Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You might as well pray to a Baal of hay

I've talked about civil religion ad nauseum. So I'll let True Discernment take a shot at it:

[M]odern American Christendom has created many versions of Jesus that hardly resemble the Jesus who is revealed in Scripture. Having created a god to their own liking, those who worship “American Jesus” are no less idolatrous and no more Christian than the woodcarver I’ve just described.

What are the differences between American Jesus and Bible Jesus?...

American Jesus doesn’t stress holiness nearly so much. He certainly never says that obedience is essential for one to gain eternal life. Those who believe that are legalists, he says. He is always stressing God’s grace, but it is a grace that overlooks and forgives yet doesn’t transform. American Jesus believes that faith without works can save and that there is an entire class of heaven-bound believers called “carnal Christians” who are indistinguishable from unsaved people.

Actually, I have a different perspective on this point. In my view, "American Jesus" is entirely works-based, but the works aren't all that heavy. If you're "pretty good" and if you believe in "the big man in the sky," you'll do all right.

Back to True Discernment:

American Jesus...believes that once you are saved you will always be saved. You are guaranteed a place in heaven regardless of how you live your life.

There are some valid theological questions here which I need to explore at a future point.

American Jesus promises that all his own will be taken up to heaven before any tribulation begins, because surely God would not allow the people he loves to be so persecuted. (Those who believe in American Jesus often have little idea of how much persecution is being endured around the world by those who believe in Bible Jesus. Neither do they care.) American Jesus will return twice, and His second return will follow His first return by seven years. He forgot to tell his disciples about this.

Actually, "American Jesus" doesn't even believe in a tribulation, because there is no end time. Let's face it - my desire for the United States to eventually cease to exist is, in the view of the country, treasonous. "American Jesus" believes that the country will ascend to Heaven as is - or, alternatively, that Heaven is here.

American Jesus often tells his followers [that] He wants to give them more treasures to lay up on earth and make them even richer than they already are. He promises prosperity for just 10% of their income....American Jesus teaches his disciples to pray the prayer of Jabez and to claim their covenant rights to gain more wealth.

Well, we certainly see enough of that. Which reminds me - is the Jabez craze still hot and heavy, or is it now passe?

American Jesus rarely mentions repentance. He most often just asks people to accept him as savior.

Oh, so true, because America Is Never Wrong.

Here are some of the other characteristics of "American Jesus":

American Jesus doesn’t want to scare anyone by mentioning hell, as it might offend people who are going to hell, and that hinders church growth.

American Jesus tells his ministers that their goal is to gather the largest possible crowds on Sunday mornings.

American Jesus [states] [s]inners and addicts must wait until heaven for any hope of freedom. American Jesus does offer psychological counseling and support groups.

American Jesus believes one can be a heaven-bound believer even if he never becomes a disciple, which is an optional step for believers who really want to commit themselves to him.

More here.

(The title of this post, by the way, is from a silly kid's play production about Josiah.)

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