God hates religion – especially the Christian one

The whole concept of “Christian worldview” (which has become quite a trendy thing in the past few years) really bugs me. It implies that Christians by default have a different (i.e., better) understanding of the world and reality and that out of that understanding flows a superior ethical framework by which we can make ethical decisions, knowing what is right and wrong, and declaring to others when they are, and when they are not. Christians have become notorious for pointing out the sin of everyone else.

This troubles me because there is an underlying self-assuredness (one might well call it arrogance) that I find at odds with the sort of life I see Jesus calling his followers to in the Gospels, the sort of life lived out in Acts and the rest of the New Testament. What I see there is always more of a limited understanding and a dependence on obedience to the command of God, the leading of the Holy Spirit, to know what is right to do. More than once in Acts, Paul tries to go in one direction, but the Spirit sends him in a different direction. The sermons in Acts focus almost exclusively on the basic story of Jesus. The epistles give us more teaching content, but most of them deal with specific issues relating to their initial audiences. We can glean truths from them, but we have to be careful doing that outside their context. For example, Paul sends Onesimus back to be a slave under Philemon. Paul tells Philemon to receive him back in love, but he still sends him back. We could easily read this as Paul approving slavery (this IS how this was read in the antebellum South), but that is making more of it than Paul likely intended, and a bad distortion of the overall way Jesus established.

Don’t get me wrong, I am firmly committed to the foundational teachings of the Christian faith (e.g., those laid out in the Apostles’ Creed). But we affirm belief in those long before we understand what they mean. Believing itself is an act of obedience, a trust in the Spirit of Jesus to lead us into all truth. But how can the Spirit lead us into truth if our worldview already has it all figured out? How can we walk as disciples in obedience if our worldview enables us to make ethical decisions on our own? Do you notice how close this puts us to the original sin of Adam and Eve? To the extent that a “Christian worldview” lessens our dependence on the Holy Spirit to lead us into truth and teach us to walk in obedience, we should reject it as just another attempt to make ourselves gods, which is what all religion is. Which is sin. Which is why God hates religion.

The (in)famous rebuttal to this is that Christians are always supposed to be ready to give an account for the hope that we have (1 Pet. 3.15). Many Christians immediately take this to mean we need to have everything figured out, be able to explain it all, which is where the whole Christian worldview concept came from, just a nicer, more philosophically tame version of apologetics. But this gets it all wrong. Giving an account for our hope doesn’t mean explaining the whole story of the world. It means one thing. Telling them about Jesus. He is the reason we have hope. This brings us right back to Acts, where all they talk about the whole time is Jesus. What Jesus did while he was on earth. What Jesus did when he met Paul on the Damascus Road. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Our hope is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The opposite of all religions. Especially the Christian one.

ending Christian prejudice

Many people think Christians are prejudiced against homosexuals because some Christians have said and done very unkind things to homosexuals (often in the most public way). If we were as kind, loving, and caring of people as Jesus was, no one would accuse us of prejudice. Jesus was not persecuted for being mean to people. Jesus was persecuted and killed by the religious and political leaders because he was kind to people and because that kindness included speaking and acting out against the injustice and unkindness of the religious and political leaders. Jesus wasn’t killed for standing against sin or sinners. Jesus was killed by the religious, political, and spiritual principalities and powers because he opposed their oppressive power with the power of God, which he used to heal and care for people. Caiaphas, Pilate, and Satan were in league together and turned their destructive power onto Jesus directly. Jesus absorbed all they could do to him and then the healing, caring power of God found its fullest expression in the resurrection of Jesus, which marked the beginning of the end of all destructive powers.

What is the point of all this? We are not called to morality debates, or to defend the history or status of any human government, or to protect any legal definition of marriage. We are called by Jesus to love people and treat them with kindness. We are citizens of the kingdom of God and no other allegiance compares to that for us. Our mission is to preach the death and resurrection of Jesus and the death to our own selves and our own resurrection to new life. That is the Gospel message. We preach that message by loving and being kind to people. No other way. The Christian response to homosexuality and heterosexuality are the same: have you been crucified with Christ? Have you been raised to new life? Is it you that lives or is it Christ who lives in you? These are not questions we can answer in the abstract or on behalf of people we don’t know personally. And we can’t think for a minute that death to self and resurrection in Christ looks like anything other than the same healing, caring power of God that Jesus both submitted to and wielded. So let’s commit to being as kind, loving, and caring of people as Jesus was, and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit.