Evangelicals and progressives: let’s dialogue about Jesus and poverty

Evangelicals and progressives: let’s dialogue about Jesus and poverty January 5, 2021

Instead of talking past each other or ignoring each other, can we start listening? I’ll go first by listening to one of my detractors.

I’m a collector of interesting social media tidbits, always taking screenshots of memes, copying and pasting comments that I find intriguing or eye-opening. I keep them in a file on my desktop and skim through them every once in a while, to remind me how people explain themselves and what they believe. In the semi-anonymity of the internet, people are sometimes more frank than they would be in person.

(No, it’s not perfect. For one thing, there should be a font for sarcasm, am I right?)

I have to admit that even though I spent most of my life as an evangelical, I struggle to understand how evangelicals think, now that I’m no longer in that camp. I think many progressives would agree that we just don’t see how y’all can believe as you do, and I’m pretty sure many evangelicals are equally baffled about us.

Each group talks as though the other group is stupid, or apostate, or both, but both sides are made up of mostly intelligent people (stop those eyerolls, people!) who want to do the right thing. And we read the same Bible, so how do we come up with opposite interpretations?

Learning curve

Recently, an evangelical reader – I’ll call him Dave – left a comment that is helping me actually start to get it. It was the first time I heard an actual explanation, instead of a label – usually it’s “Marxist” or “socialist” (he actually did label me “racist,” but he also made some thought-provoking statements).

Dave was responding to this piece, in which I call out evangelicals for neglecting the needy and marginalized (I write about that quite a bit).

“Admired From Afar” by Kaptain Kobold is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What I’d like to do here is reach across the aisle in an attempt to genuinely understand someone I don’t agree with, and hopefully to initiate some dialogue. I hope by doing this that we can begin to understand and respect each other better – in other words, be more Christlike toward each other.

Will I change any minds? Maybe not. Will anyone change my mind? Probably not. But listening and respect are worthwhile actions anyway.

In the spirit of aisle-reaching-across, below is a quote from my article (which wasn’t always gentle), followed by a quote from Dave’s comment. I’ll then try to unpack his comment, and respond with (hopefully) kindness.

I invite fellow progressives to join me in trying to respect and understand the other side, and I invite evangelicals to participate by patiently helping us – and also trying to understand us.

Tough talk to evangelicals

Here’s what I said (read the full post here):

[Speaking about evangelicals] Based on our chosen theology, we refuse to acknowledge what the Bible says about the oppressed and the immigrant. We ignore what Jesus said about loving our neighbors. We pretend that he is not the Prince of Peace.

We willfully shut truths out of our minds for the sake of our conservative agenda. Of course, we don’t see it that way – we just see ourselves being faithful to God. And in our “godliness” we refuse to entertain any other point of view than “God’s.”

It takes a special kind of denial to know Jesus and still approve of children in cages. people of color being killed by law enforcement, and thousands of Americans dying every week from Covid.

We use the Bible, of course, to “sanctify” our paradigm. Cherry-picked Bible verses control our rhetoric – and cause us to cling for dear life to positions that are clearly against Jesus’ teachings. We withhold compassion, grace, and gentleness and call ourselves followers of Christ.

But when did Jesus do anything even remotely like taking children away from their parents? When did he refuse food to anyone who was hungry? When did he shrug off oppression or prejudice?

Tough talk from an evangelical

Dave responds,

Your false theology has a very obvious Leftist political propaganda content to it. 

I suggest you stick to biblical context, remembering that God’s HIDDEN wisdom (1Corinthians 2:7), MYSTERIES (Matthew 13:11), should be SPIRITUALLY understood (1Corinthians 2:14, Colossians 1:9).

So who are the strangers Christians should welcome? They’re the spiritual strangers from the covenants of promise (Ephesians 2:12), who are spiritual strangers from the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). 

And we welcome these lost souls (strangers) by preaching the gospel as Jesus called us to do (Mark 16:15).

Who are the hungry/thirsty? They’re lost souls who lack Christ our spiritual food and drink (1Corinthians 10:3,4). Lost souls are the spiritually naked as they lack the garment of salvation, the robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).

All these spiritually needy lost souls are helped when Christians obey Christ’s call that we preach the gospel to them (Mark 16:15).

What I’m hearing

I appreciate that Dave took the time to comment. It helps me understand how he can ignore the physical needs of the poor.

If Dave’s comment is representative of most evangelicals, I can see how evangelicals would be less supportive of welfare, for example.  (That word if is important. Evangelicals are individuals. We shouldn’t stereotype – just as we progressives don’t want to be stereotyped. #goldenrule)

evangelical poverty
“iPad unpacking” by ntr23 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

So, if I understand this correctly, evangelicals (or at least Dave) believe Jesus was speaking in purely symbolic terms. When he said “hungry,” “thirsty,” “naked,” “in prison,” he meant spiritually hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned.

The only thing spiritually needy people need is to have their spiritual needs met. I get that.

If that’s the case, then we don’t need to attend to people’s physical needs. That rings a bell for me.

In my evangelical days, I remember the consensus was that the only mission work worth supporting was purely evangelistic. That made sense to me because I saw people as being in two camps: saved and unsaved. (Dave called this “God’s binary view of humanity.”)

According to this perspective, if you’re saved, you’re fine. Start saving other people. If you’re unsaved, there’s only one thing to be done for you: save you. We really didn’t prioritize people’s physical needs. Because “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

This is why evangelicals are unmoved when progressives say things like,

Did Jesus call on us to criticize the hungry for not getting a job, or to feed the hungry? Does Jesus want us to call the thirsty “welfare queens,” or give the them a drink? Does Jesus want us to send the stranger back where he came from, or invite him in? And the naked, sick, and imprisoned – ignored, or cared for?

Let us not forget: these are the choices that make us welcome or unwelcome in the Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46).

I felt, when I was an evangelical, that there must be limits to our generosity. We weren’t doing welfare queens any favors by perpetuating their gravy train. Free stuff makes people lazy, and the Bible says, “if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). This makes it biblical to not help the poor.

So, there seems to be a paradigm in evangelical circles that says, “spiritual needs aren’t the first thing – they’re the only thing.” It’s all about the Great Commission.

(I guess that’s why, after I became a progressive, my evangelical friends weren’t interested when I organized solidarity rallies at the local mosque. It was during Trump’s Muslim Ban, and I wasn’t going to evangelize Muslims, but to hug them. I don’t remember any evangelicals coming to those events.)

To my evangelical friends, am I accurately representing your mindset? Does my description of my own evangelical days ring a bell for you?

“sad” by Kalexanderson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Renewal of my mind

As I became progressive, many changes were happening at once, but I remember what stood out for me was a fact I’d never acknowledged before: people come into the world with baggage. If you’re born into grinding poverty, it takes more than “asking Jesus into your life” and “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” to rise out of poverty.

I learned that our country has created a system (many, including me, would add “on purpose”) in which disadvantage is very hard to shake.

You want to get off food stamps and out of public housing? Get a job. You want a job? Get training. You want training? Get a car and a babysitter and books and a computer. And good grades.

If you somehow manage to do all those things, and you get hired for a decent job (which isn’t a sure thing), your paycheck might be high enough to get you off food stamps and out of public housing, but not high enough to afford the more expensive apartment, the ongoing child care while you go to work, the nice clothes you need for your job, school debt, car payments…

I used to work at a self-storage facility, and I’d get calls at the end of every month from people being evicted from their apartments. They needed to store their furniture while they moved in with relatives and got back on their feet.

Sometimes I heard their stories (these are real, and just a few of many):

  • I got a flat tire, and couldn’t afford to fix it, so I couldn’t get to work and got fired. (Don’t assume they didn’t try to get to work – nobody wants to move in with relatives!)
  • My mom has cancer, and I had to miss work to take her to doctor appointments and I got fired. (Don’t assume they didn’t try to find mom a ride – nobody wants to move in with relatives!)
  • I got injured at work, and my boss didn’t report it properly, so I didn’t get workman’s comp and got fired because I can’t do the work, due to my injury. (Don’t assume they didn’t do everything they could to rectify this – nobody wants to move in with relatives!)

Many people are one flat tire or doctor’s appointment or accident away from homelessness. HOME. LESS. NESS, Christians.

Basically, the system dooms/encourages the poor to stay in poverty. When I learned this, I realized that we must tend to the physical needs of the poor, and we must work to fix the system.

And we must not blame the poor for being poor.

“LEGO® Avengers Get Shawarma” by Umm, Who? is marked with CC PDM 1.0

WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)?

Remember that time when 5,000+ hungry people were hanging around Jesus and the disciples (Matt.14)? Jesus did not preach to them – he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Then this happened:

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

The rest is history. He filled their bellies. Again, no record of preaching to them, only food. In Matthew 15, he did the same thing for 4,000+: healing and feeding.

In many other places, Jesus cared for physical needs without addressing spiritual needs. Sometimes he addressed only spiritual needs. But I can’t think of a single story in which he refused to care for physical needs.

This post too long already, so I’ll stop and ask my evangelical friends and readers: how do you respond? I ask you to be specific. Please tell me:

  • Is my characterization of evangelicalism fair? What would you change or add? (In other words, help us understand better your position on poverty)
  • What do you say about Jesus’ feeding and healing loads of people without addressing their spiritual needs?

No attacks, no name-calling. Let’s have an actual dialogue. (Follow it by subscribing to my newsletter!) If I have any takers, I will address your comments in a future post, and likely continue to unpack Dave’s comments soon as well. It should be interesting and informative for all of us.

(PS Like the Lego illustrations? If you do, let me know! I’ll use more!)

FEATURED IMAGE: “iPad unpacking” by ntr23 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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30 responses to “Evangelicals and progressives: let’s dialogue about Jesus and poverty”

  1. Appreciate your article and definitely agree that conversations like these need to take place…I would suggest that where the rubber doesn’t always meet the road is in regards to the fact that evangelicals tend to focus really hard on “right belief” not action or works…The irony of course is that Jesus said that knowing scriptures and texts is hollow compared to having compassion on your fellow men…In defense of that side of thinking-One of the basic fundamentals of being a Christian is that You can’t earn your salvation, so I sort of get the line of thinking that we aren’t saved by works (because we’re not)…I had to leave the evangelical church behind bc for me I found myself constantly going thru a guilt/sin/repent/repeat cycle as I was never quite good enough of “Christian” enough for them…I was told in Bible study that I asked too many questions which they deemed insubordination from the “rules” (give God your money and “perform” spiritually so God will bless you)…I felt like they could only regurgitate scriptures or something the pastor said vs asking hard questions and asking themselves if they really believe what they professed to believe…Ultimately having been raised in that environment I essentially gave up on church bc I became WELL aware that I wasn’t cut out for their spiritual country club…The irony was that the harder I dug into The Bible and prayed I actually felt MUCH closer to God, however this was insufficient for them as I feel like they are so obsessed with Hell that they end up portraying an image of God that is petty and vindictive vs a loving and forgiving Savior who loves us even when we fall and aren’t perfect…My own lack of perfection paired with their “certainty” that they have the market cornered on God (and therefore speak solely for him so you’d better accept it without question) ultimately only caused me despair as I found their version of God to be a sociopath who’s obsessed with who we can or can’t have sex with, what to wear, how to think, etc …They also seem to worship the idea of having children which is something I’ve never wanted. As result, there wasn’t really a place for me as a single person and even after getting married I found that without kids my Wife and I couldn’t really connect with any one bc we didn’t have kids. Even as a grown adult with my own Christian and spiritual experiences I fear I will burn in Hell bc I didn’t measure up to them, but I would rather take the leap of faith and assume God is loving and forgiving than go thru that legalistic nightmare again…Ultimately they left me spiritually thirsty, frustrated, guilty, angry and confused. I rather hope their version of God is inaccurate because I see no love in simply espousing a set of beliefs if there is no love under it (1 Cor 13).

  2. Hi,
    I’m that “Dave” that Kathryn refers to.
    Hmm…so much to unpack here.
    I’ll try to be succinct, which entails being direct. Hopefully none will take offence too easily.

    Firstly, I’m non-denominational. I also had my time in Evangelical churches in the past, just as Kathryn did.
    I don’t follow any church now.
    But I do agree with the Evangelicals emphasis on the great commission (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19).

    In fact Jesus also placed that same emphasis on the aims of the great commission in preaching the gospel when he said in Matthew 6:33 “SEEK FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness” BEFORE our physical needs, and then GOD PROVIDES.

    Whilst this does not necessarily negate the rendering of assistance to anyone in genuine physical need, it should be remembered that in helping the physically needy we do such deeds IN SECRET so that ONLY GOD SEES IT, and then we’ll be rewarded by God (Matthew 6:1-5).

    We don’t want to be like the self serving virtue signalling types (such as many Progressives, and also even some Conservatives, we see today) who trumpet their supposed “virtue” for all to see (read Matthew 6:1-5 to see what Jesus thinks of such hypocrites).

    Again, let’s do our charitable deeds, and our payer, IN SECRET, so that ONLY GOD SEES IT.
    Don’t trumpet your supposed “virtue” for the worldly reward of political propaganda opportunities and public acknowledgement, etc.

    So to answer Kathryn’s charge that I somehow “ignore the needs of the poor” (a common false allegation that Progressives make), the reality is that any physical charitable deeds I do are done so IN SECRET so that ONLY GOD SEES IT.

    Another point that I’d like to emphasize is that Jesus clearly states in Matthew 6:33 that if we “SEEK FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness” BEFORE our physical needs, then GOD PROVIDES.

    God’s provision is far, far better than the best efforts any worldly government welfare system (which is too often destructive) can provide.
    We should trust in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33 that God provides, instead of trusting in worldly self seeking political parties who “promise” to do so if you just vote them into political power and privilege.

    I’ll now address Kathryn’s comment below:
    “Let us not forget: these are the choices that make us welcome or unwelcome in the Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46).”

    Matthew 25:31-46 the “least of these” refers to lost souls (the spiritually needy). This scripture in Matthew 25 is actually consistent with the great commission (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19).

    If we preach the gospel to lost souls then we are declaring to them to “SEEK FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness”, which is exactly what followers of Jesus would do.

    Those who do the works of believing on Jesus (John 6:28,29) are showing their faith in Christ by their works of preaching the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16) to the spiritually hungry and naked lost souls (James 2:14-17).

    But if we read scriptures like Matthew 25:31-46 in literal terms of physical deeds for the physically needy, then how are such deeds any different from those of anti-Christ (1John 2:22) Atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, etc, who likewise do such physical charitable deeds?

  3. There are differing views of “privilege”.

    The Progressives racist political propaganda creates a supposed “white privilege” bogey man to demonize.

    But in reality it’s Progressive Left privilege that is the problem as it’s they who dominate the megaphones of society (Mainstream media, Hollywood, academia, FB, Google, politics, etc, etc) from where they manipulate and oppress society for their own worldly political gain.

    However, for Christians (regardless of race, gender) the privilege that truly matters is to have the kingdom of God privilege (Hebrews 10:19), being written in the lamb’s book of life/Christ (Revelations 21:27), having the right to the tree of life/Christ (Revelations 22:14).

  4. Dave, I would be interested if you could explain what you mean by this: “But in reality it’s Progressive Left privilege that is the problem as it’s they who dominate the megaphones of society…from where they manipulate and oppress society for their own worldly political gain.” I’m trying to understand this, but the meaning eludes me. Thanks

  5. You had mentioned your “bubble of privilege”, which alerted me this other propaganda talking point that is really just another projection of the privileged political Left.

    The Progressive Left and cultural Marxists dominate the megaphones of society (mainstream media, academia, Hollywood, FB, Google, politics, etc, etc). It’s these folk who are in the positions of power and privilege in society dominating public debate, etc.

    As they dominate these key positions in society they clearly misuse it to manipulate and oppress society through their Cancel Culture, deceitfully demonizing anyone who does not submit to their political narrative as being somehow racists, sexists, ‘phobes of various sorts, etc.

    Christians should not entangle themselves in such hatefully divisive worldly politics (2Timothy 2:4).

    We instead should focus on fighting the good fight of faith (1Timothy 6:12-14) so that we can maintain our kingdom of God privilege, and also preaching the gospel to the spiritually needy lost souls so that they too might gain this kingdom of God privilege.

  6. Hi Harry, thanks for your comments. Interestingly, your 2nd paragraph is word-for-word the same as Dave’s. Is there a playbook somewhere that progressives don’t know about? lol

    I’m not sure what you expect, when progressives have positions of power – do you want them to promulgate conservative opinions? And there are plenty of conservatives with megaphones (for example, DT).

    I also wonder, if Christians should not entangle themselves in hatefully divisive worldly politics, why you’re entangled?

    I’m not trying to shut you down, but to ask you hard questions. I hope you’ll stick with me and continue the dialogue!

  7. Kathryn. I am that “Dave” you referred to. I might have entered my real name in by mistake, or else it was entered automatically by the software.

    And there is no “playbook” that I refer to. My posts reflect my own narrative which is guided primarily from God’s word in what I post.

    My point about the Progressive Left’s abusive power and privilege is that Progressives demonize the specific demographics in society that they hate as having “power and privilege”, yet none have as much power and privilege as the Progressive Left themselves.

    I prefer not to get entangled in political debate (2Timothy 2:4) but unfortunately whenever there’s debate with Christian Progressives their arguments are always focused on their worldly political propaganda.

    As a result I briefly deal with their political arguments, but then redirect debate back towards Christ’s priorities for humanity (Matthew 6:33, Matthew 7:21, Mark 16:15, etc).

    Hence why I argue that the privilege that really matters to Christians is the kingdom of God privilege, which we offer to the spiritually needy lost souls by preaching the gospel to them (remember Mark 16:15) so that they too might have opportunity to share in the kingdom of God privilege.

  8. Thanks again, Harry/Dave. I hope you’ll stay with me on this. I hear you, and I’m learning. More to come. Peace!

    PS the “playbook” comment referred to the repetition of the same statement by what I thought were 2 different people.

  9. Thank you, Kathryn for your essays. I enjoy them very much.
    Instead of being so quick to start shaking our tribal fetishes, we need to truly accept our membership into the only tribe that matters- Child of God- however – “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”
    Hillel ,
    Matthew 22:37 , James 2:14-26.

  10. There is no reason you should be “dialoguing” in the name of a King who is living and present in this world. You can not be under the Kingly authority of a piece of paper “as your personal beliefs dictate.”

  11. *can’t edit my comment

    You should not be “dialoguing” “for a King” that is NOT living and present.

  12. Hi I have some questions too about how Jesus calls ups to help those in need.
    I was brought up in a business owning family. Not super wealthy but we did not go without. When I was born it was just a suburban middle class area but by the time I left it was very much one where people where becomeing more and more wealhty.
    Both my perents where extreamly generous – some things they did some people saw – others not – they just got on with quietly caring for people. Through their generosity to me I was able to go into ministry in a very low social economic community . The thing I began to realise that it is not just money and houses we inherite when we come from wealthier families – but also education, opportunities for work, better opportunities to deal with health issues, etc etc.
    One thing that surprised me was the honesty in the poorer area – which I had not experienced in a wealthier area. People where more honest about their stories – they did not just talk about when things are going well but also when things are going bad.
    I also found more generosity in poorer areas .
    I think people in wealthier church often dont see that tything is easy when you have a high income – eg if you earn $2,000 a week and give 10% you still have $1,800 thousand to live off. When you earn $200 a week you have $180 left to live. Where does the story of the woman who gave a coin fit in with tything?
    Often were jobs are available rent is very high. Rent stress is also big issue and homelessness is often just one pay check away.
    Some people go without food (including children) sometimes regularly sometimes often. Some people go with out medicines (including children, sometimes causing serious consequences.
    When Jesus feed the 5000 he did not just make the food appear – a boy gave his lunch.
    Isnt helping these people that are hungrier, sicker etc than you helping our neighbours as Jesus taught us too?

  13. Harry, are you saying that only pagans want to be fed and clothed, and believers don’t think about those things (or shouldn’t)? Or was Jesus talking about “don’t obsess about food and clothes”?

  14. Kathryn. You obviously misunderstand what I said.

    Matthew 6:33 is not speaking of spiritual hunger, as seen from its context.
    Jesus was answering the issues about physical hunger, etc, in Matthew 6:32, 33.
    But his point in that scripture is that the priority for humanity should be to SEEK FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then God provides for your physical needs (as well as the spiritual).

    BTW, have you considered your answer to my question in the last paragraph of my post on January 6th 5:31am?

  15. Hi Harry,

    You asked,
    But if we read scriptures like Matthew 25:31-46 in literal terms of physical deeds for the physically needy, then how are such deeds any different from those of anti-Christ (1John 2:22) Atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, etc, who likewise do such physical charitable deeds?

    Briefly, I’ll say that God knows our hearts and why we do the things we do. If I do a good deed because I know Jesus said “if you do it to the least of these, you do it to me,” that’s obedience and pleases God.

    I’m not sure why you see physical hunger in Mattthew 6:33, but not in Matthew 25:37-40?

    Thanks for sticking with me!

  16. Kathryn. But anti-Christ Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews can also be doing physical dood deeds to their gods. According to your literal reading of Matthew 25:31-46 then these anti-Christ folk are also going to Heaven based on physical good deeds, instead of through Christ (John 3:16, John 14:6).

    Can you see the contradiction in your view?

    BTW the context in Matt 6:32,33 indicates the physical concerns of worldly people who do not yet know Christ. Jesus tells them to SEEK FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness BEFORE their physical needs.

    But in Matthew 25:31-46 if we read it in literal terms as physical neediness, then it contradicts the gospel as it claims even anti-Christ folk go to Heaven based on charitable deeds rather than faith in Christ (John 3:16).

  17. Hi Harry,

    I have talked about my (progressive) view about people of other faiths in other posts, so I won’t go into that issue here, but I see that you’re worried about people getting into heaven who haven’t jumped through all the hoops, including hoops they aren’t even aware of. We can maybe talk about that another time?

    Regarding Matt 6:32-33, the context is not “worldly people who do not yet know Christ.” The beginning of the Sermon on the Mount indicates that Jesus was speaking to his disciples (Matt 5:1-2). The verse in question even mentions “Gentiles” in contrast to the listeners:

    Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles strive after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

    People who don’t know Jesus need Jesus. People who are physically starving and don’t know Jesus need food AND Jesus. James 2:15-16 says Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

  18. Kathryn. The so called “hoops” that you refer to that gets us into Heaven is that we believe on Jesus (John 3:16, John 14:6).

    But those who reject God’s “hoop” (the only door to Heaven) such as anti-Christ Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc, clearly do not have an alternative door available, such as good charitable deeds that you seem to be suggesting with your literal interpretation of the “least of these” in Matthew 25:31-46.

    Re Matthew 6:33 admittedly I did forget its context who it speaks to. But my point remains that worldly concerns such as the physical needs that the Gentiles seek is secondary to Christ’s priority that humanity is to SEEK FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness (as confirmed scriptures such as Mark 16:15, Matthew 7:21, etc).

    Regarding James 2:14-17 the works that Christians do is described in John 6:28,29 and we show our faith in Christ by our works of preaching the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16) to the spiritually hungry (lacking Christ our spiritual food, 1Corinthians 10:3,4) and naked (lacking the garment of salvation, Isaiah 61:10) lost souls.

    Your suggestion that James 2 is literal contradicts the gospel (John 3:16, John 14:6) because such a literal understanding bases salvation on physical charitable deeds instead (which anti-Christ Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, etc also do).

  19. Hi Harry. I just published a post in response to some comments that you and others made here. It’s mostly about privilege. I’ll write again soon about “anti-Christ” people. Meanwhile, I recommend that you read my post from Sept. 23, “Muslims and Christians: we are family, Part One.” Thanks for hanging in there!

  20. Kathryn.
    I read you other articles that you linked, and disagree with them.
    You already quoted some of the scriptures that contradict your claim that “Muslims and Christians: we are family”, and I can assure you there are many, many more that contradict you.

    I note you also quote Matthew 25:31-46 as justification of your claim, but as you already know, I have already shown from scriptures why your understanding of that scripture is incorrect.

    In one of your articles you said:
    “I’m suggesting that sometimes, people of another faith might be closer to the will of God than people of our own faith.”

    In Matthew 7:21 Jesus says only those who DO THE WILL OF GOD shall enter Heaven.

    Do you know what the will of God is that Jesus refers to here?
    And do you do it?

    BTW, Muslims do not do the will of God that is described in the Bible.

    Ephesians 5:17.
    “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is”.

  21. Harry, I used to believe as you do. Do you know any Muslims personally? I lived in the Middle East for ten years, and have many deep relationships with many Muslims. Many of them are profoundly spiritual, but because they were born into Islam, they are not going to accept Christianity. Period. It is not their fault that they were born into that faith and were taught that it is true. I refuse to believe that God won’t take that into account – and the Bible confirms that.

    You said, “I note you also quote Matthew 25:31-46 as justification of your claim, but as you already know, I have already shown from scriptures why your understanding of that scripture is incorrect.” No, you haven’t shown me that my understanding is incorrect. You’ve shown me that my understanding is different from yours, and I think yours is wrong.

    I don’t sense any openness on your part to learn something new. I spent decades believing as you do, and I learned something new. It was HARD to realize I had made God smaller than He/She is. I’m not going to argue with you. I want to dialogue with people who want to grow and learn.

    If you want to be challenged, I commend to you Brian McLaren’s book, “A New Kind of Christian.” If you’d refuse to read something by a progressive Christian like him, you’re done growing and now perhaps you are shrinking.

  22. Kathryn. We’ll have to disagree.
    FYI I do know Muslims personally, and I’ve often discussed comparative religions with various types of Muslims.

    Regarding your assertion that being born a Muslim means they are not going to follow Christ, that is obviously incorrect. God works at a level we can’t see in drawing people to Christ.
    Consider Paul, who was a Pharisee persecuting the church (Philippians 3:2-10).

    I’ll continue to put my trust in what God says in the Bible, instead of trusting in worldly “scholars” like Brian McLaren.
    Being open to spiritual understanding (1Corinthians 2:14, Colossians 1:9) from Jesus (the only teacher, Matthew 23:8, 1John 2:27) is the only way one grows spiritually.

    I note you did not answer my question on what is the will of God that Jesus said one must do to enter Heaven (Matthew 7:21).

  23. You said, “I note you did not answer my question on what is the will of God that Jesus said one must do to enter Heaven (Matthew 7:21).” I’ve talked about this before – Jesus put a great emphasis on caring for the needy (in many places, not just Matt.25). Yes, we are to believe in Jesus, obviously, but what is belief if you don’t do the very things for which he said would give us the Kingdom? There are needy people right in front of us, but when Christians make excuses for not helping them, will God reward us?

    I know that occasionally a Muslim converts to Christianity, but it’s extremely rare.

    You are not putting your trust in “what God says in the Bible,” Harry. You are putting your trust in *your interpretation* of what God says. Until you recognize that’s what you’re doing, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    I will be posting on topics you’ve brought up, but I invite you to not comment on them unless you’re willing to say something other than how wrong I am. Thanks for the memories!

  24. Kathryn. Many Muslims have converted to Christianity, and some have even converted to Atheism. The Muslims who have made such conversions tend to be fearfully silent about it if they’re in communities with significant numbers of Muslims.

    In Islam the penalty for apostasy is death, as claimed by many leading Islamic scholars such as the Maliki jurist Averroes, and even the popular Muslim apologist Zakir Naik.
    There is consensus by all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (i.e., Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafii), as well as classical Shiite jurists, that apostates from Islam must be put to death.

    I’ve found from my debates with Muslims that many of them seem to be cultural Muslims only and thus are ignorant of Islam’s harsher teachings, such as death for apostasy.

    Regarding your allegation on charity, following Christ’s priorities (Matthew 6:33, Mark 16:15) for the spiritually needy “least of these” lost souls, is not making “excuses” to avoid helping the physically needy (as Progressives always falsely allege, seemingly for political propaganda purposes). It’s simply following Christ’s priorities.

    And as for helping the physically needy, all Christians need to note Christ’s words in Matthew 6:1-3 that any such physical deeds are done IN SECRET so that ONLY GOD SEES IT.

    Christians should never do or promote such charity or prayer publicly, as to do so is self serving virtue signalling for worldly reward (read Matthew 6:1-6 to see what Jesus thinks of such hypocrites).

    Regarding what is the will of God, Jesus described it in very simple terms in one of the gospels.
    1Thessalonians 4:3 describes this same will of God in a different way, saying that it’s for our sanctification and that we abstain from sexual immorality.

    Do you know how Christians were sanctified, and what sexual immorality God refers to (and remember don’t think in literal terms as scripture is to be spiritually discerned, 1Corinthians 2:14)?

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