A Christian Minority Report

A Christian Minority Report September 16, 2018

A post on the blog Friendly Atheist noticed that young Evangelicals are less conservative than their parents, and more importantly, more open to nuance, to being conservative in some areas and less so in others.

But the post unhelpfully treats this in a manner that parrots a key element of the conservative Christian script, characterizing this as a shift away from a brand of Christianity that gets to be considered normative, namely conservative Evangelicalism.

But if you’ve ever listened to a conservative Christian version of church history, it is always the story of a small minority who supposedly get it right, maintaining and standing up for “orthodoxy” and “the truth” while the majority wander into error.

But what if the story being told is badly biased by the tellers? What if they are right that there was always a small minority that was narrow and that saw things in a manner similar to the way they do, but wrong to say that those individuals were the faithful few while everyone else was badly mistaken?

What if the conservative extremists have always been a minority, badly misunderstanding what it means to be a Christian, and as a result, misunderstanding what has been happening with the church down the ages?

It’s the same story, just told from a different perspective.

Of course, there are conservative Christians who pretend to embrace the idea that the evidence (usually from science, but sometimes from history) doesn’t speak for itself, and so different interpretations of it are simply a matter of perspective.

But when people study science (or the Bible) without being kept in a sheltered environment that limits the information, options, and perspectives they are exposed to, they typically reject both science denialism and fundamentalist dogmatism.

And so once again I will appeal to everyone not to simply grant to fundamentalists and conservatives the right to define how the story of the church (past and present) is told, and who was right and wrong in it.

It is always good to look for and listen to a minority report. But it is also important to ask why most people don’t embrace it. That most people are hard-hearted stubborn sinners is not the only possible explanation…

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  • Barros Serrano

    And that minority of conservative extremists in the Church are interwoven, ideologically, with the secular economic right, which is to say, the interests of corporations and billionaires, represented by the GOP.

    The Republican who gets “Christian” votes for yelling about abortion and gay marriage runs off to Congress as soon as elected and votes for massive billionaire tax cuts, relaxing of regulations on corporate malfeasance, and anything else the Koch Bros. want.

    Where is the Christianity in this?

    • jh

      There is a flaw in assuming that Christianity can’t be about yelling about abortion and gay marriage, running off to congress and voting for massive billionaire tax cuts. A thing is not only what it is but also how it is used and interpreted. a friend of mine uses a large vase used for large floral arrangements as an …. umbrella holder. Or that scene in the Disney LIttle Mermaid movie where she uses a fork to do her hair.

      By pretending that Christianity can’t be screaming against abortion and the gays and Randian republican economics one grants Christianity some nobility or goodness that it never had. We ascribe virtue to Christianity that it never deserved. It’s been a great marketing propaganda campaign that has lasted centuries. The equation of faith in a god and in particular to the Christian God which = good person. But that’s a lie. The good people that we meet who happen to be good people in our estimation are aberrations. Religions make claims about producing a certain type of people. If it fails, is it the fault of the subscriber or the product. We rightfully mock the cabbage diet or the grapefruit diet when they don’t produce results. Why is it that we don’t mock Christianity when it has never produced the results it claims to provide. (Peaceful turning the other cheek? When was Europe a peaceful place to be? Loving your neighbor? Since when? You see, when you hold the marketing claims against the results, christianity just looks like yet another infomercial product that sounds good but is a piece of crap that will just take up space in your home until you can white elephant it to someone or throw it away.)

      *This isn’t to say that atheists are superior. It’s just that atheism doesn’t really make the kinds of claims that religions routinely make in which the adherents are “good-er”, better, sweeter, kinder, thinner, sexier, richer and so on. At the end of the day, it’s just a “Do you believe that a supernatural being exists that could be refereed to as a god?” No moral promises about the character of the atheist involved.

      • Barros Serrano

        Yes you are pointing out the contradiction between the teachings and the practice. Christianity as a real social and historical phenomenon is indeed a colossal failure in terms of its claims.

        I keep pointing this out because I have the hope that people claiming to be Christians might notice the chasm between Jesus’ teachings and Christian behavior, and mend their ways.

        Of course you are correct that the history of christianity is rampant with all the evil ubiqitous in human institutions and activity.

  • Pastor Craig

    Why does one side have to be absolutely right and the other totally wrong? Can’t either side have good points? Can a person remain in a state of cognitive dissonance? Perhaps (and I emphasize perhaps) the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin. Can I not say “maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but not only is that none of my business, but I’m going to love and support my gay friend”? Can I not say “maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but if a gay person can preach and teach and bring people to the faith they should be ordained”? I’m not going to paint God into a corner–He can do that himself. In the mean time, I’ll love support, care, lift, and so-on, all whom I encounter. And I will preach the same.