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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Redneck Theologian


Just call me a redneck theologian. Posted by Picasa

I'm not famous. I don't pastor a megachurch. I'm just a regular guy who does hard work for a living. But I care about truth enough to say what I think. Of course, relationships and emotions are an important part of being human and a part of being Christian. However, part of being Christian and being human is having a mind and an intellect.

Too often these days we are told not to think but only to feel. It's as though the leaders of churches don't want us to question their authority or their reason for being. Reminds me of a line from an old Jethro Tull song called Thick As A Brick:

"...and your wise men don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick."

It's often assumed that lower class people don't know how to think. Anyone with a southern accent must be dumb or just slow. I associate with rednecks all day long on construction sites. Yes, the stereotype is partly true. Most of them have a high school education or less. Communicating with them can be difficult at times, since I have been trained in basic principles of logic and have a higher education. Surprisingly, though, many uneducated people can see through the veil. One elderly fellow, who is finishing up a prison sentence through a work release program called the Bridge, summed it up nicely. He said, "The ones in authority make the laws. Put me in charge and let me make the laws."

The trouble with Evangelicalism today is there is a shortage of self-examination. Are churches willing to critically examine their stances on social justice issues? Are they so middle class that they can't see the ways Evangelicalism contributes to social injustice and oppression?

Of course, the emphasis on individual responsibility is a much needed message. Often people leave the drug lifestyle and are successful in life and even attain a middle class lifestyle. But that isn't the norm. In fact, I am one of those for whom the American dream didn't come true. I quit smoking pot and went to an Assemblies of God college in 1988. I graduated and became a part-time minister making very little money with a new wife and a baby. Then I decided that further education would help me to be more successful in my calling to the ministry. So with my wife's blessing I went on to seminary and graduated in 1995 with a master of divinity.

After seminary I was a prison chaplain for almost four years until my divorce in 1996. My wife said she didn't love me anymore. So now I lost my wife and my daughter, whom I cannot see anymore. So much for the success story. I lost my ministry as a prison chaplain because of the divorce and other issues rising out of that.

Basically, let me just say that the so-called wealth and prosperity message is empty and a lie. A few success stories from mega-churches do not make a general principle that will work for everyone. There are far more people out there for whom the magic formula of hard work, education and dedication to God doesn't work. To show for my hard work and education I have a construction job. I started out six years ago making laborer's pay and after six years I'm almost a mason making decent pay. However, I don't have medical insurance. I am unable to save much money. I rent a room from my sister. And to top it all off, I can't declare bankruptcy on student loans. I owe tens of thousands of dollars in federal student loans, all of which must be repaid. So much for the American dream baptized by the health and wealth gospel.

It seems to me that often Evangelical colleges and seminaries are much like the world. Their focus is on student enrollment levels and the prosperity of their school. Nevermind that students wind up not having careers in the divine call to ministry. Nevermind that students wind up having to consolidate their loans to make the monthly payments. The similarity to barely legitimate colleges set up for beauty schools and other technological careers for businesses to make private profit off federal student loan monies is unmistakable.

Just call me a redneck theologian. Maybe I really am stupid? After all, I believed a lie. Education is the way out of poverty. Religion and faith in Jesus Christ guarantees success. Right?

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