Thank you, /r/atheism


I’m guessing you may have heard the story this week of the Christian Pastor who stiffed their server at an Applebee’s in St. Louis, with a pathetically self-righteous message about her own giving practices. If you haven’t here’s the linkThe good folks over on the atheism board at Reddit brought this wonderful little story of hyper-piety and self-aggrandizing to light; and I am grateful they did. 

This pastor (who has only apologized AFTER she complained to Applebee’s that this receipt was made public) is unfortunately a growing representation of too much of evangelical Christianity;

  • Arrogant
  • Prideful
  • Pompous
  • Self-righteous
  • Shameless
  • Ignorant
  • Ugly

Look, I’m not for the cannibalizing of my own, but let’s call this one down the line, for once. If this hadn’t been made public, are we all confident that this woman would have gone back to Applebee’s and apologized to her server, and repaid the tip? Are we sure this is the only time she has done something like this? I’m not so optimistic, because her story isn’t that rare. Before being in ministry for over a decade, I worked all kinds of jobs, including serving at restaurants.

And you know what day was the worst to work?

Yes you do. 

And do you know why?

Yes you do.

Don’t even get me started on the time that the President of my small, private Christian  university sat in my section, proceeded to piled up an eighty dollar tab with his party, and left a single dollar as a tip. Oh no, DBB, I haven’t forgotten…

Any way, I digress…

You know what I am tired of? I’m tired of Christianity getting a free pass when we blow it because of our claimed ‘theology’ of forgiveness. It’s become a lived into reality that we (Christians) can be some real jerks (edited for the orignal word I used, for those with sensitive ears), and just move on with a simple apology in the name of our faith. We conjure up some weak theology mumbo-jumbo, and voilà! …our slate is clean! Like magic!

I call bull-dooky.

But I can only call it because Jesus, my rabbi, did first. If you seek his most brutal teachings, his most harsh rhetoric, his most direct critiques – they weren’t to those who didn’t believe, but to those who did.

The religious were called out for their false piety, for their public displays of self-importance, and their preferential treatment of their own kind. BY JESUS. 

Oh, its in there kiddos… it’s all in there.

There is no shame anymore, no penance to be paid, no penalty for religious arrogance today. It’s used as a defense, something that we allow as a means to an end because we now face the end of “Christendom” (something for which I am grateful – another time about that, though). The evangelical church sees Louie Giglio bow out of the President’s inauguration  and we cry, “FOUL!” without considering how easily our theology can be seen as hate-speech. Barna research posts some slanted stats about what cities in the U.S. are Bible-readin‘, and we groan, “How long must we wallow with these Pagans?”, all the while, hiding in churches and rituals like addicts at a methadone clinic, waiting for rapture, or tribulation, or whatever we might argue with about in our incestuous religious debates ..

Here’s my angle on this; If we do not begin to clear the proverbial plank of religious arrogance, legalism, and self-righteousness from our own eye/souls, there is no need to keep gathering and talk the game that we are talking. We’ve bastardize our message with politics, with money, with nepotism, and we’ve become increasingly atrophied as co-creators in the restoration of what is beautiful in the world. 

It’s time to call out our own for their tyranny against the Gospel. We may forgive, and we may restore, but if we are not calling out the fouls, and holding our own feet to the fire, God will use another vessel to correct our arrogance and selfishness.

He might just use our good atheist friends to do it, again.


P.S. Confession: Increasingly, it is what I see in modern Christianity that causes greater doubt than anything I have seen coming from my atheist brothers and sisters.

P.P.S. – This is another post where I feel the guilt for letting this kind of selfish religiosity go on unchecked. May my words be more of a call to action for me first, before I have expectations of anyone else. 

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