When Jesus Leaves Your Church, Follow Him

I believe that the colossal national failure that made the election of Donald Trump possible was a theological one. I mean, yeah, I realize that ignorance played a big role as well… And I understand that a lot of people were deceived–both by fear, and by propaganda posing as legitimate journalism, put out by media outlets that value ideology over the truth. But more than this problem of trying to figure out what we know and what we don’t know–more than the epistemological crisis that is caused when the people we are supposed to be able to trust LIE to us with such regularity, while simultaneously calling true things “fake news” when those facts don’t fit peoples’ power-hungry agenda–I believe that the real problem we are facing as a nation is due to the way we answer these questions: Who is God? And who are we? And who is our neighbor? 

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One of Jesus’ lesser-known miracles was a totally beefy physique. Also, if there’s not already a band named “Beefy Physique,” there should be.

Am I the only one whose theology has been affected by the election of Donald Trump? This past election has profoundly affected my faith in humanity. And even more than the election, what has REALLY darkened my view of people has been the continued support so many still give him, even in the face of such a clear and present douchebaggery. And when my faith in humanity falls… Well… It hurts me. It continues to hurt me. It hurts the deepest (and I think maybe the most important) part of me: My hope. My hope is not built on anything as solid as “certainty.” Some days it’s not even a word as strong as “belief.” A lot of the time, my hope is nothing more than a suspicion. It’s a suspicion that humanity’s goodness is stronger than our selfishness. It’s a suspicion that the light is stronger than the darkness. It’s a suspicion that the moral arc of history–though very long–is bending toward justice. And, if I’m being honest, my suspicion–my HOPE–has never been more under a daily attack than it has been since the people of this country elected one of its worst citizens as its leader.

And again–if I’m being honest–A lot of what I thought was disappointment in humanity was really just me grieving over the feeling of becoming a minority. “Wait… You mean most people DON’T believe the same things that I do about right and wrong?” But as hard as it is for a white, straight, Christian man to come to the fragile realization that he is no longer in the majority, Trump’s election continues to affect me. I’m not even close to over it. Because how we perceive humanity directly affects how we perceive God to be. And likewise, what we believe about God directly affects what we believe about humanity. This is one of the main reasons so many people give up on church. And religion. And God in general… Because in most churches in America, the god they believe in is nothing less than a monster. They might be able to ignore that fact for a while, but at some point, most thinking people realize that the “good news” sounds like a horror story. “Hey–GOOD NEWS! God hates everyone who doesn’t believe what we believe! Yup, he hates them enough to have them all tortured forever!” And we’re all, “Wait… You’re calling that god ‘GOOD?!?’ That god sounds like a total dick.”

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The fact that this Jesus is white makes him wearing the hat at least plausible.

Made In The Image Of A Monster

And so, the failure that allowed for a person like Donald Trump to be elected as our president is clearly a moral failure, but it is specifically a theological failure. It is what happens when the majority of the people calling themselves “the church” believe they are made in the image of a monster. And when you believe you’re made in the image of a monster, it’s not a very far leap to find yourself VOTING for a monster. It’s easy…

  • The god who is for “us” and against “them” is obviously the god who thinks we should be dropping bombs on those Muslims countries… And banning the ones who are running away from the wars from coming here for safety.
  • The god who is going to send everyone to Hell who doesn’t believe the things WE believe makes it easy to vote for a person who promises to do “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”
  • The god who requires firm lines of orthodoxy would certainly endorse a candidate who promises to build a wall.
  • The god who is–very soon–going to end the world in a fiery ball of judgment is not a god who thinks that taking care of the environment is a very high priority.
  • The god who does miracles when people pray does NOT need a church community who is committed to working–right here and now–to build a more equitable society by changing laws and policies.
  • The god who is in control of every little thing obviously WANTED those poor people to go without healthcare… and conversely, that same god WANTED those rich folks to have more than they could ever need.

Who is God? Is God a monster who eternally punishes everyone who doesn’t believe the same things that we believe? Does God only love the people inside of our boundaries… Both national and theological?

And who are we? Are we so utterly and hopelessly depraved that there is no bit of good in us? And if that’s what you believe about humanity, how easy is it to treat other people like a piece of shit?

And who is my neighbor? Are we built to love even the people who are different than us? Maybe even ESPECIALLY the people who are different than us? And might “loving” those different people mean more than just trying to convince them that 1) they are garbage, and 2) a monstrous god killed his own son so that a few people can avoid the eternal torture that he set as their punishment?

I swear… When I hear that 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump, it fills me with so many emotions: Pity. And anger. And frustration. And confusion. And mostly sadness… It is such a bastardization of what the Church is supposed to be. When people lose their moral compass, the Church SHOULD be the voice of conscience. When people forget that we are better when we take care of each other, the Church SHOULD be there to remind them. And when nearly half the country votes for an openly bigoted, misogynistic, narcissistic shyster of a megalomaniac of a fool, the Church SHOULD be the first one to say, “WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS!” Instead, the church is leading the way. And now Trump is talking about “totally destroying” the Johnson Amendment–the 60 year old law restricting Churches from openly endorsing political candidates… GAH! Churches who are allowed to openly criticize and preach against a political candidate SHOULD be the scariest thing in the world for Donald Trump… But then, that only applies to the Churches who are more interested in the Truth than they are interested in political power and nationalism.

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If it wasn’t for the halo, they’d be hard to tell apart…

So if you find yourself at a church that preaches the kind of “good news” that even allows for a rational theological case for supporting and voting for a person like Donald Trump–A person who demonizes immigrants, who demeans women, who lies on a daily basis, who defends torture, and who is opposite in every way to the words, life, spirit, and person of Jesus Christ–know this: That church has no business calling itself “Christian.” Christians follow Jesus, and the policies and tactics of this administration are wholly incompatible with the Jesus of the Bible. I can’t say that strongly enough. The ideology of Trump and the ideology of Jesus are completely and totally opposite. Though if you’re having trouble telling them apart, maybe TAKE THIS AWESOME QUIZ.

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This one is one of the tougher questions…

When followers of Jesus love the people outside of our belief system as much as Jesus seems to think God loves those people, then we’ll stop worrying about the borders of orthodoxy AND the borders of nations. And the thing is, most of the time the chances are good that it will not be your church that changes… It will be your heart. One day, things that used to make sense to you just won’t make sense anymore. You will embrace the mystery of a benevolent universe. You will look around and notice people’s brokenness, but you will also see their divinity. You will experience God as the thing pulling us all toward GOODNESS and LIGHT and LOVE. And like Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” You probably won’t feel Jesus leave your church–You’ll just wake up one day and realize Jesus left a long time ago… I suggest you follow him. 

I have something to admit: I have been feeling hopeless. I have been feeling like the world’s problems are so huge that nothing I do or say or write matters. And that may be true–Maybe none of the stuff I write matters in the long run. But we don’t speak the truth because it’s going to change the world… We speak the truth because it’s true. I feel like this is true today, and even when the steady drumbeat of lunacy and depravity in the news breaks my heart and makes me feel like slipping into despair, I want you–the person who is reading this–to know that I love you. If you’re feeling any sense of the same despair that I have felt lately, I want you to know that you’re not alone. And there is hope. Also, if you are looking for a Church, here’s something I wrote. Anyway, thank you so much to my Patrons, who also give me hope. If you value this blog and want to support it, you can BECOME A PATRON or you can leave a TIP ON PAYPAL. Stay connected with me on Twitter and on Facebook.

 

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24 Responses to When Jesus Leaves Your Church, Follow Him

  1. Sandy Anderson says:

    I agree with you! I have said all along how can any Christian be for that man. Not my Jesus!

  2. joesantus says:

    BOESKOOL…of course, your own answer to “Who is God?” is merely that — your personal speculation and wishful thinking, formed by what and whom you want your god and “Jesus” to be, correct? As you’ve aknowleged to me before, your “ideas” aren’t based on what amounts to any more than your personal constructions of what you wish “truth” and “love” to be, correct?

    So, not only does this reduce your complaint to “your wishful thinking about Jesus” versus “their wishful thinking about Jesus” — meaning, neither “you” nor “they” can ever be ultimately able to persuade the other that “you’re wrong!”…but also…By the very fact that you yourself agree with “them” that there is a “god’ and a “Jesus” to be “believed”, you also inadvertently encourage them in their own harmful version of theism.

    Keep thinking on the implications, Boeskool…the rational conclusion is, paradoxically, what can give you the peace you’re searching for in life.

  3. wolfkennel says:

    One of your toughest, and truest, statements yet. Personally, I can’t stand Trump, and never could, but that certainly isn’t a Christian attitude. I do feel some amount of guilt for it. My HOPE for this political world we all live within is that his obvious weaknesses will ultimately do him in and will be so well recognized that none of us need feel any guilt. My HOPE is for relatively quick impeachment within the next 6 months before too much of the obvious damage can be done.
    Trump’s weaknesses are also imbedded in all his close advisors and most of his cabinet appointments. That runs from Kelly-Ann Palin to all his Breitbart sympathizers. May they deconstruct themselves.
    For my Christian path through this, I’m working with my Disciples of Christ Church in Cary, NC and leaders like Rev. William Barber in North Carolina. This includes our Moral Monday marches that seek to focus on biblical “moral” issues rather than “political” issues with North CArolina’s Trump minded state legislature. At least we got an honest and strong Governor Cooper in this last monstrous election. Go Jesus !! Go HOPE !!

  4. Renee Goularte says:

    This is a wonderful post. I am not religious at all, but it brings up a lot of questions for people who do not have religion in their lives and are comfortable with that. Your statement about your hope being under attack seriously resonates with me. As for now being in a minority, please do not ever forget that this president LOST the popular vote by one of the biggest margins ever. He was given the presidency by the electoral college, which acted without conscience.

  5. RealRocNation412 says:

    I could substitute “Hillary Clinton” everywhere you write “Trump” and this article would make more sense.

    You write, “When I hear that 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump, it fills me with so many emotions: Pity. And anger. And frustration. And confusion. And mostly sadness… It is such a bastardization of what the Church is supposed to be.”

    Do you know why 81% voted for Trump? The alternative was far worse. Plain and simple. No further explanation needed.

    Elsewhere in your article you write about the “white, straight, male”. Only a paid shill could put that in as a talking point and make it negative in context. Its what progressives are paid to do. Demean straight men. If they are white, even better.

    You are either extremely deceived, a paid shill, or both. If it is the former, I pray your eyes would be opened. There is no political solution to a spiritual problem.

    • theboeskool says:

      This is hilarious. Thank you for that good laugh.

      • RealRocNation412 says:

        There’s nothing funny about it. I find it hard to believe Jesus was laughing when Judas showed up with the Roman army to arrest him and take him away.

        A professed disciple of Christ who betrayed the Eternal King of creation for a bag of coins. What you are doing is the equivalent of that. You are so deceived that you don’t even see it.

        I bet sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night wondering whether or not what you are writing is the Truth. The Holy Spirit will speak to you if you allow him to. Unfortunately there are many who cling to their political views more tightly then the Word of God.

        For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

      • theboeskool says:

        I’m not doing this for a bag of coins, dude. I don’t even advertise on this page. If people want to help support me, they can. I’m poor as shit.

        Call me Judas all you’d like. Throw out all the Christianese jargon you want… I’ve heard it all before (and probably said some of it). And keep listening to “the Holy Spirit.” The same Holy Spirit that tells you to set Breitbart as your homepage… 😂 😂 😂

        But trust me about your comments being funny. Sure–They’re funny in a “I’m incredibly sad for this person” sort of way… But they are definitely funny. You don’t strike me as the sort of person who readily recognizes “funny.” But you–a Trump apologist–saying something like “Unfortunately there are many who cling to their political views more tightly then the Word of God” is 100% funny.

        Thanks for stopping by, stranger. 😂 😂 😂

      • Is it me or does the general population stop listening when someone says “paid shill”. Anticipate an unrelated meme in 3…2…1….

      • RealRocNation412 says:

        I obviously struck a nerve as you continue to hide behind “it’s funny”. Deception often seems funny until you realize you have been deceived and its too late. Its one of Satan’s biggest tricks.

        Based on this article, I’d bet you dont even believe in a physical hell. After all, how could a loving God condemn people to hell, right? He must be a monster to send folks there just because they dont believe in Jesus, right? God is love and would never do that. Jesus wouldn’t want to offend anyone because he is meek and mild.

        “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
        “‘a man against his father,
        a daughter against her mother,
        a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
        a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

        Sounds funny, right? Its a lot of Christianese to handle I know. When you see “Progressive Christianity” it pretty much tells you what priority Christ is in the equation.

        BTW, I dont like Breitbart. Its as much propaganda as your blog.

      • theboeskool says:

        Did you vote for Trump?

      • theboeskool says:

        And yeah… You are not “striking a nerve.” You are a caricature of the sort of person to which I am referring in this post. That’s what makes me laugh.

        You read your Bible like ISIS reads the Qur’an, dude.

      • RealRocNation412 says:

        I read my bible like it is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. I don’t pick and choose to make it fit my political beliefs and make excuses if it offends people.

        That’s what makes us different. God is God and we are not. He made the rules of the universe. We did not. He is love. But he is also just. He made a way for us to spend eternity with him thru Jesus. If we reject Jesus (the gift of salvation) the consequence is death and hell. IT’S OFFENSIVE to those who don’t believe but it is clearly written in the bible.

        Was God a monster for destroying the earth in the flood? Was he a monster for destroying Sodom and Gomorrah? Was he a monster for sending his only Son to be brutally murdered on a cross for our sins? No! He did it because he is just and then loved us so much he didn’t want to spend eternity apart from us. Without a relationship with Jesus all are lost and will be told to “depart”. It’s our choice to freely accept or freely reject.

        If I am a caricature of this article, surely you are one of this:
        https://stream.org/todays-progressive-christians-best-christians-history-just-ask/

    • Malinda says:

      I highly suggest watching the Brainwashing of my Dad. It details the 25 year messaging of the far right, what has essentially moved people and subsequently the church away from a bastion of social justice to a cloistered community echo chamber where Muslims, liberals, women’s rights advocates are the enemy. The story is intriguing (and something I have seen played out with life long friends who sadly think I am un American because I think using taxes to feed the poor and educate the public is an offense worst than death). What is missing from that story is the number of people who are devoted lovers of Jesus who no longer go to church. I iive in Texas, taught Sunday school volunteered weekly for membership and new comer ministries, volunteered in the toddler and infant rooms, gave 10% of my income. I no longer go to church. I just couldn’t fathom the hateful rhetoric and absolute untruths that somehow God wanted a misogynistic, dishonest person who would openly mock a disabled person, then lie about it to be president of the US. And the comments about illegal immigrants, some of whom were parishioners. People who said public school was the root of immorality in the world, hence vouchers were a good idea,,,the amount of scorn I received for being outed as a Planned Parenthood supporter We all get our own walk. Because mine doesn’t align with far right ideologies doesn’t make me any less Christian or any less of a lover of Jesus. I see Christianity as our efffort to build relationship with Jesus by emulating his walk: love and non judgement. This said, what Boeskool writes about leaving the church when Jesus does, totally right. I feel like the very church community that fed my soul brought me to a place where I could have easily rejected my faith given their vocal and consistent message that was not love and full of judgment.

  6. Jay Johnson says:

    I hear you, Chris, and I love you, too. More than you can know. My dad had a motto, courtesy of General George Stillwell: Don’t let the bastards get you down. It’s been my mantra for the last four months. I continue to live in hope and the knowledge that this, too, shall pass, and that we are not alone in our distress. While I am not a Christian, I am a believer in God, and I hear the Pope’s words of peace and love. I hear you, too.

  7. C Johnson says:

    A simple quote which I believe is simply stating your view or point:

    “The greatest single cause of atheisism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
    Brennan Manning

    People who believe in the Word of Jesus have a conflict when those who oppose such things that can help our Brothers & Sisters, Health Care for All, A living wage for ones Labor, To not judge others who are different as an example for their life style, To not worship money or those who have it, but to help others.

    • joesantus says:

      Nope, Brennan was spouting nonsense when he claimed that “the greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who etc.” Christians who “fail to live out their beliefs” is not the major reason people dismiss theism. It’s certainly one reason some people do, but not at all nor even close to being the “greatest single” reason. Ask, “From where is Brennan obtaining his statistics for his claim?”

      And, is Brennan implying that only Christianity is a valid belief system, and therefore, say, Muslims who “acknowledge Allah with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle” make no impact on “an unbelieving world”? If Brennan accepted all faiths equally, then why didn’t Brennan word as, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is believers who acknowledge their versions of God with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle”?

      Ironically, the US people whom BOESKOOL targets in his complaint are not atheists — they themselves are professed Christians, who themselves would claim that it’s people like Boeskool who are denying Jesus by Boeskool’s version of Christianity, since they view Boeskool and YOU as “worldly, carnal, deceived, sinful, heretical, apostate”

  8. Jeva Marshall says:

    Chris, I believe your hope is misplaced. Hope can be found in Christ alone. And he has got this situation. I agree with your understanding that Jesus is moving us outside of the church. Look for the new thing he is doing.
    As to @RealRocNation412, I hope he/she understands the Bible is to be understood only through the Holy Spirit. Look for the spirit of the law not only the word. You are missing the forrest for the trees. Read Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount.
    God bless you Chris. “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] ” John 16:33

    • RealRocNation412 says:

      Hi Jeva,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes I wholeheartedly understand that the Word is to be understood under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. That’s why I urged the boeskool to listen to the Holy Spirit. You can’t fully listen to the Holy Spirit and contradict scripture at the same time. They cannot be at war with each other since they are one in the same. Jesus came not to abolish the law but to fulfill the law.

      There will be great distress and troubling times ahead until Jesus returns. At that point those that are true followers of Christ will have the true Kingdom of Heaven.

      Unfortunately, many self professed followers of Christ don’t even believe basic biblical principles anymore. Heaven and hell, male and female, only one way to the Father, etc…

      • joesantus says:

        “You can’t fully listen to the Holy Spirit and contradict scripture at the same time.”

        What you (and what Boeskool, and what any other person who professes to be a Christian) actually mean by this is, “my particular INTERPRETATION of ‘to listen to the holy spirit’ and my particular INTERPRETATIONS of ‘scripture’ don’t contradict each other, since I’m the infallible judge of what the correct interpretations are, and I have final say in what is and isn’t ‘contradiction’.”

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