazing adoringly at celebrity pastors all day.

      Sorry, I must be in the wrong religion…

  20. ChrisS says:

    The mere state of christianess, if that is a word, is so radical and cosmically out there that it requires little else. Jesus does not need our help. He needs our love. That is really true. It is not a moderate yearning or passing fancy. He is greedy for our personal attention. That’s crazy radical in my mind. The primal movement of the spirit into our beings and the joining of us into the Godhead, all of which take place and continually evolve in absolute silence, without fanfare, to become a river of living water flowing into everlasting life, to be a lick of flame in a consuming fire, to see what no eye has seen; that’s not too shabby. And when that overflows into works on His behalf, they will be done with the full faith and confidence of the heavenly kingdom, as they say, because the works will stem from the internal business that has been going on in silence. JUST BEING in Christ is sufficient. Everything flows from that state. Ask Martha and Mary.

  21. Austin says:

    Chaplain Mike,

    I’m surprised at the number of folks taking issue with this post. You were not saying you can just believe anything. I think it’s pretty clear, believe in the atoning work of Christ, your own helplessness to save yourself, hold to what has been accepted by the church catholic as found in the creeds and experience peace.

    Certainly other things are important, but I find great peace in your post.

    • ChrisS says:

      Amen. I think I just used a whole bunch of words to say the same thing.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      In both Culture War Evangelicalism and on the Internet, you can post “Two plus two equals four” and somebody, somewhere will take issue with it.

  22. “Mere Christianity” indeed. Thanks, CM — this is as good as a dandelion break!

  23. John From Down Under says:

    “It’s also OK if you attend St. Peter’s and your pastor waves incense around, or St. Basil’s, where intriguing icons invite your contemplation”

    As someone who was raised in the Greek Orthodox church, it is anything but OK to attend a place like that. The icons don’t just ‘invite your contemplation’, they call for your worship. I used to kiss them and pray to Mary and dead saints….so I won’t be attending a place like that soon. Sorry but I beg to differ!

    The rest of the post is great though!

    • I’m Catholic, not Orthodox, but I agree with you to the extent that it does matter where and how we worship; I realize CM is not quite saying that it doesn’t, but…

      Disclaimer: I’ve been blessed by this blog for years. As Garrett League said above, I love the heart behind this post.

      • Dharlette says:

        I’m protestant, but my parents used to be Catholic and Greek Orthodox, and to be honest I loved the art and icons and Saints. The beauty of it makes everything seem more real–and there are times when the idea of God is just too big and impersonal and when having someone like Mary or a saint to intercede for you is very comforting.

    • cermak_rd says:

      Maybe you could say that it is anything but OK for you to attend there. I don’t think you can really say that no one can attend there or should attend there. Isn’t it possible that people can adore the saints and do intercessory prayer without being tempted into worshiping the saints or the relics.

    • Pattie says:

      John from down under…..I am sorry to hear that you either were taught your Orthodox Catholicism incorrectly, or that you perhaps got a relgious education that stopped at age seven or so? At any rate, I must stop this fallicy right here and now, lest anyone else think what John says is true. He is either misguided, misrembering, or trying to denigrate his former faith. AT ANY RATE…

      Catholics do NOT worship idols, Mary, or saints. Both Orthodox and Roman Catholics worship the Risen Christ, and the Holy Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (or Ghost).

      Icons (pictures of Christ) were designed to help the illiterate focus on Him, and later used as a reminder of the Glory of the Risen Christ. They are no more God than looking at a picture of your favorite beach and feeling peaceful is the same as being AT that beach.

      Mary is revered, NOT WOSHIPPED, as the first Christian and the human mother of the incarnate God. All MArian prayers are request for her TO PRAY TO HER SON on our behalf.

      Saints are role models of mere humans who have served Christ well. Again, they are prayed WITH, not TO.

      Question for you…do you beleive in life after human death?

      If so, then the saints are still alive in heaven.

      Do you ever ask another human being to pray for you?

      Then asking a human in flest form to pray for you is OK…..can you not see that Saints are “friends” in Heaven that Catholics ask to pray for them to the Lord our God.

      I am not asking John or anyone to believe in intercessory prayer from Mary and the Saints, but please see it as what it is…pryaer requests, not WORSHIP. That is only for GOD!!!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      John From Down Under needs to be reminded the Reformation Wars ended in 1648.

      Only variant is that the Greek Orthodox bear the brunt of his “No Popery” blasts.

  24. Wee Geordie says:

    OK? Because one “trusts in Jesus”?
    In parallel with “John from Down Under”, the question surely has to be, which Jesus?

  25. Yes, John From Down Under, that was one of my problems with the post as well as a few others. It seems that what we have here is the gospel of Chaplain Mike. While I sympathize with the intent, I think that it is more than important to separate ourselves from ourselves. This post does not do that. After all, what is “being a Christian”? It is not constantly telling yourself “it’s OK”. At least 24 times in this short article. While it is true that we seek to justify ourselves by what we are doing for the Lord, we dare not simplify our relationship with Him and what it means. In Luke chapter 10 we read of the lawyer who asked Jesus, “what shall I do to have eternal life?” and Jesus, asked if he had not read the law and then said,”Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy strength, and with all they mind; and they neighbor as thyself.” Meditate on that verse. Internalize each and every word. Complacent “OK’s” are not okay. Look at that statement my Jesus and study it. If we are Christians, we have to think about how we are living and how we are representing the one who shed His blood for our sakes. Yes, the Christian world is overloaded with labels of what you should be, but let’s not go bonkers into something that is not Biblical, and that smacks at not sacrificially loving the Lord and allowing the Spirit to lead.

    • Wee Geordie says:

      In addition to your fine comment, Ardnas, I think Isaiah 8:20 sums up perfectly what the Lord thinks of “it’s OK”.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And so the Anathemas fly and the Wretched Urgency begins anew…

    • Austin says:

      I think Chaplain Mike was saying its OK if you want to be a follower of Christ and not bother with the endless debates on Calvinism/Arminianism, end times debates, legalistic seperation etc.

      I’ve got to tell you as one who has let go of legalism for good, it feels great in this end of the pool, jump in:)

    • “Yes, the Christian world is overloaded with labels of what you should be, but let’s not go bonkers into something that is not Biblical, and that smacks of not sacrificially loving the Lord and allowing the Spirit to lead.”

      You got the first part right. This post is designed to help people take the mature approach of recognizing that there may be a difference between what the Lord requires and what the current church culture requires for one to be considered a faithful Christian.

      What I fail to see is how the rest of the post represents “the gospel of Chaplain Mike.” Let’s see: the person I described as “OK” is—a person of the cross, who believes that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again for the world’s salvation, a person who cares about loving God and loving his neighbor, a person who affirms the Apostles’ Creed, a person who loves Jesus and is thankful for what he’s done for him, a person who is busy serving his neighbors rather than expounding his opinion on “culture war” issues, a person who values his baptism, a person who is broken and knows he needs fixing, a person who worships the One who means everything to him.

      Ardnas, would you mind explaining how a person like that has gone “bonkers into something that is not Biblical, and that smacks of not sacrificially loving the Lord and allowing the Spirit to lead”?

      • Chaplain Mike – It appears you have asked for my response. I cannot judge anyone’s relationship to God, much less someone I don’t even know. But as I said once to a very dear friend, where does your faith lie. Does it lie in Jesus alone? If not you are lost. Anyone who would be a member of and give their monies and talents to a system that teaches Jesus alone is not enough is not only unbiblical but is leading others astray as well. The premise of your article was well taken, and believe me I do appreciate what you may be trying to do here, but it was out of balance. This sometimes happens when we are fed up with the factions of contention caused by the church and those who have there eyes on there own intellect rather than the cause of Christ. There is a problem with many who open their Bible and find God on the pages but never let Him off those pages to show His glorious power. Intellect is used to keep all circumstances precise and predictable. That is, manipulating to keep all situations under control. There is talk of compassion and love but God is not let loose to put those elements into play. I am sorry but not to speak up about that which deem to be unbiblical would be wrong. I do not understand why an honest dialogue cannot be had by all.

        • Ardnas, I thought we were having an honest dialogue. I must say, though, that I find some of your comments very strange. Where in the world do you get that I am advocating something besides “Jesus alone”? I think you need to read more carefully.

          • Chaplain Mike – Well, I guess we will have to chalk it up as misunderstanding. You find my comments very strange as I do yours. Concerning the “Jesus alone” remark, I refer you to John from Down Under’s post below. Did he not read carefully either? And did you forget that you denied me any further comment on the Babtism question? After all, you did mention infant Baptism in your article just as you did the inscense waver, so why was I cut off but no one else? My most recent comments concerning manipulation of circumstances as well as scripture was an indictment against the church lest you think it was against you. Perhaps I did not word it carefully enough.

            • I cut off the baptism question because it would lead discussion away from the main points of the post. That’s part of my responsibility as moderator. I don’t moderate perfectly but try my best to at least keep things in the ballpark.

  26. Thank you from someone who has been active in the church for 23 years and was just denied membership in a local church that I have been attending for five years because I was baptized as an infant.

    • On the other hand KM, where in scripture do you see that infants were Baptized? If you use the scripture that says “with all his house”, not even there does it say there were infants in the house. In all events of Baptism in scripture it is evident that the ritual of command came after the decision of salvation. An infant cannot make that decision. Baptism gives you no rights to heaven. It is an obedience of humbleness and open testimony of your conversion. Infants cannot share in that blessed moment. It is for those of accountable age to go and honor the Lord before the world. God has given you and the rest of us as Christians, this most glorious and spiritual way of displaying the fact that our life abides in Him and His abides in us. I believe He covets that display of His glory from all His children. Think about being Baptised now as adult and what it would mean to Jesus who shed His blood for you. He would rejoice in your submission.

      • I am not going to let the post go in that direction at this point, Ardnas. For right now, please see that I am recognizing that fine Christians of sincere and thoughtful faith practice infant baptism for a variety of reasons and have done so for nearly two millennia.

        • Austin says:

          awe shucks Chaplain 🙂

        • Chaplain Mike – I totally agree with you that “fine Christians of sincere and thoughtful faith practice infant baptism”. I in fact fellowship regularly with people of that persuasion. The thought that someone is not a good Christian because they practice infant Baptism never entered my head. I am so sorry I spoiled your post and I am sorry Austin that I cannot talk to you in the forum.
          “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

      • Austin says:

        Can you define and pinpoint for me an “accountable age?” I only ask b/c for a long time many Southern Baptist churches in this area would not baptize someone till 12.

        I would also ask, if you think accountable age means mental capacity to understand salvation, does a ten year old understand salvation as well as a 23 year old, or an 80 year old? Does a mentally disabled person forfeit their “right” to baptism?

        I’ve seen five year olds dunked, is their much differnece in a five year old and an infant in their ability to understand salvation?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And so the Reformation Wars flare up anew.

        (Funny thing how those who denounce Paedobaptism have “Baby Dedications”… Looks like not using water “baptizes” Popish False Doctrine…)

  27. John From Down Under says:

    “…the person I described as “OK” is—a person of the cross, who believes that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again for the world’s salvation, a person who cares about loving God and loving his neighbor, a person who affirms the Apostles’ Creed, a person who loves Jesus and is thankful for what he’s done for him …a person who is broken and knows he needs fixing, a person who worships the One who means everything to him.”

    Chaplain Mike I appreciate the spirit in which you wrote this piece and I am behind you. I’m not having a dig at you, but the definition of the ‘OK’ you cited is far removed from typical Orthodox church attendees (bear in mind as well, that Fr Ernesto does not typify all Orthodox church expressions).

    I don’t know about Russian, Romanian or Serbian Orthodox, but Greek Orthodox that gets is marching orders from the Archdiocese / Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, definitely does not fit your description. They neither acknowledge Christ as their savior, read the Bible as God’s word, or realize that they’re broken and need fixing. They pray to idols and Mary and hang on to tradition. They don’t worship the God of the Bible, period!

    So, knowing what I know, I could not in good conscience tell them that they’re ‘ok’ where they are. I don’t know if other variants of the Orthodox church are different, but the one I’m familiar with is outright idolatrous and plunged in the abyss of ignorance.

    Personally, I find it hard to believe that someone who has been genuinely born again, will be able to stay in a church like that. I’m not nit-picking but I think it’s an important distinction to make.

    • Well, I would simply say that there are Orthodox and there are Orthodox, just as in any tradition. My son goes to a school in Chicago affiliated with an evangelical denomination and has had classes from a wonderfully evangelical Orthodox scholar who is a member of the Antiochian Orthodox Church. There has been a movement of sorts by a good number of evangelicals in the U.S. toward various Orthodox traditions. So, my conclusion at this point is that the story with regard to this tradition is mixed, just as it is with Catholic, Protestant, Anabaptist, and other church families.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I’d like to know which Greek Orthodox peed in John from Down Under’s Cheerios this morning, he seems to have such a hair up his butt about them.

  28. dumb ox says:

    I think this is what C.S. Lewis meant by Mere Christianity. Christianity without the adjectives or colorful sentence enhancers.

    Then again, I might borrow a few adjectives from Brennan Manning: I’m a ragamuffin Christian; I am a shipwrecked Christian. Or to borrow from Saint Paul, I am the worse-of-sinners Christian.

    But to borrow from a story of an Eastern Orthodox monk: if God can have mercy on me, the worse of sinners, then there is hope for the rest of the world.

  29. I don’t know about Russian, Romanian or Serbian Orthodox, but Greek Orthodox that gets is marching orders from the Archdiocese / Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, definitely does not fit your description. They neither acknowledge Christ as their savior, read the Bible as God’s word, or realize that they’re broken and need fixing. They pray to idols and Mary and hang on to tradition. They don’t worship the God of the Bible, period!

    So, knowing what I know, I could not in good conscience tell them that they’re ‘ok’ where they are. I don’t know if other variants of the Orthodox church are different, but the one I’m familiar with is outright idolatrous and plunged in the abyss of ignorance.

    ouch.

    quite the sweeping anathema there, Pope John from Down Under…

    and you claim to have this knowledge how? of the ~300 million adherents of Orthodox faith today you are absolutely, positively, without a doubt, infallibly correct in your pronouncement?

    and you knew exactly how many people in your previous Eastern Orthodox involvement? able to know what is in their hearts? able to rightly discern their relationship with God? and this very, very small percentage of all Eastern Orthodox adherents actually can be used to extrapolate such an absolute conclusion regarding all such faith practitioners living now or from the very beginnings of The Church?

    ouch.

    maybe you missed the previous article about heresy hunters? is there a very negative experience you had in your Greek Orthodox involvement that just might have skewed your perception of the entire faith expression itself?

  30. John From Down Under says:

    @ Joseph

    I can’t justify the need to respond to your rant and name calling tit-for-tat (Pope John from Down Under???), but let me say this:

    I made it clear that my experience was with what the Greek Orthodox church looks like now, not in the days of Constantine.

    I am a Greek born Australian, lived in Greece for 18 years and was immersed in the Orthodox church culture since birth. Do you think I may qualify for an opinion?

    And I don’t need to know ‘what’s in their hearts’. I see their lives, hear their conversations on religious matters, watch them bow down and kiss icons and pray to Mary. Do I need a PhD in theology to work it out?

    Example: When I was born again my grandmother came after me with a vengeance because I told her I will no longer bow down to Mary or icons but Christ alone whom I now confessed as savior. She thought I ‘changed religion’ and was ‘a traitor’. If she didn’t think we were any different why would she care?

    You need to calm down.

    • Wee Geordie says:

      John, Your experience in the “GO” is the same as a friend of mine who is a former RC. He was a born and raised, dyed-in-the-wool Roman Catholic, who was involved in every fact of Catholicism. The Lord wonderfully brought him out of all that stuff, like you, praying to Mary and dead “saints”, believing in relics and kissing icons. His family disowned him and his children. Imagine – grandparents, uncles, aunts crossing the road to avoid him, his wife and their children. And yet, “evangelicals” who have never been invovlved in that fase religion try to tell him he’s got it wrong, that he’s “too tough” with his views on it.
      I’m so glad the Lord caused our paths to cross as he was the one who switched me on to sound doctrine and not having my ears tickled.

      • John From Down Under says:

        Great to hear Wee.

      • Pattie says:

        Wow…..”Brought him out of all that stuff?”

        Wee…

        Glad to see the love of Christ reflected in your statement.

        Catholic bashing is inexcusable from a “Christian”, and it would be more tolerable and honest if you just stated that you hate what you do notknow understand, as evidenced by the erroneous information in your post.

        I ask those with a sincere heart to check out my earlier post on this thread…..

        And are you sure your “friend” was being avoided because he was suddenlyand consistently telling his family that they were hell-bent heritics? If his evangelical friends are telling him he is out of line….he probably IS!!

        • you need to respect where people are coming from and the damage that has been done to them. now is not the time to present an apologetic for the mother church. now is a time to feel for a person who has been damaged by a very unhealthy Christian environment. They “know” perfectly well what has been done to them, and who has done it. your trying to “correct” their perspective dosn’t help at all.

        • Wee Geordie says:

          Pattie, “Catholic-bashing”? Really? Criticism of Roman Catholicism? Yes.
          Allowing friends and family (there are some in mine too) to wallow in a false religious system that is, yes, leading them to hell is, to you, showing the love of Christ?
          Not quite sure why you put “friend” in quotes. And also not quite sure why you would want to attempt to put words in his mouth or describe a situation that didn’t exist with regard to his family.
          The very fact that he told them that we was leaving the Church of Rome was enough for them to go off the deep end and ostracise him. Far from him ranting to his family about them being “hell-bent heretics”, as you put it, I have seen how he deals with RC’s – which I have to say was a surprise to me. He – showing real Christlike love – gently takes them through their own catechisms and compares it to Scripture. He has brought many former RC’s to true saving faith in this manner and it’s quite amazing how the Lord has constantly brought such people – not only RC’s but others caught up in false religion – across his path.
          The only people he gets agitated with are those “evangelicals” who see nothing wrong in Rome’s heresies. As he says – “they should know better”. There was one occasion, at the funeral of a family member of my friend, where many of said evangelicals came along in support. They all concurred “what a lovely service”. All they had really picked up on was the feeling and the emotion of the occasion. I asked them what the priest had said during (the (“Sacrifice” of) the Mass, and not a single one of them could tell me. That’s how discerning they were/are.
          The real reason they tell my friend he’s “out of line”, as you put it, is because they know next to nothing about Catholicism. In that particular church, there were about 7 or 8 former RC’s that I knew of. Every one of them would have said the same thing regarding their old religion, yet the people who’d never been part of it refused to listen to them.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            The only people he gets agitated with are those “evangelicals” who see nothing wrong in Rome’s heresies.

            Again, the Reformation Wars. “NO POPERY!”

            While pastors’ widows eat out of dumpsters.
            “Be Warm and Well Fed… I’ll Pray For You.”

      • cermak_rd says:

        I don’t have a dog in this race, but may I say that the Communion of Saints is an old concept in Christianity, and that adoration and intercessory prayer to the saints is an old custom going back to very early Christianity itself. Look at any really old church or ruin of a church and you’ll find a relic. Suggesting that this behavior is somehow unChristian is to denigrate the faith of millions of Christians who went to their deaths prior to the reformation.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Problem is Cermak, they’re too busy screaming “NO POPERY!” I don’t think they could hear you if you had a bullhorn.

          The Treaty of Westphalia ended the Reformation Wars in 1648, but there are a lot of Uber-Protestants who either didn’t or wouldn’t get the news.

          • Pattie says:

            Well said, my friend….all we can do is pray for them and let them go…!

        • John From Down Under says:

          @ cermak_rd

          Suggesting that this behavior is somehow unChristian is to denigrate the faith of millions of Christians who went to their deaths prior to the reformation.

          By ‘this behavior’ would you include, kissing icons, praying to the dead and ascribing deity to Mary?

          • cermak_rd says:

            Mary is not considered a deity by either classical Catholicism or Orthodoxy. In both cases she is considered to be a God bearer, not a Goddess.

            Intercessory prayer is asking the faithful departed to pray for you in much the same way one might want Aunt Tilly to pray for them.

            Kissing icons? Why not? It’s no different from kissing a cross. In neither case is it a sign that the person considers the object to be a deity, merely a holy object, made holy by that of which it is a symbol.

            Again, none of those beliefs are outside of the long tradition of Christianity.

  31. Chaplain Mike, it might be time to close the comments on this post. It’s getting ugly down here. I’ve had to delete several long, angry (though I think justifiably so) replies that I had typed out and ready to spew.

    • Wee Geordie says:

      Why get angry Michael? All are entitled to an opinion. I’ll concur with anyone’s opinion if they can show me it in Scripture. Isn’t asking for comments to be closed tantamount to censorship?

  32. franklin says:

    Here’s hoping it’s ok to not be a Christian but have a friendship with God.

    • Wee Geordie says:

      franklin, John 14:6 & Hebrews 11:6 will tell you all you need to know about that.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Dueling Fundies (to the tune of “Dueling Banjos”):

        “Quote! Quote! Quote! — Quote Quote!”

        “Quote Quote Quote Quote! Quote Quote Quote Quote!”

        “Quote Quote Quote Quote!! Quote Quote Quote Quote!!”

        “Quote! Quote! Quote! Quote! Quote! Quote Quote!”

        “Quote! Quote! Quote! Quote! Quote! Quote Quote!”

        (Main guitar riff; quit quoting and go for each others’ throats — in all Righeousness, of course — with fingernails and teeth…)

        • Pattie says:

          ROTFLMAO !

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I’m surprised the sysop left that one up. It’s a filk that’s been going through my head for 20-odd years, every time I hear one of those proof-text duels on the radio (now on the Net).

  33. John From Down Under says:

    @ Pattie, cermak_rd et al

    I can’t believe the reaction to the Orthodox church comments. I agree with Mike that the thread should probably be shut down but let me end with some parting comments.

    As far as your analogies with asking Aunt Tilly or a friend to pray for you, the difference is that they’re not DEAD! I don’t know about RC’s but the Greek Orthodox don’t pray to the dead symbolically, they EXPECT that the dead saint and Mary can actually HEAR their prayers and ACT on them by granting their wish. This is outright necromancy, and you’re trying to convince me that it’s a legitimate biblical practice???

    You are clearly arguing out from a position of ignorance. I haven’t read about the practices of Greek Orthodox, I lived and breathed it for 18 years, in community, relatives, school and church attendance. Do you know that on Thursday (before Good Friday) they hold all night vigils where they mourn and wail the death of Christ? Do you think that might be a tad ‘out there’?

    And yes, they don’t call Mary ‘God’ but they bow to her, do the sign of the cross to her, praise her and proclaim she does miracles today. Anything wrong with that picture?

    To The Headless Unicorn Guy (especially) bless you!

    • Wee Geordie says:

      John,

      Most RC’s don’t even realise that Mary didn’t even receive her “official title” of “Queen of Heaven” until 1954. (!)
      They declare her sinless, despite Luke 1:47.
      Consider the words of “Hail Holy Queen”:-
      Hail Holy Queen

      Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy,
      our life, our sweetness and our hope.
      To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve:
      to thee do we send up our sighs,
      mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
      Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
      thine eyes of mercy toward us,
      and after this our exile,
      show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
      O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen.

      All this, despite verses like 1 Timothy 2:5.

      If anyone really wants to know about “Mary Worship” do a Google search for “Mary Worship” along with “Mary Ann Collins”.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And now we get into full-honk “CATHOLICS WORSHIP MARY!!!!!” mode. With Proof Text included.

        • Appreciate deeply the voice of reason and humor, HUG. If some of these folks with severe craniorectal inversion are the folks agnostics are meeting, no WONDER they run away at top speed from the “god” these folks preach!

          I must be a little lamb in the woods, as I never believed the horror stories about attacks made from ignorance instead of honest disagreement I heard from my familial elders. And I am no “kid”…. a middle aged health care professional who has lived in harmony in seven countries on three continents. This is culture shock, despite years living side by side with CCC in Florida and Jerry’s Kid’s here in Lynchburg!

          The fear and loathing based on gross mis-information saddens me deeply, as those who know nothing about adult RC theology bash and extrapolate from (A) doctrines dropped centruies ago (B) second hand testamony from friends with an agenda to defend and (C) those who learned RC teaching at the same time they learned of Santa and the Tooth fairy, at a level meant to overly-simplify for little kids, but never learned anything after that. What we make into pretty stories for little ones is not the fullness of reality…

          So, I will pray for them…not to convert, but to drop the facade of perfect knowledge of all others and of God. Sorry that I mistook hate and bigotry for simplly being mis-informed. Sad, so very sad, that it is not enough to say “this is how OUR family does things”, but to scream with certaintly that all othe families are WRONG, EVIL, AND headed to hell. Try not to die a second death when you see who is walking the streets of gold with you!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      As far as your analogies with asking Aunt Tilly or a friend to pray for you, the difference is that they’re not DEAD!

      “God is God of the living, not the dead — because ALL are alive to Him!”

      Including the DEAD. Funny how that works when you’re not bound by linear time.

      • John From Down Under says:

        So according to you it’s ok to ask the dead to pray for us!

        Good luck with that one.

  34. A blessing for you…
    God is very precise: A woman delivers the true word John1:1, Rev 12:5, Rev 12:13 who restores Acts 3:21 all things to the world before Christ’s return. This woman exposes the lies of Satan who has deceived the whole world Rev 12:9. This woman creates a new thing in the earth by fulfilling God’s promise to Eve Gen 3:15, Jer 31:22, Isa 14:16. She is meek like unto Moses Num 12:3, she was raised up Acts 3:22 from the Laodicean church that becomes lukewarm because they refused to hear her Rev 3:14-17. She is also bold like Elijah Matt 17:11, her witness alone turns the hearts of the fathers to the children Mal 4:5-6 to prepare a people for the Lords return before the great and dreadful day of the Lord Matt 17:3, Luke 9:30. Moses and Elijah are together with the word Matt 17:3 they all three are in this one woman. Those who will not hear Acts 3:23 the true word of God now delivered to the world free of charge, as a witness, at the heel of time from the wilderness Rev 12:6 will not be allowed inside the walls of God’s coming kingdom from heaven Rev 21. This true word turns the hearts of the fathers to the children of God by giving the truth that not one child of God will be put in a hell fire no matter what their sins. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer 7:31, Jer 19:5. God created evil Isa 45:7 to teach his children the knowledge of good and evil Rom 8:7, Gen 3:22 so that at their resurrection they become a god Matt 22:29-30, Ps 82:6. Prove all things. Be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed. You cannot rightly judge this unless you read all that has been written by this woman first Pro 18:13 http://minigoodtale.blogspot.com Time is short.

  35. I read this message to my husband who never reads his bible, but has been an awesome example of christianity to me. I learned I didn’t have to read my bible, or go to church, or tithe. I learned as I would argue conroversies, he who didn’t argue was the one who was right, but that I can still own the commentaries, state my case, and that that was o.k. too. This post was perfect for us.

  36. “A mature Christian learns to distiguish between what the Lord excpects, what the church expects,”. Absolutely true. I have been down that road and seen too much of what churches do to alienate and discourage Christians, as well as split churches over their pet ideas of what a Christian should or should not believe. More than once I have seen Pastors and Assistant Pastors come into a church and undermine the work with their manipulation of scripture and people. However, we must be very careful not to be flippant about what the Lord expects. There is much that is not okay with Him. It is not always right to just be okay with ourselves. Unless a life is changed and renewed continuously under the power of the Holy Spirit we are in danger of being out of fellowship with the Lord. Yes, it is “OK” not to fall prey to the rules of the church, but do not underestimate you vulnerability to satan’s devouring ways. Because everyone is not at the same maturity in their spiritual growth, sometimes saying it’s “OK” when not prefaced with proper understanding of God’s expectations can lead them astray.