It has been 10 years since Michael Horton’s wonderful book, “Christ-less Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church”, was first published. I believe his assessment of much of what passes for Christianity around the world is absolutely true – and these Christians have a concept of the faith that is not anywhere near what I think it should or could be. I have ranted about this regularly in sermons, so now you get to relive (or read it from me for the first time – lucky you!) my distaste for this kind of religion.
Let me be clear – I am not saying that not being Christian is a bad thing. I know scads of non-Christians who are far better followers of the teachings of Jesus than many alleged Christians in name only (CINO’s, for short). I often find that I have more in common with Muslims and Jews than with Fundamentalist or Evangelical Christians – but that is another rant for another day.
No – what I am saying is that we have millions of CINO’s who focus only on Old Testament passages about judgment and legalism (ignoring the love passages that Jesus chose), and occasionally on New Testament passages that support the degradation of women, while passing over the words of Jesus about everything else. We have people who want to destroy the LGBT community, either literally or figuratively; they want to deport DACA recipients, ignoring what Scripture says about welcoming the illegal alien. They continue to support the dismantling of public education, taking food from senior citizens, and general ill will towards anyone not like them.
And they sit in church every Sunday, raising their hands to thank Jesus, and extolling how good God is to them. They give money to groups that support Israel only for the purpose of bringing about Armeggedon. They want to heap hot coals on divorced people and women/girls facing the unbearable choice to terminate a pregnancy, while refusing to help once that child is born. They wear wrist bands that ask What Would Jesus Do?, and then they don’t bother to do it. They pray the Prayer of Jabez while refusing to read the Lord’s Prayer. They wear the cross around their necks and talk about the blood of Jesus saving them – but they don’t really understand why Jesus came.
Sound harsh? Maybe – but these are the people driving the train – these are the people making the rest of us look bad – these are the people who will truly destroy the Church. I won’t sit by and watch. Will you? Peace… sort of.
The Rev. Dr. Steve Ohnsman, PhD, has been the pastor of Calvary United Church of Christ in Reading, PA, since 1999. He holds a BA in Religion & Philosophy from Wilmington College (OH), an MDiv from Drew Theological Seminary (NJ), a DMin from United Theological Seminary (OH), and a PhD from Alvernia University (PA).