Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Is Jesus stale?

I'm borrowing the title from a post I saw on Humble Beginning's blog ( I have him linked on the side bar). The idea of Jesus being stale comes from a communion joke:

I'm paraphrasing here:

"What'd ya think of communion today?"

"Well, Jesus was a bit stale."

Don't tell me you don't get it... apparantly the church served stale bread/wafers whatever during communion and the bread represents Jesus' body that was broken...

Anyway, I digress from my main point. I got to thinking about this. For the past few days I've been reading a book titled WICCA'S CHARM by Catherine Edwards Sanders, an Anglican journalist who dealves into the world of Wicca to find out why so many people are turning toward it and away from Christianity.

I picked up the book because I am a colorguard instructor with a Denver area high school and work closely with the teens in the marching band and guard. Many of them are wearing pentagrams and interested in spells and witchcraft. Knowing little about Wicca, I decided to purchase this book.

What really fascinated me was not so much the history and practices of Wicca, but rather the short comings of the church! Sanders found again and again that Wiccans and other Neo-Pagans had abosolutely NOTHING against Jesus Christ or even really, the message of the gospel. What drove them from the church were the CHRISTIANS! The pew sitters... US! Yikes.

Pagans are tuned into the natural environment. Sanders accounts a incident in California where a group of witches gathered to celebrate a ritual honoring nature. A band of "Christians" from local "evangelical" churches surrounded the revelers to shout out the name of Jesus and practically beat these people with the salvation message. It wasn't the message that angered the witches, it was the presence of gas-guzzling SUVs on delicate land. The total disrespect for the natural environment that the "Christians" believe their God created... If Christians can disregard the creation of their God, then their faith must be inauthentic. Ouch.

It's not only about environmental awareness. It's about how the church handles suffering. Several Wiccans interviewed left the evangelical Christian church b/c the church was uncomfortable with people in suffereing - especially women who lost babies to miscarriage. Wicca has rites and rituals to recognize the legitamate loss of life, whereas in the church people shake their heads, clear their throats and try to change the subject. My best friend lost SEVEN babies over the past few years. She had to seek out others who walked the path or have suffered similar losses. She feels the church as a whole falls short in recognizing these babies as human beings. There is no closure.

Another turn off is the lack of supernatural experience. Many conservative churches are terrified to acknowledge the active ministry of the Holy Spirit. Sure we'll sit in our pews and learn how to exogete (sp?) a text, but expect God to really DO something in our lives today? To actually heal or work a miracle? Perposterous! Many Christians live as if Jesus were nothing more than a STALE PIECE OF BREAD. I grew up in a church that believed spiritual gifts are dead and that there is no Joy in Christ. Had I not left when I did for college, I probably would have sought something... more real. I'm not even close to being Pentecostal, but I do not belive in boxing God. He can do whatever He wants to draw people to Him.

Finally, there is the long history of the poor treatment of women in the church. Many Pagans leave because they want to feel empowered as women. Oftentimes the church fails to recognize how Jesus elevates women! Heck, they were the first people He sought after he rose from the dead! He knew they'd get the word out. The Roman civilization treated women worse than animals. Jesus treated them as intelligent, valuable human beings.

I'm being long-winded here, but I want to encourage you to click on the link for Faith & Forensics on the right as well. Best-selling author Brandilyn Collins posts a review of her newest novel, VIOLET DAWN written by a man who clearly does not like Christians or believe in God. What you read will surprise you and Brandilyn serves as an example to the rest of us as believers in Jesus Christ on how to reach those turned off, not by the Gospel, but by its followers.

I need to look at my life. What do others see that leads them to the conclusion that I follow a stale God? Stale bread is awfully unappealing. Is Jesus stale to you?


Joe said...

It's a very interesting diatribe against the church, and it should stand as a wake-up call to the church. The danger, though is that we can't consider Wicca to be a safe thing. Wicca is a form of Satan worship, though it may not claim directly to be so.

Having spent most of my life in a Pentecostal church I would have to agree that many many churches, even some "pentecostal" churches do not experience the power of God as it can be.

At the same time there is something to be said about the non-"holy roller" churches. Some very lively churches are good at focusing on getting right with God and repenting but do not do a good job at facilitating becoming a mature Christ-follower.

If you were to visit a church in some countries you would sense the move of the Holy Spirit in a way you wouldn't feel comfortable with if you grew up in most USA churches. Part of this is the visibility of obvious demonic activity in those parts of the world.

Thanks for the post.

D. Gudger said...

Oh, the book does NOT tout Wicca as safe. It actually gives believers means to converse with and reach out to people who have turned to pagan practices out of a deep, penetrating hole in their spirit.

C.J. Darlington said...

Very interesting. I'm always looking to be challenged not to be a pew-sitter. Sometimes the Church really disappoints me. Best way to change that, I suppose, is to change myself.

pt said...

c.j. pegged it -- I can't change the church, I don't have that kind of power, but I can demonstrate the Love of Christ in my own life when I get my own heart right with God.

I wonder how many of those ex-christian wiccans would have left if they had *one* mature Christian friend in the church? I don't have to actually have experienced your friend's loss (7 children! what a trial!!) to mourn with her. I need only be willing to mourn. There is only closure in Christ, all else is festering and idolatry.

Mourn? To my shame, I forget to pray for people, nevermind be obviously empathetic. Kyrie elison!

(BTW: it's exegete ;-)

D. Gudger said...

You guys are right - it is the responsibility of each person to grow in their faith. Obviously, it would help if church leadership encouraged that and modeled that in most churches. Yes, the ex-Christian Wiccans did NOT have mature Christian friends to help them through their crisis of faith...
I too, under pray. I too, often forget how powerful my God is.

(Thanks Peter for the correction on the exegete word - spelling ain't my forte :))