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Evangelicals Are Not Christians

Evangelical Christianity has been a significant force in American politics for nearly 40 years. It dominates the Republican Party and through that much of the debate on public morality. This is a strange development for many reasons, however.

Given that about 25% of all Americans identify as evangelical protestants, they are far from a majority. They owe their influence to a rigid deference to leadership and a high degree of stubborn political action. For all of this power beyond their numbers, however, the biggest mystery is where their agenda comes from.

It’s certainly not the Christian Bible. Very little of the evangelical agenda is justified by the good book, and some is even directly opposed to the words of Jesus. It’s long past time to call out the beliefs of this group and question their agenda because it is, if anything, not generally backed by consistent Christian writings or tradition.

The Sermon on the Mount. You know it’s Jesus ‘cuz it’s in red.

I do not want this to be taken as any statement of my faith or indeed as some “contest” to see who is the best Christian. My faith is a highly complicated and personal matter which is constantly being refined by prayer and study and is not the issue here. My favorite version of the Bible is a King James version with the words of Jesus in red. I admit that sometimes I bleep over the black stuff and get right to what I think is the most important part of it.

In the course of my studies of Christianity and other faiths I have come to some conclusions which many might find surprising, ut they work for me. My background is grounded in the Lutheran belief in Grace, or universal love, and reinforced by a very Mennonite desire to get right back to the words of Jesus himself.

Judge me however you wish. I am here to present facts which have guided my personal beliefs, not to state my beliefs in their entirety.

Abortion

The Bible is absolutely silent on the topic of abortion. It simply does not appear anywhere in it, at all. Where this is the single largest driving force in the life of Evangelicals, there is no basis in scripture for their stand. If anything, there is a vague understanding under Jewish law that life begins at birth, but it is not spelled out in any way, positive or negative.

Public Prayer (ie, in School)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preached the basics of Christian life and practice. It begins with the famous Beatitudes, worth discussing at length elsewhere – along with their insistence on compassion, empathy, and mercy. But he continues from there and comes to this passage just before introducing The Lord’s Prayer:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:5-6 (NIV)

Yes, prayer in public is specifically called out by Jesus himself as something for hypocrites.

The War on Christmas

Much has been made of “The War on Christmas” by those with an agenda to push. The truth is that Christmas has always been problematic for many reasons, especially in the old English tradition of being a drinking holiday. But the Christian spirit of the holiday has come and gone over the centuries and lately is indeed under attack. The enemy? If you listen to fervent believer Charles M. Schultz, the problem is materialism. Indeed, “Happy Holidays” didn’t start out as a liberal plot but as a retail way of inviting everyone to come and spend money.

Evangelicals have never called out materialism. Those who preach a “Prosperity Gospel” actually embrace it. But the true enemy of Christmas as a sacred holiday for family and faith has indeed always been the rush to spend and give. Schultz had it right. Where did he get his values from? Jesus, again, in the same sermon:

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Matthew 6:24 (NIV)

I have yet to hear Evangelicals call out commercialism or indeed capitalism as a whole, and certainly it has never been an important part of their agenda.

Homosexuality

This is a more difficult one, because a prohibition against homosexuality does appear in the Bible. It’s part of Leviticus, a series of laws given by God himself to the Jews (more on that later). It’s very harsh.

“If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Leviticus 20:13 (NIV)

The problem is where this appears. It’s right after the same prohibition, and punishment, for serving as a medium to the spirits, committing adultery, and disobeying your parents. It’s one chapter after the more general prohibitions against shellfish, mixing meat and milk, tattoos, and mixed fiber clothes.

These laws were generally tossed aside by Christian tradition, which is why they are not practiced today. To emphasize one but not the other is to pick and choose, which is in itself rather blasphemous. We should, instead, be asking what Jesus said about homosexuality, and that much is clear – he said nothing at all. Not a word.

For his own part, Paul commented further.  This is clearest condemnation of homosexuality in the Bible, but it isn’t really all that clear.  In his letter to the Romans, Paul saw it as a sin, certainly, but again put the root problem with materialism.  It’s hard to condemn one without the other:

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Romans 1:24-27 (NIV)

The Ten Commandments

Some Evangelicals are very insistent that the Ten Commandments should be put on public display. In fact, doing so with stone tablets in the Alabama Supreme Court was what got Roy Moore kicked off the bench the first time. But there is a big problem with them.

Rabbi Meniades found that there were a total of 613 laws given directly by God, not just the first ten. They are enumerated in Leviticus, as above. Most are ignored by Christians, but not by Orthodox and many Conservative Jews. Many are repeated in the Qu’ran.

What about the other 603? Evangelical Christians are silent, except the one they like (as above).

But staying with the first Ten, we still have an issue. The wording on them is slightly different in Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant traditions but the Fourth one is pretty clear in all of them: “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” The problem is a simple one – the Sabbath is on Saturday. Christians chose to move it to Sunday, the day Jesus rose. Evangelical Christians, excepting Seventh Day Adventists and a few other small groups, violate one of the big ones every single week.

Where Does This Leave Us?

If you read the words of Jesus himself, it’s all pretty clear. There is a new covenant that cast aside the harsh laws of the past and is based on love. That love is for all of creation, of which we are a part. That’s not to say there won’t be people who say otherwise, but Jesus had a lot to say about those who would misrepresent his word for political gain:

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7:15-20

This particular passage was elaborated on by Paul in his letter to the Galatians, who wanted to know more. Is it really that simple, that we’ll know who is good and bad? Paul said it was:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Galatians 5:19-26

In this outline of what a good person and a good leader is, we are given a handy tool for evaluating who is indeed righteous. They will possess and practice love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. If that doesn’t describe your leaders, either of your political movement or of your nation, there may be something of a problem – that is, if you are indeed a Christian.

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20 thoughts on “Evangelicals Are Not Christians

    • Thank you. I have had my fill of this and have decided it’s long past time for me to be shy about my own personal studies and beliefs. I do not wish to be like them so I’ve been private for a long time. But that silence is starting to feel like complicity.

  1. In my very late 60’s, i was raised in church, watched Billy Graham crusades with my dad whenever they were televised, attended Bible camp for many years in my teens, tend to quote verses in King James English & evidently was living in a bubble since i never paid much attention to politics until Donald Trump was became the nominee for president. So, it hit me hard when i found that Evangelicals were supporting him. upset me when Franklin Graham praised him & wonder if it is what the Bible calls the “falling away from the the faith”. Thank you for this post.

    • It is beyond astonishing that they follow that man. He fits the description of Satan so much better than that of Jesus. It’s not my place to anyone who is worthy of following, but I can say that this is clearly not what Jesus taught.
      I also prefer King James, as I was raised with it. But the language of the NIV is more contemporary, so I thought it would reach a wider audience. 🙂

  2. For me – Humanist Atheist – it is all easily summed up in your last paragraph and the passage from Galations. I might shrug at the bit about idolatry and witchcraft – one is not a concern to atheists and the other has always mostly been a method for controlling women, while neither affects a person’s character. But it is horrifying to watch how today’s evangelicals have so twisted the words of the document they propose to follow. I think this is an excellent summation of their errors.

    • Thank you. Yes, we can all find various things we like or dislike in any statement of faith. But we also all know decency when we see it, and that is indeed the root of the teachings of Jesus and his followers. So let’s just start there and point out where that failure occurs. It’s pretty straightforward and easy.

  3. This is shocking to me. Abortion isn’t mentioned in the bible? I was taken a back by your headline but when I got to the end I realize what you mean. Wherever they get their agenda it isn’t the bible. This is just a shock.

    • It most definitely is not. Their agenda is NOT the Bible, not by a longshot. It is made up and they use Jesus for cover. It is despicable if you ask me. People can be against abortion and I can understand that. Don’t tell me Jesus said so. And don’t lie and treat people like dirt for not following that false witness against Jesus.

  4. As a Catholic we were never told to read the bible. I can see why as I grew up. Some of what you say here reinvigorates my faith through Pope Francis because I agree that capitalism has gone crazy. But the rest of it is too much to take in. If the bible is really pro-choice you should come out and say so because that it a total game changer.

    • What exactly do we do at Mass for the first half? We read Scripture. So while nobody may have said specifically for you to read your Bible, you heard it all of the time and it is pretty standard practice for a Catholic to open a Bible and read it, at least that’s how it is supposed to be. The Catechism of the Catholic Church–the other book a Catholic is supposed to own–outlines how the Church understands Scripture as well as how the lay faithful are meant to pray with Scripture. You can’t level the blame entirely on the Church. While I believe the Church suffers from a lot of self-inflicted wounds, we have an obligation to figure out what we are supposed to believe. So if you want to know what the Church actually teaches, then you’re going to have to put the effort in.

      The Bible is not the ultimate authority for the Catholic Church. How could it be? She compiled it after centuries of oral tradition in the 4th century. Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterial teaching office make up the three pillars for how the Church approaches divine revelation. If you believe that the Bible specifically must mention something by name to be immoral, then you do not understand the Catholic Church. Pick up the Catechism. Not only will it explain the Church, it will explain how we understand Scripture, the moral law, and how the Church in being instituted by Christ preserves and teaches the fullness of truth which has been handed on for 2000 years.

      If you’re looking for an exact mention of abortion–even though infant sacrifice and abortion are practices repeatedly mentioned in the Old and New Testaments according to Scripture scholars who can interpret Scripture in accordance with Sacred Tradition and the authority of the Church, precisely because these practices offered to Baal, Moloch, were frequent in pagan religions–the ancient Didache of the Early Church discusses it. You have an obligation to study what the Church teaches. Faith is not spoon fed from the pulpit. We have to put in the effort to figure out what the Church teaches beyond press releases that are often distorted about Pope Francis. If, your faith is based on the Pope then you have fallen for an ancient heresy. The actual Jesus Christ, the living God is who Pope Francis worships and he does so in accordance with the teaching and morality of the Church, including the fact that abortion is morally repugnant and gravely evil. That will never change. There are 33,000 denominations to choose from where people pick and choose what they like from Scripture. For the Catholic, we choose to love and accept her teachings or pray for the conversion to do so. That’s what a Catholic is, one who loves Christ AND His Holy Church.

      As to the author of this piece, since you presume–as do Evangelicals–that you have authority to open the Bible and interpret it as you see fit, then you make the exact same mistake as those who you criticize. Scripture is not the ultimate authority. In fact sola scriptura cannot be found in the Bible anywhere. Rather, the fullness of truth is Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (this came before the Bible, how do you think we got the Bible?!) as is interpreted through the Apostolic successors who are the Bishop and the head is the Pope. Christ instituted a Church. A practicing Jew was not going to do away with religion as a whole. That is a modernist lie and betrays everything we know about the ancient world and God Himself. A person reading their Bible by themselves could not possible come up with all of the proper interpretations for all of the historical, allegorical, symbolic, linguistic, etc. knowledge that is needed to understand what the Bible teaches about salvation history and the moral law given by God. Instead of proving anything other than that ideology is harmful to Christianity, you’ve merely replaced your own ideology with that of Evangelicals.

      • Very good. There is a lot of historical interpretation, and I am willing to accept that. For example, Evangelium Vitae teaches that the Catholic Church is pro-life in every possible sense of the term. Is that exactly what Jesus taught? No, but it is consistent and honorable. It is also taught in a way that emphasizes the direction of the hearts of believers and not political action in conflict with other institutions which include non-believers. It’s completely different in that sense.

  5. Quote>This is a more difficult one, because a prohibition against homosexuality does appear in the Bible. It’s part of Leviticus, a series of laws given by God himself to the Jews (more on that later). It’s very harsh.>End Quote

    Hi Erik,

    There appears to be many people who have a problem differentiating between Jews, Christians and Israelites. Especially when studying The Word

    In your above stated quote you state that God gave his laws to the Jews as written in Leviticus. At that time He actually gave the laws to ALL of the children of Israel – Not only the tribe of Judah.

    As you are aware, the children of Israel eventually divided. The northern kingdom of Israel did not include Judah(Jews), Benjamin and eventually the priestly tribe of Levi.

    In fact the first time the word Jew is used in the Bible(KJV) relates to a time when the northern kingdom of Israel was at war with the kingdom of Judah – 2 Kings 16.5-6

    The majority of the descendants of Jacob(Israel) are not Jews and never have been.

    Generally, when the Bible speaks of the house of Israel and the house of Judah it is speaking to us about two entirely different peoples. Many confuse the two. Thus, misunderstandings occur as to what The Word is actually saying to us.

    When the Bible speaks of the children of Israel then it is speaking about ALL of the descendants of Jacob – including Judah.

    The original converts to Christianity were Jews, however, over time, as so-called Gentile converts became numerous and became increasingly divorced from the original teachings of Christ and the Laws it led to many asemblies going off down the wrong path. As so it has continued upto the present day.

    The modern nation of Israel would have been better called Judea. In fact it was a discussed topic at the time of the nations resurrection.

    A little off topic perhaps, but I believe it is important to differentiate between the children of Israel otherwise it is difficult to understand what the Word of God is revealing to us.

    Regards

    John

    • Thank you. Exactly what to make of the Old Testament is difficult. I later presented the Sermon on the Mount exactly as it is because that is where my sense of faith, the Anabaptists or Amish/Mennonite/Brethren comes from. No matter what, I think that seeing it all through the grace of Jesus has to be a starting point – which is to say starting with love and decency. If someone or some faith is opposed to homosexuality I can understand this, but I cannot understand being nasty.

      • Math. 5.17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

        The Old Testament is the foundation of the New. As Jesus makes plain. The Old Testament was not only written for the descendants of the Jewish tribes, but for all of the children of Israel. Much of the New can not be understood without an understanding of the Old.
        It was Jesus Christ, Himself, as the WORD, in the beginning with God, who made all things.
        John 1, 1 thro 5

        The Bible would not include an Old Testament if it was not relevant.
        Many people appear to believe that the Nerw Testament nullified the Old. Nothing could be further from the truth.

        Regards
        John

  6. Pingback: What Did Jesus Teach? And Why? | Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

  7. Pingback: Sermon on the Mount | Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

  8. I personally don’t call myself an “Evangelical” just for the sake of the fact that I prefer the term Christian (or Nazarene) only, however, doctrinally, I suppose one could say I am indeed Evangelical/Protestant, whichever term you would like to use.

    Let me begin by saying that reading through this post was hard for me. Not because I was convicted, but because there were so many errors and misunderstandings of even basic Christian doctrines, I don’t even know what to say.

    “The Bible is absolutely silent on the topic of abortion. It simply does not appear anywhere in it, at all. Where this is the single largest driving force in the life of Evangelicals, there is no basis in scripture for their stand.”

    How about the dozens of Scriptures that forbid the shedding of innocent blood? How about the Scriptures that clearly and emphatically teach a human life is completely present in the womb? Or how about the fact that God Himself is the one who knits together each human life in the womb for His own purposes, which we have no right to kill. Saying “the Bible doesn’t mention a 21st century practice of killing a fetus” is not only a misleading, it’s embarrassing.

    “Yes, prayer in public is specifically called out by Jesus himself as something for hypocrites.”

    Are you serious on this one? The verse is clearly referring to those who pray for the sake of being seen so people would think they were very righteous and devout people. People who make a spectacle out of praying. What does this verse have to do with children in school? Please do tell me.

    “These laws were generally tossed aside by Christian tradition, which is why they are not practiced today. ”

    No, they’re not. The Mosaic covenant was fulfilled in Christ, but there are still universal moral truths which transcend specific covenants. Lying was wrong before Moses, and is still wrong today. Same sex relations are specifically repeated in the New Testament as still wrong.

    “The problem is a simple one – the Sabbath is on Saturday. Christians chose to move it to Sunday”

    No, they didn’t. The Sabbath was always Saturday, sunday is an entirely different day having to do with the Christian tradition of meeting on the day Christ rose, it was not a day set apart for rest.

    Please, before writing a lengthy article attacking a group of people whose teachings you have no desire to understand, do a little bit of studying.

    Sincerely-

    N

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