Violent Silence: Jesus Would’ve Gone to The Tap

I was walking around on campus at Texas A&M today and it’s obviously no secret that the Christian bubble reigns supreme in these parts, with the t-shirts and the cafeteria cliques and the screaming preachers that post up on campus. The reality is, the Bible belt is still on nice and tight in east Texas.

As I walked around the Memorial Student Center, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation as I walked past a group of girls in the hallway.

“I just don’t want to lose my witness by inviting them to Breakaway [an on-campus Bible study] on Tuesday and then saying, ‘Hey come to The Tap [a local bar/grill] with us on Wednesday for piano bar!'”

What have we done?

Now don’t get me wrong, I have friends on staff at Breakaway and I love much of what they do. This isn’t a post about Breakaway.

Somewhere along the line in the rise of white evangelicalism in America, we’ve forgotten that the invitation we are commanded to give lost people isn’t first an invitation to church or Bible study. If that winds up happening then fantastic! But it’s not T.A’s job to share the gospel with your lost friends. It’s not Matt Chandler’s job to invite your lost friends into the Kingdom of God. It’s not your local pastor’s job to know which parts of the gospel your friends don’t believe.

It’s your job.

And somewhere along the way the Church has greatly cheapened the buy-in of following Jesus to “Hey just invite them to church and God might save them without you having to share the gospel with them”. And trust me, I’m well aware that the Lord has saved probably tens of thousands of lost people in spite of Christians copping out of their commission. But the Lord has also probably saved thousands of people who hear a false gospel every week at Lakewood Church in Houston, so does that make it acceptable to preach the prosperity gospel? By no means!

So I write this piece to the Church, specifically the Bible-belted American Church — and let me be clear, I greatly include myself in the audience for this piece.

Why don’t we stop avoiding spending time with lost people in their spaces? Let’s not forget that Jesus was called a glutton and a drunkard by church people for a reason.

Why don’t we lay off inviting people to church before we invite them into the Kingdom? The goal of the early church wasn’t to save people to church; it was to save people to life.

Why don’t we put more focus on lost people intimately knowing the love of God instead of hiding behind superficial and hyper-comfortable non-conversations? At some point demonstrating the Gospel is not going to suffice. You’ve gotta use words, too.

Instead of having an internal “moral” crisis about whether to invite someone to Breakaway or The Tap, why don’t we skip Breakaway and go buy a drink at The Tap and sit and figure out what holes are in our friend’s gospel that we can engage and fill in?

If you’re a believer, then you’re more than equipped just as you are to share the Gospel. You don’t need to “know more” about the Bible before you do anything. You don’t need to get the “lingo” down before you do anything.

 

The Kingdom of God is advancing with or without you. So Church, let’s get back to work and see lost people become sons and daughters of the Creator of the universe. It’s gonna be worth it, I can 100% promise.

 

 

Advertisements

In Whom Do We Trust? (Part III)

One of the more dense focal points of the argument against an originally Christian United States is that there was a severe wanting of true Biblical Christianity; a wanting which started during the founding of America. This is especially pervasive as they moved past the founding and into the Second Great Awakening. Fea describes the Second Great Awakening as so:

Humans were no longer…waiting passively for a sovereign and distant God who…offered select individuals the gift of eternal life. Instead, ordinary American citizens took an active role in their own salvation…the new theology empowered individuals to decide their own religious fate by accepting or rejecting the gospel message.[1]

In this philosophy and theology, Americans became their own saviors. They were in charge of saving themselves; whether or not God wanted to save them did not matter. The problem here is that this was not and is not Christianity; this is moralism. The implicit idea of this theology is that humans can be good enough to determine if they may enter heaven or not. In other words, this theology is centered on the idea of self-salvation.

The Second Great Awakening was a force driven by its teachers and preachers. Many of these “Christian” teachers, such as Theodore Dwight Woosley[2], proclaimed that the majority of Americans believed in Jesus Christ and the Gospel. This pervasive assumption led to evangelists such as Billy Sunday that would take the assumption even further and say, “Christianity and Patriotism are synonymous terms…”[3]. This absurd assumption projected Christianity onto Americans and inspired a self-fulfilling prophecy across the nation. This notion encouraged Americans to think, “I love this country; therefore, I am a Christian. God bless America!”

This is just not how Biblical Christianity functions; this is American nationalism. Mercy Otis Warren was another teacher who did not fight for Biblical Christianity but rather fought for this sense of nationalism. She is quoted as saying “religious and moral character of Americans yet stands on a higher grade of excellence and purity than that of most of other nations.”[4] There was an implicit sense of arrogance in the fact that the people Ms. Warren knew were better than the people she had heard about in other nations. A true Christian would see Romans 3:23[5] and acknowledge the equal depravity of all mankind. The practicing Biblical Christian was the exception in this revival, not the rule.

If the United States was founded and purposed in Christianity, then America would look vastly different than it did and does. If the founders of the United States intended for the nation to be attached to a specific religion, then they all would have had at least moderately uniform thought processes on that matter. The part of America that gives people hope – domestically and internationally – is that basic American tenet of freedom and the ability to believe what one wants to believe without ridicule and persecution. The United States was not founded and purposed in any specific religion; rather, it was founded and purposed in freedom – all encompassing freedom.

[1] Fea. Was America Founded… pg. 5

[2] Fea. Was America Founded… pg. 26

[3] Fea. Was America Founded… pg. 32

[4] Fea. Was America Founded… pg. 9

[5] The Bible in the book of Romans chapter 3 verse 23

In Whom Do We Trust? (Part II)

It is important to note that a moderate number of the founders of the United States were not Biblical Christians; if they even considered themselves Christians at all. As was previously discussed regarding John Adams and the Treaty of Tripoli, Adams believed the government of the United States to not at all be founded on the Christian religion[1]. He was also a Unitarian and disbelieved the Trinity, an important aspect of the Christian faith. Unitarianism is also part of the universalism movement, which teaches universal salvation to all who believe in any god they so choose. In other words, no matter which god or religion to which you ascribe, everyone will end up in the same place. Thomas Jefferson also did not believe in Scripture as written; so, he decided to write his own bible removing content at his own will and discretion. Jefferson also wrote, in a letter to John Adams in April of 1823,

The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.[2]

Furthermore, because of Jefferson’s manifested beliefs in this letter, one may conclude that Jefferson thought of Christianity as tomfoolery at best. If two of the first three democratically elected leaders were so clearly not Christian, then it is, at best, ill reasoning to assume the nation to be explicitly founded upon the Christian religion.

Another aspect of the debate is the discussion of national mottos; such as, “In God We Trust” – imprinted on coins and Treasury notes – and “…one nation, under God…” in the Pledge of Allegiance. In regards to “In God We Trust”, this was not imprinted on money until 1861[3] and was only done for political appeasement of the National Reform Association, not out of true belief on behalf of Congress or President Lincoln. The NRA brought before the president an entire amendment to the preamble of the Constitution that would explicitly make the United States a Christian nation. This was too great a favor to ask, so the politicians compromised with the committee and put “In God We Trust” on United States coins. A few presidents after that, namely Teddy Roosevelt[4], attempted to remove the motto from money, but every attempt was failed on grounds of tradion. In regards to “…one nation, under God…”, this phrase was added to the pledge in the middle of the twentieth century by President Eisenhower[5]; this was not, by any means, and original phrase, contrary to popular belief.

 

[1] Fea. Was America Founded… pg. 4

[2] Schweitzer. Founding Fathers

[3] Fea. Was America Founded… pg. 23

[4] Schweitzer. Founding Fathers…

[5] Schweitzer. Founding Fathers…