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Lukewarm Christianity


Neon Genesis
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When I was a fundamentalist Christian, I was always taught that PCs were just cherry picking lukewarm Christians who weren't serious about their faith and that Jesus preferred us to be either hot or cold, but Jesus wanted to spit PCs out of his mouth. Even after I deconverted and went through this phase where I hated all religion, I had thought fundamentalists were more serious than PCs and you should either be a non-Christian or a fundamentalist and PCs were just enablers of fundamentalists. But then I discovered Bishop Spong's works and I started to read more about just what did progressive Christians believe and think and now I think PCs are just as serious and devoted to their faith as any other Christian can be, but PCs just have different ideals of what it means to be devoted than fundamentalists do and are just as passionate in criticism of religious extremism as atheist critics can be. If you were ever a bible-believing Christian, what did you think a lukewarm Christian was then and what do you consider to be lukewarm as a PC now? Why do you think there is so much misunderstanding of PCs in society, even among secular critics, and what do you think can be done to change people's perceptions of PCs as either lacking seriousness or being enablers?

Edited by Neon Genesis
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Interesting hypothesis. I’m not really sure how to classify myself these days. I’ve stated that I don’t consider myself to be either a PC or a fundamentalist. I’ve chosen the moniker of “moderate” to describe my current theological position.

 

I don’t consider myself a fundamentalist because I no longer accept the premise that our modern day bibles are either inerrant or fully inspired. I do not accept the premise of biblical literalism either. I don’t have a problem accepting a practicing homosexual as a bro/sis in Christ if they profess to be believing Christians.

 

I continue to believe in God and the Deity of Christ. I believe in the atoning sacrifice of Christ. I remain confused about many aspects associated with grace, works, and obedience. If works don’t count for anything then why are they considered important? Fundamentalist consider works essential, which seems to me to be in conflict with their professed doctrinal positions on grace.

 

Like you, I don’t get the hot/cold/lukewarm thinking associated with fundamentalist beliefs either. If we are saved by faith, then how much faith is required? Scripture seems to imply that faith as of a mustard seed is sufficient. If that is so, then what role does work play in the big picture? Religion is filled with inconsistent teaching and contradictory beliefs.

 

I confess to being one very confused believer at this point in my life.

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When I was a fundamentalist Christian, I was always taught that PCs were just cherry picking lukewarm Christians who weren't serious about their faith and that Jesus preferred us to be either hot or cold, but Jesus wanted to spit PCs out of his mouth. Even after I deconverted and went through this phase where I hated all religion, I had thought fundamentalists were more serious than PCs and you should either be a non-Christian or a fundamentalist and PCs were just enablers of fundamentalists. But then I discovered Bishop Spong's works and I started to read more about just what did progressive Christians believe and think and now I think PCs are just as serious and devoted to their faith as any other Christian can be, but PCs just have different ideals of what it means to be devoted than fundamentalists do and are just as passionate in criticism of religious extremism as atheist critics can be. If you were ever a bible-believing Christian, what did you think a lukewarm Christian was then and what do you consider to be lukewarm as a PC now? Why do you think there is so much misunderstanding of PCs in society, even among secular critics, and what do you think can be done to change people's perceptions of PCs as either lacking seriousness or being enablers?

 

One step I would recommend is to read Neale Walsch's "Conversations with God."

 

--John Green

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Some fundamentalists are more hot about converting people, and I would be too, if I believed God would send people to hell for not confessing Jesus. Some fundamentalists are very lukewarm in their faith -- just knowing they are saved gives them license not to take life seriously. PCs can be hot or lukewarm, too. PCs who are "hot" take Jesus' mandate to actively love the disenfranchised seriously, and they are trying to follow Jesus' plan for losing their egos and becoming pure love.

 

All of us pick and choose what to believe -- even the "fundamentalists." :)

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This is a good question. Growing up within a fundamentalist church I too am very familiar with the accusation of 'lukewarmness' toward liberal Christians. But to be honest I think 'lukewarm Christians' may be equally distributed among liberal and fundamentalist churches alike, because when I see a fundamentalist church I typically see a lot of cognitive dissonance, a lot of 'belief in believing', but genuine belief? It is not so common. I tend to think that one who truly feels that he has been commissioned to save his neighbors from eternal torments in hell is one who will quickly drive himself into a frenzy.

Now in liberal congregations, in my limited experience of them, I think you probably have the same amount of 'lukewarmness', the difference being that liberals tend not to 'believe in believing' and therefore feel no pressing need to try. Perhaps this is why liberal congregations in general can be often be viewed as stale, superfluous and ultimately pointless, having the formalities and structure of Christianity but not the content or purpose. And I'm sure many of them live up to that stereotype.

But I don't think 'lukewarmness' is intrinsic to either approach. As you say, liberal Christians can be and often are very passionate and serious about their faith and practice, just as serious as anyone can be. I think genuine passion is a rarity no matter where you look.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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  • 1 month later...

When I was a fundamentalist Christian, I was always taught that PCs were just cherry picking lukewarm Christians who weren't serious about their faith and that Jesus preferred us to be either hot or cold, but Jesus wanted to spit PCs out of his mouth. Even after I deconverted and went through this phase where I hated all religion, I had thought fundamentalists were more serious than PCs and you should either be a non-Christian or a fundamentalist and PCs were just enablers of fundamentalists. But then I discovered Bishop Spong's works and I started to read more about just what did progressive Christians believe and think and now I think PCs are just as serious and devoted to their faith as any other Christian can be, but PCs just have different ideals of what it means to be devoted than fundamentalists do and are just as passionate in criticism of religious extremism as atheist critics can be. If you were ever a bible-believing Christian, what did you think a lukewarm Christian was then and what do you consider to be lukewarm as a PC now? Why do you think there is so much misunderstanding of PCs in society, even among secular critics, and what do you think can be done to change people's perceptions of PCs as either lacking seriousness or being enablers?

 

Even as a PC, I still think "lukewarm" in spirituality is bad. Potentially even lazy to be honest, as if people aren't really trying on the spiritual-side of thigns... I believe faith takes work (not works but work, as in effort, as in "two-way relationship that requires you to do your part") and that most people would rather sit back and relax.

 

As a result, I think there are many liberals and progressives who aren't liberal or progressive because they believe it -- but are progressive because they are lazy. And in that respect, I'll agree with in partial by saying I think God is probably disappointed in that in a lot of ways. I also think it brings zero respect to God on behalf of the people "practicing" that spirituality style.

 

But PC and liberal does not necessarily equate to a lack of passion, a lack of interest, or a lack of faith. Do some people "cherry pick"? Yes. I'll admit it, and I have no issue with it either because everyone is unique, and everyone relates to God in different ways. We all have different spiritual ideas, and beliefs, and that's ok in my opinion. It's especially true when you believe what you are passing over in your choices is just plain wrong, so from the other perspective (the one from the cherry' picker's line of sight), cherry picking is actually more like logical weeding.

 

At any rate... I find the problem in your statements centered around an idea that PC's are basically spiritually lazy, and I wanted to say that I don't apply that to myself in any way. I am passionate about God, passionate about my faith, and passionate about progressive outreach. I am not spiritually lazy, and frankly I don't condone it in others. I think God is great, and if you are "meh" about God, there is a problem that needs to be fixed... and I think that attitude is prevalent in society, not just in Progressive Christians, but also in Conservatives, main-streamers, even some fundies don't really get off the spiritual sofa unless you poke 'em with a stick over one issue or another. Reactionary-only faith is not passionate faith either, that's just as bad! And that's just as prevalent IMO, and it is also prevalent in other religions as well.

 

Anyway, just a few thoughts in a blind post.

Edited by ada
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Even as a PC, I still think "lukewarm" in spirituality is bad.

 

The problem is, this term is not used as a descriptor at all, but as a perjorative. It is a term of verbal abuse, in other words. When we use it as such, then we stand under judgement ourselves.

 

'Lukewarm' is actually a very nice thing to be, if you think about it. Our blood is lukewarm, for one thing; too hot or too cold by just a few degrees, and we would certainly die. If our blood were actually as hot as the tea that we drink, or a bath that we lie in, we would not survive. Fortunately, our bodies can cope with these, and still retain an equilibrium. Perhaps our faith needs to do the same; not seek to be so hot that we burn anyone we encounter, or so cold that we freeze them, but warm enough to offer a place of protection and shelter.

 

Therefore, there is nothing necessarily wrong with being lukewarm, and as a perjorative it has no meaning.

 

In relation to faith, we are all called to walk a different journey of faith, and that journey takes us through different stages; what we might call different temperatures of faith. We might begin in the full sun of happiness and confidence, but later encounter the wintry conditions of doubt and failure. There is no point in condemning the summer for being hot, or the winter for being cold. The point is to accept both, as they arrive, and keep walking on that journey.

 

And meanwhile, if we find perjoratives slipping into the way we regard other people, we have work to do.

Edited by Anglocatholic
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I find most fundamentalist/conservatives to be spiritually lazy, and their judgement and condemnation of how others practice their faith to be to on the same level as playground name calling. They get all their answers from one source, don't ask any questions, and want to be told how to live their lives, one step at a time. By comparison, most PC's I have spoken to are considerably more educated about their religion, and considerably more open and courageous in the practice of their faith. If PC's are goats, then fundamentalists are sheep. You can herd sheep, but you have to lead goats. I feel sorrow for them in their misguided attempts to attain something better than this world. Love God, and love everyone, and maybe you can be a beacon for the next displaced fundamentalist you meet.

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It seems a very interesting topic to me. I'm sure I'm "lukewarm" at times, for good or ill! I'm a little bit of a refugee from certain Buddhist Forums - there, often, if you weren't known to sit on a zafu (meditation cushion) at least ten hours a day you were pretty lukewarm, though my Buddhist friends there would use different terms. Mention other forms of the Buddhist faith that were not so keen on meditation and the sparks would begin to fly......compassionate sparks, but sparks nevertheless! And so it goes on, and I would assume in every faith.

 

And I know it does seem a little bit over pious to say this, but theres that old saying "Judge not lest ye be judged!" Maybe we just need to take our own temperature every so often and stop trying to assess anyone elses! :rolleyes:B):)

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  • 2 months later...

When I was raised in JW's, they too, like to quote the "Lukewarm" warning all the time..thus, how they partly reason their non-stop door-to-door preaching..or else..they think they were "Lukewarm,". The problem is this promotion of thinking in extremes..that you are either fundamental and forceful with your faith and constantly feel you have to win other's to your team "The true way"..or else you MUST be the other extreme..completley apathelic and lazy. When in reality.. I think we should REPLACE the ego-centric idea of the "Right way" with instead the " right relationship" with God. Once a Christian claims to have quired all the flawless interpretations...then at the moment the LOOSE the meekness and humble that Christ taught.

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I agree BOE. I also think that lukewarmness is not something that I can accuse you of or you me....it is only something that I can, or God can, judge myself on. I also don't think the primary evidence for lukewarmness is our actions...because I think that actions are a outgrowth of what is in the heart. Therefore, it is first a matter of the heart and then after that it still will not be perfect or look like worthy deeds to some people. If you are a tree that produces apples, but someone comes along who only likes oranges and thinks only oranges are worth anything.......well, then....huh...I think you get my gist! :^D

When I was raised in JW's, they too, like to quote the "Lukewarm" warning all the time..thus, how they partly reason their non-stop door-to-door preaching..or else..they think they were "Lukewarm,". The problem is this promotion of thinking in extremes..that you are either fundamental and forceful with your faith and constantly feel you have to win other's to your team "The true way"..or else you MUST be the other extreme..completley apathelic and lazy. When in reality.. I think we should REPLACE the ego-centric idea of the "Right way" with instead the " right relationship" with God. Once a Christian claims to have quired all the flawless interpretations...then at the moment the LOOSE the meekness and humble that Christ taught.

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Is this thread based upon the passage in Revelation 3 (to the church in Laodicea)?

 

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So because you are lukewarm I am about to vomit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."

 

(refers to items in which Laodicea took great pride: financial wealth, textiles, and an eye salve) Some take the order of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation as a preview of church history in its downward course toward lukewarmness. Others interpret them as different kinds of congregations that have existed from John's time to the present.

 

I can guarantee you my congregation is not lukewarm! Right now we are passionate about relief for the worldwide crises, generational poverty that exists in our city, and interfaith understanding and respect.

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