Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Theological Bull$%!&

Here in the buckle of the Bible belt you don't have to drive too far to read all sorts of crap that passes for "sound theology" in today's conservative churches. They are the source of much amusement for me and would be even more amusing if so many people didn't buy into this kind of claptrap about God. So, I'm going to start writing regularly about the theological bull$%!& I regularly see around my area.

I'll provide photographic evidence of as much of this crap as I can, but I didn't have the camera when I read this morning's gem:

"Are you ready to meet him in your present condition?"

Theologically there are so many problems with this statement, but let's focus on the major underlying assumption: "You have to change your ways before you'll ever be acceptable to God. You are such a scum sucking worm that God could never, ever love you as you are right now, so shape up, jerk, or you'll spend an eternity burning in HELL!"

But, they can't fit all that on a small message board, so they go with the shorthand:

"Are you ready to meet him in your present condition?

My answer is, "Yes, of course."

Why? Because God meets ME in my present condition. God isn't waiting somewhere far off ignoring me until I clean up my act, wash my face and stop that damn sinning. Instead, God is with us constantly, getting dirty with us. God meets us every minute in those moments when we think bad thoughts about others and in those moments when we have rare altruistic thoughts without a selfish motive. God is with us in the good times and the bad - when we're wishing the idiot driving the car in front of us would swerve off the road and out of our way and also when we're coming to the aid of someone who just swerved off the road in front of us.

Anyone who tells someone else that they must change before God can love them is lying. Plain and simple. Those who put the sign up are probably the smugly self-righteous crowd who believe that yes, they have properly cleaned up their act and God is favoring them even as they finish spelling out their theological bull$%!&.

God tells us we can come to Her heavy laden and unburden ourselves. We don't have to come unburdened and all fixed. God is the one who does any repair work that's needed. Trying to change ourselves without God's help or thinking that we can win God's favor by even trying is the real sin here.

Here's the truth - God is with you now, in your present condition, and She thinks you're incredibly wonderful.



Rev Suzie said...

Comment: Couldn't make much sense of the statement since if I need to change before I meet God, then assuming I would be attempting to change for the grace of God blessing, where God comes in with the help and love she has for us that forgives.

It very much sounds like we individuals need to clean up our act before we present our self to God for forgiveness and love.

If we have done that then how many would feel need to do that.

Does mainline Christianity suggest that we do our own salvation by cleaning up our act and changing our present condition, whatever that refers to.

Lets see, I change my ways; I present myself before God and I get a tap on the shoulder for the person I am............isn't there a ritual in there somewhere?

Candace Chellew-Hodge said...

Not sure about the ritual, Rev. Suzie, but there is a little something called "works righteousness" that signs like these promote.

We only truly change when we open our lives to the God that dwells within us.

James Flanders (the Bald Preacher Dude) said...

Hey there,

Reading this post, a quote from one of my favorite books came to mind (it's fairly long...so please bear with me). I guess it's more than a a quote...more like an excerpt...half a page long or so...

“I don’t know why every time someone starts talking about the gospel, some detractor yells, “Cheap grace! Cheap grace!” Listen, if it weren’t cheap, you and I couldn’t afford it. If it cost us one thing – our commitment, our obedience, our religious actions, or anything else – it would remain in the store and on the shelf.

“God granted us his grace because of the cross of Christ. It was a gift, given to us with a card attached, the message written in the blood of God’s own Son. If is a gift that makes us righteous – and it has not come cheap. Nevertheless, it must be “cheap” to us – free, actually – or it would never be ours.

“My friend Charlie Jones ... reminded me once, when I was teaching on grace, of the time people asked Martin Luther about works of penance – works that naturally flow from genuine faith and trust in Christ. Luther replied that he supposed that was OK, but then questioned what kind of arrogance would make Christians think that anything they could do would ever be more sufficient than “the blood of God’s own Son.”

“What kind, indeed?”

Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom, p. 87

Candace Chellew-Hodge said...

“What kind, indeed?”

Thanks, James. Good stuff!


James Flanders (the Bald Preacher Dude) said...

If you've never read anything by Steve Brown, you may want to check out "A Scandalous Freedom." It's a great book.

He does a great job of smacking you between the eyes (in a loving way) with a huge heaping helping of GRACE.

I don't agree with all that he has to say (but then again I don't agree with all that anyone has to say...plus if I agreed with all that he or anyone else had to say, that would that one of us isn't thinking...and I like to "think" that I am thinking) but he is a great communicator.

It's sad to me how so many diminish the grace of God (and the power of what Jesus has done for us)and who completely lose sight of the good news by mucking it all up with a works centered righteousness. The church today still struggles with the same things that believers struggled with in Galatia and Colosse.

Please excuse the messy sentence above. I am more of a talker than a writer. I tend to have a difficult time writing without a lot of ( )'s, run on sentences, and fragmented thoughts.

But...as Peter said on the Mount of Transfiguration: "It's good to be here." (Luke 9...or somewhere in that neightborhood)

Have a great day!