Hearty Heresy


Nothing Fancy, Just Apostasy
February 16, 2007, 6:09 pm
Filed under: Hell, Jesus

I’m not going to hide the fact that this blog is a direct response to the increasingly ubiquitous presence of old-fashioned, reward-and-punishment Xianity on the web. I’ve been there and I’ve done it and I can say with certainty that anyone who tells you that God’s love is dependent on you accepting a blood sacrifice for your sins has a suffering hero complex (see Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ for a graphic depiction). What’s troubling me is that more and more Xian churches are hiding this toxic theology behind a blitzkrieg of stage lights and a barrage of praise music…and spiffy websites, including heartfelt blogs from hip young preachers. Well, it’s all just a lighter shade of blood red lipstick on the same old anguished face: you either believe what they believe, or you burn in hell.

Exhibit A: This recent post from Perry Noble dot com, “Today I was able to recast the vision of NewSpring Church…to reach the lost in this community for Christ…to take Jesus outside the walls…to see our entire community come to faith in Christ. In fact, today NewSpring launched our first ‘anti’ campaign…we are ‘anti-hell,’ we don’t want anyone to go to hell…and our campaign slogan is ‘Hell…NO!!!'”

“NewSpring” Church…makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, don’t it? We’ll Pastor Noble’s pretty clear about the underlying theology–“Jesus hanging naked on a cross and dying for us”–and it’s a far cry from the best of what Jesus actually taught. That’s what we’ll be talking about here, mostly: the unfiltered teachings of Jesus. We’ll also be keeping an eye on these rock star pastors who insist on attaching some pretty nasty strings to God’s love. In the meantime, consider this translation of Matthew 11:30: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

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3 Comments so far
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I think your ideas are reflected by an increasing number of people in America today. At the same time, it sounds like you have a story (or two) behind how you arrived at your current position.

Would you say you’re burned on God? Church? Christianity as a political/social movement? All of the above?

Jesus was unbelievably revolutionary, and Matthew 11:30 is probably one of the statements that got him killed. How do you think these words apply today?

Comment by Steven

Yeah, there is a story or two behind all this (and I hope to tell much of it here). I’m definitely not burned out on God…as long as we don’t try too hard to put God into a box of our own design. As far as the church goes, the rise of nondenominational conservative and evangelical churches is a bit disturbing, especially in their willingness to align themselves with political conservatives. Christianity as a social movement? I don’t mind progressive evangelicals and mainstream liberals, as long as they keep the “least of these” in mind.

Your last question, though, gets to the heart of the matter. Jesus was preaching a way of living that was counter to both the Jewish and the Roman cultures he was raised in. I suppose the way he speaks to us today is still countercultural–to the dominant religious and political forces in America. There is real power in the best parts of what Stephen Mitchell called “The Gospel According to Jesus,” and the words from Matthew quoted above point to that power…live with the unforced rhythms of grace…live freely and lightly. Thanks for your comments, Steve.

Comment by heartyheretic

[…] Oh, and God loves you sooooooo much!” So the only minister I’ve named so far is Perry Noble, who’s started a “no hell” campaign at his church. He doesn’t want anyone […]

Pingback by Who’s Preaching the Real Gospel? « Hearty Heresy




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