Our Critics

It has been said polite people never talk about politics or religion in public. Now as far as I can tell we either live in a very rude society, or somewhere along the way this rule was put away. Religion is a big topic of conversation these days, but a lot of what is being said is hardly what I would call faltering. It seems like everyone has a bone to pick the religion, and much of that ‘bone picking’ is aimed squarely at Christians. Over the past few years the number of what I would call serious challenges and criticisms to the Christian faith has grown rapidly. Along with their rapid growth they are becoming more aggressive in their stances, and more readily accepted by those ranging in age between 16 and 45. Some of the challenges we face are from actual people, who are currently working very hard to put an end to faith in God at all and Christianity in particular. Most of these people fall into the aptly named category of `New Atheist’.

Atheists, as I always understood them were people who simply don`t believe in God, and they varied in how much they would be willing to argue with you about their disbelief. But for the most part they simply lived their daily lives without thinking much about any sort of god.

But this is not the way New Atheists work. They organize, they write books, many of which have been on the New York Times best sellers list, they hold conferences, seminaries, and go on TV to actively evangelize people. They even run 8 children`s summer camp programs in the US and Canada as an alternative to, as they call them religious camps. For the New Atheist anyone who believes in the supernatural in general and Christianity specifically is at best simple and foolishly misguided or worse they are wicked seeking to undermine rational and free thought.

However this group of people is far from our only challenge. Along with this militant group of Atheists, comes the sad state of Christianity’s image. In Western culture Christianity has an image problem. In a recent book published by the Barna Group found that 87% of young adults described Christians as judgmental, 85% described Christians as hypocritical, 75% described Christians as out of touch with reality, and 78% described Christians as sheltered (which includes notions like being anti-intellectual, old fashioned and boring).

This is what the majority of people ranging in age between 16 and 45 think of Christians. This is the image that is often portrayed in media, both electronic and print. The image of the hateful, foolish Christian who tries to ruin everyone’s fun with their ranting is all too common in movies and television. Worse still some of the television isn’t fiction it is the evening news.

But the New Atheists and the negative popular option of Christians and the church is still only some of the challenges we face. The world today see’s truth claims as power grabs, pseudo-spirituality that requires nothing of its believer is the preferred way to be spiritual, and the church is not seen as a force for good in communities, it typically is either ignored or thought to be causing some harm.

All of this leaves us with a question, what is the proper response to our critics? The short answer to the question is as 1 John 2:6 says we have to walk as Jesus walked. But that is a little simplistic. I think scriptures outline four things that we need to be in order to be like Jesus; we need to think clearly, worship intensely, relate purely and live justly. These principles are found within the Great Commandment Mark 12:30, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength' and throughout scripture. This blog is dedicated to discussing these four things in the hope to help answer our critics by teaching us to walk as Jesus did.