Warning and Prayer

Blossoms and seeds are happening even as we fret and work on the troubles of the world. Photos by Mark R. Turner

I am reading Christians Against Christianity by Obery M. Hendricks Jr., a book that I have to close between chapters to calm myself down in anguish over the hijacking and reversal of Christ-following. Hendricks, like me, came from an evangelical church culture in which “Christian living [was] synonymous with compassion … respect for proper authority … and honesty … We mourned with those who mourned and were taught to look beyond external differences to behold the humanity of all in God’s household … taught to love and never hate … It is the faith that takes seriously the ethical demands of the Gospel to love our neighbors as ourselves …”

I grieve with Hendricks over how these foundational principles of following Christ have become unrecognizable in the public square. Since my youth I have watched much of the church deform into alien environments. Just browsing Hendricks’ Table of Contents outlines major reversals in the evangelical church since I awakened to connection with God there as a child.

  1. We Have No King but Caesar: Genuflecting at Strange Altars
  2. You Will Know Them by Their Fruits: The Strange Fruit of Right-Wing Evangelicalism
  3. … Dangerous Misappropriation of Jesus
  4. A New Commandment I Give You: That You Love One Another …
  5. … Demonization of Immigrants and Muslims
  6. You Shall Not Add to the Word Which I Command You: … Abortion and the Meaning of “Pro-Life”
  7. … The Unholy Alliance Between Right-Wing Evangelicals and the NRA
  8. … The Unholy Alliance Between Big Business and Right-Wing Evangelicals
  9. Epilogue               A Spirit of Antichrist

I hope this Table of Contents meets an open heart and makes you curious to consider the details Dr. Hendricks presents as a call for us, not to just become “Left-Wing”, but to return to the purity of Christ’s Way. As an ordained minister, theologian, professor at Columbia University and Visiting Professor of Bible and Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, he reminds us of the original truths and how they have been twisted through the years, perspective desperately needed in the unstable world of our day.

Read Hendricks’ book for scholarship. For now, I contribute a poetic prayer.

Spirit occur here
At this point
In temporality
In these bodies
Of behavior
Our complex
Of mind and spirit
Move our hands and feet
Words selected
Made up to
The edge of discovery
As we awaken
And try to express
What has never been
Heard before
By searching ears.
Spirit occur here
In this materiality
Wondering where we are
This turmoil moving
Our choreography
To make and circulate
Signing that something
Is more than this substance
Not bound by this moment
And place on earth
Where we occur
For a time
Sounding and marking
There have been many
And will be more
Because we leave
Who manifest
Your Presence
Here each moment.

Mark R. Turner
Snowdrop House
Oct. 6, 2022

2 Responses

  1. Stephen R Clugston

    Although Right wing Christianity may have its faults, or being political, I often find that it is the pot calling the kettle black. There is far more danger in Left wing christianity, which tends to adopt the worlds morals by supporting abortion and homosexuality. Either way, we find faults. I agree that we are commanded to love, but we are not to accept sinful behavior. As afar as politics are concerned, we are to obeys the laws, unless they conflict with Gods law. My kingdom is not of this age, as Christ said, and our focus is our inheritance which is the heavenly places, not on the earth, as so stated in Ephesians and Colossians. As far as demonization of Muslims, we are not to hate them, that’s true, but there is more prosecution of Christians in Muslim lands than the other way around. Which seems to be an indication that you are favoring a political philosophy rather than a Christian one.

    • markart

      Thanks for your candor, Steve. I agree that we are all flawed. Rather than pointing our fingers at one another, it is Christ’s desire for us to be defined as members of His Body not as “Right” or “Left”. Love is the power of God for each of us to deal with our faults before campaigning to eradicate others’ faults. I see this as Christ living through each of us, as Paul says, “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” So, our focus would not include any justification for demonizing anyone, as in the sense that “they persecute us more so our persecution of them is alright”. Love also applies to our enemies. I know we all are suspicious of language which addresses our flaws, but I really learned important details from Hendricks’ book which altered my own assumptions. So, I view his book as a much needed ministry, such as a powerful sermon. I hope others will endure the discomfort of reading his explanations because some of our misconceptions could be cleared up to make room for the renewed community Christ calls us to.