Saturday, September 28, 2013

Visit from the Calvary Chapel Kingdom Hall

3 Calvary Chapel folks came to my front door this morning to talk about Jesus, who is a great subject - although I do remember that Oscar Wilde once boasted at a party that he could discourse with wit on any subject  and was asked, then, to talk about the Queen.  He responded, "The Queen is not a subject." 

Is Jesus a subject?

It seems so, in the minds of many, who jam him into their little idolatries in order to adorn them.  It wasn't too long before we reached the subject of Calvary Chapel's unconditional support for the apartheid state of Israel, with all its injustice and cruelty.  My visitors seemed to have a problem deciding how they wanted to play this. 

They pounded the theme of the Jews being God's chosen people, so that we need to support Israel unconditionally,  and the Bible says the land belongs to the Jews, so there's nothing wrong with Israeli Jewish supremacists stealing it.  We did not reach how David never thought that he had a right to take anything from Araunah the Jebusite, even when Araunah offered it, so it seems good to pop it in here.

I did mention that Ezekiel in Chapter 33:23-26 made it clear that being a descendant of Abraham, or a Jew, in the flesh gives you no rights at all.  Jesus, doubtless coming from that other son of man, reminded some who believed in him that being a descendant of Abraham was no help, since they were proving in their deeds that they were actually sons of the devil (John 8).  They weren't too happy with Jesus, these people who believed in him, when he said that.  They picked up stones to kill him. 

I also reminded them that the people in Jeremiah's day talking like these Calvary Chapel folks about how God was with the Jews unconditionally were not Jeremiah himself but the false prophets, and so they are following the example of the false prophets.

So the other thing they did was to wriggle away from this uncomfortable topic and say they were there just to talk about Jesus.  They wanted to know if I had "accepted Jesus."  Well, I have actually - but I've noticed that Jesus never talked about accepting him but about believing and following him.  That's the only kind of acceptance of Jesus I see in the gospels.  I know the Bible talks about receiving him, which is how we become children of God, but this receiving him isn't just letting him in your house, like the Pharisees who invited him to dinner.

Jesus was pretty ill-mannered on those occasions.  In one case he took occasion to call them out for jostling for the most honored seats, having already banged on their cage bars by healing a man, and on another he threw them against the wall for asking him why he didn't wash his hands before eating.

I want to know what Jesus they are preaching, that loves injustice and cruelty, or at least wants to make excuses for it, so long as it's being done by Americans or Israelis.  As I reminded them, they're filling up the measure of their white supremacist fathers, who 50 years ago wanted to keep the niggers in their place, and I haven't forgotten that the Clavary Chapel types were all supporting apartheid South Africa back in the day.

I think if you hang around with Jesus for a while, you're going to start thinking and acting like him.  He didn't shill for the rich and worldly powerful and respectable, combing the Bible for words to twist in support of oppression, murder and robbery.  In fact, he rebuked their religious garbage, consistently, which is why those people put him to death by pushing the Romans to do it - same way American mission societies pushed the US military to kill 300,000 people in the Philippines so the Americans could dominate it for their convenience, and how they pushed for the American invasion of Iraq, and indeed how they keep pushing for invasion, bombing and massacres all over to the world to this day.

They're preaching another Jesus that you don't find in the Bible, and another gospel, in which if you're a Jew according to the flesh you're entitled to rob and murder all you want, so long as you're doing it to some second class not quite humans.  Now it's Palestinians, and back in the day it was South African black folks, and a little before that it was American black folks - and Jews, too!

And so these same zealous religious people pushed the Romans to murder Jesus, and just as the gospels warn us, they hate anybody who speaks the truth today.  Sure they're preaching Jesus, but which one?

Will any of this sink in?  Hardly likely.  Mormons, Jehovah's witnesses, Calvary Chapel - all these cults think and act the same.  They do believe in Jesus after a fashion - all three - and we have common ground there, just as Jesus did with the Pharisees.  But they have their little doctrines into which Jesus has to fit, and when there's a headbump between their doctrine and the real Jesus, they need a different Jesus to suit themselves.  The way otherwise honest Mormons or Jehovah's witnesses slither away from inconvenient subjects and misrepresent what they really think when pressed is indistinguishable from how the Calvary Chapel people do it when they come to my door.  They are the same kind of people, in exactly the same spiritual bondage.

It turns out that if you want to be free, you have to follow Jesus into the inconvenient, into places where everything you thought turns out to be corrupt - and if you go there you will pay the price of being hated by  your friends and fellow church members, who turn out to be the most dangerous enemies of your faith.  For they are the ones for whom you are most tempted to abandon the truth so as to stand together and avoid loneliness and persecution.

Look in the gospels.  That's how Jesus put it.  You think you'll ever find a church or other group where God doesn't test you on this point?


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