Full disclosure, the best way to describe me is Agnostic. That is not to say I deny the existence of God or Jesus Christ I just can’t prove they exist or existed. In reality nobody can. The most devout followers of that and other deity based faiths can only prove existence by citing faith. However I cannot deny that the Bible exists and Jesus is a character (possibly real) in the Bible and there are teachings attributed to him. To be Christian is to be “a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings”. The key phrase in this definition is “and his teachings” which exist for all to read and interpret. To say you’re a Christian and not cite the followings of Christ is to be dishonest about yourself.
I’ve made a study of the Christian faith in most of its manifestations as well as other faiths. I find them fascinating not necessarily in the historical or Deity perspective but the actual teachings. All faiths discuss how the faithful should interact among others in and out of their faiths but I find the teachings of Christ to be particularly inspiring whether he existed or not. What is sad is that the strongest, loudest voices of those claiming to be Christ’s representatives on Earth walk the walk. They talk some of the talk but they also add in some things that are not there and also in opposition to Christ’s teaching take in huge sums of cash and bestow upon themselves power over others which is not within the teaching of Christ that I’ve ever been able to find.
No organized Christian religion from Catholicism through Latter Day Saints and beyond can say their doctrines fully embraces all the teachings of Christ cited in the Bible. For example all Christian faiths call for public prayers but in the Bible Jesus says in Matthews 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Perhaps the worst group of people who say they ascribe to being Christians are the Evangelicals. Though there are multiple denominations of this belief system most take on as matter of doctrine things Christ never spoke of or things Christ did speak against. They add in their own believes based on spurious beliefs brought up over the centuries from people claiming this is what Christ meant and some actually make up verses attributed to Christ. Many Evangelical leaders make a whole lot of money preaching their Word of Christ and when confronted they essentially fall back on Calvinism and the Prosperity Theology.
Calvinism and Prosperity Theology essentially states that anyone who’s wealthy is wealthy due to the blessings of God. That’s an interesting position to take especially in context to what Jesus states in Luke 16: 19-31 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” Briefly stated, just because you’re wealthy doesn’t mean you’re Godly.
In fact there are no passages in the Bible that specifically states that being a Christian will make you wealth and free from debt. As for what Jesus states about wealth in the Bible in Luke 16:13 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Preachers like Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen and the like who maintain mega-churches and have media access really hit people up for money and a lot of the money ends up paying them for their mansions and lavish lifestyles. They clearly prefer money to God if Jesus is to be believed.
Barry Goldwater had to deal with Jerry Falwell and his attempts to influence politics via the Republican Party. Goldwater hated Falwell and warned the party of the problems people like Falwell would bring them. The original Mr. Conservative said “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.” As for what Jesus said in the Bible regarding getting involved in governmental/political matters we all know Matthew 22:20-21 regarding taxation and government rule. “And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” The Bible clearly states governments are to be obeyed whether they’re Christian or not. Evangelicals would have you believe that we were founded as a Christian nation. They cite that God is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence four times. They neglect to mention that God isn’t mentioned anywhere in our Constitution. Further, the Treaty of Tripoli, which was ratified by a unanimous Senate made up of our founders clearly stated we were not founded in any way as a Christian nation.
Even before Goldwater, Jefferson and Madison made their positions about mixing religion with government as dangerous to both government and religion. They wanted the wall of separation to protect both.
Today evangelicals who claim to follow the teachings of Christ support and control the Republican Party and demand they legislate evangelical teachings. Here’s the problem, most of the tenets of what they call the Christian Faith aren’t supported by Jesus anywhere in the Bible. They oppose any liberal views citing Jesus oblivious to the fact that Jesus is quoted speaking liberal beliefs that exist today. The Beatitudes can be seen as the foundation of liberal views. Further, Jesus supported welfare, opposed the death penalty, supported taxation, preached peace over warfare, caring for others, love thy neighbors, he opposed bigotry, racism and expressed love for those outside his faith, which happened to be Judaism. Evangelicals angrily demand government outlaw homosexuality, eliminate welfare, build up armies for war, cut taxes, discriminate against outsiders and others. These are all things Jesus would be appalled to hear.
Finally, an interesting facet of those who claim to be Christian today involves “end of days” theology. They are big believers we are in the final days as predicted in the Bible and the rapture is coming and an antichrist will rule supported by false prophets. A few things about this. The only book in the Bible that talks about this is Revelations. That book was written by the Apostle Paul who never met Jesus Christ. Further, scholars believe most of what he was referring to involve the Emperor Nero whose numeric name was actually 666. The term “rapture” doesn’t appear anywhere in Revelations. Many have interpreted and expanded what the final days would be like. To take this belief at face value, Christians must beware of false prophets and the anti-Christ and who best represents false prophets than those who use the Christian faith to get rich in violation of the teachings of Christ and who best represents the Anti-Christ than a leader who claims to be “Christ like” but has nothing Christian in his history to back it up and in fact has done many unchristian things like adultery, stealing, lying, living up to the seven deadly sins. I of course am referring to Donald Trump, the current idol of the evangelical movement in our country. I don’t believe in end days theology as advertised. However if I did, I would say it’s the Evangelical Movement and Donald Trump who are ushering in the tribulation and with no rapture coming, those who help them in power will stay here suffering with the rest of us.
If you want to call yourself a Christian, then read the New Testament and carefully study what Christ taught and realize that Donald Trump, Judge Roy Moore, Pat Robertson, Paul Osteen, Franklin Graham Jr aren’t following all the teachings of Christ so are not Christians in the strictest sense. They more mirror that other group I talked about.