Evangelical Christians, in believing about a coming Armageddon, must take care lest they actually cause an Armageddon as self-fulfilling prophecy. #separatechurchandhate

If I did a second doctorate, my thesis would be the role of well-intended souls who thought they did God’s will in forcing God’s hand to usher in the Kingdom. This was the devil’s temptation to Jesus. This was replayed in Judas’s betrayal to force Jesus’s hand. The Spanish and French Inquisitions, The Crusades, the Canadian Indian Residential Schools, and Conversion Therapy groups sought to enforce their brand of “pure religion.”

From Cronkite news

In contrast, Jesus taught – Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world” John 18:36.

Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

John 18:36

The Third Reich sought its pure Millennial Reign. False zealot messiahs have historically proclaimed a salvation by brute force over grace. Give me the lowly, the despised and rejected, for of such is the Kingdom of God.

Jesus revealed his political party by saying, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Well-intentioned zealots have historically promoted forcing Jesus’s hand as the Messiah, including Judas Iscariot on the betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane. In a world of hate for those of a different political bent, different ethnicity, or orientation, consider how you can enlarge your border and replace resentment and hate with grace. Consider also Jesus’s choice of disciples. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fisherman and involved in the fishing business. Matthew was a hated tax collector, whose money was considered unclean. Judas Iscariot likely worked in bookkeeping. Simon the Canaanite was a stubborn zealot who wished for an insurrection over the Romans. Some of the disciples we don’t know what they did. Later Paul was a Pharisee and persecutor of the church.

Begin this week following Jesus’s example by making space in your life for those different from you. Remember, “Resentment and hatred have imprisoned more people than all the jails in the world combined.”

-Pastor Jim

Sunday School Party Animals

My Texan Sunday School teacher was a Democrat who managed to work the Party’s platform into of every lesson to captive Baptist seminarians. Democrats ruled Texas for 100 years, voting last for Jimmy Carter in 1976. After all, “Jesus rode into Jerusalem, not on an elephant, but a donkey!” Another ancient and frequent visitor was an old geezer member of the “Temperance Movement,” spouting the evils of any alcohol. Looking back, I wish I would have listened more to the geezer but found a another Sunday class. You may say, “Jim, God could still use that teacher.” Yes, God even used the jawbone of an ass to slay the Philistines. Ergo, I know, Samson was a proto-Democrat? Don’t get me started.

How Texas Voted

I arrived in seminary in January of 1981, with the Democrats stinging from their defeat to Ronald Reagan. As I consider separation of church and state, I remember my old teacher and his taking liberty to mold young seminarians in the ideal that God was a Southern Democrat.

Republicans and Democrats need not worship together like the feuding Hatfields and the McCoys. Let us beat our political swords into bowls to catch the new rain of God’s Spirit to a thirsty world. In this we can find common ground.

-Pastor Jim

Religious Freedom … from Government

The root of religious freedom burrows deep and free from Government and its control of religion

Pastor Jim

Rhode Island was founded by those who rejected a church model that mixed in King and Government controls. “Williams felt that the religion he practiced must be free from any influence of the Church of England and the English king.”