This is why the Gospel is political

It’s extremely weird, in retrospect, but in my evangelical circles no one ever really talked about Martin Luther King, Jr. Here was one of America’s most profoundly moral truth-tellers, a minister who spoke with authority and rallied the entire black church in the south, a prophetic voice if there ever was one — and he was more or less passed over in my evangelicals circles, or treated by way of a good-natured dismisal, some sort of feel-good tip of the hat to the guy that got America back on track and patched up “the race problem.” But the details of King’s life and struggle and activism and theology? It didn’t happen, not in my circles. This is because for the evangelicals that support Trump, the Gospel is construed solely as an individualistic affair: get things right with God and pick up your Get-Out-of-Hell Free Card.

This, of course, was never the Gospel as it was taught by Jesus or anyone else in the biblical text, and when I started to listen to King’s sermons, it began to change my outlook on race and many other forms of privilege that I had inherited, and it didn’t take long before I re-read the Bible and realized that the Gospel was always social and always political and always required engaging the world, not simply saving one’s own ass from eternal hell fire. The Gospel was never meant to be packaged up for consumers, ala the Billy Graham crusades, but it is no accident that “getting saved” became simply another commodified transation.

The de-politicized Gospel preached by evangelicals has always served to advance privilege, particularly white privilege and American exceptionalism. The basic concept is no different now than it was in the days of Colonial Christianity, where capitalists would plunder a nation, then send in the missionaries to clean up the mess and convert the natives. In the modern world, the Gospel has always about advancing profit and exploitation, first and foremost.

During the most intense period of outrage at Trump’s abuse of poor immigrant children, I came across an ad on Twitter, a boost type of ad for one of Franklin Graham’s Tweets, preaching his evangelical Gospel of obsession with individual salvation. I was feeling particularly pissy that moment so I retweeted this snarky reply:


Franklin Graham Hell Trump Salvation


Yeah, maybe that was an inappropriate Tweet, but it’s true. The purely individualistic, consumer-driven Gospel of Franklin Graham and other evangelicals refuses to engage the deeper political realities that impoverish so many around the world. That’s why people didn’t in depth about Martin Luther King, Jr. when I kicking around in evangelical circles: like Jesus and the other prophets, King’s Gospel was political.

I should mention that many evangelicals spoke out against Trump’s persecution of children, but it’s far too little and far too late. They don’t get points for opposing Trump’s most egregious cruelty, because Trump wouldn’t be President were it not for an overwhelming surge of evangelical voters. They need to denounce Trump and Trump’s policies, entirely, not just jump on the anti-Trump bandwagon when the lives of kids are on the line. But they won’t do that. They’re too trapped in their privilege or ignorance or whatever, and more to the point, their theology of the Gospel is more akin to a line you might hear listening to an old school gangsta rap: I got mine, mothafucka.

The reason the Gospel is political is because the Gospel is preaching good news to the poor. It’s about challenging privilege, not ignoring it. The failure of evangelical theology of salvation is that it gives them cover to hide from facing the terrible truth of the ways in which wealthy Christian nations have always benefited from the suffering of others, and when you recognize that reality, then the Gospel really begins to fuck with you.

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Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

20 thoughts on “This is why the Gospel is political”

  1. As usual, you have my sympathetic attention.

    I too believe the Gospel is political. I too believe it challenges the rich and upholds the poor. I too criticize the individualistic/platonic approach to Jesus, in fact I think it is really messed up.

    So… yeah. Your post gets a lot of sympathy with me.

    That said, I am not in lockstep with it. I am no Trump supporter. I did not vote for him. I am deeply troubled by his “win”. I am deeply troubled by more that 90% (I am being conservative with that number) of the news items I hear about him.

    I felt like Clinton was the lesser of the two evils, but I felt like both of them were the most of all the others. So, I wasn’t poised to be much happier if we got her instead.

    But I don’t typically join the Trump bashing. Always sympathetic to it, but I really try not to join it. And that too because if my faith. God has been running this world over, around, through, and in spite of tyrants and maniacs far longer than I have lived under them. I trust him. I pray for Trump, and I hope God will use him – though that feels like a long shot.

    Of course the segment of Protestantism I come from resists the label “Evangelical” too, but I will confess that probably 80% of us in this small part of the pond manage to live and vote almost in lock step with those who do. So its hardly worth splitting that hair. But certainly I would be one of the remaining 20% of that figure (my own private estimate, btw).

    I point all this out to say that you have not caught me in this net. And though there are few like me, there are others. And though I share a lot of your view here, I also don’t see it telling the whole story/painting the whole picture. The caricature is not accurate, in my estimation.

    Dr. King is a hero of mine too, but I am not impressed that he helped some black people to vote. I am impressed that he faced hostility with peace and won! Stuff like that.

    Anyway, I don’t expect to change your view by saying this, but I sense I should speak out and say I don’t fit in the round hole or the square one. You paint a decent picture, but it’s not the whole thing.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. As usual, I appreciate both your sympathetic thoughts as well as your criticisms. I know they come from someone very thoughtful but also very engaged, directly engaged in the real struggle of those who suffer. So you’ll always get my respect, brother.

      I do have a few thoughts, in response and in defense of Trump bashing…..Jesus and the prophets always reserved their most harsh rhetoric for the Powers That Be, the people who pulled the strings and used their position and privilege to “grind the faces of the poor,” or what is worse, to make the poor suffer so as to provide even more wealth and luxury for the wealthy. Nor was it even just the prophets. The book of Proverbs and other wisdom literature speaks of the fool and the wise, and Trump fits the classification of “fool” in every way – he doesn’t fear God, he boasts, he puts his trust in his wealth and in himself, etc. I don’t see many biblical folk backing down or pulling punches when it comes to confronting the real culprits behind the suffering in the world.

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      1. Again, I think you are right (a funny thing to say to a guy who is LEFT), but only sorta.

        For the poor? Yes. Bag on the rich? Yes.. but which rich?

        Does Jesus ever criticize Pilate? Augustus/Tiberius? And when it comes to Rome, doesn’t he have his disciples renter to Caesar, go the 2nd mile, and turn the other cheek?

        But when he goes hammer and tong on someone, which he does sometimes, who is he challenging?

        Isnt he challenging other “insiders” – or perhaps “would-be insiders”?

        He bags on the temple, Herod, Pharisees esp. He is gentle with the poor and lowly usually. Some exceptions actually. The Syopheonician woman gets some harsh words at first, but then great praise after. Look at what he says to Peter ‘ Get behind me Satan!’…

        I cant think of any power plays he makes on Rome. But he does manipulate the mobs to his favor INSIDE the temple against the temple elite.

        Perhaps I miss something by dividing this way, but I am thinking it is the exception, not the rule. And to my way of thinking, this is important distinctions.

        I don’t have a problem calling Trump out for his foibles (putting them nicely), but my cry concerning him – the part I share with you btw – is the Jesus people who champion this shameless mess. He is a self-professed “pussy grabber”. This should put feminists and country pastors in the same boat if only for this one instance. There is no mortal sin in quoting “Two Corinthians”, but when a politician does that, it SHOWS how little respect he actually has for those whose pucker he wants smooching his butt! What is wrong with the “Christians” here? How can they so blindly turn on EVERYTHING we have traditionally held as so dear for this jerk? They – the fellow insiders – are the ones coming in for Jesus scorn and criticism of this sort, I think. And that is where you find my voice – to the extent I champion that cause.

        I see a difference. I think it is important.

        btw, I think the individualism stuff is important too. But I don’t give AS MUCH credit for the problems under discussion here as you do.

        But I think you can see where I have so much sympathy even though I distinguish myself.

        The respect is mutual.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. X,

          Good distinction, brother. I like the way you break it down. I’m definitely picking up what you’re laying down.

          So, to keep following this train of thought…..Herod was a representative of Rome. So in criticizing “that fox” Jesus WAS taking a direct shot of Rome because Herod ruled with the full authority and military power of Rome. John the Baptist (Jesus’ mentor, of sorts) had even stronger words for the Roman rulers.

          Then we can sort of zoom out and get a panoramic of the whole prophetic tradition. Most prophets were explicitly political, and they were deeply critical of the rulers of the age, to the point where such Powers considered the prophets a threat and locked them up or otherwise harassed them.

          They did all this while keeping their eye on the main point: that the poor and vulnerable were being exploited to feed the appetites of the rich – just as it continues today under capitalism (which imo is more cruel because it hides the exploitation and justifies it as “market forces”).

          The point was never a regime change as much as it was a prophetic plea to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” They were sort of saying don’t hate the player, hate the game — which I resonate with — but they also called out the people who benefited most from the game. It’s ALWAYS tricky to walk that fine line.

          Voting every Republican out of office isn’t the end goal. Not by a long shot. The point is not any “ism” either. We want a culture and society that does justice and loves mercy….Or at least that’s how I read things.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re getting it, sorta.

        Let’s clean up the bit on Herod a bit. Nothing you said is wrong about him, but it is not the emphasis I am using. You are correct to point out he is backed up by Rome. He gives his allegiance to Rome, pays the tribute, and in return he gets to be the client king. All true. However, look at him vis-à-vis his subjects instead.

        Herod is laying claim to the title King of the Jews. In fact, according to N.T. Wright, he is refurbishing the temple as a way of cementing that claim with his own subjects.

        For our purposes, let’s put him in the “would-be insiders” classification. He comes in for scrutiny with Jesus as That Fox and as a bruised reed. Basically, he and Jesus both want the same job! Jesus has the anointing, but Herod is a lousy imposter.

        Its remarkable, actually, how LITTLE Jesus says about him. John the Baptist, on the other hand pesters him a lot and loses his life for it.

        Anyway, with this kind of approach to the subject of criticizing the politicians, my work is IN HOUSE. I am a critic from within. I am a conservative – after a fashion (not personally committed to that label, but I think it comes closer to fitting me than others), but I am a critic from within. But I particularly critique those of faith for the way we seem to lend weight to immoral politics, unloving politics etc.

        I get it that Christians place a moral value on monogamous heterosexual relations within marriage. I don’t get it that we oppose other expressions with hate and scorn – that I oppose. I don’t get it that we get divorced at the same rate as those we criticize and then scorn THEM. I oppose that.

        I can say similar things about abortion and other traditional values and issues. The kind of politics we have engaged in for a long time have not reflected the LOVE of God. And here we are after recent elections having backed politicians -Trump the main example- who flagrantly disregard these values and issues when it suits them, yet we bend the knee to him/them for political expedience – another thing we have claimed we oppose for a very long time. We have actually gained the whole world only to forfeit our soul!

        Trump was this kind of jerk a long time ago. I didn’t like him before he represented me. But I didn’t care at the same level either. And I think he is what he was gonna be no matter what anyway. And at that other level, I don’t care that much. On the other hand, when the people of God (who claim to be the answer to all the worlds problems) join this bandwagon, THEN I have a new level and order of criticism.

        To be honest, there are other facets of this that impinge on religion and politics that are not addressed in your post, but which I deal with in my though processes all the time, and that has more to do with self-sacrifice. But I will save that for another time. I think we are far beyond the realm of most political discussions already, and I doubt many people would care, much less understand – and therefore not care to try either.

        But I enjoy the chance to talk it out. It’s good for me.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. What makes you say that Jesus and Herod were “applying for the same job”? Jesus clearly stated that his kingdom was not “of this world,” which obviously doesn’t mean that Jesus was not political, but it did mean that Jesus wasn’t interested in just being another king within the context of a hierarchy of domination and control. His life made clear that he would sooner die than to play the game of thrones that folk like Herod were into.

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      3. You had me fooled for a second there. You put in quotes “applied for” as if they filled out a job application form. I almost thought I said it, but I looked for it and that is not the word I used. However, I did use the language a bit loosely.

        Herod and Jesus both seek subjects who will call them King of the Jews. Israel has a long history of kings, of course, but only a short history of “good” kings. Right from the start, there is a tension between Saul and David. Look at the text closely surrounding these guys and I think you will find my caricature fits when I say Saul is “the people’s choice” king (describes how awesome he looks, how kingly he appears to the eye), and David is “YHWH’s choice”. They both have anointing, and David respects Saul’s anointing even when it seems God doesn’t. But Saul fears David and treats him as a criminal on the run for like 16 chapters of his story. 16 chapters of David having God’s anointing but being treated like a criminal for years before he actually takes the crown.

        As Wright demonstrates (I get this from him, I would have never put this together myself), in line with David’s express desire to build the temple and Solomon’s fulfillment of that dream, and Hezekiah and Josiah’s clensing actions of the temple, there comes to be a sense that if a king either builds, rebuilds, and/or cleanses the temple, then he is the legitimate choice of YHWH. This was put to the test by the Maccabees who had no kingly lineage but who successfully defended and refurbished the holy place about 150 years before Jesus.

        Herod, then is a bad king. His subjects see right through him. He is transparently a jerk – worse than Trump by a far cry. (I am conflating Herod the Great and his son who succeeds him in Jerusalem when Jesus is crucified, but the point is not affected by that. Herod knows good-n-well that he is perceived as Romes choice and not YHWH’s but in a move that is ever bit as political as religious, he sets out to rebuild the temple, and he does so, but on a FAR, FAR, FAR more grand scale than Solomon ever dreamed. He basically builds up the mountain under it and then fixes the outer courts to it and slathers the whole thing in gold! All in a bid to legitimate his crooked ass as King of the Jews. He has the crown and the palace and all the trappings of the legit king, but Jesus has that other anointing like David had under Saul’s watch.

        Jesus goes in and cleanses Herod’s temple, predicts its destruction, and claims it will be rebuilt in three days, as the text tells us later, the disciiples rememberd he had said this and that he mean the temple of his body. This becomes the driving image of Ephesians and much of Paul’s work.

        But my point is that they both are laying claim to this crown, this title. They both want to legitimate themselves as King of the Jews. It is ever bit as political as religious. The fact that Jesus says his kingdom is not OF this world is a translation issue that would be cleared up if English translaters said “My Kingdom is not FROM this world. ” It is all about this world, the world God made and is redeeming for his purposes. And Jesus, according to the witnesses on the scene, took the crown alright. He was actually beneath Herods contempt. Herod the Great tried to kill him; his son, though did not take him seriously enough. If he had, he might have made a move to stop Jesus, but actually the move the Pharisees make served his purpose just fine, or so he thought, except that according to the witnesses, Jesus didn’t stay dead. He became King of the Jews and more. He went on to become Lord of lords too.

        Here we are 2000 someodd years later, and Herod and his kingdom are long gone. Caesar and his empire are long gone. And people name their sons Paul, John, Peter and so on, and name their dogs Nero or Casear.


        Yeah… they want the same job, but Herod has no idea what it means to be God’s choice, he is just a faker. And that is all he ever was.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I actually don’t see much evidence that Jesus of Nazareth had any interest in being a king. That’s sort of where I was coming from. Much of Christian theology takes for granted the monarchical status of Jesus (prophet, priest, and king), but Jesus himself seemed to take little interest in kingship, which I think is significant. When Jesus uses “kingdom” language, it’s usually to deconstruct the hierarchies of power and control (that abuse people, especially the poor). In Jesus’ kingdom the first will be last, etc.

          I don’t have a problem with theologians crowning Jesus king but for me it doesn’t resonate because kingship wasn’t really something that Jesus himself seemed very into.


  2. Thanks for the great insight.

    I start with the “Gospel” being the good news of the Kingdom of God. This is the essential message of the new covenant.

    “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.”

    “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; change your thinking and believe in the good news.” ~Jesus

    I don’t see how any of this leads to “the Gospel really begins to fuck with you.”

    Just my two cents. Jesus is King. Jesus is in control. The Kingdom of God is His concern. Maybe that is politics. Maybe it isn’t.

    Be blessed. God is in a good mood.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like how you “start with the Gospel”. To my biblical-thinking mind, that is a good place to start kingdom talk. Three of the Gospels do this – arguably. It makes sense to me. But there is a lot as to why that I cant write a book on a comment about.

      The part you put in quotes about “the Gospel really begins to fuck with you” is some salty language I try to avoid MOST of the time. The raunchiness of that language tends to shut down discussion esp in the circles I tend to run in/try to run in. So I leave it alone for that reason, among others. Thus I don’t think you are quoting me.

      Right off, I don’t recall that line in Jonathan’s remarks, but I saw where he did use language of that sort and so I expect you are quoting him. I will reply assuming you did and that he introduced it.

      That said, I understand Jonathan’s meaning – I think. I could be wrong, and then there is the business of nuances and details where Jonathan and I frequently differ (I share his opinion on a LOT of stuff esp in the broad strokes and find his to be insightful, but usually there are some details that I would change in the fine bits). So, it is possible that I will not resonate as fully as I think I do with the statement, but here is how I get it (salty language issues aside).

      When Jesus announces his gospel message, he is bringing a NEW order to the world (actually an OLD order – the oldest of all – but it is new to us and definitely new to those who currently order it). The gospel is peace to those who want the order it brings, but it’s like fighting words to those who currently order the world otherwise. Its all good n well to say there is a new king, but if you are the OTHER king, you can’t handle the truth! Look at Herod the Great for a handy example. Just the mention of another king threatens the way he orders his part of the world, and he cannot stand for it. So, the fight is on.

      The twist in this case that makes it unlike ANY OTHER is that we are talking about Jesus/YHWH vs. every other king and lord that dares to rule YHWH’s creation without him. JESUS is the difference. And that is as simple as I can say it, but there is a LOT packed up in that statement that could use unpacking – more than I am prepared to offer, but here is another heavily packed up overly simplistic statement that encapsulates it to a large degree: Jesus orders the world in LOVE where Herod (and all others – every last one of them to some degree or other) colludes with darkness and rules with fear.

      What is SHALOM vis-à-vis Pax Romana?

      Caesar orders the world with Roman crosses. Just outside every village and town in Galilee and Judea near the city gates there will be a dozen or so crosses with corpses hanging there in varying stages of agony, and cries for mercy or revenge, or in stages of rot and decay. Either way, they act like billboards saying: This is what happens when you F*CK with Caesar – to put it nicely! And Caesar conquers nearly the whole known world and establishes Pax in large part due to these billboards of wrath. People are scared into submission. And Augustus earns many titles by which he is venerated, one being Prince of Peace (Prince of Pax) – because he puts an end to all the wars in the known world for 40 YEARS!

      Let’s face it. That is HUGE!!! NO ONE else can claim that accomplishment in all of history – not even Jesus.

      but it is not SHALOM. It is a counterfeit peace.

      Pax/Peace is the absence of conflict (sorta) – at least its conflict that cannot find expression.

      Shalom/Peace is not only the absence of conflict, but the PRESENCE of HARMONY in its place.

      The true good of the part is honored by the whole, and the true peace of the whole is honored by all the parts, and God is all in all and his glory fills it all as the waters cover the sea… stuff like that.

      No one can claim even a particle of that peace except Jesus. Not Caesar, not Herod, not Trump, not Obama … no one.

      And Jesus/YHWH take Caesar’s little cross, that billboard of fear and agony and shame and turn it into a throne of self sacrificial LOVE and then offer that kind of order to the world.

      And there is a lot of mystery in that. It’s too big, to deep, to close AND far at the same time for me to just analyze it OBJECTIVELY like some substance in a test tube.

      Still, it comes to us (to get back to the point at hand) in a royal/political/religious announcement – a Gospel Message: that Jesus is Lord/King. And to that degree it is like all other rivals – it messes with the agendas of the other would be kings/lords. I choose the word MESS WITH, where apparently Jonathan used “FUCK WITH”, but to that extent, I resonate.

      His salty language is highly offensive. I don’t know if he appreciates just how offensive it is, but I will affirm that. Yet I am mindful that in the first century, the word CROSS was just about as offensive to polite society too. It was such a shameful and disgusting sight that nobles would avoid seeing it and talking about it except in the shadows. It was like LYNCHINGs in the American South in that regard. You wouldn’t sit at Aunt Bea’s table in Mayberry and talk about that N*GGER we lynched last night in the same breath that you say Please pass the Potatoes…

      Cross is that kind of offensive, and relative to the salty language you quote here. And yet, St Paul uses it on every page of every letter he writes and uses it in the central part of every worship service he ever speaks at after he becomes a missionary.

      I am not condoning the use of the language as you quote it, but I am highlighting how congruent it is with Jesus as it is used despite it’s offense.

      I hope that helps.

      It is my understanding.


      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hmm…Maybe I need to do a new post on my logic for using “fuck” as a theological term. In a nutshell, we have a hoard of Christians using “cross” without really getting the true offense of what it means (crucifixion of ego, Blessed are the poor, the least will be greatest, etc.). As such I like to distance myself from Christians, at least from mainstream Christianity. Using the word “fuck” is sort of a signal that my theological project is off the beaten path and outside of Christianity as a brand, as a commodified product.


    2. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; change your thinking and believe in the good news.”

      ^ This is what I mean when I say that the Gospel fucks with us. It ought to change our paradigms, which are usually based on worldly conceptions of power, i.e. the strong lord it over the weak, etc. “Not so for you,” Jesus says. His kingdom is meant for the least of these. The first will be last. It’s a kingdom where ego and money and power are neutralized and seen as hindrances to spiritual and cultural and political liberation.


  3. Sorry I wasn’t clear. The quote is from Jonathan. I was purposefully careful not to condemn it but I don’t condone it.

    I personally find it offensive. As Paul astutely suggested; “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” I am not built up by this language at all. Something to consider I think. I’ll leave it there.

    Thanks for the great insights. Much to ponder. I am a big fan of the “good news”. Jesus is on to something with that. Building a kingdom around it is stunning. I am amazed by it all. How fun to be a part of it as a lowly slave.

    Be blessed. God is in a good mood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your point is valid. It is for insiders. Outsiders don’t care.

      James would have us tame our tongue. This resonates with Paul, I think. And, of course, this is why I make a point to not use such language.

      That said, I am not sure Paul’s directive there is so cut-n-dry either.

      Not sure does not mean I disagree with you, it means I am not sure.

      But here, in part, is why:

      St Paul uses a word in Philippians that CAN be translated as “Shit”. Same guy who you just quoted about unwholesome talk.

      To be fair, many, many conservative Bible scholars prefer to translate it “crap” instead, and NONE of our English translations are willing to go that far with it, preferring “filth” or “rubbish” etc. Of course these resources are easily considered biased about that.

      However, I took 3 years of Greek in school, two of Koine and one of Classical, all of it from seminary profs. And each year, us students made sport of Paul’s terminology there and our prof’s manipulating them into discussing it further. And each year, with a different prof, we got some fascinating insights into “foul language”.

      We got unplanned, off the cuff, lectures each time, and I learned a lot – assuming the info was really accurate.

      The term shit, in English, is the word shepherds in Ireland use to designate sheep droppings. It was pronounced SHITE, by them, but it became “dirty” in polite society, not because there is some innate filth involved, but because of polite society’s aversion to poor shepherd boys, and their term for this stuff.

      I gotta say, I don’t like those rules. I abide, but I don’t like them. If I go around using that language in Christian circles, I will have to educate all my friends and still there will be offense and only a few will be edified after it is all said and done. But that is a shame. Yet, I live with it.

      The term F.U.C.K. is an acronym actually. It stands for: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. It used to be a crime in English history to fornicate. Perhaps it should be still, but it was, and the charge was F.U.C.K. The acronym stuck, and of course it always referred to a filthy thing. Today’s users of it intend to be offensive for the sake of offense quite frequently, but it is also used to describe sex – even hetero sex between married people – which technically is NOT the crime the acronym was first meant to designate.

      So, it is offensive and innacurate in regular usage most of the time and has these roots that lend it the naughty edge it still has. Yet, it is actually just an acronym from the criminal justice system at the same time.

      Nevertheless, except for Paul’s usage of a salty word that could be translated shit, the point to not use unwholesome talk is helpful, valid, and good. If and when its use can, should or will edify and build up, the I reckon I don’t have an argument with it.

      All that said, I sense my remarks (in addition to being interesting (I hope)) also serve to buffer you and Jonathan. I sorta did that on my blog a week ago or so. I will step back and let you guys deal with each other. But I hope the light I shed here helps make/produce or keep the peace. You are both valued bloggers in my estimation.

      God bless…


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I had a seminary professor who likewise had us investigating that “shit” passage. Skubalon, I believe, is the Greek, or something along those lines. When I did my exegesis, I found that the word was a very strong and offensive one, back in Paul’s day, and that Paul did in fact cuss.

        Language, though, is tricky. As you say, if one is moving in religious circles, then it may be best to hold one’s tongue so as not to offend. For me, though, I’m operating outside of Christianity, believing that at this point (at least in the United States), Christians don’t really much resemble Jesus.

        It’s all so institutionalized, adding too many additives and preservatives. American Christianity in our era is truly of the same kind of religious hypocrisy that Jesus saw in his day. So, we have Christians who strictly monitor their (and others) use of the “F word” but support cruelty toward Mexican children and find themselves deeply offended because black guys are kneeling during the national anthem. The priorities are way out of whack. Hence, for me, the best way to imitate Christ is to operate outside of the conventional institutions with all of their additives and preservatives.

        It also allows for more theological creativity. When I was in evangelical circles there were always plenty of asshole theological watchdogs who seemed to believe they were God’s theological gift to the church, sent to correct everyone’s doctrine. It was all ego. In fairness, I was that guy, for a period of my life, so I can’t be the first one to cast a stone, but I do reject the institutional context that encourages such unchecked egotism. I mean no offense to those who remain in the fold, trying to do the Lord’s work. I think that some are called to stay, others are called to leave.


  4. Wow… and …whoa…

    okay… it is obvious I was really into this discussion for a while. Yesterday? But I got new irons going in the fire and lost track.

    I tried to read through here and catch myself back up to speed, but there are so many points going so many directions and found in too many places that I don’t know where to start.

    I enjoy the conversation, to say the least, but even in the really good late night campfire with a brew conversations, I will not be able to meaningfully say everything I want.

    But as I was reading here again, from the top, I noticed I said this will not likely change your opinion… or something of that sort. And its good to remember that. I don’t write here to persuade. Not that its far from my mind, or that I don’t value persuasion, but its not my main thrust and I do not have some anxious need in my own soul to make you change your mind about something.

    I am happy to engage thoughtful thoughts, and to get mine challenged too.

    I find most of your offerings to be thoughtful and fresh. I am always surprised at how much I resonate with a guy from the LEFT. I sense there is value in that. But it’s all getting a bit cumbersome at this point, and I am sure there will be more to talk about in upcoming posts. I will watch for them… When you put Gospel in the title or the opening lines, it lets me know you are posting in the overlap, as I like to call it. I sense that on a venn diagram you and I share a lot more overlap than is readily notable considering some of the big places where they don’t.

    And please, come again to my place and visit there too.

    God bless…


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the Venn diagram. Good analogy. We meet up in the overlap, which seems to most often come down to the basic teachings (and lifestyle) of Jesus of Nazareth. Not a bad place to find common ground, imo. =)


      Liked by 1 person

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