Is Christianity a lemon?

Is Christianity a lemon?

November 16, 2017

Is Christianity a lemon?


Ted Burnett

The Christian is not a good man. He is a vile wrench who has been saved by the grace of God.
– Martyn Lloyd Jones (1899-1981)
A Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor.

This week, I read the above quote while scrolling through Facebook. It had been posted by a friend who went on to make the same claim about his own life. I looked to see who was credited with the quote and based on the dark graphics I assumed it was said by a dangerous man. How wrong I was? When I “Googled” the quote I discovered the name of “Rev. Martyn Lloyd Jones”. I don’t know if this attitude is still relevant and/or widespread in Christianity, today. If so, I couldn’t disagree more with my friend or this minister on how they see themselves. I see a lot of grandiosity and false pride in these types of statements. Personally, I didn’t relate to the quote and more importantly, I don’t believe this view is what Christianity is all about. If Jesus is the greatest philosopher there ever was then quotes like this can’t be a reflection of him or The Gospel.

To all those sitting in prison who’ve committed heinous crimes like rape and murder they might have already come to experience this spiritual transformation. I could see where the quote might fit the few, but not among the masses, not for my friend. After all, “John” is a responsible husband and the father of five children who works for a local marketing firm. He’s harmless in the scheme of things. Yea, he may have broken a few of the Ten Commandments, but not all of them, at once. Who hasn’t?

Between Rev. Martyn Lloyd Jones quote and John’s claim, I instantly came to see religion or, at least, Christianity in a new pathetic light that I had never seen before in my previous 28 years since leaving the Catholic Church. It might explain why I found spirituality so refreshing, at the age of 18, when I joined AA. I have long known that when it came to dealing with personal and family problems, neither, Catholicism nor the Southern Baptist proved helpful. Both served as drugs keeping their followers in deep denial to the passing of life.

On my spiritual journey establishing a personal relationship with God became more important than one with Jesus, which seemed to be an obsession among Christians who always want to know whether you’ve “found Jesus” or whether you’ve been “Saved by Jesus”. I came up in the Catholic Church during the 1970’s and 80’s. As a Catholic, I never once felt good about myself. I felt a lot of shame that I never once talked about.

Catholic schools crushed my spirit and I suffered from a lack of self-esteem and self-worth. Ultimately, I didn’t like who I was. I was always beating myself up about anything and everything that went wrong, from the slightest mistake to something big. I was so sensitive to the criticism of others and, more importantly, to my own. Nobody could say anything more critical of me that I didn’t already think of myself. My skin burned each and every time with the comments of others and my own recurring thoughts. Too many times, I took myself way too seriously when I should have just laughed it off.

Redemption came slowly with trial and error. Through spirituality and growing up slowly, I came to kick those bad habits and I even learned how to become “the butt of a joke”. Honesty, the truth, transparency, integrity, dignity, follow-through, commitment and discipline replaced excuses, hypocrisy and phoniness. Either, Christ’s philosophy is expressed by the former or the latter, but it can’t both.

My discovery of spirituality through facing reality and forming a relationship with God, as I understood Him came after a four year drinking binge where I could’ve gotten myself and others hurt or even killed while drinking and driving. Someone was looking out for me when I wasn’t. God! On March 26, 1989, I walked into my first AA meeting; this group of teenagers and college students rented a room in the back of a prominent Presbyterian Church. I’ve never once looked back on that decision to get sober and to start attending AA while dropping out of the Catholic Church with regret. In fact, it was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made in my life and I’m not alone in that belief.

Through my attendance in AA (22 years) and working the 12 Step program, I was able to work through issues from my past that I had long regretted or where I couldn’t forgive myself or others. Rather than pass the buck and blame others for my self-made problems, I began taking responsibility for my actions. A lot of weight in the form guilt, fear, procrastination and shame began to slowly roll off my shoulders. Getting honest took years and is still a daily effort. Years of bad history began to be replaced with good history changing how I saw myself and how I felt about myself. I had hoped the failures experienced in school would finally come to an end with my graduation from college. It didn’t. It would take another 13 years before I got my first taste of success with writing (36).

Instead, I was in for many more years of failure and hard times. It required me to become more disciplined in many areas of my life. Suffering from a lack of skills, talents and vision, I experienced a lot of down time and boredom while the careers of others seemed to be taking off. All I could do was watch in frustration. The one thing that kept me motivated was that I knew that I had never tasted any real success as a student or as an athlete. Instead, I became an expert learning how to work through hard times, how to confront others and solve complex problems while growing wise. Had God told me at 21 what I was in for over the next 15 years, I would have most likely checked out of this world?

You might think getting married at the age of 32 would be a nice turning point in one’s life, but it wasn’t. I had been sober for 13 years by the time I stood at the altar and took my vows. I went through my wedding weekend sober as a clock. It proved to be too much for me to handle given my career struggles at that moment along with being at the center of attention it caused some part of my mind to snap. I had a nervous breakdown before my rehearsal dinner. I went manic for the first time. I was aware that something had happened and I even sought out my mother to discuss the strange sensation that I was now experiencing.

The turning point came after my first hospitalization, two months later. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by a psychiatrist before being discharged. It would take another year and more hospitalizations before I came to believe in that doctor. Upon returning to work as an insurance producer, I started writing political essays. I went over to a friend’s office where I was always welcome and I read them aloud in front of Billy and whoever else was visiting him in his office. He was a very supportive man. I guess he was my first “fan”. After producing three or four essays and sensing some neurological change, I decided to take an IQ test on my computer. I scored a 142; it was up from 100 in elementary school. I held on to this new information when everyone else now saw me at mentally ill.

Beginning in 2007, I started writing full-time, I was 36 and divorced. I would finally start to taste the success that had long escaped me. Over the next 10 years, I would go on to produce over 170 essays and sharing them with 18,000 contacts while getting showered with praise. I’ve been a big believer in growing up, in having a personal transformation as a result of dropping old ideas that no longer served me for newer, healthier ideas that did. My world grew from a small prominent zip code in my hometown to encompassing the whole world with all its inhabitants and the heavens above.

The compass of my ship had always been spinning out of control for the past thirty years. It finally started to orient itself towards True North and I could finally feel it. While I don’t claim to have my life completely figured out, I have found great peace in spite of not knowing what stands between me and my last days because I learned to live one day at a time.

I assume I will figure out the rest of my life as it comes to me and I will know when and how to take appropriate action. In AA, there are many sayings. One of my favorite ones is to, “Stick with the winners!” The winners being those individuals who really work AA’s 12 Steps to the best of their ability and it shows in their actions and in their words. It’s what separates those of us in “recover” from the “dry drunks” attending meetings. You could apply this same concept to most people attending church on Sundays. The winners learn to take responsibility for their actions and the quality of their lives starts to improve while the dry drunks and like most people attending church continue to do the same insane things while blaming their problems on other people (dead or alive) and having no faith in God.

The fear of failure, the fear of embarrassment and procrastination drove much of my decision making process in my young life. With school, I was always holding on by the tips of my fingers. I have never put “school” and “easy” in the same sentence. It was always difficult. Any activity or task that I couldn’t solve on my first pass, I usually put down for another day and that included my summer reading. I was full of good intentions to jump on that assignment early, but with each passing day I thought about what else I could do with my time. Boredom often triumphed over working on a task. By the time that August rolled around, I was still no closer to finishing the book and writing my report. The night before school started, my mother and I could always be found at Kmart filling out my school supply list right before closing. I was always late.

In growing up as an adult and finally having success as a writer, excellence became my standard. Looking back at my childhood and adolescents, I was miserable. Catholicism as a way to live life was a complete failure.

In getting back to my friend’s post, I asked him what percent of the time did his car crank on the first time and get him to his destination. He didn’t answer, but I did. I would say my Honda Civic starts and gets me where I need to go 99% of the time and it’s an old car. I then asked him a football question. Head Coach Nick Saban has a winning percent at The University of Alabama of 90%. Given that, what are the odds of Coach Saban and Alabama beating Auburn in this year’s Iron Bowl?

If Jesus is the measuring stick for perfection then following his principles should give you a high reliability of living life just like he did, but instead Christianity seems to be made up of a bunch of fearful losers who make a lot of excuses while always saying, “They aren’t perfect!” They seem to be hypocrites who know nothing about growing up and taking responsibility for their actions. Does Christianity run like a Lexus or more like a lemon?

Is Christianity broken as written or as preached and practiced?

Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved. “Is Christianity a lemon?” by Ted Burnett. My other essays and videos can be viewed at my website – I can be contacted via email at –

 Ted Burnett: I'm an American thought leader and pioneer on the subjects of human, organizational and societal development and health. I write about the role that integrity, dignity, sanity play, as well as, on the topics of spirituality, faith, freedom, happiness, problem solving and risk taking. I produce and deliver original, world-class commentaries on business, political, social and spiritual matters to a global audience of world leaders, chief executives and key decision makers, top faculty and notables in the fields of academia, banking, business, foundations, government (including heads of state, lawmakers and governors), healthcare, media, non-profits and policy institutes. Website: