The Things That Get Me Into Trouble

By far, the most mentioned critique of my thoughts in this present conversation (and for nearly 25 years) can be stated thusly: “Mike, you care more for the ‘unchurched’ and ‘de-churched’ than you do for the church and it’s ‘churched’.” Your critique is valid (logically speaking). I have no argument against your point. I only have a defense of my own point-of-view, which defense I find unnecessary. However, I will defend my thinking in this entry for the sake of the conversation, not for the sake of how I think. I do not care to defend myself (in this sense) because I don’t care if we agree or not. Yet, I DO care whether or not we are thinking. And, I think the shortest route to that end is by enumerating The Things That Get Me in Trouble.

I was recently involved in a conversation (within a church setting) where, as I was attempting to explain how I understand God’s worldview – an attempt that was failing miserably, by the way – an ordained Elder of the UMC described my point-of-view using the church’s language: “Mike, you are an evangelist more than a parish pastor.” Agreed! While I do not like the language, because ‘church speak’ is alien (and alienating) to most people outside of the church, the assessment is valid. While most “pastors” live within the walls of the institution, I live without; within the population, and with the people.

Therefore, my first qualifier in this response is my sense of calling. This position, within humanity, rather than within the establishment, is where I sense I am supposed to be. It IS important to me that I am “connected” to the establishment – I am a Methodist (United, and otherwise) – but my place in this relationship is with the people.

Secondly, I have already explained my priority of thought; i.e., my use of the Texts, Logic, Experience, and History to guide my thinking (a sort-of “Quadrilateral”). And finally, remember, Observation (Meta-Observing) is what I do. I make observations, analyze, articulate, and disseminate if necessary.

Politics (In General)
I have never directly voiced my political positions and/or beliefs from the “bully pulpit.” I HAVE indirectly stated my point-of-view on various subjects, however. I will make things clear, here:

1) I do not care about “Republicans” or “Democrats,” they are simply flip-sides to the same coin. I do not care about “Conservative” or “Liberal,” for both carry far too much baggage; too many things that one MUST support or reject based on the group. I am NOT “pro” or “anti” anything. The notion of “group thought” is self-contradicting and, therefore, illogical. I challenge everyone to think for themselves on any and every subject.
2) Politics is a religion where the government is worshipped, those elected to office are the priests, party platforms are the doctrines and dogma, and “special interests” are the form of communion.
3) I have written about “the American Ideology” in the past. On one hand, there are The United States. On the other hand, there is the American Ideology. The notion of “America” is based on the Constitution. Any ideology that contradicts the Constitution is (logically) Un-American. The states can be united in an ideology of one sort or another, but it is not “American” if not based on the Constitution of the United States.
4) I am, if anything, a Constitutionalist. The Constitution of The United States is our enumerated (individual) rights as citizens. It does not establish our rights, but recognizes that we have God-given rights as humans that government cannot trample upon. No (legal) law can be made by congress to remove these rights, because The Constitution is of higher order than congress and it’s ability to pass laws. It is important to understand that The Constitution doesn’t give citizens their rights, but simply enumerates them to control the (necessary) government.
5) I consider the 2nd Amendment to The Constitution as most important; for, we cannot ensure any of our other rights without a means of defense. The point of the 2A is to defend ourselves, as human beings, and citizens of the United States, against tyranny. I cannot speak freely (the 1st Amendment) without “the right to bear arms,” simply because tyranny can silence me without recourse.
a) I have had people question this thinking based on whether or not we could win a war against a far superior government (more weapons of war than the citizenry). My reply is that you are missing the point. I do not care about “winning.” I care about FREEDOM! I desire nothing more (or less) than to live free! If I am to die in that pursuit, then I die free.
6) Concerning politics in general, I am not suggesting that we not be involved in politics. What I am suggesting is that we hold our elected officials accountable and responsible for representing us.
a) These elected officials ARE NOT “our leaders,” they are our “representatives.” They are to represent our expressed interests within government. The Constitution ensures this fact – They work for us. They do not rule us.
7) In my circles, I have liberal friends, acquaintances, and family, as well as conservative (and all positions in-between). The ridiculous notion that we all must think the same is, hereby, rejected. ANY thoughtless allegiance is senseless and ignorant to me, and a waste of energy. Many of my own points-of-view will fall throughout this political/theological continuum.

1) Logically, by rule of the Quadrilateral, since I am a man, I have no express opinion on this issue. I cannot directly experience this, but only indirectly.
2) I could have placed this subject under the “Politics” heading because there are at least two different conversations being had concerning it. There is an undercurrent to this subject that is intentionally and purely political – a means of division and unrest, especially in America.
a) I do not care what the Supreme Court “decides” on it or related matters because, Constitutionally, this is a State’s right. Likewise, as an aside, I don’t care what it “decides” about guns. They cannot overrule The Constitution. Only the citizenry can change The Constitution, and there is a process for that as seen by The Amendments to The Constitution.
3) Here is my position on the matter: Whatever a woman decides, I am here supporting you. I do not know the circumstances; the psychology, the physicality, and/or the context. If something, here, is vicious and malicious, then that is on you. We are each free – right or wrong, good or bad. My support of you does not necessitate my support of any action (one way or the other); it is not my business. I simply support you as a woman, and as a human being.
a) Much of the church believes that, because I am a pastor, there is a certain position I must take concerning this subject. What about me makes you think that I would succumb to such a ridiculous demand? This is “group think,” it is also doctrine and dogma of a religion which controls its people. Though I am a pastor, I am not the moral/ethical police.
b) As Paul says, “My conscious is clear concerning this. And not even that will convict or acquit me on that day, but He who sees all and knows everything.”

First of all, the notion of multiple races is highly illogical. There is but one race – the Human Race. Anyone attempting to divide us by color, and calling that division “racial,” has an agenda and is nefarious in every way.
1) Think critically – Someone has determined to divide us by color, calling it racism, when it is they who are racist for determining a difference (an inequality) based on color. Logic will never fail you!
2) This subject, also, I could have placed under the “Politics” heading.
3) That notwithstanding, there are atrocities in American history that cannot be ignored, erased, or otherwise rewritten. In the same way, it is irrational to generalize an entire culture as “racist;” including the generalization of symbols and ensigns (flags) of said culture.
a) Many of you know that I was born and raised in NY, moving to NC over 30 years ago. I have a unique perspective, seeing things from both sides of the “Mason-Dixon Line.” Because my family lies on both “sides,” I have studied this subject extensively, for years.
b) Philosophically, we don’t know what we don’t know. There are things in the southern culture that raises eyebrows (as it were), especially amongst the oldest living generation. Ingrained/subconscious beliefs, habits, and actions inform our attitudes and lifestyles, as a rule. It is a conditioning mechanism inherent from former generations.
c) However, I know of this same phenomenon in the northern culture. I can only deduce that this is a human trait. I understand that there is real racism – disparage based on color – but I sense the logical issue is cultural, generalized in color. We believe a certain color to be a certain way, concretizing the culture of the person in an unrealistic ideology.
4) Incidentally, contrary to popular (illogical) opinion, “racism” can be – and IS – expressed in all color/cultures. Again, I understand history, and the fact that the black community began its existence in America in complete and utter slavery, and later, still, at a severe disadvantage. And in some ways, that disadvantage is residual; it’s a condition that is passed-on to each generation, even though as a whole, everything about the ideology of America is open and accessible to all. I also understand the complete lack of trust in the “fairness” of the “system.”
5) But I challenge all cultures – If we weren’t focused on division by color, then we could clearly see that the “system” is based on elitism. There is a two-teared system – either intentionally or unintentionally – that favors an “Upper Class” – a “Ruling Class” – over and above everyone else. These are those who owned slaves and perpetuated the slave trade across the Atlantic, and they were European (specifically Portuguese). Know your history!
a) This country was formed by a handful of men with (almost literally) all the money. So, residual conditioning is working forward in this sense, also. Know your history. This is not an opinion, but a fact.
6) To the black community, I implore you – be alert and paying attention, your biggest threat is from many white liberals. This combination suggests a “racism” in the fact that they believe you cannot speak for yourselves, not because of inequality but because of your inability to articulate intellectually. They feel guilt and self-hatred (for various reasons) completely unrelated to the subject; but project it, inverted, onto the subject. While they speak of color, their words betray their desire to maintain a Plantation of controlled thought. You are free! Do your thing!

1) A country without boarders is (really) no country at all.
2) Either The United States of America has a Constitution and Bill of Rights, or it has open boarders. But it cannot have both.
3) These two ideologies (Constitutional Rights vs. Open Boarders) are mutually exclusive and, thereby, contradictory of one another.
4) Again, if you have open boarders, then you DO NOT have an American Ideology. You may have “The United States,” but they are united with the various countries of the immigrants. Logic is crystal clear, again!
5) [Do I really need to say this by now?] I have no problem with anyone (regardless of color) that wants to come and experience the American Ideology – Freedom; self-governance – but they must come legally.
6) According to the Vision, we NEED peoples of all walks of life, from anywhere in the world in order to be the full expression of a “manifold God.” And there is a legal way to get that done.
7) I understand the system (once again) is broken and/or needs improvement.
a) But this is another example of a bloated, enlarged Federal (i.e., Central) government. And…
b) The political side of this subject is distracting us from REAL answers and constructive ideas.

The (so-called) Pandemic
1) Once again, I could have placed this subject, too, under the “Politics” heading.
2) I believe that there really is/was a C-19 virus. I experienced it last year and, whatever it is/was, it was worse than any “flu” I’ve ever experienced. And I believe it is/was a manufactured crisis.
3) However, I think (almost) everything in the way it was handled is/was illogical.
a) “Follow the Science” became a religious chant rather than a constructive analysis.
b) “Science” displays the fact that, a cloth mask with material holes at larger microns than the size of a virus is utterly ineffective.
c) “Science” has always demanded that “Herd Immunity” is/was the answer.
d) It is too convenient that Big Pharma, it turns out, helped develop the virus and the “vaccine.”
e) It is too convenient that SO MUCH money is involved in this whole thing.
4) Incidentally, a “vaccine” would completely eradicate the virus, as vaccines have always done throughout history. If “boosters” are needed, then it’s not a vaccine. If I can still be infected despite being “vaccinated,” then it is not a vaccine. Logic!
5) There was nothing legal or Constitutional about the handling of this event.
6) I understand that many people have died, either from the virus, the “vaccines,” or the “boosters.” It is terrible. But the government does not have the power to establish, what amounts to, medical tyranny.
7) Fear was/is utilized to extract a desired action. This IS NOT God’s worldview.
8) If I die, I die free!

Gender Fluidity
This, too, could fall under the “Politics” heading. But there are real people involved on the ground.
1) If we “follow the science,” there are (biologically) only two genders. Logic is very clear, here.
2) Only women (physically) have babies. I can’t believe that really needs to be said!
3) Now, one can certainly feel as though they’re on a sliding scale of gender (psychologically).
4) For reasons I’ve already stated, I have no issue with folks who decide or desire to change genders. You’re free. Do your thing.
5) You cannot make me, or otherwise legislate that I support it.
6) I support you as whatever you think you are, and as a human being (assuming, of course, that you think you’re human).
7) However, it defies the Laws of Logic to say (for example) that children should be 21 to buy a firearm, because they’re too young, otherwise, but a five-year-old is old enough to learn about Gender Fluidity. This is absurd and borderline psychotic.

I have written on this subject already. The United Methodist Church is in the midst of a split related to this subject. So, I will handle both topics here.
1) I don’t care about this subject. Again, I support you in whatever you decide, as a human being.
2) You cannot make me, or otherwise legislate that I support it. You’re free. Do your thing.
a) Concerning legislation – here, and also the Gender Fluidity heading, are wrought with real-world issues when it comes to legislation. There are inherent problems if a biological man, dressing and/or thinking that he’s a woman, goes into the women’s restroom. It has certainly happened for years, even before it was a political/legal matter. And just as certain is the fact that problems have occurred in certain cases on certain accounts.
3) In the UMC, the denomination is splitting over the ordination of homosexuals. I have written about this.
a) Each pastor, each local church, each person in that local church, and each Annual Conference (usually divided by state) must decide if they will remain in the UMC (ordaining homosexuals) or leave to join the newly forming “Traditional Methodist Church” or various other churches of their choosing.
b) I am remaining in the UMC. I am assuming “freedom” in their stance. If I am wrong in that assumption, then I will reconsider.
c) Before this decades-old debate, it was the question of ordaining women. Ordination is a recognition of God’s calling on and in a person by the community. Who am I to question someone else’s call, or the recognition of a community? The homosexual issue begs the same questions.
d) Whether or not I like homosexuality is irrelevant. I support the person. You’re free. Do your thing.

“Do Not Bother Me with These Things Any Longer “ – The Apostle Paul
In closing, let me just say that, though I am (hyper) critical of many things, including The Church, I am an optimist as a rule. Pessimism aggravates me and is unproductive. My intent, here, is not to be negative. I desire only to cast the Vision of God’s Worldview as I understand it. Again, I do not claim that I’m right (though I think I am), but I live and walk-out life according to that understanding.

Regardless of whether or not we are right or wrong, good or bad – or whatever other value judgments society assigns to us – I understand “Church” to be a community; multi-cultural and of varying ideologies. It is the Resurrected Christ who avails his own faith to each individual, to live-out life for living in community.

Abandon counterfeit religions – the Cult of Politics, the Cult of Covid, and Trump Worship, etc. Think for yourselves, in concert with the Spirit of Christ. Live to be of benefit to others, whatever that looks like.

You’re free. Do your thing.

Details Concerning ‘The Conversation’

I saw a church sign recently that read, “Visitors Welcome. Members Expected.” Now, was this public message posted out of the belief that God makes such demands of his subjects? And if so, from where does that belief come? Or was this a desperate business move in the hopes of increasing traffic in order to pay the bills? Or something else? I cannot fathom such a demand on FREE people. However, that sign was like a heading for the conversation in which you and I are presently engaged. What follows is the next chapter in our dialogue.

The Word of God?
Thank you, again, for the responses to the previous two entries. Many of your comments (for or against my point-of-view) have been well thought-out and articulated. Most of these, though, inevitably return to a PERSONAL OPINION. Because of differing variables (things you’ve experienced, or doctrine, or deeply held beliefs of all kinds, or your culture, and etc.) our personal opinions profoundly influence our interpretations of the Scriptures. Add to this the fact that our own personalities, too, especially affect how we view God, and how we view others around us. And that’s OK! But do not conflate your own bias as “The Word of God” (SMH).

Because we (literally) have these various filters in our brains, it is not logical to assume that our conclusions are precisely how and what God thinks. That is exactly why I use, particularly, Logic and, specifically, “The Quadrilateral” to check and test my thinking. I don’t believe that God expects rehearsed and regurgitated information to be passed around among human beings. If God has included humans in the work of grace, then a broad spectrum of ideas, ideology, and ideologue is to be expected. THAT is The Vision! So, if all this is true, then we need a system to avoid chaos:

The Quadrilateral

The Scriptures (to me) are the First Principle of the faith that I claim. They are NOT “instructions,” words to memorize, or even “The Word.” I believe they are inspired writings, collected via inspiration, for the (logical) purpose of Specific Revelation (they illustrate God’s Worldview). As a First Principle, they are the foundation of my entire thinking; thought system, and beliefs. Any thought that cannot stand, here, is NOT The Vision.

Logic (to me) is a Second Order Priority. I just think, automatically and instinctively, utilizing the (Formal) Laws of Logic. If something doesn’t hold up against Logic, it is a fallacy. If it doesn’t make sense, it is unreasonable and NOT God’s Worldview; for according to logic, God is the absolute fount of all reason (the ability to think critically). I understand that logic is a tough one for many people, but honestly, it is because you are conditioned to allow your emotions to lead your thinking. And that’s OK! Just know and understand that fact.

Experience of God’s Worldview is important because, as a rule, one cannot logically speak about something they have not experienced. I had no knowledge of The Scriptures when I first realized that I had experienced God and God’s Worldview. So, not only does experience help interpret The Scriptures, but they can also help explain the things we experience. In a sense, Experience convinced me of The Christ Event before I ever knew of such a thing as The Cross of Christ. I experienced the fact that, though I was NOT (intentionally) seeking God, God was (intently) seeking me. Your Experience (or inexperience) helps interpret the things around you.

(Ancient) History is another tool that helps interpret God’s Worldview. Sometimes the examination of history, in general, helps us understand the present. Yet, other times, the knowledge of history helps to keep us from ending up in The Twilight Zone! If you are ignorant of history, not only are you destined to repeat it, but also someone will come along and rewrite it! In our context, (Ancient) History – the first 300 years of the “organized” church’s existence – is of utmost importance. Before the Romanization of the institution, before there was really even an institution to speak of, before the (so-called) Dark Ages and the need for Enlightenment, what did The Church do/think about this or that? The Church Era finds it’s origins at Pentecost. Anything before that is NOT “church,” where God deals with humanity. Before The Christ Event, God dealt with a nation; a people, over against the heathen nations of the world. For most of us (who are not biologically Jewish), we are the “Wretched Gentiles” that God had warned the Jews about. Before the Christ Event, God dealt directly with Israel, NOT with the rest of humanity. We were included in God’s Worldview at The Resurrection.

But Alas…

This leads me to a near consensus in your comments and responses: You ask me to speak plainly and clearly about certain topics. (LOL) First, the point of this exercise is NOT my opinions, interpretations, or qualifications. It doesn’t matter what I say or think, but the fact that I’m saying and thinking them in the hopes of furthering this important conversation is the goal. I intentionally word things so as to induce thought. I do not enumerate for the purpose of memorization and rehearsal, but for the singular purpose of making people (The Church) think. And secondly, I thought I WAS speaking plainly and clearly!

  • “When you say that you ‘don’t care’ about something, sometimes it’s offensive and hurtful.” – This isn’t really a question, but a statement, and carries with it no need for my response (since it isn’t in the form of a question). In my commentary, I enjoy using hyperbole. It’s use usually ensures that I get your attention, and it normally causes such a strong reaction that one has to think, seriously, in order to react to my hyperbolic statement or question. Therefore, mission accomplished! And, if you don’t like my use of it, I don’t care! (LOL)
  • [AGAIN] “Do you believe in Universal Salvation? And Hell?” – It is fascinating that these Eschatological (the Last Things) subjects are so consuming to The Church. Are their primary positions in your thinking so important because they are the central tenants of your “Christianity”? Much of The Church is disinterested in BEING CHURCH, but obsessively consumed with sending people to Hell that may not think the same as them. This is simply and purely religion – the counterfeit to The Faith of Christ. I want nothing to do with it.
    A. I have already said that such things are not my concern. I am not being vague nor attempting to avoid the issue. I just don’t care about it! (Note, hyperbole) My role is to facilitate thinking. I have quoted the Pauline text that is a central tenant in my thought process. I have NOT been given the task of speculating or otherwise passing judgment on another’s relationship with God (or the lack thereof). My job is to speak to (and into) The Church. What you, The Church, do with it is not my business. Whether or not you “believe” is not my concern. To discern or otherwise interpret the existence of a literal “Hell” is not my assignment. I am responsible for my task. If such things are your assigned task, then YOU deal with it.
  • “Do you believe in sin and The Original Sin?” – So, there are certain words and phrases that carry with them too much baggage, and the word “sin” is one of them. The Church, ironically, has corrupted the word’s original notion by assigning an ever-growing list of things that it considers “sin.” For the Apostle Paul, there were “sins,” and there was “the Sin.”
    A. The word, “sin,” in most of the Greek New Testament is, hamartia – to miss and subsequently move the mark [of God’s intended purpose]. Do you see it?! God has an intended mark for creation and “sin” is when we (individually) miss that mark, and then move that mark to a point where we can hit it! I tell you that THIS is what institutes a religion that counterfeits The Faith! We claim God, but we have moved the mark (that we consistently missed) so as to hit it repeatedly. We desire obtainable “Laws” and “Codes,” which serve only to dumb-down God (in our minds) and make him obtainable. This is religion! This is “sin”! We cannot reach God (by definition). God reaches us In Christ.
    B. For Paul, “the Sin” is that event which took place in the Garden of Eden in the Jewish text. Adam and Eve’s “disobedience” had instituted a rift between God and God’s creation. “The Sin” creates in us repeated “sins” – the repeated missing and moving of God’s intended purpose. Thus, since it was “Disobedience” which caused the rift, it can only be “Obedience” which heals it. Enter Christ… the ONLY human to ever be “Obedient.” Try as you may, Church, but your “obedience” is unnecessary and is based on an impossibility. It is Christ’s “obedience” which heals us; which heals the rift between God and us.
  • My use of “the Jewish text” leads me to a favorite question of yours: “Don’t we become Jews when we accept Jesus?” – There are certain texts in the Scriptures which are used by some in the church to explain that we inherently become Jews when we “accept” Jesus. But this is really confusion, ignorance, a complete lack of logic and, in many cases, manipulation. As “the wretched Gentiles,” we do NOT “convert” to Judaism in order to “convert” to “Christianity.” It is a direct line In Christ! We are still Gentiles, and Paul states that we (as Gentiles) have a “gospel” (Good News) that speaks to us. Paul, himself, states that there is a “Jewish Gospel” and there is “my Gospel” to the Gentiles.
    A. The Ten Commandments (of the 600+ Laws) concern the Jews. They never concerned the Gentiles, and they don’t now. Those 600+ are found in the Jewish Scriptures. Because we have adopted them as the Christian Old Testament, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we need to Christianize them. They are historical. They tell us about the God of the Jews, who healed the rift between God’s-self and humanity in order to be the God of all creation. As Paul states: Who has cast a spell on you? If The Law couldn’t help you obtain God, what makes you think that following it now can make you keep him?
    B. A casual study of Paul’s life and work amongst the churches he founded will show us that one of his major problems was the infiltration of Jewish Laws into the Gentile churches. In fact, he blamed the Apostle James for sending in “spies” behind him! Even today, this infiltration has (finally) consumed the organized Church, to a point where confusion, ignorance, a complete lack of logic and, in many cases, manipulation rule and reign.
  • “You said that you believe that God is not judging humans today. Will you explain?” – The Christ Event has settled that problem. The rift between God and creation was healed via Christ and His Cross.
    A. If you sense you are being judged, it is NOT God that is judging. Otherwise, what was the point of The Christ Event? If someone is holding God’s anger, displeasure, or any other irrational, negative emotion over your head, for ANY REASON, it is NOT God’s Worldview; I do not know this God of which they speak. What is the point of Christ and His Cross?
    B. Judgment is where creation found itself after The Eden Event. Think critically: The scenario is that we are swimming in judgment, and Christ comes to rescue us. It is highly illogical that He would come with a rescuing act AND judgment! He came BECAUSE we are in judgment! Why would he bring judgment with Him when we were already in judgment? The Christ Event rescued us FROM judgment.
    C. So, judgment is now reserved for various things, eschatologically, but none of which has anything to do with us. Today, God’s “judgment” is where contrary worldviews find themselves. Anything that is not God’s worldview is a contrary worldview, and there are myriads of them. Anything that is not found in God’s worldview is swimming in “judgment,” simply because it isn’t God’s worldview.
    D. Thus, the problem today, for The Church, is living-out a contrary worldview (i.e., Religion), which inherently finds itself in judgment. It’s not a matter of salvation, so get over it! It’s a matter of reaping the rewards (so to speak) of something that is swimming in judgment. There is no favor, and there is no benefit to creation in Religion when said Religion is a contrary worldview, and swimming in judgment. It will never work out favorably.

The Things That Get Me in Trouble
Finally, The Church had several other points, of which I will hold for the next time. Also, a lot of the questions or comments deal with subjects and topics of which I have already written about. You can find those conversations on my website or in my published books and commentaries available on Amazon.

I am working on “The Things That Get Me in Trouble,” where I express my thinking on subjects and topics that get me in trouble with YOU, The Church. Many of the things I’ve taught for nearly 25 years get me in trouble!

A Follow-Up to The Conversation

Thank you for all the feedback on A Conversation with The Church. Some of The Church strongly disagreed with my assessment, while others agreed and gave thanks for putting words to their feelings and thoughts. Remember, I’ve said for many years that, whether or not you agree with me is not my concern. I don’t care if we agree or not, I only care that we are thinking! I care only for the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” of our belief systems. What follows is some debate with you, The Church, that has transpired since I published the Conversation.

I Don’t Care if You Agree with Me or Not
A lot of folks simply commented, “I agree” or “I disagree” with you. Thank you for the critique or support, but neither comment is beneficial to any kind of conversation. I ask, “Why?” Why do you agree or disagree? To simply say, “I disagree,” makes this an argument between us; which of us is right and/or wrong. I don’t care about that. I care about a conversation of competing thoughts and beliefs that furthers the larger conversation that the whole church has been having for 2000 years.
Likewise, to only say, “I agree,” makes this an ‘US vs. THEM’ conversation. I don’t care about that. We do not need an echo chamber where all we hear are our own words clanging around inside our heads. Your experience, your history, your thoughts on where we happen to agree are very important to the ongoing conversation because others probably feel or think like you do, but have been conditioned to believe that they are “wrong.”

“Authorized” By Whom?
Many question my “salvation” because I first questioned “the acceptance” of Jesus Christ or the “saved” aspect of the mainstream Christian religion. My response is that you are completely missing my point. I am questioning the language that The Church utilizes, as if “conversion” is to a culture that has a specific necessary language. Secondly, in the Conversation, because it was based on Socratic thought (the style and form of Socrates) my questioning of your terminology is a means for you to explain the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” of your doctrine; your rehearsed and memorized responses. If you are saying something because I said it (or some other big mouth), then you are following me (or them) and not Christ. And finally, I use different terminology, a different language, because of the disconnected segments of The Church with which I deal. I am expressing that your doctrine, dogma, and platitudes are not axiomatic (they’re not universal in The Church) and are often times alienating and damaging.

(The Action of) Faith vs (The Policy and Procedure of) Religion
God is moving throughout God’s entire creation. Please don’t tell me that there are certain catch-phrases and specific words that are central and necessary to God’s rescuing act. These claims and demands of western civilization are NOT “The Good News”; they are NOT the means by which God heals all and/or everyone. God’s grace (the work of the Resurrected Christ) works in individuals as is necessary to the individual. If that offends The Church, it is The Church that must make adjustments; not God. THIS is a major difference between Religion and Faith. Religion is built on its own bureaucracy of policy (the rules to how we do things), where Faith is a work within the things themselves (the fact that we do things).

The “Method” to My Madness
Some folks asked (because POLICY demands that they ask), “Do you believe in Universal Salvation?” Some others made a statement while attempting to ask the question: “You don’t believe in Universal Salvation, do you?” The latter is only a question because “do you?” was added to a judgmental statement. My response is very simple: Your argument, here, is with the Scriptures; the texts I use to support my argument. I am using the same “authority” as you, without the POLICY that religion demands; I am using the words of the Apostle Paul, strictly, and not the baggage of “accepted interpretations” (doctrine).
Paul plainly and clearly states that, “In Adam, ALL have died. Likewise, in Christ ALL will BE MADE alive” (emphasis mine). Now, I don’t intend on turning this debate into a lesson in Hermeneutics (how we interpret things based on original language, context, etc). Thus, it is YOU who must deal honestly with the text, the context of this text, and the intent of the text based on the Greek with which it was written. Your problem is not with me. It is based in and on your own Bible, and your inherent interpretations that attempt to change the meaning of Paul’s words.

Theologically, I assume the position of Universal Atonement. I am a Methodist (if a United one, is yet to be seen). But I am steeply trained in Calvinism, too. There is no Methodism without John Wesley arguing against Calvinism. Likewise, there is no Calvinism if John Calvin was not arguing against Catholicism. But I digress…

My Calvinism (within my “Method”) demands that God in Christ is in control of God’s creation; that God’s worldview is complete, and that Christ is working out that worldview to complete creation’s realignment with that worldview. Likewise, I believe that The Cross of Christ is axiomatic (a universal for ALL creation); it is the means of healing for ALL creation. Creation’s role in this Act of God is not my concern. Whether or not creation must “believe” or otherwise “accept” these terms is not a concern for me.

The Vision (As I Understand It)
What I’m saying is this: My job, my part in the conversation, is to express what I believe to be God’s worldview (The Vision).

  1. I DO NOT understand “Good News” to include God as punitive (which, by definition, is bad news for the recipient).
  2. I understand The Christ Event (The Cross of Christ) as Permissive, rather than Punitive. This has been the thinking of the Eastern Church for many centuries. The Western Church imagines an angry, demanding, Punitive (punishing) God.
  3. I believe that Christ and His Cross is THE healing act of a loving God (Permissive).
  4. I DO NOT believe that The Crucifixion was a punishing action by a displeased deity (Punitive).
  5. I believe that if God is still angry and must be appeased AFTER The Christ Event, then all logic falls to the ground because, obviously, God is dependent on us, making us more powerful than God (by definition). If this view is accurate, then Christ is/was NOT enough, and there is more that we must do.
  6. I believe there is no exception to The Christ Event; whether or not we are “good enough” is not a reasonable debate. God’s worldview is based on who God is, and not on who we are or not.
  7. I believe that God IS NOT judging human beings (“Heaven or Hell”), but that “Judgment” is anything that is NOT God’s worldview.
  8. I believe that God healed the rift between creation and God’s Self at The Christ Event.
  9. I believe that God’s issue is NOT with humans, but with counterfeit worldviews that ‘miss and otherwise move the mark of God’s intended worldview’ (“Sin”).
  10. I believe we ALL have a responsibility to express – to live-out – God’s worldview among the myriads of counterfeit worldviews available to humanity (“Church”).
  11. …Whatever that looks like!

Don’t worry, I’ve got more to say concerning this Conversation!

A Conversation with The Church

In the Socratic spirit of “A Conversation with Religion,” I wanted to revisit the matter based on observations made over the past 20 years. I am a Social Observer. I naturally Analyze the information so as to Articulate what I’ve observed. And if necessary, I Disseminate the finished product. This process is always couched in The Laws of (Formal) Logic and my understanding of The Vision; God’s worldview. As I’ve said for years, upon Dissemination, I know that I can be aggravating (for I aggravate myself). But I desire only for us to THINK. And remember, I’m The Ass of The Body!

A Conversation with The Church

The Church: Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

Me: I don’t even know what that means. What do you mean by “accept,” and what is the meaning of “Lord” and “Savior?” And why do you ask ME this question? What about me leads you to believe that I have or haven’t done this thing?

The Church: You must accept Him as your Lord and Savior in order to be saved.

Me: “Saved” from what? And why do you ignore my previous questions? Are you programmed only for a certain narrative? Did you even listen to and hear my questions? Or is there a script that must be followed in your mind?

The Church: If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, all you have to do is pray The Sinners Prayer with me.

Me: [OK then, a script it is] “The Sinners Prayer?”

The Church: Yes! We can pray, and ask Jesus to come into your heart!

Me: What do you mean by “come into [my] heart?”

The Church: That’s how Jesus becomes your Lord and Savior! By living in your heart!

Me: How is that even possible? “Live in [my] heart?” What do you mean by “heart?”

The Church: I mean, when Jesus is in your heart you no longer desire the things that are not of God.

Me: Oh, so you mean a change of MIND. A transformation in the way one thinks results in a change of action. For example, positive thoughts effect positive actions, while negative thoughts invoke negative actions. Correct?

The Church: No, this is about Jesus. It is not about how you think.

Me: So, what does Paul mean, in Romans 12:2, when he says, “Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

The Church: Oh! You know the Bible! Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

Me: [Oh yes, the script] Are you familiar with the Bible?

The Church: Yes! It’s Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth! Everything we need is in the Bible!

Me: [The word B.I.B.L.E. as an acrostic; clever, and meaningless] OK, what is your Biblical principle for the notion that one must “accept Jesus Christ as [his/her] Lord and Savior?” And this, by “praying The Sinners Prayer?”

The Church: …

Me: My apologies. Where does the Bible say that one must “Accept Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior?” Furthermore, where is there even a single mention of any sort of “Sinners Prayer?”

The Church: Well, the Bible doesn’t say either of those things. But it’s an easy way for someone to convert to Christianity.

Me: Wait, didn’t you just say the Bible has everything we need? Bygones… So, the purpose of “The Sinners Prayer,” thereby “accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior,” is to make converts? Of Christianity? In other words, the church? What of making converts of Christ? Is that a ruse, then?

The Church: You’re twisting everything I’m saying. I don’t understand the language you’re using. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

Me: [the Script, again…] So, if it is not in the text – the Scriptures; the Bible – then from where are you getting your information?

The Church: Oh! My church (and my pastor) has all the answers you need! God is there every Sunday!

Me: I would hope that God is there every Sunday; and everywhere every Sunday, and every other day of the week. So, do I have to be at YOUR church every Sunday in order to interact with God?

The Church: You have to go to church every Sunday to hear the Word of God, because Jesus lives in your heart as Lord and Savior.

Me: So, if it is NOT a Sunday, does God just sleep in a pew until next Sunday? Is God just waiting for all humanity to walk inside the four-walls of a building [called “Church”] on Sundays? On what Biblical Principle do you base this notion?

The Church: …

Me: And [while you’re searching off script for a reply], Why must I go to a building (called, “Church”)? What do you do with where Jesus said, “Wherever three or more are gathered, I am there among them?” Isn’t it true that the reason rests in the business of Church? You have to pay the pastor, and the other bills of the building, so you need “converts” on Sundays?

The Church: See! You’re twisting every thing I say again! You don’t think we need to go to church?

Me: I believe that all humanity is the church (whether we know it or not) and that we cannot possibly “go to church” when we ARE the Church. Anything more is simply a business; a conversion to a religion (at least), and (at worse) a worldview that is in competition with God and God’s worldview. All the while using Christ as an impaled icon.

The Church: Ok, what is YOUR biblical principle, then?

Me: Very good! I’m glad you asked! Paul states (in The Corinthian Correspondence, 1Cor. 15:20-22; and in The Letter to The Romans, 5:12-17; 6:1-14) that “In Adam, ALL have died. Likewise, In the Second Adam [i.e., Christ], ALL are made alive.” Listen carefully, now, this is off script: What has happened – The Christ Event; The Cross of Christ – is an act of God, not an action of our own based on whether we “accept” it or not. If God is dependent on us, then logically we have more power than God. Do you see the complete lack of logic here? Notice, also, that it says “ALL have died” and that “ALL will be MADE alive.”

Me: And, I also don’t narrow my thinking to an interpretation of the Scriptures. There are many interpretations of the texts, evidenced by the many different denominations of Christendom. I also use Logic (Reason), Experience, and (Ancient) Tradition to guide my interpretations of the Scriptures.

The Church: How do you know you’re right? Everything you’re saying sounds nothing like what my pastor says.

Me: I am free to be wrong. God does not sit outside of space/time clocking me to ensure I have all religion, dogma, and doctrine correct. Remember, this whole thing is based on The Christ Event. God has worked out God’s worldview. I’m simply attempting to walk it out – i.e., life. I use the (so-called) [Wesley] Quadrilateral (the four components above) to check my thinking. But I also communicate with the God whom I claim. Call it prayer if you wish, I just have a conversation, thinking through all of my observations. Is Jesus alive? Or is He dead and rotting in a crypt?

And concerning your pastor, the office is a conflict of interest. You’re commissioned to lead the people, but the business inevitably leads you back to paying the bills. You can’t have the people free and free thinking because you can’t control them. And you can’t get the “offerings,” the “gifts” to pay the bills.

The Church: So, you DO believe in Jesus?

Me: [Bless your heart, the script, again] I find The Cross of Christ believable. Logic supports this worldview. My Experience is of a Resurrected Christ, not of a dead religious leader from 2,000 years ago. Tradition (and History) shows that YOUR thinking about Christ is misguided, not mine. There were no buildings called “church” until the 4th century, when The Roman Catholic Church decide to replace the void left when the Roman Empire collapsed.

We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We have to think differently; change worldviews; learn (again) to be good, to be beneficial, to one another.

The Church: But the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Don’t we have to actively make converts, specifically of Christ?

Me: [Another clever platitude] Again, you [i.e., the organized church] are not converting anyone to anything, except to a dead religion and a certain cultural construct. I do not know in what condition the road to Hell is, or if there is even such a thing, but I do believe that God’s worldview is creation working out life as a community; beneficial to others, and not just to self. This, to me, is The Church!

Furthermore, your signs out front, are to alert the community of needs being met by God. They are not for your clever platitudes in a language that only “churched folks” know. Your sign can say, “All are welcome,” but those from outside the little clan know that isn’t true.

Your public conversations are not inclusive of “everyone,” and actually alienate anyone that might be looking for God and a change of thought. We don’t want to be like you, we just want our lives to be better and have meaning.

Am I free to think differently? Act differently? Am I free from cultural judgment if I’m not like you?

The Church: …

Impaled Icon

I published this about eight years ago, but I think it speaks (even more so) today. Be careful though, it will offend our egos.

Our obsession with our own counterfeit religions is a necessary result of humanity being alienated from God. We are built to be in proper relations with God, but being separated from Him our inert knowledge of Him drives us to attempt to reach Him on our own. Upon our failure, we do not abandon our counterfeit religions, we simply compound the confusion by multiplying our converts; we think force-feeding our perverse religious views on an underprivileged humanity is what God demands. The church, not excluded from this insanity, expresses the human condition by parading an impaled icon as the means to reach God. All-the-while, He is just another tool in the proverbial “toolbox” of counterfeit religion.

Counterfeit religion has blinded humanity to such an extent that most aren’t even sure of the identity of the God (god?) for which they are desperately groping. The human condition has so profoundly baffled our perception that some angrily deny that they are making the attempt, ignorantly ignoring God altogether. Our minds have been manipulated to such a degree that many of us even deny that we are religious as we dedicate ourselves to a dearly held belief system, the fabric that holds together an entire group of people (the definition of “religion”). We can try to remold God into a deity of our own fashion, but that is illogical because God (by definition) defines God’s-self. We can try to dismiss God with a passive-aggressive attitude, but that is irrational because one is not angry with a God one doesn’t believe or doesn’t care exists. We can deny it all and disclaim the need or use of any and all religions, but that is self-contradicting (and self-defeating) because a belief system that denies the need and use of belief systems is unintelligible.

Humanity cannot disengage or otherwise subdue its religious nature, it creeps into literally everything that humans attempt to do (or not). It cannot use this counterfeit religion in a positive sense, because (whether we admit it or not) the point of any religion is to reach God, which cannot be done (whether we know it or not). But God has provided an escape from this vicious cycle, not in lists of moral/ethical codes (which would only serve to display God’s-own holiness) and not in a preferred culture (that soon corrupts). God has displayed a means to an end of the alienation, not a tool of counterfeit religion which exasperates it. We have not reached God. God has reached out to us. In our fallen condition, what exactly does our religion counterfeit? Religion (our attempt to reach God) counterfeits Faith (God’s move within humanity). Not some generic play-on-words and not some ironic production of a belief system. But the actual Faith of Christ, the faithfulness of Christ that drove Him to the cross, the very faith that Christ contained in Himself which raised Him in Resurrection Life. It was not an ideology that was impaled, but the reality of God in human form. The icon of religion was killed on the cross, the answer for human counterfeit religions. Alienation from God is ended in Faith. The faithfulness of Christ in us – the Church – ends the necessity of religion in humanity.

On the Imminent Separation of The “United” Methodist Church


From several sources and outlets have I been asked my opinion concerning the UMC and the present plan of separation. It should be noted that, in the UMC the General Conference (the governing body of the global UMC; consisting of clergy and laity alike) votes on such matters, and certainly other plans of separation will be considered this year along with the most advertised plan (on which I will be commenting in short). With that said, it would appear as though separation is imminent, one way or another.

I, personally, play no role in General Conference directly. My opinion on the matter is as a United Methodist, a United Methodist pastor, a trained theologian, and an acute social observer and commentator. On this basis is my opinion sought and, in return, offered.

Three Observations

First: I am thankful that, unlike the UMC, which is a Democracy in its governance, the United States is a Democratic Republic.
Last year (2019) a special session of General Conference was called and a vote was taken concerning the ordination of “openly practicing homosexuals” in the UMC. The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church states that such a lifestyle is incompatible with biblical teaching. However, this interpretation of the scriptures was being challenged, and some were living contrary to “The Book of Law of The UMC.” The votes were tallied and the majority (53%) desired to keep the historical view of The Discipline and the UMC.

Democracy simply ensures the will of the majority over the minority. In this sense, the minority, which questions the historic interpretations as antiquated, are discounted and their values further marginalized. Incidentally, a Republic assures not just that the people have a vote, but that every person’s voice matters (the reason for the Electoral College), and not just a simple majority.

Secondly: The minority (47%) in the vote last year did not accept the outcome of the democratic vote, and have spent the past year contesting – via protests, the withholding of Apportionments (the monies paid into the global and local UMC), and various other activities, etc. all in the Hope’s of nothing short of a redo – a new vote on the matter. I suppose that the aim would be to continue to vote until the desired outcome is reached.

I question the logic of this point of view. Shall we agitate and aggravate the matter until the majority somehow, someway decides to acquiesce? Do we ignore the vote and, therefore, the Discipline, making ourselves illogical for lack of first principle? In other words, how are we United Methodists if we do not submit ourselves to The Book of UM Law? We’d rather force our values onto others.

And finally: There is a sense amongst some leaders (and possibly others) that this subject is a distraction from the mission of the church. My response is, What?! If we are really concerned with God’s worldview, then how, exactly, are we distracted? I have not sensed a distraction from the mission at all. Perhaps we’re asking the wrong question. Maybe the mission itself is the real question that is not being asked or answered. Who is the church? And what is its purpose?

A Worldview

So, as for myself; I have no desire to question anyone’s sense of calling, regardless of lifestyle or orientation. Simply, I do not accept the notion that I am some sort of moral/ethical police. In fact, I know of no such purpose for the church in any sense or fashion. Certainly the church (in general) and individuals within it (specifically) have taken upon itself/themselves this type of role, but I firmly disagree. I understand all humanity to be the church (“In Adam all have died; in Christ all are made alive” – Romans and the Corinthian Correspondence). And if all humanity, then culturally diverse and different (which, by the way, doesn’t simply mean different skin tones, but also differing lifestyles).

I am of the simple opinion of Freedom – We are free to find our way in life with God’s grace. And it is in the context of community in which we live out this freedom. We are certainly “free” to live in isolation, but logic then questions the notion of freedom. Likewise, if everyone in our community thinks, acts, walks, talks, and smells the same, then where exactly is this freedom? And to what, or from what are we exercising this freedom, logically speaking? No, we are free to trust God to take us to where we are supposed to be. And the church should be a place to live out this freedom.

If General Conference votes to adopt the plan of separation in question – that a “Traditional Methodist Church” is created, while the UMC changes the Discipline to accept the ordination of homosexuals – I cannot, in good conscience with my understanding of God’s worldview, join with the new denomination. I would not stay within the UMC because I agree with their tactics, but because I agree with their assumed notion of freedom.

However, if such an assumption is not realized in the UMC, but a majority lording over a minority (once again), then I would be forced to revisit my decision to stay. Yet, I still could not join the new “Traditional” denomination because, by definition, freedom is in question.

Final Thoughts on the Matter

Finally, I must comment on the fact that, after struggling with this topic for years, the UMC finds no other option but a separation to answer the question. This is both disappointing and disheartening. The notion that two denominations are somehow “United” is illogical. Certainly the two can respect one another and work with each other, but please don’t insult the intelligence of the people. Perhaps, while we are renaming and rebranding things, we should use a term a friend has coined years ago – The “Untied” Methodist Church.

If voted into reality, this separation will cause each Annual Conference of the UMC (In America, usually divided by state) to vote on which denomination it belongs; as well as each local church must vote to determine its affiliation. Then, churches will have to be aligned with pastors of the same affiliation.
Other Methodist denominations could be formed out of this plan, too!

Obviously we are “untied.”

Encased In Concrete

It is time, once again, to be reminded of elementary principles.

Reap The Vision

I credit the church for recognizing that things are changing. I question the church in its answers to address the change. The church has realized that, though it was, at one time, walking along beautifully with God, God turned a corner somewhere (a paradigm shift) and the church was immobile; encased in concrete. We were so entrenched in our church system that we were unable to move and unprepared for God’s move. The church’s response has been an attempt to restructure and reorganize the system (“in the name of God”). But remanufacturing will never remobilize us. It will serve only to reproduce immobile idols; disciples of the system. To escape the tomb, we must (again) experience the Resurrection. To move with God we must (again) be the resurrected Body of Christ. To shift with this paradigm we must think differently.

The Cross and Resurrection Event

The church is not to…

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Counterfeit Faith

Bringing this back around… Be warned! This one cuts deeply!

Reap The Vision

Faith and religion are not synonymous. Nor is faith an object in the subject of religion. The notion of “the plurality of faith” is unintelligible as well. This is something the Church must understand if it is to be, once again, an agent of change in humanity. As long as Christians insist on arguing the validity of the “Christian Religion” they will always be entangled in the distraction of arguing the irony of a pointless point-of-view. Likewise, as long we are willing to accept the fallacy that Christianity is a “superior religion” we will always be hopelessly ineffective and helplessly self-contradicting.

There is no religion in the world that is any better than any other (nor can there be).  Religion is a human attempt to reach God (at best) and is a human attempt to counterfeit God’s grace (at its worst).  Religion (of any sort) is expressed by a varying…

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Order of the Butt

This entry originated five years ago, having experienced two opposing situations. It still speaks today.

Reap The Vision

Do not misunderstand, I did not decide one day to be an agitator stirring the proverbial pot of stagnate thought and rancid understandings. Long ago I did not draw the conclusion that, when I grow up, I want to aggravate and agitate the church (or whomever I happen to be irritating at the time). Hey! As long as I could be married, I would easily conform to the life of a monk. If it were up to me I would mind my own business; after all, I only want to be left alone to imagine God and speculate upon His logic. I could socially respond to humanity via the Internet; I could interact via email and text messages. But alas, what I am in my flesh does not align with what I am called to be in spirit.

I was a part of two distinct groups last week, each polarized…

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The First Cause

The First Cause

Logic demands a First Cause for all that is in existence. Interestingly enough, logic is, in fact, the First Cause that it, itself, demands!

In the Greek, our word “logic,” is logos – spoken thought; reason. Philosophically, Heraclitus (in 500B.C.) understood logos to be the principle which structured and controls the universe. The Stoics (3rd century B.C.) believed that the logos was, “the soul of the world.” Emperor Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 161-180) saw spermatikos logos (the “seeds of logic”) as the generative principle in nature.

What I’m saying is that Logic, literally, was face-to-face with God (theologically, The Prime Mover). Logic experienced an existence of equality and intimacy with God (by definition). Like the Hebrew tradition of Wisdom, logos is personified, in my understanding. And logos is the embodiment of God’s worldview. Unlike the Hebrew tradition (where Wisdom is a separate entity from God) all of God (by definition) is fully expressed in God’s Logic.

When Space/Time first came into existence, the logos was… God’s Logic has existed alongside God as long as God has existed (eternally, by definition). The Logic of God has always been everything that God is, everything that God does. In fact, the logos – the Logic of God – is the instigator, the initiator of all that exists in the universe. The kosmos (the arranged universe) came into being by means of the One who’s always been in “being” beyond Space/Time. And without the Logic of God there is (literally) nothing. For Logic demands it.

This same logos zipped-up entirely in human form, back in the annuals of time. “The logos of philosophy is the Jesus of history” – Bernard. The Logic of God, from forever, beyond Space/Time, pitched a tent and lived here with humanity, historically, to express God’s worldview to human beings. That worldview speaks of a Killing Cross and Resurrection Life, and a return to eternity (mastering the Laws of Physics) in human form – the Logic of God; the First Cause.