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Disobedient Christians.

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1 John 2.1-6.I’ve known various Christians who get really outraged by the phrase “cheap grace.” Grace, they insist, isn’t cheap!Well of course it isn’t. But “cheap grace” doesn’t mean we think grace is cheap; it means others treat it as cheap. They take God’s forgiveness for granted. They figure Jesus took out a trillion sins by his death… so what’s one more?Heck, what’s a thousand more? God’s given us a blank check of forgiveness! We can sin ourselves raw, and he forgives all! So why go to all the bother of cleaning ourselves up and sinning no more? Self-discipline is so hard. Easier to just do as comes naturally—and remain the same bitter, selfish wankers we’ve always been.But we’re forgiven just the same! And still go to heaven!Hence the popular bumper sticker:
Or window sticker, or button, or hat, or T-shirt; found at many a Christian bookstore.Now yes, this message can be used to describe just how expansive and generous God’s grace actually is. You don’t have to be perfect to come…

We sin, and need Jesus’s help.

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1 John 1.8 – 2.2.There are a number of immoral folks who figure if God has a dark side, it justifies them having a dark side. I wrote on this previously: Gnostics and determinists claim God co-opts evil as part of his cosmic plan. So people figure if he’s not tainted by such behavior, there’s no reason they can’t commit the occasional sin… if it’s ultimately for the best.Funny how often people wind up committing such “occasional” sins. Seems there are an awful lot of these occasions.But the very idea is rotten to its core. If God has an evil plan, it makes him an evil God. Period. And as John had to point out, God has no dark side. God is light. Not just in the light, like we can be when we follow God: Is light. In John’s other writing, Revelation, he even describes New Jerusalem as lit by the Lamb himself instead of the sun. Rv 21.23 Since Revelation is all apocalypses, I don’t think it wise to interpret that literally, but certainly you get the idea we’re going to live in God’s pre…

God doesn’t have a dark side.

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1 John 1.5-7.Gnostic religions have always taught weirdness about Jesus. Some of these ideas leaked into the first-century church; hence John’s first letter, correcting his church. Loads of these ideas are still around. Some are outright heresy.Others aren’t technically heresy… because heresy is defined by the creeds, and for whatever reason the creeds didn’t get to that particular error. Often because the ancient Christians figured, “Well of course that’s wrong; haven’t you read a bible?” And of course Christians haven’t read their bibles. (Read your bible!) They let their favorite teachers read ’em for them, and blindly follow these teachers without double-checking any of their proof texts. That’s how gnostics have always got away with it.And one of the more popular errors is about God having dark side.It’s based on determinism, the belief God is so sovereign, he controls absolutely everything in the cosmos. God’s the “unmoved mover” of Aristotle of Athens, the first cause of everyt…

Gnostics.

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1 John 1.1-4.Y’ever noticed somebody on the internet who claimed they knew stuff? Secret stuff? Stuff where, if you click on this link and read their blog, or buy this book, or watch this video, or attend this seminary, or buy any their other products, you too can learn these secrets?Better career, bigger income, more money, more leisure time?Better health? Conquering disease, especially without Big Pharma or the healthcare industry enriching themselves at your expense, or even maliciously keeping you sick?Better nutrition? All the stuff the food industry’s replaced with chemicals, or is manufacturing in substandard ways for a quick buck?More freedom?—’cause the government’s not telling you stuff, or big business doesn’t want you to know what rights they’re exploiting?Better sex?—which you don’t know about ’cause of various cultural taboos?Other secrets “they” don’t want you to know?People love the idea of having exclusive information, of knowing stuff the general public doesn’t. And …

When Christians won’t even let you think.

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Some Christians get awfully dogmatic.Dogma is another word for doctrine, Christianity’s fixed ideas or official beliefs. It’s an old-timey word, so you tend to only hear dogmain older churches, or used to refer to that one movie about fallen angels who try to take advantage of a dogmatic loophole. But while the adjective doctrinal tends to mean “deals with doctrine,” dogmatic tends to mean “demands we follow doctrine.” Dogmatists are the doctrine police of Christendom.And while the older churches have a settled, limited, fixed number of dogmas… certain Christians kinda crank out a new doctrine every week.Fr’instance this one Texas pastor I know; I’ll call him Alfons. He has a newsletter called “These Doctrines,” in which Alfons goes over all the things he expects the Christians of his church—and really, Christians everywhere—to believe. For the most part they’re typical Fundamentalist principles: God’s a trinity, Jesus is both God and human, Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to hi…

The subtler type of racism.

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I occasionally bump into an odd phenomenon; one I briefly mentioned in my article on white Jesus. In short, it’s racism—the type people tend to get away with because it’s subtle.But first, a big long bit of backstory.Robert Edward Lee was the commanding general of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the United States Civil War. (The U.S. Army started burying soldiers on Lee’s front lawn during the war, as a way to stick it to him. It’s now Arlington National Cemetery.) Lee was one of the better generals in the war… and arguably it’s because he was such an effective general, the war lasted way longer, and killed more, than it ever should have.Y’might get the idea I don’t think much of Lee, nor the reputation the American south has granted him in the 150 years since the Civil War. You’d be absolutely right.
Robert E. Lee, 1863. Wikipedia
Idol of Lee on his horse Traveller, erected in Charlottesville in 1925. WikipediaWhen Lee originally joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers…

Worship. (It’s not just music.)

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WORSHIP'wər.ʃəpnoun. Reverence and adoration suitable for a deity; also often demonstrated to a certain principle, person, or institution.2. Feeling or expression of such reverence and adoration; the acts or rites which make up a formal expression, such as religious ceremonies.3.verb. To perform acts and rites of worship.[Worshiper/worshipper 'wər.ʃəp.ərnoun, worshipful 'wər.ʃəp.fəladjective.]When Christians pray, frequently we worship God at the same time.The ancients defined worship as acts of reverence and devotion, same as we do. Middle easterners would usually get in the “downward-facing dog” yoga pose, putting their heads to the floor before before their gods and kings. That’s how they showed obeisance, an old-timey word for ceremonially humiliating yourself in honor of somebody else. Kings got off on that.
From the Black Obelisk of Šulmānu-ašarēdu 3: Northern Israeli king Jehu ben Jehošafat of Samaria worships Assyrian king Šulmānu-ašarēdu bar Aššur-nasir-apli, to w…