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Thoughts From a Recovering Atheist

Jonathan Rauch is a nationally known liberal writer by any standard, raised as a Christian, trying to find his way back to Jesus. My blog a couple of weeks ago was, "An Altar Call for Evangelical America."


So I thought we should consider some hinderances some Christians are putting in his way and those like him maybe even your own adult children. Here are Rauch's thoughts as he considers answering that "call". He's clearly confused by the disconnect between what evangelicals say they believe and how they act. (and so am I!)



"I've come "up the mountain" to understand and respect Christianity under the tutelage of (among others) Tim Keller, Pete Wehner and Michael Gerson [and reading CS Lewis]. I've come to respect Christianity and see it as something other than the cruel and hypocritical practice I experienced as a young gay kid, suffering at the hands of religious-based bigotry.


Having finally been led to a deeper understanding of how beautiful Christianity can be and often is, I was then marched down the opposite side of the mountain by observing millions of Christians in America swear - not just reluctant support - but enthusiastic loyalty to someone who stands against everything that the gospels of Jesus Christ represent; someone who is a pagan in almost every respect; someone who behaves cruelly and hypocritically. And instead of being called out for it, is praised for it; he's called "God's wrecking ball." This has been deeply disillusioning and horrifying to me." "My response to Christians: Please become more Christ-like. Bear witness to your faith, not only in your personal life but in your public life."


"Live such good lives among pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." - I Peter 2:12


Please notice, Rauch isn't asking Christians to not vote for Trump, the man I'm sure he's referring to. (Although I'm sure he'd love it if you didn't!) Nor is he blasting his policies although I sure he disagrees with Trump on almost everything. What alarms him are Christians who say they love Jesus and aspire to be like him, going to rallies, talking to their friends about him with excitment, cheering on a man who, almost every time he opens his mouth says things Jesus would never say, and who warned us never to say even about our worst enemies and using language our mothers would have washed our mouths out with soap for using!


Rauch isn't the only one watching us. Our children and grandchildren watch us attend church, read the Bible, attend Bible studies and hear us teaching them to be more like Jesus. And they hear us warning them about websites and musicians who use language that no Christian should ever use. Then an hour later they overhear us talking with enthusiasm about a man who is profane and hateful who encourages his supporters to be hateful as well and they are confused. Three years ago I passed a friends house and saw this sign in his yard."Trump; No More Bullsh*T. This guy is a grandfather, elder in his church and well respected in our community. I'm sure his grandchildren are confused. If they used that term at Sunday dinner, everyone would be shocked.


I've been a life long Republican and I've tried to stay clear of blogging about politics. I've heard this question, "Do you mean you prefer Biden?" That's not the question that should be asked. It is a shame a country of nearly 400,000,000 people can't produce better candidates. And perhaps you too think Trump would make a better President than Biden. Then vote for him. But back to Rauch's point, just don't praise him, or celebrate him, or let anyone think you admire his character. More than that, be bold and repudiate the behavior of any public official who claims to be a Christian who does not talk, or act like one.


Our neighbors watch us driving out to church every Sunday, then see the yard signs in front of our house, or our MAGA bumper sticker and without any further context just don't know what to think of us. If I saw a Confederate flag in someone's yard without understanding why they are flying it, I'd just assume the worst that they are probably White Supremacists. But it could be he's just a Southern boy proud of growing up in the South without a racist bone in his body. As followers of Jesus, his reputation in your sphere of influence, for better or for worse is tied to your reputation. We do not have the right to misrepresent him.


Next week I'll post a blog about a strong, biblically documented statement approved by the Southern Baptists to address this very problem.



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5 Comments


My big question on candidates is why men and women are who have a relationship with God not even considered to lead our country?

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Thank you again for your post! I feel exactly as you do about everything you stated.

I just am not sure how to get the message out to a broader Christian audience.

I don't understand some of my best friends.

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Albert Mohler is publically critical of Trump’s behavior. He would still vote for him because of the difference in republican and democratic platforms. Mohler is an influential voice in the SBC and a biblically orthodox Christian. The democratic platform is deeply rooted in beliefs that are more troubling than the behavior of one sinful man. Like Mohler, I do not support Trumpian behavior, but the alternative is worse.


Solomon and David weren’t that great in some respects either.


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dondaily1
dondaily1
Jan 29

Thinking out loud. I of course agree with your central point which centers upon our actions and or omissions. Do they honor Jesus or could you defend them without cringing ?

Do we select our spiritual leaders the same way we elect our political leaders. Should we?

As sinful human beings we all fall short. How would our spiritual leaders fare if they were scrutinized by a zealous and bias press?


JFK one of my personal heroes would never had been elected had our country known about his sorted past and what his personal life in the White House would be.


Like the Kings of the Old Testament maybe we like the sinful idol worshipping Jews receive the leadership we…


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clareword
clareword
Jan 30
Replying to

Thank you all of you. Yes there are no good alternatives. But here was my main point: There’s a difference between quietly voting for the least bad option and being proud of it publicly.


If I were a serious Catholic I’d not want to display a Biden yard sign. It would confuse my neighbors because everyone knows Catholics believe abortion is murder.


How to get this message out? I’ve sat down with all my close friends and high school and older grandkids years ago and told them exactly what I wrote in the blog. I would not want them thinking for a minute that just because I’ve been a life-long Republican that I won’t call out unkind and clearly unchristian…


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