Brookings Register | Criticism of Christians off base

Rev. Carl Kline began a recent column, “Sometimes Jesus isn’t enough,” in a curious critique against Christians who simply “go to Sunday school from day one, sit through church services week after week,” but then fail to “truly engage the world of reality around us…” (Register 11-22-21).

“How can followers of Jesus do this?,” Kline scolded, “How can they act this way?”

These glaring deficiencies, according to Kline, are evidenced by church-minded Christians not committing themselves to “the Jesus Model” and the “Mahatma Ghandi” activist ideals for nonviolence.  And by failing to clamor against oil producers/distributors, fossil fuels, and “corporate ecocide.” And, as Kline has preached in past columns, by Christians declining to embrace the ethics and values of “Progressive Christianity.”

Millions of these Christians, undeterred by the frowns of clergymen like Kline, are quietly engaging the world every day in other ways, “confirmed” in “the testimony of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:6). 

These multitudes are working in and through Christian organizations and churches, providing countless hours of voluntary service and billions of dollars in charitable contributions, attending to the physical and spiritual needs of countless numbers of suffering people across the globe.  

And, more importantly, carrying out The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), shining the light of the gospel of Christ throughout this dark, sin-plagued world. 

International Christian organizations are engaged in every region of the world, delivering life-saving food, shelter, medical care – and hope for a better life, in Christ:  Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion International,  Operation Blessing International, Life Outreach International, World Vision, Advancing Native Missions, Children’s Hunger Fund, Gospel-Centered Mercy Mission, Salvation Army, Lifeline Christian Mission-Restoring Hope Among the Nations, Food for the Poor.

Thousands of independent, local Christian organizations are active everyday across America, providing food, clothing, friendship and shelter, and sharing the “glad tidings” of Jesus Christ with millions of people.

Christian churches and ancillary organizations are active across the globe providing care for impoverished masses, missionary support, and preaching the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ:  Lutheran World Relief, United Methodist Global Ministries, Wesleyan Global Partners, Catholic Relief Services, Baptist World Mission, Assemblies of God World Missions, Gideon’s International, Wycliffe Bible Translators, and The American Bible Society.

They are providing critical support to fellow Christians in many hostile countries through Voice of the Martyrs, Bible League, Christian Freedom International, SAT-7, Knights of Columbus, Project Rescue, Mission Aviation Fellowship.  In these perilous times, Christians are being beaten and often tortured for their faith, their families’ homes destroyed, livelihoods lost, churches bombed, children enslaved. 

Christian organizations, under the direct command and operational fervency of the Holy Spirit, are the vital force for good in the world. 

Rev. Kline has not only marginalized these Christ-centered missions in his critique, he has on numerous occasions commended modern-day “religionists” who have vigorously advocated against Jesus Christ and the essential truths of Christianity.

He has praised the “200 Jesus Seminar scholars,” in their mission to question and “assess the authentic sayings of Jesus” (Register 5-19-12).  

These gatherings were led by Robert Funk, “a New Testament expert and seminar founder [who] said most of its members believe that Jesus was a wandering sage and did not think he was divine, although he felt very close to God” (APNews 3-6-89). 

Funk presented JSS’ enlightened determinations in his “Keynote Address to the Jesus Seminar Fellows – Spring, 1994: 

n ”Jesus did not ask us to believe that his death was a blood sacrifice, that he was going to die for our sins.”

n ”Jesus did not ask us to believe that he was the messiah….”

n ”Jesus did not call upon people to repent… He did not threaten with hell or promise heaven.”

n ”Jesus did not ask us to believe that he would be raised from the dead.”

n ”Jesus did not regard scripture as infallible or even inspired.”

Kline has also bestowed his blessings upon “Progressive Christianity” for “its willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity…  strong emphasis on social justice… environmental stewardship of the Earth” (Register 9-3-16).

Theologian John Dominic Crossan, a highly influential scholar and prominent voice within progressive Christianity, and co-chair of the Jesus Seminar Scholars with Funk, has advocated: “After the crucifixion, Jesus’ corpse was probably laid in a shallow grave, covered with dirt, and subsequently eaten by wild dogs… the story of Jesus’ entombment and resurrection was the result of wishful thinking” (“Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography”).

Progressive Christian/JSS Fellow Marcus Borg has preached that the virgin birth and Christ’s bodily resurrection were nothing more than scriptural “metaphors” (NYTimes 1-26-15).

Rev. Kline is well aware of the beliefs of these and other JSS and Progressive Christianity leaders – and has never renounced any of their heretical testimonies.

His questioning church-respecting Christians on the character of their faith rings hollow – and lacks an established frame of reference.

Rev. J.R. Miller (1840-1912): “There are great multitudes of humble Christian lives lived on the earth which have no name among men, whose work no pen records and no marble immortalizes – but which are well known and unspeakably dear to God; and whose influence will be seen, in the end, to reach to farthest shores. They make no noise in the world – but it does not need noise to make a life beautiful and noble. Many of God’s most potent ministries are noiseless.”

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