Friday 3 December 2004

No Longer A Christian - Parts 1 & 2 (Karen H. Cobb essays)

On October 25, I read a remarkable essay by Karen H. Cobb entitled "No Longer a Christian", published online at Here we have an excellent example of how being very clear about who Jesus is can generate some very interesting interfaith dialogue with Muslims, but at the risk of intense opposition from certain types of Christians! Her article apparently hit a real spiritual nerve in the soul of our nation, as well as other parts of the world, judging from the intensity and varieties of responses it generated.

After I read her initial essay I alerted some friends and added this comment: I would be mighty pleased to have Karen come to our congregation and preach this next Sunday, in spite of her provocative title! Karen apparently grew up in a Mennonite family near Leetonia and Columbiana, Ohio (a faith background I share with her) -- I had done a Google search to figure this out. She is now Karen Horst Cobb, a freelance writer and artist in Santa Fe, NM who can be contacted at -- and I hope many of us do!
I did contact her later on via e-mail, and appreciated her personal response, confirming what I'd already ascertained.
Now on Tuesday, Nov. 30, she follows up with another remarkable article: "No Longer a Christian - Part II"

It begins this way...
For over a month my inbox has been filled with responses to my original article "No Longer a Christian." The total of emails is well over 2550. I have read them all and have responded to those with questions, or who wanted permission to reprint. The article has become part of some college curricula in the US and in Europe. It has been taped to refrigerators, copied and saved to give to grandchildren, sent to right wing relatives, placed on car windshields, posted on numerous sites, discussed in blogs, and read and preached from pulpits. The backlash is also evident. I've been called a communist, a Marxist, a humanist, and a baby killer. I have been accused as one who has never attended church, never was born again, has no knowledge of the Bible, is naive, idealistic, immature and hateful. The most amazing of all was the person who responded saying that the leaders of his denomination say that Karen Horst Cobb does not exist and is merely an urban legend. Imagine my surprise!

The majority view my words in the spirit they were written, (a mixture of "love and sorrow"), and then others reading the same words reference my "hate filled rhetoric and judgmental attitude." The condition of the heart interprets what we see and hear. This is why the scriptures say "Those who have ears to hear let them hear. " We are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities, and spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). The majority of the responses were words of gratitude for having expressed what they had wanted to say or have been saying. There were also those who supported much of what I said but had specific questions concerning war. The article appeared on some Muslim websites and Muslims in the US, the Middle East and other countries commended me for speaking peace and recognized the creator in my words. The last category of responses is something that can only be identified as christian hate mail.

I am humbled beyond comparison and honored to give voice to the heartfelt cries of at over 2500 people who responded positively to the message I gave. There is a great movement that is forming behind the scenes, and the results can be a resurrection of the simple message of Christ that extends to all people. We can live and speak the message of love. We can proclaim publicly the morality of social justice, thoughtful environmental practices, racial equality, and economic justice. One cannot be a Christian and worship mammon and the sword.

It is Christ's grace that allows us to extend that grace to others as humble servants. Jesus explained that where two or more agree, our humble prayers will be answered (Matt. 18:19) Many of us are in agreement concerning the misuse of Christ's message in the world today. As we simply make our request to him we can know that our prayers are heard if they are with the sincerity of a child. It is the heart of the child who holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matt: 18:2)


My friends, there's more...a lot you've just got to read "the rest of the story" for yourselves. Its a fascinating account about how Part I was received and how the responses it generated were experienced by Karen -- every bit as profound as Part I, probably more so:

I would be interested in reading YOUR responses, as well.

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