First of all, I need to come clean with you, a skeptic.
As an american christian, I owe you a huge apology...
...But of course, you already knew that, and part of my apology is for how long it took me to wake up and realize that I owed you one (no, make that several - some of which follow).
Secondly, if I’m going to have any credibility at all, I must acknowledge that...
(1) you have good reasons to be skeptical, and
(2) I may be responsible for at least some (if not many) of those reasons.
Third, we Christians need to stop arguing with you - and start listening to you.
In a word, RESPECT. I will try my best to do that.
- Now that my 'reality check' has bounced...
I'm also finally admitting that most skeptics are probably ahead of many american christians in at least one important way; you don't let us off the hook for our hypocrisy (that we too often dismiss). Perhaps we could stand to learn something from you - about being real. With that in mind...
... you've of course heard that Jesus said “you will know the truth and the truth will make you free”. (See sidebar.*) Believe it or not, this presents a big problem for most american christians. Because the full meaning of what he said (when we fully translate the meanings of the original words) is:
“you will come to intimately, honestly and fully experience the truth-reality (which is both the [invisible] spiritual reality AND the [visible, tangible] physical facts)* - and your full acceptance of that integrated truth-reality will make you truly free”.
Now what he said obviously cuts both ways, because any of us so-called 'believers' who would downplay the real 'inconvenient truths' (such as the lack of integrity that many of us plainly exhibit) are, sadly, not truly free... regardless of any claims that we may make to the contrary.
- You’ve already noticed this stuff, but we’re (finally!) starting to consider it...
Why is it that...
- You’ve heard that Jesus taught us to “Love one another" and "Judge not, lest ye be judged”...
... but your experience is that many Christians are not only judgmental indeed -
but some can be out-and-out vicious - especially to each other!
- Jesus “...came to set the captives free” ...
... but many Christians appear to be some of the most ‘bound up’ and least ‘free’ people you’ve ever seen...
- Christians are supposed to be ‘accepting’ (and not judge by outward appearances)...
... but you’ve probably been to churches where you felt anything but accepted.
< < < (Perhaps you can relate to this funny story about what happened when someone went to a church to ‘Get The Lord’... :-) [Click on the audio link to the left.]
...In short, why is it that so much of what we see actually happening on the surface of american christianity... appears to be the opposite of what Jesus taught?!
Rectifying that is a big job. But someone has to eventually start doing it, sometime...
...so it might as well be me - and now.
[Actually, I take too much credit. There are many others who have already started this work. As I have only recently joined them, I am simply starting to articulate it here.]
- Yep, It’s hard to deny - your lack of faith could in large part be due to... ME.
Somebody once said,
“Christians make such extraordinary claims - yet lead such ordinary lives.”
And at least in America, who could deny that that's a pretty valid observation?
Furthermore, I must admit that until recently, in my own (however well-intended) attempts to convince skeptics to embrace faith (which Jesus said and showed is simply supposed to be an honest, warm, trusting and intimate, life-empowering friendship with God**), I had often felt as if I was a travel agent who is trying to sell someone tickets to a place I’d never even been to myself.
I have been guilty of blaming YOU for not accepting Jesus’ offer - when in reality, it is my/our own inconsistent actions (that contradict our claims) that give you plenty of reasons to NOT take us seriously.
...And who could blame you? Not me. (Well, not any more, at least...)
- So, what would be 'believable'?
Now that I am officially a recovering american christian - may I hazard a guess or 2 about what might actually be believable... (that is, if it were to appear...)?
- You'd probably welcome something that is truly powerful and
that makes a real difference.
- I bet you want something relevant.
- ...something that is real, not phony, 'trumped up' or 'put on'.
- ...perhaps even something that makes sense.
- something that is not watered down, and certainly not ‘dumbed down!’
(...OK, you got me... that pretty much describes what I want, too. ;-)
While you've always known that you deserve at least that much...
the good news is that more and more believers are now willing to admit it.
While Jesus actually offered - and delivered - all of the above...
alas for many years now, the bulk of american christianity simply... hasn't.
Yes, we are indeed guilty of watering down (perhaps even 'dumbing down'?) Jesus' message of truth (-reality)... to the point where the effectiveness (hence the attractiveness) of our message is questionable.
It seems to be more and more evident that we may have made a 'wrong turn' somewhere along the line...
Because there are parts of Jesus' original bold, challenging message that tend to make us uncomfortable, we have 'softened’ it and ‘re-packaged’ it. In doing so, we have stripped the message of most of its relevance, and worse yet, effectively cloaked its life-transforming power.
Alas, in the american church's attempt to become ‘relational',
we have instead become largely irrelevant.
..."Where's the beef?" you might ask - and rightly so. "Where are these 'transformed lives' you claim to have? Where are the real blessings and miracles that you say your God is capable of?"
Indeed... you do deserve more than we have shown you lately.
For that - and for other things listed on this page (and much more), I offer you a humble, sincere, and long-overdue apology.
But an apology is not enough. Not even close.
- So... what are we DOING about it?
The good news is that some of us have finally started doing something practical about the situation. It requires a hard, honest, gritty look at ourselves - and the truth-reality, and as such it includes... YOU.
The 'confessions of an american christian' workshop is:
- ...primarily a series of participatory guided honest (and respectful) discussions that arise from pointed questions - that we ALL have.
- ...laced with hard-hitting videos and live music, comedy and drama performances... (well... and maybe even a few not-so-hard-hitting ones ;-) .
- ...for believers AND skeptics.
- ...a long-overdue investigation...
...that will help us finally figure out what's really up - with all of us.
"...and where we go from there is a choice
I leave to you."
I look forward to seeing us ALL getting 'unplugged' from the matrix...
stop merely surviving - and start truly LIVING. :-)
Meanwhile, I sincerely thank you for your time.
my name is paul -
and i am an american christian.
this is where my confession begins...
© 2007-2013 Paul Andrews