Let’s be honest: Christianity in America has an image crisis, and justifiably so. Somehow the most beautiful story ever told got diluted into a hybrid of culture and religion that people are finding less than appealing.
Not for lack of a good narrative– even some of my atheist friends have privately conceded that as far as narratives go, we’ve got the better story. Instead, people are rejecting Christianity not simply or entirely because they don’t believe it, but because too many of us are just plain ole $@%#’s about it. Meanwhile, we have people like Matt Walsh arguing that Jesus didn’t care about being nice, and that neither should we.
What a shame. Evangelical Christianity is in a tailspin and it’s not a problem with the message, but the messengers. The last thing we want to do is encourage people to be more of a you-know-what about being a Christian.
I can only imagine that if God’s justice is exceedingly fine (which I believe it is), we’re going to have some answering to do for the people who walk away– not because they’re rejecting Jesus– but because they’re (understandably) rejecting us.
If we’re going to take this reformation seriously and actually help reform Christianity here in America, we’re going to need to have an uncomfortable conversation:
Fellow American Christians, let’s be honest with ourselves. We’re going have to start learning how to be Christians without being total #@$%’s about it.
I know for some of us that goes against our nature and what other Christian voices are telling us. Yet, I think if we’ll embrace the uncomfortableness of change and start living our Christianity in a new way, we might actually see people say: “I want in with whatever that is”.
You know, what the plan originally was when Jesus kicked this whole thing off.
So how can we be Christian without being total #@$%’s about it? In my opinion, here’s a head start:
1. Maybe we should reconsider the confrontational bumper stickers on our cars.
Sure, we’ve got free speech and the right to plaster our car with in-your-face, confrontational bumper stickers, but even scripture itself says just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do something. They’re not making the Gospel “attractive”, they’re not winning anyone over, and 9 times out of 10, they’re cheesy too.
2. Let’s try holding beliefs with confidence, but also with humility.
Everyone who holds an opinion thinks they’re right– that’s kinda how opinions work. People aren’t turned off that we believe in certain propositions to be true, they’re turned off because we’re arrogant about it. Yes, let us hold our beliefs with confidence but also with a humility that says “but I could be wrong”.
3. Learn to disagree with dignity.
People of Christianland: we’ve got to learn to disagree better (myself included). You’re not always right. I’m not always right. They’re not always right. However, we can discuss our differences without going off the deep end. Try this: the next time you’re tempted to fire back with “you’re wrong” try responding with “that’s an interesting perspective. Can you help me understand how you arrived at that belief?” Trying to understand someone who disagrees with you shows that you’re willing to disagree without being a $@#& about it.
4. Stop saying “farewell” to Christians we disagree with.
If you’re not familiar with this reference, it was coined by John Piper who famously tweeted “Farewell Rob Bell” as a way of publicly declaring Rob to be outside of orthodoxy. While most of us don’t like Piper, we’ve been all too happy to pick up this trendy habit of publicly saying “farewell” to one another. I think it’s just time to admit when we say “farewell” to someone, we’re usually being a $@&% about it. When we give into this temptation, we’re declaring ourselves to be the gatekeepers– the ones who say who is in and who is out. I say, we just stop.
5. Let’s not withhold money from poor kids because the person giving it to them might potentially be gay.
Three words: World Vision nonsense.
6. Maybe we should try to love people into the kingdom, instead of trying to bully them into it.
Let me be clear: experiencing overwhelming love from a Christian is a far greater motivator to explore this Jesus stuff than is being on the wrong end of an argument. I’m guessing we could count the number of Jesus followers on one hand who ended up believing because someone shamed them, bullied them, or intellectually arm wrestled them into God’s kingdom. Try love; I promise it works better.
7. Realize that if your coworkers liked your preaching, they’d hire you to work at their church.
Work is a time for, well, work. Sure, be yourself. Establish meaningful friendships. Heck, even be open and authentic about your faith- I am. However, work isn’t the time or place for “open air evangelism”. Your co-workers are a “captive audience” in that they can’t leave– which means, it’s kinda a @$%# move to use their captive presence as an opportunity to constantly preach at them. Just be a good worker, a loving colleague, and work to establish a culture where people say “I really like working with Christians“.
8. Stop pretending that one political party has a monopoly on Jesus-ness.
When Jesus stood before Pilate, he declared that the Kingdom he came to inaugurate– the Kingdom you and I are tasked with building– was something that was “not of this world”. We must remember that the new culture Jesus came to establish is radically different from anything a worldly empire has to offer. As such, neither dominant political party in America does a very good job at standing for the cultural principles of Jesus. When we marry Jesus off to a political party, we combine Kingdom with empire, and miss the fact that Jesus came to replace empire with something so very different.
9. Start helping the oppressed instead of acting like you’re oppressed.
Let’s just shoot straight on this one: We need to get over ourselves. As Christians, we’re not the minority. In fact, we make up 78.4% of the population. Christians hold almost every political seat in the country. On top of being the majority and the religious group that’s in control of the country, we’re also disgustingly rich. What does this mean? It means that WE’RE NOT BEING OPPRESSED. We’re not being systematically persecuted. So we need to stop acting like it, because it’s making us look like a bunch of you-know-whats. Instead, let us become the defenders of those who actually are oppressed– immigrants, women, the poor, etc. You know, the stuff the Bible talks about all day long.
10. Learn to be a servant.
Here’s the deal: no one hates a servant. Everyone loves the one person on the team who humbly says “what can I do to help?” and who is constantly ready to get their hands dirty serving others. Jesus himself totally got this principle and said that he “came not to be served, but to serve”. As people who are called to be “little Christs” we need to just get busy serving the world around us, meeting needs and washing feet in the tradition of our Rabbi. People are tired of hearing Christians talk about power, control, and taking the country back. But servants? Everyone loves a servant. This is precisely why Jesus said “whoever wants to be the greatest must be the servant of everyone.” I think maybe we should just start taking Jesus seriously.Yes, Christianity in America has an image crisis, and I share in the disdain for it. However, it doesn’t need to remain this way– you and I can actually shape culture and change things. You and I can make the message of Jesus attractive again, we can change the cultural connotation one thinks of when they hear the word “Christian”, and you and I can shape the Christianity that will be handed to our grandchildren.
Well, we’ve got to learn how to be a Christian without being a total $@#& about it.
These ten steps will help.
Reading your article helped me a lot and I agree with you. But I still have some doubts, can you clarify for me? I’ll keep an eye out for your answers.
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As a person who grew up in the church, but is no longer a believer, I want to say thank you. I can’t honestly say I would have stayed in the church if people had behaved as you suggest, but I can certainly say that I wouldn’t have left angry and disgusted.
I haven’t read all the comments, but can this atheist make one more suggestion? The truth matters. And when I say “the truth”, I don’t mean The Gospel. I mean don’t lie or pass along lies. The biggest thing that drove me away from Christianity was investigating a lot of what I’d been told about the world growing up as a Christian, and finding a lot of it, especially topics related to politics, were based on lies or misrepresentation. Sadly, it seems like too many Christians don’t really care if what they’re saying is true or not, so long as it supports their politics or beliefs (and that’s true of most people, not just Christians, but I was raised to believe Christians were supposed to be better than that).
You make some good points…. But in the end, Christianity will always offend our natural sensibilities…..it will always have an image crisis in secular society….. The cross is an offense….. To many the mere existence of God is an offense…. A seeker sensitive acquiesce often leads to a rational, carnal Chrisianity….. That is not the faith taught in scripture
Christians are being persecuted…but not here. In Africa and the Middle East and Indonesia. I go to church freely every day; no one burns down the building or shoots the congregation or imprisons and tortures me for sharing the Gospel. Maybe because they don’t have to; the media smear campaigns are joining the narrow-minded brethren in making Christianity look bad without making martyrs who might earn sympathy. Ask the average person on the street what he or she thinks of when you mention the words “Christian” and “persecution”; nine times out of ten they will say things like “the Inquisition” or “the crusades” or “the witch burnings;” nasty things Christians have done to others. Hardly any will mention the church burnings in Syria or the massacres in Nigeria. My liberal friends think Christians are callous rich Republicans who oppress the poor, and are surprised when I mention the millions Catholic relief Services spends to help people, or the missionaries who dig wells in Africa or a hundred other charities. These are not widely reported; instead, everyone knows about a bishop who built a mansion in Atlanta. The media is slanted against Christianity, which should not surprise anyone. “As the world hated me, so it will hate you.”
As an atheist, I can appreciate this article. Not to suggest that it’s the behavior of Christians that is the reason I’m not one of them, but one of the things that always makes me shake my head is the way that so many of them act. From the “Help, we’re being oppressed! It’s a war on our beliefs when others start standing up for theirs!” to anger, judgment, criticism, and hypocrisy. I often wonder if those kinds even understand the message they are condemning me for not following. But bravo, I do hope that people take this to heart.
He is dead right about the political parties. Our political system is a human-created system and is not God’s political system. Jesus would have “belonged” to neither of them. For that matter, both capitalism (individual greed) and socialism (government theft) are human economies and neither are God’s economy, though pieces of each can be supported from scripture.
As to the “stop withholding money from poor kids,” there are two assumptions behind this statement: 1) that people who stop giving to WV will not then give to another organization that takes care of poor kids, and/or 2) that WV is the only organization in the world that takes care of poor kids. Neither are inherently true. It is a strawman. Can we please stop with the strawman arguments? Please?
I give to poor kids in Africa. I do not give to World Vision. In fact, I had never given heard of World Vision prior to the recent controversy. But if I did give to WV and I stopped I would simply give somewhere else because feeding poor children is a priority for me. Supporting World Vision is not a priority for me. People are acting as if stopping support for World Vision is breaking a commandment. I find no where in the Bible where I’m commanded to give to World Vision. If it’s there then please point it out.
Besides, regarding World Vision’s change in policy, they could be wrong.
Nope. There were 10,000 kids dropped. Real kids. Kids with names. Kids with bellies. Kids who looked forward to receiving letters from their sponsors– all dropped within a week. Diverting funds to other organizations still left these real children high-and-dry without a sponsor.
But you could be wrong. Diverting funds to other organizations fed children that otherwise would not have been fed.
Again, please point to me in the Bible where it says I *must* support World Vision. Otherwise quit acting like World Vision is the only organization in the world that feeds children.
World Vision isn’t just a place giving cash to nameless kids; it was a place where you sort of sponsor kids. When these people withdrew their sponsorship, they withdrew their presence in a kids life (a presence that may have been a bit of stability in an unstable situation for them). I had a Big Brother via Big Brothers Big Sisters and would have been devastated if he had dropped me because Big Brothers Big Sisters was allowing gay mentors. Using kids as pawns for political clout or military force is always evil.
But you could be wrong.
Your trying to guilt people into giving to World Vision is using the kids as pawns, and is therefore also evil, right?
As I said, diverting the funds to other organizations means that other kids got fed that would not have otherwise gotten fed. What do you have against *those* kids? Why do you not want them to be fed too?
Since you think it is a sin (evil) to not give to World Vision, do you give to World Vision? If not, why?
Military force? Eh, what?
[But you could be wrong]
My conscience is functional so this is unlikely.
[Your trying to guilt people into giving to World Vision is using the kids as pawns, and is therefore also evil, right?]
I am calling people out for giving to World Vision and then withdrawing their support of these kids for purely political reasons. If I was doing the same, I would expect people to accuse me of the same. I am not using these kids as pawns, I am simply pointing out that these people hate gays more than they love the connection they have to these kids. It is a simple, dispassionate observation of the facts.
[As I said, diverting the funds to other organizations means that other kids got fed that would not have otherwise gotten fed. What do you have against *those* kids? Why do you not want them to be fed too?]
World Vision both feeds these kids and connects them to their sponsor as well. Giving to another organization does nothing to assuage the direct damage that this political game they are playing is doing to the kids they sponsor. I know the evangelicals vehemently hate me and the fact that they are losing the culture war here due to their belligerent lies about my brethren and myself but that is no excuse to directly harm children over it
[Since you think it is a sin (evil) to not give to World Vision, do you give to World Vision? If not, why?
Military force? Eh, what?]
I do not think it is a sin to not give to world vision. I think it is a sin to become a mentor or sponsor of a child you are pretending to care about to earn brownie points with God or your peers – which is exactly what evangelicals are doing here. We know this is factual because they had no problems dumping these kids the moment it proved politically convenient. While this is good for me, as a gay man, since it is just more proof that evangelicals are hateful, evil people that need to be marginalized in the cultural zeitgeist along with neo-Nazis and white supremists, it is bad for these kids and I will call it out as such.
And I do support mentor programs just fine. The difference between me and these people is I do it for the same of my kids and not for selfish reasons like getting a better seat in heaven or because my peers in the church are all doing it.
“These people hate gays” is not a dispassionate observation, it is a political statement. You have no earthly idea what is in the hearts of others, that is reserved for God alone. In fact, everything you are doing, demonizing those you disagree with, is Alinskyite. Stop pretending it isn’t.
I detect a definite lack of willingness to equivocate their opinions with “but I could be wrong” among the commentors here.
Re #5 – WORD Vision ??? I think that needs to be edited. Otherwise, great stuff.
“even some of my atheist friends have privately conceded that as far as narratives go, we’ve got the better story”
I’m curious. Could you elaborate on how you’ve got the better story? I honestly don’t see it. The world looked so much more beautiful to me when I “lost” my faith.
I agree, Gordon. For me, when I left the flock, I felt so much more free to enjoy and love other people just as they are. I no longer felt a need to witness to them or to try and show them what it is like to “follow Jesus”. I just related to them as people — not a religious mission. My world got much bigger, I learned more, felt more, loved more. And all of a sudden, much more diverse friends! Praise God. 😉
Life is so subjective coming fom a psychological poin of view. If someone “preaches” that we’er all nothing but dripping with sin, from the vey start, then how does that in any way set us up for success for life? I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life, and is it due to sin or just being niave and dumb? Yes there is point where we have to decide if this choice is going to favorable or the non. However there are so many outside (and internal) components that guide our decisions. We all like to think that we have the upper moral hand, but life and her circumstances that are offerred are much more compicated than that. YES there is right and wrong, but apply blanket statements (to most acts) is ridiculous. IF people are to be drawn to God, than it can’t be done by exclusion. By nothing but the complete unconditional Love by Him and us is the only way to get through to “sinners:.
I wholeheartedly agree with this. As a Pagan who is a borderline Atheist and a former Christian, this is a message I can connect with. There is one thing I would like to add, if I may: If someone says they’re not interested, just let it go. Some of us do not want to be ‘saved’. We don’t believe in heaven, hell or sin. We’re not sinners. And we are happy as we are. We do good without God. If you want Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, that’s great! We don’t want to take your Jesus from you. We just don’t want to hear about it. Be at peace with your personal beliefs and keep them -personal.- That’s all I’m saying on the matter. Believe what you want, but keep it to yourselves. Humanity would get along so much better that way, I think.
Can’t agree more. Not sure others do — they are on a mission.
Well here’s the thing: If they wish to spread their Gospel, that’s their business. I don’t think it’s a good idea personally, but that’s neither here nor there. Trying to pressure people to change their beliefs almost always ends badly. If you have this idea in your head, ask yourself first: “If someone came to me and asked me to change my deeply-seated personal beliefs, would I?” The answer would almost invariably be “No.” So if you wouldn’t do it, why on Earth would you expect someone else to? It’s insulting, first of all. And that is being nice about it. So if someone says “No, thank-you” then let it be. Ask someone else. Or better yet, don’t and just walk the Path you have chosen for yourself. Life is too short as it is to be concerned with other peoples’ lives. Especially if they are not bothering you or otherwise harming you.
Well, Averant I must disagree a bit here.
I think “pressuring” people to change beliefs may not be best, but lovingly encouraging them to is good. Heck, sometime even pressuring is called for.
“Deep-seated personal beliefs” can be harmful.
When I converted to Christianity, I think it was the best thing for me — it was a life-raft at that time. The alternative was not good (my perspectives were narrow).
I have seen people change radically for the better when they converted to Islam and Buddhism too. I have also seen many people “convert” out of their religions (into Atheism) and make huge improvements too.
It all depends what we do with our beliefs and how we use them.
I don’t believe in leaving others alone — it depends on if they mind input, how I offer it, and how much harm they are causing in the world. No simple answers, I am afraid.
And that is why there is violence and death in the world. Because people can’t take no for an answer. When you are telling someone that your God is right, then you are also telling them that their God is wrong. And that causes conflict. Google the Central African Republic and see what people are doing in the names of their Gods because people cannot leave well enough alone. Forgive me, but I do not believe we have anything further to discuss. I wish you well.
Hmmm, interesting ending.
I intend to live my life the best way I know how, in the fashion of my choosing. And if I am not harming anyone, who is anyone to tell me that I am wrong? Do you see my point? Life is a precious gift, and yet we squander it trying to tell others how to live it instead of appreciating it and experiencing to the fullest. People murder eachother mercilessly because they pray to the wrong god (Pagan/Abrahamic), or they pray the wrong way(Sunni/Shia, Protestant/Catholic) or don’t pray to any god at all… It’s absurd! When someone tells you no thank you, that should be the end of the conversation. There are 3,000 gods and goddesses in the world, and untold numbers of variations of beliefs on those gods. There are over 33,000 various sects of Christianity in the United States alone. Who knows how many more in the rest of the world. The odds that one is right right and ALL of the others are wrong aren’t in their favour. And believing it really hard does not change that fact. Leaving people alone to experience the world and their place in it is basic Human decency and respect. Something we seem to have so very little of. If people do not wish to share your views, let them be. Live your own life the way you see fit. Enjoy the world and respect others regardless of what they personally believe(so long as it does you or others no harm.)
[Edited for my haste and stupidity, of which I was rightly corrected. Thank you, Sabio.]
You may be surprised to find out, Averant, that I am an Atheist. Not sure where you got the impression otherwise. But you keep preaching! Don’t let me stop you.
I am indeed surprised. I misread your post and for that I sincerely apologise. Forgive my haste. I saw what I wanted to see. I stand by what I said, but it was misdirected. I am sorry, Sabio.
Now, in light of that. Consider taking another stab at responding to my “Well, Averant” reply.
I edited my original post in light of my grievous error and deleted my first response.
I guess you don’t see my point.
Apparently I don’t. I agree that deep-seated beliefs can be harmful. Encouraging is one thing, but when it goes beyond that is where strife and conflict appear. As I said before, if they are not harming anyone, let people believe as they see fit. I suppose a bit of perspective is in order. I live in the rural deep South. East Texas. Conservative Dominionist Christian(Baptist and Pentecostal flavours) country. I grew up with these people. Went to church with them for many years. When I became disillusioned with the belief, they felt I had betrayed them. The scorn I get sometimes… Well to say it is unpleasant is an understatement. Being told you’re going to burn in hellfire for eternity on a bi-weekly basis is not fun, but under the circumstances at the moment, I have no option but to grin and bear it. And so I do. Perhaps it has jaded me to the idea. In any case, I just feel it is better for all involved to let people live their lives. We seem to think that we have a right to pry into peoples’ personal lives and that’s of course, ridiculous. There are exceptions to everything, but in the overall sense, it tends to cause more harm than good. The current crises around the world are testament to that.
I’m sorry you’re stuck in that situation, Averant. Any hope of moving? I live in the Pacific Northwest, and we’re pretty open to the unchurched or Pagan folks here. It rains all the time, though…
Unfortunately, not at this time. I had always wanted to move to Oregon. It’s beautiful country and I have friends who live in Portland. I got to drive through it a few times when I was a truck driver. That said, I am stuck here for the time being. But thank you for your concern.
RE: Love not Bully: I just read about that. Cassidy from “Roll to Disbelieve” said when she was a Christian she had to put up with a rude atheist professor in college. The professor never made her question her faith; he just made her put up a wall.
But ever since I’ve lost my faith, I’ve ben reexamining Christianity. It seems the kind approach you advocate here is found in the Bible, but so is the unkind approach so many Christians use. In fact I think you could make the case for either one equally well if all you could use was the Bible. I’m one of those atheists who is starting to question what I used to say–that Christians may get things wrong, but the message of Jesus himself is ok. I just wrote a blog post about that, in fact. It’s not just Christians or the Church I have a problem with; I object to some of Jesus’ teaching as well. Daniel Fincke, of Camels with Hammers, says the same thing.
I pretty much came to agree with Thomas Jefferson concerning the Bible to some extent in that, once you go through and strip out the parts that demand you choose between your conscience and empty dogma, you wind up with a pretty good spiritual system. Cut all of Paul from the Bible (about a 3rd of it) and the remainder is actually good. He never added anything of value that Christ hadn’t already fully explained in much simpler, less legalistic terms. Legalism is easy and less scary, though, so I can see why it appeals to most.
Yeah, if you cut most of the Bible away, I suppose the bits you have left would be good enough. But is that really useful?
A friend posted this on their Facebook, and while I am a non-believer, I used to be a Christian– and this article is ENTIRELY accurate. I don’t just think it’s Christians with this problem; Atheists, Agnostics, Jews, and Muslims could also take something from this article.
As an open atheist, I do try to live by most of these– no bumper stickers, no telling people they are wrong and I am right or that they are just going to decompose in the ground after death, agreeing with the fact that I could be wrong, etc. I have had multiple negative experiences with born-again Christians because they had not taken advice such as this article into consideration, and I would never want someone else to feel uncomfortable because I didn’t live in such a way as this article suggests.
My favorite has to be #7, though. The only appropriate workplace for discussing faith and religion is if it is within a church (church camp, church office, etc.). I need desperately to find a discreet way to slip this to my co-worker, as they still have not realized that I am not listening because I want to but because I have to.
Jesus was a magnetic person who was loved by everyone. People flocked to be by his side. Do you think people would have felt that way if he went around condemning everyone to hell and acting like a self-righteous ^%#@#. Absolutely not. They wanted to hear what he had to say because his message was of UNIVERSAL UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Christians should take a lesson from Jesus in attracting nonbelievers to their religion….I could never be part of any religion. Just give me Jesus please, hold the dogma.
You appear to be more concerned with the appearance of Christianity to the world at large than with who and what Jesus, the Christ, is. You’re putting the horse before the cart. If we follow Christ faithfully, we won’t have to worry about appearances.
The problem is that if I paraded before you 12 really obnoxious or hateful type Christians and asked “are you following Christ faithfully?” They’d all answer, “yes”.
My concern therefore, is that people are rejecting Christ because of our un-Christlike behaviors.
But look. If those hateful types have accepted Christ, then we see that accepting Christ is not the answer. People can be loving, sacrificing, forgiving and all that stuff without anyone’s particular version of Jesus. How isn’t this clear? You see it yourself.
Your assumption that people are rejecting Christ because of our
behaviors implies that Christ himself is powerless today. Are souls
really being lost because of behavior? Christ has no say in the matter? That’s more than a little bit egotistical.
Also, Christ was
rejected in his own time by more people than he was accepted by. Are
you suggesting that if he had behaved with more decorum that he might
have gotten more done?
In my experience, I’ve found that Christians who prefer to live on the more obnoxious side will often bring up the issue of “well, no one liked Jesus either”, but when we look at what scripture actually says, that is simply untrue.
Mark 1:45 “As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed
outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from
Yes, religious conservatives hated Jesus and rejected him. But regular folk? They liked him so much that he had to go hide just to get five minutes of peace and quiet– and even that didn’t work. So, it seems that Jesus was actually quite popular.
I wrote “rejected,” not “hated” or “not liked.” Rejected as in rejecting the nature and identity of the Person who was present with God at the creation of everything. Your suggestion is that presentation makes a difference. My question is, if Jesus had presented himself in a more “acceptable” fashion, would fewer 1st century folk have rejected him?
Do you really believe that some Christians “prefer” to be obnoxious? Perception is subjective and what to someone seems to be an obvious truth can present to others as closed-minded arrogance. You’re not going to open any doors to those people by presenting them with a dress code, Robert’s Rules of Order and a checklist on how to “do” Christianity correctly.
In the long run, It’s not about Christianity. It’s about Christ. We’d be much better off if those who claimed to follow Christ would concern themselves more with following Christ than with identifying and correcting those fail to present Christianity in an acceptable fashion. That’s not a dig at you…I do the same thing, too. I suspect we all do given the importance of the subject.
I appreciate your point on servant-hood.
I have read a number of your posts, and you do exactly that which you decry. You have to make a choice, dude. Is your set of theological and political positions important enough to sacrifice nicety or isn’t it? The latter choice is much more difficult than you would like to pretend.
Refusing to see things from other people’s points of view and being a self righteous bully who is willing to “sacrifice nicety” (e.g. be a dick) is difficult? How so?
I think you misread my comment. That said, I don’t see much understanding other points of view on this blog. It reads mostly like red meat for a narrow constituency.
Ah I see. I misread your intention then. I can see the goose and gander argument, I suppose, and will retract my statement since I hadn’t completely understood the context of it.
Thank you for the practical tips for walking that line between love and righteousness. I’ve wondered at times what it was like in the days before the Bible was compiled into its present format of 39 books in the OT and 27 in the NT. I suspect that the early Christians tend to hear the Word of God more often and deeply than Christians of today who spend more time in Bible studies reading the Bible than listening.
When you suggested this: “Yes, let us hold our beliefs with confidence but also with a humility that says “but I could be wrong”.” that’s a bit #$&%ish wouldn’t you agree? Alternative reading: “know your right but, pretend you might be wrong to gain ground with non-believer”.
I offer, perhaps we (Christians) are wrong about many things? We trust and have faith that what we have learned is what Jesus intended through the recordings and writings of what He said but, we’re actually not 100% convinced ourselves (are we?). If we were we wouldn’t be such *$&%’s and would likely be loving our fellow man much more. We likely wouldn’t be stirring up other nation’s governments (led 80 international coups since 1953), wouldn’t be plundering the earth of it’s resources (oil), wouldn’t be over-consuming causing untold problems (obesity, glutton, environmental and social [human] ruin in the nations supplying us). We treat our fellow man like pure crap, knowingly even! Look at our black incarceration rates, minority high-school dropout rates, only serving HALF the number of poor kids who qualify for free breakfasts (20m) or 10m total… knowing it will hurt their chances of success. And what we do to our local environment? Shameless.
You get it. If we’re going to claim to be Christians then how in the heck do we justify so much meddling, excess, violence and discontent globally? I speak for myself as well because I’m in the thick of it too but, it is definitely something I am aware of and would very much like to have a decent conversation with other ‘Christians’ who care too and who want to effect change.
THEY’LL KNOW WE’RE CHRISTIANS BY OUR ALL-CAPS KEYBOARDS AND ELEVENTY!!!!111!!! PUNCTUATION.
This is true in some cases. But this same article could easily be changed to “How To Be An Atheist Without Being a Total $@#& About It.” You can disagree with, ‘correct’ etc someone who is a believer without insulting them, insulting their religion, using curse words etc.
Yeah, Chrisbam. For a theist to be insulted, all you have to do is tell them you think they are wrong and why. Scientists & Atheists, on the other hand, welcome this. If I tell you I think you are imagining a Jesus in your head and don’t really talk to a real person in your head except yourself, you’d consider that an insult.
I agree with you about cursing, ad hominem arguments and more.
The difference is that atheists are not claiming divinely inspired moral-high ground of “non-judgment” as a cornerstone of their behavior. Christians are held to a higher standard, because they hold others to a higher standard.
The sun is shining in this little pagan heart of mine… if more Christians heeded this advice, they would easily be my brothers & sisters in service! Many blessings to you for this article. You bless the world with your inspired message!
That is not humility saying “I could be wrong” it is foolishness.
Christians claim they have a relationship with Jesus yet then to say “but I could be wrong” is foolish, Suppose you have a relationship with your husband or wife but then you say wow I really love my husband or wife we have a great relationship but I could be wrong, because I’m not sure my husband or wife actually exists
That’s not humility, that’s foolishness
If any Christian has the attitude that “they could be wrong” they need to repent
People that turn to Christ in place like Syria put it all on Christ they lose their family and get their arms chopped do you really think they would say “but I could be wrong” They are not choosing a church because it has an entertaining band or cool childcare program, they are turning to Christ having realized they are wretched sinners in need of the atonement of Christ Jesus, the last Adam, the savior of the world
seriously this whole blog shows the foolishness that has become of American Christianity Joel osteen type self help in Jesus name nonsense.
When Jesus was tempted by Satan he said “It is written” then he quoted scripture
When Jesus was questioned about marriage, Jesus said “have you not read?” the he quoted scripture from Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, We should follow Jesus lead on that and scripture should be our authority, not popularity contest with worldliness Rob Bell went apostate denying hell of which Christ spoke of more than anybody else
So, you walk the wide and easy path of the Paul worshipper. What a shame. I will pray for you that you someday find the courage to walk away from the Golden Calf of Tradition Idolatry and join your brethren on the narrow path, Mr. Griffith.
Where did you get “Paul worshipper” from that post?
You quote Scripture with no bearing to the spirit of the law being discussed and tend to have a “my way or the highway” approach to interpreting Scripture. Often, the people who have this sort of view of Scripture as being completely infallible according to one tradition or another are not actually followers of Christ but followers of the false apostle Saul of Tarsus.
“Saint” Paul was a worldly man, a Pharisee who gloated about being the greatest apostle without ever actually meeting Christ, gloated about using guile (lies) to win converts, and was generally just a bad guy. There is ample evidence right in Scripture linked to him to substantiate this. Besides that there is the fact that he adds nothing of value to the Gospels at all. If you disagree with that then I would give you the same challenge I gave those in my family who were alarmed by my abandoning of Paul entirely as a fruitful teacher. Simply give me one quote, one letter, one writing attributed to the man that added to, improved, or explained what Christ taught better than Christ did. It shouldn’t be difficult if Paul wasn’t a false apostle. I have yet to be met on this challenge with anything I couldn’t rebut, easily.
I do get it. Christ asked us very broad and difficult questions. He demanded that we lay down our fleshly concerns and pick up the cross and follow him. Then this Pharisee comes along and sets a new precedent where we could make Christ’s commands easier by arguing over them and turning them into vagaries of philosophy (rather than simple commands and parables even a child could understand, as Christ clearly intended). But that is a wide and easy path, in the end. On some level, I know you realize that, deep down.
You should actually try reading Rob’s book before commenting on it, because he doesn’t deny hell at all. And the marriage passage Jesus was questioned on? I have a whole chapter of my book dedicated to that, you should pre-order yourself a copy.
Rob was in a radio interview denying hell, then Francis Chan wrote a book in reply to Rob’s , Ben you know better than this, your wife messed you up man
Did I mention attacking my wife, who is not a public figure and has a right not to be dragged into trolling comments, gets one banned from my blog? Yup, true story.
If you read your bible and believed what you read, you never would have written this blog.
Jesus died for wretched sinners, he did not die for “good people” that just need to add Jesus onto their hobby list The gospel is offensive because people hate being told of the reality of their sin and in the real gospel , first there is the bad news of being condemned for sin which nobody likes to hear, yet that is why Jesus had to die. If people don’t realize how bad sin actually is to a Holy God, they should realize it if they really understand that Jesus, God the the son incarnate had to die horribly take the wrath of God the father upon his shoulders for our sins. There is nothing cute about a crucified Christ.
Man, people in Syria repent and turn to Christ and get their arms chopped off, and yet your attitude is ” but I could be wrong”
What? People say Christianity is not a religion it is a relationship with Jesus
yet then you say ” but I could be wrong”
So that would be like you have a relationship with your wife, yet you could be wrong because you are not sure she actually exists. How foolish is that man
If you don’t believe the bible, you need to repent man
Fullfilled prophecy of Israel proves the bible is the one from God and no other “holy book” is supernatural in origin, the nation of Israel even existing bears witness. We live on the other side of the fulfilled prophecy of Deut 30. The God of the bible said he is the one true God, he predicted the future and it is fulfilled there he is the one true God as he claimed, Jesus is that creator God incarnate in the flesh
There is more than enough evidence for anybody that is willing to believe yet no amount of evidence is ever enough for a man that refuses to believe
atheists can’t find God the same way a thief can’t find the police
The fool says that “air doesn’t exist, he doesn’t believe in air” yet He says this while breathing air.
If someone comes up to you and proclaims they don’t believe in air, says air doesn’t exist, and demands evidence, you are not gonna try to “prove to them air exists, you just ask them how are they breathing without air.
“The fool says in his heart there is no God” it’s from the psalms man
The bible is my authority and the bible teaches that people that claim to be atheists are actually fools and according to Romans 1:18-32 are liars who suppress the truth in unrighteouness out of a love of sin and are without excuse.
when someone proclaims that they don’t believe in God, they say God doesn’t exist and demand evidence, yet they are using what God gave them to even think up the sentence or breathe or do anything at all.
According to the bible, they are just like the guy proclaiming air doesn’t exist and demanding “evidence” for air, even while breathing it.
How do you get truth without God?
How do you breathe without air?
“If you read your bible and believed what you read, you never would have written this blog.”
But I’ve been reading my Bible for over 30 years, can read it in Greek and do believe it– yet, I still wrote this blog. #strange
Man, if you have been reading the bible for 30 years and still say “but I could be wrong” What God are you proclaiming? If you “could be wrong”. That’s like saying I think air exists but I could be wrong.
Read Romans 1:18-32 again and reread your blog
“They’re not making the Gospel “attractive”, they’re not winning anyone over” What? Since when has the Gospel been about being attractive to the world about winning people over with attractiveness man, attractiveness like Syrian Christians getting arms chopped off as a result of coming to Christ? it’ starts with conviction of the Holy spirit the gospel is a call to recognizing how wretched sin is to a Holy God, then repentance of sins and putting faith in Jesus, full trust and believing the gospel continually It is not this self help psychology joel osteen nonsense with Jesus slapped on it
Paul taught the principle of living with actions that make the gospel attractive. It’s in there.
And yes, none of us have all of our theology correct and should be willing to humbly admit that we could be wrong.
Read Romans 1 :18-32 to the world that claims atheism foolishness or read it to so called Christians that support homosexual activity of any kind.
We don’t get to be true Christians and be loved by the world too, it is either or
This post wasn’t about atheism or homosexuality, Chief.
Who knew a post about the advantages of not being a pretentious dickbag would bring out the pretentious dickbags to defend themselves?
The church is full of apostasy in these last days.
Question: Do you think all Christians interpret the Bible in exactly the same way?
Sven2547, I believe most people in USA that claim to be Christians are not, as they care more about NFL and NCAA than Christ and obeying God
lol yeah, right. Keep on fueling that persecution complex, even if it means denying simple, obvious, easily-verifiable facts like the fact that most Americans are Christians.
Also, good job completely avoiding my simple question.
Sven2547 people in USA claim to be Christians yet look at the same people’s facebook posts getting drunk, wordliness celebrated, profanity then they post bible verses talking about being led by the Lord as if the Lord is leading them to bar to get drunk or into people’s beds to fornicate. Most people in USA might claim to be Christians yet they are more churchians than Christians.
1 Cor 6:9-13 Paul tells backsliding Christians to stop that nonsense as they will not inherit the Kingdom of God living the lifestyle that Christ washed them of.
Scripture is very clear on all this, it is people purposely trying to find loopholes that like it is hard to understand.
People claim to be Christians and then they themselves are acting out Romans 1:18-32
Do you think all Christians interpret the Bible in exactly the same way, yes or no?
You are stating the TRUTH. Thank you!
I’ve been staring at this sentence for several minutes and I can’t figure out what you mean by this strange analogy. You seem to be suggesting that the only way to be an atheist is to actively avoid searching for gods, the way a thief avoids the police.
As a former Christian, who honestly searched for God and came back empty-handed, I find this position silly.
The idea was to NOT be a jackass, not to illustrate the point.
Romans 1:18-32 Lamont take it or leave it
I’ll leave it, thanks. Unless I need emergency toilet paper, the bible is useless to me.
Thanks to your blog, I just read the Matt Walsh Blog. I think he nailed it. 100 percent. Thanks for sharing.
You know me– always happy to build up the Matt Walsh fan base.
Very glad that there are some kind, loving people out there that are also Christians, but I do have a question for you (and I’m not asking to trip you up, but to try to understand the logic for you): do I, as a nonbeliever, go to hell as a result of many Christians being too off-putting and my subsequent disgust with the religion as a whole? And if I do, does this not seem to be a problem in the picture of God that is presented as a merciful and all-loving being?
I don’t want to invade or take over your post, but the way you worded the article made me curious as to your beliefs on this particular topic. Personally, I don’t have any problems with any of the gods in any religions- only with their followers who cause harm to others with their actions.
To be honest, I don’t know. I wrestle with that exact question often because yes, there are some issues of justice, mercy, goodness in play. What I’ve arrived at is that God judges each individual as an individual. Only he alone knows that person’s full story, which means only he could rightly judge. My job becomes just to tell people how much God loves them and how valuable they are as individuals. It is a question I’ll never be able to answer one way or the other, since I will never have enough information to rightly judge another person.
I’ve heard Christians say that in public and know specific cases where they whisper otherwise to their children in private.
If someone holds this view, Benjamin, then then you have to disagree with Paul’s urgency to get people to become believers, don’t you think. Or, are you uncertain enough that you say to yourself, “Sure, they may be great people, but they’d be safer as Christians so maybe I ought to witness to them.”
You can see the delicate line there if you hold credal exclusivism.
I do believe there is an urgency in becoming a believer, and that’s why
my life is dedicated to writing about following Jesus. The question was
“what would happen to person X”, and I am not God and therefore don’t
have the answer.
Right, so one side of your mouth says, “God judges each individual as an individual. Only he alone knows that person’s full story, which means only he could rightly judge. ” But the others says, something like we better make him a believer because God really does not judge the person but judges orthodoxy of belief.
Do you hear how bizarre that sounds. Wait, I remember from my Christian days, “God wisdom is foolishness to the nonbeliever.”
It reminds me of this:
Eskimo: ‘If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?’
Priest: ‘No, not if you did not know.’
Eskimo: ‘Then why did you tell me?’
I guess I struggle with making sense of this, because how does God judge a tipping point of information where the person should have come to a certain conclusion, taking into account each person’s individual tendencies towards skepticism and other traits? That’s actually a very small problem compared with some other ones I have, but it doesn’t make sense to me from a philosophical perspective. It would mean judging the innocent and ignorant guy who takes everything his parents told him at face value, as well as the skeptic who is well-educated and thoughtful but still comes to the conclusion that religion is not the answer… but neither skepticism nor innocence are inherently bad, are they? It’s actually a very small problem for me in comparison to others I’ve got, but when you start taking the implications and thoughts even further, the gap that you must fill with “I don’t know so I have faith” gets wider and wider. Or so it seems.
I’d add: Don’t confuse what you believe with “what the Bible says.” Whether your theology acknowledges it or not, you are part of a tradition of Scriptural interpretation that’s developed over two thousand years. It doesn’t matter if you’re Evangelical, Catholic, or whatever. Even if your sector of the church doesn’t “believe in traditions,” you still have them. It is never just a matter of what the Bible says–our faith is informed by our reading of the Bible along with our tradition, reason, and experience.
Alan, there are many traditions for how to understand Christian scriptures. Orthodoxy stamped out others as best as they could. So just because something has been around for thousands of years, doesn’t make it right. Astrology, for instance, has been around longer — and certainly gains no credence by its years of those who believe it orthodox.
So, if a person’s church has rejected any tradition, then they no longer “have them”, nor should they.
But your claim is just what you’d expect of those who consider themselves the orthodox bearers of truth.
That’s not what I was getting at. My point is that we all stand at the tail end of some tradition that has colored how we read the Bible, so that we need to be careful not to equate what our tradition or our own perspective says with “what the Bible says.”
Sorry, Alan, I can’t follow that at all. It seems like you have these categories:
(A) “what the Bible says”
(B) What orthodoxy tells us the Bible says
(C) What any individual Christian tradition outside of Orthodoxy says
So you want (A), I’m sure. I guess you have that figured out, eh?
When tradition trumps reason the belief becomes ignorant poisin, in my experience. Whenever an interpretation of divine revealation runs contrary to truth and the conscience it should be cast out.
Thank you so much for taking the time for writing such an edifying article. It is truly inspirational and has reminded me of why I have not “walked away” from a faith that marginalizes more and more people. I do not believe that Jesus wanted an exclusive club, he desires an all-inclusive club! Again, thank you!
Actually, Jesus made it clear that only true believers in God were accepted into the club – the opportunity to be accepted by God into Heaven. Even a Roman Centurion would be accepted into Heaven, if he’s a true believer, but the Jews who expected to be welcomed just because they were born Jews would be excluded. Matthew 8
“How to be an atheist, without being a total ass about it” I think that is the better narrative
Oh, I’m secretly hoping that my atheist blogging friends will write one.
Well, I will put pressure on fellow atheists (though I was a former Christian) to write such a thing, on the day that a significant number of atheists are telling people that they and their children will burn in hell or start interfering in politics or science education. Then I will tell them to be nice so they can hide all that other stuff.
C’mon now. Hang out over at one of the atheist blogs, and you’ll see that they have the same problem my community has. It’s sounding like your main issue is with Christianity/Christians in general.
Oh, I do. And you are right, civility is needed everywhere. But yes, by any group (and many Christian groups harbor these) which suppresses Science, tell good people they are damned and interferes with politics do not deserve politeness. So yeah, I have a big problem with that sort of Christian. You never answered my question below and don’t have an “about” page to tell us what flavor of Christian you are.
BTW, I like lots of types of Christians — I have not problem with folks keeping their faith, but it is the consequences of that faith I criticize without politeness. As noted above.
Sure I do- I have a “back story” page, a “core beliefs” page, and in my bio at the bottom of every article it says I am an Anabaptist.
Ah, got it! Thanx. “Back Story” LOL.
I took a peak.
I too use to be in Anabaptist circles. In fact, back in the day I even applied for a position with MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) but they rejected me because I was not orthodox enough for them even though they were suppose to be all about service and not evangelizing.
Do you know David Hayward (NakedPastor.com) — a former Vineyard pastor? He took a different path than you.
Oh hey, I didn’t realize there were anabaptists on here! That’s me too! Former anabaptist anyway.
Here’s to Formers!
Ooops, I see that goes unexplained. I put up a comment that failed for some reason. So I will try again:
I was involved with intimately with Mennonites (Anabaptists) for several years. I even applied for service with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) but was rejected because my beliefs weren’t orthodox enough for them. All the while, the MCC claimed to be about service and not proselytizing. It seems that if I didn’t believe right, my service was worthless. Classic Christian thing, I guess. Sad, eh? So congrads on being a “former”.
Just because the atheist community deals with its own incivility at times doesn’t mean that the Christian community doesn’t as well.
What about “Accept Facts”? i.e. Stop trying to inject your mythological belief system into our government, and especially our education system.
The Biblical version of Creation and World History is NOT fact, and it certainly does not belong in a science classroom.
I would give that a big thumbs up, Michael. Basic geology, biology, astronomy and physics should be taught as science. If you want to teach out of the Bible, it needs to happen in a class on comparative religion.
I think we need to write an article for you called “How To Be An Atheist Without Being A Dick About It”. You don’t know what happened when the universe was created, you weren’t there and even the most advanced scientists admit they can’t be 100% sure. Also, the New Testament history has been confirmed by atheist historians. Finally, what state do you live in? Where I’m from, they CERTAINLY don’t preach Christianity in public schools, if anything they preach against it. Let’s avoid being hateful, okay? By speaking like you did you’re just as bad as the worst Christians.
I’m sorry, Cassandie, but you don’t have to have “been there” to be able to state with certainty that the universe is billions of years older than the earth. We can state with certainty that the earth itself is billions of years old and coalesced out of matter that had been cooked in the hearts of earlier stars. We can state with certainty that current life-forms evolved from earlier ones. All evidence points to those conclusions. No evidence points towards a 6,000 or so old earth as the center of the universe, with life-forms in their current state existing from the get-go.
It’s perfectly possible that some sort of divine intelligence guided this process. That’s what scientists can’t (and don’t generally try to) weigh in on. But the processes happened. They are happening today.
Genesis is not a biology, geology or cosmology text book. It should not be used as such.
The current backlash against Evangelicals was predictable when the Republican Party joined politics and religion at the hip in a cynical ploy to win elections. The Evangelical community not only welcomed the marriage but exploited it along with Repubs. Both were corrupted by doing so and now both are reaping what they’ve sown.
The Founders of the USA joined religion with politics to establish a nation that would defend one’s God-given Rights.
Leftists of today are generating backlash by trying to eradicate traditional American faith and its resulting politics of individual Rights. The Left’s attacks on American ideology and faith are becoming more and more bold, angering more and more Americans.
Yours is nothing more than the usual Evangelical revisionist history that’s spouted about in an attempt to defend the indefensible. Don’t believe everything that David Barton or Elmer Gantry claim.
The Founders did not use nor join the nation to a narrow, ideological version of “religion” from evangelicals but instead referred to universal humanistic principles recognized by all religions as the basis for a civilized society. In other words, their politics were essentially based on the reciprocity principle, not the sectarian religion you admire.
I can understand your anger given that your version of history and religion are being rejected by the electorate. But don’t blame “leftists” for your predicament. You brought it on yourself. In other words, according the Bible, you’re reaping what you’ve sown.
Love the article. Just one quick thought. Nobody was going to stop helping kids because of the World Vision fiasco. They were going to transfer their money to organizations they agreed with to help people in need.
Well-written article and I thank you because it expresses some of my own conclusions. In Matt Walsh’s article I’m surprised that he didn’t distinguish between the different audience’s Jesus spoke to with regards to whether He was “nice” or not. To the self-righteous He proved intolerant; however, to the humble and broken sinner, even though He, by His holy nature, confronted their sin, He always did so with “grace and truth” (John 1:17) – that beautiful paradox we would do well to understand and imitate. Finally, a favorite verse of mine which speaks to this issue: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the KINDNESS OF GOD leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4, emphasis mine)
Are you reading my mind!?!?! AMEN and AMEN!
Not your mind, but I may have been inspired to write the article from hacking your Facebook.
If Christians lived like this, they’d soon realise they don’t need to convert people “God” doesn’t care.
As I look at the comments, I simply know more and more that the greatest need is to teach and preach the original Bible – in other words, what the original readers and audiences would have understood. Sadly, as Ben Witherington III has said, the church is often the worst witness to Jesus and the early Christian movement. According to records there are already more than 40 000 denominations. Does that paint a picture of one inerrant Bible? No! In the words of Jesus of Nazareth, by the their traditions men have robbed the Word of God of its power. Ministries such as this one can produce 1001 great resources, but if it keeps on philosophizing the Scriptures into Western-minded concepts, they will fail. If Jesus speaks to his disciples on the mount of Olives and tells them “you will see…”, there is absolutely no justification to philosophize others into the picture, especially not 2000 years into the future.
The Bible, if it is interpreted correctly does not become a threat of turn or burn to all. Theology has taken simple books out of the total original context and philosophized them into fables that will not cease to make those who are known as Christians the laughing stock of many. The greatest tragedy is that when some try to rightly divide the Scriptures within its original totality of context (eg. cultural, historical, literature, geographical) the most intense criticism comes from within the institutional church.
When sports teams are found on a losing streak, the call “back to basics” resound. It has become time for Christian teachers and leaders to return to the basics. Unfortunately I don’t hold high hopes – for how does a man whose false prophecies have sold more than 28 million copies stand up in the face of the world and say: “I have misled you”?
Very well said, Benjamin. Reminds me of the book Unchristian by Halberstam and Lyons. Now let’s apply it and help our Christian friends discover more than a plastic Americana Jesus.
Yup… I just argued on a site that I never go because of Right Wing Watch doing a story about a woman who wears a tinfoil hat and thinks that everyone who disagrees with her is of Satan. I tried to be polite and humble. If they made a point, I’d acknowledge it , but I need to stop arguing with people. It’s an easy trap to fall into and when one argues with the tinfoil hat wearing crowd, it just gets everyone riled up. One cannot convince them that it’s not fair to call someone else Satanic or that one shouldn’t use religion as a weapon no matter how man bible verses they take out of context
I think you’re right, Dukes. It’s tempting to engage with the tinfoil hat crowd, but its’ both shooting fish in a barrel and damaging to one’s blood-pressure. One thing I am trying to remember for myself, “Don’t engage in a battle of wits with someone clearly unarmed. It’s dishonorable and a waste of otherwise valuable time.”
The only exception I try to make is when someone is spouting clearly wrong or dishonest information as facts. I think it’s important to challenge outright lies, lest some unwitting soul stumble upon them and take them seriously. (I’m looking at YOU, Ken Ham!)
Thank you so much for this thought-provoking and challenging post. If you’d like it, here’s some feedback for you:
You said a lot of things that are right on.
1. The fact is that we misrepresent Jesus with the way that we act a lot of the time. And that certainly should be a concern that the whole church addresses. We should definitely strive to be loving and gentle, even as we speak the truth.
2. You’re right on about offensive bumper stickers. They’re not helpful, and they don’t encourage dialogue. They just offend, and often for the wrong reasons.
3. We should definitely be humble. We have no place to be arrogant, and that too misrepresents Jesus.
4. We should disagree with dignity. And like you implied, that doesn’t mean we should just agree to disagree, but rather disagree in a way that will move the conversation forward.
5. We shouldn’t bully people. That’s unloving. And that includes our coworkers.
6. Republican doesn’t equal Christian.
7. We should definitely help the truly oppressed and serve others. It’s what our Savior did, and it’s what we’re called to. (Side note: you left out unwanted babies among your list of oppressed.)
There are a few things that you said that could use some fine-tuning.
1. It’s not right to say that the reason why Christianity is declining in America is because the messengers are turning people off. It’s true that it might harden the hearts of some, but the truth is that even if we were perfectly nice, those people would still reject the gospel. This post has put so much weight on human responsibility that it seems as if God is failing because we are. We can’t love people into the kingdom. We can be loving and preach the gospel faithfully, but ultimately, it’ll be God that draws them to faith.
2. God’s salvific plans are not contingent upon our being less crappy. It’s based on the Holy Spirit changing hearts. If we become more loving, people might in fact look in the church and take interest. They might even join a church. But that won’t save them. They need to be called by Jesus and have the Holy Spirit open their eyes.
3. While, in secondary issues, we should take the humble position of, “I could be wrong”, there are certain things in which we should not do that. How do we honor God by proclaiming the biblical gospel of Jesus and then ending it with, “but I could be wrong”? That’s not the faith that Jesus calls us to. The Christian knows that the gospel is true, and we shouldn’t feign humility by pretending that it may not be.
4. There are times we need to remove ourselves from false teachers calling themselves Christian. Jesus warns against false teachers who claim to be His but aren’t (Matthew 7), and Paul specifically calls some false teachers out and warns the brothers not to follow them. Using your example, Rob Bell preaches a false gospel that claims that in the end, all will be saved, and that is a teaching that deviates far away enough from the essentials that it’s right to say farewell. Because Rob won’t repent of his heresy (I know it’s not a popular word, but it’s true), we have to treat him like an unbeliever (Matthew 18). We should love him, but we shouldn’t treat him like a brother.
5. Your idea of World Vision is misguided. What you say implies that social justice is more important than the word of God. Those who are actively in homosexual relationships are in unrepentant sin, and it makes sense for a Christian organization to require their employees to not be in unrepentant sin. For World Vision, they also require their employees to not be in sinful heterosexual relationships, as well.
6. Your admonishment against workplace evangelism falls short. Of course it’s not right to open-air preach in the break room, but it’s also not right to simply try to “live” the gospel. We should look for opportunities to actually share the good news about Jesus with them in a consensual, meaningful dialogue.
7. While it’s true that neither of the major political parties is totally biblical, it is a good idea for Christians to examine which platform is more consistent with God’s eternal law. For example, one party is currently heavily pro-choice and pro-homosexual-marriage, topics that Christians should definitely be engaged in and thoughtful of.
8. The message of Jesus is not naturally attractive, and we shouldn’t try to make it that way. The message of Jesus is that all men and women have sinned and deserve the wrath of God as punishment. God gave His only Son to die on the cross and pay that punishment that sinners like you and me deserve. By faith in Him alone, He saves us, and those who are saved follow Him wholeheartedly as a servant for all eternity. Trust me, brother; this is not attractive to most people. To most, it’s a “fragrance from death to death”. But for we who are being saved, it is an attractive message. Not because Christians were nice to us, but because God was abundantly gracious to us.
I pray that this helps and doesn’t hurt. God bless you, brother!
While I see most of your points as valid, I must take offense at some things that you have said. The World Vision issue………those who stopped funding those starving children because they feel that they can control how and who people love are wrong and not sharing or showing the love of Jesus.
#7 You are not God and have no right to judge what is sin and what isn’t. Please do not tell me that I am living in unrepentent sin when you have no clue about my life, my family. I am openly lesbian, married to a beautiful woman; God has richly blessed our lives and those of the children we are soon to be adopting. Pull the beam out of your own eye first before you look at the speck in mine. As for abortion and being pro-choice, it’s a woman’s body, you don’t know the reasons she may have for not continueing with a pregnancy; WE are allowed to choose whether or not we can physically and financially care for a child. If you don’t want us to be able to control that, then give us the contraception needed to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and child your men children to not have sex unless they use a condom!
All said in loving kindness.
Terri, thank you for your response. Are you sure we have no right to judge what is sin and what isn’t? How is it that we can help our brothers correct sin if we don’t do that (Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5)? How can we fight sin in our own lives if we can’t discern what is and what isn’t sin?
Terri, thank you for your response. Are you sure we have no right to judge what is sin and what isn’t? How is it that we can help our brothers correct sin if we don’t do that (Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5)? How can we fight sin in our own lives if we can’t discern what is and what isn’t sin? Whose standard should we live by?
I think certainly the Christian is called to repent from sin which requires discerning what is sinful and what isn’t, but the key is that our goal is to focus on the beam in our own eye and not the speck in our neighbors. There is a time for coming alongside someone and showing them a better way to live, but that occurs when you are on the “inside” of that person’s story (i.e, relationship) and can take the time to discover the most loving way to help them apply (contextualized) biblical truth to their lives.
Okay. Brother, how do we call people to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus if we don’t at least imply judgment about their sin?
Thanks for the comment, but I obviously disagree with the general premise. You’re speaking from a reformed/Calvinist foundation and, if you’ve followed the blog, you know that is not the foundation I am working from. Also, we clearly have opposite views on the World Vision issue, as I’ve written about at length. The Bible in no way prohibits allowing our gay brothers and sisters to have jobs alongside us in NGO’s.
Ah. Well, we will disagree with dignity! 😉 It’s awesome, though, that you took the time to read it and reply. Keep working for the Lord, brother!
“God’s salvific plans are not contingent upon our being less crappy. It’s based on the Holy Spirit changing hearts.”
If that is entirely true, then why does God need people to evangelize?
Great question! The Bible says that faith comes through hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. God uses our preaching as a means of bringing people to faith. Does that help?
Thank you for your well thought out comment. I agree with you 100%. These are the days when people will not want to hear the truth but rather what “tickles” their ears. I think that Ray Comfort has a great way of talking to unbelievers and getting the gospel out. Thanks again! .
I have to challenge your 5th and 7th points in particular.
With regard to World Vision in the U.S., do they check to ensure that none of their employees, homosexual AND heterosexual, are engaging in sexual relations outside of marriage? An unmarried heterosexual couple living together are “living in unrepentant sin” just as much a homosexual couple in a loving, committed relationship (to the extent that you believe that any of those individuals is engaging in sin, which I personally don’t). It is wrong for World Vision to discriminate against those engaging in one specific type of sin, while effectively giving a free pass to all others. And it is unconscionable and anti-Christian to victimize innocent children in need in order to communicate one’s displeasure. There is absolutely no way that a person donating to World Vision could have been characterized as supporting same-sex marriage through their contributions.
As for political parties, whatever happened to the concept of separation of church and state? But, more to the point, if it’s legitimate for Christians to be “engaged and thoughtful” about issues of marriage equality and reproductive choice, should they not also be engaged and thoughtful with regard to the question of which parties best respect Jesus’s command to care for “the least of these?” (Matt. 25:40)
Thank you for continuing the dialogue and challenging my thoughts. I can’t speak to what World Vision’s process is exactly, but if I ran a para-church organization like World Vision, here’s what I would do: I would ask my prospective employees about any unrepentant sin they might have in their life, and I would have a policy that says that if sin is found out, it is brought to them graciously, and if they refuse to repent, they can no longer be an employee of the organization. Churches do it all the time, and rightfully so. World Vision is an arm of the church, and so they should play by the same rules.
Keep in mind, it’s not about just sinning in general. We all sin. It’s about refusing to repent of sin. That’s a key of difference. If I were an employee of World Vision, and it came out that I was habitually getting drunk, and they brought it to me, and I refused to repent, they should be able to fire me. Why? Because it’s their company policy to represent the company well and because it’s Christ’s mandate the we represent the church well. And I guarantee you (Lord willing) that if they fired me, it’s not like the ministry would collapse. Another believer would be able to take my place.
Regarding political parties, you bring up a great point! It’s not only those two topics that Christians should be concerned about. I don’t think that a Christian should be staunchly for a political party, but they should vote according to their conscience, and their conscience should be rooted in the word of God. Every aspect of a candidates platform should be examined and compared to Scripture, and a biblically-based decision should be made.
What I’d invite you to consider on the political party issue, is that plenty of Christians see the Republican party the way you see the Democrats. To a Christian such as myself, the Republican party is not rooted in scripture. It is pro-violence (Jesus teaches nonviolence), nationalistic, neglects the poor in favor of unregulated capitalism, anti-immigrant, etc. This is why the piece said that neither party represents Jesus. However, it is completely possible for someone to vote their conscience– one that is deeply rooted in the word of God– and vote for a democrat. Just FWIW.
Agreed! 🙂 if it helps to clarify my position, I voted for President Obama in 2008 using such a standard.
World Vision Canada, in contrast to WV US, does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and does not ask personal questions of that nature in the interview process. Here’s how they described their policy in an open letter a couple of days ago, responding to the WV US controversy:
“We ask that our employees sign and follow a code of conduct. That code of conduct, signed every year by each staff person, requires all our staff to behave in a manner that is ethical, legal, and consistent with our values and mission.”
I think that’s a reasonable policy. I really don’t think it’s appropriate for any church-affiliated organization to start presuming to judge the personal behaviour of its employees. Why shouldn’t Matthew 7:1-5 apply? (“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?
Matthew 7:1-5 is often misused. Christians and non-Christians alike use it to say that other’s sins are none of our business. If that’s what Jesus meant, then why is it that there’s a process for addressing other’s sins just a chapter later? Why does that process end in removing the unrepentant sinner out of the church?
Granted, World Vision is not a church, but it is supposed to be made up of the church, and so it’s reasonable for an organization made up of believers should address sin.
I firmly believe that religion or rigorous practice can’t be applied with
pressure and intimidation because that only brings force and violence, not
wisdom so it must be fulfilled with reason, debate and intuition. When religion
is left to the conviction and conscience of every person, then one can achieve
a balance in this world between positive and negative, good and evil, and also
between pleasure and pain. If religion brings fear, hatred, separation or
anything that will frighten a child, it is probably not a true practice.
Religion should bring reverence and respect for everyone and everything, and it
should also not be bent for the rich and powerful because one will see wealth
and worldly pleasure as worthless in the higher layers of the mind. The cloak
of hypocrisy and self-interest has to be removed so praise and blame can be
taken with a calm assurance unaffected by both honor and disgrace. There is no
need to limit our possibilities as we open our consciousness to greater receptivity,
to an enlarged concept of life as it takes on a fresh and extraordinary
Religion should not be used to manipulate people in politics. It should be
respected and used internally.
While I agree with many of the points, the tone of the article itself seems to mimic those being criticized, spoken out against, corrected, rebuked, held accountable (whatever ya want to call it). . . Even WITH the use of the royal “we.” (Do you REALLY do these things Ben? If not, why pretend with the “let’s stop…” I think you really mean “you should stop…”).
Anyways it seems a better way to answer the question posed by the title might be: “Imitate Jesus” with a list of positive examples: “go out and care for sick folk,” “pour your life into some spiritually hungry disciples,” “honor prostitutes and other so called sinners no one else seems to car about,”. “Speak truth even to power, even if it will get you in trouble,” “sacrifice your life if asked”. “Trust God to feed you,” “Spend lots of time in conversation with the Father – then do what He says,”
Ugh. When I say “you should” in articles I get shot. When I try to be less forceful and more humble by saying “we” or “maybe” I get shot on the other end. It’s kinda a catch 22. But, I like some of your ideas– those would make a good post too. However, both deconstructing and reconstructing are important. This piece tried to do a bit of both.
Yeah, I get it. But isn’t that exactly what we dislike so much about the fundie approach – always deconstructing others.? If we were as good (and I DO mean we – lol) at constructing our own faith in the image of Jesus as we are at deconstructing others, perhaps our trumpets would sound more clearly and we wouldn’t have to worry so much about our image among the unbelievers. I’ve more and more come to regard many of the approaches you mentioned as I do the crazy, inappropriate uncle at the family picnic – embarrassing and sad. My job isn’t to correct him or even try to deny he is one if us but to live in such a way that others know he doesn’t represent the whole family. To do that I have lots of deconstruction to do – but mostly on my self.
That humility that says, “I could be wrong,” is very rare because of fear. It is scary to think “I could be wrong” if you believe your eternal destiny rests on your beliefs. So to stay sane, people dig in their heels and attack anyone who disagrees with them. It’s a sad state of affairs. I don’t know how people will ever gain that sort of humility when they hold a frightening theology.
That is not humility saying “I could be wrong” it is foolishness.
Christians claim they have a relationship with Jesus yet then to say “but I could be wrong” is foolish, Suppose you have a relationship with your husband but then you say wow I really love my husband we have a great relationship but I could be wrong, because I’m not sure my husband actually exists
That’s not humility, that’s foolishness
If any Christian has the attitude that “they could be wrong” they need to repent
People that turn to Christ in place like Syria put it all on Christ they lose their family and get their arms chopped do you really think they would say “but I could be wrong”
seriously this whole blog shows the foolishness that has become of American Christianity Joel osteen type self help in Jesus name nonsense
Then again, you could be wrong. People question the unseen, it is human nature to question and seek answers. According to you American Christians shouldn’t question their faith and seek out answers for themselves, but that is the only way you grow spiritually as a Christian. So what if someone questions the existence of God? What’s the fear? The Christian faith should be questioned, examined, and sometimes scrutinized because that is how Christians grow in their faith in America. This rigid form of Christianity that you express will be the death of Christian faith.
Didn’t Benjamin fail to equivocate his message here with “but I could be wrong” and this is “being a total #@$%’s about it”?
“Jesus saves but I could be wrong.”
“God forgives but I could be wrong.”
“The Holy Spirit can change your life but I could be wrong.”
Yes! What a powerful message that is! That is exactly what Jesus called us to do, equivocate the Gospel to the entire world!
The way I read Ben’s statements, it’s more about not being so arrogant. If “I could be wrong” rubs you the wrong way, how about, “I believe…” or “In my opinion…” After all, your belief in the Gospel may be the pivot your life revolves around, but you don’t have absolute physical proof of its truth.
You do understand that there’s a difference between “Jesus saves” and “two plus two equals four,” right? I can set two apples down, set two more down and count them, and confirm for all the world how many apples I have. Your religious belief, no matter how strong, simply can’t be confirmed in that way. To me, it makes sense acknowledge that simple reality.
Also, many Christians appear to demand conformity in matters of dress, deportment and lifestyle. It’s important for people to understand that just because you or your church has come to a specific interpretation of the Gospels, not everyone shares that belief. Your interpretation is not gospel. It’s just your interpretation. In other words, if your church has decided women shouldn’t vote, don’t try to repeal voting rights for all women. Live your beliefs, and let others do the same.
But you could be wrong.
As could we all, RX, as could we all. But, to my knowledge, I’m not trying to force my beliefs, in error or not, down anyone else’s throat. I think That’s what Ben was talking about. I know it’s what I was.
But you could be wrong.
Of course. Understanding that you could be mistaken about virtually anything you believe is fundamental to maintaining your sanity. How else can you self-correct?
But you could be wrong.
I see a whole lot of agreeing that other people should equivocate their message without equivocating your own. Seems a tad hypocritical to me. Or, is it only other people who need to equivocate their message and you are, of course, right in yours?
I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here. I have agreed with you repeatedly. I could be wrong. You could be wrong. Anyone, anywhere, at any time could be wrong. I believe understanding that is critical to self-correcting when I have bad information.
I do try to use phrases such as “I believe…, or “In my opinion….” or “In my experience…,” in my discussions. I try not to state anything as hard-and-fast truth unless it can be proven by objective facts. How, exactly do you see me as being dogmatic?
“Anyone, anywhere, at any time could be wrong.”
But you could be wrong. Get it?
I don’t. Unless it’s a joke, like; “I always lie. Now, I’m lying to you. So what I said is true, except I alway lie.” that kind of thing. Otherwise, I’m clueless.
“Anyone, anywhere, at any time could be wrong” is a declarative statement without equivocation.
OK, in my opinion, anyone, anywhere, at any time could be wrong. Better?
Here was the point I was getting at: for example, among Christians we have both those who believe in predestination, and those who believe in free will. We have people who believe in speaking in tongues, and those who don’t. We have an infinite amount of disagreement on things, and with any of these examples, both sides cannot be right at the same time so long as truth is defined as “that which corresponds to reality”. As such, we need to have the humility that says “I could be wrong” because well, we could be– and probably are on many issues.
But you could be wrong.
I love when “Progressive Christians” (oddly, meaning ones who try to obey Christ) speak out. People often assume I’m not Christian because I’m critical of the image Christians are presenting. People assume that my being annoyed and offended by Christians is because I’m gay, and well, many Christians think my liking girls is ruining the world. They think that I even though I’ve spent the last decade defending the rights of Americans, I don’t deserve those rights.
My beef with many Christians is because I’m a Christian, not because I’m gay. I’m offended by the image that they portray, we’re seen as bigots, bullies, ignorant wack jobs, basically Westboro Baptist. It’s heartbreakingly rare that people associate Christianity with the charity, selflessness, and boundless love of Christ.
so, thank you.
Oh, you took the words right out of my mouth! When I was younger I “left” the Catholic Church because, or so I THOUGHT at the time, I was gay. Now I realize that, as a CHRISTIAN, I was offended.
Westboro Baptist is a group of Democrat activists trying to make a scene for the TV cameras to smear Christianity. They’re performing street theater for the Leftist cause, nothing more.
Christians are being persecuted in the USA. The ACLU has successfully eliminated 1st Amendment protection for Christian speech and now children are expelled from school for praying over their lunch, Christian speech is punished if it is visible to others who feel ‘offended’ by it, Christians cannot invoke the ‘we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason’ rights of all the other business owners… even insanity like eradicating traditional American songs that so much as refer to God as the Founders did so very frequently.
NY Principal Pulls Patriotic Song “God Bless America”, Wants to Avoid Offending Other Cultures
What Socialists are doing to Christians in the USA is a bad rerun of what they did to Jews in Germany in the 1930s. It WILL get worse.
Wbc has nothing whatsoever to do with leftist policies. Leftist policies are pro-gay, pro-equal rights, pro-choice, pro-outreach. Basically everything the wbc is AGAINST. If you’re looking to hate a whole group of people on the left, you have complety missed the message and are completely wrong in your reasoning why.
WBC has nothing to do with Christianity. It is an exercise following Saul Alinsky’s Rules for leftist Radicals.
Leftists, to smear opponents, will pretend to be among their opponent’s supporters – and act like complete asses.
Another example: When Democrat students wanted to smear candidate George Bush (first one), they went to Alinsky and told him they wanted to hold signs cursing Bush and insulting him. Alinsky said, no, instead dress up like KKK members and every time Bush talks, cheer.
You failed to comprehend why the “Westboro Baptist” Democrat activists are doing what they are doing. It’s a common Leftist game – pretend to be supporters of your opponent and act like complete asses (the Democrat mascot, for good reason). You got some learnin’ to do.
Wow… three things:
First, sometimes people actually mean what they say. There is zero evidence that Westboro Baptist Church are anything but what they claim to be.
Second, there is zero moral highground in the republican party.
And third, you could stand to learn a few things from an article i just read called, “How to be a Christian without being a total @$&#! about it.”
I’d like to see someone teach Atheists how to be an atheist without being a total a&& about it.
Or teach gay people how to be homosexual without being a total a&& about it.
How about being ‘green’ without being a total a&& about it? That would be nice, too.
It seems that only Christians are expected to be mellow and get along for the sake of getting along, even as they are systematically persecuted by Leftists who, in their usual fashion, try to drive Christianity out of society.
The Communist-created ACLU is attacking our Constitution by attacking Christianity.
Guess who’s now banned from Capitol Christmas tree!
Forest Service forbids ‘religious themes’ on 5,000 decorations recognizing holiday
Bah, humbug! No Christmas play here
School bans “A Christmas Carol” play because of the word “Christmas”
ACLU: Christianity has no place on school board
Argues 10 Commandments display unconstitutional if believer advocates it
‘Illegal’: GA High School Abandons 50 Years of Prayer After Atheists’ Threats
Two teens beaten after ‘Tebowing’ at prep hoops game
The ACLU is only mentioned in one of those 5 links, dude. And yes: a 10 Commandments display at a public school actually is unconstitutional.
Further, NOBODY, liberal or conservative, is defending the attack of those two teens.
Further still: the ACLU defends Christians on occasions when their liberties are ACTUALLY under attack.
Do you want me to post ALL the ACLU-attack-Christianity links? Dude, there are way too many. Here is their general stance:
“Board members who pray before public meetings should be removed from society.”
– ACLU of Louisiana
But ya know what? The Founders of this nation, who wrote the Constitution, opened their sessions of Congress with prayer. The First Congress and President established a national day of Christian prayer to God and promoted it in the nation’s newspapers. The Supreme Court opened with prayer to God for guidance.
The ACLU, however, is promoting the Soviet Constitution and even cites “separation of church and state” to drive Christianity out of the schools and halls of government.
“In the USSR, the church shall be separated from the state and the school from the church.”
Standard Communist Agenda.
A 10 Commandments display on a courthouse or in a public school is PROTECTED by the American Constitution. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and show where the Founders tried to REMOVE them. The ACLU tricked you.
The 10 Commandments is even displayed in several locations on our Supreme Court building.
The ACLU is the primary attack dog against Christian expression, using the Big Lie of “separation of church and state”. That is not in our Constitution. Freedom of religious expression is. As for your examples:
1) was not a defense of Christian speech, it was a push-back against a group size definition imposed by the campus.
2) “centers on the constitutional rights of indigent people to full and fair access to the courts.”
3) is about people bringing their own food into a cafeteria, again NOT about Christian expression (prayer, 10 commandments, etc)
4) is about distribution of advertising flyers during school time, without prior Administrative approval
5) is not a defense of Christian expression in schools or halls of government, therefore is irrelevant
Let’s see how the ACLU is attacking actual Christian expression…
ACLU Sues Federal Government Over Christian Cross in Mojave National Preserve
ACLU sues L.A. County leaders over cross on county seal
ACLU Sues Ohio School District Over Football Team Prayers
Where do you think that term came from? I honestly want you to tell me.
Hint: it predates the Soviet Union by about a century
Hint: It did NOT come from the US Constitution. That’s what matters.
Thomas Jefferson used it to assure the Danbury Baptists that Government has no power whatsoever to suppress their freedom of religious expression. It does not mean what the ACLU pretends it means.
Nope, nothing in your link showing where the Founders tried to suppress religious expression.
But we know they promoted it, from the halls of Congress, even establishing a national day of prayer to God. Try reading “George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation”. We still celebrate that national Holy-day today.
As long as Government is not suppressing anybody’s free religious expression, the Constitution is upheld.
Somebody needs to tell the ACLU that!
Funny that you should mention that article about Atheists… http://theirishatheist.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/how-to-be-an-atheist-without-being-a-total-about-it/
I have never heard a liberal cite Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals as an example of how to do anything. Not even once. And I know a lot of liberals. I’ve never read it, nor has anyone I know.
Instead, the only people who squawk about it are conservatives, who have somehow been duped into believing that every liberal everywhere is some virulent anti-Christian radical who buries themselves in communist literature. It’s an absurd caricature, clung to by people who are incapable of attacking an ACTUAL political or philosophical position.
That’s why Leftists call Liberals their “useful idiots”. They don’t even KNOW what they’re doing.
Leftists, and I know plenty, are big fans of Saul Alinsky. Hillary Clinton was a great admirer of him, interviewed him and wrote a college paper about him – before being accepted for a job in the Communist Party headquarters in San Francisco.
Rules for Radicals is an ACTUAL plan of attack used by Leftists all throughout our society. Al Sharpton, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Cindy Sheehan… they use it because it works.
I’m all-for the occasional inane conspiracy theory, but at least try to make it interesting?
I’m not interested in conspiracy theories. That’s why I stick to the facts.
The facts may not be interesting but their consequences sure can be.
Then why do you tell fictions like “the WBC are leftist radicals”?
Lenin called you folks “useful idiots” for a reason!
Calling me an idiot over and over is not a substitute for sound argumentation. You have yet to provide one iota of evidence that the WBC is actually composed of deep-cover leftists other than wishful thinking on your part.
Yes, you are exactly right, and don’t forget the President was raised in Kenya, is a Muslim and is planning on implementing Sharia law federally, Frozen is a movie that makes kids into “homos”, and the “Libtards” are going to put Christians in concentration camps.
SERIOUSLY….I feel sorry for you that you have missed the whole point of Benjamin’s article and more importantly, you have missed the whole point of Christianity and the meaning of the cross. May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to the truth of God’s great mercy and grace. Peace to you.
Jesus was not silent in the face of transgressors nor did he try to avoid “offending”. He stood for truth and compassion and actively resisted those who did not. That is the point of Christianity – to do as Jesus did and taught. Where evil is done, stand up, point it out and oppose it.
There are states that are passing laws for “religious freedom” saying you can bully gays if they are against their religious beliefs. Don’t talk to me about opression. There are plenty of religious based laws in this country that stop equality and freedom of choice
I’m curious – what states are allowing bullying? All I’m finding is that students are free to speak their minds – not threaten harm against other students.
Jesus did not teach bullying – he taught the opposite. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.
I’m sorry my friend, but you and I must be reading two different Bibles? The only individuals that Jesus stood up against and/or offended was the Pharisees. And the point of Christianity is Jesus, His work (not ours), and God restoring and reconciling humanity and all of creation unto Himself through Him. Jesus never told his followers to point out the sins of others, to degrade another they might feel is sinful, or to condemn anyone.
And one other tiny point. You mentioned Jesus stood for truth and so do His followers, so then why do you adhere to and seek to propagate so many untruths in your original post?
Peace to you and may you find the freedom to live in the grace and mercy God has surrounded you with.
So when you offend people, are you standing up to evil or just being small-minded and self-righteous? What if there is sincere disagreement over what is good and evil?
People are always free to disagree. They may choose to be offended or not but certainly should not have power to silence others who speak in ways they disagree with.
Let each of us speak his own truth and be content in knowing it will differ from others’.
Just a word of caution – if you offend the Muslims, you may get dead. Just sayin’.
Mark you are a psycho give me one piece of evidence that suggests that obama is planning to implement sharia law. If you guys want to have a conversation about how you don’t like obama’s policies that is fine but there is no evidence that suggests that obama is trying to implement islamic law
He was being facetious.
Please re-read what I wrote to Speak2truth. And btw I voted for the President twice. Peace to you.
Well, in 2006 he traveled to Kenya to campaign for Raila Odinga, a Marxist thug who made a deal with the Islamists to impose Sharia law on Kenya. Despite Obama’s personal support, Odinga lost the election and his followers went on a Christian-killing spree.
That was probably important information when the guy ran for US President praising the “Holy Koran” while mocking Christians, but our newsies concealed his past to help him get elected.
Now, he’s ordered NASA to spend our taxes on “Muslim Outreach” programs instead of space exploration. He uses our military to help the Muslim Brotherhood conquer other nations (Libya, Egypt… Congress stopped him on Syria). His Administration has welcomed Islamists to edit our FBI’s training manuals to remove references to Islamist terrorism and to prevent snooping in mosques, helping the Boston Bombers avoid detection before their attack.
Yeah, Obama’s Islamist allegiance is pretty well demonstrated.
Don’t feed the trolls 😉
One question, why are you offending others through Christian speech? Notice I didn’t say with Christian speech.
May I ask what alternate universe you’re commenting from, clearly you don’t live in the same reality as the rest of us.
Is the sky red there? Does everyone walk backwards? Are shrimp the most powerful species?
I rather enjoy seeing the ‘meltdown’. Those who can’t argue the facts fall into ranting idiocies as an escape.
I don’t see a meltdown from HD. And what exactly were you trying to win?
Didn’t you know, Mark? It’s not about Christ…
It’s about WINNING!
Oh, you didn’t see HD’s epic meltdown into raving insanity? LOL!!!
Try reading back a few posts.
Leftists, when they want to tell you they’ve lost all grasp on reality, melt down into those kinds of wild ravings. Or maybe a bong was involved. 😀
You sound like just as much of a raving lunatic. God did not say “Thou shalt be a Republican” or “Thou shalt be a Democrat.” He said, “Follow me,” and “For there is no authority except for that granted by God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
Perhaps if you’re so concerned about what Obama is doing, maybe you should be praying to God that he comes to know the Lord if he doesn’t already.
This is why I am neither republican or democrat. I put my faith on the Father above, praying for those leading my earthly country as He has mandated in His word, while putting my citizenship in His holy kingdom.
that is so moronic of you to say. First of all there is not a single case of anyone being expelled for quietly reading the bible. You cannot have it be part of the curriculum but you can read whatever you want. And second of all you cannot refuse service to a gay person just like you can’t refuse service to a black person. It is hateful and discriminatory and wrong. It also makes no sense in terms of following the christian bible because it says Jesus serves everyone and so if your a follower of christ you should serve everyone. This includes gays. I find it very offensive that you are comparing what happened with the jews to christians in the united states. Jews were not allowed to go to schools were put in death camps and 7 million were killed. Christians are not persecuted in that way. Comparing the persecution of christians to jews is a joke. Give me one example where someone’s first amendment speech was eliminated because there is none.
>> First of all there is not a single case of anyone being expelled for quietly reading the bible. You cannot have it be part of the curriculum but you can read whatever you want.
In other words, freedom of religious expression is dead. It must be out of sight, unheard, away from hateful atheists who reflexively lash out. You clearly need to learn why the Founders wrote the 1st Amendment. Hint: They made the Bible part of the curriculum. Even Thomas Jefferson ensured a Christian pastor ministered to his students every week. Why?
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams
“Congress passed this resolution: “The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.” – United States Congress 1782
>> And second of all you cannot refuse service to a gay person just like you can’t refuse service to a black person. It is hateful and discriminatory and wrong.
You missed Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech? We all know that skin color is not what defines the differences between people, despite Democrats’ persistent efforts to claim it does. We do not discriminate on skin color. But nobody claimed that we cannot discriminate based on content of character. Belief systems are a legitimate foundation for choosing with whom to associate. That is a basic human right.
I am not a slave who must OBEY someone’s orders to sell them something or to associate with them. I am not a public servant whose job it is to provide services to all people equally. I am a private person with every right to serve or refuse to serve whomever I wish for whatever reason I wish. It’s time you started respecting MY rights.
If you want to amend the Constitution to say, “No person may refuse to provide a service or goods to another except for government-allowed reasons”, go for it.
And while you’re at it, make sure the Atheists are forced to make Christian-themed products, to promote Christianity, to work for a Church group…
Oh, wait, this whole article is about how we should NOT be bullying other people with our belief systems! Well, that includes atheists.
I think we can all thank Speaks2Truth for giving us such a sterling example of exactly what Ben was referring to. Lies, false claims of persecution, arrogance, a political agenda, condemnation of anyone not in line with his special brand of crazy, it’s all there.
Attention: Christians actually wanting to spread your Good News rather than driving people away, don’t do this!
I think I can thank you for failing to refute the facts I’m presenting as I cut through the lies and I reveal the persecution of Christians spreading across the USA.
There’s a good reason Americans don’t trust Leftists. They are doing in the USA what they did in the USSR, NAZI Germany, China, Cuba…
Do you know anyone from Westboro? Say they’re not serious about what they believe they’re doing for God and they might come protest at YOUR funeral. 🙂
Your comments about your perception about how people claiming to be Christians are treated – you made the article writer’s point for him. People think Christians are mostly $&@es.
Yes, I’m sure that if I say anything, they’ll happily look for ways to harass me as well. That’s how Leftists operate.
It is the anti-Christians who are asses for trying to scrub Christianity from our society. This is what Leftists do to every society they take over. Christianity is an obstacle to their schemes. Christianity teaches “love thy neighbor as thyself” and “thou shalt not steal”, the opposite of Socialist ideology.
The Westboro folks are demonstrating standard Leftist hate-performances to craft a ‘perception’. It’s all a game to them.
Sadly, Leftists convinced the German people that Jews, Jehova’s Witnesses, Gypsies, Christians… were ‘bad’ as well. That’s what led to the concentration camps. As the Left rile up hatred against our nation’s traditional religious beliefs, we too are headed down that same path.
“Fundamental transformation” is well underway and you won’t like where it is headed.
Prayer in public: Can you still say ‘Jesus’?
ACLU sues to stop clergy from invoking ‘religious messages’ at meetings
Psalms banned, but witchcraft OK
Supreme Court endorses ‘hostility’ toward Christianity
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2010/01/122478/#8XKHyVs1IHqfDpCp.99
Psalms banned, but witchcraft OK
Supreme Court endorses ‘hostility’ toward Christianity
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2010/01/122478/#8XKHyVs1IHqfDpCp.99School prohibits student from reading from Bible – witchcraft, Judaism and dreidel game okay.
Teacher orders 3rd–grader: Put Bible away!
‘This was injustice. No other child has to go through this again’
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2009/12/119214/#iqhRXVBtxJVxsp1H.99ACLU attack dogs maul student prayer
Group snarls at admin for allowing invocation, Christmas concerts at churches
You really aren’t doing a great job of loving your neighbor when all you do is insult people and call them idiots.
Also, it’s a mandate in the Bible to take care of creation. So yeah, I’ll be as green as possible to make sure I’m taking care of what God gave me.
And once again, no, I’m not liberal and no, I’m not a conservative. I’m following Christ. I don’t put my identity in a political party.
Every single sentence in your four paragraphs, without exception, is false. Every single one.
Only one sentence is half-true: “Christians are being persecuted in the USA.” It’s half-true because many (most?) of the millions of homosexuals being persecuted in the United States are Christians… but I know that’s not what you meant.
Christians are being persecuted in the US. Too bad no Christian will ever get to be president of this nation due to the pervasive persecution. Oh, wait…..
Remember how Democrats made a HUGE issue of Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith?
Or Schumer attacking a Bush Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito because of his Catholic faith, insisting it disqualified him from being a Judge? (Alito was prevented from taking the job)
Or the attacks on GW Bush because of his Christian faith? (Almost worked, too)
Obama sneered at Christians for “clinging” to their Bibles even as he praised the “Holy Koran”. His Church of Black Liberation Theology (created by Marxists) preached hatred of the USA and loyalty to Africa. Democrats had no problem with that, at all.
Uhhh, Samuel Alito IS a supreme court justice. How exactly was he prevented from taking an office he currently holds?
Only a Christian can be elected to the highest office of this land and you know it! All the examples you cited above are Christians ATTACKING OTHER CHRISTIANS for not being the “right kind” of Chrisitans! PLENTY of republicans questioned Mitt Romney’s faith and did little to hide their disgust over it. It’s typical Christian vs Christain fanaticism, plain and simple.
It’s been going on since the Christianity was started, read up on the Donatists and how they massacred other Christians over their perceived lack of piousness.
another point of complete logic fail among the President Obama haters is where they try claim he’s a muslim holding a koran and also a devout member of a Christian church where the pastor said some things they didn’t like.
it kind of makes me giggle every time. do they hear how impossibly stupid that is?
Read Romans 1:18-32. and believe it is truth then realize your beef is with God. Not with Christians.
Westboro doesn’t preach the Gospel, they condemn the sinner yet never get to repentance and faith in Christ. If you preach the full gospel it is easy to see Westboro isn’t
Thank you … as a Buddhist, I truly appreciate (and honor) your religion – and appreciate this article’s message tremendously.
Great sentiment. Evangelicals who are accused of being jerks often push back by saying that Jesus and the early church upset and angered people, but here’s the thing: the people that Jesus upset were the RELIGIOUS LEADERS of the day, not the common everyday people. Same with the early church. In fact, it says in Acts that the early church was “highly regarded” by the people (5:13) and “enjoyed the favor of all the people” (2:47). Whatever happened to that, hey?
The people that should be angered by our message should be the people in power- religious or otherwise- the oppressors of our day, not the oppressed.
Joel, the common people in the crowd also yelled crucify him
Good point, Brian!
I’d like to add one more commandment – Stop trying to use public venues to prove your holier-than-thouness. Praying at a family gathering is OK, just don’t make everyone around you uncomfortable by praying over your meal in a public dining facility. Publishing a group newsletter is great as long as you don’t try to push your brand of church down everybody’s throats. Loudly proclaiming your “Godly” charitable acts is only a way of putting down those of us who are unable to participate or those of us who prefer to keep our acts under the radar.
Good points, pennyhammack. Much of religion is about “signaling” — telling others you are respectable, trustworthy, good …
Prayers , newsletters, churchgoing, god-talk are all part of that.
I think praying over a meal is something people do for personal reasons, not for a show. I sure don’t want people looking at me while I’m praying, but it also feels wrong not to offer a moment of thanks before eating. If it’s a restaurant, everyone’s looking at their own table/food anyway, unless you get loud.
My objection is not to praying but to making a show of praying. You know, holding hands, praying for everyone and everything that’s going on in the world, etc. A short thanks is OK or give thanks before you leave your home or in the car. Jesus said pray in private and I have no problem with that. Obvious public prayer is saying look at me, see how holy I am.
I think it comes down to this we are all called to God’s table by his perfect Grace. The hardest part of accepting this is that His Grace is extended to all even those that we would not invite if it was up to us. Christians do not have to agree on everything, if they did there would only one denomination. Maybe we would all be better Christians if we spent more time following Jesus and a lot less time arguing over what we think He meant.
But James, then all we need is a list of Jesus’ commands or examples — Paul offers us next to nothing. Paul offers us theology. So maybe we need a James Jarvis Bible — tell us what it takes to follow Jesus, then we could ignore Paul.
I wouldn’t want any one to follow me I am as lost as anyone. That said Matthew 25 is a good place to start, as is the commandment to love one other. I don’t have any answers just a lot of questions.
But you can see the problem, can’t you. 1/2 of the New Testament don’t tell us anything about “following Jesus”. You want a “following Jesus” red-letter Bible.
I think what you are asking about is called Red Letter Christianity. The idea that the Red Letter passages in the Bible have greater authority because they were spoken by Jesus. That greatly simplifies things but thats the essence as I understand it.
So you are a Red Letter Christian.
But I wager that it you don’t accept all the things Jesus is reported to have said by all the gospel writers. I wager you only like certain ones — the warm and fuzzy stuff.
I never said I was a Red Letter Christian. I like a lot of things about Red Letter Christianity but I am familiar enough with scripture and how the Gospels were written to know that the context and culture in which they were written is important. Jesus often spoke truth to power and challenged the religious authorities of his. He also flipped over tables and drove the money changers from the temple.
I would hardly call that warm and fuzzy. I’ve also read Harris’ and Dawkin’s book and found them lacking. I’ve also read Bertrand Russell’s why I am not a Christian which I find to be a reasoned argument and something every Christian should read. That said I obviously disagree with his conclusion. So no I don’t “like” only the warm and fuzzy stuff.
OK, I will name some not so loving (warm and fuzzy) stuff that the writers had Jesus say:
Those who bear bad fruit will be cut down and burned “with unquenchable fire. Matt 3:10,12
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matt 7:14
“The children of the kingdom [the Jews] shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matt 8:12
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18
I am not pushing to be an Atheist — and certainly not any particular type. I am pushing to be honest about your beliefs. I imagine you have hermeneutic methods to ignore some of the stuff the gospel writers had their Jesus say. I mean he even talks about killing children who curse their parents. Certainly you have accepted some apologists ways around that one.
I am honest about my beliefs. I believe in Grace and that is the lens I choose to view the world through. I reject utterly the doctrine of eternal damnation. I also reject the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and Bible inerrancy. So I don’t ignore the verses you quote but I just see them as inconsistent with my understanding of God.
OK, James. Well you are my favorite sort of Christian — no damnation, no Bible worship. It looks like I was right about you. You have chosen your favorite Jesus and made the rest to fit. I think that is great because you made a good Jesus to aspire towards. You may think you have done otherwise, but the outcome is the same so I won’t argue. Other Christians on this thread will, of course, vehemently disagree with you. In fact, for centuries, you’d have been burned as a heretic — as would have I. In this sense we are both brothers! 🙂
You and I are probably closer in thinking than many of the Christians on this thread. To those scorning believers, that is horrible: an atheist and a believer are brothers who will suffer the same fate after death and so can honestly be real friends in this life.
All of these passages are talking about how people will be judged by God, not Christians.
Yes, cassandie. I wasn’t implying otherwise. It just shows what a harsh view Jesus held. You probably love that harsh Jesus but some of the Christians on this thread don’t.
I have no patience or time for Christians who feel that simply not believing something should doom someone to eternal torture. It is a horrible, dangerous, destructive thought. It is one of the very worst aspects of “orthodox” Christianity. As you see — James (who calls himself a “Christian”) doesn’t believe they are true. He doesn’t believe that part of the Bible.
Yes, of course they are. These words were put in the mouth of their Gospel’s “Jesus” — the supposed son of God or even (according to gJohn) God himself. So Jesus is saying “look, this is the way it is.”
So followers of Jesus must believe this — they must agree with Jesus — their model of a perfect person. Well, unless as James has done, you just dismiss these sayings for Jesus somehow and yet still call yourself a follower of a Biblical Jesus. Or maybe your are just a follower of the Jesus you imagine in your head — all warm and fuzzy.
That is my point. Hope that is clearer.
In Matthew 8, Jesus points out that a Centurion, a Roman Soldier, has true faith, whereas many who are born Jews have an expectation that just because of their birthright they will get special treatment at the gates of Heaven. But they, who feel ‘entitled’, will be the ones shut out, while even a Centurion of true faith would be welcomed in.
I don’t see how that is a harsh thing. It’s a statement of appreciation for true believers.
A lot of folks express the same disgust with today’s ‘entitlement generation’ who figure they have a right to all the good stuff their parents have without even earning it.
Ah, I see your pattern S2T. No more food for you.
Well done. While I might modify a couple, your heart of reconciliation comes through loud and clear. I read Matt Walsh’s post this morning and was saddened once again.
I believe one of the problems that the evangelical side of the equation faces is wrapped up in #7, a tendency to conflate Christianity, Mosaic law and political conservatism. In doing so, many believe their honoring God but fail to realize to a lost world, they come across as A@#@#! 🙂
Again, well done.
Sorry, I’m not sure how that HUGE picture of me showed up there. My apologies to all…I really don’t think that highly of myself.
I think that sign with the list should be smaller font, end with God loves you, and 1 Timothy 1:15 written out.
Wonderful article, wonderful post. Bullying and nagging someone to become a Christian is like bullying or nagging someone to love you. Doesn’t work. Just scares people off, because there’s nothing as scary as desperation, and people who bully and nag people to “be saved” are (imho) desperate to prove to their church, themselves, and/or God how Christian they are by the number of people they convert.
The whole point is to walk the walk, live the love, and then – maybe – people will start asking you about what’s going on. What keeps you going. How you manage to cope. Start asking you for prayers. For help. As a very multi-cultural, non-denominational Christian, that’s what I try – often very poorly – to do.
Oh, and please, please, please quit with the whole “I’m oppressed!” line of crap. Just because someone disagrees with you, or dislikes you, or ignores you, or even insults you does not mean you’re oppressed. And if you were, you should be happy (biblically speaking) rather than all whiny with it. Just stop. Now.
I like your comment about bullying. There is a very fine line between “witnessing” and stalking.
Thanks. Unfortunately, I’ve run into a few bullies – at school, at work, and at church…
The oppression of Christians is through government bullying, bullying of school children, punishment for expressing Christian belief, lawyers, courts…
This is what the Founders wrote the 1st Amendment to prohibit.
Want me to post a bunch of links to acts of oppression against Christians? I could start with the forced removal of the Ten Commandments display from a courthouse.
The Founders wrote the 1st Amendment to protect ALL religions in this country. Better than posting links, tell us of one personal instance in which YOU were not allowed to say or write your opinion or beliefs, or in which YOU were punished – actually punished, financially or physically – for being a Christian (mockery or being ignored doesn’t count; Jesus promises us that in the Bible).
I’m not a Christian. But I was sure threatened with violence for defending Christians in an ‘intellectual elite’ setting.
What they couldn’t handle is actual historical evidence of what our 1st Amendment MEANS – quite the opposite of what the ACLU claims.
I’m sorry to hear that you were threatened with violence. I taught for years at the university level, openly Christian, openly willing to debate and talk about it, and was never threatened. Got laughed at some, yelled at some, but also listened to.
The only time I’ve ever been threatened with violence was by a “militia” guy for being a smart-aleck woman and when I’ve protested against war (Vietnam, Iraq 1, Iraq 2).
you could argue that christians are being opressed. But it is equal they don’t let anyone practice religion to a certain degree if it interferes with the curriculum it has nothing to do with being christian. They would do the same thing for a jewish or muslim person. Opression is where you are not treated equally for example not allowing gays to marry has gotten them deported and without basic rights. Slavery was opression. Slaves were not allowed freedoms because of the color of their skin. The holocaust was opression because the jews were not treated as humans.Two things one is christians are not being treated any differently than any other religous group. And two is Christians are an overwhelming majority in america and its not going to be the end of the world if someone tells them they can’t have bible practices in public schools. Like cry me a river but we have bigger issues to deal with
Nobody is stopping gay people from getting married. They are absolutely free to marry in every State in the union and to live like any other loving, committed couple. But what they’re demanding is a Government Permission Slip to get married. They are demanding that marriage become a function of Government, instead of social or religious tradition.
Do you remember all those film reels of government-controlled marriage under Socialist regimes? The poster of Mao presiding over marriages in China? Hitler presiding over them in Germany? Stalin in Russia? Kim Jong in North Korea?
Socialists are trying to put Government in control of all important aspects of life, including marriage. The ‘gay’ issue is their spear point.
I know plenty of gay people who are happily married without that government ‘permission slip’.
Recall that Democrats first tried to get Government in control of marriage to prevent black people from marrying white people. It was their angle, at the time, and now they’ve just chosen a different strategy to achieve the same goal.
The 1st Amendment: Congress shall pass no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
The 1st Commandment: I am the LORD your God… thou shalt have no other gods before me
One of these is actual American law. The other contradicts it. In addition to being a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause when displayed on government property, the First Commandment is antithetical to the very concept of religious freedom and plurality guaranteed by our Constitution.
Government cannot establish a nationally enforced religion, such as the Church of England, because that gives it the power to suppress religious expression that does not agree with the official government-approved one. Suppression of one belief group by another is what the Founders clearly prohibited in the 1st Amendment.
That includes Atheists suppressing Christian expression. It’s prohibited.
To establish Atheism as our official government-sanctioned religion obligates government to remove displays of other religious belief, such as Christianity. The ACLU is violating the establishment clause.
The First Commandment has no conflict with the 1st Amendment. One is free to believe in it or not and to express belief in it or not.
Try wrapping your head around the fact that the Founders established an Episcopal Church right inside the US Capitol Building and attended services there. Again, not a violation of the Constitution they had written.
President-Elect Thomas Jefferson personally approved establishment of Church in US Capitol and attended services there
Services were held in the chamber where the House of Representatives met from 1807 to 1857, now called Statuary Hall
I’m afraid you have been reading too much David Barton and not enough real history. The “Founders” did not “establish” a church inside the Capitol Building. In the early 19th century the Speaker of the House permitted church services to be held in the House chambers on Sundays.
A complete description of what happened, along with several quite amusing contemporary descriptions of the “services” as much more social than worship events, can be found in “Debunking David Barton’s Jefferson Lies: Lie #5” by Chris Rodda.
A summary account taken from Rodda’s book reads: “The obvious reason that church services were held in the public buildings of Washington during the Jefferson administration was that the city did not yet have churches, or any other buildings, that could accommodate them. When the government moved to Washington in 1800, the only churches that existed in the city were the converted tobacco shed mentioned in the last section that the Episcopalians were using and a small Catholic chapel built in 1794 for the Irish stonemasons who had moved to the city to work on the federal buildings.”
A link to download a free .pdf of the book can be found at the end of this article: http://www.talk2action.org/story/2014/4/10/14342/9495
I assure you, I’m well aware of this and other practices of religion in the halls of government.
That church was in use for about 50 years, until the congregation became too large to fit in the capitol building hall. So, a new church had to be built. It COULD have been built at any time but it was perfectly acceptable to hold church services in a Federal government building.
Now, riddle me this: If the ACLU is correct in its assertions, how is it possible that the Founders themselves established a practicing Christian church (by an official act of Congress, no less) inside the US Capitol and that we have three representations of the Ten Commandments on the Supreme Court building?
“Throughout his administration Jefferson permitted church services in executive branch buildings. The Gospel was also preached in the Supreme Court chambers.”
Why was this protected? Because nobody was forced to attend or punished for not attending nor were other religions forced out of public view by it.
This violates the Soviet Constitution (where the Communist-founded ACLU gets its ‘separation of church and state’ interpretation) while it is all protected under the US Constitution.
Now, I looked at the link you posted, looked at its linked PDF and immediately found its first claim to be an outright lie. Jefferson was not a secularist. He was a devout Christian by his own assertion and when he founded the University of Virginia he ensured a Christian pastor ministered to the students every week. He ALSO attended church services in the US Capitol after personally signing his approval for the establishment of that church. Sorry, but you can’t post lies to try to debunk the truth. Jefferson himself is calling Chris Rodda a liar.
“I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel, and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what it’s Author never said nor saw”
“The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors.” – Thomas Jefferson to John Adams
Jefferson was a Christian? Only if being a Christian means you’re able to deny the basic tenants of the faith, such as the resurrection. Ever held a Jeffersonain Bible? I have. He published his own Bible where he deleted all the parts he didn’t believe- which was most of it.
It is a common misconception that the founding fathers were Christians. Most were not by any standard of orthodoxy. They instead preferred a concept of “providence”. If they walked into your church today, you’d probably tell them to get saved.
I am glad our founding fathers weren’t Christian. Could you imagine the ugly theocracy we’d have had if the Puritans and gotten their way. Iran would have been jealous of us.
Again, Ben, it shows how unimportant theological beliefs are, but instead how important actions.
I would gently counter that theological beliefs in fact drive actions, so I don’t believe they’re unimportant. This is precisely why I compete in the arena of ideas for what I think is the better theology. But I think I hear what you’re saying– praxis is key, and I would agree. In fact, I would argue that the Bible teaches one cannot have orthodoxy without orthopraxy.
I think people can hold whole sets of identical beliefs and yet act very differently for it is the complex weave of the beliefs and their associations tied with habits of mind that make the person.
But yes, I think praxis is key and I think ideas can affect our behavior. As I said in an above comment: I’ve seen people convert to Islam, Buddhism and Christianity and had large improvements in their lives. Likewise, leaving twisted, tormenting, self-righteous, guilt-ridden, false-hoping Christianity to become Atheists has helped a great many people too.
I am not sure you would agree with that though. For in the end, if I understand your position correctly, you still feel that if they don’t believe some theological statements, their afterlives will most likely be very different from yours.
I’m glad our Founding Fathers were Christian. Can you imagine the horrors we’d have to endure if Secularists had created this country, horrors like they inflicted in the Soviet Union, NAZI Germany, North Korea, Cuba…
It is their Christian notion that we are all created equal by God that made this the land of the free. It was their Christian faith that led them to defeat the Democrats and liberate slaves from bondage. “Am I Not a Man and a Brother?” was the Christian message that is still echoed today when black people are called ‘brothers’.
Although, with Secularists taking over, we are all quickly losing our freedom.
Well, it all depends on how you define “Christian” — but I never argue words, because words are not fixed. So I will agree with you that, for instance, the notion like created equal was given religious dressings, remember, that for millenium Christianity was used to support subjection to a King — who God gave to rule us.
If they wanted to call their ideas Christian, that is fine by me. I am just glad the Puritan Christians didn’t get their theocracy.
I really enjoy baiting you lefties. Your responses are predictable, several moves ahead.
Here, try to comprehend this:
A Marxist is someone who follows the teachings and example of Karl Marx.
A Muslim is someone who follows the teachings and example of Mohammed.
A Buddhist is someone who follows the teachings and example of Buddha.
A Christian is someone who follows the teachings and example of Jesus. And Christians are rightly upset that churches of men make up all kinds of things that Jesus never taught – just like Thomas Jefferson said.
Jesus did not “teach” the resurrection. That was something made into a big deal later. And if you read John’s account, it gets very interesting.
Jefferson made it clear that as a true Christian he was a disciple of the teachings of Jesus – just like his Disciples were. The extra-curricular ‘tenets’ you speak of are not logically Christian because they’re not what Christ taught.
You can’t get any more clearly Christian than that.
And many of the Founding Fathers were devout Christians in the churches of their time. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams… yup.
It is a commonly spread lie that they were not Christians, that they were ‘deists’ or some other claptrap.
Beware, I’m setting you up for some more hard-hitting facts…
Take a look at Jefferson’s tombstone. There is no mention of Christianity or Christ anywhere near it. Its in the form of an oblisk, not a cross.
“Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.”
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787
“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.”
“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782
and now you’ve shown me a new one:
“And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”
What does this mean to you? To me it appears he is conflating the legitimacy of Minerva to the legitimacy of Jesus. He is saying they are equally legitimate religions, no?
Except the ACLU is not even trying to impose atheism as an official religion. Secularism is not the same as atheism. Secularism is the position that, insofar as the government is concerned, no religion may be held to any higher or any lower standard than any other religion. In other words: equality.
Every single example, without exception, of an ACLU case against Christians was a case where Christians were giving themselves higher privilege than other beliefs, just as the ACLU defends Christians when their beliefs are being suppressed below those of others. They aren’t hypocrites like you.
The First Commandment quite clearly states you may NOT have beliefs in other gods. There is no mention of freedom there.
Secularism is a belief system, just like any other belief system. What our Constitution forbids is one belief system being enforced by suppressing the others – including Secularism.
Enforced Secularism prohibits equal freedom of expression.
Our Constitution says that “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion is forbidden.
The ACLU attacks Christians for so much as expressing their own religious beliefs, violating the “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” clause. The ACLU forced the removal of a Ten Commandments display from a court house – when the Constitution protects such displays. It is tragic that the ACLU singles out Christianity for this oppression while allowing students to be indoctrinated in Islam, even forced to participate in Muslim prayers in schools, claiming it is ‘educational’.
The First Commandment states one may not worship other Gods. That’s fine. The believer is absolutely free to believe that and it does not interfere with anyone else’s beliefs. A Christian child praying over lunch is not harming anyone. Everyone else is free as well.
Unless, of course, we’re talking about Muslims. They’ll kill you if you don’t submit or convert to their beliefs. Their attacks on the USA began over 200 years ago…
What are the “beliefs” of secularism?
It’s a shame you feel the need to tell such desperate, brazen lies.
Correct. And nobody is saying otherwise.
I find this to be one of the most thought-provoking topics of the year. Was Jesus the nice guy described by Paul or was he more of an in-your-face evangelical?
Does it take more courage to be tolerant or intolerant? Surely the answer depends on perspective.
If there is a difference between the biblical Jesus and the historical Jesus as
some suggest, then he may be more of an enigma than we ever suspected. You can be a nice, giving person without a belief in Christ – and on the flip side you can be a selfish jerk while proudly displaying a fish symbol on your car bumper.
I often think back to the line from the Dire Straits’ song “…two
men say they’re Jesus – one of them must be wrong…”
I am an ex-Evangelical.
Wheaton College grad and all.
Christianity became a crisis for me because of its clear exclusivism and parochialism.
I found that it was not “the most beautiful story ever told”.
It is always locked with culture.
Literalist Evangelical do make the message the problem, it is not just the messegers.
Believers hold their beliefs with humility when talking to nonbelievers but whisper to their children that others are going to hell. So go ahead, shout it on your bumper stickers — at least that is being honest.
Why is it wrong to say “farewell” to Christians you disagree with. It leaves room to embrace Atheists you actually agree with more than Christians. What? Is it all about protecting the label. Yes — for most people it is.
And stop thinking people at not “in the Kingdom” just because they don’t believe your stories. See how parochial you are.
A few of your other posts I agree.
That’s an interesting perspective, can you help me understand how you arrived at that belief?
I think I hear what you’re saying, but not sure how believing in Christianity makes me narrow. What is the enlightened alternative, universalism? I’m a Christian and not interested in changing, but I am interested in changing the culture that often gets associated with it.
Oh, I don’t have a new belief. After realizing I wasn’t really having a relationship with a spirit called “Jesus/God”, I decided not to replace it with Allah, or Amida or Shiva. I just decided to stop pretending I was talking to a supernatural spirit. So maybe I have an unbelief. 🙂
Benjamin, I don’t remember using the word “narrow”? But you’re right, let’s say there is a heaven: then I think a good belief is that every good person will go there, while a bad (“narrow”, parochial, exclusivist) belief is that only people in your club [or any other club] go there. Such a belief is fundamentalist in my book, yet you brag of being a former fundie. Maybe I am confused.
So as I see it, only making cosmetic changes in one’s Christianity, and hiding the persistent exclusivism (as I defined above) behind the makeup of politeness is not real change — just sneakiness.
I just found this video today — very touching.
Sure, I get that it is just a commercial.
But can you imagine someone like this not going to your Jesus’ heaven? If so, then you are “narrow” (your own word).
He doesn’t have to know the Bible, know Jesus stories, pray to Yahweh or Jesus, think about the cross or anything and damnit, he should still be included in your heaven. If not, you are an exclusivist and should consider moving more toward being a universalist of some sort.
But maybe I misunderstand what “not giving up being a Christian” means to you.
Parochial can mean “narrow”, thus my use of the word.
When I say that I’m not giving up being a Christian, I’m affirming my commitment to the historic, orthodox Christian faith as expressed in the creeds. I know not else what to be, other than a Jesus follower. My battle is not over the core aspects of the Christian faith but one over the culture where my faith is expressed. I’m also trying to do my best to promote good-faith dialogue with those who want to wrestle with it or who even disagree with it.
It seems you are an Evangelical of sorts and not a “Progressive”. Or how do you understand that label since you are on this channel?
For since you have not responded to my questions concerning damnation of those who don’t believe the “orthodox creeds” (as this fellow in the YouTube video above), I take it that you don’t have a “Progressive” view about that?
I think an underlying point is that as time goes on, christian ideas are growing more and more outmoded. Those ideas that are related to christ or christ worship will be shifted to the true anthropological and psychological roots in which they arise. for example, community, love, empathy, altruism are taught (in some places) as the the sole artifacts of Jesus or of Christianity, but we know these exist regardless of whether a particular brand of religion claims to be the sole stockholder in them. these things predate religion so i think in a way, universalism, truths identifiable by any culture during any time period, will eventually replace sand-people ideologies that require bowing and praying to and through another human being to speak to a hypothetical supernatural singularly existing creator. so, yeah i see Chrisianity as pretty narrow view if not for only that reason. And, coming from Xianity and the south, I’ve seen some of the most culturally and religiously ignorant people i’ve ever known. the narrowness is exemplified by the devout who cannot process ideas that conflict with their faith. Like evolution unseats the entire reason jesus was sent. Few Christians who say they “believe” in evolution rarely connect the dots figuring out that since there was no original sin, we don’t need saving by a redeemer. meaning there’s no need for the worship of various prophets, but its tradition and many have a hard time shaking up the tradition tree. Would we still love, be part of a community, take care of the elderly without Jesus or Christianity? Yep.
Sadly, atheists are not so much interested in giving of themselves to help the poor and elderly. They tend to try to rob other people at gunpoint to get some cash to be ‘charitable’ with.
Christianity teaches and practices charity, not thievery.
I once heard an atheist say, “We need an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous, where people can go to kick their habit without being preached to.”
I replied, “Sure, you atheists can do like the Christians and pool your money and donate to fund a project like that. Just don’t try to steal that money from someone else first.”
She was, of course, thinking of taxing her neighbors to fund her pet project, not donating from her own earnings.
You just made the most ignorant baseless comment i’ve EVER seen online. How bout look up Foundation Beyond Belief, Atheists Without Borders and well…
How’s that for illustrating your ignorance?
Being a good human doesn’t require a religion to teach you charity. How exactly did people take care of each other before christianity existed!?! moron.
If atheists as you perceive are trying to rob other people at gunpoint which, I would LOVE see your deep studies and statistics regarding atheist specific robberies and crimes, then why are jails filled with 90% believers?
How can the message of mainstream Christianity be seen without smugness when the message is all about who’s in and who’s out?
“Try this: the next time you’re tempted to fire back with “you’re wrong” try responding with “that’s an interesting perspective. Can you help me understand how you arrived at that belief?” ”
And what if that “interesting perspective” is a tired talking point, an unacceptable slander, or cliched argument that has been roundly refuted well beyond 70 x 7 times? What if I understand all too well how that person arrived at that belief as well as why it is untenable? How much tolerance should we have for *willed* ignorance?
That’s a hard question without an easy answer. I think my point was, as much as possible, strive for respectful dialogue. Dealing with willed ignorance isn’t easy, but I am committed to continuing to develop my character so that I become a better dialogue partner with people I disagree with. I fail at it daily, but my heart wants to always do better.
Thanks for the reply. I agree, we all should strive to be better dialogue partners with others. I guess I’m also asking if you think snark, sarcasm, or other more ‘aggressive’ forms of debate are categorically unacceptable for Christians, or if you are only giving advice in response to current trends?
If I said they were unacceptable all the time I’d be the biggest hypocrite of the day, because I make a living doing all those things. I think in part I’m definitely speaking to current events, but also encouraging us in general to be judicious about the use of these things. If these are the first three things we turn to in dialogue, instead of simply tools we reserve for an appropriate time and place, that’s where the problem would be.
Wisely put. Thanks again.
I can’t read anything by Matt Walsh. I just can’t stomach it. It’s completely disgusting. I’ve had to delete friends from Facebook because they keep sharing that rot.
I can handle the most virulently bigoted of Christian writers for the sake of knowing one’s enemy, but not him.
The bad: my lack of belief truly is based on the evidence, and not on the behavior of Christians. It’s not logical to base one’s faith system, or lack of, on the actions of its followers.
The good: All the rest of this is completely true in regards to making friends, joining hands in doing good work, and fighting for social justice. One of the most meaningful interactions I’ve had in the last few years was a Christian simply saying “I’m glad you’re here” after I told her about becoming atheist. You know where we were? At an alumni gathering for a Christian college that was treating its LGBT students like crap. That interaction flipped my image of Christians, or at least a good chunk of them. It gave me the curiosity to seek out the Ben Coreys, Fred Clarks, and John Shores of the world.
Loved this article.
I think it’s fair to point out that there is a difference between a catalyst for atheism and the cause. And many people often don’t make a distinction between the two. Christians who act the way that Mr. Corey described certainly did their part to push me away from Christianity, and many religious people don’t distinguish between the pushing away and the coming to atheism.
You’re right, my lack of belief is also based on the evidence. That’s why I’m an atheist rather than a Buddhist, a deist, or an animist, all of which I dabbled in on the way here. However, I’m self-aware enough to know what it was that pushed me out the church doors and down that road to begin with.
This was the breath of fresh air that I needed after that Matt Walsh post, which depressed me to the point of near-despair. To recover, I’m reading this post again (and subscribing to your RSS feed), and re-listening to Andy Stanley’s sermon The Separation between Church and Hate (http://northpoint.org/messages/the-separation-of-church-and-hate/). Lord Jesus, save us all from our self-righteous anger (I’ve definitely got my own brand…)
Great article! Where’s the “like” button…
Right up there ^^
Indeed. I’m thrilled to see there are more of us (particularly of our generation) thinking along these lines.
I abandoned the method of my faith about four years ago, and it has freed me to both live and to preach the gospel without having to continually explain away all the hateful behaviors of my former tribe. Truly, Christ is awesome, but some of his most vocal followers are not. I am not ashamed of the gospel, and have never been ashamed of it–but my fellow brothers and sisters have done much that I am ashamed of.
Boy can I relate to this comment. I just wrote an article along these lines a couple of days ago: http://heartsoulstrengthmind.com/2014/04/03/why-i-am-unchristian/
Off-topic: I love your avatar.
Your article was very, very good. I wrote a couple of responses and then deleted them. And I’ve deleted a few paragraphs already here.
I just don’t know anymore what Christianity is if it is not something that requires–demands, really–transformative, radical, overwhelming change. I don’t think it’s something that can be limited to listening to people speak, over and over, in an assembly that meets weekly to hear people speak.
I would say this was one of your more gracious posts and I appreciate that. Sure there are things you said that I feel uneasy with but all around, some really great points. The answer really is in being well-rounded Christians. Matt Walsh and you both had many great points, that if brought together, would produce the kind of Christians we are supposed to be. But one thing I must say is, just because someone thinks we’re radical doesn’t mean we’re wrong. Sometimes being radical is the only way to be right. I think that’s a common misconception – that radical = ridiculous. Radical really is a relative term, but for the sake of not having to write an entire book on the subject, Jesus was radical in His day. He’d be radical in our day too. But He was right. He was radical because the religious had fallen off track and created their own righteousness, and the sinners needed to repent. He was radical because He was not like the religious, nor was He like the sinners. Both sides needed to come to Him. And regardless of where we are at in our lives, we do not need to find a reformed Christianity. We need Christ Himself. When we pursue Christ Himself as God’s Word reveals Him, we will end up creating the Christianity that should have existed all along. It’s not about what standards one lives up to or what agendas we pursue or fight against. It’s all about coming to Jesus whether we are the religious type or the sinner type. More of Him and less of me.
Thanks David. I’m really working at wording things in a more gracious way. I won’t always get it right, but thanks for noticing.
I’ve got to say: After reading the comments the religious doctrinal prescriptionists and the orthodoxy police pellet you, I felt bad. So in conclusion, keep up the good work Ben.
Thanks man, that meant a lot.
My personal favorite: … with a humility that says “but I could be wrong”.
many people of faith (Christians and others) seem to think they have a
secure lock on absolute truth. Yet 95% of what we think is stated
absolutely in scripture, is really filtered through our interpretation.
Anytime we think we understand God, it surely seems that we mentally
put him in a box … and he will likely tear through that box as easily
as wet cardboard.
As a person of faith myself, follower of Jesus, I always try to remember that I could be wrong.
Foolishness man. It’s like saying you love your wife and you have a great relationship with her but then saying “I could be wrong” because I’m not sure she exists.
It’s like saying. “I believe air exists but I could be wrong”
If you don’t believe the bible is the truth Repent
How do you get truth without God?
Brian, you’ve somehow twisted this into something I did not say and which Ben did not say.
If you have a dozen people who believe in the Bible and are faithful followers of Christ. Ask them to explain/discuss something about the Bible. We could get a dozen different answers. It is simply arrogant to assume that I am right and others are wrong.
God knows the nature of all things. But you and I only see the tip of the iceberg. We simply do not have the depth of understanding that He has. I do not believe this is “foolishness” as you suggest.
It’s like Joel Osteen on National T.V. being asked “Is Jesus the only way? referencing Hindus,,, He says I don’t know, I could be wrong.
Jesus is the ONLY WAY.
Why? We humans are all born in sin inherited from Adam the first man.
Jesus was the last Adam, the only one who could and did fix what the first Adam messed up.
Jesus is the only way, and no can’t be wrong about that, it is written.
Hypothetically, let’s say I believe creation happened in a literal six days (each a 24-hour period) while you believe otherwise. Maybe you believe that the creation story in Genesis is entirely figurative; maybe day #6 could have occurred before day #5. Is God’s love conditional upon getting this point correct? See the bigger picture. What is more important? I can accept you as a brother/sister without badgering you (i.e. “I am right and you are wrong”)
Hypothetically, you might say that an American Christian must be aligned with the Republican political party, or the opposite, that an American Christian must be aligned with the Democrats. (Certainly I have heard both these assertions.) For all the people who disagree with you, will you forever push them away because their interpretation of scripture is different than your own?
If one person believes in pre-trib rapture and another person believes a post millenial view, will God reject either person for an incorrect understanding?
If you and someone else both follow Christ, but interpret some finer points of faith differently … can you humbly acknowledge that God knows more than both of you? Either one of you is wrong or BOTH of you may be wrong. Can you concede that your understanding of scripture is NOT perfect?
I believe this is Ben’s point. To love as Christ, is more important. God has made a path for us to himself, imperfect as we are. To be a Christian and not be a jerk … humbly, we have to concede that God’s understanding is perfect and ours is not. Sometimes we are wrong.
Scripture is very clear that creation happened in 6 literal 24 hours days and it is clear that there was no death of animals or humans before Adam’s sin, Scripture is very clear on that, it is people that bring in their own secular ideas from naturalism that pretend scripture isn’t clear on it because most Christians live as if they are agnostics Mon-Sat
Have you ever been wrong interpreting what your wife, a friend, or a family member says? Why is it so difficult to believe that, if we can interpret the words and actions of someone right in front of us that we might actually misinterpret with God has said to us. We as Christians get the interpretation thing wrong all the time. Just consider slavery for a moment. We can only say that we think we know, and in humility, admit that we might be wrong with what we think we know. I believe Benjamin has the correct attitude a follower of Jesus should have, rather than saying one can have absolute (arrogant) knowledge of truth.
I think this person just said they HAVE God in their life, but they also know they’re human and are capable of misperception, making mistakes, and other common blunders of our species. Having God doesn’t mean you’re always right.
Love your first paragraph! That is so true. A true Christian saying they “might be wrong” about the existence of the Lord they profess to love is as crazy as a husband saying he “might be wrong” about the existence of his wife that he loves. Believers believe because we have a relationship with the Lord. We feel His presence. We hear His voice. We read His Word. We know He exists.
As someone on the outside, I can only say, “Amen!” I’ve said for years that it’s very hard to hear a message of love shouted with rage, contempt or hatred. I’ve been lurking here precisely because your presentation is one that is friendly, open, willing to take questions, and dare I say it, a bit humble. It’s both refreshing and much more likely to be listened to, at least in my neck of the woods. Well done.
Great comment! And your kitteh…so cute!
it’s called ear tickling for itching ears the actual truth of “someone on the outside” is actually found if you grab a bible and read the book of Romans 1:18-32
Ever occur to you that YOU may be the one who’s fallen for doctrine which tickles YOUR ears– and your vanity– by allowing you to feel superior and self-righteously judgemental?
No, because the bible is my authority not personal emotions that change weekly.
Your authority is an oral tradition which was finally written down after decades– and in some cases centuries– of being exclusively transmitted by spoken language. Ever play ‘Telephone’?
And that’s not even considering the fact that your going by a TRANSLATION of this “authority” from its original language, with all of the cultural misunderstandings and translator biases this involves. Your interpretation of the result can only be subjective, influenced by your own preconceptions and prejudices.
Astrin, Jesus himself, when asked questions about marriage replied “Have you not read?” then quoted scripture from Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. I will follow Jesus lead on that and have scripture be the authority not pop culture emotions. As Jesus said to Satan “It is written” Astrin, If you willfully decide to pretend scripture isn’t clear, that’s your choice to remain ignorant, you are clearly without excuse Romans 1:18-32
When Jesus was answered that question about men divorcing their wives, he plainly stated that Mosaic Law (i.e. part of the Old Testament) was NOT inerrant, that “out of the hardness of your own hearts” Moses permitted men to divorce their wives unilaterally when they got tired of them. Matthew 19:7-9.