Mark Sandlin is a wolf in sheep’s clothing who often blogs at Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis’ Sojourners blog. A friend sent me a link to Jesus Is Not My God, where Sandlin loudly and proudly claims not to believe in the deity of Christ. He is welcome to his opinions, of course, and I respect his right of religious freedom. We even have a term for people like him: Non-Christians.
I’ll start with one of his closing comments, because it typifies the approach of these “progressive Christians.”
I’m not trying to say I am right and others are wrong.
I find that kind of statement as revolting as his claims to be a Christian. It is a completely wimpy, passive-aggressive postmodern lie. He has a pulpit, blogs and Podcasts in place to teach these things, so he obviously thinks he is right. Why not grow a pair and own it?
This is the first post in a series called:“This Collar Is Too Tight: Heresies From a Southern Minister.” Most institutionalized Churches define who is and who isn’t a Christian far too narrowly. There is an increasingly long list of tenets to which a person must dogmatically adhere in order to be in the club. The thing is… I don’t believe a whole lot of them. I even find many of them to be biblically inaccurate.
That’s an odd thing for him to say, because he sits in judgment of the Bible and decides for himself what “really” belongs.
I’ve decided to address them one by one because I’ve discovered that there are a lot of people who feel the same way — even other ministers.
The fact that there are many false teachers — especially within his circles — proves nothing.
I hope that this will give us all a little support and encouragement as we try to cling to our Christian-ness while others try to take it from us.
We aren’t trying to take anything way. But words mean things, and based on the Bible and thousand of years of history it is incorrect to call people like him Christians.
I am a believer. Mostly.
I believe that there is probably a god — something bigger than us. I have a very hard time believing that there’s not something larger than humanity.
Wow, that’s bold apologetics. Preach on, “minister.”
. . . When I worship, I worship that God who is all-at-once bigger than me and might not be at all.
It’s the same god I believe Jesus was trying to teach us about.
In calling God “Father,” Jesus tried to teach us about the nurturing nature of this god. In saying that he and the “Father” were one he was trying to teach us about how we are all one in this god-thing that is larger than us. In telling us that in loving other people (everyone) we were loving God, he was trying to teach us about the connectedness of us all being created in the image of God.
I am a Christian because Jesus, for me, is the teacher who best helps me understand this god-thing.
How can one claim to be a Christ-follower and reject so much of what He taught?
When he worshiped, he worshiped that same god.
He did not worship himself.
Jesus never called himself God.
Here the cheating starts in earnest. He’ll ignore what he doesn’t like from the synoptic Gospels, then dismiss the Gospel of John and the rest of the biblical claims about his divinity with a wave of his hand. He starts with the assumption that the Bible isn’t the word of God, and concludes that the Bible isn’t the word of God. Convenient.
Read through Matthew, Mark and Luke. You won’t find him saying it. Sure, there are a few places where you can interpret what Jesus says to possibly suggest he is God, but it isn’t stated outright.
Maybe if he didn’t go to the text with his preconceptions he’d come to a different conclusion.
You have to ask yourself: Something that important, don’t you think he might have mentioned it? And, if he did mention it, don’t you think somebody would have decided it was important enough to jot it down?
The Gospel of John does have Jesus mentioning the whole being God thing – a lot. The difference is a bit striking, isn’t it? The first three Gospels, all written before the Gospel of John, without Jesus saying he is God… and then John, after many years have passed, with Jesus saying he is God.
Does anyone else think it sounds like dogma slipped in there during those in-between years?
Thus begins the “progressive Christian” approach which isn’t new at all. There are countless solid answers to objections like that but Sandlin doesn’t even pretend to have attempted to understand them.
Actually, yes, they do. Most modern scholars agree that John has some new theological perspective into its accounting of the life of Jesus. It may or may not be right, but because of the other three Gospels, I’m going with the idea that it is probably an addition.
Translation: “Most modern scholars” = “people I agreed with when I went opinion shopping.” So Sandlin knows more than the early church? Indeed.
For me, Jesus not being God is a good thing – a very good thing.
If what I hope to get from Jesus is an understanding of how to be the people God created us to be and to develop a closer relationship and understanding of God through that, it is much more helpful to see a person who is actually a person and not a god doing it. It’s hopeful even.
This “minister” doesn’t even understand the hypostatic union.
. . . I am saying that if you, too, believe Jesus is not your God, no matter what people tell you, you can still call yourself a Christian.
The Bible, the early church, common sense and 2,000 years of church history say otherwise.
Sandlin does what most pagans do, only they are more honest than he is and don’t make a living off their lies. He finds a handful of verses he likes and claims to be a Christian. But he doesn’t even hold to his professed belief of just believing Matthew, Mark and Luke. Even those have Jesus speaking of Hell extensively, and Sandlin certainly couldn’t support that. And Jesus said that marriage, from the beginning, was just a union of a man and a woman. Sandlin actively denounces biblical sexuality so once again he disagrees with Jesus.
Run, don’t walk, from false teachers like Mark Sandlin.