Note: Can I Say This at Church is produced for audio listening. If able, I strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which has inflection, emotion, sarcasm where applicable, and emphasis for points that may not come across well in written word. This transcript is generated using a combination of my ears and software, and may contain errors. Please check the episode for clarity before quoting in print.
Hey, guys, welcome back to another episode of the Can I Say This At Church podcast. The guest today is Keith Giles. He is a former pastor living in California, who left his pastor job to create a house church in which they're able to give away 100% of their monies, to the homeless to people that need help. He wrote a book that I think is so timely in the country that we live in right now. And in the period of the world that we're in right now. The title is Jesus Untangled Crucifying our Politics Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb.
I will not lie to you. This interview will challenge you, it will make you question where your loyalties lie. And if you follow us on Facebook, you will have seen this before it is hard at least I think it is very hard to be a Christian and a nationalist. And when I say that, I mean American patriotic man, let's ready to rock and roll. It's hard to be both of those at the same time you have to choose. And so this conversation is specifically about untangling our faith in Jesus from a political party. And realizing that the two have a purpose to serve. Both of those purposes are worthwhile and can be used for so much good. But when we complete them, there are many, many pitfalls and and problems that arise. And so let's let's get into it
My guest today is Keith Giles. Keith is the author of a new book that came out this this year. And if you're listening to this in 2018, that would be last year 2017 titled Jesus Untangled, which is a fantastic book. I've enjoyed reading it. And after all of your holidays are done, I would recommend you also go and read it so that you don't argue with your family over over, over whatever holiday happens to be coming. Keith, there's probably many people that are unfamiliar with you. So can you kind of walk us through your background how you came to do the work that you do now?
Yeah. So uh, well, I'll try to do a quick version. You can stop me if I go too long. But uh, yeah, I'm an author. This is like my seventh book. I was licensed and ordained in a Baptist Church back when I was like, in my early 20s, in El Paso, Texas. Then my wife and I moved to California, we got involved in the Vineyard movement, we helped to plant a church, probably about 15 years ago, here in Orange County, California. with some friends of ours, that was an amazing experience.
We'd never planted a church before, you know, we'd always been on staff at them, I've done everything except senior pastor. So, children's pastor, music pastor, youth pastor, you know, all that stuff. Anyway, we were part of this church plant here in Tustin, California that we had done for the first time. It was an amazing experience did that for about three and a half years. And then my wife and I felt the Lord calling us and our family to leave that church plant and start a new church. And we prayed about it, we felt like that was the right thing. So we said, okay, God we’ll do that. And then almost immediately after we said, Yes, God we’ll do that. He said, plant a church that gives away all of the money to the poor.
And we said, that sounds awesome. But how do we pull that off. And it didn't make any sense. And we were excited about it. I mean, I couldn't imagine. We were so excited about being able to tell people that we are part of a church that gives away everything to the poor. And we don't keep any; not even a penny, or anything, you know, not sound system, salaries, building, you know, donuts and coffee, nothing. Like all of it went to help the poor in our community here.
And anyway, after praying about it for a while, we felt like the Lord was calling us to start a house church where we would meet in homes, and I would just get a job. So I did. And we left that church started a house church. That was about 11 years ago. It's the best thing I've ever done with the word “church” on it. And I got a job as a copywriter - writing, marketing and advertising. just writing for ads, writing ads, for technology companies, so you haven't that. And that's what pays the bills and then started reading books. Yeah, on various topics. And that's how I ended up doing it.
I don't know that I would have the courage to do what you're doing. I mean, I go to a church that one of our tag lines are, you know, when you give dollars, we have no debt. So all the most good, very good chunk of your money actually goes to missions. And I feel like we do okay at it. And there's few churches that can say they have no debt, but but to give it all the way. That's, well, it's different than what most people do.
Well, you know why? It's because like, we, it doesn't cost anything to do just the way we're doing it. Right. So there's no one on salary. No one, we don't pay, you know, we already have a house we live in, so we're paying rent, anyway, for a family to live here. So it doesn't cost anything. And so really, all the offerings that we received, were freely able to give that and what we've been doing. So for most of that time, what we did, we were part of we started a church that was meeting at a motel here in Orange County, and then we partnered with some other people to kind of pull that off. So we were doing things like doing, you know, like, bringing a bounce house for the kids, providing free groceries to families living in this motel in Santa Ana. Helping people just as God would bring us people who would help people who are in financial need.
Most recently, we started helping, there's a sort of a little tent city that's grown up around Anaheim Stadium, which is only a couple of blocks from my house, I think 500 or 600 homeless people living in this kind of encampment up and down the riverbed there. And so we've been doing that sort of house, which has been focused on and so those are the different ways. We've been investing, you know, in the lives of people around us. And it's been amazing. It's just an amazing experience.
That is awesome. So, the the topic at hand, so why this book, the title itself, is off putting, but it makes you want to bring it up? What, what made you want to tackle this subject?
Yeah, well, you know, it was kind of came out of my own personal experience. So I, I was raised in a very conservative Christian home, I listened to Rush Limbaugh, I was a member of the NRA, and I lived in Texas, so I had a whole bunch of guns. I really did believe that to be a Christian, you had to be a Republican, that you couldn't be a Christian if you voted for Bill Clinton. You know, so I was I was really, really my faith was really, really entangled with conservative politics. And, and slowly over time, it didn't happen overnight, but God just started pointing out to me, personally, showing me all the ways my faith was so entangled with my political worldview, that I couldn't separate the two of them. And I think it's one of these things where, you know, you notice the the speck in your brother's eye before you notice the log in your own.
So I was, I was actually talking to my parents who they still live in El Paso. I was talking to them over the phone. And my dad made a comment about how a friend of ours who had just become a Christian, after many, many years, so we're excited about that a family friend who became a Christian. And then he made a comment that he didn't think she had a genuine conversion to Christ. And I said, Oh, my gosh, what happened? Why don't you think she's really a Christian? And he said, Well, because she voted for John Kerry, instead of George W. Bush in the election. And he was dead serious. And I said, Dad, you know, there's going to be, you know, Democrats and libertarians and, you know, socialists in, in heaven, right, like, it's not just to heaven for Republicans.
But then in sort of, like noticing his entanglement with with politics and faith. I mean, I hung up the phone, realizing Well, I'm the same way, you know, I've had those same thoughts. So anyway, God just started speaking to me about my own personal entanglements. And as I was realizing my own entanglements and kind of separating those two things, I started noticing that a lot of my friends, were also in that same boat. And anyway, I just felt like the Lord said to me that this was something I needed to write a book about. Because and there's a lot of good reasons why we can get into that, I guess, as much as you want to. But I think there's some good reasons why it's Christians need to untangle.
I mean, that's hard. I think, probably 80% of the people that I talk with on Facebook or Twitter, well, I have two Twitter accounts, one that I can be myself on, and the other that I can, I can show everybody; but I feel like people are so afraid to let that go. And I don't know if it's the bias and the way that were raised or fear of missing out on relationships, because you know, that you're going to be ostracized.
Let's get into that. What are some of the reasons or what are some of the entanglements that you see in, in your writing and in I guess, in California, I'm also from Texas. I'm from Midland, Texas. And so I can highly relate to that El Paso type of mentality and I don't even need to vote. I'm just going to double bubble this our and straight-line voting. We're done. I don't even know who's running. But they're all That's right. It's all R’s. And we're good.
So I that's exactly what I did. Yeah, I did that exactly three years. Well, so here's here's why. Here's some things that I've seen the reasons why I think this issue of entanglement is so important for us to address. I typically described it as the 3 Ds. So one of them I think, one of the biggest reasons why I think entanglement is a problem is division, that entanglement causes division in the body of Christ and what I mean by that is, you know, in 1st Corinthians Paul will not allow Christians in Corinth to divide over which apostle is their favorite I follow Apollo's I follow Peter, I follow Paul. And Paul won't hear of it. He says, Stop it. What are you doing? You know, Paul didn't die for you. Peter didn't raise from the dead for you Apollo's? You know, you're not. We are all together, we all follow Jesus. Stop dividing over this issue.
Now if Paul won't allow Christians in court to divide ever which a possum was their favorite? Why would we think that it's okay to divide the body of Christ over a political party or candidate or an issue, but we do. I mean, I've spoken I've been able to go and speak in different places. And I, you know, just ask you to raise your hand. If either you have unfriended someone on Facebook, or you have been unfriended by another Christian brother or sister on Facebook, over a disagreement on political issues, everybody raises their hand. And so this issue of politics, it's, it's causing division between brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. And again, I don't think it's something that that should be allowed, like, we shouldn't divide over this thing. It's not something that that we should allow ourselves to divide over.
So that's the first D is division.
The second one is it's a distraction. I think that by focusing on politics, rather than on the gospel, it's distracting us from the one thing that really can make a difference in the world, which is the gospel. And this is why I think it's also really important is that we, so for example, when I say to people that I don't think Christians should vote, or I don't think Christians should be involved in politics. Whenever a Christians response to that statement, is to assume that what I mean is, we should do nothing. Because honestly, that's how they interpret that statement. Oh, my gosh, Keith, the only the only I hear this all the time, the only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. How can you say we should not be involved in politics? I’m like hang on. I didn't say do nothing. I said, follow the commands of Jesus, do you think that's doing nothing? Well see, it's because when I take politics away, in their minds, they've got nothing left, which says to me, you're not really focused primarily on following Christ and preaching the gospel and living out the gospel. I believe that Jesus gave us the best possible way to transform this world and to make the world a better place.
I understand that people that get involved in politics do so because they believe that they will make a difference and that by that through politics, they actually can affect positive change in the world. I would actually say that that's the worst way to do it, that actually politics doesn't bring these kinds of changes and improvements. But I believe the gospel does. I believe the gospel first of all, makes you and me says to start with us, people who who love and forgive and serve and look like Christ. And then people around us, it transforms them into people who look and act and behave and in serve and forgive like, like Jesus. That's the way we make the world a better place. And then I'll tell you something else. Once we start doing that, and it started accomplishing that, you can pass any law you want. You can be as you know, to me, it doesn't matter what the laws are, because you have people in the in the society, who are ruled by the law of Christ, and the law of love. So, yeah, anyway, I think focusing on politics distracts us from that mission, which is the more important mission, which is to live out the gospel and preach the gospel. So division and distraction.
And I think it's also a denial of our identity, we are called ambassadors of Christ and His kingdom. Again, by focusing on politics, we were denying who we are in the world, we were meant to be agents of change in the world, we were meant to be representatives of Christ and His kingdom. In other words, we already have a king, we already have a kingdom. If anything, what I'm asking Christians to do, is to be more patriotic for their country, which happens to be the kingdom of God. What I'm wanting is for Christians to be even more excited about their leader, who is Jesus, not the president. And so I think, again, by focusing on national politics of the country that we're born into, we're denying who we really are, right?
That we're not citizens of this world, we are streaming in aliens we are passing through, we are looking for a city not of this world, that is that is from above, not built with humans. And those aren't just metaphors. They're not just cool sounding words that we sing on Sunday morning and him or something, that Jesus intends those things to be real and actual, we really do have a king, and we really do have a kingdom, we really do have an agenda and a leader and something that is higher, you know, and above those things, and actually,
I would add a fourth D to that list. The fourth D would be the Done’s. You know, you may have heard the nuns and the Dunn's. So you know, there's this, there's this trend that's been identified recently in the last several years, with Barna research, Pew Research all these different, you know, survey groups and things that have been done, that the evangelical Christian Church in America is getting older, which means younger people are dropping out. And a large percentage of those young people say that one of the main reasons that they're turning their back, a Christian Church in America is they're sick and tired of hearing political messages.
One young lady that I know told me at a coffee shop. She said, you know, Keith, I just got, I just want Jesus. But I stopped going to my church that I grew up in my whole life. Yeah, I just gave up that church because I was sick and tired of hearing Fox News sermons every Sunday. I just want to hear about Jesus. But all they want to talk about was these political issues. Yeah. So for those,
I'm with you on that. I'm with you on that. That's the main that's one of the reasons that I started this. I went, I went to Liberty in was in, you know, indoctrinated there with the Moral Majority. And that's the way it's got to begin. And the further I get away from that, I don't I don't know if it's age, or if it's just distance, but or years. But I don't I don't know how I ever was attached to that, to that line of thinking, I don't know how I made it fit in the box that I live in? I don't I honestly don't know. Um, so what would you say to them to people that say, Well, you know, it's a it's a privilege to be able to vote. It's a privilege. It's a freedom that so many other countries don't have. When I hear you say Christians shouldn't vote? What would you say to people that say that? That you're just wasting that privilege that other that the veterans have fought and died for? And I hear that quite often?
I guess I shouldn't, I shouldn't say Christian shouldn't vote, because I really don't want…I don't want the book to come across this way. And I don't want to come across this way. Like I'm, like, I'm, you know, passing new rules for Christians or, you know, some new commandments. That's not at all what I want. My conviction is that I don't vote. I mean, frankly, just from a practical standpoint, and I talked about this in the book, as well, there's a chapter in the book called why your vote doesn't count, which looks at studies done by Yale, and Harvard, and Princeton, and, you know, just a plain writing on the wall. I'm sorry to say, we in America do not have a government, that is by the people, for the people, and the people.
And surveys have been done. Where if even 100% of the American people don't want something to happen, Congress will still pass that law. Because the people that do want it, which are primarily billionaires and mega, you know, mega billion dollar corporations, they do want it, they spend trillions of dollars, in lobbying, and then they get a return, you know, multiple hundred fold after these laws are passed, so so we have, we have a government that benefits the people with the most amount of money and leverage, which unfortunately, is not you and me. So, I just think, practically, my vote does not matter, it does not make a difference. And I would just want to say this, that, if you think as a follower of Jesus, that once a quarter or once every four years, you stand in the line, you go behind a curtain and you pull a lever, and you think that's what Jesus has called you to do to have an impact on the culture. I think he's asking way more from you than that.
I agree. Yeah, you missed…if that's if that's what you got when you read the Bible, or the Gospels. You missed. Right. You missed you missed it. So what do you think then that so many conservative, I would say fundamentalist, evangelical Christians, the, you know, the, well, the state of Texas, for lack of a better for lack of a better pejorative? Why do you feel like in a conservative Christian mindset, and I would say, I used to be this way…I have my politics in some way, or a direct funnel to Jesus, or I am the mouthpiece of God, or this Bible means this and so you have to vote this way. Why do you feel like we are that way?
Well, again, I talked about this in the book. It's not an accident. There have been several waves and movements throughout American history to to purposefully entangle conservative Christians with the Republican Party. And, and so I detail this on my book, where one of the times that's happened was during the 50s. Were there this is where we had this movement to, you know, put In God we trust on our money, and to add one nation under God to our pledge of allegiance. Among other things, where Christian pastors were encouraged to preach sermons, that were much more, you know, free market capitalism sermons. And tp downplay sermons about Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount, and things like that, and frankly, it worked, you know. And then, of course, during during the Moral Majority years, which is when I was growing up with Reagan, and I talked about this in the book as well.
There was another effort to mobilize Christians in America to vote a certain way for a certain party that stood for quote, unquote, Christian values, but Christian values under that umbrella, you know, they have been very narrow, in other words, Christian values, just to be really Frank, those those those republican Christian values, which by the way, I used to live and die for myself personally, those Christian values don't include anything Jesus ever said, like you can't tie a quote of Jesus, to really almost anything that the republican stand for, but yet it's called Christian. And only Christian because we told you, it's Christian.
Like what, for instance?
Well, like Jesus never said anything about abortion. Jesus never said anything about gay marriage. But you wouldn't you would think that those are the two most important things that that Christians should ever care about, you know, if you're if you're an American Republican,
Yeah, and you also have, well, this will lead me into the next point…so you also have, you know, you get stuff like, you know, I don't want to make this something bigger than it is, but you'll have Judge Moore. And when he was a judge, you know, he's not taking the 10 commandments off of the wall. There, those are up there. And I find Christians tend to lean more towards the 10 commandments, as opposed to the Sermon on the Mount and love your neighbor. And, and I don't know it, it doesn't make sense in my head, how you can, it doesn't seem very loving, at all.
No, no, it is not Yeah. Talk about that in the book as well, because that's something that it took me a while to figure it out. You're exactly right. You know, that the the brand and flavor of Christianity that we're talking about is much more Old Testament, that it is New Testament. It's still called Christian, but it's not really Christ-Like it's really much more Moses-like, and then that's so chapter two of my book. That's why I started off the book, really identifying sort of this flat Bible perspective. Really, that's the only way you can justify this kind of stuff we're talking about. You have to make the Old Testament and the New Testament equal. And actually really, in practice, it's not equal. If we're really honest, the way in practice, the Old Testament really does supersede Jesus. So the 10 commandments really are the way we're supposed to live our life, not the Sermon on the Mount.
Yeah, well, the Old Testament is so much more aggressive or not aggressive that's a that's a poor word. So much more forceful. And Jesus is more…I don't know graceful. Yeah, that's a good word. graceful. I mean, he challenges you, but in a way that you challenge yourself by having to think through what he's telling you. So, um,
Yeah, this is the reason why, by following that train of thought, we are we are slowly heading towards a theocracy, which looks like an old testament model of right? I mean, that the Old Testament was a theocracy. Yeah. So when you start modeling your Christianity on the Old Testament, and on a on this Moses, sort of legal law, you know, law of God, kind of a thing. Now, we're back into the login, and we're trying to basically create a theocracy again. But I don't think that is what Jesus was about. That's not what he was coming to do. In fact, it's this whole. There's, there's also something else I talked about in the book about how it blew my mind. There, there's a discussion and I actually picked it up from another book I was reading it was talking about pre-Christian societies, right?
That Christ is able to sort of escape that sort of legalistic worldview that we see in the Old Testament that theocracy worldview. But people in his day weren't able to see it. You know, that's why they asked him this question. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar because honestly, they didn't understand. And they, there was no answer to them. They thought This, of course, will stump Jesus. Because if you say, Yes, we should pay taxes, well, that means you're on the side of the Romans. But if you say we shouldn't pay taxes, well, that means you're on the side of the, the insurrectionist and the rebels and zealots that say we should overthrow them.
And so when Jesus says, give to Caesar, what is Caesar's and give to God, what is God's, it just blows their minds, like, wait a minute, what, you know, but he draws the line between what I would say, between faith and politics, right? That there are things that things of God, and they're the things of men. And part of their problem was they had been tangled these things so much together, they couldn't separate them. That what we were called to do, like the early Christians had this sort of two kingdoms perspective. And in their minds, they were preaching another king, it says this in Acts, right, they were preaching another king whose name was Jesus. They went to their deaths, because they refuse to say that Caesar was Lord. They were tortured to death, skinned alive and burned alive and crucified upside down, boiled down, you know, boiled and all that stuff. Because they refuse to say that Caesar was Lord and they said, We have no king, but Jesus. And I would love for Christians today that take that same attitude to say, we have no leader, we have no king, we have no president. But Jesus.
How else? So you touched on early Christian? So how else did early Christians; not necessarily…well, maybe maybe they did. This is where I'm getting out of my field? How did they protect themselves against for lack of a better word, the allure of power that politics gives you? Because everyone's only going to one for one term, I promise, and then I'll quit. And then they never do 80 years later. How did they I guess insulate themselves or or safeguard themselves as a church against that pull on the heart of the power that's in politics, and the money that comes?
Well, the early Christians, I'm talking before pre Constantine, because that's where we got entangled with the Empire. So before that, the way they avoided it was they just have a very hard-line attitude that I mean, and I, there's quotes of these in the book where, you know, early Christian teachers and leaders, for century second century, took a took an attitude of, and again, these quotes are in the book, like, if anyone comes to Christ, and wants to, you know, sit at the table and share the copy, paste in the share of their community, what we would call communion, or fellowship with brothers and sisters, but they don't renounce if they're, if they're in the military, they don't renounce their military station, if they're in the if they're in government. They don't like walk away from that and quit those jobs immediately. They're not allowed, they're not even considered brothers. And so they just took a very look like, here's the kingdom of God. And that's the kingdom of the world. And you cannot be a part of both.
You know, nowadays, we think that that's totally possible with it. Well, there's no problem with that. But they, they, they had a very black and white view of it. And so, in fact, there's another quote, I wish I had it in front of me, I'm sorry, I don't have the book in front of me. But there's a there's a quote, I love. And it might be Tertullian. But I think he says something like he says, you know, we don't, he's actually giving a response to, to a pagan. He's, they're writing their their corresponding and he's, he's responding to this pagan guy. And he says, you know, it's not because we don't care about duty, civic duty, that we don't involve ourselves in political things. He says, it's because it's just simply that because we realize there's a duty that's more important, which is the kingdom of God.
And so for example, he says, if we have someone among us, who shows wisdom, and insight, and and someone that is even difficult, who's reluctant to step into a place of leadership, right, because they're so humble. But yet they're so capable. Why would we hand them over to Rome? Why would we let them suddenly become a great leader for the Roman Empire? No, no, we want that guy to serve the kingdom of God. So, you know, that's why we're not involving ourselves in politics. We're not interested in building up Rome, and seeing Rome become some bigger, stronger, more powerful empire, we're building up the kingdom of God.
And in our minds, one day, The kingdom of God is going to outlast all the kingdoms of this world, which means Rome is just headed to the to the dump. I mean, one one way or the other. Rome is going to end and the American Empire is going to end as well, like every other Empire before it. And so we're not why invest in something that's just just going to blow up anyway, and fall apart anyway. And now it doesn't mean we don't care about people. We love our neighbors, we want someone to say we don't care what happens to people. But again, the way we the way we engage with people is one on one, right? If someone's hungry, we think that someone's oppressed, we stand with them. If someone's being abused, we stand between the abuser and the victim. And so it's not doing nothing. It's just saying, we're not going to we don't believe that using politics is the best way to address those problems. It's not if we're not saying we don't care about justice, we do care about justice very much. And we will do something about it. But we just don't think that voting our guy into some place of power in the Empire is the way to solve that problem.
Yeah, it never seems to nothing ever seems to get solved. And that's that's a talking point in every election, at least that, right. I mean, I'm in my mid 30s. But every election, I've been a part of that is the talking point in all of them. So I want to flip the question on its head. And I also want to make sure that I clarify, let me let me clarify first. So we've been talking a lot about conservatives, but I'm assuming that you know, Democrats, libertarians, socialist, whatnot, they also have those what you would call red button issues, like what you talked about for conservatives for abortion, or LGBT community or gay marriage. And so and so why, I guess, I guess why do you talk more about conservatives than the others?
Oh, great question. Because I used to be one. You know what I mean, it's like, I don't talk a lot about Thailand, because I never been there. But I was born and raised in Texas and grew up in the Republican Party. And like I said, I was NRA, Rush Limbaugh you know, straight ticket Republican my whole life. And so I talked about that, because that's what I know very, very well. Yeah, I don't, I wasn't raised as a Democrat or liberal. I'm not as acquainted with it. But I agree with you, I totally agree with you, that this problem that I'm describing, I'm much more aware of it. And I am and I'm quicker to point out how this entanglement manifests in the Republican kind of conservative world.
Again, just because that's what I'm most familiar with. But before I got on the call with you, for this interview, I just did an interview with a guy where he was very entangled. And he's a complete progressive liberal,
and Yes, and he was pushing back just as hard as anyone else about how can you say this? Christians have to be involved with with justice and politics that we how we if we don't hear what he said, if we if Christians don't involve ourselves with with the, you know, the liberal politics, then we're just sitting back and letting all these republican conservative agenda you know, rule the day. And so he just said the exact same thing, you know, like, but you're right.
You know, people like I love these guys. I love Shane Claiborne. I love Tony Campolo. I love just lost his name. The guy that started sojourners, Jim Wallace, I love those guys. I really do I love. I love their heart. I love that they care about the poor, I love that they care about issues of justice. But to them exactly what I'm saying to conservatives, I think once you cross that line into, let's now vote for Bernie, vote for Hillary, you''ve done you made the same mistake that that republicans did when they said, therefore vote for Reagan and or therefore vote for George W. Bush. Because historically, those things don't quite pan out. You know, whenever we mix faith in politics, you know, when you make when you mix me the politics, you get politics.
You don't really end up with anything, that's any good for Christianity. But you know, but so basically, it's about we're being manipulated, by the by the left or by the right. Church gets manipulated. We get all fired up over whatever the issue is to vote this way or that way. And at the end of the day, we don't get what we want. I talked about this in the book. It's the I call it this this this shiny red button. Right. And there's a shiny red button for republicans and there's a shiny red button. for Democrats. Right for Republicans, the shiny red button is abortion. And they will always, I guess until they find another one, you know, here's the thing, it keeps working. It works. Election after election after election.
Vote for me because I'm pro life. Okay, yay, will vote for you. Well, then, we voted for you. Now you're president and all we have a Republican majority in Congress for you know, many, many terms through through Reagan through George Bush. And what did you do to overturn Roe vs. Wade? Not a thing. And guess what? Why would you? Because once you eliminate that, that red button doesn't work anymore. And now I can't, I can't get you guys excited to vote for me. But again, Democrats do the same thing. They'll try to get, you know, Christians, liberal Christians excited about caring for the poor. I'm sorry, we have stopped a whole lot of poverty. Right. And they haven't they've not done politically, anything to solve that problem either. So again, that's why I think we should just opt out of this game. It's just a game. It's not it's not a way to advance the kingdom. And it ends up obscuring the gospel, and Jesus gets lost in all that.
Yeah, I find it odd that that both of those red buttons that you just said, they're the same, they're the head and the tails of the same coin. So I'm only pro life right until birth. But then after that, if his mom is on food stamps, Nope, I'm not pro life anymore. And in the liberals, no, no, no, no, no, no, I'm pro choice all the way. But after birth, my God give that child some food, give the mom some money to give that child some food, and then they're bickering about the same life. But they don't seem to care about the life at different stages of its life. So right, which I've told some friends of mine, and they get angry, rightfully angry. Yes. And that's and that's fine. So so to flip that all of that on its head, take it less personal. So if, if you'll hear more Fox News specifically, but many people say, you know, we are a Christian nation, or founded on Christian values and whatnot. So if Christians should be less political, what does that then mean for our government to present that Christian face? Or to be the the peacemakers of the world or whatever? How should our government approach Christ?
Well, it's kind of like this.
I kind of feel the same way about what I see someone on the freeway, driving like a maniac, cutting people off and flipping them off, but they have I love Jesus bumper sticker. I think that guy should take that bumper sticker off his car, and stop telling everybody he stands for Jesus, if he's going to behave that way. I think the same way about governments, there has never been a Christian government. There has never been a government or a nation on this planet ever founded on the principles of Jesus or the Sermon on the Mount, including America. You could I invite anybody to take a highlighter, and the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. And every time you see something that is a quote from Jesus, or something that comes directly from the mouth of Jesus, or from the teachings of Jesus, go ahead and highlight it. And I'll promise you, when you get to the end of it, you will not have made a mark on either of those documents. Because we are not a nation founded on the teachings of Christ. We never pretended to be. We were, the argument is that, well, the founding fathers were all Christians. Well, I don't even think that's true. But let's just pretend that is true. Okay, great. Every one of the founding fathers were, were just as Christian as you and me and Billy Graham. But you know, what those Founding Fathers those, quote unquote, Christian founding fathers did. They very, very intentionally founded a nation that was not Christian, a nation that was that again, the name Jesus doesn't appear anywhere. They pass laws that said, there was no test of faith before you could hold office. They pass laws that allowed for the freedom of any and all or no religion. So that's the government they built, they built a very non, you know, Christian government. And I think that's a good idea. I don't think governments should try to represent Christ. I think Christ is capable of representing his own government. And again, that's the kingdom of God. So yeah, I don't think America is a Christian nation. I don't think we've ever done anything that was ever like Christ. And again, I would challenge anybody who says that America is a Christian nation. Show me At what point we behave like Christ wasn't when we was it when Puritans and Quakers executed each other. Because they did, you know, Quakers killed. You know, back and forth, Puritans and Quakers executed each other hung each other. Because they were preaching the gospel to one another, or not preaching without a license, or whatever. You know, the way we treated the Native Americans was that Christ like, yeah, you know, on and on. I mean, we've never reflected the heart and the character of Christ as a nation. And again, I don't think anyone ever could, until Jesus is actually the king.
Yeah, I've read it. I might have heard you say it. I'm sure I've read it somewhere. I'm certain I've read it somewhere. And I'm going to say it wrong. There's a quote from Dallas Willard, who has written more than I'll ever read something about, you know, politics is is is not the best force, or, or or reason for changing a culture, it's going to require Jesus and the gospel to change of people. Right. And then I've heard it echoed again, in a book I just finished reading, called Stranger God, where Richard the author, quotes, it's not Jesse Jackson, but it's another person and the name escapes me, a civil rights attorney that's basically said, you know, we've changed all the laws, but we didn't change anybody's hearts. And so we haven't changed anything. Right? Yeah. And it's, it's just got to be Jesus. So yes, I have just one, one follow up question. And then I want to want to ask you a few. A few. Just a few ending remarks. So what is the one thing is it as a church and for people, for pastors, for, for conservatives, for non concert for anyone that's listening to this? What is one or two things that we can do? That would be a good first step, however hard It may be to, to push the church towards a more loving Christ, like Christ centered vision in your mind?
Yeah, well, I think that's a great question. I don't think there's a quick and easy answer that I think in the context of what we're talking about, I think Christians really have to break out of this tribal mentality. This is part of why I'm trying to help Christians untangle their faith in their politics, because I think, as long you continue to see yourself as well, I'm a conservative, and they're liberals.
You know, like to say, how do we achieve unity with those liberals? Well, to start with, stop calling yourself conservative and stop calling them liberal. And just see all of you as family, you're all just Christians, you know? Because this tribalism is what divides us is like, once you identify yourself as a member of a tribe, meaning I'm a Christian, or I'm a conservative, or I'm a liberal, or I'ma, “whatever”, then those people over there all you can do and tribalism, it forces you to you make your tribe look better by pointing out all the ways that other tribe is wrong or bad. You demonize them to the point that anything you say or do against them is justified, because look how bad they are. I mean, look how evil they are.
And again, so I think you just have to say…look, I'm not, I wouldn't even go as far as this.
Not even just to say I'm not a Republican, or I'm not a Democrat, I wouldn't even encourage you to say, I'm not a Baptist. I'm not a Methodist. I'm not a Lutheran. I'm not an Episcopal.
I'm a Christian. I'm a follower of Jesus.
I mean, as an example, hopefully you've had this experience. I've had this quite often, and it's been real beautiful. You could just be at the airport, grocery store, doctor's waiting room, and you just meet some stranger and you instantly feel like a connection to this person. The more you talk with me, you have this thought, I bet they're a Christian. And eventually one of you will say something or maybe just flat out ask. And they'll say yeah, Oh, awesome. And you have this beautiful connection with this brother or sister in Christ, and you feel like you've known him your whole life. Right? It's this beautiful connection.
And so that's where we got to get back to that kind of a connection. I recognize we're just Christians now. Because here's the problem. There's actually an email Philip says comedian has a little joke about this, where these two people meet, and oh, you're you're a Christian? So am I. Your a baptist? Oh me too!
Southern or northern. I'm Southern. Oh, so am I? Are you Southern Baptists, blah, blah, blah, you know, oh, and then they finally find a point where they disagree. And the guy goes, the other guy says to the other guy, oh, you're a heretic (as soon as there is a disagreement).
But it's like, if we just get rid of all these labels and get rid of all this tribalism and just simply come down, come down to like Paul says in Corinthians. I'm not of Apollo's another Peter, I'm not a Paul, we're all of Christ. It's got to start there. And I think until we do that, we're never going to have any unity, and we're never going to really be able to focus on just seeing people as people. You know, we have to see ourselves that way. First, before we can see anybody else though.
Yeah, that's good. That's, I think that's a good parting thought. I did want to say a few things. So I have greatly enjoyed following you on Facebook. And I would encourage anyone that doesn't to do so you'll find few authors that are so willing to engage with with the people that that are reading their work. And I've enjoyed your openness and transparency on that. And so just a quick follow up question, what's some ways that people can besides you know, or plug Facebook, how they can get involved, get in touch with you converse with you? And then my next question is, will there be a follow up book, because there, there's a lot left to be said about untangling Jesus from America. Is there? What are you working on now that we can look forward to?
Yeah, well, to answer the question, yeah, I'm on Facebook. So yeah, follow me on Facebook. I'm on Twitter. Also. My blog is just my name, keep jobs calm. And that's now moved over to patio, sir. So I've got a new blog running over there. Just keep telling calm. I'm also doing a podcast I've been doing now for a couple of months with two other authors. And that's called the heretic happy hour. That's a lot to blast me a lot of fun doing that. And so those are just some ways you can you know, if you're interested in asking more questions or following some of the stuff I've been doing, it was Yeah. I do have a follow up book. I'm about already 85 pages into it. It is a direct follow up book to Jesus untangled. What I realized is is that was hoping that my book was going to edit has I mean, I've seen some positive impact. But you know, the church in America is probably unfortunately, even more entangled now than it was when the when I published it back in January.
So yeah, I do have a follow up book coming. I don't know when hopefully, sometime early 2018, mid 2018.
So yeah, hopefully that'll be coming soon.
Yeah, and you have an event? For any listening, I believe in Alabama coming up soon, in a few months, correct.
Yes, thank you. I have an event in March with me and Brad Jersak, because he’s another author, I really love and admire and I, honestly, man, I can't believe I'm How did I end up on this bill? I don't know. But anyway, somehow, I am Brad, your Zach are doing this event called the grace and peace summit in Birmingham, Alabama, March 9, and 10th. And then I'm also on on the 11th. I'll also be after the event on the 11th. Sunday morning, I'll be speaking at a church there as well, in Birmingham, so that's going to be an amazing opportunity. I'm just excited about doing something in Birmingham, you mentioned more, you know, this is where I'm from. And the whole point of this conference is how do we learn to love people that are not like us? Right? So we'll talk about how to let people that aren't like us politically, socially, culturally, religiously, etc. Just how do we love our neighbor? How do we love our brother? How do we love our enemy?
And it's going to be great. I'm looking forward to that.
Fantastic. Well, again, I would ask people buy the book. It's fantastic book. I'm sure you can get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. Yeah, everywhere books are sold. So well, Keith, thank you for your evening. I, I've enjoyed it very much. So I I could I could probably continue to talk for quite some time. But we'll, we'll end it there. And I'd love to have you back on later if there's if there's something that makes sense. So yeah,
yeah, absolutely. That sounds great, man.
Thank you so much for listening.
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