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If you are still reading this blog, you have probably been touched by the content in some way and specifically by John's writings.  My mission is to help keep John's message and teachings alive.  The following passages were written by John's students and friends, and shared at his memorial service.  I hope you enjoy them. “Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, After moments or lifetimes, Is certain for those who are friends.” Richard Bach, Illusions We have been so blessed to have John in our lives.  Few people...
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We are close to being finished with the holiday season.  Many of you probably find this to be a huge relief. The message during the holiday season has always been to share what you have, be grateful, show your loved ones you care and to be compassionate and giving.  We should be doing this all year round and isn’t it funny that it seems more difficult to display these virtues over the holidays?  There is so much stress, so many expectations and feelings get easily hurt.  How can you be loving and giving when others have slighted you, not met your expectations or forgotten about you du...
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As many of you know I am mourning the loss of my husband and founder of this blog, John Heckers.  During this holiday season it has been especially difficult to find peace and my way back to the place where things make sense again.  This “place” I’m looking for might not exist.  Or I have yet to find it. As I was driving home this evening in terrible rush hour traffic, many bursts of deep sorrow washed over me.  Deep pain due to some things I am experiencing with my family, and mountains of grief over losing my husband.  I needed something to keep my mind occupied and couldn’t ...
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Dear ones, Hello everyone, this is Nicole Heckers.  I unfortunately have sad news to share.  I wanted to let you all know of John's passing last Monday, 11/19.  His death was very unexpected and a shock to everyone.  The cause of death is still unconfirmed at this point.  If you need to reach me to talk, have questions or want to offer condolences, please contact me at 720-261-4405 or send an email to nheckers@asaeadvice.com We thank you for your readership whether you've been reading John's spiritual posts for years or are just new to the site.  I do plan on continuing the ongoing...
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By Nicole Heckers, MA, BCPC Are things falling apart in your life?  Are you wondering why you seem to have such a streak of bad luck?  If nothing you do to fix things seems to work and you feel stuck after trying everything, then you may want to look at your life differently.  Try looking at what your spirit is telling you. So what is this spirit?  God?  The universe?  Your inner voice?  I don’t know.  Maybe all these things.  But what I do know is that your spirit is relentless.  It will not stop bugging you until you get on your right path.  Sometimes it feels like your sp...
Mar

06

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In the last 50 years a “brand” of Christianity has grown up that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, yet has come, for many in America, to be the icon of the Christian faith — Evangelical Christianity. As a committed Orthodox Christian and a Spiritual Person, I have some very real problems with the identification of Christianity with Evangelicals, mostly because Evangelicals are not teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or anything close to it.

There are many areas in which Evangelicals betray the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are 14 of them.

1). Militarism. Virtually all Evangelical Churches are highly militaristic, celebrating “the troops” and the military as the highest service one can render to one’s fellow humans. This, of course, is the exact opposite of what Jesus and the Apostles taught. Jesus’ teaching was unequivocally non-violent in nature.

This doesn’t mean that Jesus would have necessarily disapproved of a country or people protecting themselves with a military force sufficient to do so. But Jesus would have certainly condemned the way the American military is used — to project our power and impose our will on others.

2). Materialism. Evangelicals are highly materialistic as a group, even preaching that Jesus wants everyone to be rich. This is also the opposite of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. The Apostle James warned, in his Epistle, not to trust the rich, and not to give them preference. This is exactly what Evangelicals do. Evangelicals tend to follow the non-Christian teaching of the Calvinists, seeing material wealth to be God’s greatest blessing, and a sign of God’s favor. Jesus, of course, said just the opposite, indicating that it was nearly impossible for a wealthy person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and telling St. Joseph of Arimathea to go and sell his extensive possessions and give to the poor. Jesus made it very clear that someone cannot serve both God and money.

This is exactly the opposite of the Evangelical cry of “Greed is good!” Greed, historically in the Christian Church, has been seen as one of the seven deadly sins….at least equal to lust, which is the only “sin” that Evangelicals can seem to think about…night and day and night and day…and night.

3). Hatred for the poor. Evangelicals tend, as a group, to despise the poor. They consistently, as a political bloc, fight welfare, subsidies to schools, jobs programs, food stamps, Medicaid, and everything else that they see as “socialist.” And while Evangelicals tend to be incredibly generous in their Sunday collection plates, the vast majority of their gifts go to build mega-Churches, not to help the poor.

Jesus was very clear about this. He specifically ordered that we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, visit the prisoners, heal the sick and generally take care of our fellow human beings who are not as fortunate as we are. And, in a warning to Evangelicals, he was very clear that those who did not do this would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus loved the anawain, or those who were cast off, oppressed and helpless, not the “pillars of the community.” Considering the judgmental nature of most of the “pillars of the community” one can understand why, once one reads the Gospels and, therein, gains an understanding of Jesus.

Of course, the right wingnut clown Glenn Beck is the disdainer-in-chief of the poor, going so far as to tell his brainless viewers to leave churches that preach Social Justice…which, of course, is exactly what Jesus preached. Yet Evangelicals are much more likely to watch Beck and listen Limbaugh, et. al. than the general run of American…further increasing their hatred for the very people Jesus loved the most. Now, how is this Christian??

4). Self-sufficiency. Evangelicals are the most likely of Christians to preach a “gospel” of self-sufficiency. This is exactly the opposite of what Jesus preached. Jesus wanted people to be “as little children,” and totally dependent on God. In fact, Jesus said that, if we did not approach the Father this way, we could not enter the Kingdom of God.

Evangelicals (and many so-called “spiritual people”) teach that we are to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, and disdain anyone who needs help. Again, this is the opposite of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches. The Gospel teaches that we are to be radically dependent, both on God and on one another. This is anathema to Evangelical teaching.

5). Pride. “I’m proud to be an American” is a very un-Christian statement. Pride is seen by Jesus and the Apostles as the most serious of sins, yet is seen as an incredible virtue by most Evangelicals. Pride is the puffing up of one’s own self, one’s own people, and one’s own nation. Jesus did not want us to be puffed up, but humble.

6). Mastery. Evangelicals want to be “on top.” They tend to want control by their country, their companies, and their church. This is completely opposite of what Jesus taught. Jesus taught that the individual who wants to be first, must be a servant to all. I don’t see many Evangelicals (or other Christians, for that matter) having the humble, servant attitude of Jesus and that Jesus demanded of his followers.

7). Nationalism. Jesus made it quite clear that he came to save all people, not one people. If Jesus does favor one people, that people would have been the ancient Jews, not Europeans. Yet Jesus made it clear that he did not come just to save his own people, but the world.

Evangelicals are very hostile to anything that is not American. For Evangelicals, even the whisper that America might not be number 1 in everything (regardless of the overwhelming evidence that we’re not number one in much…except for crime, guns and incarcerations) evokes incredible anger and disdain.

American exceptionalism is rampant among Evangelicals in a way that it is not among the vast majority of Christians. Even the Roman Church (of which I am no fan, either) makes it clear that Jesus did not come to save ‘Merica, but all of humanity.

This means that an American life is no more (or less) precious to God than an Iraqi life, or a Chinese life, or an Iranian life. All life is precious to God, according to Jesus’ teaching. America and Americans are not special in Jesus’ eyes. Jesus was a confirmed internationalist/globalist. And Jesus identified with those America seems to hate — the downtrodden, the oppressed, the masses. Instead, America has supported brutal dictators who have tortured and oppressed their people. We have trained their secret police in torture techniques, and supported them when their brutality has caused their own people to turn against them.

If Evangelicals took the Gospel seriously, they would not be supporting those who are on top, but those on the bottom.

8). Torture. I shouldn’t even need to say that torture is always immoral, regardless of who is conducting it, including our CIA or Army. Those who support torture for any reason are simply not Christians, regardless of what they call themselves.

Yet Evangelicals tend to support waterboarding and other forms of disgusting torture. It is very clear from even a cursory reading of the Scriptures who Jesus would identify with. As a victim of a brutal torture himself, Jesus would identify with the person being tortured and have compassion on the torturer. But Jesus would clearly see the one doing the torture as doing a very evil deed.

9). Hatred of gays and lesbians. The only people that Jesus condemned in the Gospels were the pillars of the community and the clergy. It is very clear to anyone who actually reads the Gospels, instead of merely thumping them, whose side Jesus would be on. He who ate with murderers, tax collectors, thieves and prostitutes and condemned the self-righteous would certainly not condone the attitude of modern day Evangelicals toward LGBTQ persons.

It is not even clear that Jesus or the Apostles had a problem with homosexuality. Contrary to what Evangelicals will tell you, it (like abortion) is simply not addressed in the Gospels, and probably isn’t addressed in the Epistles, either. The word that is translated “homosexuals” in Paul is a Koine Greek word the meaning of which is unknown. In fact, even Bible scholars don’t have a clue what the word that has been translated, in modern times, as “homosexual” means. In the past it was translated as “masturbators,” which means that a whole lot of people are in deep trouble.

10). Zero tolerance. Evangelicals are the most likely people to support “zero tolerance” policies, the death penalty, and draconian and harsh punishments for anyone who “steps out of line.” This is exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught. The Jesus of the Gospels would despise “zero tolerance” policies,” as well as long and mandatory sentences for criminals. Jesus taught forgiveness, reconciliation and mercy, not harsh “justice.” For Jesus also taught that whenever we point a finger at our brother or sister (including a “criminal”), we are pointing three back at ourselves.

Jesus and the Apostles taught radical and frequent forgiveness, not “zero tolerance.” Mercy is the message of the Gospels and the New Testament as a whole, not draconian punishments or sentences, and certainly not a judgmental, rules-based society. The fact is that America has a higher rate of incarceration than any other nation in the world, including dictatorships. This is to our everlasting shame. If we are, as Evangelicals erroneously claim, a “Christian nation,” where is the forgiveness and mercy for those who need it the most, hmmm?

11). Hypocrisy. Jesus hated hypocrites. He strongly condemned the rules-based Pharisees who “laid burden upon burden upon the backs of the people, but lift[ed] not one finger to ease them.” What do you think Jesus would say about Evangelical pastors (or Republican senators) who preach a rules-based religion that, for example, condemns gay people, then run off to  gay prostitutes? Hmmm?

If this were an isolated case, it might be dismissed. But the number of top conservative politicians and right wing pastors who have been literally caught with their pants down is enormous. In fact, one could almost state the rule that the louder one preaches against gays, the more likely one is to be gay. Psychology has a name for this. It is called “reaction formation.” Jesus also had a name for it. “Pharisee,” and “hypocrite.” Jesus said of people like Evangelical preachers, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming destruction.” These don’t sound like people Jesus liked very much.

12). Rules. One hallmark of Evangelical (and Roman) religion is a bunch of rules that one needs to follow to get into heaven. This shows a profound misunderstanding (and ignorance) of the Gospels. Jesus did not come to give humanity rules, but to give humanity love, forgiveness, and hope. Rules-based Christianity is Pharisaical religion.

A rules-based religion works for Jews and Muslims. Their religion is based on “the Law.” Christianity, however, is supposed to transcend a rules base and operate on Love. This is not what Evangelicals do. If they wish to live under the Law, they should not call themselves Christians.

13). Biblical basis. There are so many things wrong with a “Biblically based” Christian religion it is hard to know where to start. This should be a post all of its own. But let’s take a few.

“The Bible” was unknown to early Christians. They did not have a Bible. In fact, the “Bible” that Evangelicals use has little in common with the Scriptures used by Jesus and the Apostles, or finally canonized by the Church. The New Testament as found today was not canonized (recognized by Christians in the Church) until the 5th Century, at one of the major Church Councils. The first real definitive collection of books that looked like our current New Testament was not made until the late 4th Century in two local councils (Carthage and Hippo, of 393 and 397, respectively). Prior to that, there were various collections of books used in the Church as representing the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles (though not the many “Gospels “that the Discovery Channel and History Channel tout…these weren’t developed until many years later).

So most of what was very interesting (and vital) in Christianity took place without a Bible even being in existence. The question was not “is it Biblical,” but “is it Apostolic.” The oral tradition and teachings of the Apostles remained the gold standard until the Protestant Reformation when “the Bible” took on the idolatrous and superstitious nature it has today.

Besides, the Bible most Evangelicals use is not the Bible that most Christians through the ages used. The Old Testament has been gutted by Protestants. Jesus and the Apostles clearly used a much fuller Old Testament than Evangelicals use today. This “Bible” is still in use by the Orthodox Church.

Of course, it is very clear that most Evangelicals only pick and choose “proof texts” from the Bible, rather than taking it in context. Reading of the Bible requires an understanding of the context in which it was written, as well as taking it as a whole, rather than piecing it out to prove one’s prejudices and opinions. The teachings of Jesus and the Apostles are meant to challenge our opinions and prejudices, not simply confirm them. This is something Evangelicals just plain don’t get.

14). Pushing their religion on others. Finally, their narrow, triumphalist attitude toward Christianity is not supported by either the behavior or teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. Their militant attitude toward other faiths is opposite of that of both Jesus and Paul. While Paul passionately preached Jesus, he preached a humble and loving Jesus (“Christ, and him crucified…”). None of the preached the militant, kick-ass-and-take-names Jesus of the Evangelicals. In fact, they wouldn’t recognize the Jesus preached and “loved” by Evangelicals as Jesus, the Son of the Living God.

There are many ,more reasons for saying that Evangelicals are strangers to (and even enemies of) the Lord they claim to love so much. Their bigotry and narrowness is causing a great backlash in society against Christianity in general. This is too bad since they are still a minority of Christians in America, and a very small minority world wide. Yet their bigotry and obnoxious belief systems have become the icon for what Christianity teaches in all too many circles. They have dominated the narrative in far too many places, drowning out less strident (and, therefore, more obedient and Christian) Christian voices. Their hatred and narrowness is seen now as the hallmark of Christianity, rather than what it is — a perversion of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles.

Evangelical Christianity is not historic Christianity. It has cut itself off from the great river of the Church through the ages. While that Church has not always paid attention to the teachings of Jesus, either, Evangelical Christianity is the enshrining of attitudes and teachings that Jesus and his Apostles would find highly offensive and opposed to what they actually taught.

Evangelical missions throughout the Middle East have already triggered great persecutions of Orthodox and Roman Christians. We Orthodox have lived in peace with Islam for many centuries. However, the aggressive and offensive preaching of Evangelicals has caused Muslims to turn on their Christian neighbors, due to the terrible image that Evangelicals present to the Islamic world. Evangelicals have a great deal of Christian blood on their hands. Their narrow and bigoted teachings are triggering a hatred of Christianity even in many circles in America. It is only a matter of time before faithful Christians are persecuted in our own country due to a backlash against the hate-filled teachings of Evangelicals.

I do not advocate hatred of anyone. Evangelicals generally tend to not have thought out their belief systems. They have believed manipulative pastors who are in it for the bucks and control. They also have bought, hook, line and sinker, American and Christian triumphalism, which is a strain from the Calvinistic underpinnings of this country. But I do strongly advocate other, non-Evangelical Christians, who have a brain in their heads and love in their hearts, speaking out loudly and continuously against the hate-filled and un-Christian teachings of Evangelicals. If we yield to these very loud and obnoxious people the title of “Christian,” we have only ourselves to blame if society operates in backlash against their hate-filled teachings. We are far too “politically correct” in not challenging their hate and narrowness (and proclaiming that it is not Christian). We must speak up and speak up now against bigoted and narrow Evangelical teachings while offering the hand of friendship and Charity to the Evangelicals themselves that they might learn of the true love, acceptance and patience of God.

May God have mercy on their souls for the harm that they have done to the Name of Jesus and his followers, and the future harm they have yet to do. And may God have mercy on our souls if we do not try everything in our power to stop them.

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8 Responses

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  1. sherry says:

    I hate to be the giver of God's truth but these scripture mean what they say.You were saying you didn't know in scripture where Jesus was against homosexuals and sexual immorality,there are several scriptures but here is one 1 Corinthians 6 v 9,God even says that those who live in this sin will not have any part of His kingdom.yes we are to love all people,but we are put here to teach and to warn of the judgement to come.Do you think Jesus dying on the cross to take away sin means we can live any way we wan?NO! He's waiting for people to see there sin nature so He can heal them and save them from themselves.Jesus loves the sinner but he hates the sin when that sin can't be repented of without the Holy Spirit.And as far as Islam,you should know if you know your bible that Islam is the beast of Revelation,the little beast is allah and the anti-christ comes from Rome.Yes we can love these in hopes that they will come to Jesus for salvation,but we cannot be chummy with unbelievers.This is not a message of hate but a message of love,for those we love we warn.Please research God's word and show yourself approved. A concerned sister in Christ

    • John Heckers says:

      Sorry, concerned sister in Christ, but it IS a message of hate and bigotry. You obviously have your beliefs about what your Bible says, and that is fine. But most mainline scholars do not agree that the passage in I Corinthians refers to homosexuals. The word that is translated “homosexuals” does not appear anywhere else in Greek Literature and has been variously translated. So far as Islam being the Beast in the Revelation to John….that designation has been given to many institutions, religions, governments and individuals throughout history. Some of your ilk think it is the Eurozone. Others that it is the Roman Catholic Church. And so on. I do not operate on ancient beliefs, but on reason and experience. If you want to hate and be a bigot, that is your business. But keep your bigotry and your hatred in your little houses of worship and stop trying to inflict your superstitions on the rest of us or make us conform to your narrow “morality.”

  2. Jann says:

    Don’t forget Catholics they are misleading also

  3. Tracy M says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article especially since my brother and his fiance have recently been going to one of those mega churches and are now out to save us all. I have no denomination, my Bible knowledge stems from a grandfather who was a Jehovah’s Witness and my own studying. I was always questioning my grandfather about his beliefs. Even though I was very young when he first started teaching me about the Bible, I was never drawn to become a witness. I had to learn stuff on my own.
    Anyhow, I am saving this article to use as a basis for my objections. It neatly states them all. Thanks.

  4. Abbs says:

    Thanks. Have been looking for something that explained “evangelicals” in a non-”preaching-to-the-choir” kind of way. Have been going to the same church since I was three, and it has changed SO much and everyone is SO anti-Muslim, anti-woman, anti-gay that we left the ELCA because it was “too liberal”. I am SICK about it and all of this has ruined my church to the point that I have to find a new one. I can’t deal with all the constraints and “women as second-class citizen” sentiments. Your article makes it really clear. Thanks!

  5. Eak says:

    It is precisely this loud domination of these people of Christianity that has made me question the entire belief system. Surely Jesus existed and preached good things, but if he is so omniscient and omnipotent then he should have foreseen what these people (and other groups throughout history) have done and are doing in his name. At some point he has to be held accountable for what his followers do, don’t you think? I know that standard church line is that he gave the responsibility of carrying out the gospel to us (fallen people), but if he really wanted people to believe in him, he should’ve given a clearer picture of what his church – his legacy – ought to look like and do.

    • John Heckers says:

      I think there are some valid questions about the existence of an actual Jesus, as many of the stories in the Bible are stories of different gods from pagan culture. Even communion is not unique to Christianity, but was practiced by other mystery cults including Mithraism. Ditto with baptism. The thing that dawned on me was this. I am certainly no Jesus, but I find that I am widely quoted in business circles from my column in a business magazine. But Jesus is not quoted extensively in the New Testamant. Now, to early Christians, Jesus was at least the Messiah and the primary prophet, if not God. So why do they quote the OLD Testament, but not Jesus? Is it possible that Jesus didn’t really exist to say quotes? I think this is a question I’d like to see answered more fully by Christians. The mythology is still quite important even if Jesus DIDN’T exist. But it would be nice to know if we’ve been operating on a fiction or on the life of an actual person, regardless of how twisted the life of that person has been made in the telling.

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