- Make it easy, man, easy.
One of the worst things you can do if you aspire to create a new Christianity that appeals to your own fancies is to make it more difficult than it has to be. All this talk about taking up your cross and following Christ, this stuff about becoming a living sacrifice, honestly, who ever dreamed of voluntarily sacrificing their own philosophies, desires, time and energy for something that didn’t pay them back handsomely? This first step is really the overall state of mind you need to embrace prior to moving on to the next 6 steps, so please learn this first step thoroughly – make it easy, man, easy.
2. Faith is a state of mind, not a state of being.
Let’s face it, simply believing a set of propositions about God is way easier than letting those beliefs infiltrate your daily life. Take a page out of the ancient Gnostic playbook and learn: see salvation as a matter of obtaining saving knowledge rather than faithful participation in the life which Christ called his followers to live. This will pay off in many ways: first, you don’t need to worry about a communal experience because salvation becomes a wholly individualized and private affair; next, you don’t need to worry about any sacramental church life because you can write them off (the sacraments) as mere illustrative symbols; and lastly, you can throw off the physical world as irrelevant or evil (your choice).
3. Take the doctrine of Sola Scriptura to its extreme logical ends
We cannot stress how important this step is. Without the belief that Scripture alone is capable of giving you a self-guided tour to the throne room of truth you won’t stand a chance in creating your own Christianity. And, it’s really an easy sell. It’s already a doctrine with a longstanding presence in the Protestant movement in general so fear not, there is already wide acceptance. But your task is twofold: first, you must convince yourself that your own mind is free of all cultural filters and presuppositions which would prevent you from perfectly interpreting the words of holy writ, second you must convince yourself that you are wholly directed by the Holy Spirit to “rightly divide” the truth. Don’t be concerned if your Holy Spirit seems to interpret the Scripture different from the other guy’s Holy Spirit. Be convinced that your Holy Spirit is the real one.
4. Redefine faith
This step is a continuation of the first three. The early church understood faith as it was rendered in the Greek: pistis, which denotes an ongoing and developing reality. When applied to salvation faith is the gift of God which one “works out” in their daily life. As the Apostles made clear, faith is a reality in which mind and body are never divorced from one another, “faith without works is dead” (James 2.20). This won’t do for the new and improved Christianity because, as orphans of the Enlightenment, we westerners need certainty; we need eternal security. Better, instead, to make faith something that is accomplished in the mind, and, pertaining to salvation, something that is accomplished at a single moment in time, as in a “sinner’s prayer” or whatever works for you. This way the pressure is off, so-to-speak. One is free to “know they’re saved” while getting on with the life they were already highly invested in prior to “getting saved.” In short, faith need not become something which provokes one to sacrifice those things in their life which they already really, really love.
5. Redefine Grace
This step is a necessary compliment to step 4. Once faith is understood as something that happens strictly in one’s mind grace is then extracted from its ancient faith roots – that of the uncreated presence of God which empowers one to become a disciple of Christ and a partaker of the divine nature – and recasts it as a cosmic “sin blotter outer.” This sort of grace ties up all the loose ends when dealing with sin. Rather than grace being that power which enables us to conquer sin it becomes a “covering” which allows sin to continue on its course without endangering one’s eternal salvation. But the real kicker is that this new rendition of grace allows one to actually denounce any outside intrusion of conscience or conviction of sin as “religious” or “man-made traditions” which have the nefarious intention of stealing away one’s liberties which grace allows.
6. Put the Cherry on Top: the Health and Wealth Gospel
Once all the issues of “living sacrifice” and “carrying the cross” have been effectively dealt with it is important to completely overturn the ancient faith by assimilating it with western fancies to the highest degree possible – make Christianity the highway to endless health and wealth. Of course we mean by this physical health and wealth. The ancient faith was very much oriented towards health and wealth, that is, “eternal” health and wealth, those things which “moths and rust do not destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal.” Childs play! Believe it or not it is possible to so reinvent the gospel that one can not only aspire to be a billionaire but make it the very goal of the Christian life as put forth by Christ Himself (yes, Christ, the One who did not have a place to lay his head). After all, is it not said that he became poor so that we might become rich? Don’t settle for mere eternal riches, to do so is to deny one’s rightful “inheritance” in this life. And, again, don’t be swayed by nay-sayers. Anyone who denies the prosperity gospel simply accuse them of being “Pharisees” (never mind that many Pharisees in the first century were quite wealthy) and practitioners of dead, old-time religion. If they insist that even the Apostles, martyrs and saints all endured those trials which Christ prophesied would come to all who lived godly, simply insist that if these poor men and women had known the truth, which we now know, they would not have suffered such things.
7. Take it to the Streets.
Once you have mastered the first 6 steps you may have the inclination to begin your own “ministry,” and why shouldn’t you? You should know by now that you are amazing, you have unfiltered knowledge of the truth, and you have much to teach others concerning your new Christianity. Plus, there’s the added bonus that you can truly turn the faith into a money making endeavor. No need to continue “sowing your tithes and offerings” into someone else’s new and improved Christian church. It’s your turn! The best way to start your own church is to begin having meetings at your home. Invite as many of your friends from whatever church you currently attend, friends whom you’re pretty sure won’t mind eventually leaving their church and following you. You’ll be up and running in no time.
Good luck, we can’t wait to hear your success story. May the new and improved Jesus bless your new and improved Christianity for years to come (until that fateful day when those who attend your new church leave and start their own new and improved Christianity as a continuation of the new and improved western Christian tradition – schism).