I know what Jesus Meant! So just follow me!


As I write this, yesterday was the anniversary of the start of the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE. The council was there to discuss whether Mary the mother of Jesus was the Christ bearer or the God bearer. At the end of the council the decision was in favor of the “God bearer” and those siding with the “Christ bearer” were kicked out of the church or left on their own. Those who left continued to worship Christ and God in their own way, establishing their own brand of Christianity.

I grew up part of the Wesleyan church. It was named after John and Charles Wesley who were kicked out of the Anglican Church which had left the Catholic Church. The Wesley’s then started the Methodist church. The Wesleyan church split from the Methodist church over how they chose their pastors and the slavery issue. For a while it was called the Wesleyan Methodist church but then merged with the Pilgrim Holiness church and formed the Wesleyan church. You will find some Wesleyan Methodist churches still around, because they left when the merger took place.

According to Wikipedia there are over 41,000 different denominations in the world. Did you get that? I thought we were supposed to be one. Anyway, this kind of got me thinking. How many times has the church had a schism and kicked someone out only for them to start a new brand of Christianity? Or how many times did a group leave because they didn’t see Christianity in the same way that they others did? And who really has the truth? How do we know that our brand of Christianity is the truth? It is only our brand because it was Spirit of God choosing it to be the victor. At least that’s what we are told. However most of these were simply church votes.

I’ve been to many church and denominational meetings about many different things and there is no real looking to the spirit to answer the questions before us. We vote for what we want and decide that is what God wants. How do we know that these councils were any different?

Then there is the Bible. How many of you actually know that there are several different books in other denominations around the world? The protestant bible in America has 66 books, the catholic bible has 73, the Greek orthodox has 76 etc… So who has the correct bible? All of us started as one and yet we can’t even agree on our text. What if there should be more books? What about fewer books? When the bible was first put together it wasn’t some divine intervention, it was several church councils.

So how can anyone say they really have the truth? We really only have what has been passed down to us by those in charge. It was that kind of person that Jesus yelled at repeatedly for abuse. How many times over the last 2000 years has our theology changed? A council in the early 300’s (Council of Nicaea) decided Jesus was indeed God; everyone else is free to leave. Another council 100 years later decided that the Spirit was also God. Several councils took this under consideration before it became orthodox. So it took the church 300 years to settle on that Jesus was actually God and another 100 years to create the Trinity. Those things that we hold so dearly today and without believing in them many would say that you could not be a Christian. What about those people in the first few centuries when that belief was not orthodox?

Anyway, for those that think they have it all together in their theology, maybe you really don’t. Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to say “the Bible tells me so” or “the bible says it and that settles it”, because if anything the Bible hasn’t settled anything. In fact those who think they know the Bible seem to split the church apart. So being right in doctrine does not seem to work for the church. Maybe we should try to be right with each other instead. Jesus did say “love your neighbor” but I don’t remember him ever saying get your doctrine right.






A Religious State: What I fear



May 20, 325 – 1st Christian ecumenical council opens at Nicaea, Asia Minor. This was the first major marriage of Christianity and state. The Emperor Constantine the (not so) Great called the church together to figure out what they believed. All those who disagreed with the Nicene Creed were kicked out of the church. Within 60 years (380 Edict of Thessalonica) all other Christian beliefs and ideas were deemed heretical and the “church” proceeded to eradicate them. This kind of thing is why we have separation of church and state. So we can have freedom of religion.

The same kind of thing had been happening in England for quite some time. When the Church of England broke from Catholicism in the 1500’s the King (or queen) became the head of the church. Whatever the king or queen was (protestant or Catholic) the other was persecuted. There was a revolution in which Oliver Cromwell and the far right Protestants took over and then were over thrown. For six years (1653-1659) the Commonwealth of England controlled the nation’s religion. People were jailed, killed or exiled for speaking their minds. Cromwell did have some people exiled instead of killing them to show his tolerance for religions. (Yeah, right, as I roll my eyes)

Many of the colonists that came to America were running from the wars and religious oppression from the government. They often settled in the Virginia area and in New England. This is where many of our founding fathers were from. Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, and Patrick Henry were born in Virginia. Hancock, Franklin, John Adams, and Samuel Adams were all born in New England. They were born into areas filled with people who did not like the government and religion being married as one. I find it interesting that the bigger leaders and the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution all came from these areas, as well as our first six presidents.

The conservative Christians in America want a “Christian government” like our founding fathers but our founding fathers didn’t want religion in government. They had seen its affects on the people around them. I question how many of them were really Christians. John Adams said the Bible was full of myths. Jefferson took out all the miracles in the Bible when he printed the Jeffersonian Bible. That includes the resurrection. Washington seldom spoke about Jesus, only about the almighty God.   Franklin was a womanizer and Madison said “The establishment of the chaplainship in Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights as well as of Constitutional principles” Not exactly what you would call Christian ideas.

Madison also stated that “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

The end of that is really what scares me if this country becomes a government run on religion. Our government would start persecuting based on the bigotry of whatever religion was in power. We don’t need that. We need freedom. The freedom that the founding fathers wanted us to have.  The freedom to worship without being persecuted. And when I say persecuted I mean beaten, thrown in jail and killed.  That would actually be persecution.

As John Adams once said, “Government has no right to hurt a hair on the head of an Atheist for his Opinions. Let him have a care of his Practices.” Nor should it hurt the hairs on any head of a Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jehovah Witness, Mormon or any other religion. Let’s allow all people to worship as they like, no matter if we disagree with them.  Keep religion out of the government and we can all have true freedom.








Questioning our beliefs makes us grow.


“Religious belief, like history itself, is a story that is always unfolding, always subject to inquiry and ripe for questioning. For without doubt there is no faith.”

Jon Meacham.


A decade or so ago, I read a book called “20 Hot Potatoes Christians are Afraid to Ask”. I was reminded of this book this past week in part because of Jars of Clay’s lead singer Dan Haseltine’s question. All he asked was “Not meaning to stir things up BUT… Is there a non-speculative or non “slippery slope” reason why gays shouldn’t marry? I don’t hear one.” And then followed it with “I’m trying to make sense of the conservative argument. But it doesn’t hold up to basic scrutiny. Feels akin to women’s suffrage.”

All he did was ask a question and then was berated for okaying LBGT people, gay rights etc… Why attack someone for asking a question?

Then a day or two later a friend of mine posted a meme that asked a question of Christians. It was a conversation between an Eskimo and a Christian. Eskimo: ‘If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?’ Priest: ‘No, not if you did not know.’ Eskimo: ‘Then why did you tell me?’ I found that to be a legitimate question and luckily no one jumped his case.

At my last church it was impossible to really ask questions. They were either ignored or ignored. It was either a roll of the eyes and “anyone else have anything to add?” question or you were given the “this is what the denomination’s beliefs are” speech. No answers, only frustration.

If the church does not allow questions how can it grow? Jesus was always asking questions of the religious leaders of the day. “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied (Matt 22:41). The religious leaders also questioned Jesus many times. Jesus never told them to stop asking, but he hoped by hearing his answers they would learn something.

Questions are to help us think. To help us try to understand what the teacher is trying to teach. Most people aren’t trying to trick the teacher or pastor. They really want to know, to learn. However, many church leaders discourage questions. They want people to just take their word, because they are the teacher or pastor. Obviously they know what they are talking about.

I feel that if a pastor or teacher does not allow questions, they are a lecturer, not a teacher. A teacher encourages others to think for themselves, a pastor leads people to the answer but doesn’t give it to them. He allows people to find the answer for themselves. Many churches and their leaders today, find these questions dangerous. It was only dangerous because they feel their power slipping away.

As I write this it is the anniversary of the day that John Wycliffe and Jon Hus were condemned at the council of Constance. Two people who merely asked why. Why do we pay indulgences? Why can’t the people read the Bible? Does not seem like the church or its people have changed much does it?

It seems like anyone who questions the teachings of the church gets ridiculed by those who have to hold on to that belief. It often seems to be when we question our beliefs that it is an attack of Satan or “how can you question God?” types of responses. There does not seem to be a path of meaningful dialogue. It’s “Why?” and in response, “You’re going to Hell.” Not “Why?” and in response “Why do you feel that way?”

The thing is people believe that if you ask a question you are questioning God, but really it questions the human theology. Humans make mistakes, so our theology should not be set in stone and yet we hold on so tightly to our man made ways of thinking.   If your theology can never be wrong then maybe, just maybe, deep inside you are questioning it too, but are afraid to let it out. If not, then at least be open to listening instead of berating those who question something. They are thinking and learning and growing. Something we all should be doing.  Theology has changed over and over in the 1900 years of Christianity and if Christianity wants to continue it must continue to change.  But it will only change if we are allowed to ask questions.

So, I encourage you to go ahead and ask. Keep asking until you understand, even if that is 50 years from now.   “The key to wisdom is this- constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth.” Peter Abelard.




The meme http://www.whyistheresomething.com/answer/going-to-hell

Post Traumatic Church Disorder


When I told you I was strong, and would not let someone break me, I didn’t mean it as a challenge…
Kat Church

I had never heard of Post Traumatic Church Disorder until recently, although I had often described my feelings about church as a kind of post traumatic stress disorder. I have since read several articles on the subject. Mostly they are from people who have gone through it or are continuing to go through it.

I am one of those people who are going through it. It was about a year ago that I told the church board that I was resigning my position as youth and children’s pastor. I simply told them that I needed a break, though I did not go into details about why. My wife and I simply wanted to walk away and not leave hurt feelings behind, but somehow that did not happen.

That last day I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I wanted to find freedom from religion. I wanted to begin to heal, but I wanted nothing to do with church. I still loved God, but could care less if I stepped into a church building ever again. Some people thought I lost my faith. In a sense they were right. I did lose my faith in the church, but never in God and not in all of God’s followers.

I still struggle with church. I want to be involved with people who reach out to others, yet I expect them all to hurt me. I long for a church that is deeply loving, but I expect that to be on the surface only. Whenever something good happens, I expect something bad to happen. At times I’m even afraid to share what I think about a subject because I’m afraid of getting shot down, simply because I don’t agree with the majority perspective.

I also thought that I’d be safe being myself on facebook, but I was wrong there. “Christians” (and I use that word loosely here) like those at the churches I’d been at seemed to flock to some things I’d post just to make sure I knew I was going to hell simply because I didn’t still believe exactly like they did.

Seldom, whether on facebook or at church do these types of Christians use love, instead they choose to condemn something or someone. Sad that they can’t see how UnChristlike that is and how it hurts so many people. But of course those people who are hurt like me are the problem. We have lost our faith (don’t believe the exact same as they do), we caused the problem (even though in our case we didn’t cause people to ignore us in a time of need), we are the mean ones (because we think people should be nice), we are the ones that won’t listen (because we think it’s OK to disagree or have another view).

I don’t know what it will take for these types of “Christians” to realize what they do, but I can’t help them. All I can do is take care of myself.

Recovery from hurt takes a long time. Especially when it comes from those that you care about and expect more out of. I guess I expected too much out of the church and those that claim to follow Christ. I wonder if I should lower my expectations, but I don’t think so, instead I need to be the Christ I want the world to see. The real Christ. The one of love and acceptance that he was and is and will always be. The only problem with that is that Jesus wasn’t accepted by the religious people and if I’m like him then they will simply continue to attack me.

Sometimes I wonder if he was actually happy to be nailed to the cross. Maybe that was easier than putting up with the religious “do it only our way” people of his day. That is the same type of people that “crucify” people today.

Someday I’ll be beyond these hurts, but it will take a while. So be patient as I try learning to trust again.


For those dealing with PTCD there are groups on Facebook designed to help you.  Just type in Post traumatic church disorder and you should find it.  Hope you can heal and heal soon.


Here are some articles on Post traumatic Church disorder. Google it and you’ll find a lot more, Maybe it’s becoming an epidemic.

Answering the Gay Question 2


Romans 1 Homosexuality

Last blog I discussed some issues with the Old Testament and homosexuality.  This time I will try to tackle Romans 1.  I would like to know what Jesus thought, but he said nothing about homosexuality and very little about marriage.  The only thing Jesus said on marriage was that there should be no divorce and that Moses allowed that because of hard heartedness.

Romans 1 is often a big thumper verse that people use to condemn homosexuality.  I actually find it quite unimportant in today’s society when it is taken into context with the surrounding verses.  In some ways, I think Paul was setting up the Roman readers when writing the first chapter of this letter.  He does list sins and then in verse 2:1 Paul tells them that they are doing the same things and to stop judging others. (Please read chapter 2 as Paul lists their problems.) As in the day of Paul, we like to hide our sins (gossip, laziness, hate, adultery etc.) and focus on someone else.  So first of all, we need to know that we should not be condemning of others sins. That is God’s job and you and I are not God.

Secondly, I did say that Paul listed sins and for some people verses 26 and 27 seem to indicate that homosexuality is a sin.  Romans 1: 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.

27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

The question is what is this unnatural that Paul is referring to?  This may be one of the most misunderstood passages in the Bible.  I find that no one really seems to know what exactly Paul is referring to.  Is he referring to Temple prostitutes as in the Old Testament?  Homosexuality as we see it today?  Procreation vs. sexual pleasure?  Is Paul simply a homophobe or was he gay and hating himself for it? I have read scholars’ ideas on all these subjects. So if Scholars can’t agree, how can we be sure of what it is?

From what I have read, there was not as much Temple prostitution going on as we might think, so although this is a possibility, I don’t think this is probably what Paul was talking about.  However if it is temple prostitution then it is moot for our time.  We don’t have temple prostitutes so it is not a problem. According to most of what I have read, homosexuality as we see it has nothing to do with what the society of Paul saw, so I really reject that idea as well.  I don’t think Paul was gay, nor do I think he was a homophobe.  He taught grace for everyone and equality for all.  He often spoke about there being No Jew or Gentile, no free person or slave etc.. I can’t see him hating or fearing anyone. That left me with procreation vs. sexual pleasure.

I have often had people tell me that God could not have created homosexuals because they can’t produce children.  Some denominations also have ideas that no birth control should be used and that sex is only for having children.  Though there is no specific verse for this idea there are many that could be taken along these lines.  Those ideas seem to have also been prevalent in Paul’s day.  This is what I believe people were doing that was so unnatural.  So in that case any form of homosexuality would be considered a sin, because you can’t procreate through it.  However we would also have to say that sex just for pleasure would be a sin.  So would the use of contraception (such as the pill or condoms), oral sex, and anal sex (homosexual or heterosexual).  You could also add anyone who is infertile or had an operation to “fix” themselves or people who decide not to have children for risk of passing on certain genes or because it could cause health problems for the wife.  You must also include any women above the age of menopause.  All people unable to have children having sex would be considered a sin.

So basically if you condemn homosexuality you must condemn all those others that I have mentioned and more.  However we don’t.  Actually, homosexuality seems to be the only one of many non-procreation sex acts that we do condemn.  So here is the question.  Why condemn only one act and not another?  Are we picking and choosing what to believe is a sin and what is not?

The verses also do not say that women had sex with each other.  I have found no place in the Bible that condemns that, unless you decide to read into it something that is not there.  So question two would be why would male homosexuality be a sin, but female homosexuality not?  Is it because the male writers were homophobes or is it that they were thinking something entirely different than what we read it as today?

Question three may be if so many scholars have so many different thoughts on what this could mean, how can we really be sure of its meaning.  And if we can’t be really sure how can we truly use this against so many people?  In other words, can we condemn people on verses that are unclear when their meaning may be unknown?  This is especially true when Paul (immediately after these verses) tells us not to judge.

The Final question would be what else does Paul and the New Testament say about homosexuality?  I guess that will have to wait until the next blog.  I try not to make these too long to read, so I’ll just leave you to contemplate what I have said so far.

Let Him Die


“Animals don’t hate, and we’re supposed to be better than them.”
Elvis Presley

Think of that person that you just can’t get along with.  Jesus says love them. Pray for those that actually persecute you.

Why do people wish evil on others?  “I hope they die!”  I know as kids we threw that around, but what is it that keeps that mentality in adults? “I hope they die!”  What if they do?  Wouldn’t you be sad?  Could it be possible that you’d actually be glad?  That would sicken me if that were true.  What would it benefit you if that person you think is so bad died?  But I don’t really think that’s the question.

The question may be “when did your heart die?”  When did a person’s life become so unneeded, so worthless that it would be OK to wish them gone?  If you are one that is wishing someone dead it may just be your heart that needs the help and not them.

This has come to mind a lot recently with several people that I know saying something like that about our President.  Why the hate? Most likely you don’t even know him personally.  He didn’t call you names or stab you in the back by telling your secrets.   He simply made decisions that you didn’t like. Then most likely you listen to your chosen biased media feeding into what you want to believe (and all media is biased) and you still wish him dead?!

There isn’t a president yet that has pleased the entire nation.  No one can and no one will.    I’m guessing you’d do no better.  Not because you have worse ideas but because it’s impossible to please everyone.  Even our Greatest presidents, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, TR etc… had tons of opposition.  Who knows, maybe in 30 years Obama will be among them.  We don’t know what his decisions will bring in time.   Heck, Truman had one of the lowest approval ratings when he left office and he’s considered close to the top ten!

I could sit here and bad mouth Obama about his presidency.  I could have also openly bad mouthed every president since I’ve been alive.  Born during the LBJ presidency until today there would be plenty of impeachable offenses that we could name for each president, but wishing them harm or death?  I’m still not getting it.

When I was growing up we had respect for the office of the presidency.  I still do and often get attacked for asking people to relax on Obama.   We should start thinking about the good things our presidents do.   I liked Carter.  Still do.  Maybe not as far as his presidency but as a humanitarian he is someone to look up to.  Reagan was funny and brought our country together.  Bush H.W. didn’t like broccoli!  Clinton did well on the economy, Bush W. made me laugh, and I like the idea of the affordable care act.  If you screw up trying to help the poor, it’s better than doing nothing for them.   I applaud Obama for that effort.

If you truly look hard enough you can find good in people.  There is no reason to be mean or say hateful things.  No reason to speak about that guy on the corner asking for a hand out. Maybe he’s been laid off for a while?  Kicked out of his home?  Maybe they are a vet with PTSD that can’t deal with civilian life?   Maybe he really needs help.  No reason to belittle that woman in the grocery store with the screaming kids.  Maybe the kids are sick or she is just stressed out trying to make it on her own.  Instead pray for her.  What about that speeding driver?  Are they on their way to the hospital?  Did an emergency call come from home?

St. Paul says in Philippians 4:8 “Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.”  When you think on these things the hate for your fellow man will start going away.  It is simply letting go of the anger that is inside you.  Not that I’m perfect because I’m writing this article because things tick me off, but I don’t wish hate or pain on those that say things I disagree with.  I wish them peace.  I feel sad for them that they can’t get over their anger.

James 1:20 says for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  When we are filled with anger we are unable to truly love the way that God wants us to.  We can’t love our fellow man or woman.  We can’t even love ourselves.

Someday I hope that those without love will be able to find it.  Maybe the only way that they can find it is if they see it in us.  Let those of us who are able to love, let it shine and maybe we can overcome the hate of others.

I leave you with the words of another hated black man that I love.  MLK JR.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Live out the Dream!

For God So Hates Everyone That Is Different.

God loves 2

Racism is beyond common sense and has no place in our society.
Steven Patrick Morrissey

This month is Black history month and it reminds me of so much prejudice that still goes on in America.  I remember a few years ago, my wife and I took in a biracial child into our home.  Very few people outside the kids at church took time to get to know him.  I’m guessing because he did look African American.  After all the church did reach out to other white kids that we took into our home.  So what made them not reach out to this child?  One board member even told our family that he “needed to be with his own kind.”  It is sad that this still goes on in the world and especially sad it goes on in the church.  The church is supposed to show God’s love to all mankind.

Shortly after Obama was elected president I ran into some prejudice against him.  A family member said, “We brought them over here and now they are taking over.”  What kind of talk is that?  Another relative has said several times that they wished Obama would be killed or commit suicide.  Both of them would both say they are Christian.  Again what kind of talk is that?!  I am not a huge fan of Obama.  I think he’s average at very best.  However, I was raised to love all mankind no matter what they are like, yet some family members reject that ideology.  When I read posts comparing President Obama to Hitler and comments like he’s trying to be a dictator, I wonder what in the world they are thinking.  There has certainly been something that has happened in their lives that has obscured their view of the world.  I know that these thoughts are not simply in my family.  There are many Obama haters and I wonder if it is because he’s not a WHITE conservative.

What is it about others that make us afraid of them?  Differences should be embraced but instead they are rejected and build divisions.  Right?

Coke released an advertisement during the Super Bowl with many different people and languages singing “America the Beautiful” and there was an uproar about that.    Seems to me this was nothing but prejudice.  The quotes I saw were very hateful toward immigrants and yet unless you are a Native American your ancestors were immigrants.  Seems to be fear that these immigrants will take something from us instead of adding to our already rich culture.  Also, I must ask why this is different than the old Coke commercials “I want to teach the world to sing?”

The Olympics are going on in Sochi, Russia.  There has been a long discussion on the problems Russia has had with its laws on homosexuality.  Yet the Olympics are supposed to be about bringing the world together.  How can this world be brought together when it treats one another with such contempt.  In America there is a fight over whether homosexuals should have the right to marry.  Recently there was a gay couple on “Good Luck Charlie” and death threats were sent to the 5 year old who plays the role of “Charlie”.   Closer to home I have had people say that they wished “all homosexuals would die.”  That from a children’s teacher at a church.  I wonder if they taught love or hate to those kids.  Too often very hateful things are said like this, and all too often in the name of God.  No people, God does not hate gays, but just maybe you do.

There is a store in our area that my wife and I call the “scary mart”.  Not because it is scary, but because a member of a church we no longer attend talked about how scared they were to get gas there.  What may have been scarier were all the people who nodded in agreement with them.  I was offended.  Those people are simply poorer than that church.  The same church where another leading member said of the poor “The poor choose to be poor.”  Obviously a division caused by prejudice.  I can say this because my work is less than a mile from that store and I am in contact with the people all the time.  They are not scary, they are nice people.  If they had money like the above people then I guess that would make them ok instead of scary.

Prejudice still runs deep in our society.  Whether it is another race, sex, class, language etc…   We have a long way to go.  If you want to truly leave this world a better place for the next generation than it is you and me that have to change.  To truly start treating each other like we want to be treated.  With love and respect, no matter what our differences are or how right we think we are.  You see, when a person thinks they are right, most likely they are like the people I mentioned above.  They all thought they had it right, they just couldn’t see it from another persons point of view and that is where prejudice begins and ends.  Within us.  Within you.