Head First: An Unexpected Encounter.

Friday, August 25, 2006

An Unexpected Encounter.

Yesterday, on my way to a job, a lady followed me into a 7-11 parking lot and pulled in directly behind me, as if to block my quick retreat. Immediately, I tried to replay the last several miles of traffic, supposing that I had done something stupid while trying to find the new Godscrum podcast on my iPod...oh...wait, nevermind. Well, turns out that she pulled in to tell me that she liked the "Religion Kills" sticker on the back of my truck. I got it from Revolution Church and put it there last year, along with a little plastic Jesus fish, in hopes that the evangelical contradiction might cause just enough confusion to generate a question or two.

I've often run through some potential responses in my mind, trying to articulate how religion is a human construct that denies and ultimately kills Christ's true message of love, forgiveness, restoration and peace. I was mentally retrieving one of these responses when the lady started telling me about a catalog that she had just received and that I would love some of the stickers she had seen there, such as, "Who Would Jesus Bomb," "Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing their idiot," "He's NOT my President," "Bush is a four-letter word," "Give Bush an inch, and he thinks he's a ruler."

Hmmm... That's not what I expected. Not at all. I put that sticker on my vehicle as a commentary on the state of the American church, but somehow this lady interpreted it as a left-leaning political statement. I admit, I have moved more toward the center than I once was (I was so far to the right, I had to eat with my left hand, so I wouldn't bump my elbow), but my intent for that sticker wasn't really political at all.

I think I may have just learned something about people's perceptions and assumptions. Now if I can just figure out what it is...

43 comments:

Ryan S. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dorsey said...

For the record, I would not paint Pat Robert$on and Osama Bin Ladin with the same brush. That's not fair to Bin Ladin.

Ryan, you're missing my point. Religion does kill, including the "religion" of Christianity (read a history book--"Christians" started the first jihad). The point is, authentic Christianity is not intended to be religion at all. The law demonstrates that religion is impossible. Religion is based in justice. Authentic Christianity is set in grace. That's what "religion kills" means. The first thing it kills is Christianity.

We couldn't be more sure of ourselves in this—that you, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation. We wouldn't think of writing this kind of letter about ourselves. Only God can write such a letter. His letter authorizes us to help carry out this new plan of action. The plan wasn't written out with ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes, killing your spirit. It's written with Spirit on spirit, his life on our lives! (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, The Message).

jeff said...

The fact that much of the Emergent/postmodern theology is wrapped up in liberal politics makes her assumption easy... almost necessary.

I think the problem lies in the fact that we, as a nation, have painted issues like social injustice and poverty as political issues, when they should be much more religious in nature.

Unfortunately, the only christians who tend to care about them are typically the de-converted republicans who, instead of dropping the christian coalition politicizing of their beliefs, have instead converted to a liberal christian agenda. (Same method, different message...ugh!)

I'm sure in 2008, we'll be hearing about the "liberal coalition" or some other b.s.



[Save the Mona Lisa]

Zeke said...

I've often said that conservative evangelicals' vocal move into politics has called down fire on Jesus that was never his to take--and then they turn around and claim that the fire they generated through their stepping into the war zone is actually religious persecution. Whatever.

What. Ever.

Craig Bob said...

I guess the thinking goes: "if you're anti-religion, then you must be anti-republican." It's flawed on a number of levels. Proving once again how difficult it is to express reform-minded views from within the body via bumperstickers -- even when you use two.

Other things people have done while operating machinery with one hand and trying to find the new Godscrum on their iPods with the other hand:

- accidentally wired their retirement account to Joel Osteen

- accidentally launched a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Canada

- accidentally voted for Lamont

- accidentally invaded Lebanon

jeff said...

Lamont?!?

...from Sanford & Son???



[Save the Mona Lisa]

ninjanun said...

I think, as Craig Bob briefly touched on, it's a sad testament (or is that Testamint© ?) to the fact that conservative Christianity has done such a job of aligning itself with conservative politics, that the lady made the natural assumption that if you're anti-religion, you must be anti-Republican. *sigh*

Secular Republicans are none too happy with the alignment, either, from what I can tell. Of course, there are less and less of those these days for the same reason.

Recovering said...

Jeff - I completely agree with your assessment of how the pendulum swings from the right to the left with many believers.

I think the damn pendulum should be ripped out of the clock. I don't think Jesus is impressed with liberal christians anymore than He is with legalistic ultra-right-wingers.

JimmyBob said...

I agree with you recovering. I'm sick of politics. I'm done talking about it. It all comes down to who you want to believe and what values you hold. I'd much rather spend my thinking on Christ and His work.

JimmyBob said...

religion kills. politics is another form of religion.

dorsey said...

Agreed, but moreso the other way around.

JimmyBob said...

Clever. Religion is another form of politics. Chew on that for awhile.

Zeke said...

Anybody who's ever been in church leadership konws all about politics.

Zeke said...

Hey, they know too.

JimmyBob said...

Hey, Zeke! Ever since we talked on the phone this summer, I've wondered if you looked at all like your user pic in real life? Dude, that would be crazy, like a wild eyed Moses. Take care.

Zeke said...

Yeah JB, except I wear glasses.

Scott said...

This is odd because a friend and I were talking just yesterday about the Bible which is odd for him. He's a sworn atheist/former Jew who studies evolution. So, he had a few minor questions, who's this guy paul, who wrote revelations, generaly stuff. It was a good discussion. However, after about 15 min. of talking the discussion "naturually" went to politics. We slipped from faith to politics in a matter of seconds. That really bothered me. Faith should not be tied so tightly to some political position.

Caro said...

Dorse: Where did you get your history book? The first religious jihad began before history. The Romans, after centuries of Middle Eastern "jihad", made it a "universal" phenomenon. Thus, when the church aligned itself with the emperor (Connie), it continued the most effective way to silence opposition-kill them!
Later, with the Reformation, the rule changed to kill or be killed.
ALL RELIGION KILLS, as all are based on human efforts to be superior to others. (If I can kill you, I'm the big dog.)
No wonder the question remains, "When (Jesus) returns, will He find faith on the earth?"
Not if we can help it!!

dorsey said...

When I used the word, "jihad," I meant the first crusade in 1095. Every tribe and nation warred for resources and territory, but I'm referring to the time when the church decided to get in on the action, specifically Pope Urban II's proclamation that "God wills it!" regarding the taking of Jerusalem. The first crusade was initiated by the church. There had been other wars that had been supported by the church, but this was the first that was openly instigated by the church.

I'm not sure what you mean by the "jihad" that existed for centuries before the Roman empire. Explain.

SocietyVs said...

I think it's to bad that having a bumper sticker that says 'religion kills' was taken as a shot at the right-wing...however I might have assumed the same thing (mighta even considered you an atheist if I didn't know better about the fish symbol).

I agree religion kills and that Christ is not about 'man's religion and structure'. I have been on Jeff's post arguing that b.s. about supporting war (which is a touchy subject apparently). I feel the same way about politics also, there is no right political way and none of the politics is promising 'heaven' or a 'heaven on earth' for that matter. So I agree with the people that 'say religion is politics', so let's do away with that religious mindframe and think outside the box or inside the scriptures.

jill said...

I'm not sure an unbeliever would distinguish religion from Jesus. At least she felt comfortable approaching you. If I saw the sticker with a bloody grenade and sentiment as a seeker, I think I would have been too afraid to comment! I suppose it might open up discussion to others wounded by church experience though. Blessings:)

ninjanun said...

Jesus' message was political (the Kingdom of God is at hand). He came to overthrow the powers and systems that held people back from living a life of justice and righteousness. Jesus' politics said God loves the underdog, and fights for the weak and oppressed; unlike the systems of this world, which exalt the strong and cunning.

SocietyVs said...

ninjanun has a point, one that could be debated (from either end), but I think it is worth looking into.

shelly said...

Perhaps religion does kill; just not Christianity.

What about the Crusades? Or the Salem Witch Trials?

Anyway, while my own political views are left-leaning, I've not deconverted (though it's been tempting at times, I must admit); but if someone were to ask me about my politics, and if I asked them to guess my "religious affiliation" (if you will), I doubt they would have me pegged as a Christian.

I also think Ninjanun raises a good point.

Scott said...

I have to disagree with Ninja. Jesus may have come to overthrow the systems but not because he wanted to re/establish a political system or answer a political question (not that you insinuated this). His beef was with the nature of humans. The human systems are just a byproduct of the nature. Therefore, it isn't the systems that are holding people from living a righteous life (which really isn't the point anyway); it's their nature that's holding them captive. He came to break us free from our nature, our proclivities, and our desire to control and dominate others.

Therefore, in this light, He does love the underdog and weaklings but not anymore than those who oppress them. What He opposes, is the nature that creates the systems that oppress. What He embraces is weakness because it is the closest one can get to surrender and freedom from the nature.

If the point of Jesus' live on earth was to stick it to the man then we are following the wrong person. Sure, this will appease my rebellious nature but it's not the point of his existence, is it?

I don’t want it to seem like I’m picking a fight (I’m in TN not OK). Nevertheless, I just cannot stand it when people adopt Jesus for their cause as if He’s some kind of political orphan (not that you did this Ninja). I think Jesus was apolitical.

ninjanun said...

Oh, Jesus' message was definitely political, but it was not of this world.

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." --Col. 2:13-14

The Kingdom of God stands opposed and triumphant over every kingdom of this earth. Early Christians knew that baptism was a public declaration of their "affiliation" with this kingdom, and that it meant they did not consider Rome their first allegiance, which put their lives in jeopardy.

Jesus may have come to overthrow the systems but not because he wanted to re/establish a political system or answer a political question ((not that you insinuated this). His beef was with the nature of humans. The human systems are just a byproduct of the nature. Therefore, it isn't the systems that are holding people from living a righteous life (which really isn't the point anyway); it's their nature that's holding them captive.

If I didn't "insinuate this," why are you making an argument against it?

And yes, it IS human systems that hold people back from living as righteously as they could. It's not entirely the systems fault, but there our systems which we are subject to, enslaved to, even, which makes it impossible to live as righteously as God intends. Our entire system is based on greed and might-makes-right (or smartest, most charming, etc.). If you've ever bought anything made in China, driven a car, or eaten meat, (among other things considered part of the American Way (tm) of Life), you've helped perpetuate a system based on injustice. Of course, the evangelical way of thinking doesn't really seem to comprehend corporate/community sin, only individual sin, so I can see why it's a hard concept to grasp if you've been brought up in an evangelical tradition (as I was). You can google the Christus Victor and Moral Influence theories of atonement to get a clearer understanding on other theories of atonement. Substitutionary atonement theory is not the only one, and actually, was not the predemoninant view of the church throughout history until the last 100 years or so.

ninjanun said...

Here is a good essay on what I'm trying to get at, if anybody is interested.

Scott said...

Ninja, it's obvious that your passionate about this subject. I've never even heard of the moral influence theories of atonement but it does sound interesting.

What concerns me is the result of a Christ based political system (notice I did not say Christian, but I'm really affraid of that too). What does this system look like? Who's in control? Who's weilding power and to what end?

JimmyBob said...

Ninjanun, that essay was excellent. Thank you for providing the link. It really helped me to see where you're coming from.

What I like about it is that it really enters the story of the Cross and the emotion.

I don't necessarily see a strict conflict between Subsitutionary atonement Theory and Christus Victor. There's seems to be more of an attitudinal difference - a viewpoint. But, the points made by the essay are significant because emotion makes all the difference in how we view God, others, and most importantly, ourselves.

But this is just my first impression. Thanks again for that link. God bless you!

Kitty Cheng said...

people's perceptions and assumptions are hard to figure out, at times I don't even know what mine are!!!

ninjanun said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ninjanun said...

Sorry, I removed my original post due to repeat glitches. Here is is again:

Thanks Jimmybob, I appreciate you taking the time to read it. Really. :)
And you're right; subsitutionary atonement and Christus Victor are not necessarily "at odds" with each other, but there's a definite danger when one is taught at the exclusion of the other. I think the focus on substitutionary atonement (at the exclusion of the other theories) over the years has played right into our individualistic tendencies and motivation of doing the right thing only out of fear of this retributive god, or what we can get out of it, instead of what Christus Victor teaches. And yes, it's a difference of attitude. I think attitude and action are at the heart of what Jesus' teachings are about, moreso than affirming a creed (after all, the Pharisees had all the "right answers," but had the wrong attitude and actions). Not to say theology's not important; it's essential. I think good theology leads to good attitudes and good action. Not to say substitutionary atonement is bad per se, but it's incomplete. And when it's taught as the only way to understand God, it becomes distorted and leads to bad theology and bad consequences.

Scott, if you haven't read the article, I highly recommend you do. It seems that from the way you're responding to my comments, that you don't quite understand where I'm coming from yet.

ninjanun said...

Damn! What can I say? iIt's late.


aghidaphfeiwo hgknfda;


G'night, y'all! ;)


p.s. Tired people attempting to formulate coherent arguments on theology suck. ;)

SocietyVs said...

Ninja that is one long essay, ouch. I was like this looks nice then I saw 3 parts (how bad can this be?)...it was so freakin long that I have to book time-off just to read it. Im kidding. I'll get around to reading it sometime, looks real interesting.

nathaniel adam king said...

You all are a bunch of crazy wackos!!! You really should all read your copy of the Westminster Confession and get right with God!!!

(That one's for you my dearest friend!)

dorsey said...

My copy of Westminster is serving a noble purpose, wedged under the leg of a once-wobbly table that is now wobbly no more.

Cheers to you, my friend.
; )

sandytrif said...

hey dorsey, maybe you need a companion sticker that says "A Relationship with Jesus gives life." Just my thought
Sandy

RF2R2 said...

Hey dorse, I sent you an e-mail thru your blogger profile - just thought I'd give you a heads up in case it's an old account you don't check often.

-Brandon

JimmyBob said...

Dorse, I had to create a JimmyBob's Place 2 because of Blogger in Beta technical issues. I was having a lot of trouble posting comments and receiving comments from non-Beta Bloggers. Eventually everyone will be forced to switch, but until then, I just created a new profile and site.

Hope your Labor Day was fantastic!

JimmyBob said...

Dorse, I got an email about your last posts at JimmyBob's place. I erased the post before I saw what you wrote. Glad you were able to do it, but others have had difficulty. Also, I have had a very hard time posting.

Anyway, I'll call you again soon. Thanks for the friendship.

Zeke said...

Demerging's down again. Color me surprised.

dorsey said...

Yeah. My knucklehead brother forgot to renew his domain name.

jeff said...

I'm working on it, buttmunches (or is that buttmunchii?)