Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Born and Raised in the Christian Faith?
In the meta of my last post about Willie Nelson's marijuana offering to Jesus, a commenter expressed her outrage at my comments, and accused me of not doing my research before popping off a post. Here's a clip of what she said:
Willie Nelson has a strong faith. He was raised in the Christian faith by his grandparents in Abbott, Texas, and attended the Methodist church there. When he was younger, he taught church school. His first performance was at the church. He has recorded several acclaimed gospel albums. Two years ago, he purchased the Methodist Church in Abbott, to prevent it being sold, so that it could continue to hold church services.
So Willie has a strong faith. Faith in precisely what isn't specified, although the subsequent comments imply it's a Christian faith. That doesn't jive with the things I've seen and read over the years. More recently, I came across an item which documents Nelson's own comments on the subject. Take a look at this commentary by Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. While I've linked the entire article, I'll excerpt a comment here . . .
In a recently released book, Texas outlaw songwriter Willie Nelson says quite a bit about his rejection of the Christianity he once professed. Nelson was, for a time, a student at Baylor University and a member of a Southern Baptist church. Years of dissipation have left him far from those Baptist church pews. Now he holds to a pantheistic form of paganism, embracing everything from pop-Taoism to psychic powers to reincarnation. It is clear, however, that he’s rebelling against something, which is why it seems to delight him to talk about smoking marijuana in Jimmy Carter’s White House or lighting up a joint in the presence of Ann Richards, then the goveror of Texas. The tensions between Nelson’s longing for the Christians in his past and his longing to be “on the road again” are everywhere in his music. He is, after all, the man who sings both “Family Bible” and “Whiskey River.”
Aside from this commentary which clips from Nelson's book, I've seen other things through the years that have shown me that the singer is hardly an orthodox Christian.
This whole subject is very sad to me -- aside from Nelson's theological and spiritual deterioration. My real target for this post is actually something that is pretty widespread within a lot of churches. I'm talking about the erroneous, ignorant idea that because someone grew up attending a church -- be it Methodist, Baptist, or any other denomination -- and has done good works here and there, that makes them a genuine, regenerate, born-again, biblical Christian. That is not the genuine message of Christianity. That is not the Gospel. That is not the clear message of God's Word, the Bible.
For my errant commenter's sake, I hope she and others do a little research of their own on what the founder of Methodism would have to say about such an idea, Willie Nelson's theological beliefs aside. Both Charles and John Wesley would take issue with the idea that just attending a church or buying a building for a church earns you a spot in heaven.
All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. We can be saved only by saving faith in Jesus Christ and His shed blood on the cross for our sins. We are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and rose again from the dead for our justification. Once we are saved, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live a godly life. Someone who is truly saved will obey God's Word out of love for God. Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep my commandments." (John 15:15). Someone who loves God and is a true Christian is not going to mock the God who saved him, and is not going to ignore or denegrate His Word. Period.
This doesn't just apply to Willie Nelson. It applies to everyone.