She’s liberal and I’m conservative. And we are trying to have a civil discussion about the election. It’s 2/26/16 and me and my friend Kristen of Rage Against The Minivan I are talking about Trump being audited for being a Christian, Hillary’s run-in with #blacklivesmatter, Rubio’s glee in the debate last night and what moderate Republicans will do if Trump wins.
“Trump supporters, talk your Christianese, thump your Bibles, say your prayers, but not sure at all you’re a brother or sister of mine.”
I posted that message on Facebook. Twice. And many commented and sent me direct messages and texts.
How could I be so judgmental?
How could I be so mean?
How could I be so divisive?
I’ve spent my life studying the teachings of Jesus, formally and informally. And undergraduate and graduate degrees in ethics and the philosophy or religion.
Jesus, the founder of Christianity, spent his life building bridges, not walls. He built bridges with women and foreigners and traitors. And he made a career of spending his time with “losers” of his day. His message was considered beyond radical. So counter cultural was his bridge building message that the big wall builders of the day despised him.
They called him a liberal.
And he got killed for it.
If I would have been more thorough in my Facebook posts, I would have asked people how they could support Trump over the otherChristian Republicans. I would have said, “If you claim to be so Christian, how can you support Trump, given his (in word only) faith, over the proven faith of Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or John Kasich or Ben Carson or Chris Christy?”
Because to be Christan means to follow the teachings of Christianity. It means to do everything you can to spread Jesus’ values: caring for outcasts, looking out for the “losers” of the day, and, yes, building bridges.
Trump’s never done that.
Women? “You have to treat ’em like shit.” (New York magazine, November 1992)
Jesus empowered women.
Muslims? “They’re not coming to this country if I’m president.” (Republican debate, December 2015)
Jesus even welcomed pagan Romans who were occupying the land of God’s holy people.
I could go on and on.
The point of my posts about how Trump supporters are not brothers or sisters of mine is this.
GIVEN THE THE OTHER REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES WHO ARE DEVOUTLY CHRISTIAN, PEACEFUL (MORAL, ETHICAL, BRIDGE BUILDERS, TRADITIONAL VALUES) WHAT KIND OF CHRISTIANITY DO YOU HAVE THAT WOULD CHOSE SOMEONE LIKE DONALD TRUMP, OVER THEM?
A few weeks go by. Then, to my astonishment, no other than Pope Francis, essentially, echos my message.
He called into question Trump’s faith.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian…This man is not a Christian if he says things like that.”
I’m proud to say that my thinking was in line with one of my spiritual heroes.
And if you’re going to blast me for being judgmental, I hope you’re prepared to blast Pope Francis also.
She’s liberal. I’m conservative. And we are trying to have a civil discussion about the election. It’s 2/19/16 and my friend Kristen of Rage Against The Minivan and I are talking about Trump’s beef with the Pope, Bernie Sanders creeping up in the polls, the difference between socialism and communism, and the open seat in the Supreme Court.
This week was great. Talking with my liberal friend Kristen about Hilary’s three investigations, why evangelicals would vote for a pro-choice racist womanizer, why so many in the USA could support a socialist, and a bunch more!
Can Muslims know God? Can atheists? Jews? Are only “born again” Christians part of the Body of Christ?
Recently on Facebook, I got into this not so cozy little conversation on these questions. My view was met with intense resistance. By fellow Christians.
One guy called me a heretic.
But my opinion was not my own.
One’s religious views are shaped by others — in my case, two men in the very best of the Evangelical Christian tradition, and a saintly Roman Catholic woman who gave her every fiber to welcoming outsiders in Jesus’ name.
So if you find my view controversial — the view that many can know God, even though they don’t identify as Christians — please understand that I didn’t invent it.
Dr. Billy Graham, one of the greatest Christian evangelists of our time, said this:
“I think everybody that that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the body of Christ. And that’s what God is doing today. He’s calling people for ‘eh, out of the the world for his name whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world uh they are members of the body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but uh they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have and they turn to the only light that they have. And I think that they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven.”*
And Mother Teresa, this:
“There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said that we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic.”
C.S. Lewis’s held the same view. His articulation of it is far longer, more literary, and more beautiful. So I won’t be so vulgar as to copy and paste it. If you’d like, read about it here in chapter 15 of Lewis’s Narnia series, The Last Battle.
In my work with the Christian-Muslim Alliance, I am often invited to join Muslims for prayers. And when I’m there kneeling and standing and kneeling and standing — practicing their way of worship — I always feel peace. I always feel calm. I always feel a deep connection with fellow journeyers.
I always feel God.
The more time I spend with Muslims, the more I realize how virtues like humility and wisdom and generosity are universal forces of good. I realize their presence on display throughout the spectrum of world religions, and even amongst the non-religious.
Some of you are reading this and thinking, Wow, Paul is really losing it.
That’s okay. I get that this view will confuse or upset many. If that’s you, I’d like to ask you three questions.
First, why does it make you so uneasy?
Second, and respectfully, what do you know that Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, and C.S. Lewis don’t?
Finally, do you think God might just big enough to be okay with people knowing him, but not his exact name?
I’d love to hear your thoughts! You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with me via social media.
*the video of Billy Graham’s statement can be watched here.