By All Means, Try to Stop ThruWay Christians

The world—and especially the freakin’ Internet—is filled with pastors and ministry leaders furiously (and, mostly, smugly) pimping themselves and whatever nonsense they’ve made of the Gospel. That makes any sane person extremely suspicious of anyone holding up a Bible and saying anything like, “Look at me! I’m doing God’s work! I have a special relationship with God! God loves me and the work I’m doing! Come join me in the wonderful Godly work I’m doing! Don’t forget your wallet!”

I get that. And I realize that my writing the ThruWay Christians founding documents (one traditional-style, and a better one for teens) makes me the leader of that group. And that, I know, automatically makes me vulnerable to being considered one of those guys.

So if you’re thinking I am one of those guys, think about this: Publishing the document for ThruWay Christians threatened me. It was not to my personal advantage to do that. It wasn’t ambitious of me. It was the exact opposite. That was me nearly committing career suicide.

The only people who are paying me to write (right now) are giant companies who cater to the sensibilities of very conservative Christians. Writing for those guys is how I’ve made my living for five years now. (And for a group that’s supposed to be so intolerant, the evangelical people who literally support me have been astoundingly tolerant and gracious.) When I stepped out, and as I did turned unequivocally left, I bit down hard on the only hand that feeds me.

When I began ThruWay Christians, I was, literally, going for broke. I get paid a lot of money to write “Christian” books. It’s how I bought my house. If I wanted to, I could just shut-up, and make a very good living for the rest of my life writing books offered by large Christian companies to large Christian audiences. And I’d definitely get mine. I’d be more than okay.

But doing this? Starting ThruWay Christians? That meant very definitely going out on my own. That was me jumping off a cliff into midair.

So why’d I do it? Simple: I didn’t have a choice. I’m not stupid. I know when God is talking to me. He’s not exactly subtle about it. It’s not like he drops little hints in my life about the fun I might have ruining my career. People fond of saying God works in strange and mysterious ways don’t know jack crap about God. If God is subtle, I’m a hairless albino female.

In my life, God has been absolutely intrusive. (I, a Rabid Anti-Christian, Very Suddenly Convert. And … well, see my book “Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang: Why I Do the Things I Do,” by God, as told to John Shore.) I actually resent what practically feels like a hostile takeover.

Anyway, the short of it is that I did what I had to. I wrote what I wrote—and have written what I’ve written—because I know that the Christianity I thus help to define is the future of Christianity.

ThruWay Christians will happen. It is happening. I could no sooner stop it than I could the stars moving through the sky. And I’m honored to lead and shepherd it, and I’ll definitely be honored to write the book through which ThruWay Christianity will be fully and properly expressed.

Like I know my own name I know that one day I’ll be washing dishes, or doing laundry or something, and God will suddenly and fully barge into … well, me.

“John!” God will intone. “Time to write that book. Like, now.”

So then I’ll go into my office, sit down, and basically start taking dictation.

And the book that God will then write through me * will take off in a way that only God can do. And I’ll hate it, because if there’s one thing in this world I do not want to be, it’s famous.

But God wants what he wants. And he wants people to start understanding that he became the Christ for reasons that have now become so ridiculously muddled and lost that people who actually do get it, who really do understand the purpose of nature of God and Christ, are freakin’ embarrassed to call themselves Christian.

That’s what it’s come to. The people who are closest to Christ have to pretend they don’t know him.

Join ThruWay Christians. Don’t. Bitch about us. Love us. Hate us. Call us heretics. Call us (if you absolutely must) relevant. Ignore us. Kick us. Embrace us. Shun us.

Either way, tonight look up at the stars. And then, with all of your might, try to stop their movement.

 

* I know this is a weird thing to say. I got that.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Elizabeth

    This is exactly what I needed to read. This is very, very good.

  • Deana

    Amen and Amen!!!! God is moving!!!!

  • Denine

    This is something I needed to hear today. Thank you.

  • Diana A.

    I love this!

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

    On point.

  • JoAnn Mitchell

    John,

    With deep appreciation I read the words you have written; thank you for listening; thank you for caring about the wounded upon this earth.

    Oh, earth and the glory and pain of living! It is good, so very good to have a place to be at home. Like a comfy quilt and pillow on the couch. A book in hand and gospel music in background. I can come home here and know I will not be blasted for standing up for gay rights in the church and in society.

    That as this older Christian woman; I am not viewed as “misguided”; like I don’t know the truth about Christ and His love…

    John, your writing reaches into the heart of all here.

    Blessings,

    JoAnn Mitchell Forsberg (grandmaloves)

  • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

    Fantastic! So glad you’re doing this. Joined. Love. Embrace. Relevant? Oh yeah.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson

    i’d say, “good luck”, but that’s superfluous–”If God be with with us, who can be against us”. i don’t know that i agree with some of the points in your “founding document”, notably the premise that as the liberal Christian i am proud to call myself, i must be “theologically ambiguous”. but your fourth paragraph from the end says everything we’ve forgotten about Christianity in a brilliant way. so may the Lord be with you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson

      apparently “ambiguous” has been edited to “tenuous”. same objection. God speed.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        ??

        • Don Rappe

          Although some might call my theology “liberal” and I don’t mind, I think of it as neither tenuous nor flimsy. Perhaps this is Mr. Gregson’s point.

          • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson

            thanks, Mr. Rappe. the first time i saw the “document”, i think it said, “ambiguous”; now it says, “tenuous.” i found, and still do find, this characterization of “liberal” Christianity unwarranted. my Christ isn’t a “tenuous” type and He really wasn’t ambiguous either.

  • http://www.jeffdolan.com Jeff Dolan

    I have no clue who you are or what you are about (yet!) but I like you. I like you a lot.

  • JoAnn Mitchell

    Let us shock the Christian Community by our love, our grace, our kindness. Our speaking whatever is noble, what ever is loving, what ever is kind in one another.

    Let us show the “joy of the Lord”; embracing all.

    Let us shock the World; that Christians get the message of love.

    Let us sing the beauty of this earth; the God-given right to be alive! Alive in body and spirit.

    I greatly appreciate that you remove comments from people that would attack our brethen here. Would attack a gay individual. Life is tough enough; everyone is fighting a battle somewhere.

    Let us be the balm to one another as we each search for truth.

  • Michael

    Hey John, another well written, and incisive piece. I’m with you my brother. I believe as you and feel the inner push to do God’s work.

    Peace, and love my friend

  • Mindy

    Oh, John, you just keep rocking. And I just keep coming back and reading more. Which keeps me wondering, all the time.

    And I mean that in a good way. :)

  • Mary G

    Speaking as one who has be repeatedly shunned by “Christians” for the beliefs I espouse (I’m a Baha’i, who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that He died for our sins, and is our Savior, but I’m still a Baha’i, so that’s not been good enough for the “Christians” in my local community), I say… BRAVO!!!

    Go for it boy! You da MAN.

    Now, be cautious about that stuff where God is dictating a book through you… that pushes the limits of my beliefs about Revelation. Maybe rhetoric that sounds more like God-inspired, rather than directly revealed??? I seriously doubt God has chosen you for His Prophet for Today. That’s getting a little… presumptuous. ;-)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Hence my qualifying “basically” in the sentence to which you’re referring.

      • Pastor Paula

        John, you just keep it up – and remember there have been many like you before to support you, like Martin Luther and Lutherans who “get” him. Jesus has died to save all, and the good news is just to share that reality, not drive people by fear of hell into some world of conformity. That message turns more away from God and peace. Imagine the world without fighting over who is saved and who is not; and over temporary glory and wealth in this world for the few rather than the way of Christ to love all as brothers and sisters.

    • DR

      What in the world. Is anyone reading carefully, have we just absolutely lost that art? Where was the word “Prophet” ever used, I’m insulted on behalf of John for that word being inserted here. As for “God writing through” anyone, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job and the HS can work through a tree stump if needed. John is smart but he’s never equated himself to the HS, it’s clear something is happening and the HS is involved. That’s clearly what he is saying here.

      This is my fear with this group. It begins well, but you all stop listening carefully in the zeal. Be so careful.

      • Mary G

        Nooooo….. John did NOT use the word Prophet… I didn’t say he did. What I SAID was: “be cautious about that stuff where God is dictating a book through you… that pushes the limits of *MY* beliefs about Revelation” …… which include things like God dictating His Word directly through a prophet, in what I believe to be *Revelation*, something reserved for those very special few… like Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ and Baha’u’llah (the Prophet/Founder of the Baha’i Faith)

        I was merely expressing my opinion that the way in which John was wording things sounded like he was likening himself to one of the Great Prophets of God. Which he is not, by his own expression of thoughts.

        Apparently my typing did not convey how thoroughly my tongue was tucked into my cheek. Apologies for my insufficient conveyance of my thoughts, but unfortunately, God is NOT dictating my post, and I have no editor to run things past before clicking on “Submit Comment”.

        FYI: My tongue often seems to LIVE tucked into my cheek… get used to it folks! ;-)

        • DR

          In other words, you took your own historical baggage with Christians and unpacked it on John. And that happens. But seriously, don’t do that whatyou are all tryin to accomplish here is so important to so many people who need a new type of Christianity. I don’t mean to be harsh with you but in these times and on these topics, our impact (accidental or not) is more important than our intent. Being aware if what our historic experiences are and not laying them out on this blog for John to have to prove over and over again that he’s not is distracting from thegood that he can do, and with all due respect, unkind. Thanks for listening.

        • DR

          And PS, I get sarcasm and tongue and cheek, but I suppose for me, humor in the face of these things is inappropriate when there is so much at stake. Gay kids are killing themselves, in part, due to the messages they are receiving from Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christians. It is a huge, horrible thing I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. So to watch John and this group of people actually try to *do* something to change it is amazing. And to also watch him contend with the comments like this one that have everything to do with your own issues (not caused by him) but take even five seconds for him to have to address as he’s trying to do this other, Very Important Thing is very frustrating. I’m being honest with you here, I hope you’re OK with that. Again I’m sure you are super lovely and have absolutely no desire to derail anything! But choosing words carefully and using humor the right ways where it isn’t a subtle attack (like this one was) is just not cool with something so sacred and important.

          OK I’ll hop off my soap box now, thanks for indulging me,

  • DR

    Are people giving you a hard time about this?

    • Don Rappe

      I wonder that too.

  • Mollie B

    I’m glad you wrote this. At times the cynic in me thinks – who is this John Shore guy anyway? Is he just saying all the right things so that he can suck us in to his little game to… to… what?

    You’re right. Why would you say all of this and start a group of people dedicated to sharing the love of God if not for the most noble of reasons. I can’t think of any ulterior motives you might have.

    So I tell the cynic in me to shut up and enjoy the community that’s being created here. I think everything you have to say is spot on, and I hope you keep saying it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Yeah, I mean … as I tried to make clear in this piece, the only way that what I write is “all the right things to say” is if my intention is to sever myself from my only income. Then it’s genius.

  • http://none Dennis Gilbert

    EXCELLENT! Wonderful post, and I know what you’re sayin’.

    My arms are too short to box with God too!

  • Suz

    ***No longer embarrassed!*** (If I may presume to believe I “get it.”)

  • Patrice Wassmann

    Ya know, all those evangelicals we disagreed with think God is talking to them and telling them to write books too. Curious.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      And the winner of this year’s Most Passive-Aggressive Comment Award goes to ….

      No, but I know it’s a weird thing to say; in fact, I just put a little footnote thing on the post acknowledging that.

  • http://blueberrypancakesfordinner.wordpress.com/ Erika

    i love this. john, what a huge blessing you are to me.

    next: we plan a retreat….someplace sunny and warm.

  • Sam

    First time seeing your manifesto the thought occurred “oh – he’s writing about throw-away Christians.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Oh. Well, I’m not. (As I know you know, friend Sam.)

  • Don Rappe

    I am glad to be reassured that you are not part of the Jesus hustle. I too know the feeling of God speaking directly to me. I only wish he had not used the salutation “Don, you old Fart” on that occasion. but the message was an important one. I like the way you point out that the gates of hell are not going to prevail against what the Lord is doing here and I agree. Yes, the teenage statement is better. It is more clear that it is not another creedal statement; it is a statement of our common attitude. I believe it is an attitude of faith.

    • Mary G

      I LOVE that!! “An Attitude of Faith”. You ROCK!

  • Christie

    “Penguins” rocks. I am going to read it again before taking it back to the library!

  • mike

    just makin sure you get the irony (inherent in all who dare/smile to speak of God in any positive manner; particularly inherent in those who dare further to denigrate others who speak of God – a fault I find myself repenting of regularly, then going right back to it):

    -bad = “look at me! I have a special relationship with God’ and later good = ”the book that God will write through me’

    also

    -bad = ‘bring your wallet’ and on the sidebar good = ‘buy penguins for 12.99′

    I appreciate the core vibe of your prophetic message. i hope you keep it real. and I really hope you are living and testing your version of faith in the context of Christ-centered community with others over time. then I will remain interested in your Holy Spirit experimentations of the Christian faith for the 21st century (not that I matter, as an observer, of what God has called you to do and be – but i’m just sayin’ that might hold some New Testament weight for me, regarding your fascinating written explorations)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      See my footnote in the piece.

      If you don’t want to read “Penguins,” don’t buy it.

      I’ll try to sleep tonight, despite knowing you’re out there monitoring my irony quotient and watching to see whether my Christianity measures up to your idea of what it should be.

    • DR

      Mike,

      While I appreciate your intent to draw the similar spirit and tone to John compared to the Evangelical snake oil that is so insidious within Christianity right now and is very Big Business indeed, you’re focusing on a very narrow slice to the point – forgive me – of being almost obtuse.

      This is actually dangerous to a career like John’s – do you get that? You can stay on the surface of things and say “Well a = a book and b = making money so a + b = hypocrite. And in some instances, you’d be right, sometimes it’s just that simple.

      But here is c. c = supporting the rights of the GLBT community and daring to suggest that they are not sinful and in their present unchanged state, get to enjoy salvation through Jesus Christ in all of the traditional ways another Christian gets to enjoy. That’s clearly how all of this started happening, a need to actually reshift how the Evangelical Christians in this country have perverted the Gospel of Christ to fit their own political needs and social and emotional make up.

      So again – staying on the surface? You paint a small picture with a terribly broad stripe, something that defenders of Evangelism do when feeling cornered (I don’t know what you are, nor does it matter). But you’re either willingly missing the whole point of this, or you’re not looking carefully enough.

      Simply put, when a larger thing is trying to get off the ground that is actually going to put someone’s current career in peril like it will most certainly put John’s? (Knowing his history of getting penguins run off by some incredibly aggressive Christians is going to be nothing compared to this), you’re throwing a bunch of noise into the mix with your caution that serves only to be noisy, warning a ship not to crash in the fog when there hasn’t been fog in that particular bay in about 200 years. And in doing so, you say much more about yourself and your own hidden views of the author than you do anything else.

  • A’isha

    John, you couldn’t be one of “those” guys if you tried! You’re the most real guy I’ve met (yeah, I know we haven’t really met, but met on the internet is pretty close!).

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thanks, multi-talented A’isha. And …. well, the truth is, if you’ve read, say, ten of my blog posts, you pretty wholly do know me.

  • Todd

    I’m totally sharing this on Facebook, because I just love straight Christian allies who combat anti-LGBT rhetoric. I’m pagan, but I love and completely respect the Jesus path and hate bigotry toward gays.

  • Tim

    Whether it’s a weird thing to say or not, it’s bold. Remember that God is your defense. If Christ/God is with us, who can be against us? He will exonerate us with success (not necessarily the monetary sort of success) if we are on task. If we are off the mark, I trust that God is faithful to correct us and steer us in the Way.

    Blessings to you and Cat on this wonderfully warm Southern Californian Winter morning.


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