It was just last week when I posted an article here by Susan Cardoza, a weekly contributor to God’s Own Party? about what constitutes a “real” Christian because we were writing about Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith that has been called a cult by Dominionists. In the process I ran across web site by a fellow who calls himself The Agnostic Pentecostal . I loved what he wrote about this very topic so I contacted the author who gave me permission to re-post his entire article below.
Before I post his article – consider this email that we received just today at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation from professed devout patriotic Christians. (Please note: All spelling and grammatical errors are exactly as the author wrote them).
From: E-Mail Address Withheld
Subject: We Pray Christ Jesus to stop You
Date: April 23, 2012 5:00:31 PM MDT
To: Information Weinstein <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mickey Wienstien, we called you on the weekend to advice you that our womens prayer circle at our church will be ending your wickedness against Christ Jesus and his anointed of the USA in our military. In America which is Jesus’ country we can pray all we want for anything we want, wicked Mickey.
Our prayer circle has never failed to acheive our hosts granting of the scripture we pray. for direct intervention against you as you are a true demon to America. Luke 9:1 We will not stop our prayers until you stop the evil you do with Lucifer on a daly basis. Luke 9:1 But not against you Mickey. We know by your internet site and your book who it is to be.
Now for our prayer, we pray that the women who work in your MFRR and the women in your family will befall fast moving breast cancer which can not everbe cured. We pray this for Leah Bruton, and Becki Miller, Patricia Corigan, Chris Rodda, Edie Disler, Vicky Garrison, Kristin Leslie, Melinda Moeton and Joan Slish. And you evil clan too, we pray this for Bonnie Wiensten and Amanda and Amber Wienstein and the woman lawyers Cariline Mitchel and Katherin Ritchy and all women of all who work at with for Military Freedom Against Religon Foundation.
know that we pray and pray hard all the days until you stop your destruction of our American army and accept Christ Jesus as Lord and join His army.
That is a perfect lead-in to this guest post who I am happy to announce will be contributing original content here from time to time.
Will the “Real” Christian Please Stand Down
by The Agnostic Pentecostal
Who’s really a “true” Christian? It seems every time someone points out a flaw about Christianity, perhaps calling out the questionable behavior of a Christian leader or even something more subtle, other Christians use the defense, “That’s right! But they’re not a true Christian.” Some examples:
When non-Christians speak of the failings of Ted Haggard or Eddie Long as proof that Christianity is worthless, liberal-progressive Christians like to point out how they’re not like that, or even use it as an example of how their form of faith is better. How that (conservative, Charismatic, megachurch) stream of Christianity is not the real Christianity. How real Christianity is about social justice and sound reasoning and such.
Or when people who leave the church explain to Christians that they left it because it was dry, ritualistic, boring, and irrelevant. Those belonging to the more energetic traditions, Charismatic for example, say, “Oh, but that type of Christianity (Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran) is really not what Jesus had in mind… Jesus came to bring life!”
Or when those within the hallowed realms of ancient Orthodoxy and Catholicism claim that, because of apostolic succession, they are the true heirs of Christendom. They criticize protestant churches of heresy. And when they themselves are exposed of oh, I don’t know, sexual abuse let’s say…the Protestants come running to use it as a chance to protest that, because of the priesthood of all believers,they (the protestants) are the ones who the truth has set free.
And then you have Emergence Christianity, which seems to be trying to get beyond the labels, but is having a hard time doing so. One reason is that everybody else calls them heretics.
And Emergents often respond by calling the traditional churches “narrow-minded modernists” who are too tied to their traditions that they don’t leave room for Jesus.
And the next time Pat Robertson makes an idiotic statement on international television (and he will) or another televangelist misuses money (and they will) or another priest is said to have molested boys (it will happen) or another deep-south pastor with a dozen congregants makes inflammatory protests about gays or Muslims (and they will), the “other” “real” Christians will come to Christianity’s defense.
Now it’s definitely a good thing when the “other” Christians, the silent majority, speak out against extremism. But there will always be “the other Christians,” the ones who consider themselves to be the “real” followers of Christ. And what gets me is all the talk about who is and who is not a “real” Christian. Every single denomination thinks they’re the ones who got it right.
Of course this is nothing new. It’s been going on, literally, since 1 AD (and before), and it will most likely continue. There were even the Gnostics, who believed they had received the secret, the real truth. And it seems every denomination today believes that same way.
And for years people have been complaining that because of the fact of Christianity’s countless divisions, it’s just not worth the trouble, and it’s proof of the religion’s illegitimacy. To which the Catholics would respond, “It’s the protestant’s fault…without Luther we’d still be one Church (capital ‘C’), except for those pesky Orthodox kids in the East who caused the Great Schism.” To which progressives and Emergents would respond, “But it’s not division… It’s diversity!” and on and on it goes.
Jesus talked about this problem with someone from another religion. He even brought the conversation beyond Christianity, into the debate about which religion (in general) is right. To the Woman at the Well, a Palestinian and declared unclean by the Jewish religious authorities, Jesus said something to the effect of: “Your religion says we should worship God one way, and mine says we should worship God another way. But there will be a day when we’ll all worship God together, from the heart, sincerely, beyond all these arguments.”(John 4)
That day has yet to come. Christians claim that Jesus was the one who brought that day here, 2,000 years ago. But apparently, seeing as we’re not all Universalists or Baha’i or anything, that’s not the case. And I won’t pretend to have an alternative. But one Jewish writer did touch on something that may be helpful, when he said, “True religion is this: Taking care of the widows and orphans and guarding against corruption.” (James 1:26-27)
And Jesus himself hit on it with the advice that he said sums up all the religious rules. Unfortunately, many Christian leaders might say that something like it is too vague, too nonspecific, and not clear enough for the average person to put into real practice. It was Jesus’ primary directive: “Love God. Love others. That’s it.” (Matthew 22:36)
It just seems to me that no Christian tradition has still, after 2,000 years, never really mastered both of those two simple things. Especially if all the blaming and bickering is any indication. And when so many Christians say that they’re simply being persecuted for righteousness sake…I think it’s more accurate to say it’s for self-righteousness.
But if that’s what Jesus meant by what true spirituality is — just loving God and loving others — perhaps all of us still have some growing (and loving) to do.
Until then, would all you “real” Christians please… Shut. Up. You’re giving me a headache.