They Always Blame the Christians

piling onThe corrupt leaders of ancient Rome wagged the finger of blame at Christians, making them convenient scapegoats for society’s ills, ranging from run-away taxation to crop-failure. Because Christians have a built-in mechanism to admit their imperfections, they didn’t defend themselves very well. This, in turn, made them food for lions.

I witnessed yesterday yet another popular Christian author piling-on the church as the “main cause of atheism.” His quote made the rounds on Facebook. If we Christians weren’t so dang un-Christian, the popular author implied, the atheists of the world would quickly bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Not so fast.

In this paragraph, I officially own that Christians all too often aren’t very Christian. I start with myself. There is plenty to criticize in me and in Christianity at large. Let’s stipulate that, and by doing so, pre-answer any  comments below that suggest I’m white-washing Christian badness. We Christians frequently don’t represent our Savior well. Admitted.

Even so, if we could wave a magic Bible verse and fix the church… even if every Christian on earth could match the heroic levels of self-giving love, courageous sacrifice, uncompromising faith, and world-changing dedication of the early church… for most unbelievers, it wouldn’t make any difference at all.

That is because the number one reason people refuse to believe in God IS BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE THEIR OWN GODS.

God has competition. It’s called EGO.

In other words, they are atheists because it suits their lifestyle and moral preferences. They don’t have a boss to answer to, existentially speaking, other than their own selves. This makes them, by definition, their own gods. Who wants a divine Enforcer breathing down their necks anyway?

There are indeed some good-hearted atheists who have arrived at their religious convictions through logical, carefully considered, thoughtful argumentation. I have a good friend whom I love dearly that I would put in that camp.

But let’s be honest: most people push away God because he is inconvenient. And they blame the Christians because we’re convenient, and well, we don’t fight back much. In fact, we circle up the firing squad and shoot each other… “Yes, Christians are indeed horrible, and -phobic in a dozen ways, and we’re ruining the world.”

I lovingly urge you to jump off the Christian-bashing bandwagon. God loves his church, imperfections and all. We are the bride of Christ, and you can’t hate what Christ loves and love Christ at the same time. Every time you join the chorus of church-bashers, you rip at the fabric of a young Christian’s faith. You plant the seeds for wholesale dismissal of the Church, and ultimately of Christianity, in the hearts of teenagers and young adults who lack the critical faculties to evaluate your critique.

I’ve been guilty myself. I’m sure you can find sermons in which I criticize the church, and even blame the church, for not being Christian enough. I repent of any spirit of criticism against the church. I’m sorry. When I find it necessary to preach against particular failings, I will do my utmost to uphold the church itself as the apple of God’s eye, in spite of her shortcomings.

Please join me in this.

Speak well of the church, of her ideals and her accomplishments, even if you must raise a prophetic voice against her evils. Speak well of the church, of her people and faithful few, even if you must poke fun at her foibles. Don’t get sucked into the cliche machine of social media. Don’t join the chorus of those who despise blood-bought people of God.

And don’t get fooled by the smoke screen that Christians are the “main cause” of atheism.

Why do people push God away? Because they don’t want moral restraints. Because they refuse to submit to a higher wisdom. Because they judge their ways as higher than God’s ways. Because they elevate their own wisdom above his. Because their hearts are deceitful. Because a refrain plays through their depraved mentality, singing: WE WILL NOT HAVE THIS BEING TO RULE OVER US.

That’s the main reason why.

Why do people push God away?

  • Because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge… Romans 1:28
  • Because professing themselves wise, they became fools… Romans 1:21
  • Because they suppress the truth… Romans 1:18
  • So they are without excuse… Romans 1:20

No. Not even the excuse of imperfect Christians.

Have you heard Christians bashing Christians? What reasons have you heard people give for pushing away God?

As always, sharing is appreciated. 

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22 thoughts on “They Always Blame the Christians

  1. Yes, you know, I agree with you for the most part… but I don’t think that guy was bashing Christians quite so much… more on the lines of bashing folks who CLAIM Christianity but don’t act like it… and the church institutions that give credence to all the bad press.

    The point is, though, that if we attach the label “Christian” to something, we’d better be darn sure that it reflects the attitude of Christ. Because if it doesn’t then we sully the name and then, when we ask folks what they think about “Christians”, all they can see is the bad press.

    So… I do think the critique of the church and of how the church does things and of the history of the church’s stupidity in the world is a necessary critique, much the same as Jeremiah critiqued Israel or Ezekiel critiqued Judah and so forth.

    • Yes, I agree. The critique is needed. Even so, the value of the church as the people of God was never undercut. The quote to which I refer uses the words “the main reason why” people are atheists… I simply cannot theologically agree with Christian foibles as “the main reason.” Also, I am arguing against the tendency of Christians to shoot at each other…

      • Hrm… aren’t you, by the very critique you are doing, “shooting” at another Christian? ;-)

        As for Christian foibles… I have a friend who was in seminary actually to be a minister… and the stupid stuff of the church and such was what convinced him that Christianity was not for him and that, for that matter, because of what he saw and heard while at seminary, the whole “God” thing is just that much falseness… He appreciates “Christians” who actually act like it and has said that, if he had known Christians like he has found in his current area, he wouldn’t have given up on Christianity.

        Is his case typical? I dunno… but his is not the only testimony I’ve heard to that effect… He likes Christian ethics and Christian morality… he just doesn’t like Christians and what they represent and so… *shrug*

      • I hear you. Like any other population, Christian groups are a mixed bag. We all come with wounds and personalities and needs for redemption and healing. Even so, God calls us to act like a body. I am not arguing against all critique… I am arguing for setting that critique within a context that still values the gathered people of God we call the church.

      • I think the critiques that are out there are faithful to that… It requires separating “church” from the institution that it has become from “church” as the “polis” of the “ekklesia” which it has always been. The “gathered people of God” are not limited to those institutional manifestations…

  2. Hi Bill! How do you explain compassionately to a college age fence sitter why a person who is a wonderful person by human standards will suffer forever in hell because they never chose to trust in Jesus’ sacrifice to atone for her sins. When I try to talk about the holiness of God and how he can’t be in the presence of sin my son can’t understand how his friend who is compassionate and full of love for others and tries to live a good life and has a sweet spirit will go to hell because he never chose to trust Jesus for his salvation. Another sticking point is what about a person who lives in an undeveloped country who has not had the way of salvation explained to them? If they are beyond excuse because all of creation is a testimony to the truth of God are the going to heaven if they just believe in the existence of God because of creation or do they need to “do” or “say” something to be saved?

    • Carol, great questions and big ones. I wrote a book to answer these questions… it’s on Amazon (http://amzn.to/QUgxkf) and is called Four Letter Words. I’d suggest you look at it before handing it over to the college-age friend…

  3. “That is because the number one reason people refuse to believe in God IS BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE THEIR OWN GODS.”
    This has got to be the most ridiculous explanation for Atheism I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard a lot of bad reasons)

    “Because their hearts are deceitful.”
    Not that’s just mean. Do you really want to start a name calling fight?

    • Actually, Robert, I agree with your term “ridiculous” depending on one’s presuppositions. If one presumes a materialistic worldview, the whole Christian and/or biblical position is indeed ridiculous.

      I think Pascal’s Wager sums it up nicely. At the end of the day (i.e., our lives) one of us (or both) will be shown to be a fool. For those of us with a Scriptural set of presuppositions, Paul’s saying rings true: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18, NKJV). I guess it depends on where you’re coming from.

      As to the term “deceitful” I was quoting Scripture: Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is deceitful. Sorry for not making that clear, and no, I’m not interested in a name calling fight.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. Though we don’t see eye to eye, I appreciate you joining the conversation.

      • The mention of Pascal was not all I said there… I hope that the argument is substantive. I am not, by the way, arguing mainly with atheists. You have an opinion as to why I am a Christian. I have an opinion as to why you are (I presume, and sorry if I’m wrong) an atheist. My main point is to Christians. Thank you for the dialog.

  4. “That is because the number one reason people refuse to believe in God IS BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE THEIR OWN GODS.”

    Incorrect.

    The number one reason is the lack of good evidence for the claims of the religious.

    • I guess one person’s evidence of a Creator is another person’s evidence of random chance. If you take issue with my characterization that it is the “number one” reason, might you agree that it, for some, is a reason? Thanks for stopping by.

  5. From an outsider’s perspective, the idea that Christians are being blamed for society’s ills seems a little odd. In the 2012 census, 70% of Americans claimed to be Christian. Is the other 30% so outspoken that they effectively rule the 70%? I guess blame is different than persecution, but this is a line of thinking that I’ve been encountering in a lot of Christians and I must confess that it’s a difficult complaint to accept when there is a tax-exempt church on every street corner in the country, under no threat of being closed or burned to the ground (as you’d have with many other faiths in many other countries).

    I don’t want to post a contrarian comment for the sole purpose of being contrarian, but I’d love some further explanation as to how the Christian church is being stigmatized to the level that you claim when Christianity is not only widely accepted, but encouraged in our society. What am I missing?

    • We are not being persecuted, in any wide sense, in America. However, there are trends of criticism, such as Tim Tebow, religious institutions having to pay for abortions for their employees (against conscience), restrictions on military members sharing their faith, etc.

      My message is mainly to fellow Christians here: let’s not be so quick to eat our own — to throw the church under the bus.
      Thanks for your comment.

      • Thank you for your reply, it does clear that up for me. I suppose the thing I keep coming back to is this “us” vs. “them” mentality that arrives when people talk about the church in the public realm. These “trends of criticism” you speak of are not solely being cast upon the church by the public, often the other way around. I can’t think of any particular group in America that is off limits from criticism. Isn’t criticism the first step towards progress in many cases? If no one addresses the issues within the church and approaches them with grace, then the issues will only become bigger barnacles that a younger generation of people (like myself) will be distracted by. That doesn’t seem like a very good thing for Christians if the desire is to project God’s blinding love. That message has become muddied in frustrated lamentations about the new generation and how everything is going to hell (just like your parents must have said about your generation).

        I understand your desire for the church to remain a tight knit group, and tight knit groups are the only kind of group I really want to be a part of in the first place. But I hope you also understand that, to a non-Christian (with an open mind), it only makes the church less accessible. With titles like “They Always Blame the Christians” you’ve assumed the victim mentality, when the church would be pretty low on my list of victimized groups in America.

        I truly don’t mean to offend, and to be honest these aren’t criticisms I’d make to my strongly convicted Christian family because I don’t feel as if they’d engage me. I really appreciate your time in thinking my half-formed questions over, because these are answers I have trouble finding on my own.

  6. I couldn’t say Christians are the main cause of atheism, but as a whole we tend to be a sorry example of Jesus.
    We are too often hypocritical of the speck in others’ eyes while ignoring our own logs. You make a good point that we need to set an example of speaking well of the church and each other, but only if it is deserved. Christian bashing by Christians doesn’t solve anything; ideally we can find a way to be honest and compassionate.

    • Truth. I just imagine that day in the future when God accepts no excuses… no finger-pointed, no one to blame. Each of us takes full responsibility for our lives and the choices we made.

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