There are many christian blogs and other faith-based writings that speak about living with ‘one foot in the church and one in the world’, the majority of these point out that living this way is only meeting god halfway and urging people to get both feet in the church. From a christian perspective this is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly (but not necessarily most importantly), it is what the bible teaches, Romans 12:2 states bluntly; “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
It is not the bible though, that seems to truly inspire this vigilance regarding living with two feet in the church, rather, it seems to be more a request to deny and reject secular culture and elements of popular culture which christians, especially christian youth, find desirable, even irresistible. This ideal of worldly rejection in itself is by no means a new development in the church or christianity, on the contrary, it has always been the goal. Only the fact that this ideal is being rejected en masse by christian youth worldwide is a new experience for the church, as is the desperate requests for children to ignore the world in favour of christ.
In more recent years, as the church has begun to come to terms with the fact that popular culture is winning the war in the battle for youth involvement it has started to defile itself by bringing these seductive pop culture elements into the church in an attempt to lure in the youth, the most obvious example being the integration of secular music and contemporary worship into older church models. While this new adaptive method for fishing for a congregation might be in direct conflict with biblical teachings (again, Romans 12:2) it has in part, worked for the church. Youth are attending church.
The conflict however, is obvious. As is the hefty price the church is paying for abandoning it’s roots.
So, what are we to make of an institution who simultaneously supply people with the things they are taught by that institution to reject?
For atheists this contradiction in ethics and values is nothing more than yet another glaring example of christian hypocrisy. We simply see the tactic for what it is. Some people like myself, may even be angered by this manipulation.
It’s far more important to consider what church youth are making of all of this idealistic confusion. The results are not good. The implementation of secular content into church has spawned a generation of christians who would be lucky to be seen as having even their big toe in the church let alone a whole foot.
Pastor Paul Washer spoke passionately to the youth on this topic in 2002; “What you need to know is that salvation is by faith, and faith alone in Jesus Christ. And faith alone in Jesus Christ is preceded and followed by repentance, a turning away from sin, a hatred for things that god hates and a love for the things that god loves. A growing in holiness and a desire not to be like the Britney Spears, not to be like the world and not to be like the great majority of American christians, but to be like Jesus Christ.”
It is interesting to note that his words, his entire hour long sermon in fact (which can be seen in full here), was inspired after witnessing one too many light hearted sermons and specifically, the reaction of christian youth to the contemporary worship band that followed. He noted their passion was not inspired by christ, it was inspired directly by the band – and some the behaviors this music inspired are unacceptable for those who claim to be a good faithful christian.
In a follow up video which (see below), pastor Paul says of that sermon “There was a sermon that made a lot of people laugh and then toward the end, after all the laughter died down, an alter call, as it’s called was given and somewhere around, 2000 to 3000 kids went forward, laughing and all sorts of things, I’m sure there some sincere young people in there, possibly. It just seemed, well it was shocking, as I watched them, as I looked at them, I was thinking ‘Where is the reality of christ? Where is the reality of sin?’ Where is the reality of salvation, hope, eternal things? Nothing. It was like Pavlov’s dog in the experiment where they tie a dog down and they electrocute him and electrocute him and then they take all the bands off the dogs legs and they electrocute the dog and the dog just lays there, they’re trained to respond to stimuli. It’s the same thing, so many of our youth have been brought up with this idea of alter call, and this is what you do, and you go forward. Not so much to blame the one preaching, it’s just what out whole Christian culture has created.”
He continues to discuss the worship band; “I think the big thing that really got me is when the supposed worship band or whatever came out. And all the students ran forward to the stage and were jumping up in the air and screaming and everything else and my wife was there on the front row, and three or four times a young man bumped into her so hard while he was doing his…whatever they were doing, slam-dancing or whatever you want to call it, almost knocked her back in her seat and finally she’d had enough and she pushed him halfway across the thing to protect herself. Then when I saw them pick up girls and pass them over their heads, on the crowd, I was like ‘what on earth is going on here?’”
Knowing his inspiration for this speech it is quite sad to see to see towards the end of the sermons recording, the band begin to warm up, preparing to provide the crowd some endorphin laced relief to ease the harsh truth Mr Washer has lovingly bestowed upon them.
In spite of the efforts of Pastor Paul and countless others who take issue with this conflict of ethics, over the past 10 years we have seen more and more churches begin to implement contemporary content into their services. Whether it be through the introduction of a rock band or a youth group that purposefully avoids the topic of god and Jesus (to seem more welcoming), churches everywhere are grasping at these god-hated secular straws in an effort to stay alive.
Ironically, the opposite is being achieved. The church is still dying. But why? The church is giving the youth what they want after all, kids want rock music, they want casually dressed preachers with tattoos, they want less formality and more focus on the social aspect of church attendance – and the church is providing! The problem becomes clear when one asks themselves, what is the purpose of the church? Is the purpose of the church to provide all the fun and inviting things listed above? Is the purpose of the church to adapt itself in order to appeal to world? Referring once again to Romans 12:2, we know the bible says this is absolutely not the purpose of the church. The writings of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:11-12 clearly defines the purpose of the church; “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” so in the most basic of terms, the purpose of the church is simply, to be the church, to be the body of christ, to be a community dedicated to service in the name of Jesus Christ and for this life of service to be an example for others and lead them into the body of christ. The genuine purpose of the church, has absolutely nothing to do with what is occurring every Sunday in buildings around the world. This is even more evident is so called “churches of the spirit” or “charismatic churches” which not only revolve around secular content but also take creative license with the gospel through what they call interpretational sermon practices which allow preachers to take the secularisation of the church one step further by modernising the word of god and adjusting its context to appeal and fit with the mind set of current youth. In this adaption of the gospel, nothing remains sacred, age old bible passages that define christian lifestyle are reinterpreted to free the youth from it’s often strict confines – all in the name of the man who died to uphold these guidelines, Jesus Christ.
The thing that saddens me the most regarding what the modern church is teaching the youth is their shallow and superficial definition of service. In the above Ephesians verse Paul makes it very clear that service is the one purpose of the church, and it is this service that will bring others into the church. Today, young people seem to have no real concept of living a life of service. They understand what it means to witness, they may even partly understand the concept of mission, though most will most likely never partake. Living a life of service in the style of Jesus though? The christians who truly seek to emulate their saviour in this way a few and far between.
Young christians remain blissfully unaware of this though because the church teaches a different version of a life of service and often mistake service with mission. While mission is “an organized effort for the propagation of the Christian faith’, service is a lifestyle. It is not an activity, it can not be planned, it does need to be funded, it is who you are. It represents that you are a follower of christ and seek to emulate him. If you are not living a dedicated life of service, you are not a christian.
This change in the definition of service and the role it plays in being a christian has been detrimental to the church. That one core ideal of the church, the genuine emulation of christ and the following of his example of serving others as a lifestyle has been replaced with planned activities, scheduled good deeds, kind gestures and other minute trivialities that are frivolously labelled as service. What’s more, any efforts outside of these minimal activities are escalated to the title of mission because of their ‘effort factor’.
For atheists this shift in christian ideals serves us well. It automatically removes many of the ‘we’re better than you’ aspects of christianity that have been lorded over us for centuries. The only reason they were able to hold this over our heads was due to the fact their faith encouraged and required them to serve other people. Atheists have always done that too, but it has never defined us as a community – unlike the christianity. Now atheist good deeds are on par, and even exceed that of christianities. This isn’t because atheists have taken on christian ideals, it is because christians have done away with them. Christians can no longer claim to be living a life of service, and without that, there is nothing that sets them apart - especially not from a moral stand point. Christians are no longer christians, they’re just people who enjoy feeling a certain way and hearing and saying certain things and occasionally help out with a church based activity. The only thing that separates them from atheists is the belief in god, and more to the point heaven – of course by turning people away from the genuine teachings of the bible and encouraging christian youth into a lifestyle considered biblical blasphemous and involving activities hated by god, the church is actually condemning these children to eternal damnation. That’s a shame!
But why would they do this? For the same reason the church is implementing secular elements into services, they are abolishing the tedious demands that have been required to enter heaven for 2000 years. It makes christianity more appealing. Removing the 24/7 commitment to Jesus Christ and a life of service makes it a lot easier for a person to be successful as a christian. If all you have to do to get into heaven is simple believe in and profess a love for christ, why wouldn’t you? If you want to take things a step further, go to church every week, see a band, hang out with your friends, how awesome! You’ll even be given the chance to give Jesus some money, just to make sure heaven is in your future. And man, if you really want to be living for Jesus, then once or twice a year, door knock for the salvos, or perform at a charity show to help the church.
CHRIST EMULATION FAIL!
At the end of the day, the church reconfiguring the requirements of leading a christian lifestyle makes the church more accessible to more people, which bring more people into the church and, of course the people bring money. Churches need money to survive, they are businesses, they will do what they need to keep their business afloat – like any business would. It just so happens that by keeping their business alive they are essentially denying and rejecting the foundations, principles and core values that business was built and grown on – and when these disappearing core values have been pitched to the world for millenniums as the only way to live, it also causes the integrity of that business to crumble. The church removing a lifestyle of service and tradition from their core structure is like KFC removing chicken from the menu – it has nothing of substance left to offer, just fries and drinks – bands and friends.
For anyone still doubting that things have changed as drastically as I claim, I leave you with this, a photograph recently posted online by a christian bible study group.
Because blowing shit up on the big screen is what bible study is all about right?
KILLS FOR CHRIST! Can I get an amen?
[Preface: Boring Uni assignment post.]
An exploration of Order and Charism as expressions of culture and counter culture: A comparison with Pop music and the Punk Rock Movement.
The 1960s was a time of global social revolution, when counter culture became a centre point of popular culture and tensions, which had been building from the 1940s, between traditional societal values and a generation who seemed to instinctively revolt against the conservatism that these values enforced, came to a head.
These tensions piqued early in the decade and saw infant movements such as the women’s rights movement, the anti-war movement, the African American civil rights movement, the gay rights movement and the artistic and literary movement explode into the forefront of public awareness and become world changing, revolutions in their own right. The ideals of each of these revolutions seem to centre on a desire for equality and a peaceful integration of all humans, a utopia. Even the negative aspects being promoted within some these movements - such as the literary revolutionists affinity with free love (meaningless sex) and the encouraging of drug use – still embrace these ideals.
In this essay I will be exploring how these movements influenced two conservative institutions that were also revolutionised during this era; the traditional church and pop music. I will also draw parallels between two related counter cultures that spawned from this social climate, the Charismatic Christian movement and the punk rock movement. My objective is to demonstrate that both the modern ordered and charismatic churches are ultimately direct expressions social culture – either mainstream or counter – and both ultimately follow the same responsive path in spite of being in tension with each other. Finally, I will discuss how these parallels eventually merge, and what the outcome of this convergence might mean for the future direction of the church.
Justice League - Justifying The Comparison.
To draw parallels between these institutions I first need to show how their histories and growth patterns relate to one another. I will do this by showing the timelines of (a) pop music VS the ordered church and (b) the punk movement VS the charismatic movement. This timeline will also highlight the similarity in causality and rapid growth pattern between the latter.
(a) Pop Music and the traditional Church.
For the purpose of my objective I will not be exploring a complete world history of pop music or the ordered church as both these topics are of too massive a scale to be appreciated properly in this essay. I will instead primarily focus on the 1960s and 1970s and discuss what changes came into fruition for both of these institutions due to the social revolutions occurring at the time and how these changes helped in sewing the seeds for their respective counter cultures in the next decade.
Pop music has origins rooted in the late 1930s (and as far back as the Victorian era when one relaxes the definition to encompass the entire concept of ‘popular music’) and, like the traditional church, largely remained bound to its roots and core structures (values and traditions) until the social revolution of the 1960s. During this time however, the influence of the surrounding social revolutions saw the inception of drastic changes to the foundations and ideals of both.
While pop music saw a shift away from the traditional content of politically correct love songs, written by professionals and performed by purposefully employed signers and classically trained musicians, to a new wave of rock’n’roll inspired pop musicians who wrote and performed their own compositions, the lyrical content of which began to reflect the revolutions and current events of the time with bands such as The Beatles (often considered a revolution in their own right), Simon & Garfunkel and Bob Dylan openly expressing anti-war, pro-drug use, pro-free love and pro-peace driven sentiments in a majority of their lyrics during this era. This shift in pop music permanently redefined the genre in both a literal and conceptual sense and for a time, pop music itself could be viewed as less of a product and even a movement in itself.
Likewise, the church underwent significant, similar changes during this time. The ideals of peaceful integration being rallied for by the feminist, anti-gay and African American civil rights were making it’s way into congregations around the globe and saw many churches allowing women more authoritative involvement in the church, a relaxing of the exclusion of homosexuals and an integration of African American churches with all white churches.Most notable are the changes introduced into the Catholic Church by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, which aimed to engage the Church more closely with the present world and saw many long upheld traditions either modified (such as a relaxing of the rules and regulations of both lifestyle and dress requirements for those in the priesthood) or completely updated (such as encouraging all people to read the bible, which had previously been an activity assigned to clergy, or at best, the faithful).
The changes seen in both examples were not only a significant diversion from tradition, but have also endured and are now mainstream ideals.
(b) The Punk Movement and The Charismatic Christian Movement.
Although both the punk rock movement and the Charismatic movement gained global recognition and momentum in the 1970s, both have roots that date back much further; roots that shaped the final product that was eventually launched on a global scale via a combination of world wide media sensationalism and the offer of a counter culture that allowed it’s participants the unique experience of being completely individual within a pre-defined community.
The punk rock movement arose from the music and ideals of the underground garage musicians in the UK and North America in the 1960s. In North America bands such as The Velvet Underground (1965) and The Stooges (1967) are considered to be two of the many bands (referred to as ‘protopunk’ bands) that served as a pre-cursor to punk rock, the same can be said of UK protopunk bands The Kinks (1964) and The Troggs (1964).
These bands paved the way for the first wave of modern punk rock bands in the 1970s, bands like The Ramones and Sex Pistols, who to this day still represent a current global image of punk rock and it’s philosophy.
In the mid 1970s, the punk rock movement found its way onto the fast track to global exposure with the communities in London and New York City experiencing an influx of local and international media interest. Although the media coverage usually painted a negative picture of punk musicians and their aficionados, it ultimately resulted in the growth and prosperity of the punk rock movement and by the 1980s, thanks to the media, punk rock was an established and well defined global culture.
Andrew Lauder, A&R executive of 60s/70s punk record label United Artists Records, speaks bluntly of this in the 1978 documentary ‘Punk: The Early Years’ and states; “Punk has been solely a media trip for America, and the rest of the world.”
The Charismatic Christian movement follows a similar time line and pattern of causality in regards to its global growth, however in the case of the Charismatic church, the media involvement and its part in the growth of the movement enters the picture much earlier in the piece.
The roots that shaped the image of Charismatic church that originated in the 1970s (an image, like that of early punk rock, that is still relevant today) can be traced back to the early 1900s and, like the protopunk bands of 1960s, the Charismatic movement had it’s own trailblazers during this era who trod out a path for the Charismatics known today in a time known as the Charismatic renewal.
In 1960, an Episcopal priest Dennis Bennett made headlines in US publications Time Magazine (Aug 15, 1960) and Newsweek after he announced he had been baptised in the Holy Spirit and had publicly spoken in tongues. This media coverage served as catalyst for a new wave of Charismatic Christianity that focused on sensationalising the gifts of the Holy Sprit, speaking in tongues, faith healing and intercessory prayer.
Another media element present in roots of modern Charism was the implementation of televangelists during the early 1950s, which led to Charismatic Christian leader Pat Robertson laying the foundation of what would eventually become the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1959 and by the 1970s, numerous Charismatic Church services were being broadcast across the USA.
As with the punk rock movement, throughout the 1970s, there was heavy external media coverage about the Charismatic movement that was usually negative in nature and also ultimately benefited the global growth and prosperity of the movement. In tune with the timeline of the punk rock movement, by the 1980s, Charismatic culture was also established, as it’s own church culture with a defined global identity.
In the introduction to ‘Charismatic Christianity As A Global Culture’ (1994) Karla Poewe highlights the all round importance of role of the media in the growth of the Charismatic Christian movement; “The significant role played by the media in North America in the making of Charismatic Christian history is astonishing, and charismatic Christians learned quickly to use the media, which usually concentrated on the negative aspects of the movement, to their own advantage.”
The Clash – Tensions Between Culture & Counter Culture.
By definition a counter culture is in direct conflict with mainstream society. In this section I will explore how the tensions between the ordered church and the charismatic church communities parallel the tensions within pop music and the punk rock communities. I will focus on, what I consider to be, the root tension between both mainstream cultures and their respective counter cultures, which is the individuality, and freedom of expression offered by the latter in opposed with the extensive history of tradition and formally structured expression of the former. I will explore this tension first on a basic aesthetic level before moving onto the core tension that comes with introducing individualism into any traditional community, the corruption of core values and ideals.
The most globally recognised recognisable feature of the punk rock movement and those who embrace it’s philosophy is the fashion and personal styling. The media coverage that helped propel the punk rock movement into global awareness was largely spurred due to people’s fascination with the ‘punk look’.
In contrast to the pop bands of the time whose uniform was the suit and tie, or at it’s most relaxed, ‘Beach Boys-esque’ matching collared shirts. This made the body modifications, torn jeans and outrageous hairstyles displayed by members of the punk community newsworthy. This fashion sense was shared not only by those who held authority within the punk scene (the bands) but was also embraced and innovated by its followers. While it might seem trivial in current society to make a connection between a music style and a specific fashion sense, in terms of the punk rock movement it’s extremely important as this fashion sense not only allowed drew attention to the movement but also allowed people to be individuals within a defined culture. The fact that the community as a whole shared this fashion statement bridged the gap between performer and audience member; it put these two usually hierarchically separated groups on the same level.
While the fashion statements in the punk rock community are extreme when put alongside those of most cultures, when it comes to the Charismatic Church however, the fashion only becomes something of note when compared to that of the traditional church.
Unlike the punk rock movement, modern day Charismatic Churches haven’t so much as created a fashion sense that is embraced by it’s members, rather, it has eliminated formal dress elements of the traditional church, from clerical clothing worn by the preacher, to the robes typically worn by a choir and a degradation in the level of formality of the attire worn by the congregation, all are absent in most modern day Charismatic Church communities. Although the changes here are clearly not as volatile as that in the punk rock movement, the affect has been the same. This ‘dressing-down’ has allowed authority and community members within the church to become more accessible to one another, especially in regards to youth and express their individuality while still being embraced as part of a community and upholding its ideals.
While it is important to mention how these expressions of individuality through dress impacted their communities by establishing a contrast and created tension with their associated mainstream culture, the comparison is still somewhat trivial.
A more relevant tension-inducing comparison comes to light when we consider individuals freedom of expression when it comes to communicating the ideals and values of the community to its followers, in other words; what is being said and, how are they saying it?
For punk rock this meant an extreme shift in the lyrical content of songs.
In contrast to the meek pop sensibilities, where song lyrics for the most part were always clean, savoury and expressed stories of love, heart ache, woe, or other light hearted personal experience, with no agenda; punk rock music is the opposite, never clean, never savoury, the stories told in punk rock music are less personal and more a commentary on the political and societal climate of the time. Punk rock music has a definite agenda and message, usually promoting rebellion against mainstream ideals and an uprising of anarchy. It was the promotion and crass communication of these messages that created the true tension between the mainstream pop music culture and those embracing the punk rock philosophy.
Similarly, the preachers of the Charismatic church have embraced this same freedom of expression when it comes to communicating with their congregation and this has certainly created a tension and even uproar with the traditional church and its community.
While it is uncommon in todays churches witness a preacher speaking in tongues, this was at one stage a common practice. Most established charismatic churches have discontinued it due to criticism. The remnants of this practice evolved into what is now known as the spirit-filled sermons.
Spirit-filled preaching sees a person (not necessarily a church authority) receiving the word of God in the moment and communicating His message to those listening. The tension/uproar arises due to the fact that the traditional church members believe spirit-filled unction is actually just the passionate expression of the person delivering the sermon. A belief that is confounded not only by bible verses that specifically state the gifts of the spirit are not applicable, but also that many of these spirit-filled messages seem to involve the changing, relaxing or updating of liturgy.
In this sense the ordered church sees Charismatic spirit-filled preaching as an act of rebellion against church tradition and is possibly the most debated tension within the traditional church VS contemporary church discussion.
New Found Glory – The Pop punk Solution.
In this final section I will explain how both the ordered church, the charismatic church, pop music and punk music have all come to cross paths and ultimately embrace each other over the past two decades.
An important distinction to keep in mind during this comparison is that music, of any genre at any point in history, has always been driven by innovation, modernisation and a welcoming of reinterpretation, while the church has thrived through maintaining it’s traditions, core beliefs and purposefully avoiding secularisation. Due to these radical differences in nature, it is not surprising that while pop music and punk music came to converge into a peaceful new entity in a relatively short time after the initial rise of the punk rock counter culture, this same journey, although definitely underway, has been significantly slower for the ordered and charismatic churches. Because of this, rather than only making a comparisons between the current state of the church and music, I will use the progression pop and punk have undergone and attempt to predict how this path might come to be followed by the church.
The timeline on the punk rock movement in the first section of this paper concluded at the 1980s with punk rock achieving a worldwide awareness and community. It may seem surprising that during this decade a new genre of music and subculture was being formed. Influenced not only by the punk rockers of the 1970s but also the pop and power pop bands of the 1960s and 70s. By 1994 the Pop Punk movement was in full force with bands like Green Day and The Offspring finding huge success in the USA and internationally.
It is interesting to see how pop punk has managed to genuinely incorporate elements of both the punk and pop ideologies into it’s own sub-culture, especially considering that some of the ideologies oppose each other. An example would be ‘non-straight edge pop punk’ VS ‘straight edge pop punk’, the former are likely to be the ‘drinking and partying’ type band while the latter is officially opposed to any form of drug and alcohol use – aka: ‘straight edge’.
This difference in position does not seem to affect the pop punk community as a whole; the pop punk banner is all encompassing and all-inclusive. Straight edge bands do not avoid playing shows with non-straight edge bands, and a non-straight edge pop punk band often has straight edge members. In this way the pop punk community has taken the punk ideal of being individuals within a defined community and widened the parameters of how that community looks, and what it represents by integrating contrasting pop ideologies to create a further reaching and more accessible platform.
Far from the rosy pop/punk marriage described above, the traditional and charismatic church communities still remain mostly divided. The discussion regarding the ‘spirit-filled’ methods of the charismatic church, mentioned earlier, is constant and more often than not heated and fuelled by outraged traditionalists, who by the very definition of their belief system, have every right to be upset – and so there is somewhat of a standstill in moving forward.
Changes have happened though.
It is a convenient irony, in the context of this essay, that the most prevalent way in which the traditional church has begun to integrate aspects of the Charismatic Christian movement into its existence is the implementation of pop music! The use of pop music (and also pop punk music) as a form of worship in the charismatic church community has been gaining momentum in traditional churches over the last decade, it is not unusual to encounter contemporary worship styles in Protestant, Anglican and Presbyterian churches in the USA and we see more of these denominations adopting this worship style in Australia every year.
For the church, it seems it’s finding a balance that suits everyone is proving difficult. Spirit filled churches can begin to become ordered in their methods and have come under scrutiny for this, as is seen in the short parody film ‘Sunday Morning’ (2010). Likewise, traditional churches can go overboard in their attempts to implement contemporary elements and upset their members by losing sight of their own traditions. For example, A NSW Salvation Army Church (Presbyterian) recently launched their new youth group program with a launch event that promised music, dancing, pancakes, cool people, lollies, a paparazzi photo station … and God.
It may often be this initial lack of balance and the negative reception that results that deters Churches from continuing to explore innovation.
At this point in time it might be difficult to envision a genuine and wide spread merging of order and charism, but it does appear to be the direction the church is headed. If the similarities in the progressions of the church and music cultures and counter cultures are anything to go by, I would hope we would see the embracing of a new church culture that unites and balances ideals from both the traditional and contemporary formats.
 Moore-Gilbert. B & Seed. J (1992) Cultural Revolution? The Challenge of the Arts In The 1960s. London: Routledge.
 Scaruffi. P (2007) A History of Popular Music Before Rock Music. California: Omniware.
 Koehlinger. A. L. (2007) The New Nuns: Racial Justice and Religious Reform in the 1960s. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
 Duffy. E (2006) Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. New Haven: Yale.
 Poewe. K. (1994) Charismatic Christianity As A Global Culture. South Carolina: South Carolina Press.
 Bowe. B.J. (2010) The Clash: Punk Rock Band. New Jersey: Enslow Publishers Inc.
 Boehm Van Harmelen. R. (2009) When The Generation Gap Comes To Church. Christian Courier, June 22nd 2009 issue.
 Azurdia. A.G. (1999) Spirit Empowered Preaching: Involving the Holy Spirit in Your Ministry. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications.
 Deuteronomy 4:2, 1 Corinthians 13:8, Revelation 22:18-19.
 B. Kay. (2010) History Of Pop-Punk Music With Timeline. Florida: HubPages (http://hubpages.com/hub/History-of-Pop-Punk-Music-with-Timeline )
 Dilday. R. (2012) Contemporary Worship Not A Fix-All. Texas: Associated Baptist Press Inc.
Atheists are often accused of taking the bible out of context for the purposes of painting christianity / god / Jesus / whatever in a negative light, and of course this is true. It’s fun for atheists to cherry pick from the bible and leave the worst verses to stand alone and speak for themselves. Christians are quick to jump in when we do this “this is out of context, you need to read the entire chapter”, to which a favourite atheistic response is to quickly remind the disgruntled christian exactly where and how we learned to pick apart the bible this way….
As much as I enjoy this ‘reverse cherry picking’ I don’t see it us overly productive. It’s great for a laugh, but it also gives christians good reason to brush us off. I mean, if we’re just grabbing random negative verses and highlighting them to make our point, we’re just idiots who don’t understand how to read the bible and clearly have nothing of actual substance to offer.
No, they do not see the hypocrisy in this. Don’t even go there.
Personally I find it much more interesting to use the bible in it’s correct context to make a point of how lacking it is when it comes to the principles truth, life and morality. Doing this not only keeps conversations regarding the bible honest, but usually holds more weight with christians in conversation. Usually…..enter Dave!
I recently found myself engaged in a typical conversation online with three christian men which spawned when a friend of mine, Ryan, posted a status regarding rape culture. I like discussing things with Ryan, for a christian he has some amazing viewpoints and a decent ability to open his mind to the ideas of others. The conversation is below. I am more than happy to admit that I am not the most eloquent, brightest or most well read person on the planet…shit, I’m probably not even the smartest person in my own lounge room, so I’m not attempting to demonstrate that one group is smarter/better/more informed than the other. My point in posting this conversation is to show that christians really don’t care about the correct context of the bible, despite how much importance they place on it when atheists ‘misrepresent the word of god.’ It seems, in modern day christianity ‘the correct context’ really means ‘the context which makes god look good’. See here:
If you could get past the tl;dr aspect of the above, you’ll understand what I mean about the correct context not really mattering.
The verses I used in the discussion to illustrate the condoning of rape in the bible and the presence of victim blaming in terms of rape in the bible ARE in context. The verses I quoted are also clearly, in all cases, designed to be understood in a literal sense, they are either examples of Hebrew Law or commands issued directly from god. There is no logical reason to think that these laws and commands were written with the intention of them being understood in any way besides their literal meanings, there is also no literature supporting this idea, not from within christianity or outside of it. Dave and Zac confidentally disagree.
I see three glaring errors with Dave and Zac’s ‘side of the story…’;
Firstly. The argument that Dave and Zac are desperately trying to make, comes from William Lane Craig, who is famous for his ability to recontextualise biblical brutalities for the convenience and relief of christians everywhere who can’t help but see the same flaws as atheists and now need ANSWERS! This argument can be seen presented as it is intended by WLC himself here. As you can see, he chooses to ignore passages where god commands rape such as Zechariah 14:1-2 & 2 Samuel 12:11-14. WLC is exceptionally devious in his use of Deuteronomy 22.23, claiming it demonstrated that both parties involved in the rape were punished because the woman was engaged and committed adultery and that it is this violation of marriage that earner her punishment, not being raped. If we actually read the verse and also give it some context by adding the next verse Deuteronomy 22.24, we see this:
23 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her,
24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.
Reading this, we now know that the rapist is indeed punished for violating the terms of marriage, but the victim, she is punished for being in a town and not crying out for help. Zac made the mistake in his part of the facebook discussion of using this lack of crying out to justify her punishment, he has misunderstood that for that argument to work, he needs to do as WLC does and be dishonest about the context of the verse.
The second mistake the boys make is thinking that because they are using a WLC argument, that it must be a teleological / philosophical viewpoint, a method even WLC himself isn’t silly enough to try regarding this topic. Rather, his argument involves omitting information and context to to paint a different picture, not offering a philosophical perspective that causes a person to arrive at a different understanding. Dave and Zac have abstrusely (and likely accidentally) tried to fuse these two methods my omitting information and context and then labeling that dishonesty as a teleological perspective - worst of all, they then go on to peddle their ‘teleological contextual understanding’ of rape and victim blaming as the the intended understanding. PUH-LEASE! Perhaps, they honestly don’t know any better, but as christians claiming to live by the bible, they should know better - as followers of Jesus Christ, they should also know better morally, which is where their third mistake comes in.
This error doesn’t so much relate to the context, meaning or implications of rape in the bible, but instead speaks to the point of this blog. That christians really don’t care about correct bible context. By insisting that these examples of Hebrew law in the Old Testament are contextually correct and only need to be considered from a teleological perspective for this to become clear, it opens up the rest of the literal bible for the same treatment. This means that any and all of christians favourite biblical cherry pickings that are used in their literal sense can be, and should be subjected to teleological interpretation. Consider verses that christians like to use in a literal sense, such as those that comprise the creation story in Genesis, which has been under teleological fire for many years now and has been cause of one of the biggest divides within the christian community for centuries.
The Genesis story which has been understood in a literal sense for over 2000 years by billions of people has been scrutinised in modern times largely due to advancements in science which have given humanity more information regarding the universe, human biology, etc. One solution to combat this new information is to attach a teleological understanding to creation, either in whole (ie. the ‘creation IS the big bang’ argument), or to certain literal elements of the creation story (ie. the ‘1 day = 1000 years’ argument) - how ever much of the story a person chooses to amend in order for it comply with current information and scientific discorvery, it causes the bible to lose any authority it had as a literal work, something that fundamentalist christians are exceedingly upset about for obvious reasons, and rightfully so. For millenniums christians have put their trust in the knowledge that the bible is the perfect and flawless word of god, teleological perspective essentially calls that perfection into question by requiring the meaning and understanding of these words to be altered in order to suit modern times, to be flawless and perfect for modern society. Naturally this leads to the question of the ultimate perfection of god himself, and if you’re an atheist to the question of gods’ existence. These are not places any christian wants their own mind, or any persons mind to wander - so a divide has been created.
A division such as this, based on core beliefs and fundamental laws of christianity ultimately can not serve the mission of the faithful, which is to bring people to christ. Christianity is supposed to offer people the ultimate truth, not the option of versions of truth. Christianity is supposed lead people to the answer, not more questions or debate. Christianity is supposed to promote unity, not division, and it fails to do this not only with those outside of it, but also within itself. By failing to represent these three basic principles of christianity, the faithful are not only providing reasonable grounds for people to abandon this religious model but are also justifying the criticism it receives.
Christians are creating atheists and they don’t even know it!
My experiences with people who claim to follow Jesus but not be religious differ slightly from Mr Mehta’s in an interesting way, while he seems to have encountered people who reject religion and also the label of ‘christian’, all the non-religious christians I have know are still happy and proud to refer to themselves and identify as christian.
While the keeping or rejecting of this label is somewhat of a triviality, for those who are happy to keep it, this does imply that rather than removing the religion from christianity, they are removing christianity from religion. They want to keep christianity the associated label and simply re-brand it outside of the current concept of religion. Re-branding is something we see often in the corporate world, it can often be a strategy for businesses who have acquired a negative image they need to shed. A great and still on going example would be McDonalds fast food who, like religion, have come under fire for much of their existence. In the case of McDonalds, it is the majority of their menu items being unhealthy and this being directly responsible for childhood obesity, among other things. In recent years the company has re-branded themselves completely into a franchise who provides healthy options, promotes healthy living and responds to customer feedback.
But at the end of the day, we all still know exactly what McDonalds is, a shitty cheap fast food joint. The re-branding has done it’s job, we’ve all accepted the new image McDonalds has given itself, but the root of what caused it come under fire still exists. The fat filled burgers are still on the menu they’ve just been surrounded by a new philosophy and some salad!
Anyhoo, end segue. So, why has this sudden burst in non-religious christians come about anyway? Why the need to re brand? Like McDonalds, religion has come under fire, that’s nothing new, but what is new is the volume of people who are aware, informed and talking about it. It’s an obvious answer for atheists to assume that by re-branding christianity christians think they can separate their faith based belief system from the thousands of others out there. This needs to happen, because right along side us non-believers, christians have been experiencing the same influx of awareness and deluge of information regarding all things negative when it comes to religion. All the controversy, all the unsavoury history and all the doctrinal hypocrisy - they too have learned that RELIGION IS BAD! (Thanks internet!). So the hope is that this separation will somehow legitimise the christian belief system by claiming it has been wrongly lumped in with all these other false faiths - often even the christian church is included as an example of true christianity gone wrong.
For many people the awareness and information the internet provides has led them to atheism. For others it has proven biblical prophecy (1 Timothy 4:1-3) and enhanced their faith. Then there’s the Jesus group. The people who have learned that religion is an undeniable atrocity but who can not, and will not give up their saviour. In his article Hemant Mehta says that many of these people say they just want to “be like Jesus” and they’re right in claiming that that in itself is not religion, but as we all know, the ideology of being like Jesus is just the tip of a huge theological iceberg.
So what does it mean to be a true christian, to be like Jesus? I have heard so many versions of this from so many christians it’s hard to pin down a specific answer, but generally speaking the message is; christianity is a lifestyle choice based on the teachings and life of Jesus Christ as documented in the holy bible. It is a good choice because Jesus was a really good guy, oh, and PS. he was the son of god and the saviour of all mankind.
But it’s totally not a religion.
Unfortunately, just as christians like to use the definition of the word to label atheism a religion, we can use it here to show this new description of christianity still confines it to the box of religion. Semantic technicalities are a petty way of looking at this issue though. As I mentioned earlier it is the current concept of religion that christianity is trying to move away from and the concept that defines religion in a cultural sense is a belief in god - which god exactly, is irrelevant, just that there is a belief in a god. As long as christianity maintains this belief and as long as faith alone is required to maintain that belief, christianity, no matter how well re-branded, will be labelled a religion.
The simple solution would be to remove all the ‘goddish’ and magical elements from christianity and truly bring it back to that grass roots claim that christianity is just a choice to ‘be like Jesus’ which, again generally speaking, means to be a good person and help others. Does he really need to be the son of god to be seen as a good example? Of course not! And is separating from the god concept really such a bad idea? I mean christians are already accepting that religion itself is flawed, the doctrine is flawed, the church is flawed and they are making changes. Why not take it one step further and remove the biggest flaw of all? There are many answers, all of them fear based. The two most dominant reasons in my mind during my de conversion from christianity that kept me clinging to the god concept were; the fear of loneliness, and the fear of death. I am positive the same is true for many christians currently wrestling with maintaining their faith.
When you’re a christian, you don’t simply believe in god and Jesus. You know them. It’s a living relationship and it’s personal. Christians know Jesus the way they know their family, their friends, etc. Calling it a belief can even seem condescending. Knowing god rather than just believing in him is great as it tends to completely negate those two fears I mentioned above. There is no loneliness when god is always with you, he is always loving you, encouraging you, and he is always there for you - you have no reason to feel alone, EVER. That is valuable. Even more valuable is the promise of heaven, not so much because it sounds like an awesome good time up there, but because it takes away the mystery and fear of death - it gives an answer to the unanswerable question - ‘what happens when we die?’. And what a fabulous thing to not only be given an answer to that question, but the answer actually transforms that fear of deaths mystery into joy. Who would want to give that up? Nobody!
For these promises to remain intact god must exist. Without god, there is nobody when you’re alone and there is nothing to alleviate the fear of death. So they are unable to separate Jesus the man from the deity he has been unfairly conjoined to for 2000 years. They need him to be the son of god, his teaching, life example and conviction of his beliefs mean absolutely nothing - unless he is the son of god. How sad! How sad that these teachings and examples are only worth following if there are prizes to be had. How sad that an amazing human being who died upholding his beliefs is only celebrated by so many because they attach him to a god. Jesus is just not enough for christians - they need their god rewards and they will manipulate every element, every tradition, everything sacred within the christian institution in order to keep them, even if it means essentially abandoning and rejecting the lessons of their saviour.
Christians need to make a choice. Either, have your god, and call Jesus Christ his son, and accept that framing your beliefs in this way makes christianity a religion OR leave god behind, free yourself from the constraints of the bible, and accept christ for the amazing human being he was and allow yourself to truly follow his example because you can see how kick ass he was and how extraordinary it was for someone to have lived such a life and affected so many people.
It’s true that Jesus died for you, though not for your sins, or to fulfil a prophecy, he died to set an example for us. He shows us that the idea of spreading peace, offering service and complete acceptance of one another are the only values worth dying for. He died not with a promise of heaven, or knowledge of prophecy (where’s the awesomeness in that anyway?), he died simply as a man. How insulting to him that this extremely brave and revolutionary human act is minimised to the point where people more or less believe that Jesus was born for the sole purpose of being killed on that cross, that he was placed on Earth just to die for you. What a fallacy! And how selfish!
This needs to change. Christ needs to be saved from chirstianity, as religion continues to fade so will the memory of this courageous human being. Christians everywhere need to fight against this, and the only way to do this is to release Jesus from his ‘god prison’ let him go. See him for who is, not what you need him to be to make yourself feel ok.
1 Peter 2: 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
Let’s just say I’ve experienced a divine intervention, I have met god face to face and I am left with no doubt of his existence, and let’s just say this particular experience left me 100% certain that the real god is the christian god, rather than one of the other 1000’s of potential deities we know of. So now what do I do?
I know that being a christian means you need to need to live life according to the gospel, and the best place to learn how to do this is church. Church is also essential because christianity is not something you’re supposed to be alone in, it means you are a member of the body of christ and have a duty to be involved in that community unless you’re literally unable to do so, which I am not!
So now I need to decide on a church, which christian denomination suits me best? And most importantly, which one teaches the gospel correctly, as god intended? While the lord might have let me know he existed, he gave me no specific information on where or how to worship! I know all of my christian friends are going to tell me only their church is the right one, so that’s no help. I think my only option is to sift through the different types of christianity and see which one most fits my personal experience of god and the bible.
I’ve made decision the limit my choices to only 8 of 41,000+ different types of christianity (yes that’s FOURTY ONE THOUSAND different christian denominations) because if I try to study them all, I will likely die before having the chance to join any. Seeing as these different denominations have come about because disagreements regarding the interpretation of the gospel/scripture and god’s laws, especially when it comes to salvation and lifestyle, I must be sure to choose wisely and correctly.
The christian churches my friends belong to are: catholic, lutheran, pentecostal, baptist, anglican, mormon, salvation army and 7th day adventist - so I might just check them out so no matter what church I join, I’ll have a friend to sit with, and seeing as they’re the ones who inspired me to try and connect with god, I’m sure one of them must have it right!
Catholic - Kicked off around 300AD. These guys believe the pope represents Jesus. They consider the virgin mary to be the queen of heaven and she must be worshipped along Jesus and god. They also pray to mary and all the saints as well as Jesus and god. Services are ultra-traditional. They believe that entry into heaven is not a sure thing, even if you are a good christian. Salvation can only be achieved through baptism, adhering strictly to the sacraments and constant repentance - and you must work for/earn your salvation, faith alone wont save catholics or get them into heaven. Constant child sex abuse allegations is a massive negative. They have priests.
Lutheran - Started by Martin Luther in 1520AD. They worship god through Jesus and believe that faith in Jesus and the grace of god are the only ways to achieve salvation. The Lutheran church considers the traditions and rituals of other christian denominations a bad thing, a distraction that can prevent people from achieving salvation. They believe these traditions distract people from truly living a christian lifestyle by replacing works/service with christian traditions. They have pastors.
Pentecostal - The pentecostal church has muddled origins but it’s establishment as a distinct charismatic christian denomination traces back to the year 1900 and a guys called Charles Parham. These guys are all about Jesus and believe faith in Jesus is the only way to god, and salvation. They have an emphasis on the spirit and things like spiritual healing, intercessory prayer and knowledge of the holy spirit. They are known for casual dress, secular style worship and being a very socially orientated church. They are also know to preach the prosperity gospel which teaches that faith in god will achieve wealth. A lot of churches don’t like the ideology of the pentacostal church as it goes against biblical teachings. They have pastors.
Baptist - An amalgamation of other churches that started in the 1600s. They believe that faith in god and his grace alone lead to salvation and that it can’t be earned. Consider scripture their sole authority, any other laws don’t matter. They don’t believe that kids should be baptised, only people who are professed believers. Only people who have been born again can go to their church. They have pastors.
Anglican (Episcopal) - AKA: The church of England. The church of England was founded by St Augustine in 957 AD and was originally part of the catholic church. Separation from the RC church happened when King Henry III couldn’t get an his marriage annulled so he created a new denomination that would allow the annulment. A lot of the anglican church traditions and beliefs are the same as the catholics. Some differences are, anglicans don’t believe Mary remained a virgin and believe she had other children after Jesus, catholics believe the opposite. The pope has no authority in the anglican church. Anglicans don’t uphold all the catholic sacramental traditions, only baptism and holy communion remain. Unlike catholics, anglicans don’t believe works (doing good things) are necessary in order to attain salvation, it can be achieved by faith alone. They have traditional church services but are loosening up on their worship style and allowing more secular elements, catholics aren’t. They have priests.
Mormon (Church of Latter Day Saints) - On of the newer christian denominations. Founded by Joseph Smith in the 1820s, mormonism is quite a unique brand of christianity in that they not only have the holy bible but they are also in possession of something called the ‘Latter Day Scripture’, also called ‘the book of mormon’. This book contains new witness testimony about Jesus and says he visited north america after his resurrection. They follow strict lifestyle rules that prohibit things like, coffee, tea, alcohol, dancing, drugs, dating etc. They often dress very conservatively and believe polygamy is the way god intended marriage. They believe in 2 types of salvation, the first says that everyone gets salvation, and that people are assigned to different levels of heaven based on their lives, there is no hell. The second type of salvation is conditional and rewarded to those who obey the gospel diligently and do many works. These people enter the highest level of heaven. They have priests.
Salvation Army - William Booth founded the Salvos in the 1860s. The salvation army church believe that church and charity are one and the same and always endeavour to help people in need. They don’t belief in smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. They don’t practice baptism or communion as they believe these rituals lead people to believe there is no reason to live a life of service. They are vehemently against homosexuality and have been known to turn away gay people from their churches and refuse them charity even in the most desperate of situations, unless the gay person agrees to change their sexual orientation. They believe salvation is achieved through repentance towards god, faith in Jesus and being regenerated by the holy spirit. They church is very social in nature and is moving toward a more secular worship style. They have officers.
Seventh Day Adventist - The newest of the 8 christian denominations I’m looking at. Stemming from the Millerite (names after it’s founder William Miller) movement of the 1840s. Like Mormons 7DAs are very conservative and have very specific dietary requirements including the prohibition of smoking and alcohol. They also adhere to a kosher diet and are often vegetarian. They believe in modesty and conservative dress, not allowing jewellery beyond a watch or wedding ring. They prohibit piercings and tattoos, though many young adventists are rebelling against these rules. They believe in the entire bible OT and NT. They believe Jesus return is imminent. They believe in salvation the faith and grace alone. They have ministers.
So there are my choices. I can see pro’s and con’s in all. I like the idea of the catholic church because it’s the oldest christian denomination, there’s got to be something said for that. Lutheran seems good because they’re not focused on rituals and traditions, just having faith which does seem pure…but then again according to the catholics not performing these rituals means I might not be saved. Anglicans seem to meet both these denominations in the middle, the believe in a couple of the traditional rituals, but also emphasise that faith in the gospel is the most important part of salvation. I am a bit deterred by the origins of the anglican church though, it seems to have been created because of one guys desire to not be with his wife, and went against the gospel to get his way. I don’t see that as a solid foundation for biblical teachings.
Mormonism appeals to me quite a bit, they do have some crazy laws, but they are in possession of the most recent gospels. They most recent words from Jesus christ. Surely that should mean their teachings are the most relevant. Then again the seventh day adventist church is even newer than the mormon church and they don’t believe in those things, even though they share similar lifestyle guidelines. Advenists make it easier to reach salvation though, which is a plus. It would be hard to choose between both these denominations, they both seem to be the most legitimately focused on following the bible.
Then there’s Pentecostal and Salvation Army. These both seem like really fun churches. Both are very socially orientated, they don’t have any strict rules or regulations. The path to salvation is based on faith alone. I’d probably lean more towards the salvation army, as I don’t really like the way pentecostal churches reinterpret the gospel, I mean that’s the word of god, if all these other churches believe the word of god is perfect as it is, I don’t see why this church feels the need to change it. Even if it does make it easier to live a life in line with gospel teachings, that just seems dishonest. The Salvo’s seem to be more into taking the gospel at face value and backing that up by living lives of service. They also follow some of the clean living guidelines that mormons and adventists adhere too, which is cool. But I really don’t agree with the discrimination they put into the world and then judgement they put upon people who don’t fit into their version of the gospel. I might not have learned much about Jesus yet, but I know he wasn’t the kind of guy to turn someone away. So, based on that I don’t think the salvo’s are the right choice for me.
So what am I to do? Each of these institutions have good and bad points, and each one conflicts with the other in vital ways. It almost makes me think that maybe none of these churches have it right. Maybe I should just read the bible myself and pray to god for guidance and that will be enough. Although, the bible makes it very clear that the church isn’t really about going to a building to pray, it’s about being a part of a community, the body of christ - an essential part of christianity. That makes individual fellowship a non-option.
I have a couple of friends who claim to be non-denominational and just follow Jesus, but from everything I’ve read in the bible, that lifestyle can not lead to salvation as they’re not submitting to the gospel 100% and therefore not real christians, just really nice people who think Jesus is a good example to follow because he is the son of god. They do adhere to some of the bibles teachings, but only the ones that work for them, and only things in the new testament.. It’s almost like they consider the bible just an old book of suggestions rather than the concrete word of god. I’m really not sure that’s what I’m looking for.
I guess I’ll have wait for someone to explain to me which one (if any) of these denominations will teach me the correct things in order to be a good christian. Which makes me very happy this is just a hypothetical situation, I fear I would be waiting a long time before someone could show me why any particular christianity is the right one.
Now please stop telling young woman to dress like sluts because it is their right.
Stupid tumblr children with your immature delusions of society. Going to get people killed one day.
STOP EXPLOITING TRAGEDY FOR PERSONAL GAIN!
(WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTO & OPEN LETTER)
Dear Jesus Daily and Dr. Aaron Tabor,
I am writing to let you know that I am deeply troubled by your daily doses of tragedy-porn and “like-whoring” efforts. Most recently, the attached (very graphic) image of a poor baby boy his chest cavity open for all to see.
I have no problem with people praying. I have no problem with pages asking for ‘likes’. What I have a problem with is when you use the shock-and-awe of other people’s tragedies for your own benefit. And, please don’t lie to me - these ‘likes” aren’t for this poor baby, they are for your page, your content, and your celebrity status in this sick & twisted new genre of tragedy porn that helps perpetuate delusional narcissism.
ONE RECYCLED HOAX = ONE MILLION LIKES!
Most of all: why are you sharing this image in the first place? This image has already been used in a number of tragedy-porn hoaxes over the last few years, meant to gain “likes” from naive, well-meaning people! (Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick image search: http://bit.ly/19Mbhpo) Some of these previously recycled hoaxes even went as far as to say that “1 share = 1 dollar” donation. How dare you take advantage of your fans in this way! You have gained over 23,000,000 fans because they trust you, yet - you betray this trust by recycling emotion-fllled hoaxes. Shame on you, your trusting fans deserve better!
1 LIKE = 1 PRAYER? 1 SHARE = 2 PRAYERS? SAYS WHO?
(Why not just, well, you know… PRAY?) I’m not saying that this poor child didn’t deserve ALL the help he could get. If I could give $50 to his medical fund, I would. But - I can’t, because you provide absolutely no information about the child or his condition - because all you appear to really be worried about is getting your fans to “like” the post, so more of their friends see it and “like” the page, “like” the post, and so on, and so on…
JESUS SAID, “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.” Matthew 6:5
Now sure, you can claim that you are a victim in all of this, that some anonymous fan sent you the image, and you just ‘fell for it” like the rest of your poor fans. However, as I browse through your timeline, I see a lot of evidence of recycling old images - complete with brand new stories. (But, I get it - you’ve been very smart about your wording with these posts - keep the details just vague enough and nobody can call you a liar, right?) Brilliant marketing!
Well - I don’t “like” your post, Jesus Daily. In fact, I am absolutely disgusted by it. Even in my many years of full time ministry, I found these types of guilt-and-shame tactics to be abhorrent.. Our page has had many images banned/blocked because they quote actual Bible verses that make people uncomfortable. Yet, you use these tragic images of people’s pain and suffering every day for your own benefit? SHAME ON YOU!
TO JESUS DAILY FANS: I love you. I’m sure many of you do pray for this poor anonymous child. Do so! However, you may do so without becoming a willing participant in tragedy porn that traumatizes other viewers who have had terrifying losses of their own. You can do you research to find that this image has been used over and over again. You can think for yourself and not play into the promotion of this tabloid-level smut. STOP ENCOURAGING THIS!
And, before somebody tries to tell me, “Oh, but this is just a tiny group of odd Christians who…” Nonsense! The page has over 23 MILLION fans of this bizarre content. This is a problem! A Jersey-Shore-Meets-Relgious-Grandstanding sort of problem. An “I’m doing my part in this world by clicking ‘like” instead of engaging in the real world,” kind of problem.
I wish this poor anonymous child nothing but the best in life. I hope that he had the best medical attention available to him and was able to get a fighting chance in this beautiful world. I hope that his family was able to find some sort of peace in the middle of a living nightmare. But, most of all - I hope they aren’t further traumatized years later to find their poor child’s broken body has been put on display for you to get a few more ‘likes’ for your page.
At the end of the day, one “like” doesn’t equal one prayer. It equals one nod of agreement from people who are addicted to seeing this type of content, so they feel like something, anything they do has a purpose. You have simply become one of the grand masters of exploiting this very human trait. If this image is years old (as we’ve proven), can’t you just admit that one like = one stroke of your ego?
Please, Jesus Daily - I just ask that use a little discretion!
But, congratulations on your 23,000,000 fans and your 500,000 likes for this latest instance of manipulative tragedy porn. You must be so proud!
(SIDE DISCLAIMER: In addition to losing one child at this age, I have another who suffers from lifelong disabilities that require traumatic surgeries from time to time. If someone were to use either of these tragedies for the own likewhoring, I would hunt them down. I thought of leaving the image unedited to give a stronger impact, but - nobody should ever have to accidentally stumble across this sort of thing.)
Row row row - dlae
my pal did this. stoked he’s finally getting some attention for his little doodle!