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What’s Wrong with Religion – Part 1 Conservative Christianity

Many people today consider themselves spiritual but not religious. People are weary of religion, and with good reason. Jesus hated religion too. It eventually killed him. Today, let’s explore what’s wrong with conservative Christianity. Later, I’ll give equal time to liberals.

1.     Judgmentalism is the cardinal sin of many conservative Christians. Jesus never said don’t judge, he said don’t be judgmental. We need to judge right from wrong; however, Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world, but to save it. Judgment hardens the heart, acceptance softens it. Jesus accepted almost everyone but religious people.

2.     Conservatives are often obsessed with other people’s sex lives. Frankly, it’s not our business. When Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more, it was after he rescued her. The reason he said this was so that greater evils wouldn’t befall her, not because God would stop loving her.

3.     Conservatives also talk way too much about hell. Ironically, we also warn the wrong people. The only people Jesus warned about hell were religious hypocrites. He never asked one person, “If you get hit with a chariot tonight do you know where you’ll spend eternity?” That would be unspeakably rude and counterproductive. Conservatives often act as if the only good news we have is cheap fire insurance: just say the sinner’s prayer and escape eternal damnation. The only good news Jesus preached was the good news of God’s kingdom. What kind of God would constantly confront good people (and frankly, no one thinks their bad) with the threat of hell and damnation? How absurd is it to tell them that if they just accept Jesus and believe the right doctrine they will go to heaven? The ‘turn or burn’ message has nothing to do with true faith. It distorts the great good news of a God who loves us so much He gave His son so we could have eternal life. Eternal life, as William Barkley says, is “living the life God lives”. Until we do that, the world won’t want what we have.  

4.     Judgmentalism leads to superficial perfectionism. Sadly, conservatives major in minors. They try to convince new Christians that they can no longer “smoke or chew or go with girls who do.” To the hyper-religious, drinking is anathema, never mind that Jesus’ first miracle turned water into wine. Swearing is a terrible sin, though the apostle Paul said everything he did in life before Christ was a pile of dung. (Don’t you wonder what he really said?) People usually feel judged by so called Bible-believing Christians and they hate it. Until they see us live the Bible we lug around, nonbelievers won’t want what’s in it. Luther once said, “The curse of the godless man is more pleasing in God’s ear than the hallelujah of the pious.” That’s probably because it’s a lot more honest. People have grown tired of phony self-righteous platitudes.

5.     Instead of worrying about other people’s sins of commission, we should address our own sins of omission. The only perfectionism advocated in the New Testament is “being made perfect in love.” Henry Drummond said, “Life is not a playground but rather a school, whose greatest lesson is love.” Life is all about learning how to love. If we teach that, the world will beat a path to Jesus’ door. If we don’t, they won’t open their own door when he knocks.

6.     Whoever said we should bring people to church to get saved? Certainly not Jesus. He brought God to the people, perpetually pounding the pathways of Palestine. Most people can’t identify with church. It’s like entering a foreign land. I love the story of a new pastor who had his church elders meet one night for evangelism training. He drove them to a raucous tavern. As they sat “behind enemy lines”, palpably out of place, one finally asked why he brought them there. He said, “These are the people God wants us to reach. They are as uncomfortable in church as you are here. Now help me figure out what we can do about that.” Shepherds don’t bear sheep, sheep do. We must train Christians to love people into God’s kingdom. If we do that the world will change. If we don’t, bringing them to church will only make them religious, not righteous.

I want to be Christian but not religious. I think Jesus would like that, don’t you?

Ken Unger is President of and founder of, where you can learn more about him and his transformative ministry. click here ,
 "Ken's new book, The Ultimate Breakthrough, goes beyond self help to self healing. You can preview it at The Ultimate Breakthrough "


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