Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm a Christian and I'm Not Sorry

As part of the facebook world I am privy to the random thoughts and life updates of over 400 of my closest friends. This morning, I saw a video posted of a young man reciting a poem with the title, “I’m a Christian and I’m sorry”.

I listened to it, and I must say that as shocking as it was to hear the f-bomb twice, I was more shocked at hearing the same Christian bashing lines of thought that you hear anywhere else.

You can find the video on youtube, but I transcribed (as best as I could) the words of the poem so that I could better interact with it (transcript is below). I felt compelled to respond, so I have written this post (not even close to poetry) called, “I’m a Christian, and I’m not sorry” and it is below the transcript the poem.

I am a Christian.
I’m sorry

I’m sorry for the way that I come across
So fair and fake friendly and full on my self so judging your spiritual health by the words that you say and the way that you dress and the things that you do
Or maybe just judging you

I’m sorry for the way I live my life.
So confident of my own beliefs that I would never think to think about thinking about yours

I’m sorry for the wars
Iron clad crusaders mounting steeds and drawing swords with such spirit but the spirit…
[something about the spirit being out and the sword of the spirit was the word]
…but the word was with God and the word was God and they preached this as they marched on the holy land.
Singing and praying
And killing and slaying.
And preaching and healing
And raping and stealing.
It’s ironic that they lined their pockets in the name of God
Just like the priests who lined their pockets in the name of God.
Just like the people you can’t stand because they always raise their hand and spread their faith and hate and judgment in the name of God.
I’m sorry that I take the name of God in vain – or rather I’m sorry that I stain the name of God. Defending my selfish actions and selfless actions pertaining to the will of God.

I’m sorry for being intolerant.
For trying to talk down to you, for trying to talk over you, for not letting you talk.

I’m sorry for not walking the walk. For being a hypocritical critical Christian. Criticizing your lifestyle while my own lifestyle styles itself like the televangelist’s hair. All slick and sly and slippery…(something about a syllable sliding into your ear)…but that’s my greatest fear.
That the steps I take won’t match the words I speak so when I speak all you hear of me is a weak hypocritical critical Christian. Doing one thing and saying another. Loving my friend but hating my brother – it’s a show.

I’m sorry I get drunk on Saturday’s and go to church on Sunday’s to pray for my friends who get drunk on Saturday’s.
And on that note I’m sorry for making the church about the pews and the cross and the steeple, because the building is not the church; the church is the people.

I’m sorry that I hate you because you are gay.
I’m sorry I condemn you to hell because you’re gay instead of loving I junp to hatred. Mouth open and tongue preaching, eyes open but not seeing that you are the same as me just a F****** human being.

I’m sorry that I only hang out with Christian friends and we only do nice Christian things like pot luck dinners and board game nights. While in the night a man beats his girlfriend again. Another homeless man dies again. Is this the that my own pride has been but here I am with my same friends again but see what I always forget is that Jesus didn’t come to hang out with the priests and the lords, no. He hung out with cripples and beggars and whores.

Love.

I’m sorry for history. For native tribes wiped out in the name of the church. Lodges burning. Stomachs churning and yearning for justice as mothers, screaming and bleeding, pleading for their young ones are dragged away to church schools where they were abused.

I’m sorry for the way that I refuse to learn your culture, instead I just came to spread the gospel - and the plague.

I’m sorry that I stand at the front doors of abortion clinics screaming at fifteen-year-old girls as they enter instead of waiting at the back door to hug them as they leave.

I’m sorry for taking my wars and my faith to your lands when historically your lands is where my faith was born. And in the face of the storm I realize that if God is Allah and Allah is God then why are we shooting instead of sharing? Why are we launching instead of learning? Why are we warring instead of walking together? Why are we taking instead of talking together? Why are we bombing instead of breaking bread together? You see I think looks down and He’s sad. And from His right hand throne above, Jesus asks “where is the love?” And if it takes Wil.I.Am and Justin Timberlake asking the same question for us to start asking the same question then where the f*** are we headed?

So I will take this stage to be my chapel and this mic to be my confessional, and in the presence of God and of you, the blessed, I confess I am a Christian. I’m sorry.

- A poem by Chris Tse



I’m a Christian and I’m not sorry.

I’m a Christian and I’m not sorry.

I’m not sorry for the way I come across. When I’m being friendly, I’m not fake – I’m genuine. If you think its fake, I’m sorry, but it’s not.

I’m not sorry that the way you speak communicates something about who you are to anyone who is paying attention. I don’t judge your spiritual health by the way that you dress, but the things that you do and the things that you say communicate a lot about you in the same way that what I do and say tells you a lot about me.

I’m not sorry for the way I live my life or for the tenacity with which I hold my worldview. I’m so confident in my beliefs that I will try to understand the beliefs of others in order to show their deficiency. But more than that I want to tell you of the Perfect Savior and the Holy God who is present nowhere else than the very gospel that other worldviews do not have.

I’m not sorry for Christians in the middle ages. I’ve read Foxes Book of Martyrs and I know how the Christians – the true Christians – were treated by the same Roman system that is responsible for all kinds of evils. I’m just sorry more people either aren’t willing or aren’t able to separate Christians and Christianity from the Roman Catholic Church, the associated monarchical system, and the abuses, perversions, and heresies that were hand in hand with that union.

I’m not sorry for being intolerant…because I’m not. Intolerance doesn’t allow others to speak. And unless I’m living in a parallel universe, those who oppose Christ and Christians have the primary positions on TV, Radio, Hollywood, Broadway, newspapers, and other forms of communication. I don’t seek to shut others down from saying what they believe; I just want the ability to do the same.

I’m not sorry for trying to live and be as Christ wants me to be while failing every day. That is how the Christian life is described in the Scriptures. And there are a great host of Christians who were the same type of “hypocrites” that I am. Look at Paul – he didn’t do what he wanted to do and longed to be free of the body of this death – but he was a true and genuine Christian. I, a Christian, don’t revel in nor seek to not repeat my failures, but I do not deny them or cover them up either.

I’m not sorry about greasy televangelists – I’m righteously angry toward them. They pervert the name of Jesus to line their pockets. I pray that God would have mercy on their souls now so that they can repent of their ill gotten gains, their filthy luker, and their hell-wrought theology. Otherwise they will be judged and condemned by God after they’ve enjoyed their short time on earth.

I’m not sorry that I don’t get drunk. I feel bad for non-Christians who drown themselves in alcohol, and I love and pity them and want them to be set free in Christ from their bondage. I am sorry for people who claim to be Christians but are in an unrepentant cycle of willful sin and very well may truly be non-Christians who are deceived into thinking that they have been forgiven.

I’m not sorry for seeing the importance of gathering together with other believers to hear the Word preached, to worship the Lord in singing, and to find ways to serve one another and others. And I’m not sorry to do that in a building that we try to keep clean and in good repair.

I’m not sorry for telling people that “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,” nor those enslaved to “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor 6:9 & Gal 5:19-21). All sinners are human beings, and all human beings are sinners, except Jesus Christ the righteous. And all human beings are wicked and are sure to be condemned by God unless Christ saves them through the power of His gospel. And as much as I don’t like it when what I say makes people upset or frustrated – I’m not sorry if this offends you.

I’m not sorry that I am pro-life and want to stop women from paying others to kill their children. I’m not sorry that I know and love women who have had abortions. I’m not sorry that my church reaches out to women in situations like this to love them and to share the gospel with them.

I’m not sorry for sending missionaries out into the world to spread the gospel. I’m not sorry that Christians are going into hostile lands where men, women, boys, and girls are killed, beat up, abused, and persecuted for the sake of the gospel.

I’m not sorry for distinguishing between the Allah of Islam and the God of the Bible. They are not the same. Believing in one is not believing in the other. I’m not sorry for being clear where the Bible is clear.

I’m a Christian and I’m not sorry.


12 comments:

Matt said...

preach it EJ!

Pei Yiing said...

If only there were more 'Christians' out there like you to prove Chris Tse wrong.

Unfortunately, there is truth in what he claims. I'm not saying *all* Christians out there are hypocrites, but a good deal enough to paint twisted picture of Jesus.

Michelle said...

Hi Eric,

Although there are some aspects of your argument that could be valid, I can't help but notice that some things you said were fundamentally flawed. Your idea of "true Christianity" being separate from the Roman Catholic church is very narrow-minded.

I think you should be reminded that true Christianity is a church that worships one true God, and that there are many denominations that come under it. What you are speaking of is dated, bordering discrimination, and the basis of many religious wars that have happened in the past, and are happening now.

I understand that your blogpost stems from a deep need to prove yourself as (or your belief that you are) a "perfect Christian", but you should open your mind and heart to the fact that none of us are ever going to be perfect Christians. Life is but a continuous journey towards becoming and behaving more like Jesus. If we were already perfect Christians, why would we even need Jesus? A large part of beginning this journey is realising that we are ALL sinners, and that's why we need God's power in us, and many of us pray that we be granted that inner holy strength.

I do not know this Chris Tse person, but my interpretation of his poem is technically not to apologise for being Christians. Although his reasons stated can seem extreme, I believe this is his way of artistically communicating the trappings of an internalised Christian doctrine that causes us to be insensitive to others, when we do not stop and reflect upon our way of thinking and actions - our socialisation, so to speak.

I would say I am not sorry for being a Christian, but not for many of the reasons you gave. I am not sorry because Jesus has sacrificed His life to take away my guilt and sins. From here on, I am on a continuous journey to become more like Him. Though I may not reach His perfection, He knows the sincerity of my heart and sees the purity of my effort.

Just another opinion!

EJ said...

Michelle - thanks for your opinion.

Re: True Christianity & Rome – whether my view of what true Christianity is narrow minded or not is not the issue, the issue is whether or not we define Christian or Christianity on Biblical terms and not on social/denominational structures. I don’t include Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Oneness Pentacostals inside of “true Christianity” because they worship a god who is fundamentally different (i.e. no Trinity, no eternal Son, etc).

I do not include the Roman Catholic religion not because they get their theology of the Father, Son, and Spirit wrong. I do not include them because to be a member of the church of Christ is to be a Christian, and to be a Christian is to have been justified by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Rome includes works in its doctrine of justification, and so technically while there may be individuals who attend Roman parishes who are Christians despite the doctrines of Rome. So I excluded Rome in my comments on the poem because in the middle ages, Rome did persecute, torture, and kill Christians (like me) who would not submit to their authority.

Also – I’m curious how my defining what I believe is “bordering discrimination” and how these statements I’ve made is “the basis of many religious wars that have happened in the past and are happening now”? Please offer some examples and proof of your claims if they are factual.

Re: my (apparent) belief that I’m a perfect Christian.


Where – in anything I’ve written in the past 5 years – have I ever claimed to be the perfect Christian? Furthermore – if I had made that claim (which I have not) – how could you know my motivation for writing this particular blogpost? Also, did you not read the part of this article where I identified with Paul (cf. Rom 7) and said that I fail in being Christ-like every day?


Re: not sorry

I agree – I am not sorry to be a Christian because Christ died and has taken my sin, guilt, and shame and has imputed to me His righteousness.



- soli deo gloria

jacq said...

sadly contender..... you are being the exact person he is apologising for.
Maybe his poem was just TOOO challenging for you...
so you gave your knee jerk reaction! good for you ... continue attacking ... no intention of healing ... its probasbly your life style!!

jacq said...

WOW michelle...just read your comment...i shouldv'e shut up..you said it all so well!
Just read his response , so sad!!
Obviously he believes you are saved by correct doctrine!! which ultimately is works!!
i hope 4 his sake God does not judge him as he has judged others...

Joy said...

I reread the transcript, when I realised something:

Chris Tse is not apologizing for being Christian - he's just apologizing for the bad things that have been done in the name of Christianity. I don't think it means he's ashamed of Christ, because in his poem he shows how Jesus did the right thing, and not what Christians today are doing - 'Jesus didn’t come to hang out with the priests and the lords, no. He hung out with cripples and beggars and whores'. He is proud that Jesus did what He did, and thinks that that should be the correct way of doing things.

I don't think Chris Tse is ashamed of being Christian or is advocating that being Christian is shameful. If that was the case, there would be no need for: 'I confess I am a Christian' at the end of the poem.

He was just owning up to the mistakes that Christians have been committing, and apologizing for them. If Christians are righteous and 'good' people, then it is only right that we own up to our mistakes and apologize for them, rather than sweep these things under the carpet and claim that we are too righteous to commit such mistakes. Or get overly agitated when faced with an 'attack' like this, claiming that it is a gross misrepresentation of 'true' Christianity, etc. Or get distracted from the real issue at hand by the use of some less-than-decent four-letter words.

I don't think this poem was presented just to attack Christians for the fun of it, instead, it's supposed to provoke Christians to action, to make us realize our mistakes, and to work on correcting those mistakes.

That's just my opinion and take on it. Obviously not gospel truth.:) Best if we can get Chris Tse to clarify his motivations, but that's not really possible, is it?

EJ said...

To Jacq:

What evidence is there that I am the phony-bologna Christian he’s ranting against?

How am I attacking?

Who says I don’t want or seek healing? Perhaps the way you understand how healing will occur is very different than mind.

“Obviously he believes you are saved by correct doctrine!! which ultimately is works!!” That is a curious statement. Let me respond to your accusation that I believe that man is justified by works by asking some questions to you, Jacq.

1. I assume that we’d agree that it is Christ alone who saves, right?

2. What has Christ done to save the sinner?

3. What must a sinner do to receive forgiveness?

The mere moment you try to answer these questions you begin stating doctrine. Now you would object to the statement that you – yes you, Jacq – believe that you’re saved by doctrine.

Christ saves totally by His grace. But, one must believe in Him to be saved. And we must believe rightly. Otherwise there is no basis for telling the Mormons, JW, Oneness or others who believe in a god (although they still call him Jesus) that is fundamentally different from the Biblical Jesus that they need to believe in the real Jesus of Scripture. And this is the same reason why I categorize those who believe that you must add your works to the work of Christ for your justification (i.e. Romanism) outside of true Christianity. They miss the gospel and truly have a doctrine of works.


To Joy –

I’m not sure of Chris’s motivation, and I don’t think I’ve commented about his intention.

Re: the cripples & whores – remember, that Jesus did hang out and go to them –yes. He made the point that because of their sinfulness that they were more open to the gospel He was preaching. But don’t forget that Jesus talked with, dined with, and met with tax collectors (the rich and corrupt; cf. Zacceus and another example Matt 9:11), different Pharisees (John 3; Luke 7:36ff), and those who were the face of the brutal oppressors of society in the Roman military (Matt 8:1ff).

And I totally agree that Christians should be the first to apologize for mistakes we’ve made. But there’s a difference between apologizing for something a Christian brother did and for wrong things done in the name of Christianity.

For instance: the inquisition & various persecutions as well as the priest sex-abuse scandals of the Roman Catholic Church would be examples of where I would not apologize for what Christians have done – because Christians were victims of some of these and because of what I understand the Roman Church to be and to stand for, I would not excuse their actions at all and I would articulate why errors in doctrine and things like that can lead to very bad things. The non-biblical priesthood of Rome is a driving force in the priestly abuse situations because of the environment that is created.

The parallel that would be more in line with how I understand the gospel would be the various unfortunate things that either the US government did or allowed with the expressed motivation of Christianity (because the US used to be more reformed/Protestant in its actions & principles). That is not to say that every bad thing that the US has done is to be laid at the feet of Christians. Also, there were many protestant type systems of government in Europe following the reformation that may need responses. However, my ecclesiology is quite distinct in how I don’t feel that there should ever be a church run government.

Reckless said...

Got here on NextBlog. No such thing as a perfect Christian only a perfect Savior. Thanks for your encouraging post. Amen!

Jeremy said...

/golfclap

Anonymous said...

Joy - nice comment, well thought through and well worded.

EJ - I think you've missed the point of Chris's poem here, he's saying pretty much the same as you about what true Christianity should be - about love first and foremost. He is, as Joy says, trying to provoke Christians to live more as Christ did than we frequently do. Whether or not Christianity is what is described in his poem, it is what Christians have been associated with and shows how misled we have been in the past - and therefore the image that Christianity has to many people outside the faith. You do see Christians acting in the ways he describes, the crusades were conducted in the name of Christ, there are churches which exist to bleed their congregations of everything they have, there are Christian demonstrations outside abortion clinics where those going inside for abortions are abused, we have pastors threatening to burn the Quran in public demonstrations of hatred, gay people are ostracised and condemned instead of being loved for the brothers and sisters they are - this is not the true face of Christianity and if you have avoided these prejudices I congratulate you, but sadly it is the face that is made very public.

All of this is what I believe Chris to be lamenting in his poem. He's not attacking Christianity, he's saying that all too often it is not what it should be.

EJ said...

Anonymous ~

It’s honestly been so long since I’ve even thought about this horrid poem that I had to go back and re-read both it and my response…I still think that my response was on the mark though it was far from perfect. His poem was a rage against some hypocrisy in the professing Christian community, but many of his objections are off the mark and in order to overcome his objections you’d have to be non-biblical in your theology (i.e. not telling those who revel in their sin that they are condemned to hell [fornicators, idolaters, homosexuals, liars, etc]).

“the crusades were conducted in the name of Christ” – without defending Rome or the false gospel it preaches, if you are going to condemn “Christians” for the crusades, you also need to rewind your history a bit and see that it was the Muslims who kicked European Christians out in the first place. This is not the greatest example, but think of all of the horrid devastation that the Allies did to France and Germany in WWII – how horrid must Americans have been to allow such a thing. Of course, when you see that it was the Nazi hordes who were the original aggressors in the war, this becomes very much of a different picture. All analogies can limp, and this one certainly does, but I think the point is valid.

“there are churches which exist to bleed their congregations of everything they have” – agreed, and I think that only with proper doctrine can you adequately put that kind of false teaching, that heresy, in its place. Proper doctrine is something that seems to be lacking from his poem.

“there are Christian demonstrations outside abortion clinics where those going inside for abortions are abused” – Really? Really? First of all, define abuse, please. Second of all, please put that “abuse” in light of the murder that is going on inside of the abortion clinic. If by “abuse” you mean that there are people who pray, hand out tracts, proclaim the truth of what abortion is, and plead with the women on behalf of the lives of their unborn children – then…well, okay, but then you are “abusing” the term abuse.

“we have pastors threatening to burn the Quran in public demonstrations of hatred”. I assume you also publically condemn the burning of CHRISTIANS (yes people, not just Bibles) in other countries, right? I assume that you call “works of art” where people put crosses in urine, and similar things, are also public demonstrations of hatred. Right?

But that being the case – I think that the Christian should speak out about the evil that is Islam. Any theology that denies the Biblical truths of Jesus as God and Christ and salvation by grace through faith in His substitutionary atoning death is evil. I think that the proposed burning of the Quran was a bad idea, but I don’t know if spinning it as “hatred” is accurate or fair.

“gay people are ostracised and condemned instead of being loved for the brothers and sisters they” – Again, please define love, here. If by “love” you mean enabling and encouraging an activity that God hates so that if they continue in it and do not repent that they will be condemned – please, don’t ever love me. But if by “love” you mean that we should exhort them with the truth in love that they need to be saved from their immorality and that God has freedom for them and will save them from going to hell for their sins – then Christians are loving them. Only if they repent of their sin and trust in Christ which results in an abandonment of flagrant sinful living will they truly be spiritual Brothers and Sisters.

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson