I claimed, in this post, that attacks for any belief will – imperfectly – match the message of that belief.
To quote myself again (sorry!):
Any ‘truth’ that can be announced can also be attacked. And that’s a wonderful thing.
The truth may be political, scientific, social, or religious. If true – as its proponents would claim – it’s not fair to keep it a secret. It must go public. As soon as it does so, reactions will follow.
I’m convinced that the message of Jesus is true! And therefore accept that people will hear the message and react, at times with intensity and vehemence.
What, then, are some of the basic or fundamental attacks on Christianity? Which comments can be expected, or commonly heard?
My answer to those questions is this. Christians and Christianity are attacked as irrational, exclusive, and judgemental. Also, the attacks do not treat Christianity as a minority, or requiring protection. Christianity is seen to be fair game.
Before some reflections of mine, have a thought about your own answers. If you have different ideas, please share them via the comments. I’d love to know!
Here are some thoughts about what to make of these attacks on Christianity.
First, let’s not hide the fact that Christians mess up all the time. It’s a starting point for forgiveness to admit evil and sin. Including judgemental words and action.The attacks are sometimes right on the money.
Next, there are always parts of the Gospel of Jesus that look dumb, in every culture. Jesus died for the sins of all people? Jesus is alive from the grave, and thus Lord of all? It’s unexpected, at the very least. The whole contrast between human wisdom and divine wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1 warns us that irrational should be what Christians hear. To be called irrational suggests speaker and hearer have both understood something of God’s extraordinary intervention into history. Recommendation: keep that conversation going.
Next, to be thought exclusive and judgemental also links directly to clearly Christian teaching (and now I’m not thinking of the truth that Christians sin all the time).
There is, in Christianity, both vastness and specificity. The whole Bible keeps narrowing down the focus: Abraham’s family (not others), Isaac (not Ishmael), Jacob (not Esau), all the way to Jesus. Ultimately, it’s Jesus alone who serves God, trusts God, obeys God, reveals God. But the whole Bible has vast field of view: from the creation of all things to the re-creation of heaven and earth. Jesus himself claims all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18), as well as being the only way to the Father (John 14:6). All nations receive blessing through him.
There’s enough evidence there for the feeling of being judged – saying that Jesus is in charge automatically implies something about those who ignore Jesus. Yet it gets worse when we remember the blanket statement about humans: we’re evil, sinful, rebellious and stained.
Put all these together, and Christianity sounds big and – if you think it untrue – mean. Enough to make Christian teaching open to attack. We’re fair game.
Though I do not agree with the attacks on Christianity, I can see in these attacks a shadow of Christian teaching. The original message might be poorly grasped, it might be deliberately twisted, but the nature of the disagreement shows that something did get through.
Perhaps a new way to talk about Jesus is this conversation-starter: what don’t you like about the Christian message?
PS I am only speaking in this piece about the attacks I hear in Australia, or other places where Christians are not more violently opposed. There are too many of these places (have a look at 13:3, for example). I don’t suggest I know anything about that experience.