A Reply to “10 things about Christianity…”

“10 things about Christianity that Jesus would not be happy about if he returned” was posted on Facebook by St. Alban’s Episcopal Church on June 14 at 9:51 AM. It was written by Jim Palmer* (JP). 

I found the post quite troubling and felt a need to explain what bothers me about it. My comments (JSK) on each of the 10 points are in Bold text. 

JP: 

10 things about Christianity that Jesus would not be happy about if he returned

JSK: Hmmm, this title implies that Jesus left, but Jesus said: 

…I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 

Matthew 28:20

JP:

  1. That his vision for a transformed society, which he called the “kingdom of God”, got twisted into an afterlife fantasy about heaven.

JSK: Is this 1st point questioning the existence of heaven, or it is it a comment about some specific misconceptions about heaven? Clearly Jesus talked about an earthly kingdom and a heavenly one. 

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43  

JP:

2. That a religion was formed to worship his name, instead of a movement to advance his message.

JSK: Is this point questioning all of organized Christianity, certain churches, or the existence of the “Jesus Movement” in the Episcopal Church and other churches? From the beginning the Church has had this as its mission: 

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20

JP:

3. That the gospel says his death solved the problem of humankind’s separation from God, instead of saying that his life revealed the truth that there is no separation from God.

JSK: We are sinful by nature and therefore separated from God. Where is there any evidence to the contrary? 

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… Romans 3:23

JP:

4. That the religion bearing his name was conceived by the theories and doctrines of Paul, instead of the truth Jesus lived and demonstrated.

JSK: Is this point an attempt to separate Paul’s writings from the rest of the Bible? What specific “theories and doctrines” did Paul supposedly create? What Paul wrote is not in conflict with what the Old Testament, Jesus, and the other New Testament writers said. Jesus did reconnect humans with God, as Peter writes: 

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 2:24-25

JP:

5. That he was said to exclusively be God in the flesh, putting his example out of reach, rather than teaching that we all share in the same spirit that empowered his character and life.

JSK: Where does the Bible say that Jesus was just an example for us? The Jesus made it clear that He was the Son of God. We are not. Jesus Himself is not out of reach. 

JP:

6. That the religion that claims his name, teaches that his wisdom and teachings are the only legitimate way to know truth and God.

JSK:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6

Just because we do not understand how this can be does not make it false. (Everyone in the world today counts the years with His birth as the starting point.) 

JP:

7. The idea that humankind stands condemned before God and deserving of God’s wrath and eternal conscious judgement, requiring the death of Jesus to fix it.

JSK: Perhaps that sounds unfair, but it is what the Bible says. 

For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

John 3:34-36

JP:

8. That people are waiting on Jesus to return to save the world and end suffering, rather than taking responsibility for saving the world and solving suffering ourselves.

JSK: Perhaps many are waiting, but many are trying to make the world better, and many are spreading the Gospel. Jesus never said we would have an easy time of it here on earth. Suffering is a part of this world. 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 3:33

JP:

9. That people think there is magical potency in uttering the name of Jesus, rather than accessing our own natural powers and capabilities to effect change.

JSK: Saying God’s name, or asking God for help is definitely unrelated to the normal definition of magic! We humans are by nature fallen creatures who must die to self and be born again. Our own “natural powers and capabilities” are great gifts, but ones that, on their own, can only bring us turmoil and conflict. Jesus said: 

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

John 15:5-6

JP:

10. That people have come to associate Jesus with church, theology, politics and power, rather than courage, justice, humanity, beauty and love.

JSK: People think lots of things, but the simple fact is that Jesus is the Son of God. 

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I

have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,

    a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

    a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ “

Matthew 10:34-36

JSK: This list of 10 things really bothered me, especially when so many people on Facebook agreed with them. The author appears to be someone who is much more theologically educated than I am, but much of what he is saying is contrary to the Bible. I have been accused of being judgmental when quoting what the Bible says, but I am judging nothing. God does that. When someone has a different opinion than what the Bible says, then they are the ones judging. Many people take that path. It is a very dangerous one. 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

*I assume this is the Jim Palmer who wrote the 10 things: 

https://www.jimpalmerauthor.com/?fbclid=IwAR29_9DeGfJ6KHcY9Hwexr_l28Bl1omzM68GWinZuT7QsZSb9a2MobZvhT0

25 Jul 2021

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