Dumbfounded why Christian’s are called Bigots?

In light of Sunday’s tragic and horrible event, Christian’s are dumbfounded as to why they are being compared to this mass murderer. What Christians in general fail to recognize is the enormous amount of rejection, threats, bullying, physical harm, and hate, that the LGBTQ+ Community has endured most of their life. Christians in the name of God justify all sorts bigoted language and behavior. I know that Christians will deny this, but let me give you a few examples in my own life.

I’m not LGBTQ+, but I love them and I’m fully accepting and affirming. The reality is, this is nothing new to me. Let me say this upfront, God loves the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person unconditionally and so do I. But when I chose as a Pastor to be inclusive and affirming of the LGBTQ+ Community at our house church I was ostracized by my church group organization. I was asked to resign, so I did. This was just 9 months ago.  Yes I was very hurt by this, still hurts today. I do miss some of my friends and wish that they would be more open. Have I responded to all of my critics in the best possible gracious way? No, not always. If you know me personally you know how highly bothered I get when people are mistreated.

So these were the sorts of questions asked of me and the sort of statements made by my Pastor, leaders, and Christian friends within my church organization.

Will you let them be in ministry?
Will you marry them if they ask you?
I understand your desire to show compassion, but you will tell them that they need to repent of their homosexual practices?
Homosexuality is abomination.
The Bible is very clear on this matter.
Are they practicing abstinence?
Are you struggling with homosexuality?
Allow one sin, and you must allow them all.
I welcome all homosexuals to my church… but their sin is still sin.
Homosexuals are destroying our families.
Homosexuals are the enemy of the church.
I simply cannot change just because society is pushing so strongly for acceptance and a very shallow love.
Are you really surprised that I would question you regarding this subject (homosexuality)?
If the phrase “gay Christian” refers to a person who actively, perpetually, and unrepentantly lives a homosexual lifestyle – no, it is not possible for such a person to truly be a Christian.
There is nothing I see that needs to change in my local church.
Why get together for coffee I’m not going to change my views? (response from a pastor friend that I invited to coffee after I submitted my resignation).
A letter was published by my friend and pastor on Facebook to make it crystal clear that they are not at all associated with me and in no way are they in any agreement with my views regarding the LGBTQ Community.

Let me say this there are some Pastor’s (a small number) that did reach out to me, that have befriended me and are seriously thinking through their views. They even apologized to me for the way this was handled and how I was treated.

So when LGBTQ+ hear this sort of ignorant language of course they think you are bigoted and hateful. Your phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin” is about the most hateful, hurtful, ignorant thing you can say. Christians think that they can say any hurtful, ignorant words so long as they think that their god supports them. Because of this they will continue to behave and talk to the LGBTQ+ Community in a way that is both shameful, and hurtful. But that is the Christian way, according to them god is always on their side, and ironically their enemies are also god’s enemies.

Christians operate under the rule of the bible. To them the bible contains The Very Words of God, all of it. They read it without ever questioning it and view it as having one unified view of God (which it does not). They are very good at memorizing text that supports their hateful views. There are various extremes within this sort of commitment to the bible. But more or less this is the underlying doctrine that determines their views. Within Christianity it is called inerrancy, it’s the teaching that the bible is the word of god and without error. Once you are committed to this belief then you are stuck and forced to support idiotic thinking that comes from a 7,000 year old culture that is patriarchally dominated, views women and children as property, where slavery is endorsed, and homosexual should be stoned until dead. Because of this it makes it virtually impossible to have any meaningful conversation with them since their only objective now becomes to defend their views. Yes they will smile, shake your hand, say you’re welcomed, and even hug you. But they will make sure to tell you that if you don’t repent of your homosexual practice, you will go to hell for all eternity. Oh yeah this literal belief that the bible is the word of God, coupled with the idea that it contains a unified view of god leads to all sorts of weird beliefs that are littered with identity markers to ensure there is always an us and them, a holy and unholy, the righteous and the unrighteous.

Within Christianity there is a major shift going on that is splitting the church. Unfortunately it is because of the church’s rejection of the LGBTQ+ Community. I say unfortunately because it never should have reached this point, Christians of all people should have been the first to stand up and walk along side them. The amount of doctrinal differences among Christianity is pretty sad. But when the Good News (Gospel) is no longer good, but becomes sad news of a god that simply has an ego so big that if you don’t get your beliefs exactly right, and can’t change, then his only option is to destroy and torment you for all eternity is utterly absurd. That is so far removed from the message of hope, love and peace on earth that Jesus came to give.

I do apologize to my LGBTQ+ friends and those that I haven’t yet meet for taking so long to take this stance. The power of acceptance is powerful and my group meant a lot to me. But that is no excuse, please forgive me I’ve should have taken this stance many years ago.

So next time you as a Christian are asked why the comparison, stop and think for once in your life.

I encourage you to to read this article at Times Magazine by Matthew Vines

#onepulse #Pulse

Blinded by the Light

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. The journey that I’ve been on since rethinking who Jesus is and what the gospel means has been very challenging to say the least. The light shined on me so brightly that it blinded me. Leaving me without sight unable to navigate through this wilderness that I find myself in. When you encounter Jesus he turns your world upside down. All things change, your outlook, your treatment of people, your ambitions, everything.

I once considered success in many different forms, I was highly ambitious, accomplished many great things in my life. But today I’m blinded by the light.  I Can’t see.  I Can’t find myself out of the wilderness. I’m dying slowly and painfully in order to let Jesus live in me.  I’m being born anew as John says in his Gospel. Constantly repenting of my false views of God, and trying to understand and make sense of His compassionate and merciful ways.

People have asked me more than once “what’s your vision (as a pastor)”? An odd thing to ask a blind man? I sit and wait on the Lord, hoping I’ll be healed from this blindness so that I may find my way out of this wilderness. It’s been long and tiresome.

I know that God let our paths cross for a reason, and he is at the helm, guiding this ship. So I’m at peace with that. Maybe that’s the answer, just trust him, lean on him, hold his hand and let him guide me out.

For now all I can see is his beauty, love, mercy and compassion he has for his creation.


Are You Lost and Out of Step?

Can I share something with you?  Something you can keep to yourself?  Well I’m considering radically changing our house church, and restarting, or rebooting if you will. I’ve heard that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. So it’s time to make changes.  Since leaving my Charismatic group I’ve accelerated my deconstruction and I think it’s been hard on those that were/are with me.  But there is no turning back for me I’m convinced that what I’ve been taught is incorrect and not reflective of Jesus Christ.

I’m committed to truly knowing Jesus even if it cost me everything.  Part of this journey is letting go of ways that have been ingrained in me as to how church should be, how often, what days. In some ways I feel lost, but in my lostness, in my wilderness, it’s there that I always seem to hear God’s voice. It’s there that I find my way back home.  So embrace the feeling of being lost it’s a good place to be.

Since leaving my Charismatic group I’ve rejected the following:

  • a retributive god
  • all hierarchy (within the body of Christ that views one as higher, better, greater than another)
  • all forms of control
  • all forms of power
  • all forms of manipulation
  • all forms of sin management
  • all forms of legalism
  • all forms of ignorance
  • all forms of success
  • all forms of exclusion

I firmly believe that in the body of Christ we are all equal, and the only great one is Jesus (and he defined greatness by becoming human, powerless, and a servant).  Yes I still believe that those that claim to follow Christ should gather together at the Table of the Lord where every one is equal and to bare each others burdens.  That is what I think church is and should be.

I don’t know where you are at in your journey but know this, where ever you are I’ll always be your friend. For the record Yes I believe that God heals, and that the Holy Spirit moves in our presence, and brings about restoration in our lives. Yes I still believe in the gifts of the Spirit, I have no intentions to abandon my Charismatic roots (although I’ve never been anything like the crazies or extreme, that doesn’t mean that I don’t hold those views).
Please keep me in your prayers as I truly value you and those that dare to come along with me on this Path that I have set.  You are here because you are a seeker, like the wise men looking for the God that will bring peace on earth. We’ve been lead to him, so now lets live like him and continue his work of bringing peace on earth.

May Christ be with you and your family,

Apocalyptic Cosmic Change

This last year I was introduced to the Apocalyptic Cosmic Rereading of the Scriptures.  I’ve been reading through various authors and listening to as many lectures that I can find.  I’m really new to this, but I wanted to start posting some things that are challenging my thinking.  So walk with me as I think through this, and contemplate it’s implications.  By Apocalyptic I mean “Revelation” Paul uses this term in Galatians “So  when  it  pleased  him apocalyptically  to  reveal  his  Son  to  me,  in  order  that  I  might  preach  him among the Gentiles” (translation Louis Martyn), and by Cosmic I mean all of humanity.  At least that is how I have understood the terms to be used.  Any trained Apocalyptic Theologians please feel free to correct, or expand on anything I’m writing.

Martinus C. de Boer in his chapter from the book Apocalyptic Paul makes some very interesting conclusions regarding what Christ actually accomplished.

“One of these implications is to see the world as it really is now that Christ has appeared on the human scene, and another is to redefine the status and the role of the Law in the light of this event.”

de Boer points out something that I would think should be obvious to Christians, but yet the more I talk to Christians the less this seems to be true. It’s rather odd to me that many Christians never stop to think of what the actual implications of the appearance of Christ are on the human scene. For sure there are countless theology books from the works of Christ to understanding his humanity, but Apocalyptic Theology introduces some rather interesting ways of understanding the scriptures.  I’m sure there is some overlap with other theological conclusions, but atlas I’m not the sort of expert.

The Apocalyptic Rereading deals with the cosmic implication, that seems to be directed at making right Adam’s (our human representative) introduction of Death through Sin to all of humanity. But how? Are Christ implications only of value if someone happens to notice (Douglas Campbell)? I think this is a big problem, where our faith has become the center piece, the game changer, the solution to humanity. So without faith nothing really changed in our world, as if Christ never lived or caused cosmic changes, and Adam’s downfall remains as our cosmic reality and we continue to be ruled and enslaved to Flesh, Sin and Death. If that is the case, then it seem to be indicating that Adam is greater than Christ (although no one would ever say that, but yet that’s what we are left with).

So here is what has me thinking.  One does not need faith to accept the cosmic implications of what Adam caused, because it’s a reality that has occurred. Even if no one believes or has faith it doesn’t change its cosmic implications. That is rather profound for me.  It’s profound in the sense of the point I wish to make that I have already alluded to.

I’ve asked this question numerous times “If Adam was powerful enough to take down humanity, then isn’t Christ more powerful than Adam and capable of redeeming it (all of it just like Adam took it all down)? That is in fact what Paul seems to be indicating in the letter to the Corinthians.

“Since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came through one too. In the same way that everyone dies in Adam, so also everyone will be given life in Christ.” (1 Cor 15:21-22) CEB (bold emphasis are mine)

I would think that everyone means everyone, and not some, or just the elect, or only those that believe, have faith and confess. And this is my point, like with Adam, our faith or lack thereof doesn’t change what the cosmic implications of Christ appearance are on humanity. That is huge! If that is correct it is the real game changer, Christ is now the new Adam, the new representative of humanity that has conquered and defeated the old Cosmos.

I know, I’ve heard the labels thrown around already “Universalist”.  The extreme fundamental camp has thrown charges at me already “so you are saying I can sin without any remorse or concern because we are all going to heaven?”.  Well no, that’s not at all what I’m saying, but a response to that will have to wait. Well I will say this, God’s grace is not giving to us to abuse it, but rather to be reconciled to God.

de Boer goes on to say:

“Just as Adam stands at the head of the old world or age for all, so Christ stands at the head of the new world or age for all. This cosmic frame of reference is one of the distinguishing marks of an apocalyptic perspective, as is the implicit notion of two world ages”
“If all died because of Adam, all will be made alive because of Christ. Verse 22 makes explicit the universal implications of verse 21—for both Adam and Christ.”

I’ll leave you with that to think about…for now I’ll continue to be a hopeful universalist.

Yes I still have a lot of questions. For example, what is the purpose of faith?  At some later point I will address that, but not sure when since I’m still doing a great deal of reading.

Been on a Journey, and I think I found my way back home

I’ve been on a Journey since the day I met Jesus. It started off nice, he loved me and that was really good news. Somewhere in the process Jesus became a religion, a status quo, a list of things I don’t do (not that I was any good at keeping them).  Part of this journey led me to blogging, which led me to Divinity School, which taught me that I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew.  That process led me to ReThink Jesus altogether.  So that’s where I’m at today, still learning and reaquainting myself with Jesus, remember the one with the Good News?  Yeah that one.  I’ve made some new friends along the way that have helped me rethink through this deconstruction process.  People like Michael Hardin (the Dude as we call him), author of the Jesus Driven Life.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  There are others as well, you can check out my new BlogRoll list.  I cleaned it up and narrowed it down to blogs that are much more in line with where I’m at today.  Some old blogs made the cut, but that’s either because we think alike, or I just plain like you, or both. I also gave my blog a new look and a new tag line.

Don’t read me because I’m smart, I’m not really that smart  If you are looking for that, then read guys like Michael Hardin, Douglas Campbell, Chris Tilling, etc they are really, really smart, and they spend their life doing this stuff.  But follow along if you are on a Journey just like me.  I’m also posting my sermons from Sunday morning under the Sermons page (don’t mock I have a low self esteem LOL), it’s more like teaching, and I try to be very interactive.  I’m not trying to indoctrinate anyone, anymore, just teaching what I have learned in the process and letting other’s decide, and discover on their own.

I’m still Inquiring…

Theology Matters – Seminar

If you live in Southern California, or happen to be visiting, I’d like to invite you to our upcoming Seminar: “Theology Matters” being hosted by Paramount Bible Institute and Praise Chapel Paramount.  Our special guest is Dr. Fred Sanders Associate Professor at BIOLA University.

Dr. Fred Sanders is a great guy, even Nick Norelli thinks so, check out his post on Fred Sanders.  Also stop by and visit Fred Sanders blog.

Recent Publications:

  1. The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything” (Crossway 2010)
    1. Book Review by Nick Norelli
  2. Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective” (B&H 2007) Fred Sanders & Klaus Issler
    1. Book Review by Nick Norelli

New book on St. Luke

I have a personal interest in the theology of Luke and have been building my library.  I still have many more books that I want to get!

But, I just got in the mail:

“The Theology of St. Luke” by Hans Conzelmann

The book is out of print so I had to purchase a used copy.  I was able to obtain a hard back that is in great condition, no markings whatsoever.  The book cover is very nice, it’s stitch bound and lays flat .  It was printed by Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York and translated by Gefforey Buswell.  It might be a first edition since (English print) all it has is the date of 1960.  It had one owner “Max A. Tudor” who purchased it on 3 August, 1962.

I purchased this book because of what I have read on Luke so far everyone seems to quote him.  So I thought I should read for myself the source from which others have sought fit to quote.

Other books that I want to get in this order are:

  1. Luke the Theologian: Fifty-Five Years of Research (1950-2005)” by Francois Bovon
  2. The Theology of the Gospel of Luke” by Joel B. Green
  3. The Gospel of Luke” (NIGTC) by I. Howard Marshall
  4. “Luke-Acts and New Testament Historiography” by Joel B. Green
  5. The Gospel of Luke” (NICNT) by Joel B. Green
Photos taken with my new HTC Thnderbolt 8 mega pixel camera

Almost done with this semester

Today I should complete my paper on the book of Ezra and Esther, and will have my paper on 1 Corinthians completed by this Friday.  I also completed my New Testament paper last week.  All will be submitted this Friday.  It has been a great learning experience and I am glad that I have stuck it out.  It makes me feel closer to finishing my degree, and has motivated me to continue.  I keep learning how to study better and to remain focus.  I learned that the last time, but had to relearn it again.

Going to take a short two-week break then start my next class on: “Biblical Exegesis: Theory and Methodology”

Old Testament Library Pretty Weak

I am working on my paper for the my Old Testament Survey course, and just realized what a weak Old Testament Library I have.  My personal library is mostly made up of New Testament commentaries, introductions, encyclopedias, background, Greek, and theology (Systematic, & Biblical).

I have about 5 books on the Old Testament out of my 300+ books.  I really need to grow this section of my library as I find myself a bit frustrated trying to do research with what I got.