Beliefnet
Your Best Life Now

The Joshua God…

The Jesus God…

And, Why Millennials are Leaving the Church…

Why Millennials are Leaving the Church

Why Millennials are Leaving the Church

“Christians must start to believe in the God that Jesus presented,” says Fr. Richard Rohr. I would add, “instead of believing in the God that Joshua believed in and so described in the Old Testament.”

Throughout the history of Christianity, the Church, church leaders, and, therefore, Christians themselves have justified the Church’s right of violence toward others, its discrimination of others, and even its condemnation to hell those who did not subscribe to the same beliefs the Church had defined and so declared were “infallible” doctrines, beliefs, and “viewpoints” of their faith.

Which is always easy, isn’t it…

…Whenever the God you have created in your own image is the God you’ve fashioned after your own hatred, prejudice, or envy of others? After all, what better way to feel better about your own evil and prejudice than to say God hates homosexuality, too, or that God wants us to destroy Muslims, too, or whatever it is or whomever it may be that you do not like yourself?

Of course, it is easy…

To deny others the right to same-sex marriage, for example, whenever “your” God is the same God the tribal Jews created in their own image and told about through their stories in the Old Testament. Many of them believed, just as Christians today believe, God hates sin so badly, in fact, that sin had to be destroyed – by any and all means, in fact – and, sometimes, that may unfortunately mean you have to even destroy a sinner or two in the process…

…or three or more in the process.
It’s unfortunate. But, after all, God is “righteous” and will not tolerate sin.

Of course, the end justified the means. Which is what gave Moses all he needed to declare to Pharaoh, “Our God says, ‘Let my people go’ or else!”

Of course, the Jews were as suspicious as the Egyptians were stubborn. And, well they should have been. This formerly-raised Egyptian whom the Jews most likely wondered if he had been wandering much too long under the scorching desert sun shows up one day trying to garish their support. To encourage them to follow him in what their historians would later describe as the “Exodus,” he presumably displayed their tribal God’s power in plagues on Egypt.

These plagues were to prove to the stubborn Egyptians and suspicious Jews alike, Moses is for real…that his “God” means business, and that their tribal God is more equipped than all the gods of Egypt combined.  So, yes, of course, it is perfectly fine to call down fire from heaven and all kinds of natural disasters so everyone would know God not only favors his people but is more than willing to destroy his enemies, if need be.

The Joshua God…the Jesus God…

The plagues were pretty convincing, too…but, none as convincing as…

…the killing of all the first born. “Oh, that’ll do it,” Moses must have thought to himself. “Now, they’ll believe in God when God sends a death angel to destroy countless numbers of innocent firstborns.  That’ll do it…that’ll “show ’em” whose God is the REAL God…our big Guy in the Sky, He’ll get ‘er done…”

Think about it, you can damn well justify anything, can you not?

…when you have created your tribal God after your own image and then told your historians to spin your history into stories you ultimately call “Divinely-inspired and infallible” Holy Scriptures?

Who can argue with “inspired” and “infallible?”
Never mind that the presentation of God is just plain wrong!

Well, it wasn’t wrong among the religious leaders…
Until Jesus showed up.
Damn Jesus.
He has a way of messing things up.
We had this thing all figured out…and a God created in our own image of hatred to boot.
Until HE came along.
No wonder they killed Jesus.

We can’t kill him anymore.
There’s this little thing called the RESURRECTION in our way.

So, what a prejudiced Christian does today is to say that Joshua’s God in the Old Testament is the same as Jesus’ God of the New Testament.

Well, I’m not buying it.
And, I think Millennials are leaving the Church today because they’re not buying it either.

Why Millennials are Leaving the Church…

It’s not rocket science to see that people today…even those who still call themselves “Christians” can justify…indeed do justify all kinds of prejudice toward, for example, homosexuals or those longing to live in same sex relationships, when their God is Joshua’s God of the Old Testament…instead of Jesus’ God of the New Testament.

But let’s be honest.
Let’s be real honest.

If God — I mean, the REAL God — is the one defined and described not by Joshua of the Old Testament but by Jesus of the New Testament – if Christians insist, Jesus was/is God in human flesh – then, for anyone to say that Jesus’ acceptance of all people…Jesus’ love of all people…would exclude homosexuals or Buddhists or Muslims or whomever it may be just because they don’t live like Christians live or because they don’t believe as “believers” believe…

The REAL God…

To keep insisting that Joshua’s God in the Old Testament is the same as Jesus’ God of the New Testament…well…that is, it feels to me, to be an almost deliberate misrepresentation of God. And, if it isn’t a blatant, willful misrepresentation of the REAL God Jesus showed up to correctly portray…

It’s wrong nonetheless and it should be corrected. If the Church does not correct it, my guess is it will continue its downward decline into mediocrity. It will give more Millennials, and others, reason to leave the Church.

Where I come from, a misrepresentation of the truth is a lie.

…And, frankly, I’m not so certain but what to lie about God…the “real” God…Jesus’ God…
…is unbecoming of those who claim to be his followers.

Maybe this is one of the reasons why Millennials are leaving the Church.