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Time for a Change in the Christian Message?

Christianity bears a cost. Its painful. Its uncomfortable. Its hard. And its awesome at the same time.

Apparently, this CNN journalist thinks it's time we Evangelical Christians rethink our message.

The reason why? Obama was re-elected.

(By the way: What is it with the press and this president? I have never seen journalism this devoted to actually not being journalists in my life.)

The CNN author's reasons?

"In three states voters approved same-sex marriage; anti-abortion candidates were defeated in red states; and Obama, whose opponent had the support of Billy Graham, won a second term."

Even more reason: "the fastest growing religious group in America is people who are not affiliated with any organized religion, according to a recent Pew survey."

The solution presented in his article? Change the message. Cooperate with the shifting sands of culture's foundations. Appease the Agnostic with a more palatable message and far less absolutes.

After all, he writes: "Playing hip music and wearing jeans when you preach may not be enough to catch a new generation of Americans." To which I say (tongue in cheek) "Whatever will we do?!?!"

Perhaps it's time we change our stance. Abortions on demand! Marry whomever, however, whenever you want. Christ is only one of the paths to heaven, we aren't exclusive! After all, we have churches to protect and financial responsibilities to meet. We have a reputation to uphold and it would be bad press if we actually started losing people because we were so "inflexible" with God's word.

My response? "Thanks, but no thanks."

I have news for CNN and anyone else who might agree with them. You don't follow Christ for convenience, but rather you follow Him out of deep undeniable conviction. I believe the Bible is God's authority and life in Christ gives hope, healing and joy this world can NEVER take away.

If CNN was around when the events of John 6:66 happened, I'm sure they would have the same message for Jesus. "Temper it down, Jesus, the people are leaving, you're becoming less relevant. Don't you think its time to acquiesce a little to save the movement you've worked so hard to build?"

I have a feeling that conversation would have ended with a whip being made and some tables being flipped ...

Jesus wasn't a sell out.

Neither are His followers.

Christian faith is NOT supposed to be popular. And we have ample scriptural support:

Matthew 10:22 (NIV) All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

John 15:18–19 (ESV) If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Philippians 3:18 (NIV) For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

Matthew 24:12–13 (NIV) Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

You think Jesus or Paul were preparing us to be popular with these statements. How about this one:

Luke 6:26 (ESV) Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

In other words, Jesus says, "if you are popular while you follow me, you aren't doing it right!"

Maybe however, we Christian churches have sent the wrong message. Maybe in our quest to be relevant and effective in our ministry, we have falsely conveyed the idea that we'll do anything to be relevant and effective. Success brings a whole new set of temptations that trying to get there never had. What happens if things go poorly as a result of following Christ? What will we do?

Maybe we'll get back to our roots in the faith. When Peter and John left the Sanhedrin jumping for joy that they were counted "worthy to suffer dishonor" for the Name of Jesus, they weren't worried about tax-exempt status or annual budgets. They were free in the deepest sense of the word. Nothing could stop them.

I don't know about you, but there's a part of my heart that aches for that kind of spirit in American Christianity.

Christianity bears a cost. Let's start talking about this again. It's not about free coffee in our cafe, comfortable chairs and cool music. It's painful. It's uncomfortable. It's hard. And it's awesome at the same time.

Following Jesus is about losing your life—friends, relatives, associations, reputations ... only to turn around and FIND REAL LIFE.

Maybe soon in this country, following Christ is going to cost church leaders television ministries, programs, buildings, attendees, reputations, associations and more.

But "If God be for us...

...you can finish the rest out loud.

Tim Hatch blogs about Christian faith and values at www.timhatchagain.com every week.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Emcee of Seekonk November 20, 2012 at 12:30 PM
"...our human intelligence inevitably moves forward..." Human intelligence has not progressed one iota. Whether a baby is born today or thousands of years ago with an intact brain, it has the same potential. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Macedonians were every bit as 'intelligent' as the current Patriot's fan screaming for his team's win or the guy stealing copper out of someone's basement. Occasionally, there is a slight aberration in the brain and you get a genius, ie: Einstein. That has always existed. Christianity might become archaic, but it will be replaced by something similar. The Greeks had multiple gods, but they believed in a supernatural force, nonetheless. We are not born with a religion, but we are born with a God. If you want to believe in a Dog, that's fine, but I'm not convinced you are more 'intelligent' than the rest of us.
Terese Bohaxiu-Dicastiglione November 20, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Do you consider Joel Osteen to be a sell-out because he conveys a positive, inspirational and welcoming Christian message? I'd much rather listen to him than read all your negativity and vitriole.
paul November 20, 2012 at 01:36 PM
People of faith like everyone should speak their minds. Can a religious person comment on a matter of state without being religiously bias?
Tim Hatch November 20, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Yes Paul, plain and simple, I believe in a Country where everyone has a voice regardless of their religion or lack of religion. Which is what we have. The CNN article was suggesting we Evangelical Christians change what we are saying because it may not be popular. So what if its not popular? My point in the article is that Jesus told us it wouldn't be popular. Every citizen of this country should be free to express themselves whether they work at Office Max or The House of Representatives, whether they worship at St. John's, or St. Mark's, or Christian Life Center or Gillette Stadium, or a Taylor Swift concert.
Emcee of Seekonk November 20, 2012 at 02:10 PM
@paul..."Can a religious person comment on a matter of state without being religiously bias?" Probably not. We are the sum of our experiences. Could an athiest comment on a matter of state without being influenced by thoughts shaped by his experiences? A Communist? A Buddhist? A child? An Hispanic old man? Generally, what we prefer in a leader is someone similar to ourselves in attitude and beliefs and values. The Evangelists need not change. Nor do the Jews or Catholics.
deb of see-attleboro November 20, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I try to do just that. But do we have to? A "comment" is not a vote.
Jennifer Boudreaux November 20, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Oh poor, poor sheep. You already have changed to fit the demographic. Perfect example- The New Testament. You all thought the Old Testament was "too scary" so you picked & chose the least scary things, added your own rubbish, & pushed out the New Testament. The Bible is fictitious. It's a fairy tale that went too far when Crusaders gave the ultimatum of either believe or die. The desperate converted, then forced it onto their children with new scare tactics, and it keep going like a disease. If you weren't told by someone at some point, to believe it or you're going to burn in hell, you most likely wouldn't believe it now. You were all brainwashed at a young age, so it's all you believe. You will do the same to your children, like a genetic disorder. Someone has to break the cycle. My generation has grown up at the same time as technology. Through new sources, such as the internet, we have more access to scientific research that is knocking down all your ridiculous beliefs like bowling pins. More young people are starting to question "What about fossils?" "What about proof of evolution?" "What about the sun not revolving around the earth?" Our computers have become the NEW Tree of Knowledge. Religion is being questioned at an all-time high, as we're getting smarter. If you refuse to change, then you are a bum leg. You are a burden that needs to be abolished. A disease that needs to be cured. But mostly, a people that need to either shut the hell up, or just die already.
Emcee of Seekonk November 20, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Seems your generation has it all figured out. Can't wait for the next generation to come along and kick you guys to the curb because at the speed we are evolving, they will be twice as smart as you guys. Something to look forward to.
Tim Hatch November 20, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Wow Jennifer. You basically proved my whole article. We either need to (your words) "shut the hell up, or just die already." An amazing amount of hatred and intolerance we evangelicals usually get accused of having. For what its worth, I don't hate you, and appreciate your feedback. But I'd love Jesus whether or not there was a hell. Being Christian is not avoiding hell, it's embracing the love God has for you in this life, a joy that knows no bounds. Blessings.
deb of see-attleboro November 20, 2012 at 05:28 PM
It always amazes me how those who consider themselves "evolved" are the most close-minded bunch of hypocrits on God's green earth. If it were up to them we would still be living in the dark ages. Or maybe we are?
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) November 20, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Deb, What period of history do you consider to be the Dark Ages?
deb of see-attleboro November 20, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I didn't capitalize for a reason. I will have to dust off an old text book to give you a scholarly definition. Is it really necessary, though?
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) November 20, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Yes, because I don't understand what any of the posts here have to do with the Dark Ages (a period that many, if not most, historians say never actually existed).
Emcee of Seekonk November 20, 2012 at 07:41 PM
What do you call that period after the fall of the Roman Empire when European tribes, sometimes called barbarians, took control of the area for centuries? Civilization was abandoned, Irish monks were copying manuscripts to salvage some of the learning that had occured under the Greeks and others. The Roman Catholic church rose up to fill the void. Then came the Renaissance. Rebirth. Granted the Dark Ages did not occur worldwide, but in western civilization, there was a time when progress loss ground, and many scientific discoveries had to be relearned.
deb of see-attleboro November 20, 2012 at 07:45 PM
A short answer? Figuratively, dark ages are any extended period of time when the consensus is to declare war on free expression and possibilities. I think you can find comments from either side of the spiritual/secular equation that are pretty much closed off to the concept of free expression and possibilities. BTW, I'm old. When I was in school Pluto was still a planet.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) November 20, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Emcee, it hasn't been called the Dark Ages by most historians (and no, this is not a liberal or conservative conspiracy) for some time. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/151663/Dark-Ages
Gretchen Robinson November 20, 2012 at 08:07 PM
I agree. We need reason and our intellect. I'm a religious humanist and to paraphrase the book by Humanist Chaplain at Harvard College, I'm "Good Without God." Humanity has had thousands of gods over the centuries. All eliminated over the years as bogus. Some of us have just eliminated just one god more and stand on our own two feet. By the way, In Dog We Trust. Check out the Humanist of RI. Great group. Not anti-theist but pro-humanist.
Tim Hatch November 20, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Gretchen I appreciate your feedback. Is it fair then to suggest that "Good without God" is just ego-centrism disguised as a noble way to live? Wouldn't that make humanity its own god? Is that what you are aiming at? There can be no doubt we are wired to worship/honor/glorify something. And if not God, then why not humanity is what I see in secular progressives. "Pro-humanism" seems more like self-idolatry. "I am good, and God had nothing to do with it." Let me ask: Are you sure? Who raised you? Who raised those who raised you? Who imparted morals to you, to them? Where did they come from? Who gets to decide what morals are "moral" and what morals are not? Surely there is a root, a first-cause to the "good" you refer to? I argue that God is the source. That we get "goodness" ultimately, though imperfectly from a perfect God.
Emcee of Seekonk November 20, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Just because it's called something else, doesn't mean the time period didn't exist. It's like the BCE (before common era) now being used for BC (before Christ) because some people object to the reference to Christ. "Dark Ages, the early medieval period of western European history. Specifically, the term refers to the time (476–800) when there was no Roman (or Holy Roman) emperor in the West; or, more generally, to the period between about 500 and 1000, which was marked by frequent warfare and a virtual disappearance of urban life. It is now rarely used by historians because of the value judgment it implies. ..." --- Encyclopedia britannica
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) November 20, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Emcee, the term hasn't fallen out of use because they don't like the name. It has fallen out of use because the idea that human progression stopped is not accurate.
Darren Major November 20, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Mr Hatch, In America, we have religious freedom. I know you feel you are doing a duty by crying about anyone who offends you with their opinion that goes against what we hold in your heart. I find your column specious because you paint with this broad brush idea that an opinion on a cable network reflects the entire nation. It does not. Having come from a red state and seeing people who (IMHO) properly represent what the Bible and Jesus preach, I know that this wonderful country is hardly in danger of forcing anybody with religious beliefs to change, message, opinion, or otherwise. My religious beliefs are my own as yours are and any other person. You are exercising some of that freedom and message here. Christianity is alive and well in this country no matter how much you cry it isn't. Megachurches, preachers on tv, no taxes for religious organizations, etc. belay your whining about "changing your message". Your real message is clear: The country is bad because people you or people you feel share your belief don't get your way in this election. That's why the founders didn't declare a national religion.That's why there is a separation between church and state. People of your ilk have done every thing they can to blur that but the national debate continues on that. You don't have to change your message but nobody has to choose accept it the way you offer it. That's freedom in the USA. Get used to it again. Do you recall what a Pharisee is in the Bible? Check your mirror!
Emcee of Seekonk November 20, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Well, 'frequent warfare and a virtual disappearance of urban life' is a step backwards, in my opinion. But, in the future we will call it the Early Middle Ages, which covers all bases. Some good things did happen amongst the warfare, and lifestyle changes.
Tim Hatch November 20, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Darren, Thank you for your comment. My suggestion is to re-read my article. I'm not bemoaning the results of the election; nor am I painting our Nation with a so called "broad brush". Can you point out where I'm making these points you suppose? I was responding to that *specific* author's suggestion and relaying why I disagree according to my "freedom in the USA" in the "national debate" that continues, as you say. I actually appreciate many of the CNN contributors and read their blog almost daily. As for Christianity being alive and well - again, my point in the article was there is an honor to persecuted Christianity and Jesus told us it would happen, is happening elsewhere, and may indeed eventually happen in this country. Nowhere in the article did I say the country was "bad". Again, if I'm wrong, point it out. I'm more than willing to state emphatically - there should be and must be a clear separation of church and state. It is interesting that you interpret articles like mine as a call for such separation to be annulled. Perhaps even a the hint of a Christian voice in society is so threatening that such accusations are simply retaliative. Of course no one has to accept our message the way we offer it. In fact, history shows most of the world will not accept it. I'm pretty used to that already. I'm constantly reminded by Christ to look in the mirror. Wise advice for us all! Again, thanks for your contribution to this discussion. Blessings!
Gretchen Robinson November 27, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Christianity is the dominant religion in the USA. And Christians are far from being persecuted in the US. Christians are not victims. We need the voices of a many different kinds of Christians as well as those of other religions and also non-theists. I support a "wall" of "separation" between the "Garden of the church" and the sordidness of the state/commerce. That's what Roger Williams said in the early 1600s, some 140 years before Madison and Jefferson. Have you ever been to the National Park for Roger Williams. I'm as radical as he is in saying that the evangelical right has been suborned and deflected from their work by the grasping grabbing overreach for power exemplified by people like Rick Santorum (who's Catholic) and Rick Perry, governor of Texas, who doesn't want students in his state to learn critical thinking skills. Tim, I think you'll agree that there is no one way of being a Christian. Or maybe you are. To me there is no one way to be a Christian identity. Instead there are Christianities. And that includes liberal Christians and Christian churches. They don't share your views on many issues I would suspect. What are your views on immigrants, LGBTQ persons, women's rights to comprehensive reproductive health care??
Amy November 29, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Gretchen what is your view on tollerence toward Christians (the kind that believe in God) that have values and beliefs different than yours?
Gretchen Robinson November 30, 2012 at 12:22 AM
many many Christians want separation of church and state, and have throughout American history. Check out Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which is headed by Christian minister, Rev. Barry Lynn. www.au.org
Dan Johnson February 18, 2013 at 12:53 AM
"Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people's suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal." The Dalai Lama Yet treating others with respect and equality does not require any religious belief. Non-theistic ethical and philosophic systems, like Humanism and Ethical Culture, believe in equality, fairness, and respect for others. While all belief systems have differences, all major religions, ethical systems, and philosophies agree that each person should treat others as they would themselves. Almost all of these groups have passages in their holy texts, or writings of their leaders, which promote this Ethic of Reciprocity. The most commonly known version in North America is the Golden Rule of Christianity. It is often expressed as "Do onto others as you would wish them do onto you." Or in "natural law": that "no man require to reserve to himself any right, which he is not content should be reserved to every one of the rest". Not only is refusing to treat others as you would yourself a violation of every major ethical belief system, it is a violation of the promise of equality in the founding documents and required by the 5th and 14th amendments. Legal discrimination stigmatizes, dehumanizes, and causes needless harm, while treating others equally under the law harms no one.
Gretchen Robinson February 18, 2013 at 01:59 AM
The Jewish form of the Golden Rule is do not do to others that you have found to be intolerant to you. That is harder. I like the Ethical Culture Society and religious Humanists, who live in a religious congregation, doing good, serving others, all without any recourse to the supernatural. Let's all keep to our own beliefs or non-belief and all get along. After all freedom of religion works because no one denomination predominates. Some of the early colonies, Massachusetts included, had an establishment church--and that one was close to a theocracy. As Roger Williams found out.
Carol Bragg February 18, 2013 at 03:43 AM
My son used to say that the best form of the Golden Rule is to do unto others what they would have you do unto them -- in other words, don't assume you know based on your own likes and dislikes, but instead ask. It means being other-centered for the other's sake, which is the same as agape, sometimes described as God's love operating in the human heart.
Gretchen Robinson February 19, 2013 at 02:32 AM
thanks Carol. Your son is very wise.

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