The inconvenient savior

I had a weird moment following Bible study at church tonight. Several people were standing around talking to the pastor, and the topic had turned to all the ways in which Christianity is (supposedly) being persecuted here in the U.S., while minority religions get special treatment. I can’t deny that there are certain individual news stories that perplex or anger me, but on the whole I think the notion that we as Christians are being put upon is somewhat exaggerated. I think I would certainly feel much more persecuted were I a Muslim living in Shelbyville than I do as a Christian.

Anyway, one of the people in the discussion — a woman whom I love and respect — complained because we, as Christians, are supposed to keep turning the other cheek when people attack us in this fashion. A man — again, someone who I know and respect — then said something to the effect of, “well, I never really agreed with that saying.”

In other words, it’s vitally important for us to rise to the defense of Christianity, and if those crazy things that guy Jesus said are preventing us from doing so, we should just ignore them.

After all, what does he know about Christianity?

Hell, and Carlton Pearson

When I was a student at Oral Roberts University, I went to Higher Dimensions Evangelistic Center one Sunday morning to hear Carlton Pearson preach. The sermon is still vivid in my mind, 25 years later. It had to do with Carlton’s childhood as a bed-wetter, and the fact that his grandmother was the only member of the family who would have any physical contact with him after he’d wet the bed. He used his grandmother’s unconditional love as a metaphor for God’s unconditional love of us, and it was powerful and beautiful and brought tears to your eyes.

At the time, Carlton was one of ORU’s favorite alumni — a former member of the singing group which appeared on Oral Roberts’ television program. He was second in the pecking order to Billy Joe Daugherty, another ORU alum, whose church met in the Mabee Center arena on the ORU campus and counted Richard and Lindsey Roberts among its members. (That was before Oral himself had left the United Methodist church.)

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