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Designing your own Christianity

By Pastor Steve Cornell

 “I can’t accept a God who sends people to hell.” “I can’t believe in a God who requires the death of his son for me to be forgiven.” “I can’t accept a God who…” These are common protests against Christianity. Strangely, however, many who make them continue to attend Christian churches. Admittedly, these Churches tend to embrace mutated forms of Christianity which cater to the sensitivities of those who prefer to play God than to worship the true God.  They accommodate those who prefer to stand in judgment over the bible and to ignore or change scriptures they find intolerable.

Usually, these people want pastors who only teach about God’s love and mercy. They want a God who fits their comfort-zone and adjusts to their crowded schedules. They don’t want a God who places demands on them or makes them feel guilty. And they don’t want a God who judges people (unless it’s the really bad people they read about in the newspapers).

What do they think of Jesus? He is reduced to a nice guy who did nice things for needy people. These people want a gentle Jesus—one the children can learn about in Sunday school. They don’t want too much emphasis placed on the miracles of Jesus and they would prefer not to focus on Jesus’ death for sinners. The miracles are often portrayed as merely stories made up about Jesus to help us learn about kindness to others.

The Jesus who said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28) is to be avoided as too judgmental. And, the Jesus who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) is too exclusive for the demands of pluralistic civility. Finally, the Jesus who said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38-39), is too demanding. The preferred teaching of Jesus is “judge not lest you should be judged.”

The Pastors of these churches face a number of challenges. First, it is mandatory that their sermons be brief (people start squirming after 15 minutes). Secondly, they must avoid large portions of scripture as they delicately prepare non-offensive messages. Finally, they must live with the shame of concealing the truth from those they lead. Of course, these pastors themselves usually don’t believe in the God revealed in scripture. They are wolves posing as shepherds.

The bible spoke in advance about these people and their pastors. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound teaching. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (II Timothy 4:3-4).

This “pick and choose” approach to scripture implies that we stand as judges over God. It contradicts the truth that scripture, “never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:22). Without exception, “all Scripture is God-breathed” (II Timothy 3:16).

Those who reject major themes of the bible have no reason to believe any of it. The God they believe in is a creation of their own imaginations. He is a custom designed deity to fulfill their own desires. But, why do such people feel compelled to hold to selective forms of Christianity? Why not reject it entirely and embrace something else? Perhaps they attend their designer Churches and listen to their appointed teachers to pacify their guilty consciences. How sad to pacify what God is willing forgive and cleanse. But such forgiveness would require a savior who saves sinners and this is just too much for proud of hearts to accept.  

Steve Cornell


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