An Irresponsible Faith
"God has given something special for you, but I can't' give it to you until you're ready."
These words boil my blood. I can understand how maniacal televangelists get away with crap on television - we are used aggrandized claims coming from the marketing gurus on the boob tube. We are used to some promises not being fulfilled because we have all bought something that was too good to be true and the whole truth is that it wasn't any good at all. We are used to being disappointed by what we see on TV.
Now, everyone on TV is a TV personality and that title makes them somehow simultaneously less and more human than those sitting on this side of the liquid crystal display. They have ratings targets and budgeting goals to meet and exceed. So the televangelists have to grow an audience or else they get reduced plain old evangelists - a demotion in the American church system. So, of course, the temptation exists to scratch the itching ears of easy-believing Christians who really want God to serve them instead of submitting to his sovereignty. And into the temptation they fall. The best TV preachers know how to make you feel good about yourself, sprinkle in a dash of Jesus, and omit anything about sin just so you will buy their new book or send in your donation. They promise to give you something special, but you can only get it when you are ready to believe...and send in your check for $57.
But what happens when this pop-psychology, bogus-Christian garbage comes from a real life person, one that lives close by, one that you interact with on an almost daily basis? It's easy to throw shade at the TV guys because they are too busy counting stacks of cash to care about what I have to say, it is something totally different when it is someone having a face-to-face discussion with you.
An Irresponsible Faith
The real problem I have with pop-culture, positivity positioned Christianity is two-fold. First, it does not line up with the Bible at all. God's people are not promised a life of perpetual prosperity, the sunshine, and bliss. In those moments of blessing, where these attributes are encountered, they are meant to help us bless others and become even more thankful for the plain hand of Providence. But it should in no way be an expected way of life. The prosperity gospel is a hook that catches itself in the mouth of downtrodden believers. While most people feel a freedom like they are being pulled out of the overwhelming tide, their final destination is, in reality, on the plate of the clever fisherman who want nothing more to feed upon their catch. And by feed, I mean take their money to buy a new fishing boat.
It is the second part that really makes me angry (I do pray it is a righteous anger). When followers of these easy-believism teachers start telling their friends that God will do anything you want him to do as long as you believe, in faith, that he will do then, not only will He do it, but it is already done. Yes, that is as confusing as it sounds, but this is their message. The deception is pretty clear, believe that God can do it then he becomes your slave, your genie. So answer this question, "Who is God?" Is it Jehovah? or You?
When it confined to the realm of finances it gets the attention of the multitudes living in the debt of consumerism. Give to God and he will make you rich! That sells tickets, gets clicks, and tunes television dials. But if it fails in financial matters, the market eventually rebounds and we still make it from paycheck to paycheck
But what happens when the same "gospel' is ascribed to a little girl who desperately wants her mom and dad to stop fighting? or wants daddy to come home? What happens when the name-it-and-claim-it gospel fails to save a person from the fatal diagnosis? But they really did believe that God would heal and restore and return. But it didn't happen and now they are stuck with a terrible choice: believe it was all their fault for having faulty faith or believe that God ignored them and will thusly ignore them from this point thence.
Neither of these decisions is Biblical, but according to the TV preachers, they are gospel. But I will tell you this, a gospel like produces an irresponsible faith, one that washes it hands from the blunders of its foundations. Send your money, watch my broadcast and don't you dare call me when your blessings don't come through becuase it's all your fault. How irresponsible!
And it is even more so when you break the heart of the little girl next door and you destroy her concept of Godly faith before it ever has a chance to sprout roots. How irresponsible!
An easy faith produces an irresponsible faith.
An irresponsible faith produces heartbreak.
So how do I maintain a relationship with my neighbor who holds these beliefs?
Love your neighbor because it is not about winning
In the time between starting this article and finishing it, our neighbor has publicly disavowed us as Christians of any worth. They will not speak to us not let our children play together. Apparently, since we don't believe the exact dogma that they believe we are a corruptive force to be around. It should be noted that during this time, I had no actual contact with out neighbors, but they made the separation abundantly clear to my wife. It seems that they dumped us after they realized that they would never win us over to their way of thinking.
This, no doubt, has caused much painstaking reflection. I have always been aware of the Christian/Non-Christian separation stupidity and I have also been a religious outcast in my own private school experience. But for some reason, this one has affected more deeply than I thought it would. It actually hurts.
My struggle is now to love them anyway. To pray for them anyway. To be a Christian anyway.
It would be irresponsible of me to act in any other way. I can't call out the ludircousy of someone else's belief and then betray my own just because they hurt me.
I think this is why much of Christian evangelism sucks. We tolerate people until it is clear that they will never believe in the same way that we believe. We move on to "better opportunities." I would bet that we often reject others because we are afraid of being rejected first - like a dysfunctional dating relationship. Getting out first still maintains some form of dignity, I suppose.
There are many aspects of faith that are straight out irresponsible. The prosperity gospel is irresponsible. The Jesus-as-genie gospel is irresponsible. The denial-of-earthly reality gospel is irresponsible. But the most irresponsible faith is the one that gives up on people. Especially because of our God who will never give up on us.
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