One Christian Message, “You Are Bad And Don’t You Forget It.”

There are two overarching narratives competing with one another in Christianity today. One is that Jesus is fine with you as you are. Be you drunk, homosexual or “sinful” in some other way, don’t worry about it.

The other is that you were born a sinner and need to be reminded constantly of how wretched you are. Jesus is not pleased with sinners so he is not pleased with you.

While it is around us all the time, the latter message was laid out clearly by a “fire and brimstone” preacher. He is upset with the preaching that has become popular portraying Jesus as a tolerant friend.

As I view our contemporary culture, I see an emphasis on diversity and accepting people different than ourselves. Certainly I see this in what our granddaughters bring home from their public schools. Trump Christians, though a minority, disapprove of acceptance and diversity.

I would guess the part of our society encouraging the acceptance of diversity is the same part that sees Jesus as a friend also accepting diverse people including sinners. The enemies of this view see Jesus as an enemy of diversity as well. The two separate cultures also have different Jesuses.

The Jesus that tells us we are bad, born sinners, and need to go through him to shape up is a Jesus that fit our culture for long time. A new culture with a new Jesus seems on its way.

The new Jesus is a better product.

26 Responses

  1. Catcher

    There are actually three ” overarching narratives”. 1. The first you mention; “Jesus is fine with you as you are…don’t worry about it.”.

    2. The 2nd you mention “Born a sinner….Jesus is not pleased with you ” (hellfire and damnation). (“working things out with fear and trembling”) From Puritans, forward to Jonathan Edwards, Geo Whitfield–“Sinners in the hand of an angry God”, and in some ‘hollars” of the deep Bible belt, mostly related to Baptist types.

    3. The third is alluded to towards the end of the attachment; but not mentioned in Jon’s post. That is the Gospel. The Good News, So that once one becomes aware that he/ she is not without fault, (sin), those faults, (sins) are forgiven, as though those faults never existed, through faith in the vicarious (substitutionary) atonement of Jesus.

    The first two are all law, no Gospel. The third is both Law and Gospel, and the “Proper Distinction ” between the two.

  2. Juan Ruiz

    Could most religions exist without the concept of sin? 12-step programs, following AA, maintain the addiction is caused by it, and by appeasing a god you can recover, but never be cured.

    1. Catcher

      @ 5;32; “appeasing” Sounds like works, not faith. Yes, The 12 step programs have a strong element of works based management.
      From the brochures I have read, so do the non-12 step programs / facilities.

      1. Catcher 8:19 Juan 5:42 re: works versus beliefs

        Though Protestants claim, as Catcher explains, salvation comes through belief not works, I think you are right, Juan, that Christianity is really about works like AA. That is, people think it is about works. What people think the religion is about is the real functioning religion.

        The long sober AA member is required to say at the opening of an AA meeting, “I am a drunk.” His life is to remain at the mercy of attending and supporting AA. The proper Christian says, “I am a sinner.” Her afterlife depends on approval of an invisible being and she is not to know the thinking of that being. Support the church, give money, mow the church lawn and she may have a chance.

        1. Catcher

          @ 8;45; ..”through belief not works”. WRONG Faith, not works A significant difference. Thus making the rest of the first paragraph void.

          2nd paragraph; “I am a drunk”. WRONG. ” I am an alcoholic”.

          “…Afterlife depends on approval of an invisible being and she is not to know the thinking of that being.” “approval”, Such a mis-application of a word. I love my wife without reservation, in spite of her burning the toast, which I didn’t approve.

          “support church, mow, etc. more works. Works seems to be the main understanding of the Atheist. See Pelagianism–semi Pelagianism.

        2. Just a note to posters here. I am taking down more of your posts than I did in previous years. With the new arrangement, we seem to have lots of new visitors. I’d like to keep the discussion moving on whatever topic is being discussed in order to retain readers and grow the numbers.

          I’m sure I hosted and left posted about 5,000 posts which can be paraphrased as “Jon, you are a jerk.” That point has been made here and I don’t see the need for 5,000 more “Jon, you are a jerk” posts. Posts that disagree and discuss one’s disagreement with me mostly are left up. Those about shoot the messenger may disappear.

          1. mark 3:43 I don’t see many new names. Mostly a lot of old familiar ones.

            There are about 500 visits to this blog everyday. About five different people comment. The number who comment and the number of visitors seem not related. Yet, for those who visit the blog but do not comment, I’d like an interesting flow of comments.

        3. mark anthony

          The faith contra works issue is a tough one to handle, at least if viewed theologically and philosophically. But the reality is, I think, that our culture has, in fact, become largely Pelagian. Doing good works is the road to salvation, whether for most Christians and for secularists. I think, that most people don’t give a rats rear end about the faith/works matter. Maybe, tho’ some of catcher’s Lutherans still do.

          1. Catcher

            @ 3;40; “For by grace are you saved through faith, not of works, lest any one should boast..Eph. 2;8-9

        4. Juan Ruiz

          “His life is to remain at the mercy of attending and supporting AA. ”

          This simply underscores the fact that AA is nothing more than a faith healing religious cult, founded by a guy who knew nothing about addiction nor theology. His premises don’t have a droplet of evidence to support them, which is probably why AA has next to no success rate, as some 80 years of real research have shown.

          1. Juan 10:54 His premises don’t have a droplet of evidence to support them, which is probably why AA has next to no success rate, as some 80 years of real research has shown.

            The church says, “Get Jesus, sins are gone.” In AA, “Get a higher power (Jesus) and your drinking problem is gone.” Same thing. From what I have read, the success rate, and failure rate, of those who do not go to AA is the same as those who do. Yet, legislators, judges and families keep touting it.

            Recently, I was at a family gathering and became reacquainted with a distant relative, a man in his forties. Because of alcohol he has lost jobs, his family and is next to destitute. I chatted with him for a while. He has left his mother’s home and an AA group of the old school and moved 100 miles away. He is doing much better. He said in a round about way leaving the religion of AA has helped. I did not discuss religion with him but hope he finds support among like minded people.

          2. Juan Ruiz

            “Yet, legislators, judges and families keep touting it.”

            Seven appellate courts have dclared AA a religion, and have enjoined government officials (judges, wardens, parole officers) from forcing defendants from attending, as a violation of the Establishment Clause. There really is no Jesus in AA, Bill Wilson kicked him out. Its any Higher Power you want is actually heresy, completely destroying the admonitions of Judaism Christianity, and Islam.

      1. Henry

        Most assuredly, SCOTUS will be able to assist you on that. They gave us the landmark case on slavery with all its associated definitions, then they will most definitely provide us the answer to your question.

  3. Jinx II

    Was joyful to see some “bad” christians pay the price of their sinful ways. Congratulations to the clergy abuse survivors in the St Paul Minneapolis Diocese who will receive the highest financial settlement ever awarded in the USA…..the Brankruptcy Judge was completely sympathetic to the difficult lives they endured because of the abuse.

  4. mark anthony

    catcher457. OK. but, as a matter of fact, I don’t think that very many people take that seriously any more. Or are even aware of it.

    1. Catcher

      @ 5;27; Mark; I think there is truth in that. With the prosperity gospel, social gospel, Old fashioned indifference, Poorly instructed members. In the RCC; “Faith plus works” (as stated in the RCC Catechism), (semi Pelagianism). Not considering good works as the result, but the cause. Consider “the deposit of faith”, apart from the individual, purgatory, merits, prayers for the dead, Doubt if one is going to heaven if one has done enough. That’s a fact. I overheard a couple RCC women discussing that very question in a book store.

      1. Catcher

        @ 6;13; Quite frankly, I’m surprised Matt hasn’t come on to debate me. With the RCC’s various applications of the meaning of Grace, the wordsmiths at the Vatican have danced around the “Faith plus works”., and have muddied the meaning of Grace. In the end, according to them, works on our part are required to compliment Faith, required for justification. “Alone” is an anathema, resulting in works being required for justification. It’s all very simple really. “Works assists faith”.in the RCC. Not Through faith, good works are the result.

        1. Catcher 8:48 Quite frankly, I’m surprised Matt hasn’t come on to debate me.

          The reason Matt and others don’t debate, I’m sure, is that this is a esoteric detail few are interested in. To a few Catholics, abortion is an issue they can get excited about. Faith versus deeds, nap time. Lots of Lutherans probably doze off in sermons about this, too.

          To me, who does not see any evidence of a heaven or hell, it’s a waste of time–though I enjoy poking into it in blogs once in a while. To me, life should be about good deeds, leaving the world in no worse shape or perhaps a little better than we found it. There is no reward except the feeling one has fulfilled a duty for the future of humans living on this planet.

          No doubt the ancients who wrote about this peculiar idea had some reason for doing it. That reason was important to them at that time–trying to use it for religious purposes now seems like a waste of time.

          1. Catcher

            @ 11;56; re. “peculiar idea” No; particular.

            Nothing wrong with “good deeds”, but are they the cause of, or the result of with Matt.

            This is an important factor among us.
            The content of sermons is determined by all three readings in the lectionary.

          2. Catcher

            Actually, for as dogmatic as he is, he should have intense interest in this, due to the fact that his magisterium has a lot to say about it.

        1. mark anthony

          Actually the grace/faith matter is far from trivial, raising as it does intellectual and moral issues important in the history of the modern West. Issues such as free will, predestination and all that goes with that. And don’t think that modern secularism has put this issue to rest: it is still very much with us, albeit in a monist materialist context. Now, obviously, most folks are clueless regarding the issue.. Mostly, I suppose, because it has never been brought to their attention.

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