In May of 2013, Lighthouse Trails released a report titled, “They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus – How Conservative Christians Are Being Manipulated and Ridiculed, Especially During Election Years.” In view of the upcoming elections and some of the things going on around the country in the “background,” it seems diligent to repost the report at this time. While some of the documentation in the report is a few years old, there are similar efforts going on today as are described in the report. For instance, the “Vote Common Good” (a website created on June 2018, just in time for the elections) bus tours taking place right now around the country are intending on “flipping Congress.” The line up of those speaking on the tour are largely extreme liberal emergent figures such as Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne, Frank Schaeffer, John Pavlovitz (recently featured in a LT article), Mark Scandrette, Doug Pagitt, Samir Selmanović, Diana Butler Bass, and Nadia Bolz-Weber. Folks, these people mean business, and they won’t let up until they’ve accomplished their Marxist/Socialist-leaning, anti-biblical goals. This next election will come and go, but they will still be here, telling the world that they represent “true” relevant organic Christianity, and your children and grandchildren will believe them. We know that politics is never going to solve the problems of any country. And there is no perfect political party. But what is being presented by the people in groups like the one named above is an anti-Christ agenda. That sounds strong, but think about what Diana Butler Bass (who was part of the 2015 Parliament of World Religions) said in her book, Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening:
Conventional, comforting Christianity has failed. It does not work. For the churches that insist on preaching it, the jig is up. We cannot go back, and we should not want to. . . . In earlier American awakenings, preachers extolled “old-time religion” as the answer to questions about God, morality, and existence. This awakening is different . . . it is not about sawdust trails, mortification of sin [putting to death the old man], and being washed in the blood of the Lamb [the preaching of the Cross]. The awakening going on around us is not an evangelical revival; it is not returning to the faith of our fathers or re-creating our grandparents church. Instead, it is a Great Returning to ancient understandings of the human quest for the divine. (pp. 36, 99; emphasis added)
Several of the names we have listed above have said similar type things about biblical Christianity over the years as you can read about on our site and in our published materials. Some of you may remember our 2009 article “Brian McLaren Wants End Time Believing Christians Robustly Confronted.” As far as these highly influential emergents are concerned the “old-time religion” of being washed in the blood of the Lamb is over. And you can be sure their target is your children and grandchildren, especially ones who’ve grown up in Christian homes. When you consider how Rick Warren, Bob Buford (Leadership Network), and Bill Hybels all had a part in launching the emergent church back in the 1990s1 and then never retracted a single promotion of it, it’s difficult to witness the “fruit” of their labors these 25 years later and listen to the silence of Christian leaders who seem to care more about building their own empires than defending that old time religion.
And now the 2013 Lighthouse Trails report:
In 2008, which was an election year, books, videos, broadcasts, and news articles were pouring into mainstream America with a guilt-ridden message that basically manipulated conservative Christians into thinking that either they shouldn’t vote because “Jesus wouldn’t vote,” or they shouldn’t vote on morality issues such as abortion or homosexuality. Suddenly, all over the place, there was talk about “destroying Christianity,” or “liking Jesus but not the church,” or “Jesus for president” (suggesting that maybe we could get Him on the ballot but certainly we shouldn’t vote for anyone already on the ballot). It all sounded very noble to many. After all, everybody knows there is so much political corruption in high government and certainly as much hypocrisy within the walls of many proclaiming Christian leaders and celebrities.
This special report by Lighthouse Trails is not going to attempt to answer the question, “Should a Christian vote?” But we hope to at least show that things are not always as they seem, and what may appear noble and good may not be so at all.
In January of 2012, another election year, a young man, Jefferson (Jeff) Bethke, who attends contemplative advocate Mark Driscoll’s church, Mars Hill in Washington state, posted a video on YouTube called “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” Within hours, the video had over 100,000 hits. Soon it reached over 14 million hits, according to the Washington Post, one of the major media that has spotlighted the Bethke video (hits as of May 2013 are over 25 million).
The Bethke video is a poem Bethke wrote and recites in a rap-like fashion his thoughts and beliefs about the pitfalls of what he calls “religion” but what is indicated to be Christianity. While we are not saying at this time that Bethke is an emerging figure, and while some of the lyrics in his poem are true statements, it is interesting that emerging spirituality figures seem to be resonating with Bethke’s message. They are looking for anything that will give them ammunition against traditional biblical Christianity. They have found some in Bethke’s poem. Like so many in the emerging camp say, Bethke’s poem suggests that Christians don’t take care of the poor and needy. While believers in Christ have been caring for the needy for centuries, emerging figures use this ploy to win conservative Christians (through guilt) over to a liberal social justice “gospel.” Emerging church journalist Jim Wallis (founder of Sojourners) is one who picked up on Bethke’s video. In an article on Wallis’ blog, it states:
Bethke’s work challenges his listeners to second guess their preconceived notions about what it means to be a Christian. He challenges us to turn away from the superficial trappings of “religion,” and instead lead a missional life in Christ.1
What the article is talking about when it says “preconceived notions” is Christianity according to the Bible. Emerging figures accept some of it but find to accept all of it is too restricting. Many of them call themselves “red letter Christians,” supposing to mean they adhere to all the red letters that Jesus said; but they have actually chosen which red letters they adhere to—they don’t accept them all. For instance, they dismiss red letters that refer to there being a hell for those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord, God, and Savior. When the word missional is used, this doesn’t mean traditional missionary efforts to evangelize the world. It means to realize that all of humanity is saved and being saved along with all of creation and that the means of salvation didn’t take place in a one-time event (the Cross) but is an ongoing procedure that occurs as people begin to realize they are all connected to one another and can bring about a Utopian society through this interconnectedness. Such emerging buzz words like missional fool a lot of people though.
Incidentally, if you’ve never read the article we posted in the summer of 2010 regarding Jim Wallis and Sojourners, “Sojourners Founder Jim Wallis’ Revolutionary Anti-Christian “Gospel” (and Will Christian Leaders Stand with Wallis?)” we highly recommend it.2 But be warned—you may find it quite disturbing when you read what the agenda behind the scenes really is.
The rally call to throw out Christianity but keep “Jesus” isn’t a new one—we’ve heard it many times before from various emerging contemplatives. Futurist Erwin McManus once said in an interview:
My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ . . . Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right.3
And, of course, there is Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church. In a book review of Kimball’s book, Lighthouse Trails stated that the book should really be called They Like (Another) Jesus But Not the Church, the Bible, Morality, or the Truth.4 Kimball interviews several young people (one is a lesbian) who tell him they “like and respect Jesus” but they don’t want anything to do with going to church or with those Christians who take the Bible literally. Kimball says these are “exciting times” we live in “when Jesus is becoming more and more respected in our culture by non-churchgoing people.”5 He says we should “be out listening to what non-Christians, especially those in their late teens to thirties, are saying and thinking about the church and Christianity.”6
According to Kimball, it is vitally important that we as Christians be accepted by non-Christians and not thought of as abnormal or strange. But in order to do that, he says we must change the way we live and behave. Kimball insists that “those who are rejecting faith in Jesus” do so because of their views of Christians and the church.7 But he makes it clear throughout the book that these distorted views are not the fault of the unbeliever but are the fault of Christians, but not all Christians, just those fundamentalist ones who take the Bible literally, believe that homosexuality is a sin, and think certain things are wrong and harmful to society . . . and actually speak up about these things.
Perhaps what is most damaging about Dan Kimball’s book is his black and white, either or reasoning (the very thing he accuses Christians of). He makes it very clear that you cannot be a Christian who takes the Bible literally and also be a humble, loving, thoughtful person. They are two different things, according to Kimball. There is no such thing as a loving, humble Christian who takes the Bible literally. His book further alienates believers in a world that is already hostile to those who say Jesus is the only way to salvation, the Bible should be taken literally, homosexuality is a sin, and we are called out of this world to live righteously by the grace of God.
Brian McLaren, the emerging church’s early pioneer, resonates with these ill feelings toward the Christian faith when he states:
I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.8
Roger Oakland deals with this “we love Jesus but hate Christianity” mentality in his book Faith Undone. Listen to a few quotes Oakland includes in that book:
For me, the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity and embracing Christian spirituality, a nonpolitical mysterious system that can be experienced but not explained.9—Don Miller, Blue Like Jazz
They [Barbarians] see Christianity as a world religion, in many ways no different from any other religious system. Whether Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity, they’re not about religion; they’re about advancing the revolution Jesus started two thousand years ago.10—Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way
New Light embodiment means to be “in connection” and “information” with other faiths. . . . One can be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna.”11–Leonard Sweet
I happen to know people who are followers of Christ in other religions.12–Rick Warren
I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.13–Thomas Merton
Allah is not another God … we worship the same God. . . . The same God! The very same God we worship in Christ is the God . . . the Muslims–worship.14–Peter Kreeft
Roger Oakland relates a story from the Book of Acts:
“[T]he apostle Paul had been arrested for preaching the Gospel. He was brought before King Agrippa and given the opportunity to share his testimony of how he became a Christian. He told Agrippa that the Lord had commissioned him to preach the Gospel and:
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)
“Agrippa continued listening and then said to Paul, ‘Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (vs. 28).’ Paul answered him:
I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. (vs. 29)
“If Paul had been following the emerging mentality, he would have told Agrippa, “No need to become a Christian. You can remain just as you are; keep all your rituals and practices, just say you like Jesus.” In actuality, if Paul had been practicing emerging spirituality, he wouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. He would not have stood out, would not have preached boldly and without reservation, and he would not have called himself a Christian, which eventually became a death sentence for Paul and countless others.”15
It’s hard to believe there was not at least some political agenda in this storm of “we love Jesus but not the church or Christianity” especially witnessed in election years. And we believe this agenda was aimed particularly toward young people from evangelical conservative upbringings who had joined the emerging church movement. In a CBS Broadcast, anchorman Antonio Mora suggests there may have been over twenty million participants in the emerging church movement in the United States alone by 2006.16 Even half that number would be enough to change the results of a presidential election.
Some may contend that Jefferson Bethke’s song doesn’t have any political message at all—it’s just about hypocrisy of religious people. But interestingly, in the very first few lines of the song, Bethke raps:
“What if I told you getting you to vote Republican, really wasn’t his [Jesus’] mission? Because Republican doesn’t automatically mean Christian.”
Could there be some message here that Bethke is trying to relay? Is it just to tell people that just because they are Republican doesn’t mean they are Christian? Surely not. A fourth grader could reason that out. It’s difficult not to believe there is some other message here that just happens to be taking place on an election year.
Just consider some of the things that were said by evangelical and emerging figures during the 2008 presidential election year. And think about what you are hearing today. A lot of people love the messages being sent out by people like Dan Kimball, Erwin McManus, and let’s not forget Frank Viola and George Barna’s book, Pagan Christianity, where they condemn church practices like pastors, sermons, Sunday School, and pews, but say nothing about spiritual deception that has come into the church through the contemplative prayer movement. These latter two figures (Viola and Barna) give readers a feeling that they should hate Christianity but just love Jesus. But what Jesus are these voices writing, singing, and rapping about? It may be “another Jesus” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4).
As the world is gradually (but not too slowly anymore) heading toward a global government and global religion, it is becoming more and more apparent that this global society will be one where “tolerance” is the byword for everything other than biblical Christianity. And what better way to breed hatred toward biblical Christians than to say “we love Jesus but hate the church” (i.e., Christians and Christianity)? Perhaps they have forgotten what Jesus said:
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15: 18-19)
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:14)
This report we have written may produce more questions than answers regarding things like politics, voting, the role of Christians in the world, the view the world has of Christians, and so forth. But while we have not answered such questions, we hope we have shown that indeed things are not always as they seem and that often what seems right may actually be from a deceiving angel of light and those who appear good may actually be only false ministers of righteousness.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness. (2 Corinthians 11: 14-15)
To order copies of They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus in booklet format, click here.
1. Matthew Santoro, “Viral: ‘Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus’” (God’s Politics blog, January 11, 2012, http://www.sojo.net/blogs/2012/01/11/viral-why-i-hate-religion-love-jesus?quicktabs_1=2).
2. M. Danielsen, “Sojourners Founder Jim Wallis’ Revolutionary Anti-Christian “Gospel” (and Will Christian Leaders Stand with Wallis?)” (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4545).
3. “Pastor, noted author takes uncivil approach in new offering Book seeks to uproot ‘Christianity’ to return to its roots” (Christian Examiner, https://web.archive.org/web/20140323134943/http://www.christianexaminer.com/Articles/Articles%20Mar05/Art_Mar05_09.html).
4. “They Like Jesus, But Not the Church (or They Like (Another) Jesus But Not the Church, the Bible, Morality, or the Truth)” (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=3292).
5. Dan Kimball, They Like Jesus But Not the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), p. 12.
7. Ibid., p. 19.
8. Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), p. 293.
9. Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz (Nashville, TN: Zondervan, 2003), p. 115.
10. Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005),p. 6.
11. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality (Dayton, OH: Whaleprints, First Edition, 1991), p. 130.
12. Rick Warren, “Discussion: Religion and Leadership,” with David Gergen and Rick Warren (Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Institute, July 6, 2005, http://www.aspeninstitute.org); for more information: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletternovember05.htm.
13. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
14. Peter Kreeft, Ecumenical Jihad (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1996), pp. 30, 160.
15. Roger Oakland, Faith Undone (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007), pp. 180-181.
16. Cited from Faith Undone, from chapter 1; taken from Antonio Mora, “New Faithful Practice Away from Churches” (CBS Broadcasting, July 10, 2006).