November 22, 2017

iMonk 101: Why Do They Hate Us?

One of the first big splashes this blog made was when this post (2002!) made it into the atheist blogosphere. I got about a hundred notes from atheists saying “Thanks.” I’ve always agreed with what I wrote here, and I’ve always felt it was important. I also know that many culture-warring Christians will say this is a surrender document and I should join in the hatred of those who sometimes hate us. Check with Jesus on that one.

Here’s “Why Do They Hate Us?” from this blog, 2002 version.

I don’t really know why someone thought it was necessary to do a poll to see just who were the most disliked groups in society, but the results are in. While serial killers and IRS agents still come in last, hot on their heels are evangelical Christians. Not Christians in general. Not Roman Catholics. Not all Christians, but evangelical Christians.

If you’re like me, you have three reactions to this news. First, you tend to blame the media. Almost every portrayal of an evangelical Christian on television or in movies makes us look like the worst version of every stereotype we fear. Of course, one cannot expect the mainstream media to take up the cause of rescuing the evangelical public image, and these days virtually every group has a list of complaints with various kinds of media portrayals. There is more to the public perception of Bible believers than a media vendetta.

The second reaction is what we tend to say to one another to reassure ourselves that we are really OK after all. “It’s the Gospel,” we say to one another. Evangelicals are identified with a message that no one wants to hear, and so they are disliked. If you don’t believe it, watch what happens when an evangelical leader appears on a talk show. It’s like raw meat to hungry lions, no matter if the evangelical in question is rude or wonderful. (I have seen some of the nicest evangelicals torn limb from limb in these settings including liberals who gave away the store.)

I would never argue with the basic premise of this observation. I have seen its truth too many times. They crucified Jesus. Enough said. But as true as this is, it is too simplistic to explain the increasing level of general despising of evangelicals in our society. It explains one thing, but it does not explain many other things. It actually may tend to blind us to our own behaviors. Like the residents of Jerusalem who were convinced their city could not fall because the temple was there, evangelicals may explain this dislike as reaction to the Gospel and then be blind to those things- in addition to the Gospel- that create legitimate animosity.

The third reaction is the guilty knowledge that evangelicals really are, very often, easy to dislike for many obvious reasons. Many evangelicals know exactly what the survey is registering, because they feel the same way themselves. We’ve all observed, in others and in ourselves, distinctively evangelical vices, hypocrisies and failures. We hoped that our good points would make up for these problems, but that was another self-deception.

It is easy to say that people’s dislike of Christians is the dislike of the Christian message, but that simply doesn’t hold up in the real world. It may be true of the Christian you don’t know, but the Christians you do know have it in their power to either make it easy or difficult for you to dislike them. For example, the Christian in your car pool may believe what others refuse to believe, but his life provides a powerful antidote to any prejudice against him. Thousands of missionaries have been opposed for simply being Christians. But hundreds of thousands have lived lives that adorned the Gospel with attractive, winsome and loving behavior. A past president of our school was revered by Muslims during and after 6 years of Peace Corps service in Iran, years where he talked about the Gospel to Muslims every day and saw many trust Christ. The fact that the Gospel has penetrated into many hostile environments is evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit, but it is also evidence that one way the Spirit works is by making Christians a display of the fruits of love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

We are loathed, caricatured, avoided and disliked because we often deserve it. There, I said it and I’m glad I did.

Here’s my list of why evangelicals are among the most disliked persons in America.

1. Christians endorse a high standard of conduct for others, and then largely excuse themselves from a serious pursuit of such a life. Jesus is the most admired person in history, but evangelicals are far more likely to devise ways for Jesus to be like us than for us to be like Jesus.

If it hasn’t struck you lately that you do the very thing you condemn others for doing, (Romans 2:1) urge others to do what you don’t do or excuse in yourself what you require in others, then you probably don’t get this article at all.

Did it irritate you when your dad said “Do as I say, not as I do.”? Then you get the picture.

2. Evangelical Christian piety in America is mostly public. Whether it’s our entertainment-saturated “worship” services, our celebrity cults or our mad obsession with worldly success, we love for others to see what “God is doing in our lives.” Of course, Jesus had plenty to say about this, and the essence of it is that when your piety is public, then there is almost certainly a lack of serious, life-transforming, private obedience and discipleship.

I have lately been strongly convicted by J.C. Ryle’s little book, “A Call To Prayer.” Ryle makes a devastating case for the obvious absence of the discipline of private prayer among Christians. What would Ryle say today? Does our public manner grow out of a true inward experience of private prayer? You see what I am talking about. If its public, we do it well. If it’s private discipleship, we probably don’t do it at all.

3. Many evangelicals relate to others with an obvious- or thinly disguised- hidden agenda. In other words, those who work with us or go to school with is feel that we are always “up to” something. You mean, they know we want to convert them? Apparently. Ever been yelled at for saying “I’ll pray for you.”? Maybe there was a reason.

You know that feeling you get when a telemarketer interrupts your dinner? I get that feeling sometime when my Pentecostal/Charismatic friends are trying to persuade me into their camp. It’s not that I don’t know they are good, decent, law abiding people who like me. I just want them to quit treating me as a target or a project and start treating me as a person who is free to be myself AND different from them.

This same feeling is prevalent among those who dislike evangelical Christians. They are annoyed and sometimes angered that we are following some divine directive to get them to abandon their life choices and take up ours. They want to be loved as they are, not for what they might become if our plan succeeds.

Evangelicals have done a lot of good work on how to present the Gospel, but much of that work has operated on initial premises that are irritating and offensive. I have taken my share of evangelism courses, and there is a great blind spot on how to be an evangelist without being annoying and pushy. We somehow think that the Holy Spirit takes care of that aspect of evangelism! Thank God for men like Francis Schaefer and Jerome Barrs who have done much to model evangelism that majors of maintaining the utmost respect towards those we evangelize.

4. We seem consumed with establishing that we are somehow “better” than other people, when the opposite is very often true. Many evangelicals are bizarrely shallow and legalistic about minute matters. We are frequently psychologically unsound, psychiatrically medicated, filled with bitterness and anger, tormented by conflicts and, frankly, unpleasant to have around.

I have an atheistic acquaintance who never misses an opportunity to post a news story about a morally compromised minister. Is he just being mean? No; he is pointing out the obvious mess that is the inner life and outward behavior of many evangelicals, truths we like to avoid or explain as “attacks of the enemy.” Our families are broken, our marriages fail and our children are remarkably worldly and messed up. Yet, we boldly tell the world that we have the answer for all their ills! How many churches proclaim that a sojourn with them will fix that marriage and those kids? Do we really have the abundant life down at the church, ready to be dispensed in a five week class?

We are not as healthy and happy as we portray ourselves. The realities of broken marriages among the Christian celebrity set underlines the inability of evangelicals to face up to their own brokenness. Was there some reason that Sandi Patti and Amy Grant were supposed to be immune from failed marriages? Why did their divorces make them pariahs in evangelicalism? The fact is that most evangelicals are in deep denial about what depravity and sinfulness really means. The world may have similar denial problems, but I don’t think they can approach us for the spiritual veneer. The crowd at the local tavern may have issues, but they frequently beat Christians by miles in the realistic humanity department. Maybe they should pity us, but the fact is that, as the situation becomes more obvious, they don’t like us.

5. We talk about God in ways that are too familiar and make people uncomfortable. Evangelicals constantly talk about a “personal relationship ” with God. Many evangelicals talk as if God is talking to them and leading them by the hand through life in a way only the initiated can understand. Christian testimonies may give a God-honoring window into the realities of Christian experience, or it may sound like a psychological ploy to promote self importance.

Evangelicals have yet to come to grips with their tendency to make God into a commodity. The world is far more savvy about how God is “used” to achieve personal or group ends than most evangelicals admit. Evangelicals may deny that they have made God into a political, financial or cultural commodity, but the world knows better. How does an unbeliever hear the use of Jesus to endorse automobiles, political positions or products?

In my ministry, I have observed how difficult it is to evangelize Buddhists. One of the reasons is that the Buddhist assumes that if you are serious about your religious experience, you will become a monk! When he sees American Christians talking about a relationship with God, yet does not see a corresponding impact upon the whole of life, he assumes that this religion is simply an expression of culture or group values. Now we may critique such a response as not understanding certain basic facts about the Gospel, but we also have to acknowledge the truth observed! Rather than being people who are deeply changed, we are people who tend to use God to change others or our world to suit ourselves.

6. Evangelicals are too slow to separate themselves from what is wrong. Because ours is a moral religion, and we frequently advertise our certainty in moral matters, it seems bizarrely hypocritical when that moral sense is applied so inconsistently.

I note that my evangelical friends are particularly resistant to this matter, but the current Trent Lott affair makes the point plainly. Lott says that he now repudiates any allegiance to segregation or the symbols of segregation. Suddenly, he sees the good sense in a number of things he has opposed. But bizarrely, Lott stands behind his evangelical Christianity as the explanation for his sudden conversion.

Watching this spectacle, there are many reactions, but what interests me is how Lott’s Christianity only seems to apply now that he is being dangled over political hell. Where was all this moral sense in the 1960’s? Where was it ten years ago? Why does it appear that Lott is using his religion at his convenience? It’s not my place to judge what is going on between Lott and his God, but his apparent pragmatism in these matters is familiar to many people observing evangelicals on a daily basis.

Most evangelicals are not the moral cutting edge of contemporary social issues. Despite the evangelical conscience on issues like abortion, it is clear to many that we no longer have the cutting edge moral sense of a Martin Luther King, Jr. or a William Wilberforce. Evangelicals are largely annoyed at people who tell them to do the right thing if it doesn’t enhance their resume, their wallet, their family or their emotions.

What is odd about this is that many of those who dislike evangelicals have the idea that we want to impose our morality upon an entire culture. Fear-mongering liberals often talk about the Bush administration as populated by fundamentalist Christian Taliban poised to bring about a Christian theocracy. I wonder if they have noticed that President Bush- an evangelical right down to his boots- is practicing religious tolerance over the loud objections of evangelical leaders like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell?

7. We take ourselves far too seriously, and come off as opposed to normal life. Is it such a bid deal that Christians are offended at so many things others consider funny? I’ll admit, it is a small thing, but it is one of the reasons ordinary people don’t like us.

I read an incident written by a preacher to an internet list I monitor. He told about taking his youth group on an outing, when the students began singing a popular country song about a guy who leaves his wife to pursue his fishing hobby. It’s a hilarious song. But this fellow’s reaction was predictable. He asked them to not a song about a marriage that breaks up, and to instead sing something that honored God. I routinely hear students ridiculing a fellow teacher who labels much of what students find funny as “of the devil.”

These incidents show something that evangelicals need to admit. We are frequently unable to see humor, absurdity, and the honest reasons for humans to laugh at themselves. What very normal, very healthy people find laughable, we find threatening and often label with the ridiculous label of “the devil.”

The message here isn’t just that we are humorless or Puritanical. The message is that being human or being real is somehow evil. This is one place I can feel exactly what the unbelievers are talking about. When I see Christians trying to rob young people of the right to be normal, ordinary and human, it angers me. I feel threatened. It’s hard to like people who seem to say that God, Jesus and Scripture are the enemies of laughter, sex, growing up and ordinary pleasures. Some Christians sometimes seem to say that everything pleasurable is demonic or to be avoided to show what a good Christian you are. Isn’t it odd that unbelievers are so much more aware of the plain teaching of scripture than we are?

I am sure there is much more to say, but I have ridden this horse far enough. Certainly, unregenerate persons are at enmity with God by nature. And, without a doubt, Christians represent a message that is far from welcome. Christians doing the right thing risk being labeled enemies of society. Much persecution is cruel and evil. But that’s not the point. Christians are disliked for many reasons that have nothing to do with the Gospel, and everything to do with the kind of people we are in the relationships God has given us. The message of salvation won’t earn a standing ovation, but people who believe that message are not given a pass to rejoice when all men hate you…for any reason, including reasons that are totally our own fault.

No doubt someone will write me and say that, to the extent people like us, we have denied the Gospel. Therefore, being despised and hated is proof that you are on the right track. And there is a certain amount of truth to that observation in some situations that Christians may find themselves in. But that is an explanation for how we are treated, not directions on how to make sure we are rejected and hated by most people for reasons having nothing to do with the message of the cross. I hate to say it, but I’ve learned that when a preacher tells me he was fired from his church for “taking a stand for God,” it usually means he was just a jerk.

The scriptures tell us that the early Christians were both persecuted and thought well of for their good lives and good works. What was possible then is still possible now. I’ve seen it and I hope I see more of it…in my life.

(COMMENTERS: You can discuss the article. We won’t be debating atheism vs Christianity, nor will I allow either team to generally accuse the other of atrocity. Heavy moderation ahead.)

Comments

  1. MAJ Tony says:

    To Andy D:

    Prop 8 is one thing, but I hope we never stop picketing abortion death camps. Let’s face it, abortion IS state sanctioned homicide. That’s a SCIENTIFIC FACT. Anyone who believes otherwise is being intellectually dishonest. This doesn’t require any belief in God to understand SCIENTIFIC knowledge.

    http://www.ncbcenter.org/FrTad_MSOOB_3.asp

  2. MAJ Tony says:

    iMonk, can you make my last post show that the linked page is entitled “‘Imposing our beliefs’ On Others.”

  3. Wow. Great interaction. Full marks for the time you have spent moderating it.

    As a Christian, my own hypocrisy and lack of love break my heart, but I am dealing with them. As Christians, we need to remember that dominion only comes through sacrificial service. That goes right back to Eden.

    But the unbelievers need to remember that everything good they enjoy comes from our Christian worldview. The morality the atheists claim is ‘reasonable’ is stolen capital. They are living on our land, whether they like it or not. Unless they repent, they are squatters complaining about the room service. They are like the grass that is here today and incinerated tomorrow.

    Dominion of the world by Christianity is only a matter of time. How long it takes depends upon our love and service, not votes. When the church fails to witness faithfully (Adam, Mordecai, Jews), her rule will be usurped for a time (Satan, Haman, Herod). Nothing’s changed. But the bad guys always get thrown down eventually in a victory for Christ.

    We must not forget that although the gospel is not the gospel without a presentation in love, it is still an ultimatum. Those who claim a “right” to their unbelief are deluded, whatever faults they find in the church.

    To those who have been hurt by Christians, judgment begins at the house of God. He will deal with His people FIRST, as He always has (just read the Bible!), but then, make no mistake, He will deal with YOU. When He does, I sincerely hope you are in Christ, or that His perfect justice brings you to Him.

    Like Mordecai, we have forgotten what our weapons are. Prayer, love and sacrifice bring the powers that be tumbling down. So do apologies for the times we have wronged others. When Christians repent, the world follows. And when we are faithful in the use of these weapons, God sets His opponents upon each other. That’s the pattern. There will be ups and downs over the centuries, but we can’t lose.

  4. iMonk: bang on. Non-evangelicals (especially non-Christians) frequently don’t like evangelicals because they are frequently so un-Christlike that we could cry.

    Chris: I admit it’s been about 10 years since I read the gospels, but your religious education is projecting its own dislikes onto Jesus. My memory says that Christ’s behaviour showed nothing but compassion and brotherhood for the tax collectors, prostitutes, beggars, and other such that he sought out. Compare with how his behaviour showed clear disapproval for those who thought that society’s norms and Biblical rules were more important than kindness.

    When Christians act as compassionately as Christ despite all the rules and ridicule that could stand in their way, and with as little judgement, that’s when they get respect for following their beliefs.

  5. Thank you very much, Mike Bull. After a days-long, pointed but civil discussion, you have reminded everyone here “why they hate us.”

    Bravo!

  6. “Don: I agree with you, but I have a feeling that Jesus would have erred on the side of helping people and not restricting anyone’s legal rights. He may have tried to convince people to lead a certain life, but he would have never legislated it.”

    This is pretty much what I think is in the minds of critics. If Christians are onto such a good thing, if a personal surrender in faith is so clearly a salvation, why do they do wish to shape the force of law to suit? Why so fearful? Why so full of the language of war? “Victory will be ours. Fight harder!” “Your ability to resist is an illusion, and resistance is futile.” “You are on OUR territory. Submit or be punished.” Is one religious militancy really less vicious than radical jihad simply on account of a few hundred years of evolving a smoother public relations approach?

    It is Christians who have declared the battlegrounds, who have declared the battle. Who have declared that Christianity cannot flourish merely through living up to Christ. Who loudly condemn the “secular” while pursuing a goal of secular dominion. The lack of actual faith is abundantly evident, even to small children. (Especially to small children, the most perceptive of all.) People seeking a spiritual way aren’t spoiling for a fight. And they take one look at the manifestation of this way and keep looking.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if the followers of every faith, philosophy, and theory of living determined to see just which could demonstrate the highest merit of their way through joy, fearless simple faith, charity, and loving care of their fellows? Or is that really being done right now, except that few of them find enough in their faith to do much of it?

  7. Robert C says:

    To Matt:

    Thanks for your comment. You helped me
    rein in my temper. I have to say again, thank you.

    I have to remind myself over and over, “He really does
    believe what he’s saying, and it makes sense to him.”

    I will try to take that away from this interaction, as well.

  8. Mike Bull,

    You claim a “right” to your own unbelief in my god, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But your unbelief is deluded, whatever faults you find in my religion. You are living under His dominion, whether you are willing to acknowledge it or not. And the morality you claim as a Christian really is stolen from the FSM.

    You are an unbeliever, unwilling to submit to the almighty Pasta. Until you submit to the Lordly Linguini, you are like the meatball that is here today and eaten tomorrow. You and other unbelievers need to remember that everything good you enjoy comes from my worldview.

    Do I sound ridiculous? I certainly hope I do. Go back and re-read your own post. I used mostly your exact words, and this is precisely how you sound to any non-Christian, as well as to many of the more observant Christians.

    I am grateful that the Christian friends I am surrounded by have learned the value of respect, Christians whose love for others is not tainted by proud contempt and disdain. It is truly difficult simultaneously to love others and look down upon them, don’t you think? Look into your heart, and see if this is not so.

    Compassion and unselfish love can be difficult to develop, but step by step, little by little, every one of us has a fantastic capacity for it. Whether it comes from Jesus or not, it needs to be practiced, and practiced a lot.

    I apologize if my rebuke seemed too harsh, and wish you luck in your own growth.

  9. Memphis Aggie says:

    Hi Moon,

    You may not realize that we Christians actually expect to sound ridiculous to unbelievers and are even warned of it in the Bible. But we who believe accept that ridicule as necessary. Saint Paul even welcomed it as the meritorious suffering that would yield a heavenly reward. Of course Christianity is either true or madness. It can not be a halfway belief.

  10. Memphis Aggie

    You seem to have partially missed the point. At the risk of being presumptuous, I would suggest that, in your reply above, you scratch out “ridiculous” and replace it with “mind-bendingly, hideously, repulsively arrogant” (this is referring to Mike Bull’s post, of course). Then you will be on the right track.

  11. Memphis Aggie says:

    Matt

    I went back to look at the comments in question (which I admit I didn’t look at before) and you’re right there are rhetorical excesses certainly.

    I was once and atheist/agnostic and I have great sympathy for the honest pursuit of the truth. I understand why as a scientist one might not seriously explore faith, which is inherently outside the empirical and therefore appears alien. That was my point.

    I believe that to be a mistake and a loss , but certainly an understandable one. We Christians must recall that our faith is a great gift, given as an answered prayer. The value of faith is from God not ourselves and pride in it is misplaced and such pride interferes with the message of hope.

  12. “You may not realize that we Christians actually expect to sound ridiculous to unbelievers and are even warned of it in the Bible. But we who believe accept that ridicule as necessary. Saint Paul even welcomed it as the meritorious suffering that would yield a heavenly reward. Of course Christianity is either true or madness. It can not be a halfway belief.”

    Thank you, Memphis. I’m going to have to respectfully disagree, and in a way that applies especially to evangelicals who wish for non-Christians to become Christians.

    This us-vs-them mentality is rampant among followers of Abrahamic religions, comparatively speaking, and it is utterly unnecessary. If you really want to follow Jesus’s example, you are going to have to let it go.

    There are many posters on this page who, much more than you just did, cling to their assumptions that there is something good and honorable about being despised for their choice of religion. Indeed, one could almost say that they go out of their way to encourage others to despise them for their beliefs. Is this not the point of this page’s article?

    If you are a good Christian, and follow Jesus’s example, people will NOT look at you with disgust. People will NOT run away from you in horror. And, I’m sorry to disappoint some of you, but people will NOT hate you for your religion.

    On the contrary, people will love you, which is exactly to be expected, because you are a wonderful person. A Jesus-like person. And they will ask how you managed to become such a wonderful person. What better opening could there be for explaining Christianity? What more respectful method could there be for pursuing an openly, honestly proselytistic agenda?

  13. Right on the mark with this article.

    I am a believer, but have come to despise the phrase “christian” as much as fundamentalist is spurned by modern society. Jesus was not a christian. He was jewish, but not a Jew (in the practising religion sense).

    Love God, and love the dirty little man down the road. The rest is just hypocrisy.

  14. Memphis Aggie says:

    Moon,

    You make a good point that there can be an us vs them mentality and, honestly, the hostility to Christians is deserved whenever Christians behave like jerks. We are flawed messengers and get caught up our own prejudices and desires and too frequently let that distort the message.

    However there are authentic examples of anti Christian hatred directed at the innocent. In the US it rarely amounts to much more than an insult or social snub; being passed over for a promotion might be the worst effect. By contrast, in many other countries being Christian is a dangerous life threatening pursuit.

    Finally the suffering for belief theme is authentically and intrinsically Christian, not merely an assumption. It can certainly get self-righteous and ring false, but it is a major part of Christian dogma. Recall Christ himself was ridiculed, tortured publicly and executed. Why did that happen, since he certainly was loving and generous, healing and feeding the sick and the poor? He was killed because he was a threat, a threat to the worldly powers of the age. Can you seriously argue that no worldly power in our time perceives Christianity as a threat? Take China for example or the Sudan or Saudi Arabia or Iran or even regions of India.

  15. Lance in TX says:

    Memphis Aggie,
    You wrote: However there are authentic examples of anti Christian hatred directed at the innocent. In the US it rarely amounts to much more than an insult or social snub; being passed over for a promotion might be the worst effect. By contrast, in many other countries being Christian is a dangerous life threatening pursuit.

    You are correct about other countries. Being Christian in some countries can bring you death.

    But about 170 years ago this was the case for 1 religious group: The LDS (Mormons).

    On October 27, 1838 Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs signed a military order directing that the Mormons (LDS) be driven from the state or exterminated. This was not repealed until June 25, 1976 by Governor Christopher S. Bond.

    You can find more information at:
    http://www.mormonwiki.com/Extermination_Order

  16. Memphis Aggie,

    Let me challenge you.

    “However there are authentic examples of anti Christian hatred directed at the innocent. In the US it rarely amounts to much more than an insult or social snub; being passed over for a promotion might be the worst effect.”

    This is entirely possible, just as it is possible for anyone belonging to any number of groups, religious and otherwise. Let’s see if it applies especially to Christians.

    Here are my challenges, to Memphis or any other who thinks that Christians are a significantly persecuted group in the United States:

    1. Without the aid of Google or any Internet search tool, name five presidents in U.S. history who were openly non-Christian.

    2. Without the aid of Google or any Internet search tool, name five contemporary American politicians who openly admit to not being Christian.

    3. Without the aid of Google or any Internet search tool, name 10 politicians in history or contemporary politics who are/were obviously not Christian, whether they admit(ted) it or not.

    How’d you do? Could you successfully complete the first two challenges? The third one was easy, of course.

    There is some truth to what you say, but if being a Christian in the United States is the anathema many paint it to be, why is it so convenient to be one in politics–the ultimate in popularity contests, as it were?

    Admit it: Christians are arguably the LEAST PERSECUTED religious category (even if you include agnostics and atheists) in the United States today.

    Yes, being persecuted for being a Christian–and, more importantly, perceiving this as a good thing–is a very prevalent theme, as are many themes taken from the Bible.

    Makes me wonder, are American Christians taking the Biblical golden rule to its ultimate conclusion when they decide to persecute and look down upon the practitioners of other religions? You want to be hated and persecuted, therefore you should hate and persecute others?

    I’m kidding, of course. But can you see the warning suggested by my ridiculous example?

    Be very, very careful about using the Bible to defend *any* kind of anti-social behavior, especially those that differ markedly from Jesus’s. I’m pointing the finger mostly at positions of hatred that are consistently defended by Biblical passages, but I also point the finger at Christians who deliberately antagonize others as I described above.

    I’ll repeat myself, just because I think this is the most important thing I have typed on this page. A bit of common sense, this:

    Generally speaking, if you are a good Christian, and follow Jesus’s example, people will NOT look at you with disgust. People will NOT run away from you in horror. And, I’m sorry to disappoint some of you, but people will NOT hate you for your religion.

    History and notable exceptions aside, this idea that Christians are hated and persecuted in the contemporary United States is mostly a myth, and, even worse, a self-serving myth. It’s used as an excuse for a number of varieties of anti-social behavior. Can you imagine Jesus ever using God’s authority (i.e., the Bible) to serve his own ego in this way?

    That’s not the Jesus I know.

    -Moon

  17. Bob from Chicago says:

    You have all made good points. I must reveal that i am a Roman Catholic. The evangelism as sales pitch is a problem. But an even bigger one is the vagueness of much “nondimensional” – oops “nondenominational” Evangelicalism.

    So much of its beliefs are borrowed capital from Rome, Geneva, or Wittenberg. Evangelicals have realy, really dumbed down a lot. Check out http://www.whitehorseinn.com for critiques of American Christianity from a classical Reformation perspective. I do admire some Protestant theology – even if only as a worthy sparring partner. However I lean more toward the Stott/Packer end of Evangelicalism in my tastes. Reformed Anglicanism is still in the same ballpark. A lot of non-denominational theology is really Dispensationalism and can sound weird.

    Moreover everything seems to depend on the preacher. The cult of personality distorts the message.

    Of course the Catholic Church in America has its own problems.

    Perhaps a dose of real persecution is what the church needs. It may be that the Lord is pruning us.