Ms. Parker, Happy Labor Day!
What follows may seem harsh. I am a man of faith; not of religion. Having read your Sunday Post column on evangelicals, I offer what follows.
I left a company in 1993 as one of its vice presidents to enter theology school/seminary. At that time I was 48 years old. I took that route as the result of a profound spiritual experience.
Although I am a graduate theologian and ordained in the Episcopal tradition, I have remained in the private business sector. Two fellow clergy said that I should not join the organized Church because I have “too much to say”. I am not swayed by dogma or doctrine. Much in the traditions of Native Americans and Buddha, I embrace the Divine as Spirit. By the way, are you aware that most of the prized Jesuit writers studied Buddha (including my mentor into seminary)?
Having shared that, I must say that I consider all E(e)vangelicals a cult. They are further from God and Christ than the Great Satan.
How can I say that, you might ask?
By original Merriam-Webster definition, “evangelical” refers to one who believes the four Gospels to be the spoken word of Jesus of Nazareth. Some will included The Acts of the Apostles in that collection, although The Acts are not part of the Gospels. Evangelicals and fundamentalists fail at multiple to follow the Teachings found in the Gospels.
Years ago, not long after completing my graduate degree in Judeo-Christian Theology, I happened to be speaking with a young lady who described herself as a “big E” evangelical. The small “e” evangelicals simply weren’t equal to the big “E”. I was not amused. Then this woman asked if I knew of any “big E” churches in the Boston area where I was living at the time. Logically, as one of those “dangerously liberal Episcopalians” I responded, “No. I know of no such church in this area.’ She then responded, “I just want a church were I can ‘get down with Jesus’. I don’t want any of the love crap.” WOW! I sat back, fully stunned.
That attitude pervades the evangelical, fundamentalist and Pentecostal cultures. They focus on what is wrong with YOU; not where they are failing or how many “sins” they have committed. The evangelical/fundamentalist movement since the early1990s has resulted in many self-claiming Christians to avoid even discussing our faith out of embarrassment and a sense of shame over the distortions created by the evangelicals and fundamentalists.
As a homosexual male, I have a keen understanding of the hatred and animosity (vile venom) that flows freely from the mouths of evangelicals and fundamentalists. WHO are they to say that I am not a Child of God? I am who and what I am by the Grace of God. I refuse to take the stilted posture that I – I – can take the place of or speak on behalf of God. If one fully understands faith, one accepts that “sins” of the Spirit are far worse and more egregious than “sins” of the flesh.
The fact these cults are taking an active role in politics without punishment or the cessation of their tax-free status speaks volumes on how the idea of separation of church and state is being (and, has been) widely violated. Let us not forget how Jerry Falwell was appointed to Reagan’s NSC; both men believing that HIV/AIDS was “God’s punishment” for being queer. How convenient they ignored the forty million heterosexual Africans infected with HIV!!
No, Ms. Parker, evangelicals are not true and faithful followers of Jesus. They are a cult that thrives on demonizing those who do not embrace their corrupt form of theology. They are every bit the Seed of Satan, and they have reached their pinnacle by nurturing that Seed in its most public and profound agent: Donald J. Trump. I doubt Trump believes in any god but himself, by the way.
Christianity as faith and religion has been dying through the ages. Roman Catholic priests and clergy are yet another example of the disease that is consuming the Christian faith.
I grew up in the 1950s, born exactly one week after D-Day. We said a prayer before every meal; even when dining out (which was quite seldom). Growing up in the Lutheran Church where I was baptized and confirmed, I was in choir; youth leadership; Boy Scouts and fundraising. I believe those basics provided a good and solid foundation for me as a person; but not necessarily as a “religious” person. We did not express a need to proselytize. We simply embraced our own beliefs. Our faith was private.
Jesus of Nazareth warns about the hypocrites, the false prophets; the judgmental members of the tribe; the stone throwers; those who dare to stand on the Head of God. Evangelicals do not welcome the Teachings of Jesus. If they did, their world would be far different and our world would be far less toxic and much better off.
(The Reverend) M. Vincent Turner