Monday, February 26, 2007

Non-Christians judging Christians in their Christianity

It's one thing for non-Christians to disagree with Christianity. It's quite another when they start judging what true Christianity is.

There is nothing so irksome as a non-Christian who thinks that because he's read the four Gospels, and has some notion of pop Christianity that he is learned enough to really understand God's Revelation and make judgments about how good a Christian someone is.

There's a reason why Christ named some of his friends apostles, and why these apostles ordained that each community have bishops and presbyters.

Because people believers need to be taught.

But that goes completely above the heads of judgmental non-Christians. They read the Gospels through their (usually) socially liberal filter and glean those passages that strike them as useful in their polemic encounters, and don't go in-depth as to what the Gospels really say.

They believe that since the Reformation liberated the believer from having to listen to the clergy, that that's what Christ really wanted.

Never mind that it was Christ himself who founded the hierarchy.

So when non-Christians think Christians aren't being liberal enough, they whip out a phrase from the Gospel to foment their arguments, like: "Christ said not to judge." or "You're being pharisaical" or "Love another, that's the most important commandment".

Christ never said you can't judge behaviour. Christ never said that authority was not important. Christ never said that love meant being tolerant of everything.

Answering soundbyte Christianity is tougher than putting it out there-- it's always harder to refute a slogan than to shout it. It requires that the other person be willing to listen to your explanation-- which he usually isn't. Usually, he is too self-satisfied with his reply to suspect that he could be wrong.

It's a matter of common courtesy not to be the arbiters of orthodoxy when it comes to religions other than one's own. I think it amounts to telling people what to think, without the proper knowledge. It would be the equivalent of me, a person wholly unschooled in quantum physics, telling a roomful of physicists what to think of string theory. They'd think I was presumptuous and stupid.

If you don't practice agiven religion, you don't know that religion very well (unless you're a scholar, and even then!). It boils down to that. The great religions of the world cannot be reduced to a series of verses. They each have their own intellectual edifice that can't be penetrated with a few quick trips to the library.

I don't think it's really possible to make people who argue this way understand how foolish they look in their own ignorance. I suspect that they have so low a regard of Christians, that even if Christians think they look dumb, they don't care.

But non-believers of good will should take note.

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