Most certainly, there are many more things I love about Christianity than what I hate. However, I thought I would spend a bit of time here and open up the conversation in a different direction. These are the top eight things I “hate” about Christianity, in order.
(Oh, and since we have thousands of first-time visitors here everyday, let me be clear…I am a very committed Evangelical Christian.)
8. Unanswered prayer = God’s “no”. Prayer in general is hard. It is hard to keep up with someone whose relationship techniques do not mirror anything we practice on earth. The though-you-do-not-see-him-now-but-believe-in-him” (1 Pet. 1:8) thing is really bizarre. And when it comes to prayer (i.e. talking to God) it culminates in some frustrations. When I pray for something that does not get answered (i.e. my request does not happen), people often say, “that is God’s ways of saying “no” or “not now.” So, in Christianity, God’s ignoring is another way of rejecting a request? I don’t like that. I am not saying it is not true, its just I would prefer something else.
7. Testimonies, BC and AD. No, it is not the testimonies themselves, but the burden of what a testimony must bear. There has to be a former way of life before Christ (BC) and what you have become after Christ (AD). The burden is that in order to have a “great” testimony, pressure is placed upon you to present yourself in a nice and polished way that says, “Look what God has done with me: Can you believe it? You can be like me too.” Testimonies are more valid (not to mention more believable and inspiring) when the “finished product” (the AD) is never really finished at all, but still broken. I don’t like the shallow “now and then” of the Christian testimony format.
6. Watchdog ministries. Watchdog ministries. Lighthouse ministries. Appraisal ministries. They go by many names. They are full-time Christian snipers. Let me back up. There are certain ministries that exist to find and expose false teaching. I have no problem with exposing false teaching. Indeed, it is part of what we are to do as teachers…correct false doctrine. However, it is very rare to find a ministry or a person who does this well. Most of the ministries and people who do this are arrogant, ungracious, and counter-productive and themselves need to be exposed. I have worked for one of these ministries (a long time ago). After a while, the ministry becomes obsessed, concerning itself with nothing else other than beating someone up in the name of the Lord. When there is no controversy, like a drug addict in withdrawals, they begin to create controversy ex nihilo or go back to dead horses and kick them. Their goal soon loses the priority of truth, learning, and understanding. I think that many people would have nothing to talk about if there was not someone to kick.
5. Seeker-driven Churchianity. (“Churchianity: a term a took from my friend Michael Spencer). That’s not really the best way to put it. A better way might be “compromised Christianity.” The reason why it is often called “seeker churchianity” is based on its primary desire to fulfill the “Great Commission” through reaching the lost. But there is a line crossed. I cannot always tell you where it is, but I will go out on a limb here and say that the majority of Evangelical Churches today have crossed that line a long time ago. I carry I poker chip in my pocket. Written on it are the words “Leaving Lust Vegas.” It was taken from a church that was doing a sermon series about lust and decided to use a modern Hollywood and Las Vegas theme to communicate their message. I can’t imagine how much it cost to have these chips made (not to mention how little practical effect they really have). I also have a flier from a sermon series called, “Girls Gone Wild, Bible Style.” This was from a different church who was attempting to reach its audience in a relevant way. I understand why they do this and even admire their intentions. However, I hate it when the Church so much wants to reach the world that one can hardly tell the difference between the culture of the Church and the culture of Hollywood. The church is different and we should do things a particular way. Wal-Mart is different. Disney World is different. The movie theater is different. Fraternities at the University of Oklahoma are different. Congress is different. Just because one is different does not mean they cannot be relevant in accomplishing that which their purpose demands. Why is the church so scared of being different?
4. Christian subculture. I understand that in every discipline, career, or fellowship, there is going to be a unique vocabulary and way to communicate. I make a living teaching theology, a discipline in which people have to learn a new technical language if they expect engage in an effective way. Therefore, I have no problem with communication barriers that need to be overcome. As well, I understand that each culture has its own unique ways of life including family matters, music, education, entertainment, and the like. Therefore, I don’t have any problem with cultural barriers. However, in Christianity, I find that most Christians (especially Evangelical Christians) feel pressured to enter and live within a subculture which, in-and-of-itself, does not necessarily represent Christianity, but becomes the primary avenue through which those on the outside view the Church. The problem is that Christianity is not a culture or a sub-culture (a culture within a culture). Christianity is a belief and a relationship with God that expresses itself in very adaptive ways, with the ability to see the image of God in may cultural expressions that are not unique only to Christians. “Christian” music, education, fiction novels, language, sports, bumper stickers, t-shirts and the like often serve a purpose to distance Christianity from those whom we are ambassadors to and obscures our message. That is why I hate the Christian subculture.
3. Legalism. All religions breed legalism, but Christianity is a religion founded on grace. Legalism cancels out grace. Therefore, legalism cancels out Christianity. Ironically, Christianity has so many legalists. Legalism is essentially an attitude shared by many Christians (especially the immature) that exists to make people feel more in control and comfortable. It is a list of dos and don’ts that one has to follow to be accepted. However, Christianity only exists because God was not legalistic with us. We broke all his rules and he stooped to forgive us. He continues to stoop to forgive us. Legalists, ironically, will not stoop. I hate legalistic Christianity, especially since I can be the primary representative of this legalistic mutation.
2. Anti-intellectual mentality. I was reading a Christian author earlier today who said that the number one thing he hates about Christianity is that “there is no evidence for what we believe.” He goes on to define this as “faith.” I hate that a Christian could ever make such a statement with a straight face. If what he said is true, it is tragic. If there is no evidence for Christianity, I am leaving (quietly, out the back door). I hate that our current Christian culture has so far distanced the intellect from faith that a belief that there is no evidence for Christianity is assumed. I don’t hate it simply because I am embarrassed by it (which I am), but because it is not true and gives so much ammunition to those who reject Christianity. I hate the lack of the mind in the Christian church today.
1. Hell. This is hands down the most difficult doctrine in the Christian faith. We believe in a loving God who sees fit to allow his creation (his children) to suffer in a place we call hell—a place, by the way, that affords more suffering than anything imaginable. A place, by the way, that is never-ending. It is not as though I don’t believe it. I do. It is not as though I look at God in judgment. I don’t. It is simply something that confuses me. While I completely disagree with any form of “Christian” universalism (i.e. all people are going to make it to heaven), second-chance theories (i.e. unbelievers will experience a second chance to escape hell in the after life), or the idea of annihilationalism (i.e. the belief that hell, along with all its inhabitants, will eventually be annihilated forever), I understand and sympathize with the reason why they go in this direction. If I could find some sort of loop-hole to get out of believing in the doctrine of an eternal hell, I would. If there was such a thing as a Christianity that did not necessitate a belief in hell, I would submit my resume. (And believe me, I have tried). Oh, closely connected to this are the cliché answers Christians give about hell. Many Christians I have encountered act as if hell does not bother them in the least. Of all the things you can be cliché about, don’t be so here.
What about you?