Tell me if you’ve heard these phrases uttered before:
“I love Jesus, but I detest religion.”
“I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.”
“I love Jesus, but I can’t stand Christians because they are such hypocrites.”
The first and the third ideas are usually repeated by those that assist megachurches and are trend-following Christians. The second and third utterances are customarily stated by sinners of all stripes in one form or another. Do you desire to know what characterizes everyone who has repeated any of the three? They are all unbearably self-righteous.
Although the central concept behind the aforementioned phrases is the same (namely, that Christians are repugnant people compared to those who criticize them), sadly they’ve all been considered by modern society as being intellectually honest assessments. (Make no mistake, even when they use the term “religion”, it is Christianity they describe.) Truth is, as we’ve already mentioned, it says more about the individuals who ascribe to the sentiment than it does of those who are denounced by the claims.
The declarations reek of a senseless generalization. Considering that Christianity teaches its adherents to love their neighbors and enemies and to imitate Jesus Christ as the model for everyday living, is one to assume that all who bear the name “Christian” are intentionally living disingenuously? But what about those who excoriate Christians with these words? Do they not suffer from what they say is Christianity’s biggest problem, hypocrisy? Do they not sin? One wonders if they’ve actually read Matthew 7:1-5 and sought to apply the principle personally (that is, instead of using it in a decontextualized and misinterpreted fashion to rebuke Christians for judging). Again, more evidence of hypocrisy.
Of further consideration are the Christians who echo the phrases above. Why would they subscribe to the antagonism inherent in these ideas if they are a part of the Body of Christ? I believe two culprits are the issue: 1) ignorance of the Biblical text & 2) a desire to appeal to sinners.
Firstly, let’s examine what happens when Christians decide to ignorance the sacred text. It is impossible for one to be a Christian and hate those who are of the community of the faith. The apostle John very explicitly states within his first epistle, on multiple occasions, that anyone who hates his brother is a murderer. (1 John 2:9-11, 3:15, 4:20) Also, how can a Christ follower find it justifiable to belittle and even abhor his neighbor – much less, those who are brethren in the Lord? (1 John 2:3-6) Is that what Christ taught? This is a contradiction of epic proportions and evidences a general illiteracy of the text or worse, knowing what the Bible says and still harboring ill-will. (More on the latter in a future article.)
Now, a huge reason why many Christians have opened hostilities against their fellow believers is because Christian talking heads have made the attitude trendy. Think about Jefferson Bethke and the video that catapulted the neophyte, social justice sentimentalist to acclaim within church circles, “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus”. Think about the Shane Claiborne’s, the Rob Bell’s, the Tony Jones’ of life as well, and the reader will have a greater understanding of why many believers have developed an attitude of condescension and disdain against other Christians.
All of the names I have mentioned above have one thing in common – they hold Biblical Christianity in contempt. Therefore, their prime targets have been the Bible itself and those that ascent to it in word and action. Hence, the laser-like focus on the “hypocrites” within the church. Just like in a Hollywood movie, where an antagonist is needed in order to influence audiences into supporting the good guy, these apostates and infiltrators have branded the faithful as the antagonists so as to reinforce support from their own followers.
This is a tactic that has been employed by manipulators for years. Despots and demagogues have found that if they can convince their supporters that those who disagree with the demagogues are evil incarnate, this sentiment will manipulate the audience into automatically discounting all of the justifiable criticisms leveled against the rabble-rousers. In the end, it’s all about the demagogues creating an ambiance where their words and deeds are free from scrutiny, a mental environment where not even what the Bible says is enough to counteract their doctrines and acts.
Remember, all of this started because the infiltrators have sought to ingratiate themselves with sinners. And since many sinners harbor an animosity towards Biblical Christians, these false teachers have committed themselves into supporting that sentiment – all in the name of “winning them over” to Christianity. Yet, if the Christianity they profess is diametrically opposed to Christ’s doctrine, what Christianity is it that they seek to win sinners over to? The answer, a secularized Christianity – which is no Christianity at all.
In essence, many Christians have allowed themselves to be convinced by people that deny Christ to detest other Christians. As Donald Trump would write in a tweet, “Sad”!
In conclusion, a Christian cannot belittle nor loathe a fellow believer. Neither are sinners correct when they state that they can love Jesus but hate Christians, even though Christ never taught such a thing. It’s high time for believers to denounce and repudiate the infiltrators and apostates who teach others to hate.
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” The Apostle Paul, Galatians 6:10