(Although I am rebranding my blog, due to the overwhelmingly positive response to this article, I will leave it up on the blog as it was published in April 2015).
I am not here to endorse Marco Rubio. I am not here to drag the Huffington Post or journalist Bruce Wilson through the mud. I won’t be getting into Wilson’s previous articles. It’s irrelevant what his personal beliefs are because I’m not here to talk about him, nor am I here to talk about Rubio.
I’m here to talk about Jesus Christ. I’m here to talk about Christ Fellowship.
For those who don’t know, Huffington Post writer Bruce Wilson recently published an article titled “Marco Rubio’s Miami Church: Exorcisms, Creationism, Anti-Gay Policies“. While it’s expected for those opposing Rubio to start digging into his past to uncover what they can, I couldn’t quite let this article go without a response.
Why? Because I attend Christ Fellowship. I’ve attended since 2011 and I can say, with 100% certainty, that this article is a result of a gross misunderstanding of both the church and Christianity as a whole.
Allow me to explain.
Wilson has four main points he makes throughout the article. They can be best summed up as the following:
- Marco Rubio is a flip-flop Christian who has switched ideologies and doesn’t know what he believes in.
- Christ Fellowship is anti-homosexual.
- Christ Fellowship promotes demonology & exorcism.
- Christ Fellowship believes in Young Earth creationism and in the denial of evolution.
Let me state this first: I am NOT a representative of Christ Fellowship, nor do I attempt to speak as one. Rather, I speak as a Christian who attends Christ Fellowship every weekend, attends small group (bible study) there, and was baptized there in 2012.
That said, let’s get into why I must fervently disagree with the article written about Rubio.
1- Marco Rubio is a flip-flop Christian who has switched ideologies and doesn’t know what he believes in.
Again, I will state that I am not, in any way, endorsing Marco Rubio. I don’t know him or his family, so there is little I can say about him to begin with (on a personal level). However, I must clear up a misconception that was demonstrated in the article written by Wilson.
Nobody starts their walk with God knowing everything there is to know about God.
It doesn’t matter if you were raised in the church or outside of it. My own personal story has me experimenting with a wide variety of religions throughout my entire life. I called myself “Christian”, but I wasn’t really changed by the Gospel of Jesus until 2010 (where I have remained ever since). And even so, I’ve changed a lot since 2010. God has matured me in areas that were immature, strengthened me in areas that were weak, and revealed to me theological terms and concepts I had never heard of my entire life prior to really being changed by Christ. Even being raised in a “religious home”, I had collected a string of misconceptions about God that, upon further review, I found to be false.
People grow. People learn. People change.
It’s not a bad thing that Rubio was looking for God. I applaud it, actually. I’m glad he was seeking information, even if I don’t agree with the Church of Latter Day Saints or even with tenets of Catholicism. Any Christian that claims to be perfect, and claims to know it all, isn’t just lying to others but also lying to themselves. It’s impossible to know everything there is to know about God. We have God’s word (the Bible) which teaches us about God, but there is no way to know every little thing about Him, or to even fully understand that which we do know (like the trilogy).
Now, let me get into the more in-depth points: more specifically, the ones about Christ Fellowship.
2- Christ Fellowship is anti-homosexual.
I feel a big chunk of information is missing here that is vital to the point Wilson tries to make in his article. We’re not so much “anti-homosexual” as we are “anti-sin”…and it’s certainly not what Wilson makes it seem like.
While a Biblical understanding of the Bible is that homosexuality is, indeed, a sin, we must realize that common place things like divorce (absent of sexual immorality or abandonment), getting drunk, lying, gossiping, and stealing are also sins. Things we wouldn’t consider to be a big deal (like a little white lie) are still sins (and are a big deal to God). I’ve never been employed by Christ Fellowship, so I can’t really speak on behalf of the wording of the employment contract, but as a whole, I would imagine (and rightfully so) that they don’t wish their employees to be habitually engaged in ANY type of sin, no matter what form it is. I mean really, would ANY company want their employees addicted to anything? I would imagine the answer is “no”.
Keeping that in mind, Christ Fellowship welcomes any and all to their campuses. It holds back Christ’s love from NO ONE, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, height, weight, race, ethnicity, etc. Why? Because there is a general understanding that NO ONE was born “perfect”. We have no right to act like we are better than any one else because, before Christ, we were just as guilty of our sins as a homosexual, a liar, a drunkard, a cheater, a thief, etc. And if a Christian does act “holier than thou”, I personally would question their very salvation.
Jesus can deliver someone from homosexual desires (just like He delivers people from any other type of sin), but the point of Christianity isn’t just to “correct all the gays”. That’s a huge misunderstanding and couldn’t be further from the truth. Those Westboro Baptist people (the ones that picket soldier funerals) don’t know my Jesus (the Jesus of the Bible, that is). The goal isn’t to “keep America Christian”, despite popular belief. At the end of the day, the goal is to introduce others to Jesus Christ. To spread the Gospel, which is the message that we are dead in our sins, but that Jesus died a horrific death to pay the price and, if we believe in Him, we can have eternal life. It is also to love like Christ did (which is part of spreading the Gospel). The words CHRISTIAN and LOVE should, ideally, go together. If that hasn’t been your experience, reader, then I’m sorry to say the Christians you know haven’t quite met Jesus Christ yet.
So while Christ Fellowship may preach that homosexuality is a sin, it also preaches that it is no greater sin than any other sin in the Bible and those who practice it deserve the same love we would give to anyone else, Christian or not. The church is NOT “anti-homosexual”.
3- Christ Fellowship promotes demonology & exorcism.
The funny thing about the sermon Wilson references is that I was in the audience when Pastor Rick Blackwood preached it. I have always remembered it for the anecdote Blackwood mentions towards the end, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
The Bible mentions the existence of demons. Period. I’m not an expert on demonology, but suffice it to say that they do, indeed, exist, if we are to assume that the Word of God is true. They did during Biblical times and they still do, though it’s not quite like the movies and TV shows portray it. Ironically, while Wilson tries to make it seem like Blackwood is encouraging exorcisms, in that very same sermon, Pastor Rick specifically says the following:
“Folks, do not miss what I am about to say. The answer to demons is not some spooky exorcism. The answer to demons is not some weird, bizarre ritual like throwing holy water or whatever. The answer to demons is not that kind of thing. You should never try to talk to demons. You talk to God. The power that drives demons out of people is the presence of Jesus. In other words, demon-controlled people do not need an exorcist. They don’t need you and me to go around shouting at demons to come out of people. The power that drives out demons is the presence of Christ. All we need to do is put Jesus into that person and the demons go away. In other words, people just need to open their heart and let Jesus inside, because when Christ comes inside, His presence drives out the demons.“
He specifically says he’s not encouraging exorcism or anything of that sort. The anecdote about the man he crossed paths with involved no such exorcism. Rather, Blackwood is saying something similar to what I mentioned in point number two (that our goal as Christians is to introduce people to Jesus Christ). Wilson must have misjudged Christ Fellowship because it, clearly, does NOT promote exorcism. On the subject of demonology, simply put, any Bible believing church will believe angels and demons exist: that’s just taking God’s word as truth (which I do).
4- Christ Fellowship believes in Young Earth creationism and in the denial of evolution.
I’m not a science buff, nor am I very articulate when it comes to such things, so I will let experts explain these more so, but believing in Creationism and the “Young Earth” theory really aren’t all that scandalous. In fact, many Bible believing churches believe in the same. Scientists with no religious affiliation also believe in such theories.
If you’d like more information, please see the links below. While these websites are not, in any way, affiliated with Christ Fellowship, they can provide a better explanation than I can as to why a Christian (or anyone, for that matter), would believe in the aforementioned theories. I encourage you to read the following articles, no matter what your personal beliefs are, but for the record, Christians don’t hate science. If anything, science backs up God more than it disproves Him.
- Is there any evidence for the Bible’s view of a young earth?
- How does radiometric dating fit with the view of a young earth?
- How does the geologic timescale fit with the view of a young earth?
- What does the Bible say about Creation vs. evolution?
- What are some flaws in the theory of evolution?
I would also encourage you to watch this video where Pastor Louie Giglio, of Passion City Church in Atlanta, talks about Laminin and demonstrates just how close God and science really are.
Or, if you’d like to hear Pastor Rick’s actual words on the subject, you can check out this sermon and any sermon in the “I Wish I Knew What To Believe” series.
Mahatma Gandhi is famously quoted as saying “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ”.
If this has been your experience with Christianity, then I’d like to apologize. Many people walk around today claiming to know Christ when they have no business doing so. They know lies told about Him. They know cult-like versions of Him (insert Westboro Baptist here). They’ve heard watered down versions of Jesus that lack any kind of life-changing power. Many of heard OF Him, but few actually KNOW Him.
I know Him.
I don’t know all there is to know about Jesus (that’s impossible to know), but I know Him. I went 19 years of my life thinking I was “saved from hell” because I intellectually acknowledged that a guy named Jesus died on a cross. I wasn’t. The point isn’t “avoiding hell”. That’s not why I tell people about Jesus.
I tell people about Jesus because when He impacts your life, when He truly comes into it, you feel REAL love for the first time. You feel COMPLETE. And because you’ve met a God who’s very nature is love, you spread love to others. You were made to worship Him. And you were made to love Him and be loved by Him.
I’ve heard pastors use this illustration before: Imagine eating a delicious meal at a restaurant. It’s not life changing, but you certainly took notice. You’re quick to recommend it, aren’t you? I mean, you want others to experience what you have, don’t you?
THAT is why I preach Christ. He changed MY life. I can not speak for anyone else (because I am not them), but I can certainly speak for myself. I was dead and lost without Jesus. In Him, I am alive and loved. It is a love you can not compare to anything else. It is a love that will change your life.
Christ Fellowship believes in that love. It is why it emphasizes “connecting to the world”, that is, community involvement within the city of Miami as well as outside of it. It’s why we are constantly sending missionaries to other countries, building homes for those rescued from sexual slavery, partnering with other churches and organizations to reach people in need, and more. It is why we even have a week called “Love Miami Week” where groups from all campuses serve the city of Miami in any which way we are allowed to. Rick Blackwood doesn’t want the glory. Please, don’t praise Rick Blackwood. Christ Fellowship doesn’t want the glory either. Don’t sit here and say how wonderful Christ Fellowship is for all it’s doing.
Rick Blackwood is nobody without Christ. Christ Fellowship is nobody without Christ. I, Christina Arteaga, am nobody without Christ.
Christ Fellowship is not an anti-homosexual, demon exorcising and scientifically naive church. It’s a church that wants to impact the city of Miami with the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it brings life to all those who believe in it…and you’d be hard pressed to argue against that fact.
Disclaimer: This article is not a political endorsement.