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March 28, 2006

In Defense of Christ and True Christianity

By Anthony Wade

I understand the frustration of watching a fallen world become more depraved with each passing day but making broad generalizations about the sincerity of Christianity is not the solution. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life...

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March 27, 2006

I have written on this website for a couple of years now, in defense of the truth. In defense of what is right. In defense of our future as a people. Now, I feel compelled to write in defense of Christ.

The backdrop of this battle is simple. You either believe in the Bible, or you do not. I have far more respect for the atheist who dismisses the entire Bible, than the man who claims the portions he likes as the inspired Word of God and dismisses the rest because it gets in the way of his agenda. I have heard the ridiculous notions that the Bible is fallible because it was written by man, as if God could not control for these factors. As if God can create the entire universe, breathe life into man, but cannot handle how His Word will be written and more importantly, how it will survive.

And survive it has, for thousands upon thousands of years. Through wars and plagues and many, many attempts to silence it. Yet here we are today with a simple proposition, you either believe it is absolute truth, or you do not. I believe it is. I have written such and will continue to defend such yet I often found myself on the opposing side of my fellow Christians, and even my pastor. Doing so did not make me happy; it merely was speaking the truth, no matter where it led me. If the man running for the presidency claims the mantle of Christianity, he better behave like a Christian. Simple rules for a complex age.

Yet in this complex age, words matter. They can kill. They can distract. They can mislead. It has been propagated recently that Jesus Christ is being “pimped.” Despite the tasteless reference, I am afraid that my good friend Rob Kall has made some errors in summation and certainly, in generalizations. That is always the danger in using generalizations. That being said, I am sure there are some pastors who have lost there way. There are some pastors who have been caught up in the whirlwind of fame and fortune only to forget that it is Christ that got them there. Once they begin to forget the lessons of Proverbs 3: 5-6, they start down a path that eventually leads them to be exposed. Just ask Jim Baker. That wise proverb from the mouth of King Solomon reads:
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight
Rob is right that a lot of men who come in the name of Christ have lost their way. Pat Robertson calls for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, disregarding “Thou shalt not kill.” Jerry Falwell pontificates about the war on terror be saying we should, “blow them all to hell in the name of our Lord.” What Rob forgets is that these people have the credibility of James Dobson when he claims that Spongebob Sqarepants is gay. Everyone kinda just look at them and says, “Oh those guys again.” The larger point that is missed is that they are but a fraction of what true Christianity is about. Once again the problem with generalizations. Here is what stood out to me when reading the “pimping” article:

1) “The Jesus pimp promises born again converts-- often people who have hit bottom-- from drinking, divorce, loss, failure-- that they will find everything in Jesus”

The Pastor (I cannot bring myself to call them a “pimp”) actually promises them nothing, but what is written in the Bible. It is Christ that saves; we merely lead people to Him. Yes, when the world has finally beaten you down and does not want you anymore, Jesus will accept you. When you have lost everything and the world has stood by as an impartial observer to your misery, Jesus will save you. But here is the truly great news, he will save you regardless. For those who think they do not need our Jesus because they have made it on their own…pride goeth before the fall.

2) “that Jesus is coming, that the rapture will soon arrive, when all who take Jesus into their heart will be lifted up to heaven.

Actually, most preaching is not on end times prophecy, as it is a source for much controversy. No, most preaching is about how to live in God’s promises. The thing a lot of people do not understand is that we are not promised eternal life as if it is some far away concept waiting for us to die, we actually live IN eternal life as born again believers. Now, it is true that some Christians may prefer to just “wait until Jesus comes” but if the true Word of God is being delivered, then we as Christians know we are charged with saving the lost between now and then. For the record though, the verse in the Bible Rob is referring to here is found in I Corinthians 15:51-54:
51But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. 52It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died[a] will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. 53For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.
54When this happens--when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die--then at last the Scriptures will come true:
Death is swallowed up in victory.”

Once again we are left with the decision about whether to believe the Bible as the true infallible Word of God.

3) “Now these people don't kill themselves. But they give up their selves and become part of a cult.”

By joining a church? A cult? By wanting to live life by a certain moral code? A cult? I have not given up myself when I joined my church. I found myself. My career took off after I joined a church. My involvement in my community took off when I joined my church. My direction became clearer, as did my purpose. I have given up things the world convinced me I would never give up, such as drinking and smoking. Not because of any pressure put on by my church, but rather by the conviction of the Holy Spirit of God. Is it so wrong to want to better your life that it now becomes on par with joining a cult?

4) “They vote for people who routinely betray them, passing law after law that fails to consider their needs or blatantly hurt them.

Yes they do, as does the rest of this country. However, I have seen most of the politicians Christians vote for, fight for exactly the reasons they were elected, opposing abortion and gay rights. Now, I have said and continue to believe that it is extremely short-sighted for Christians to vote solely on these two issues but the media does an expert job of promoting these social issues. Bottom line is that even within the Democratic Party, there are factions warring against each other and the real voices get lost. Rob knows this from his dealings in Pennsylvania.

5) “They submit to a culture where thinking is not an option, where hypocrisy and contradiction are the rule.”

I think all the time, as do many people in my church. Maybe the argument can be made that Christians don’t often have the right priorities but to say they are somehow brainwashed is preposterous. Hypocrisy and contradiction are the rule in politics, not Christianity. The problem is that people think Christians somehow swallow magic pills which remove their humanity. Not true. Christians are just as manipulative, angry and coarse as the rest of the general population, we just feel worse about it! Will there be hypocritical pastors? Absolutely. Will there be hypocrisy in the churches? Absolutely. But not in every church, and not in every pastor. Quite frankly, not even in most.

6) “These weak minded, followers, would probably not be there if it were not for a bunch of old men pontificating and preaching stale, rigid, hateful distortions of the original teachings of their faith.”

Because I have decided that there is a higher power that resides outside of the control of man, does not make me “weak-minded”. It is man’s reliance upon himself for everything that will lead to the downfall of this civilization. It is man’s reliance upon man that has led us to two world wars, and now nearly a third. It is the arrogant presumption of man that thinks nothing of ruining the environment. No thanks, I will take the love of God over the callous self-glorification of man, every day of the week. As for the second statement here, my pastor is not old, nor does he teach hate. You are listening to the world again if you believe that. God teaches us to despise sin, not the sinners themselves. Now, some may misconstrue that primary point, but most Christians, and most pastors, do not. The “original teachings of my faith” is the Bible. That is EXACTLY what my pastor preaches about. If it is in the Bible, he teaches it, if it is not, he does not.

7) “In the world of the born-again, the Evangelical Pastor Pimp creates a new world for the dupes who think they are taking Jesus into their heart.”

The pastor merely leads the person to Jesus, it is His Word that breaks the yoke and sets the person free. It is unfair being referred to as a dupe simply because I choose to believe in God. I have seen what the greatness of man can do. I live with it every day tearing at my soul. Death to no end, whether it be through abortion or state sanctioned murder. Whether it is through the lens of wars for blood money or through the eyes of a child dying of starvation while we whine about who won American Idol. No thanks. I have seen the wonders of man; I will try my luck with Christ.

8) “He builds a massive church and sucks the victims, thinking they're connecting with Jesus, into a culture.”

Believe it or not, most Christians prefer the smaller churches. But we realize it is not about our comfort, it is about the salvation of the lost. Think about that for a second. Even if you think we are wrong, we certainly believe what we believe. As such, we remain concerned about your salvation, not ours. The church by the way is a culture. It is the alternative to the world. It is a place where there are people of like faith. Not perfect people, but people who have agreed on a set of principles. Is there anything inherently wrong about that? You do not connect with the church to connect with Jesus, if you are saved; you already have Christ living in you as stated in Galatians 2:19-20:

“For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live unto God. I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.”

That being said, you connect with the culture of the church to be around people who believe the same things that you do.

9) “The megachurches are built to insulate the Jesus pimp's "bitches," actually, more men than women, to keep them away from the mainstream culture. The churches include bowling alleys, coffeshops, movie theaters. These megachurches are alternatives to the real thing, to American life. The evangelical pimps have taken Jonestown to the koolaid drinkers instead of taking the koolaid drinkers to Jonestown. This way, they keep all the comforts.”

Actually, there are far more women than men. It is usually much harder to convince the male ego that he is not all that. Yes, the megachurch concept is one designed to allow a church culture as opposed to a worldly one, so what? Again, if you are born again and want to spend time with people of like faith, so what? How does that make us “koolaid drinkers?” That entire reference is uncalled for. Also, what percentage of Christianity are we talking about that are “megachurches” with bowling alleys? A very, very small amount.

10) “There must be a special place in hell for the whole bunch.”

There is not. There are only two destinations for the soul of man, heaven and hell. While there are degrees of rewards in heaven, there are no such degrees in hell. There is no purgatory. You have a choice to make during your lifetime and it determines where you spend eternity. The answer is found, as are all answers, in the one book that has survived all of known history, the Bible:

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." -- John 14:6 (NKJV)

A few years ago, when I found myself questioning the integrity of churches, a wise man once said to me that it is not in man whom we place our faith but Christ. Are there hypocrites in the Christian culture? Absolutely, and I speak out against them all the time. Are there any more than in the world? No. Should we expect more from them? Unfortunately no. That is where people often get it wrong. A Christian is not a super-human. They are just as likely to fall, to lie, and to completely let you down as the next person.

I know Rob Kall relatively well. I know that he speaks with a lot of passion and frustration as he watches our world fall apart, little by little, every day. He knows I feel the same way most times. I read the news each day awestruck at the apathy shown by the people in this country. There are a handful of people doing the bulk of the work to bring the topical issues of our day to the forefront before they can get buried by the people making money off of them. Whether it is Joan Brunwasser, Fitrakis and Wasserman exposing the corruption to our voting, or the tireless work of Anne Dachel to expose the links between mercury in vaccines and the autism explosion, we are being carried every day by heroes who will never ask for a moment of recognition. They simply know what is right and what is wrong and have the courage to say so.

Rob Kall gave me that opportunity two years ago to be heard. For that I thank him. I sense the frustration he feels in watching people sell out their beliefs for money and power. I do not disagree with him that those people exist. Where I part ways with him is in believing that somehow applies to all, or even a majority of pastors in this country. The megachurch is the newest fad, but just because the venue is large does not mean the message has to be tainted. Sure you run more risks with a larger church. Risks of relying too much on your own understanding and a little less time on your knees before God. But if you truly have faith, then you know God will take of that. The Jim Bakers of the world disappear and are relegated to the hypocritical trash bin of history. The Pat Robertson’s of the world are not taken seriously anymore. It is the party that ran on Christian values that demanded these wars in the name of democracy. One of those governments that we have installed has decided to execute a man for converting to Christianity. Christians should be appalled at the non-responsiveness of the Bush administration and it speaks volumes to their true colors. They used Christians for their electorate and then abandoned them at the first sign of political trouble.

Here is the thing though. Maybe next time the Christians will vote for the other guy. Maybe they won’t. If they do not, it does not mean that they are duped. It means that they have chosen what they felt was the lesser of two evils. The fact is that Rob’s article highlights some real problems in this country. One is the two-party system, which is choking the life out of our political debate. Thirty-one flavors of ice cream, 101 variations of car paint, but only two coherent political ideologies? Ridiculous. Another is media consolidation which allows a skewing of reality. Instead of debating the war we are talking about abortion. Instead of debating the impoverishing of a nation, we are debating gay marriage. The budget put forth this year is a MORAL document. It speaks to what is important in the minds of the Christians who proposed it. In one week they handed back over 80 billion to the richest 1 percent in this country while cutting 40 billion from services for the neediest in this country. The Bible speaks out more about the treatment of the poor, than any other subject. Until we can have true freedom in the press again, the true debate gets stifled.

Rob and I have agreed on many topics over the years but we will have to disagree on the concept of Jesus being pimped and about me being a “bi**h.” My church sees 2500 people per week. There are some that serve more, including the mega churches such as Joel Osteen’s congregation of 16,000 per week. Most however, are smaller run operations striving desperately to convince people that Jesus Christ is the son of God and is the way to heaven. Most do not do this for money, or extravagant cars. Most do it for very little compensation. Most do it because they look and see every day what the world is coming to under the benevolence of man. They are a precious voice, preaching the love of Christ to a lost and dying world.

Matthew 11:28-30:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Blessings.

Submitters Bio:

Anthony Wade, a contributing writer to opednews.com, is dedicated to educating the populace to the lies and abuses of the government. He is a 46-year-old independent writer from New York with political commentary articles seen on multiple websites. A Christian progressive and professional Rehabilitation Counselor working with the poor and disabled, Mr. Wade believes that you can have faith and hold elected officials accountable for lies and excess, regardless of party.


Anthony Wade?s Archive:


http://www.opednews.com/archiveswadeanthony.htm



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