What is Wrong with Christians

What is Wrong with Christians July 28, 2020

I have identified as a Chrstian for most of my life.  Until recently, I would have proudly defended Christianity on some level even though I always admitted that nobody is perfect and we all have flaws.  But once I got outside of organized relgion, I have been able to see with new eyes and I think Christianity, especially in it’s organized form, has some real problems.

Here are some of my observations — they are not scientific — just what I observe.

Politics first

Most Christians, liberal or conservative would not admit that they do this, but it is glaringly obvious.  The first conversations we tend to have is about the President or what is happening on a national level.  When I try to interject something about what Christ might think or do, Chrisitans are apt to quickly switch back to the political issue first and then try to retrofit Jesus into that disucssion later.  Nationalism has become an alternative religion.

It is not uncommon to be discussing a political issue, ignore Christ, and somehow even interject other political issues just to strengthen our point before we even consider what is ultimately right.  As long as we are achieving our political aim, then we assume God is for us and wants us to succeed at whatever we have imagined as our primary goal.  To me, that is 180 degees backward.  Jesus gave us principles like the golden rule and love your neighbor that shoudl be our starting point instead of the window dressing we put on some things.

So, so angry

Because we watch slanted newscasts and hang out digitally in places where we find agreement, it suprises us when someone dares to contradict us.  In this world of otherizing, where in some cases we can even justify killing those that disagree with us or challenge us, it doesn’t take long to get up to full boil.  People who oppose us quickly becomes sub-human or  stupid or not worth any effort.  Again, this attitude is contraary to the way of Christ, but we have been practicing it for a long time.

I do find Christians who are at peace, but usually they are out in what I call the desert, not in the mainstream of organized religion.  Generally the people I meet outside of organized religion are much more accepting, loving and open to new ideas.  They are not the ones with a death grip on their ideas and processess — they truly seem to have the peace Jesus talked about.  This too, seems backward from what I imaged.

Quick to condem and excuse

One of points Jesus clearly stated was “Do not judge.”  He said it just like that.  No exceptions.  If Matthew recorded that right, then it is a very clear statement.  Don’t do it!  Yet pretty predictably I can count on judgement from Christians after about the 2nd or 3rd argument I give them.  I am also guilty.   When Christians realize someone is not going to agree with them, it scares them and they feel a need to warn the other person that they are a hereitc or apostate or in danger.

Instead of saying, I disagree with you, Chrisians are more apt to say you are wrong.  And, what they usually mean is not just that you believe or understand wrong,  they generally actually mean YOU ARE WRONG.  You are broken, or you are a sinner or you are not right.  If you don’t agree with that, just spend some time contemplating our language and how we treat someone we consider to be other.

Where I am

I would say that I generally fall into the traps of all the things I have described.  I am guilty of politicizing my life, I sometimes get angry and I have been known to judge and condemn others.  But, this Christian journey started for me when I was trying to emulate Christ.  I still want to do that, but I also think I draw from other people.  I need examples in my life and I know where to find them.

Unfortunately, I generally do not find these people inside organized religion.  I find them outside political parties and outside the church walls.  Suprisingly, there are more people than I would have imagined out here and I often find peace.

Because I still have some compassion for those that are entrenched where they are, I sometimes wander back (even electronically) and try to have discussions with them.  Most often, this doesn’t go well.  So I press on in my journey of understanding.  I no longer call it reconstruction — I call it evolution.

Viva the Evolution of my Faith!

Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and the soon-to-be released Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary and Too Many Podcasters podcasts. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!

 

 

 

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18 responses to “What is Wrong with Christians”

  1. I think the issue is that most people that call themselves “Christian” aren’t comfortable with thinking about their faith and actually questioning if what they believe is true…Most are happy being told what to believe by others bc asking hard questions about your faith is exhausting and difficult and there’s little support from the greater church community to actually encourage it…I was told in a Bible study while I was in college that I asked too many questions…Even though I was sincere and open hearted they took it as a threat to their control of the group bc they were trying to control the narrative and thus they saw me as being “insubordinate” bc I didn’t agree with everything that was being said without questioning it against the true nature of God and certain scriptures…This is more tribalism than genuine faith which seems to be where most people who attend evangelical churches land…It’s easier to adopt the beliefs of the tribe bc if you don’t you are an outcast…I’d argue that true faith is a process however most of us are more comfortable worshipping our dogma or a fixed set of beliefs rather than God bc God wants us to grow and growth is uncomfortable…Also-Some people really like labels, but sitting in a garage doesn’t make you a car and sitting in a church doesn’t make you a Christian…I don’t pretend to have the answers as I’m certain I can’t begin to fully comprehend the nature of God, rather I’m just saying there’s a difference between religion and real Christianity…Most American “Christians” would probably have been just fine with crucifying Jesus because he was against an oppressive system of organized religion bc it separates people from God whether it’s socially or economically…So, I would just say-Continue to ask hard and uncomfortable questions…You might not find what you’re looking for in a “church” in the traditional sense, but know that there are PLENTY of people who don’t really identify with a political group or a church group that still believe Christ died for their sins and that you should love your neighbor and still believe in the Grace, mercy, and compassion of God…I say that bc I’m one of them…

  2. The best summary of the problem with the Catholic Church in particular is from recently deceased philosopher from the University of Notre Dame, Gary Gutting: “The Catholic Church lets indefensible doctrines about papal infallibility and hierarchical authority interfere with its fundamental ethics of love.” This is not exactly descriptive of other Christian churches who are without a pope and a huge world wide hierarchical structure. Yet these churches also come up short on love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, understanding and judging not.

  3. I always tell people that the “Alt-Right” movement was named as such, as they figure out what the “right” answer is from a moral standpoint, and then they pick some alternative.

  4. I am a member of an ELCA church in Lynchburg, VA. I have not found the attitude you are describing in all my years as a member of the Evangelical Church in America. We are very inclusive, focused on serving in our community and globally. No politics are used from the pulpit and the words of Jesus will guide us in our individual political decisions. The media tends to focus on the Fundamentalists and call them Evangelicals but that is not what the term Evangelical means. My friends and I try to focus on serving our neighbors in the name of Christ and the mission of the ELCA is “Gods work, our hands.

  5. I agree with much of what you wrote, except the part where you state “Christ Died For Our Sins.” Christ/Jesus was a man who tried to change the thinking of people of his day. He was crucified because he went against Roman Rule. He was a dissident and dissidents of that time were not tolerated, and they were put to death. The way dissidents were killed was crucifixion.
    The killing of those who dared to disagree with the government in power has gone on for generations. Would this happen here in the US if Trump is reelected? I hope not, but if he obliterates Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, and Section 8 Housing, he is literally killing those who are poor.

  6. I appreciate this article very much. While I agree with the first observation, “politics first,” I would also respond that as a follower of Christ, I can not separate my faith from my politics. Both are about how I live in this world, and how I relate to others. So maybe the problem comes if I do not identify my political views be the statement, “as a follower of Christ, I believe that …..” There also is a problem when anyone only lands along party lines. Jesus was not a democrat or a republican, so I doubt that he would always fall along one party line

  7. Great reflection.

    I was once at a training where the speaker said that an important question we always have to ask ourselves in a conversation is “Do I want to be right? Or do I want to be effective?” On my deepest level, I want to be effective. But man I find it really hard not to just want to be right and show people how wrong they are. I’ve only found this harder in this world of “alternative facts” we now live in.

  8. Thanks for your post. I do find myself falling into the trap of anger when trying to reason with those who think politically and have their national agenda as their priority. I have been “so, so angry” at this trend. Working on staying in peace!

  9. I too have been thinking about what has happened to Christianity and I too have some observations. The birth of Christianity developed in a time of political, social, and religious opposition where it’s message was counter-political, counter-social, and counter religious-establishment. From the recorded teachings of Jesus to the epistle letters, the focus is on behaviors and actions of followers of Jesus and not necessarily beliefs; and gradually Christianity grew as a tradition of beliefs and forgot actions. Orthodoxy is determined by doctrine and not actions. What I know of history that whenever Christianity was preferred as the dominate faith by politicians and society, a church that was one persecuted became a persecuting church.

    Faith is reduced to a passive acceptance of a set of doctrines and not an active protest against a world that is in opposition to the will of God while working to make sure God’s will is being done on earth as in heaven. The result of such a passive faith is inactivity and people crave to be part of systems of change and the only thing that filled the inactivity of the church is political action because they could see global change. They can join others, with the same passion, in being and creating change. The church has remained silent on so many issues so not to offend people, but the Gospel of Jesus and the teachings of scripture is offensive, radical, oppositional, and transformational; and the church needs to reclaim that gospel.

    I am a member of the Episcopal Church and I know that only a small…a very small percent of Episcopalians are involved in the work of the church in creating change for social justice. I know of all the good that these people are doing behind the scenes, but when you ask others if they are aware of such engagement, they are woefully unaware and disinterested. These same people will, however, join civic organizations where they can make changes, but avoid church organizations that are making change.

    Since Christianity has been reduced to beliefs then believing the “right” doctrines means one is active in their faith. Since acceptance of beliefs is often based on “a priori” preferences is interesting to note because it appears that people are looking for a god made in their image and who agrees with their beliefs. They want a god made in their image and that image of god is determined by politics and social norms.

    I think the church’s call to action is to be involved in the world and to be the change that is often missing: and that means that the church needs to be involved in every aspect of society, and when I say “the church,” it’s not the paid staff but every member who attends church. If members of the church leave it to the “professional” the results will be a dismal failure and the members of the church can blame others instead of taking responsibility for their inactivity in the church.

  10. Yeah, sometimes they don’t need a pope, just a charasmatic pastor. Consider subscribing by email

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