Jesus Identity

United Methodist Sees ‘Imperialist Jesus’ as ‘Bowed Down to Satan’

Bethany Moy on March 22, 2024

Evangelicalism in most of Christianity is antithetical to Jesus Christ’s teaching and lifestyle, according to a Liberation Theology proponent ministering within the United Methodist Church.

“We have come to accept the Gospel of Jesus as an imperial theological discourse which condones, endorses and sustains the powers of domination and oppression of this world,” asserted Dr. Eliezar Valentín-Castañón, delivering the annual Oscar Romero Lecture and Dean’s Forum on March 19 at United Methodist-affiliated Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

The Frederick District Superintendent in the Baltimore Washington United Methodist Annual Conference sought to present evangelism from what he termed a prophetic, liberating, and Wesleyan perspective, which he believed Romero, the Roman Catholic prelate of the Archdiocese of San Salvador assassinated in 1980, would have shared.

In his address, Valentín-Castañón touted religion scholar and Public Religion Research Institute President Robert P. Jones’ book The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy.

“It illustrates how this doctrine has permeated our own ideological understanding of evangelicalism in a white European mindset,” Valentín-Castañón praised.

“This imperialist Christianity has turned Jesus into the glorious king who is all powerful and perfect. This imperial Jesus we find in the Church is substitute for the peasant Jew in Nazareth. The one who rose from the impoverished working-class family, who came from an unknown place called Nazareth and was crucified by the Roman forces occupying Palestine, for proclaiming an anti-imperialist message of human liberation,” Valentín-Castañón insisted.

He alleged, “Over the centuries, this imperialist Christianity turned the anti-imperialist Jesus into one that seems to have accepted the offer Satan made him in the desert. The Jesus that most of us have come to know in the Christian world today seems to have bowed down to Satan therefore to all the powers and principalities of this world. This was the Jesus that was introduced into my own fundamentalist church.”

Valentín-Castañón maintained that imperial Christianity “has created a vision of the Godhead as an all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever present being, a God that is so beyond us that God is out of reach for us mere mortals. This imperial Christianity presents us with a God that is distant and unconcerned without humanity and human frailty. This ideation of the Godhead has left us convinced that God, whom we have been told loves us, is only interested in us if we are concerned with the spiritual holiness that will lead us in the perfect world where God resides in heaven.”

The United Methodist District Superintendent claimed that Christians have been presented with a reading of the Gospel of Matthew’s heaven that is far away.

“In the New Testament, heaven as the final destination for our salvation is not actually the final place for those that believe in the goodness of the construction worker, the prophet from Nazareth,” Valentín-Castañón maintained. “Therefore, God’s place is now present amongst us according to Jesus. God is present in our midst. God has pitched a tent with us as we read in John 1:14. This is what the Incarnation has done. God has pitched a tent among us and is here right now.”

Valentín-Castañón continued, “This imperial theology has God express a desire to maintain heaven as something separate from us, which certainly fits a political ideology of alienation, where human beings have to only be concerned with getting to heaven where they will be saved. This is the epitome of the neoplatonic theology which bases God’s dwelling, heaven as God’s prison.”

Imperial theology, Valentín-Castañón insisted, has created a “perfect God that can only be perfect when it is separated from humanities imperfections and corruption.”

“This imperial Christian theology has also used the Gospel of John to justify this view of the Godhead,” Valentín-Castañón alleged. “A God that is more concerned with God’s self than with humanity’s mystery. Some of us may say that’s because of our sins. The argument here is we have turned a God that was supposed to be the God that identifies with the poor and the oppressed, as we have seen throughout the scriptures, into a God who is so far from us that we can hardly identify him as God.”

Valentín-Castañón recounted spiritual practices that he said Christians have been told they must do or care about to get to heaven, not mentioning salvation as a free gift from God.

“We must engage prayer, engage worship, engage fasting, and many other spiritual disciplines. These are the things that will take us to heaven. We have forgotten that the Jesus we find in the gospels indeed speaks to much more than that. When we read in the scriptures of that idea of Jesus being committed to being in the world, we find a Jesus that speaks to the powers of this word and condemns the wrongdoings that are harming their fellow human beings.”

“Imperial Christianity has developed a theology that will accommodate these conditions. They are due to our sinful nature, therefore not much can be done about that. Imperial theology says that things will get better someday in heaven. In the meantime, we live and wait till we get to heaven. In the end the world that we know it will be consumed and the kingdom of God will be established as it is in heaven. This is not the Jesus of the Puebla. Nor was it the Jesus that Romero lived out in El Salvador. This is not that Jesus that we find in the gospels.”

The lecture may be viewed in full below on Wesley Theological Seminary’s YouTube channel:

  1. Comment by Pastor Mike on March 22, 2024 at 7:28 am

    People like to remake Jesus into a political person who campaigned about social justice issues like racial equality, human rights, and sexual politics. This wrong image of Jesus fits nicely into the United Methodist denomination’s campaign of racial justice.

    Obviously Valentín-Castañón has embraced that false doctrine and theology.

  2. Comment by John E on March 22, 2024 at 1:00 pm

    The speech is a clunky, shallow, jargon-filled rehash of the same thing we have been hearing for decades. There is nothing new under the sun.

  3. Comment by Curtis Nester on March 22, 2024 at 3:52 pm

    Faithful Christians will stick with these words:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

    “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
    (John 14:1-4)

  4. Comment by JoeR on March 22, 2024 at 6:49 pm

    Some people are simply educated beyond their ability to comprehend. The comments make little sense which indicates nothing of value to offer. It is sad how education is wasted on so many
    Thank you Jesus I am no longer part of the UMC. .

  5. Comment by Palamas on March 22, 2024 at 6:53 pm

    So, another non-Christian masquerading as a clergyman. Good to know.

  6. Comment by bud22405 on March 22, 2024 at 8:18 pm

    More testimony to the bancruptcy of the Wesley Seminary and the UMC. I left the UMC soon after a Wesley trained minister came to the Fredericksburg, Va church and I got a sense of the UMC’s direction.

  7. Comment by David Gingrich on March 23, 2024 at 7:23 am

    Don Quixote jousting at non-existing windmills while being cheered on by a blind crowd.

  8. Comment by Brandon on March 23, 2024 at 9:10 am

    To purport that the United Methodist Church is teach that God cares more for himself that humanity is ludicrous.
    This is another political propaganda piece based on one persons thoughts.
    Imagine if we published articles about the nature of humanity, based on our worst neighbor, or the person in our life who was having a terrible day. And because someone said it, or did it, it has become true for all.
    It is sad that we have been reduced to destruction and seeking to tear down our brothers and sisters.
    Which in the end, isn’t loving one another what Christ Really wants.
    Surely we can agree on that.
    United Methodism has long supported the idea that we will indeed have differing theology but the main foundational beliefs bind us together.
    Let’s find a place of grace in the name of Christ Jesus, rather than seeking to further bind ourselves to the system of destruction and hate.

  9. Comment by Dan W on March 23, 2024 at 9:42 am

    36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

    37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. (John 18:36 and 37 NIV)

    Jesus testified his kingdom was not of this world. On the eve of Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday and Holy Week, it is good to remember this.

  10. Comment by BG on March 23, 2024 at 10:08 am

    So is this another Methodist clergyman that rejects to Trinity? No mention at all of the Holy Spirit that is on earth and present in our lives. Yes, God the father resides in Heaven as does Jesus. And we will join them one day if we believe in God and repent of our sins. Jesus mad that very clear. Why do progressive Methodist clergy need to just make stuff up?

  11. Comment by Daniel on March 23, 2024 at 2:10 pm

    The dude needs to become conversant with Luther’s “two kingdoms” theology. The lack of theological learning and discernment by UMC clergy is breathtaking. UMC seminaries are just social justice indoctrination camps.

The work of IRD is made possible by your generous contributions.

Receive expert analysis in your inbox.