The Second-Hand Truth of the Gospel of Whomever

I had lunch with friend on Friday, and he said something that really stuck with me. Josh is a writer himself, so it’s no surprise he’s good with a turn of the phrase, but this one little gem has kept me spinning since we talked.

“Too many Christians,” he said, “live on second-hand truth.”

I knew immediately what he meant.

For many Christians, their knowledge of God, their relationship with Christ, their intimacy with the Holy Spirit, is only as deep as their pastor’s. Because many Christians never go beyond what they hear and see on Sunday.

So they quote what they hear from the pulpit. They allow the pulpit to direct their passions, their anger, even their love. And while having a pastor to help us understand the Scriptures is Scriptural itself, there is no substitute for living out the Word of God in our daily lives.

But many Christians don’t do that. Because we’ve been trained to accept second-hand truth as enough.

The problem with second-hand truth is its lifelessness. It’s flat. It falls apart when life happens. Your pastor says homosexuality is bad, and homosexuals are ruining the country, and then you actually meet someone who is gay and they don’t fit the narrative. In fact, you like that gay person, and your instinct is to get to know them, not shun them.

But the second-hand truth kicks in: you can’t associate with gay people and be a follower of Jesus.

True, the Bible says that Christians shouldn’t associate with the sexually immoral–which includes homosexuals, adulterers, divorcees, and folks who have sex before marriage–but only if the sexually immoral have identified themselves as Christians. And more often than not, the sexually immoral clause is part of a list of other behaviors like drunkenness, greed, gluttony, and overcharging people for coffee. And again, these lists are intended to call out wrongful behaviors of people who identify themselves as Christians.

In other words, the only people Christians should be shunning are Christians who claim to be Christians but don’t live like Christ.

But many preachers/pastors don’t frame the argument that way, and since folks are content to accept second-hand truth as Gospel, we end up with idiots protesting the funerals of fallen soldiers or marching to “protect” the rights of white people.

It’s tempting for me, as a former pastor, to place the blame on preachers. It would be easy to make the preachers out as the source of the problem, but the truth is they are merely the symptom. Bad theology in the pulpit isn’t the issue.

The real issue is Christians who don’t have a relationship with Christ.

You have to read your Bible for yourself.

You have to ask hard questions about what you read.

You need to seek out more than one opinion on things.

You bear the responsibility to take your doubts, misgivings, uncertainties before God in prayer.


The power of the Gospel to save is found in the truth of Christ, who he is, what he has done, and how he changes people. When you live by second-hand truth, you are not sharing the Gospel of Christ with the world; you are sharing with the world the Gospel of Whomever.

There is no power in the Gospel of Whomever.

None. Whatsoever.

Read your bible. Ask questions. Pray. Write down things you think about. Talk about what you read, think and feel with other people. This is Christianity. This is the community, the body, of Christ.

When you begin to do that, you begin to see the power of the Truth at work, first-hand, in the world around you.

And you’ll wonder how you ever settled for the second-hand variety.

The Lonely Life (or The Post of 1,000 Tags)

It’s a lonely life in my head. I spend a lot of time thinking, mostly about things, but often enough about stuff that one might affectionately call nothing. Effluvia. Flotsam. Jetsam. Trash. Junk. For example:

Why does the hotel in which I’m currently staying not have a third or thirteenth floor?

Why do people preen in front a mirror, regardless of where they encounter it?

On a scale from 1 t0 10, how embarrassing is it to pass gas on an elevator one floor before another person gets on?

Why can you only hear freight train whistles in the dead of night?

Is America really the land of opportunity, or is that just one heck of a marketing slogan designed to trap desperate people?

What the heck is fair trade coffee, and why are we more worried about that than about lowering the homeless population in the U.S.?

Come to think of it, why will so many people gladly pay $6.00 for a fricking latte, but won’t sponsor a needy child overseas?

How do some people stay motivated in the face of failure?

How do some people live with the knowledge that their biggest dream is likely to never come true?

Can someone satisfactorily explain the following in three words or less: Snooki, Lady Gaga, Channing Tatum, Will Arnett?

If you don’t believe in God, Dr. Dawkins, then why are you so pissed off at Him?

There are good people who live their entire lives without getting a single nice thing written about them somewhere that someone else is likely to read it.

If the hotel is so nice, why do the pillows smell like someone spent a solid hour farting into them?

Insomnia: discuss.

What’s funny?

I think suede is leather that dropped out of school.

Are Apple computers really that much better than PCs, or am I just a schmuck for thinking that?

If so many people think what I write is funny and/or good, why doesn’t someone offer to publish me? Or any of the writers that I know who are really good?

The P.E.T.A. founder is certifiably insane. If you don’t believe me, read some of the provisions in her will.

Why is it that whenever I watch my favorite sports team play they inevitably lose, and when I don’t watch them they inevitably win? Are they trying to tell me something?

George Carlin would have made an outstanding college English professor.

What is luck and why do some people seem to hoard it?

Why do some bottled waters have nutritional information printed on the label? It’s water.

Sometimes the most heroic act in life involves little more than just waking up, taking a deep breath, and getting out of bed.

Single parents, regardless of how they came to be that way, deserve one heck of a lot of respect.

I’ll be completely against gay marriage when Christians who protest against it quit accepting divorce so casually. If marriage is a sacred bond between man and woman, then that bond should last longer than a rerun of Star Trek. Right now, marriage is about as sacred to most Christians as jury duty.

At 12:00 in the morning, I wonder if the only reason alcohol is legal and pot is not is because no one has figured out a successful business model that won’t hack off the drug cartels. I’m completely against legalized pot, but I guarantee you the minute they figure out a way to make hella-profit off of it, Uncle Sam will pass that law.

I’m 35 pages into Infinite Jest (out of 1,079 – and that includes the footnotes), I have no idea what the heck is going on, and yet I’m still loving every minute.

When did we stop caring about other human beings and start caring only for the bottom line? Not just financially, but in everything?

Joan Rivers isn’t funny.

Neither is Adam Sandler.

And yet both continue to make good money being not funny.

Are newspapers dead or are they merely acting like it?

When’s the last time you heard someone say “hornswoggled” in casual conversation? How about “bumfuzzled”? Or “dadblameit”?

Raise your hand if you know what the Southernism “flitter” is a synonym for.

Why will a cat lick itself but then turn away food from a can? It can’t be a matter of taste, can it?

Speaking of matters of taste, why do some people love cheese that, if it were any other food product, should be thrown away for spoiling?

What person in charge of fashion decided that small girls under the age of 15 have to wear clothes that look like Jodie Foster’s old costumes from Taxi Driver? And if we discover who this person is, can we shoot them?

If you pray and pray and pray and pray, but God doesn’t answer, does that mean yes or no or maybe or wait or all of the above?

It’s time for bed. There’s more thinking to be done tomorrow.