A Christian Is Who Again?

On the eve of the US Presidential election, the great buzz in my little corner of the Internet has not been about politics but about Christianity. It seems my writing friend Mike Duran stirred up a hornet’s nest with his post entitled “The Anti-Evangelical Hate Machine.” In it he called to task a number of “progressive Christians” who have spewed vitriol onto evangelical Christians.

The response included a heap of additional garbage hurled at evangelicals. Here are a few samples:

“Maybe you wouldn’t carry the sign yourself, but do you silently agree with the sentiments of the Westboro Baptist Church… “God hates fags!” Because if you feel these issues have somehow been settled beyond all doubt, you haven’t really been paying attention. Both on the left or the right, it is easier to simply dismiss those who disagree, as opposed to the more difficult and adult work of figuring out how to coexist.

Don’t stay stuck in the sandbox if you feel you can step up and talk to the other adults.” (from Britt)

“Oh, get off the cross already. We need the wood.

The problem with religious liberals is that for far too long we’ve tolerated bullying and bigotry from the likes of you people because we adopted a “turn the other cheek” approach. Well, we’re done with that, and we’re reclaiming Christianity. You’ve turned it into something monstrous, hurtful, and oppressive, and yet you’re whining that we’re persecuting you.” (Ceryle Alcyon)

“You see, if you don’t pay him the respect of taking the time to comprehend what he is writing about, you end up looking even more shallow, petty, and mean-spirited than he could ever depict. ” (Jeri Massi)

As I was thinking about this apparent divide, what Scripture says about the Church popped into mind. We are the bride of Christ; the body of which He is the Head; living stones built into a temple of which He is the cornerstone; branches attached to Christ, the vine.

All these point first to a relationship with Christ and secondly to a unified purpose, though perhaps a diverse function.

I can’t help wondering, then, how it is possible for some in the Church to hate others in the church.

Actually, John seems to be saying it isn’t possible.

The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. (1 John 2:9)

The chapter goes on to elaborate, but the point is clear from this verse. It reiterates what Jesus said about the love between Christians being the winsome quality that would let others know we belong to God.

First He said “This I command you [disciples], that you love one another” (John 15:17). Then in His prayer to the Father about us, He said

I do not ask on behalf of these [disciples] alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (John 17:20-23)

Love. Unity. These admonitions and goals Jesus has for His followers don’t seem to lend themselves to hate. Or name calling. Or ridicule.

So why the disconnect? People claiming Christ say they hate Christians, or Evangelicals at least, or “Fundies.” Yet they turn around and say the reason they do so is because of how unloving these Christians, Evangelicals, “Fundies” are.

The love of Christ, then, would seem to be for everyone else, but NOT for brothers and sisters of the faith with whom they disagree. Or are they saying these conservative Christians, Evangelicals, “Fundies” aren’t actually Christians?

Some of these “Progressives” are deeply offended that in comments or conversations conservative Christians, Evangelicals, “Fundies” have suggested the “Progressives” are not Christians, so they wouldn’t be turning around and saying the same thing, would they?

But I have a serious problem. The facts don’t add up.

    Scripture says we are one, that if we hate a brother we are not in the Light.
    Progressive Christians hate on conservative Christians, Evangelicals, “Fundies” who also name the name of Christ.

Why this disconnect?

Published in: on November 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm  Comments (9)  
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9 Comments

  1. Only one possible answer, I’m afraid, the two groups calling themselves Christians must be worshiping two different Christs. One is true and one is false, the spirit of Anti-Christ, the lawless one foretold long ago, two different gospels, etc. May God forgive the deceived and draw them into the embrace of the true Savior. Or can one be deceived by the spirit of Anti-Christ so much that he hates the brethren and still be in a saving relationship with the real Jesus?

    • No, I think your original conclusion is right, Andrea–the spirit of Anti-Christ can’t co-exist with a saving relationship with Jesus. But why is it that people who don’t know Jesus want to claim His name? I honestly don’t understand.

      Becky

  2. And Andrea has stated very clearly what is going on- they all believe what Andrea has claimed is the only possible answer. The fingers are pointing both ways, not just one. Both sides are not just accusing the other side of being hateful but both are also really being hateful, and judging to the other side. Both are right in their accusations. Both sides believe that only they are right, and the others are deceived and are therefore evil.

    Another possible answer… the obvious one. All who hate and accuse are not really Christians. None of them are really Christians because they are not obeying Jesus’s words. They have set themselves up as blameless beings, and believe anyone who thinks differently must be wrong or evil. Sounds like self worship to me. Not Jesus worship. All are deceived and there is no Body of Christ on earth today.

    Another possible answer is we are all right. We are all doing what God leads and directs us to do. But Satan tempts us to believe our own way is the only right way and everyone else is evil. He tempts us to hate our brothers and divide the Body of Christ.

    The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”- 1 Corinthians 12:21

    I believe this last option is what is really going on. Repent of your hatreds, brothers and sisters, and accept that God is bigger than you, and all of His children are at work in His Kingdom in different ways. LOVE. That is what we have been asked to do. Not just our brothers, but our enemies as well. Love everyone.

    “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”- 1 John 4:20

    • I should have said John carried that theme all the way through his letter. This verse from chapter four is straight to the point, Patrick. Thanks for adding to the conversation. All these options are interesting to consider, but if God’s Word is indeed authoritative, then it seems to reduce the issue down to the simple point–there’s no room in the Church for a Christian to hate other Christians.

      Does it happen? Does an ex-wife hate her ex-husband, even though both have professed faith in Christ? Does an employee treated unfairly by his boss, hate the man who did him wrong though they are both believers?

      It seems to me, because Christians are sinners, we may well face these kinds of wrong behaviors from Christians. But clearly, God’s admonition is for us to love one another. If we are to “walk in a manner worthy of our calling,” we need to forgive even as we have been forgiven.

      Great topic. I may have to post more on this.

      Becky

  3. I was amazed at the amount of comments that Mike’s post got, and is still getting.

    The name progressive Christian seems so, well, progressive, and the name Fundie, seems so, well, fuddy-duddy-ish. Michael Snyder calls the Fundamentalists regresssives–did you see that?

    Of course since God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we don’t want to progress, lest we progress right out of the body of Christ, which I’m sure many have already done.

    Nor do I want to be associated with the Fundamentalists, though, because though I hold to the fundamentals of the faith, I don’t hold to the beliefs of the Fundamentalists in this country today.

    I believe there are probably Christians in both camps and unsaved folks in both camps. But while I see major errors in the teachings of both sides, in my opinion the Fundamentalists are much closer to God than the progressives, because the progressives have discarded so much of the Bible. The farther you get from the Bible, the farther you get from God.

    Fundamentalists may miss grace in their daily lives and rely on their own works, but they know they ought not do that. So they sin against what they profess. But at least their profession has a chance to correct them. Progressives on the other hand don’t have a profession that can save them. They simply don’t believe much of the Bible. They believe there are other ways to God, beside Christianity–besides faith in Christ.

    And in the end they sin in the same way the Fundamentalists do–by relying on their own loving, good works to save them, just as the Fundamentalists sometimes end up relying on their holy living, good works to save them.

    But you asked why the disconnect. Why do they love everyone but Fundamentalists and others who believe the Bible is God’s inerrant word?

    Well it’s because they see us as the oppressor and not as the oppressed. They believe we are God’s enemies and their enemies, because they believe we are unloving when we say some men go to hell and all who trample the blood of Christ underfoot will go to hell.

    • I believe there are probably Christians in both camps and unsaved folks in both camps.

      Good point, Sally, and I think true. It’s also a great insight to point out that both groups are actually doing the same thing–relying on their works to get some kind of standing in God’s sight. Wow! I wouldn’t have thought of that. And how horrified both groups would be to think that they are doing the exact same thing as the other.

      Becky

  4. I should have said “number of comments” or “amount of commenting.” Obviously. I’m in my editing mode these days and I hate seeing so many blunders in my own writing.

  5. I was asked this question at a job interview recently for a Christian Bookstore. The question was what is the difference between Evangelicism and Born Again Christian. I didn”t know how to really answer it because I didn”t know there was a Difference. I think we are missing the point of Love. We can love the person, but hate their sinfulness. We can help bring them back to Cross without causing a division. People always assumes that condemning a Sin is narrowminded, but it’s not. God condemns sin everyday, but he also offers forgiveness through his son Jesus.

  6. Wow, James, I would have been as baffled as you. I think we might be missing the meaning of love. I think the world understands it to mean tolerance and acceptance. We are never to stand in opposition to anyone unless they are hurting others. Then they are fair game. That was pretty much the message of Avatar, wasn’t it? All was love and good will, but not toward the aggressive, greedy, colonialists.

    The world has a limit on their love, both in kind and scope. God’s love is limitless, but it is far more than acceptance. In fact, His love calls all to a Perfect Standard, one none of us can uphold. Which is why He stooped to rescue us and do in us what we could not do for ourselves.

    Becky


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