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?