Jesus Ate With Judas

An Episcopal blogger gets it right by giving evangelicals a “dressing down” for their spiritual arrogance. In part she says,

I would challenge the conservative/evangelical faction to start accepting their own place and stop trying to evangelize by pointing fingers. Talk about what YOU believe, not what’s wrong with what WE believe. Stop trying to make yourselves sound superior by putting us down for seeing the value of ALL God’s children that our baptismal covenant describes, not just the ones that are heterosexuals or allow priests who don’t happen to have a certain level of male hormones and equipment. We really are complimentary parts of a whole, you know. Our dedication to the social gospel meshes nicely with your emphasis on conversion of the soul. Our emphasized parts of the Bible are different from yours but between us we cover pretty much the whole thing. We could use maybe a little of your zeal for evangelism but I think you could use our acceptance of reason and experience and intelligence as well as scripture. Your desire for a hierarchical and covenanted church based on your beliefs and interpretations contrasts with our focus more on the priesthood of all believers and democratic polity. The two parts of the whole, Yours and Mine, together make a strong statement, stronger than either of us can make alone.

I wish evangelicals/conservatives could see that there is room at the table for all of us. I could throw in the idea that Jesus didn’t refuse to celebrate the Last Supper with Judas who would betray him so why must conservatives/evangelicals refuse to share an altar rail with people whom they see as impure, imperfect and sinful. We’re all sinners, every last one of us whether Christian or not. Maybe if we talked more about the good news and less about what the other side does wrong, we both might be stronger.

And we wouldn’t have to be like Southern Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Calvinists or anybody else. We could just be us — two parts of a whole, working together to bring about the kingdom of God both now and hereafter sharing a Book of Common Prayer as well as a Holy Bible. Now that might be the best kind of evangelism of all. There is room for those of us who like quiet contemplation as well as those who like feel-it-in-the-gut, dance-it-in-the-aisle praise bands. There is room for the social activist and the evangelical preacher.

If there was room for Judas, then who are we (or you) to say “There is no room for you unless…”

Amen to this as well. Boy, bloggers are beginning to see the big picture about the spiritual pride of evangelicals and I hope evangelicals take it to heart. NO ONE wants to hear how super spiritual you are and how sinful the rest of us are! I hope the backlash continues because only then will the Church become the inclusive community it was intended to be.


18 thoughts on “Jesus Ate With Judas

  1. ps i agree that the blogging world does seem to be becoming much more openminded. i think this is great, and will have repercussions over time in the local churches too,


  2. As a Lutheran I inhabit the spectrum that criticizes evangelical Christians. I find it difficult to accept the constant focus on overcoming sin instead of Gods grace. At times I feel I have more in common with people of other faiths than with my own evangelical Christian brothers and sisters. It is a sad place to be.

  3. fblishen,

    Welcome to the blog! 🙂

    I agree about the over-emphasis on sin rather than grace. I agree that it hurtful to be part of a community that sees nothing but sin and offers no grace in return. That’s the whole point of my blog really. By opening myself up to other faithful, it’s helped me tremendously to know that others feel the same way and that the tide is really shifting away from this type of piety into a more inclusive graceful LOVE.

  4. Wow… MOI, I may just agree with you 100% on this one…

    How have we forgotten that Jesus wined and dined with tax collectors, prostitutes, and theives? Sharing a meal in 1st century mesopotamia was one of the MOST intimate things one could do! And now people barely get their hands dirty, or take “field trips” to make themselves feel better about being socially active.

    Loving is a way of life, not just something we do once in a while.

    I hope and pray that our churches are filled with more non-Christians than Christians. I hope and pray that the message of Jesus is FINALLY communicated in a relevant and truthful way.

    I hope and pray that we (Evangelicals) can repent of the historical record of pride and hyper-spiritualism to not keep shooting ourselves in the foot and actually minister to and love our nieghbor in a way that is far more Christ-like.

    (If you haven’t noticed, this is a drumb I often beat. This same BS attitude is what kept me from becoming a Christian for the first 2 decades of my life.)

    Excellent point, excellent post. For more, check out the amazing Francis Schaeffer. You would really dig his stuff.

  5. P.S. When I said,

    “I hope and pray that our churches are filled with more non-Christians than Christians. ”

    I meant was that so many non-believers would want to hear the compelling message of Christ that they would outnumber even those who have already accepted Him. I did not mean that I don’t like Christians or that I don’t want them in the church. It kinda defeats the purpose!

  6. Brad,

    I know what you meant about non-Christians. But I think in our time, non-Christians have heard enough from Christians, and not the good kind either! Why do we always get a soundbite from Christian fundies like Pat Robertson who calls for the death of this or that political leader on a regular basis? I really wish the progressive Christian community like this Episcopal bloggers community and others would make their voices heard. But that’s why I’ve blogrolled Talk to Action and Get Religion, both excellent web sites dealing with a little louder political viewpoints.

  7. Ahhh, Pat Robertson… another in need of a good “layong on hands.” 🙂

    I found Get Religion to be very interesting… as there does seem to be some taboo topics or avoidances in the media. Talk to Action… ehh, I’m not so sure about. I prefer to keep my faith and politics outside of party lines, so it doesn’t seem to be terribly unique.

    And as for progressive Christian communities… I identify far more with the likes of Mark Driscoll, the EPC, and Acts 29 than the Episcopal Church. They err on the side of ceap grace far too often (see my most recent series of posts for more on that though).

  8. MOI

    I think that the point about grace being taught more than sin is super important. And I think that the emphasis on sin has gotten a legalistic, fundamentalist, politically radical, rude, mean, uncaring, unsympathetic, etc, etc, church.

    now, i dont believe this is true of all churches. there are some that do emphasize grace. for instance, Redeemer NYC. yall should check out their website.


    as far as Driscoll, i am gonna have to agree with MOI on this one. you see, i think a huge problem in the american church is that the evangelicals believe they MUST be politically conservative. this is a problem, because to be honest, the conservatives arent always loving and certainly they dont represent complete Truth all the time. so we must be willing to be on either side, depending on the issue. and from what i have read about Driscoll, he overemphasizes that.

    on another note, as MOI has pted out in early posts, Driscoll frequently interprets Scripture literally as it applies to roles of women in the church, but ignores the true point. and besides, in context none of the 3-4 verses where Paul SEEMS to be misogynistic actually put women in a secondary role. in fact, in 1 Cor, which has the most scathing rebuke against women (if it is out of context), also has Paul talking about some wonderful women who are prophetesses in the church (ie similar to our pastors today–WAIT THERE WERE WOMEN PASTORS IN THE CHURCH IN ACTS–yep, pretty much).

    anyway, my pt isnt to condemn anyone, but is to acknowledge that its not about following one person, or one church, or whatever. its about following Jesus as our Rabbi. if we follow people, we will stray. that is why it is vital to focus on Him, not them.


  9. Peter,

    Good points, all. I know there are churches who simply ooze grace. I wish there were some where I am, but in rural Midwest America, it’s either fundie or forget it. Same with politics. What I like about the Talk to Action web site is that it proves you can be Christian and NOT Republican. That’s a big plus. But I don’t vote along party lines anyway.

    As for Driscoll, I see him just spouting Starbucks cafe style, manly Christianity. Nope, ain’t for me.

  10. MOI

    i dont know where you live specifically in the midwest, but if you havent heard of him, Rob Bell is an incredible guy in Kalamazoo, MI. he has a really unique and interesting perspective on christianity, and from what i hear, his church is very different from the norm as well. you should google him.


  11. Hi Peter,

    Nope I live smack dab in the middle of the country in the middle of Illinois. Corn and country music is about as close as we come to new ideas. 🙂

  12. hahaha, I had a bad feeling that mentioning his name would cause some disagreement… here’s a few clarifications though:

    1.) He actually rails against the neocon republicans and religious right. If he’s not a democrat, he is most definitely libertarian.

    2.) He also has a VERY high view of women. He very much acknowledges the prophetesses and deaconesses in the early church, and has many women in his own church as deacons and teachers in women’s ministry. The ONLY office/role/position that his church does not have women in, is as elders. Why? Well, the bible is very clear on that.

    3.) It’s important to not confuse “literal interpretation” with “essentially literal interpretation” or “contextualization.” He interprets the intent and message literally (as much as can be done, as you have pointed out earlier), but not the wording itself literally. For example, he does not believe (nor do I) that Paul was saying that men and women should keep their hair short and long, respectively, but that Paul was making a statement about gender roles, and how men should look and act like men and women should look and act like women. (and I’m sure that last statement will get plenty of heat, but I will save more details for later, as I don’t want to detract from the main point).

    As such, you can probably assume much of Driscoll’s theology and perspective on to my own, as I have followed his preaching since only a few months after becoming a Christian. That said, give him the same chance you have given me. He is just as “constructive” and “original,” yet I will admit slightly less gentle in rhetoric.

    Hehe, and on a side note, I once heard someone say in reference to Cristianity, “If it’s new and original, it’s probably heretical.” Just saying, I found it funny, and for the most part it is hard to disagree.


  13. Brad said: “The ONLY office/role/position that his church does not have women in, is as elders. Why? Well, the bible is very clear on that.”

    Holy Cow Brad, this statement makes me want to puke.
    I have heard this crap all my life. “The Bible is clear on this.” The Bible is clear on that.” Sorry Brad but there is nothing that the Bible is clear about. Nothing. I am not just trying to be mean and hateful here either. It is just a fact.

    I read where women are supposed to have their head covered when in the Church and in prayer. Do women do this, NO.?

    I read where women are supposed to be silent in church, and are only supposed to ask their husbands in private at home about spiritual matters, but do they do that, NO.

    I read where all brethren are commanded to great each other with a holy kiss, but do they do that, Do you? I bet not.

    Saved by faith, or works, not clear on that one either.

    Ask anything in Jesus name believing and it shall be done, or where two or more agree as to touching one thing it shall be done, does that happen, heck NO.

    Don’t accept Jesus as your Savior and you will go to straight to hell, will not pass go, and will not get a second chance at it, isn’t that what it says? Yep, but guess what, Hell is not even supposed to be in the Bible. It was invented from pagan sources and inserted by the new Church to scare the hell out of people. There is no hell, so it isn’t clear about that either. There is no such place as hell, and there never was. Makes me wonder what else was just made up and inserted in this book.

    What are you folks still trying to hold on to? I mean really. You admit the problems in this book. You don’t take it literally, and you shouldn’t. Yet this is supposed to be the book which tells you about God, which tells you about Jesus, about creation, about the Exodus, about love. It is the only witness you have about these things and you know as well as I it is totally, totally unreliable. The character of Jesus is different from one writer to another. How do even know that the gnostic gospels weren’t the ones which should have been in the bible?

    You are all backing yourselves in that same epistemological corner I found myself in a few years ago. I began to see all these things wrong with the Bible, yet I wanted to hold on to Jesus. However I finally had to be honest, how could I hold on to Jesus, when the only source which tells me about him is totally and completly unreliable?

    “The Bible is clear about that.” Yeah right

    If you can’t trust the bible on science, cosmology, morals, or to be accurate and non-contradictory even with itself, or wrong on math, wrong about history, wrong about prophesy, and just plain wrong in the statements it makes, then how or why trust it about Jesus?

    Seriously, why take it seriously about anything?
    If there is a God up there somewhere, he had nothing to do with this book; time to move on people. If we had a history book this bad, nobody would give it an ounce of credibility, so why does the Bible have any?

  14. If you hear a joke, and think it’s stupid, is it possible that you misunderstood the context? If we read the bible without contextualizing it (historically and otherwise), it can sure appear illogical, silly, or even (forsooth!) harsh.

    If we read scripture 100% literally without an understanding of the context of when it was written, who wrote it, who it was written to, and why it was necessary, yeah, I could agree that it shouldn’t be taken terribly seriously.

    But if one continues to take the blame that may understandably be placed on the “misinformed misinformers” (afterall, noone is perfect and some are even further from it), and place it on the bible, how can any truly reasonable dialog be had? That is basically religious racism or prejudice. But I bet if someone said that agnostic spiritualism or pluralism was idealistically simple, foolish, and naive because everyone has their own definition, there would be some degree of outrage.

    Those in glass houses should not throw stones. Especially when they aren’t willing to work towards an objective and fair understanding of the topic at hand. I could contextualize all of the above examples of “foolishness,” but I imagine it wouldn’t make a difference in the end.

    ICor.8:2 – “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.”

  15. One thing that needs to be remembered here is the Jesus called every one of us to preach the gospel in LOVE if there is no love in anything we preach then there will be no life.

    Just something I think we should remember when we pull against peoples teachings and instruct people…

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