Is there a Church anywhere that teaches the Gospel of Love?

I was raised in a Four Square, Bible-believing church. Underneath the fellowship and prayer was a disturbing darkness that you call the Gospel of Wrath. As a young adult I left the church and lost a lot of friends.  When I became a mother I wanted my children to know Jesus so we started attending a very Liberal church that was welcoming but its ‘Gospel of Antiwrath’ was powerless to create any sense of awe or instill a belief in the reality of God. My kids drifted away.  Is there a Church anywhere that teaches the Gospel of Love?

 

UC

 

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Dear UC.

 

I wish I could give you the name and address of a church that teaches the Gospel of Love. Many of the people who visit the Believer’s Dilemma are looking for the same thing and none of them are finding it outside personal fellowships or the occasional home church of like-minded believers. (If anybody has found a church that preaches the Gospel of Love, please share the information!)

 

If that makes you feel gloomy, as if Christianity is a horribly false and failed belief system, all is not lost. Religion is a source of power and wealth and so it attracts the same kind of corrupt leaders who take over economic systems, military systems and political systems. We need to be wary of ‘organized’ religion and seriously question the motivations of those who manoeuvre their way to the top.

 

Within churches, businesses, defense forces, and governments are multitudes of decent people who seek to do good. They are remarkably moral, honorable, and well-intentioned individuals. This is true of all major religions. The vast majority of people who practice religion do so because they seek love, justice, family, community, and a noble meaning to their lives. They want to be good people, they want their children to be good people, and they want to live in a community of good people. The various rules and commandments of religions are a credo of personal values and a statement of collective values.

 

Therefore, a church community should create a more moral environment than the unchurched world at large. Most people who attend church believe this is true. It may very well be that a formal value system makes people conscious of higher standards. Personal effort and collective ‘monitoring’ enable believers to overcome carnal, selfish desires for the benefit of the group.  

 

The Gospel of Wrath can turn this striving after holiness into a regime that represses all forms of pleasure, in the false belief that pleasure is synonymous with sin. The Gospel of Wrath can also create terrible hypocrisy in which ‘kill joy’ morality is proclaimed in public while  all manner of sin is practiced in private, and leaders who rail against the most innocent and minor ‘sins’ in their flock are guilty of cupidity, carnality, and gross depravity inflicted upon innocent minors in their trust.

 

The Gospel of Wrath can also create inward-looking communities that foster fantasies about their own holiness and project all manner of sin and depravity onto the strangers outside their closed circle. I suspect that all of this behaviour was present in the ‘Four Square, Bible-believing church’ of your youth and were factors caused you to leave.

 

However, I am sure you know many good people who continue to attend churches dominated by the Gospel of Wrath. They remain in these churches, for all their flaws, because they perceive them as a better option than churches that have embraced the liberal Gospel of Antiwrath which is ‘powerless to create any sense of awe or instill a belief in the reality of God.’  Your own story is part of a familiar pattern of believers rejecting the darkness of the Gospel of Wrath, moving toward the Gospel of Antiwrath, being numbed by its banality, and then drifting into agnosticism, atheism or a private belief system.  


The Gospel of Wrath claims to be the defender of traditional Christianity.  It quotes that Bible literally and selectively, appeals to the authority of Augustine and his followers, and proclaims that there is one inerrant, take-it-or-leave-it, divinely inspired religion, which forces believers to choose between ‘truth’ and hell. Disciples of Wrath see no difference between atheists, Satanists, god-haters, and well-intentioned liberal disciples of Anti-wrath. They are all enemies of their God of Wrath, depraved, and condemned to eternal torment. This is the grim message of a fearful religion.  


The Gospel of Anti-Wrath claims to be the defender of tolerant Christianity.  It is not dogmatic about the authority of the Bible and it questions many troubling historical interpretations.  The Gospel of Anti-Wrath does not believe that there is one inerrant, take-it-or-leave-it, divinely inspired religion, or that there is a single ‘truth’ or that heaven and hell are necessarily literal locations. Disciples of Anti-wrath see no difference between atheists, agnostics, liberals or fundamentalists, who are all children of their God of Anti-Wrath: sinful, suffering and seeking. This is the hopeful message of an amorphous religion.  

 

Where is the Gospel of Love?  You will not find it in any major Christian denomination.  But you will find it in the hearts and minds of many believers on both sides of the polarized divide (Wrath/Antiwath). An increasing number of thoughtful people realize that religion has been hi-jacked by zealots. In the contemporary world the murderous defilers of religious faith are often Islamist extremists. In the not-so-distant past, Christians were fighting bloody wars between Catholics and Protestants, and imposing their zealous form of Christianity on the New World (conquistadors), on Africa (slave traders and imperialists), on Asia (opium warriors and gunboat diplomats), not to mention inquisitors and witch-hunters.

 

It is impossible for a true disciple of Wrath to understand any of this. They do not believe that their God would allow the ‘true religion’ to be hijacked by mere mortals. They do not see any wrong in the use of violence to force pagans and sinners to accept the ‘true religion’ and they do not believe that their inerrant, infallible ‘true religion’ is capable of doing wrong.

 

The first step toward restoring the Gospel of Love is to understand that we free beings capable of good and evil.  We have freewill because God does not micromanage the world and does not dictate our choices.  Free beings have a personal responsibility for their actions, and they are also capable of a personal relationship with the holy power of God.

 

The second step toward restoring the Gospel of Love is to declare a personal and collective mea culpa.  Disciples of Wrath and Anti-wrath are both guilty of abandoning that Gospel of Love, in different ways, and for different reasons. We are equally guilty of misusing our freewill and denying our personal responsibility to stand up for what we truly believe.

 

 


Click here for more about how historical belief systems evolved.

 

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