Chris Tse poem: I’m sorry I’m a Christian

A college aged friend of ours, Jordan Burk, sent this to my son and then to me. It’s from a “Poetry Slam” in Vancouver, BC, in December 2009. The young man’s name is Chris Tse and his poem is entitled, “I’m Sorry I’m A Christian.” It’s worth your four minutes whether you are a believer or not.

The primary reason I’m posting this is because a good many older believers are having an hard time understanding what makes younger believers tick. They don’t really understand why young believers are not into door-to-door visitation or “revival meetings.” Chris Tse’s poem reveals what is beating at the heart of many high school and college aged believers. They look at history, including their own context, and just see far too much done in the name of Jesus that seems devoid of His fingerprints. Too much of the movement that Jesus started with His own death and resurrection has been, over time, hijacked by professionalism, modernism, nationalism, fundamentalist certainty and liberal ambiguity. Even when they cannot put words to it they know something is amiss. It’s like they have an intuition that the “weightier matters of the law,” to use Jesus’ words, have been jettisoned for fried chicken, new buildings, culture wars and, take your pick, slick or lousy programming.

Language warning: Tse drops the f-bomb two times during his talk. Do not listen if this offends you.

UPDATE: A follow up to an interview has now been posted here.

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

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  • Robin Odom

    Wow. Such a strong, true, confession on our behalf… You remember that statement in the book of John? “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” This man is so right. How will they know Him, if we don’t love and care for one another and for others?? Social justice? a social gospel? of course!

  • Notice: the following statement is not written by a ‘legalist/fundamentalist,’ but one who is a Christ-follower:

    If Tse is one who rejects Christianity, I can’t ridicule him for dropping the ‘f-bomb’ because a worldly person uses worldly vernacular.

    HOWEVER, if he is a Christian seeking to represent Christ, then he has a serious hypocrisy problem in his own life.

    The very hypocrisy that Tse is ‘poetically'(?) speaking against is the same that he brings to the center-stage by dropping the ‘f-bomb.’

    When Tse, if he is a Christian, gets the ‘f-bomb’ log out of his eye, he may be able to help others get the speck out of their own eyes.

    Is it not a conflicting message to stand in the exit of the abortion clinic, hugging 15 year-old clients, while dropping the ‘f-bomb’ to the ‘fundies’ at the entrance?

    Also,(assuming Tse is a Christian), is it not conflicting to drop the ‘f-bomb’ in the spotlight, amidst a crowded audience, in the name of Christ?

    If Tse is a Christian, should he not heed all the teachings of the New Testament and not just the ones that suits his culture?

    What would Tse have to ‘tse’ (i.e. say) about this NT teaching:
    “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. (Col 3:8).”

    Is not true Christianity seeking to, by faith, adhere to all the teachings of Christ & the Apostles (via the New Testament), and not just the NT teachings that suit the culture?

    Cordially,
    –chadwick, a Christ-follower

    • Marty Duren

      Chadwick-
      I withheld comment until a few other folks chimed in so temperance would be easier. I do appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment (even if you are not in the majority this time).

      Like you, I disprove of swearing. I cannot say I’ve never used profanity after coming to Christ, but I can safely say it isn’t part of my regular vocabulary. I’d also encourage anyone, including Chris Tse, that language can send mixed messages to a watching world.

      Having said that, your argument is weak. You’ve created scenarios that did not exist in the video (“dropping the ‘f-bomb’ to the ‘fundies’ at the entrance”) and assumed things you cannot prove (that he’s a hypocrite and that he holds only to biblical teachings that suit his culture). You have set yourself up as his judge. Do it well since you are usurping God’s authority in your action.

      The essence of fundamentalism is a willingness to look past an entire pasture of truth to reach one cow patty in the back corner and then proclaim to everyone how badly it stinks. This is what you’ve done.

      In our culture, people want to know that WE know things in our camp are screwed up. Seriously screwed up. False prophets like Pat Robertson get a free pass. John Piper says that a tornado is God’s judgment and Mark Driscoll loses his voice. TV evangelists make the rest of us look like a bunch of fools.

      This is not even to mention the hypocrisy we ourselves promote. The next time you walk past a needy drunk on the street and offer no assistance you are living the very same hypocrisy of which you condemn him, but you can take comfort that Tse was wrong for dropping the f-bomb and you called him out.

      If this is offensive to you, it isn’t meant in that spirit.

      • Marty:

        You stated:
        “The essence of fundamentalism is a willingness to look past an entire pasture of truth to reach one cow patty in the back corner and then proclaim to everyone how badly it stinks. This is what you’ve done.”

        What is good for the goose is good for the gander! ;)

        Brother, ‘your argument is weak,’ also. :D
        If someone were to offer you a chocolate chip cookie (or whatever your choice cookie is)and serve it to you. You pick up the cookie, and right when you are about to eat the cookie, the server stops you and says, “Now, Marty, before you eat that chocolate chip cookie, I want you to know that there are a couple of ‘cow patty’ morsels in that cookie.”

        Marty, if you hold true to your logic, you will eat the cookie, ‘cow-patty’ morsels & all for the sake of the ‘majoritarian’ wholesome ingredients. ‘This is what you have done.’

        I believe I’ll refrain from the ‘cow-patty’ logic that you live by. (1 Cor 5:6)

        Cordially,
        –chadwick

        • Marty Duren

          Chadwick-
          You are exactly right. Except that you are talking about eating cookies and I’m talking about spiritual discernment.

          If you handed me a book and said, “This is really good. There are some parts you might not agree with, but you’ll still get a lot out of it.” I would read it eating the meat and spitting out the bones.

          According to what you’ve written here, no one should read or listen to anything with which there is any disagreement. I don’t even know how that would look in real life; I suspect you don’t either. Again, that is fundamentalism pure and simple; disclaim it all you want. The thought processes you reveal here point to it with a neon arrow.

          BTW, I did tell you there were a couple of cow-patty chips in this cookie. You chose to eat it anyway and then complain to the cook.

          James 1:8

        • Sonya D

          Chadwick,
          If this young man had offered up this same poem in a “sanitized” version would you have seen any truth in what he said?

        • Beth

          Chadwick,

          J.I. Packer said, “One can no more live off negative discernment than one can live off disinfectant.” Many fundamentalists live their life on heresy hunts and spend their time actively searching for things they disagree with so they can proclaim to the world how wrong their fellow believers are. They do this under the misnamed notion of “loving the truth.” If these people loved the truth so much, you’d think they’d rejoice and applaud it wherever it appears. Unfortunately, they look right past it and zero in on anything that appears wrong, unorthodox, or heretical in their opinions. That’s not a love of truth, that’s an obsession with lies (at least what they consider to be lies). These people are some of the most unteachable that I’ve ever come across in my life, and they’re the least likely to stand in front of a crowd and admit how wrong they are, which is probably why this video makes people so uncomfortable.

      • Sonya D:

        Absolutely, YES.

        • Sonya D

          So, you admit that his words (other than the two offensive ones) were truth, yet because of these two words, this one man’s very salvation is questioned with your words, “IF (my emphasis) he is a Christian. . .”

          So can he not receive some grace in the thousands of words of truth that he spoke against two words that were offensive to some?

        • tom

          id like to speak on behalf of chris tse and say im sorry man that part of my poem offended you man, thats fair enough. God bless man :)

    • Marty:

      I am far from a narrow-minded fundamentalist that you are trying to portray me as. My library ranges from Richard Dawkins to Rob Bell, with a little Kenneth Copeland in between. I think you are overlooking my main concern to Tse’s poetry.

      As I mentioned in my initial comment, if Tse is a non-believer who is skeptic to Christianity, I have no problem with his dropping of the ‘F-bomb.’

      HOWEVER, if Tse is a Christian, with the intent of promoting Christ, then I do have a problem with his dropping of the ‘F-Bomb’ in his Gospel presentation(?). This behavior is unbecoming of a Christian who is speaking to a crowd for the cause of Christ.

      When any person is using a platform to further the Gospel, the truth should be proclaimed without using profanity (Plain & simple). If that makes me a ‘funnymentalist’, then so be it.

      Cordially,
      –chadwick

      • Marty Duren

        Ok, so that we don’t continually beat this horse…

        I’m not attempting to portray you as a fundamentalist, narrow or wide. I’m saying that, from my view, what you have written has a fundamentalist bent even if unintended.

        Chadwick, all of us, myself included and perhaps especially, fight against this because it’s a fight with pride. The name of Kevin Bussey’s blog, Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee could be an apt name for every believer’s blog. It certainly could mine.

        I did re-read you post. You gave 7 negatives and zero positives. Not even, “That was powerful. So much to consider. It would have been better for me without the f-bombs, but still a lot to think about.” Your approach was, “If he’s a Christian, he shouldn’t have done thus and so.”

        Have you ever taught or preached with deceit or lust or greed or some other sin lurking in your heart? Only if you’ve never taught or preached could you say “no” to that question. What makes us any better just because our sin was on the inside?

        Oh, and I’d take Dawkins over Copeland anyday (for entertainment at least). Talk about your leaven and lumps. In all seriousness, if you like the style of Dawkins but prefer actual substance, check out Terry Eagleton’s latest on the God debate.

        Thanks, bro. I appreciate your interaction and I’ll give you the last word.

      • Alex Rattee

        I often think that if Jesus came to the earth at this time, instead of 2000 years ago and walked with some of the roughest and toughest he may well have sworn, after all swearing is human social concept, its intentions that matter.

        He would have spoken in the vernacular of those he surrounded and it wouldn’t surprise me if he used swears to communicate the passion and seriousness of his message.

        Equally if I was speaking frankly to some of my friends about Jesus love, i would happily let them know that ‘Jesus F****** Loves them’ they need to hear the truth of the message

        Love x

    • Redd

      This man, a gift horse to Christianity, tells you exactly why Christianity is losing ranks to the degree that some will claim a global 8% a year and growing, and you decide to take issue with and whimper about the man saying “f*ck”?

      As though this renders his poem, his argument, invalid?

      You missed the ball completely. Pull your head out of the sand.

    • Jacob bozza

      in your own self righteousness you have completely misunderstood the verse: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”, cant you see by basing your argument around one small part of the poem, a word that is not even intended to be the subject of arguement as you have made it, but a marker for how much he is angered by what christianity is seen as universally.

      Chris Tse does not seek to target all christians with lines acusing us of condemning gays, getting pissed on our weekends, or performing ‘selfless acts’ that are really only intended to lift our name for gratitude-not christs. Instead chris is trying to take a sstep back from all the titles and stereotypes christians have been given over the years, such stereotypes that are quite often true (though not among ALL christians ofcourse), and says sorry for all such titles he has taken on by branding himself as a christian. he is sorry that because of some christians, possibly yourself chadwick, give other christians such a terrible branding once they assume a title of being a christian. He is sorry that we have become associated with titles such as hipocrites and corrupt, when we should be lights on this earth, we should stand out for the right reasons, reasons that are mentioned throughout the NT.

      i am also a christian, and i am sorry to anyone out there who has been affected by someone that corrupts the title i wish to be a shining example of

      jacob

    • ChristizLIFE

      did you even listen to what he was saying or did you only hear the F-bomb? If your ears are that sensitive, then how are you ever going to reach the lost that scream that word at you as you are attemping to speaking life to them? The NT reference you used or abused, does not aply to what he was saying. It was not vulgar in any way. That word has become a filling word that takes the place of anger or disgust or even when one is at a loss for words. You signed at the end of this post Chirst-follower, Brother do you think that Christ did not ever hear that sort of language? Do you think He corrected their language and then ministered to them? I understand the offensiveness of that word, but the greatest offense is that people are dying without Christ. I minister to the lost everyday, and just like Tse said, we are so busy trying to stuff the Gospel down their throat we don’t take the time to learn their culture. It doesn’t mean you have to approve of it, but in order to make an imact we must be tolerant. God bless you

    • wpc

      “Is it not a conflicting message to stand in the exit of the abortion clinic, hugging 15 year-old clients, while dropping the ‘f-bomb’ to the ‘fundies’ at the entrance?”

      No, it is not. It is a condemnation of hypocritical pharisees who do not follow the example of Christ.

      You make such a ridiculous issue about the “f-bomb” you completely miss Tse’s point. I suggest you make yourself listen to his poem a hundred times, until you begin to get his message–then you might get Christ’s message.

    • Michael

      Chadwick –

      I know about the Commandment not to take the Lord’s name in vain, but outside of that, where does this ban of the f-bomb come in the bible? I agree that we have developed a respect for religious beliefs and character that using cuss words appears out of place and even disrespectful, especially when one mis-takes the intent of the questionable word. (Saying f— G–, is different than f-bomb to show emotion) I agree that using such language can and does distract the reader/listener from the message. I wouldn’t and don’t use the f-bomb, mainly because I’m having my first baby next month (Habits and bad model).

      However, I don’t understand the hypocrisy claim when Jesus or Moses (or to be more exact God-to-Moses) never said “Thou shalt not use socially unacceptable language[f-bomb].”

      Outside of context, apologizing for being Christian is worse than, outside of context, using a word that wasn’t even around when Jesus physically was here. Change the f-bomb to a more general description of socially unacceptable language and I still don’t see a ban in Jesus’ time, other than the Lord’s name.

  • Powerful. Thank you for posting this, Marty.

  • Beth

    Chadwick, The warning before the video said that if you’re offended by the F-word, don’t watch the video. If you knew you’d be offended, why did you watch? Leave it to a ‘non fundamentalist/legalist’ to overlook the entire message of the poem and nitpick one part you didn’t like.

  • Chadwick,

    I don’t think he should have dropped the F-Bomb either, but don’t miss what he had to say. When I listen to the entirety of what he’s saying, I have to wonder if Christians did a better job of being Christ-like in the midst of culture, would he feel the need to drop the f-bomb to relate to the lost?

    It doesn’t justify what he did, just maybe explains it a little.

    Jeff Parsons

  • Jacob

    I thought this was a very thought-provoking and introspective look at Christianity. However, I don’t feel that Tse used the f-bomb enough.

  • CJ Burk

    I think it’s sad for Chadwick that he only heard the f-word out of all that young man had to say. As for myself….I couldn’t have spent 20 hours in front of any ordained preacher and learned more…..after listening to him, I now have a grander understanding of why my oldest daughter spent 5 years getting a degree and now makes 900.00 a month working on an Indian Reservation out west helping their youngsters, or that my youngest is having a hard time finding her path in life because of the stereotypes that set the rules and expectations for what life is ‘suppose’ to be instead of where her heart leads her. I am guilty of judging, I am guilty of this daily, maybe even hourly, after listening to Chris and really listening to him, I am taking a good long look at myself and the way I look at others and instead of judging what I see on the outside I’m going to start asking ‘why’ and how can I help……..It’s sad for me to say but at 52, I think I might finally be ‘gettin it’…………Thank you Chris Tse for finally bringing it home!

    • Marty Duren

      CJ-
      Surely, surely you speak about 20 hours in front of some other ordained minister. ;^)

      • CJ Burk

        Marty,
        I went to bed last night thinking about this post. You preached a sermon once on ‘Man law’ the laws that so dictate our Churches’. Not the laws that are specifically in the Bible, but the laws made up in the name of God, laws dispersed to the masses of Christians by the governing men of any religion saying ‘this is what God really meant’ you know like you have to wear a tie and suit jacket and I have to wear a skirt below the knee and panty hose or God will frown on me and you while we worship in his house, or I can’t cut my hair, blah, blah, blah.I wish I had a copy of that sermon, it covered a lot of issues. Of course you didn’t mention this specifically but for the sake of argument, for instance, that ‘word’ that Chris used, it’s a vile word for something beautiful, but it is just a ‘word’ used in many contexts, often to express anger or to add exclamation to the point one is trying to make. I personally can’t use that word, it tastes bad coming out, my word of choice is s#*t, does that make me a bad Christian? Is God going to punish me for using it?
        This young man spoke to me, he brought to the forefront many issues that have made me judge my own children in their decisions in life. I prayed their whole lives that they would be ‘good’ Christians’ be Christ followers, but I have realized that all along I wanted them to be followers like me. I have wanted them to go to church on Sunday, and then go to a good paying job on Monday. I remember telling Jennifer when she was picking her major….you can major in this $$$$…cause it pays well…and minor in social services…cause it pays nothing and what would be the point in that! Well, let me tell you the point…thank GOD my daughter blew off my advice with one statement…”Mom, she said, It’s not all about the money”. You know Marty, none of it is about the money! I can’t tell you how much I miss your sermons…you spoke to me like this young man, and I know that you wanted to use expletives on occasion that would have really brought your message home…but you couldn’t because of the neck-ties and the panty hose…….I miss you….CJ

  • All:

    I DID listen to Tse’s rant. You can ridicule me all you want. However, if you want a true conversation, please feel free to answer my questions. Also, Tse would feel right at home in Rob Bell’s or Brian McLaren’s congregation. You cannot seperate orthopraxy from othodoxy. Throwing the ‘F-bomb’ in the name of Christ is not Christlkeness. Please, charity in all things.

    • Marty Duren

      Ridicule? Please, Chadwick. This is dinner table banter in my house.

      You are in seminary or were, right? If you can’t love with fire in your eyes, I’m sorry.

    • Jordan

      Chadwick,
      I believe the point of this poem to be informative. Regardless of whether or not you disagree with his language, they do bring home yet another point. Poetry is an art form, just like when a songwriter delivers the word “whisper” in a soft, quiet tone or a photographer captures a child merely covered by flesh on film to inform others of his needs, Tse delivers the f-word to convey just another way that we, as Christians, are hypocritical. Christians curse, steal, and judge. We cheat on our spouses, we drink, and we break laws. We smoke, we fight, and we fantasize, but the difference with us is we just see it as something that we can ask for forgiveness later. When our brothers and sister fall, we pick them back up and pat them on the back and simply say just try not to do it again but when someone that has not excepted Christ does the exact same thing, we condemn them and we say what a horrible person they are. But the truth of the matter is, in our eyes, they just don’t have the right excuse. They don’t have the ability to say “it was just a minor bump on my path down the straight and narrow”… in our eyes, they’re just “sinners”. We are all sinners, it’s just that some of us have the ability to wash our sins off and until Christians see that we as a group have majorly screwed up, nothing in the grand scheme of things will ever change the way that the unsaved see us.

  • Bekah

    Dad told me to check this out, Marty, and I’m glad I did and I’m glad you posted it! Love God, love others–our two greatest commands. We, as the body, as the church, really need to get on that!!

    And, just to jump on the F’ing bandwagon ;) Though I can’t think of a grosser word in our language, I feel its use here is appropriate as it further illustrates the stank that we as Christians all too often reek. I think it serves a purpose in further pointing out all of the vile things we do “in the name of God”. I think that all too often, we think we can say or do or get away with anything as long as we attach the name of our Lord to it. It’s a filthy misuse of the Name and a gross misrepresentation of the Father. We need to take Ephesians 4 to heart!

  • brett

    I don’t like poetry. And I really don’t get the whole hippy, coffee-house, intellectual rapping thing.
    BUT, that was dope. I got more out of that than a lot of sermons I’ve sat through (none that you delivered, Marty) or even a week’s worth of “revival.” Hat’s off to that dude for bringing it.

  • brett

    I meant, “hats off…” Bad apostrophe typo there.

  • Steve H

    He had good points, but it is possible to say the right things and STILL be wrong ! See Acts 16:16-18

    Not making ANY judgments, just saying.

    In showing love to others and keeping watch over our own motives, we should be ABOVE this sort of commentary that (I think) is simply used for shock value.

    I would rather you point directly at me and tell me that you think I’m wrong or off-track in some way. But I don’t need the social (or Christian) commentary from Chris Tse to remind me of ALL the ways I fail in my Christian -and human- duty !!

    And judging him for his language (that I find -at least- distasteful) will NEVER relieve me of my responsibilities or redeem my failures. I simply disagree with his choices.

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  • Rick

    Is he really a Christian? Or was the “I am a Christian…I am sorry” thing just the assumption of identity, a literary device to further his monologue? If he really is a Christian, his witness attacking the sins of the saved and excusing the sins of the lost, while perhaps effective in convicting some of our judgmentalism, is pretty much evangelism in reverse, giving unbelievers the kind of ammunition they need to avoid becoming a Christian and remain lost in their sins.

  • Bekah

    I think you make a good point, Rick, about “EV in reverse”. However, I do not look at this poem as “giving ammunition” to nonbelievers because from what I’ve encountered, most already have all of these accusations in their arsenal. Though not all Christians fit all or even just some of those stereotypes, history says we do and though history and stereotypes are not always accurate, I don’t think you’d honestly be able to disagree with most of what he said in regard to our labels and the views of us from nonChristians. I cannot deny that the Crusades and abortion clinic violence and gay bashing and raping, pillaging, murdering, and plundering are all elements of my ancestral past. Though those things aren’t necessarily “me”, it is unfortunately how I am frequently viewed and categorized. It is up to me, you, and all Christians from now on to make sure we rise above and return glory to our God. We cannot erase the past but we CAN do something about our today and our tomorrow..

  • Sonya D

    Rick,
    I’m a little confused by your take on this. So should we continue to sweep our own sins (past and present) under the rug, then continue to evangelize and hope the lost world will ignore the big bump under the floor covering?

    • Rick

      Bekah,
      I agree with you that the lost already have this ammunition against our witness. I just think our profane poet reinforces those misconceptions in a manner that is not “fair and balanced” to borrow a phrase. Is there any truth to his rant? Certainly, but not as much as he would have us believe. He is persuasive with his use of rhyme, rapid speech and informal eloquence, but analyze the content. You indicate that crusades, abortion clinic bombs and gay bashing are not “you.” Guess what? Not me, either. In fact, I know hundreds of Christians, and none of them are like that. I only see that kind on the news. Yes, I agree that we must rise above that kind of behavior. I just think, for the most part, quite honestly, we already have.

      Sonya,
      I don’t want to sweep my sins under the rug, but then again, I’ve never dropped the F-bomb on You Tube. I don’t bash gays, although I am unafraid to declare what God’s Word says about homosexuality. Never bombed an abortion clinic. Never will. Bekah even mentioned the raping, pillaging, murdering and plundering. Not into that either. I don’t think he’s attacking the real Christians I know. I think he’s attacking his false portrayal of us, and perhaps some who claim to be Christians but are truly unsaved. No, I don’t want to sweep our sins under the rug, but neither do I wish to claim as sins of Christians acts which are not.

      I was sincere in my first question. Do we really know anything about the spiritual condition of this young man? He says, “I am a Christian” and then mocks us, quite entertainingly, but is he really a Christian, or is it all part of the act?

      • Bekah

        I agree that many, if not the majority, of modern Christians HAVE risen above. I think a handful of us are doing crazy-amazing things for the lost, for missions, for our communities, and for the Lord. Even cultural Christianity (which would probably more accurately label most Americans who claim the “faith”) is way better than our wayward brothers and sisters of days past. However, since this is not only Tse’s rant but the argument I hear on almost a daily basis from lost friends, from people I meet, and from people who come to protest on my seminary campus, we have NOT done enough, we have NOT risen high enough, and we have NOT transformed ourselves.

        No. We’re not specifically called to be good spokesmodels, but we do bear Christ’s name and the argument that I hear all the time from the aforementioned people is that we do NOT act like the man we claim to follow–Or, maybe enough of us don’t, or maybe enough of us aren’t on the news or making an impact big enough, true enough, pure enough, or Christlike enough to make a difference. And I know it’s gotta be the Spirit that softens hearts and some will never surrender to Him, but we are strictly commanded to love God, love others, and make disciples of all nations. Just saying we’re good Christians on a blog post isn’t enough (*), we must DO something–EVERYTHING–to live Jesus. Perceptions CAN change, but it won’t come from simply abstaining from past mistakes. Take off the old and out on garments of PRAISE! To borrow from LeCrae–“Missions exist because worship doesn’t! People don’t worship the God that made them! …We’re ambassadors!””

        *DISCLAIMER: I’m not directly attacking you here, Mr. Rick, because I don’t know you. I understand that I don’t know the man you are or the work you do or how you serve our Mighty God. I’m not trying in any way to say that you don’t. You claim to be a good man, so I believe you :) I’m just passionate that we as a Church need to be very intentional and active. We need to see through Christ’s eyes. For example: I believe He’d beg the girl not to go through with it outside the doors of the abortion clinic, but I also believe He’d be there to hug her out back. He’s serious about His commands, but the point of the cross was mercy, love, and freedom from sin/freedom to be in communion with God.

        • Sonya D

          What Bekah said! :)

  • I like to believe that I am a Christian, at least, most days. Tse said things that I think all the time, except he had the courage to say them in front of a room of people. Be assured: his words are no mockery — they are every bit a confession.

    I love that he used “f-bombs” in his poetry, because all of the discussion in the comments kind of proves his point, which is mainly this: as Christians, we’re really, really good at missing Jesus’ point.

    I’ll leave with this verse which I think illustrates what’s happening here:

    Matthew 23:23-24
    Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

    Tse’s heart is wrestling with the weightier matters of the law, and for that, I thank him.

  • Jen

    Rick:
    “Yes, I agree that we must rise above that kind of behavior. I just think, for the most part, quite honestly, we already have.”
    If this were true, it seems to me that there would be much more selfless little Christs, in truth, laying down their lives for the sake of the gospel, and much more of an impact made on the world today. Not to say there is raping and pillaging happening (also not to say that there isn’t; I won’t be naive), but Christians are not innocent (there’s a difference between innocence and forgiveness).

    Though, don’t let this one disagreement distract us. I believe mankind is notorious for setting aside the important for the sake of the trivial.

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  • Rick

    Friends,

    I don’t know much about the Vancouver Poetry Slam at which Chris won first place for this poem last December. I did read this word of encouragement to Chris on another site: “Keep writing and going after God Chris!” At least one atheist seems to claim Chris on their side.

    Christians tend to interpret the poem as a stirring rebuke of our own self-righteousness. If I knew Chris was a Christian, I might share that view as well. But consider the audience. If Chris is really trying to hold Christians accountable, why not share his address at some faith gathering among fellow believers? To present these ideas before a secular crowd laughing and cheering for him to “go after God” truly makes me question the poem’s purpose.

    Looking at the poem strictly from a literary analysis viewpoint, isn’t it possible that he has assumed the identity of a Christian in order to speak in the first person about the alleged abuses of Christianity in society? If Chris is unsaved, this is not the confession and repentance of one who wants to do better, but it is indeed the mockery of a Christian caricature and an attack against a group to which Chris does not belong. If such is the case, who is really the self-righteous and intolerant one judging others?

    Believing I may have been misunderstood, let me share a humble word of confession and clarification. I have sin in my life. I fall short. I need to be a better witness for Christ. I need to repent of many things. My critique of the poem’s purpose and thesis is not due to some kind of self-righteous defensive posture. I’m just really not sure we’re reading Chris properly here, and I think it all has to do with whether he is a Christian. Is this a prophet within the community of faith calling God’s people to live holier lives or is he a scoffer creatively “going after God?”

    • dawgj

      I believe that he is sharing this among non-believers BECAUSE he wants them to realize that the hypocrisy among Christians is due to every human being’s sinful nature. He states that God looks down on us and is SAD, because that is not the way Christianity is supposed to be. Jesus Christ is holy, but we, as Christians, are far from it. Thus, he takes this time to apologize to non-believers for the negative images Christians have painted for themselves over the centuries. Perhaps then, non-believers who don’t believe due to the hypocritical Christians they have encountered will come to the realization that Christians, like everyone else, are imperfect, and thus, are bound to make mistakes. Instead, Chris’ apology may have planted a little seed in their hearts, allowing them to come to the realization that Jesus is the only one pure and without fault.

      The F bombs are dropped because poetry is a form of art, which portrays emotions. He swore as a means of expressing his emotions, which was wrong. However, if you read the follow up interview he did regarding this poem, you will see that he knows foul language is one of his downfalls, and it only slipped out of his mouth due to the flurry of emotions he was in at the time. He made a mistake, but if you are to judge his faith based on one little mistake in the grand scheme of things, then you are being the hypocritical Christian he talks about. Let whoever is without sin cast the first stone.

      I give him props for having the guts to share this in front of non-believers.

  • Pingback: ‘I’m Sorry I’m A Christian’ (Are you?) « BaptistPlanet()

  • Eric

    “I’m sorry for…. judging your spiritual health by the words that you say” What a cop-out to disregard a message because of swear words. I bet if he hadn’t said “f*ck” then Chadwick would have found another reason to downplay Tse and his message . Chadwick, take whatever actions necessary to protect your particular Christian perspective and invalidate another because we all know that you were the first to cast a stone.

    Jesus was killed for flying in the face of societal norms, so it’s easy to see why Christians (and everyone) fail to do what is right. Doing what is easy and what is right is seldom the same. Tse’s poem shows a disconnect though between a “Christian” society and Christ’s teachings. The size of our military shows the size of our nation’s fear. Where fear is present, faith is absent.

    If Tse isn’t a Christian, he still shows a greater grasp of Jesus’ teachings than most Christians. I believe he is a Christian and feels ashamed for how Christian hypocrisy tarnishes the Christian brand. There is hypocrisy in any society though, so a Muslim could make a similar poem, for example.

    We can all agree that we can do better, so let’s not argue or worry about how someone else does better. Let’s just do the best we can, accept that we’ll still f*ck up and then get back to doing the best we can.

  • JimBob

    I think he comes across like a fool. Rather than apologizing for what the church has done, he should be applauding it. Just another liberal smuck who doesn’t even know what it means to be a Christian.

    • 123

      Then please tell me what it means to be a Christian.

      • Vision Sun

        To live life according to the Word of the Lord, with an educated mind. Too long has the Word been distorted and manipulated by Man.

        What is not, is preaching the word on public corners, force feeding the Word to by passers who refuse the Word even more. It should not be about what is said, but about what is done. Hypocrites have made a mockery of religion, period.

    • Jim

      JimBob

      Jesus didn’t have anything to say about people who appear “like a fool”. He only had words of warning for those of us tempted call someone a fool.

      Matthew 5:22

  • Pingback: Poet Chris Tse, author of 'I'm Sorry I'm a Christian,' interviewed at patheos.com | martyduren.com()

  • Anon

    I know I’m coming to the party a bit late, but I feel I have to contribute.

    I know Chris personally; he was a close friend of my sister’s throughout their teens, and I can say this in his defence: first of all, for those who doubt his religious tendencies, he is a Christian, and he’s probably the purest Christian anyone can be, having grown up in this day and age. He’s kind and empathetic, and he has the unique ability of noticing the little details while looking at the big picture. He’s a huge advocate of world peace. He’s involved in more volunteer groups than most of you have probably ever heard of.

    And despite all this, just because he swears twice in a three minute video, you doubt his dedication to Christianity? First off, try listening contextually. He’s not swearing for his own benefit–he’s not even up there talking for his own benefit. He’s there to spread a message. He’s swearing because people have said things like this before, but for some reason, it’s not driving home anymore. He’s swearing to make you listen, and clearly it’s working. Chew on that for a bit.

    • Marty Duren

      Thanks, Anon. We accept late party comers around here ;^)

  • Jim

    Really striking piece. Whether this young man is a Christian addressing his peers or a nonChristian addressing Christians, he obviously has a deep personal connection to this apology.

    I think trying to judge this youthful poetry on it’s artistic or moral merits is a wasted effort. Those of us who are a little older, a little more judgmental, a little stuck in our ways, should see this as a powerful appeal from a sincere voice in the younger generation.

    I’d like to challenge us to listen and learn. Really listen; and learn something about ourselves from someone else’s viewpoint.

    • Marty Duren

      Jim-
      Thanks for stopping by.

  • Marc Haney

    These words make me wonder if Chris Tse has actually come to know Christ or if he stopped short, progressing no closer than presenting an indictment of the atrocious acts that have been committed in the name of Christ only; acts that anyone with the most *elemental understanding of the kingdom of God would not mistake as being sanctioned by the Sovereign of the Universe. (*elemental as in childlike, becoming as a child to enter)

    There are two groups of people mentioned in the New Testament that have been brought to my mind now. In Matthew 7:20-21 Jesus says “So then you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord. Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”

    After describing lives that had been lived in faith by Christians who experienced mockings and scourgings, chains and imprisonments, stonings, being sawn in two, put to death by the sword, and on and on, Hebrews 11 describes these as “men of whom the world was not worthy.” Nothing about any of them ever apologizing for being a Christian. They laid down their lives for the faith.

    As far as Chris Tse’s word choice goes, shock value is highly overrated- he’ll grow up.

  • tom

    Love God and love one another.

  • Katie

    I’ve met Chris twice.
    Once when he was the MC at a local poetry slam I performed in.
    Once when he was leading a Christian workshop that I was attending.
    He’s a Christian, and he’s a good Christian. He’s saying what many have thought, and he has every right to say it.
    Being a Christian out there in the community, speaking out, when there are so many stereotypes associated with it… that’s hard.
    What he’s saying here is brave, and I think he really believes it.
    And as for the person in the comments who was complaining about this earlier…
    The f-bomb isn’t taking the Lord’s name in vain. Yes, it’s swearing, but it’s not against God, it’s just one of those body-related words which people in Western society seem to hate on.

    • JJA

      Here is the bottom line for all of us… when Jesus comes to my name in the judgment, He is not going to look at the record of someone else, He will look at mine and His question of me will be, have YOU demonstrated your love for Me by doing as I have commanded you. When we look at others to justify our own actions, we have taken our eyes of Saviour. When we presume to represent Him in our strength, we are doomed to fail. It is through the power of Him living in us via His Spirit that we are able to glorify His name – old or young – rich or poor – fundamentalist or liberal. His will shall be accomplished. He will come. His work will be finished. Where will YOU stand when He reviews your life record?

  • JJA

    One other comment…The church, with all of its faults and flaws, is still “God’s woman.” In my own long relationship with Christ if there is one thing that I have learned, is that most men really don’t like you talking about “their woman.” The church, as God’s representative of Him here on this earth – with all of its flaws, has been assigned a job to do…reveal the gospel to the world. This will take different forms by different people -races, ages, etc. but it will be done. Jesus will come and He will not keep silent. Can we take the focus off US and put Jesus as the center? Be careful how you talk about “Christians” and the church- remember that this is the method that Jesus Himself put in place and ordained a specific work to reveal Him to the world. Be blessed as He is not only Saviour but Lord of your life as well.