Evangelical = Hatemonger?

A letter as a denouement on the popularity of the Get Out of Hell Free products (after my essay on the topic, which is still up on the GOOHF site).

Pastor John in Oregon:

As a Christian Pastor (Lutheran-ELCA) I too find it interesting how so many who call themselves Christian practice Hate over anything else first. So much so, that when I am asked what I do, for example when riding on a plane, I want to answer something like ‘Lawyer’.

You made a comment about the ‘Christians’ that picketed a funeral. A friend of mine, who is a Lutheran pastor and lesbian, felt honored enough to have her church picketed by [the minister who led them]. It truly is a sad day when you judge how ‘Christian’ you are by how many Fundamentalists you piss off.

True‘s Official Consulting Pastor, Dr. Rev. Rus in Rochester, New York, sent me an interesting quote last week. Rus is often good at putting everything into perspective: “It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.” –G.K. Chesterton.

Then today, Rus sent me another, which he found in the book he’s currently reading, When Bad Christians Happen to Good People (yes, really!):

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what in unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable. –Brennan Manning.

I don’t fully agree with the quote, since I think most atheists aren’t “caused” by any one event, but it’s pretty interesting and telling.

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9 Comments on “Evangelical = Hatemonger?

  1. I see that the GOOHF cards and shirts started because someone told you you were going to hell, but my brother-in-law is getting a shirt because he’s pretty sure he lives in hell. He’s a native Californian who was transplanted to the Southeast by my sister. She is a professor, and they’re having the typical ‘two-body’ problem, where he’s not having a lot of luck finding a good job where they are. On top of that, he’s having a lot of trouble with culture shock.

    It’s stressful for both of them, but he has a sense of humor about the whole thing, which is why I got the shirt for him. My mother thought I was nuts thinking anyone would wear the shirt outside the house, but my sister already assured me he’ll wear it *everywhere*.

  2. I am new to TRUE and find this banter interesting.

    I am an Evangelical Christian and also have many good, close friends who are homosexual, former thieves, even a former terrorist (by legal standards).

    I find this juxtaposition of Evangelical = Hatemonger to be quite disturbing. I think a balanced, biblical perspective on this type of issue needs to be levied. God loves us all, regardless of our actions. The foundation of ‘walking with God’ or ‘sanctification’ is that we are constantly transformed into something more than we currently are.

    No one, regardless of their current situation (even Evangelicals) can rest on their laurels if they want to be called Christians, they must allow God’s changing work in their lives continually. In our human natures, we are *all* in the same boat, regardless of our outward actions.

  3. I survived the ‘born again’ movement here in Brisbane in the 1980s and can only say that my experience of these people is that they mean well, but are ultimately misguided.

    I was raised as a Catholic but would now never set foot in a church (except to admire its architecture) because of my experiences.

    These people profess love, but it’s always conditional. As the child of a single parent, I was ostracised by the very people that should have really gone out of their way to reach out to me, if only to convince themselves that they were as ‘worthy’ as they thought they were. Fundamentalism, in any form, means that there is only one ‘right’ way of doing and being, and you can guess who has got it sorted!

    Which just goes to illustrate what I’ve said several times: that Christians who act this way are doing more to hurt Christianity than help it. -rc

  4. I don’t think the Brennan Manning quote is describing a single event. I’m not an atheist, but I am very skeptical of organized religion, and the quote describes the reason exactly. It wasn’t any one particular event, but my observation and reading about many, many self-described Christians who fit this mold.

  5. Wow, I never thought about the exact meaning of Evangelism, so I looked it up in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Two definitions:

    1 : the winning or revival of personal commitments to Christ
    2 : militant or crusading zeal

    Pretty scary in either one, ‘winning’ meaning a Victory over another, or ‘militant’ meaning forceful or with fighting.

    I might have thought that evangelism was simply an ACTIVE role in spreading The Word, as opposed to a passive role in waiting for others to ask. Even so, an active role can still be peaceful. “Here is The Word. Don’t agree? Okay, thank you for your time.” Sadly, there are evangelicals who believe their responsibility is to convey The Word upon others or kill them if they resist. Such radicals are the ones currently causing problems for the Muslim religion which is truly no more violent than the Christian religion.

    An excerpt from an article about convicted abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph, who says in USA Today, “…Jesus would condone ‘militant action in defense of the innocent…'” shows how religion is USED to promote hatred and violence.

    I mean, seriously, picture this coming out of Jesus’ lips, “He needed killin’.” Holy Wyatt Earp, there’s a new sheriff in town and he carries a halo with his gun.

  6. As Mike points out, it is people like Eric Rudolph (and others who would bomb abortion clinics and the like to “save lives”) who help sell the bumper stickers that ask “Who Would Jesus Bomb?”, and “Who Would Jesus Kill?”.

    I have actually heard, “You don’t seem like one of ‘those'”, when I have occasiona to mention offhand that my parents met in seminary more than fifty years ago. There are probably many good reasons that neither of my parents has made their living as the paid pastor of a church, even though they both graduated from seminary. Just one of those is the pressure they felt from many denominations to evangelize at all costs.

    In fact there are at least two reasons that they did not end up becoming missionaries (which is what they were going to do), that both relate to this one-sided, black-and-white view of the world and spirituality, much less missions. One is that my mom was baptized as an infant and believed that being FORCED to be RE-baptized as an adult so it would “count”, cheapened the act of baptism. A second is that they would not name her as a missionary too, but were only willing to name my father as one, and would merely consdier her “the missionary’s wife”.

    People may think this comes from the fact that it was 1952, but I still hear similar in some fundamenalist churches; only men can be ministers and women are neither strong enough (physically, or in their faith) nor smart enough to be allowed to take that role. Their role for God is solely on the home front. I am so grateful that my parents never bought into that – it is polar oposite of how they live now as active and caring Christians in two different mainline denominations!

  7. I will have to disagree somewhat with your equivocating evangelicalism to hatemongering. The term “evangelical” iself has been co-opted by so many erroneous movements that it no longer retains its historical meaning. Those that affirm historical evangelicalism are debating whether or not to abandon use of the word.

    The quote by Brennan Manning is one I agree with. The observation is not lost on many Christians and Christian leaders. Primarily it points to the failure of both the church body and its leadership in remaining true to the Bible.

    To Millie: I can only speak in generalities based on your brief comments regarding the experience your parents went through. It sounds like they encountered a denominational agency that held convictions that were different from their own (but are biblical). There are certain biblical teachings/beliefs/convictions that conflict (for example infant/paedo-baptism v. credo-baptism) but fall within orthodox Christianity. Some differences will prevent Christians from working together, some differences should not. Nevertheless I am glad that they are serving their local church the best they know how.

    I’m not sure “equivocate” means what you think it does, but I was not only quoting the letter-writer (an evangelical himself) about it, I threw in both quotation marks and a question mark to make it terribly clear I knew how inflammatory such a comparison was. -rc

  8. The ironic thing is that from the gospels one gets the distinct impression that Jesus hated organised religion. Many of his parables (most strongly the “Good Samaritan”) referred to corruption in the religious leadership. Also the whole loving one’s fellow.

    Not that Judaism is any better, necessarily (nor really any given religion), but Jesus took the message to a greater extreme than most (e.g. turning the other cheek).

  9. I didn’t know about the Manning quote until today, but this is similar to something I’ve been saying for a while. Still, I should have realized that I wasn’t the only one who saw that the True — Righteous turn more people away from God than all of the atheists throughout history.

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