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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Are You Living A Christian Apartheid?

Daniel Fincke is one of several who has written a negative review of the movie, God's Not Dead (click here for the review). In this review Fincke comes from perspectives that indicate he could do a one-show of this movie. For Fincke was an outspoken conservative believer but he is now an atheist and a philosophy professor.

One of the things that troubled Fincke about this movie is that it did not match his experiences as a young, enthusiastic evangelist and Christian activist. He did not suffer the animosity and persecution from his opponents which Josh Wheaton, the main character in the movie, suffered from his philosopher professor and his colleagues. Fincke tells about how he left the faith after examining it rationally. Others do not share his experience. Regardless, Fincke's observations can be helpful to us Christians. For he saw the Christian community in which he was a part of as alienating itself from the world by how it externalized evil such as in it regarded secular professors and thinkers. So the Conservative Christian Church deserves much credit for the veracity of his following description:
To clarify, I know the anti-intellectual, anti-philosophical, anti-secular persecution complex of the evangelical Christian church intimately

That description matches much of my experience when discussing politics with my fellow religious, Conservative Christians.  I've been told by my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that I should be reading Martin Luther rather than Martin Luther King Jr., as if reading one excluded reading the other. I've been told that we shouldn't read Noam Chomsky because of how he regards America as a terrorist state, which does not make political conservatives happy. I've been told that we can only vote for pro-life candidates regardless of how they view war. And I've been told lie after lie about the Occupy Movement by people who were never there and only read what the Movement's antagonists said. Finally, there is the constant quoting of Karl Marx out of context so as to misrepresent him while blocking attempts at correction that can be seen on some Conservative Christian blogs. 

And if we add to all of that the heightened anticipation, if not perception, of persecution, simply because Conservative Christianity is not longer dominating culture especially in terms of marriage, we find the big picture. That big picture is that Conservative Christians not only feel the need but want to separate themselves secular intellectuals. They want an America where they can either hide from or control those influences they deem as being secular and evil. And yet they feel insulted when those who are secular have no desire to listen to them. We could adapt the words of Martin Luther King Jr. to describe this current state of affairs as Conservative Christians believing that they have everything to teach and give to those who are secular while they have nothing to gain from them because there is no common ground.

And it shouldn't surprise us that some of the attitudes that Conservative Christians have toward secular intellectuals are similar to what many Americans have to the world. We tend to be against, or at least suspicious of, much of what doesn't come from our country. And when America's control over the different parts of the world is challenged, we feel offended and even threatened. We can so easily see the faults of nations like Russia with its aggressive approach to the Ukraine, but we are blind to, if we haven't already assumed to be privileged to have, our American empire. And perhaps that is where the tie the similar attitudes of Conservative Christians and those who believe in American Exceptionalism is especially with many Americans believing that their country was founded on Christian principles.

All of this self-separation from others and believing that we have everything to teach and nothing to learn points to a tendency, if not an inner need, toward self-exaltation. So when someone challenges our assumed superior position, we feel the sky falling around us which can cause us to lash out. And we lash out because perhaps we have more doubts about what we believe about God and ourselves than faith. 

All of this is being written not as a criticism of the Christian faith, but it is written as a fallible observation of American Conservative Christians. And to the extent that the above is an accurate description of us, it describes how we are interfering with nonbelievers listening to the Gospel. In addition, we are illustrating one of the main reasons why countries fight wars. It is due to one nation or group assuming to be superior over another nation or group. And with the presumption of superiority comes the sense of entitlement to what belongs to others.

There is a simple solution. That solution is to no longer live that way, that we no longer isolate ourselves from others. That solution is to apply the Golden Rule to sharing. If we want others to listen us, then we must listen to them. If we want people to learn from us, we must learn from them. However, we must do so while not being distracted from following God. That is because some of the differences between Christians and nonChristians is due to the deity being followed. At the same time, we can't assume to be superior to others. So we also need to realize that nonChristians can easily discover what is right, fair, and compassionate; and they often do that way before we do.

If we apply the Golden Rule to learning, we can make the observations made by Fincke a thing of the past. And then the stumbling blocks of our ignorance and fears will have been cleared away.  But more than that, that Christian arrogance will no longer cause people to turn away from us when we share the Gospel. And the only way we can do all of this is to trust God and His Word to guide us and to realize that being saved does not make one superior to others. So when we recognize that, we will realize that God can speak to us through many different people. And if we do listen to and learn from others, we might also show nations that the way to peace is by paying attention to the concerns of others as one would have them pay attention to oneself.




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