Losing the battle but winning the (holy) war

Evangelicals think they have no choice but to vote for Trump even those who despise his moral bankruptcy. Some see not voting as a vote cast for a Democratic president who is sure to win without evangelical support. Here’s another option they may have never considered:

Vote for the democrat as a deliberate act of moral protest against Donald Trump.

Imagine how shocked America and the rest of the world would be if evangelicals banded together to oppose Trump for his egregious behavior. Sure it may mean putting a Democrat in office but think of how much of that lost moral high ground they could reclaim. They would regain some much needed respect. People might begin to take them seriously again. But most of all, in four years they might be able to back someone who represents their ideals and not one who curries to them purely for political gain. Think about it evangelicals. Your “brand” is evaporating before your eyes and you may never have the opportunity to save it again. Is this the hill you really want to die on? Are you willing to drag the name of Jesus through the mud for Donald Trump?

Evangelicalism: A cowardly faith

Fear is a powerful motivator. It is an emotion deeply embedded in our genetic makeup without which we as a species would cease to be. Survival drives us from the moment of birth until our last breath. Now imagine if you could survive beyond the grave…

~Faith means not having (or wanting) to know the truth~

Jesus began his ministry preaching the gospel (the original gospel) saying, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15). This was the original gospel. It was also a lie. The time had not come. The kingdom of God had not come near, but Jesus was convinced it had. This is fundamentally the deepest flaw in historic Christianity. It was all predicated on the belief God was about to rain judgment upon the wicked earth. Only those who conformed to his holy law would be exempt from his wrath including unrighteous Jews. This was John the Baptists and Jesus’ ministry.

Imagine you are an everyday Jew. You go to synagogue, attend the festivals and try to keep the requirements of the Mosaic legal code. You’re not perfect but you make the effort. Then a man (John) starts preaching about the imminent arrival of God’s glorious kingdom when Israel will be restore. Fantastic!? It depends. Are you going to be granted admission or fall under the mighty hand of God? Have you conformed to the Law? If so, enough to merit mercy?

John and Jesus created doubt in the minds of their hearers. Then when this became fear they offered a remedy. If you repent and are baptized, you can be assured of entrance into the kingdom; otherwise, you will be judged alongside the sinful uncircumcised (Gentiles). So immediate was the threat of the coming kingdom, John was offering his services “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). Since the Jewish historian makes mention of “John as having been a baptist.” It seems he attracted many. Jesus undertook a similar ministry.

The message of the coming kingdom and later Jesus imminent return permeate the New Testament writings. Attending these events is of course judgment in the here and now not the afterlife. The context of writings centers around the idea of the Last Days so you better be prepared!

Christianity has always been primarily about escaping judgment and going to heaven. Loving and obeying God are secondary. If it were a prerequisite as it was in Jesus’ day, the world would be a far better place. But because many Christians especially evangelicals believe they already have their ticket to heaven stamped, they have no incentive to be righteous while on earth. This has spawned an insipid complacency among American evangelicals who have customized their faith to suit their own tastes. Comfort and convenience not sacrifice and commitment dominate the Christian landscape.

If being an evangelical was like belonging to a political party (though sadly in many cases it is), we could comprehend it. It is simply a mental choice. However, the New Testament teaches being a true Christian is a much, much higher calling. A calling that reaches all the way to heaven. Christians are said to be regenerated which is a fancy theological word for given a new life. That life is the crucifying of their old sin nature and the implantation of a “new spiritual nature.” This new nature has been renewed after Jesus imbuing them with resurrection power to live victorious lives over the power of sin. Christians are to model lives reflecting that of Jesus himself. How are they doing?

Evangelicals are no different from non evangelicals which, if you believe the Bible, is the greatest insult to Jesus imaginable. By living worldly, carnal lives where materialism and indulgence of fleshly desires are of higher priority than sacrifice and servanthood, Jesus work on the cross is pointless.

“Pastors don’t link world events to speeding up return of Christ”

I must apologize for occasionally breaking from my original purpose with this blog to comment on current headlines involving evangelicalism. This one has been particularly popular.

A recent study by LifeWay Research found the overwhelming majority of pastors (Protestant evangelical or other) don’t believe world events can accelerate the return of Jesus. Of course they don’t when you phrase it like that. But if you asked, “Do you think it is important to align yourself with what you believe to be God’s purposes in the world?” You might get a different response.

When I was an evangelical, I did not think for a moment I could alter God’s divine timetable by anything I did. Nothing! I did believe strongly I could “partner” with God in joining him as he carried out his plans. More importantly, I did not want to do or not do something contrary to his purpose. For instance, not voting for Trump may be seen as bad as voting for someone else. In this regard, evangelicals are obligated to vote for Trump or risk subverting God’s will.

My personal sacrifice upon the altar of evangelicalism

Christians talk a lot about sacrifice. I know more than most what that means.

I sacrificed the best years of my life heavily immersed in a religious faith I discovered to be false. From eighteen to thirty I was the most devout, committed evangelical I could be. I invested thousands of dollars in tuition, dorm and books. I worked to be able to afford my education and used every dollar towards it in some way. I had no interest in fancy clothes, electronics, car or earthly possession of any sort. I was investing in heavenly things!

I graduated from Bible college and seminary with a 3.6 GPA average. I was newly married to a beautiful evangelical girl who also was deeply committed to Jesus. It looked to our many Christian friends we were destined (by God of course) to a wonderful life of full time ministry. I, however, was haunted by doubts about evangelicalism and it was hurting our relationship.

My marriage ended not long after leaving seminary. I took different jobs to make some money while I spent the bulk of my time researching my evangelical roots. After about two years of intensive study, I had come to the painful conclusion that not only was evangelicalism “unbiblical” but Christianity at its very core was a theological farce.

I would spend the next two decades pouring over the Bible in exacting detail looking for the truth. If Christianity was not the legitimate fulfillment of Hebrew prophecy, what was it and how did it come to be? This hypothesis would guide me through thousands of hours of exhausting and at times frustrating research as I tried to fit the pieces together. It is one thing to know something isn’t true; it another thing to offer a reasonable alternative explanation. This was my goal.

I cannot stress enough how hard and taxing this has been on me and those close to me. I have lost countless friends due to my obsession to uncover the truth. I have never had a moment of true peace or happiness since embarking on this mission. I have not had a single full nights sleep in over twenty years. I study before I go to sleep, I think and mediate on some aspect of the Bible, Jesus or Christianity during the night sometimes for hours. I wake up and spend the day engaged in study and writing. It has been seven years since I had a job which has only intensified my efforts. The emotional toll has been at times unbearable but I have told myself it will be worth it in the end. Now, is the end. Now, is the time to tell my story, hence this blog.

My wife and I used to live in Calgary, Canada. One of our favorite things to do was to head to Banff National Park and hike up a mountain. This was definitely “God’s country.” Here’s the thing about climbing a mountain. The reward is worth the effort. It can take hours of thigh burning, sweat dripping, lungs bursting work before you finally summit and are greeted with spectacular vistas. It is knowing what awaits you that propels you to the top. These many years have been similar. The other thing the top of a mountain provides is perspective. You see things you never could have seen at the bottom.

Asking an evangelical to join me in retracing my journey up a mountain is itself a monumental request. Why would someone want to take a trip that could very well result in the losing of their faith? It’s like sawing off the branch you’re standing on. Is it worth the risk of losing your hope for the sake of intellectual and emotional freedom? It may not be for them but what about the rest of us!

I will repeatedly make the point evangelical Christian is no longer entirely private or personal. Evangelicals are aggressively trying to impact society in the name of Jesus and exploiting the Bible to do it. The LGBTQ community, women’s advocacy group, immigrants and minorities are among their favorite targets — and they are targets. Climate science and Middle Eastern foreign policy are also in their sights stemming from an apocalyptic world view. And what about children born into an evangelical home. They are often socialized into the faith for years being told once they are adults they can decide if they want to stay. How could they possibly leave after that degree of indoctrination? Evangelicalism is not a victimless religion.

My main focus is on a particular subset of Christianity which is often referred to as “evangelicalism.” But my reach extends to any Christian of any denomination who uses the Bible as a weapon to inflict suffering on others and then justifies it as divinely mandated. We have seen the deleterious effects of Catholic dogma on the priesthood resulting in untold numbers of abuse cases. No Christianity, no priests. No priests, no opportunities to abuse this sacred trust. Do the holy math!

I have paid the price. I have earned the right to be heard. I have so far gained absolutely nothing for my sacrifice. My single greatest desire is to lead a national conversation on the place of the Bible in society. We have accorded the Bible a place of supremacy which is both unearned and undeserved. Almost everyone who studies the Bible does so as one invested in its central message — the glorious hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Churches, Bible colleges and seminaries are not in the least objective when it comes to disseminating its teachings. Rarely do scholarly finds about the inherent deficiencies in the Bible make their way to the public square. And if they do, they are too technical for the average person to decode anyway. My work attempts to be completely accessible for anyone who can read. That means you (:

Perhaps no better analogy exists than that of a courtroom. This journey will take some time. Like a court case where a mountain of evidence needs to be presented before a reasonable verdict can be rendered, I ask my readers, the jury, to patiently and above all non prejudiciously wait before deciding. It took me decades to get to this place but I have done all the hard lifting. I have taken the wrong turns so you don’t have to. Imagine a jury member walking into a courtroom and declaring they have made up their mind and do not need to hear any evidence. Do not prejudge the evidence but evaluate it as thought you were not a believer (if you are a believer that is). This is the only way to ensure objectivity.

I began this post with a reference to the sacrifice I have made and the little I have to show for it. I have been closely monitoring evangelicalism for a long time and I know there is a lot of dissatisfaction and disillusionment among its followers, especially the younger generation. Why? Because they are more globally aware than any generation before them. They are not restricted by their parents beliefs. They are free to think for themselves. And they have too much to lose if it’s wrong.

On the other hand, when you have one foot in the grave, you are not about to question what’s on the other side if you think it’s eternal bliss. Older evangelicals are not about to entertain the possibility they are wrong. If you believe your last breath on earth is your first one in heaven, nobody is going to tell you otherwise. They have invested far too much to look back now.

I started my evangelical life as a teenager. I have surrendered everything. Up to this point, it has been a wasted life. Only when people finally see the Bible and Jesus in the glaring light of reason will my efforts not have been in vain. The fruit of my labor will be the triumph of rationality over revelation.

“One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see”

I was a lonely, depressed teenager. I was smaller than my friends which made me a target of bullying. My family was large and poor which made us the object of constant ridicule. My parents provide little emotional support so we were left to fend for ourselves when the inevitable struggles of growing up appeared. I was plagued with insecurities which I channelled into humor for attention. Unfortunately this resulted in my being the class clown. My grades were poor and teachers saw me as a disruption. Socially, I struggled because of my small size. Girls showed little interest in me and when they did I was too insecure to respond. I spent most of my time playing sports with friends. Eventually all this caught up with me as I entered my senior year of high school.

With graduation looming, all my friends had either educational or employment prospects. I did not have the grades or motivation for university so I resigned myself to working in a grocery store when I finished school. This was the only thing besides sports that gave me satisfaction; otherwise, I was miserable. Little did I know, I was a perfect target for evangelism.

When one of the schools most popular students invited me to his church, I was at first stunned. I wondered why he would think I of all people would want to go to church, after all I was wild and rebellious. I spent my weekends getting high or drunk or both. He was an A student and varsity athlete. I was a loser and everybody knew it. But I agreed to go purely for the comedic value.

I remember the Sunday morning he picked me up in his fathers shiny Cadillac. It felt like you were driving on a cloud. I secretly envied everything about his life. His beautiful home, successful parents, popularity and winning personality. As we got closer to the church, I had no idea what to expect, but had I known I would definitely not have agreed to go.

It was a small church. When we entered I felt all eyes were on me because they were. Every step we took I was introduced to another smiling Christian. We made our way to a back room where the Sunday school class was held. It was here my life would be forever altered.

The man who led the youth or “young people” as they were called was everything you wanted in a leader. He was handsome, charming, eloquent, a former professional football player (this was never verified) and a fireman. He spoke softly and effortlessly making it hard not to listen to him. Whatever he was speaking on from the Bible seemed to rise from the page and become real. After class my friend and I returned to the church and took a seat. Surprisingly, the Sunday school teacher was also the main speaker. Again, the words flowed from his mouth as he spoke. I don’t remember anything he said except the end. He told of how Jesus wanted to come into our lives but sin prevented it. If one was willing to admit he or she was a sinner and needed God’s help, they could invite Jesus into their heart and he would forgive their sins and fill them with joy and peace. I thought to myself how much I wished I could have this life but not even Jesus could help me.

The service ended and I assumed we were going home but to my surprise the speaker came down to our pew and started to talk to us. In hindsight, had I never met this man, I would never have darkened the door of this church again. But he did. He invited us and the rest of the “young people” in the group to his house for lunch and football. I couldn’t resist. There were few things I loved to do more than playing football.

That day was the beginning of my entrance into evangelicalism but not because I wanted to be saved. It would be several months before I actually converted during which time I spent considerable time with this man and the group of young people he led. What attracted me to him and them was their unconditional love and support. I was used to being constantly ridiculed and teased by my “friends” but was now feeling people actually cared about me. The people at the church were warm and welcoming inviting me over for meals and getting to know me. However, the youth leader was the real reason I could and would not stop going to church. He seemed to genuinely want to help me work through my emotional problems. We spent hours together talking about my struggles. He was the father I never had. During this time, he repeatedly encouraged me to become a believer if I wanted to experience real change in my life.

Eventually I began to wonder if everything he and others were saying was true. If I accepted Jesus into my life, would it really make a difference. Would I really find peace and joy. I remember asking him if after I became a Christian would I have to give up drinking (I loved getting drunk!). I will never forgive his answer. It was perfect. He said, “You don’t have to but you’ll want to.” He was right. Soon after that I got on my knees on night and asked Jesus to come into my life.

Transformation. No word better describes my life after that decision. Literally, over night I stopped swearing and gave up partying. I seemed genuinely happy (joyful as evangelicals like to say). I began telling my parents I loved them and my friends about Jesus. But more than anything, I started liking myself.

My conversion had such a dramatic impact on my life, I determined I wanted to dedicate my life to teaching and telling others about Jesus. I had found the answer to all of life’s greatest questions and nothing was going to stop me from doing whatever was necessary to accomplish this goal.

Up to this point in my life, I had not read a single school book and only a few Encyclopedia Brown books. Now I found myself buying dozens of Christian books and spending hours studying the Bible. I could not satisfy my thirst for biblical knowledge. This resulted in me enrolling at a short term Bible school in England and Austria. Here I would be exposed to evangelical Christians from around the world. It would open my eyes to a something I would not forget.

The day we all arrived to Capernwray Bible School, we were gathered in a large living area where the principle of the school addressed the student body. He asked for a show of hands from where students came (USA, Canada, Germany, England, Norway, Ethiopia, Australia and Israel were among the countries represented). Then he asked a question which I’ll never forget. He wanted to know how many people were not raised in a Christian home. I shot up my hand. I looked around and there were perhaps twenty hands of about two hundred with their hand up. Then he predictably asked how many students came from a Christian home. Everybody seemed to raise their hand. I would find this pattern repeat itself everywhere I went and would have a profound impact on me later.

It is no secret most evangelicals were born Christians. This doesn’t mean they actually came out of the womb as believers but rather they were born into a household with one or more believers (mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, cousin, grandparent). Many are socialized or indoctrinated into the evangelical culture from birth. Evangelicalism is comprised of 70-80% generational Christians (I think the number is probably even higher). They were converted as children by their parents or through a church or para church organization. The remaining believers usually enter the faith through a crisis experience or deeply felt need such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse, spousal abuse, depression, disease, sickness, financial hardship, loss of job, failed relationship, mental illness, imminent death etc. I fell into this later category.

When I began to have doubts about the validity of my evangelical faith from a theological and historical perspective, the tepidness and complacency I would witness among the evangelicals I encountered provided early confirmation I was on the right path. This will be explored in much greater depth in a later post. Stay tuned!

Why me

Writing about Jesus is personal as well as academic. My entire adult life has been consumed with finding out who Jesus was, and more importantly was not. Everything you need to know about me is wrapped up in this pursuit. Through the course of these posts, details (sometimes immensely personal) will be revealed. Suffice it to say, it is my life’s ambition to share what I have learned, so others may benefit from the sacrifices I have made along the way.

My incredible journey to find Jesus only to abandon him

Let the journey begin…

I was married to Jesus, but like many marriages, it ended in divorce.

This is the first of many posts detailing with what can only be described as an incredible faith journey of discovery and disappointment. It is imperative my reader understand I was madly in love with Jesus for about fifteen years. When I began my investigation into my evangelical faith it was with the purest of motives. I wanted to strengthen and deepen may relationship with God — not end it.

So why embark on this mission in the first place? I was dissatisfied with evangelicals and evangelicalism. For many years I had been completely immersed in the evangelical culture both academically and ministerially and had come to realize there were some fatal flaws in the system.

After graduating from seminary, I faced a major dilemma. What do I do now? I had spent over a dozen years in evangelical institutions. First shortly after my conversion I had attended Capernwray Bible Schools in England and Austria. There I was certain I needed more theological training so upon returning home, I enrolled at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Il., where I spent three years earning a BA in theology. This was still not enough. I then attended Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Tx., for four years earning an MA in theology. But upon graduating the many doubts concerning my evangelical faith prevented me from my original plan to enter the ministry. I had to resolve these before I could move on.

My wife and I moved to Toronto, Canada. She took a position in a private Christian school as a teacher. I found a job selling computer business forms during a deep economic recession. It was not what I had envisioned for my life. It was hard unrewarding work full of rejection and disappointment but I had no choice. In my spare time I worked feverishly researching the foundation of my faith beginning with the origins of evangelicalism.

If I am honest, I thought this would be a two year project. I wasn’t sure where it would lead, but I knew evangelicalism was definitely not reflective of original apostolic Christianity. The only question was, would I be able to rediscover the religion of the first Christians? Little did I know then, I was about to start on a long and arduous journey which would consume my entire life, destroying relationships, causing immense psychological torment and exhausting my time, energy and finances as well as hope of any career. In the decades I have devoted to my study, I have gained nothing but the satisfaction of having finally arrived at the truth about Jesus.

The time has finally come to tell my story. I have taken my research as far as I can. I have watched with increasing frustration on the sideline as evangelicalism has grown and spread in numbers and influence around the world. Now, under the Trump administration, it has found its greatest and most dangerous ally.

American evangelicalism is not a harmless religion. It is a pernicious ideology which carries many threats. These will be identified and explored. However, the focus of this blog will be the authority and credibility of the Bible as the Word of God. Drawing on my theological training and years of research, I will endeavor to offer a rational exposé of Jesus, the Bible, evangelicalism and Christianity as they relate to our overall thesis:

The Bible is the product of ancient mens imaginations and not the divine Word of God. Therefore it should not be used by groups such as evangelical Christians to dictate their view of morality on those unsympathetic to their beliefs.

I realize such a statement is bound to arose debate and anger. However, my experience as an evangelical, academic background and years of immersion in the evangelical culture uniquely qualify me to write on such a sensitive and controversial topic. Furthermore, I have paid the price and earned the right to be heard.

Literally, my entire adult life since I was seventeen has been singularly consumed with seeking to know the truth. From my conversion and throughout my life, this has remained paramount. I ask my reader to stick with me as I take them on this fascinating yet at times painful quest to find the truth.

Knowledge is truths best friend and faiths worst enemy.

Let me say in closing, I sincerely hope these posts serve as a path to intellectual freedom for those struggling to extricate themselves from evangelicalism. Fear and guilt are powerful forces which keep many psychologically imprisoned in it. For others it will serve to give them insight into a movement which is gaining momentum worldwide with potentially devastating consequences.

Religion offers its adherent immense benefits: strength, comfort, hope, guidance to name a few. Unfortunately, it also seeks to unfairly inflict its perception of truth on others even at the expense of their rights and freedoms. For this reason, it must be brought into the public square and forced to submit to objective, rational and critical examination. Then and only then, after it was been judged at the bar of human reason, can it be determined what if any influence it should have in society.

Thanks for reading and please join my on this epic quest to uncover the truth and expose the lies surrounding Jesus and the Bible.

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.