Christians are the bad guys? This retired minister gets it.

The longest running thread (in terms of comments) on SEB is the A Christian Asks thread, started by DOF, which as of this writing is topping out at 949 comments. Near the end, the pastor who participated in much of the thread finally gave up trying to understand why Christians are often seen as the bad guys.

Perhaps he should chat with retired pastor Kirk Minor:

“We’re finding more and more that there are a lot of people out there doing a lot of talking and protesting and bellyaching, but fewer people actually walking the walk,” said Minor, author of Journey Across The Tiber: My Many Rooms.  “We have extremists protesting funerals of gay soldiers, pundits decrying the use of abbreviations for the word Christmas and activists campaigning for prayer in public schools. These are all very divisive issues, and have little to do with the good works the Bible wants the faithful to perform.”

Minor bemoans that the Bible has become a book with which to bludgeon people.

“Too many people are using religion as a sword to fight those with whom they disagree, instead of as a plowshare to help their fellow neighbors tend the land and form a community,” said Minor, who retired as a United Methodist Church pastor after 23 years.

[…] “Shouting louder than the other guys only results in more shouting, which never gets anything done,” he said. “The key is to go about your life, as one of the faithful, and to make sure you actually do at least one thing each day that reflects the faith in which you believe.”

via Retired pastor knows why people don’t like Christians any more – The Religion World – Orlando Sentinel.

He’s a United Methodist Church pastor? No wonder he seems so reasonable. They’re probably my second favorite sect of Christians next to the Episcopalians.

Still, the point remains: If more Christians followed the actual teachings of Christ they’d have a much better image. It’s hard to argue against people working to improve the lives of others without beating them over the head with theology. Feeding and clothing the poor? Helping the downtrodden? Leading by example? Hard to be upset with any of that whether or not God does exist. So many of you claim that Christianity makes you a better person.

Well, prove it by walking the walk. It’s a shame so many seem to do the opposite.

9 thoughts on “Christians are the bad guys? This retired minister gets it.

  1. If you change the participants but the system keeps giving the same results, then it is the system that is flawed.

    While I am not a Biblical scholar, I was raised in an evangelical tradition, studied the Bible intensively, and spent the first six years of my working life as in Christian evangelism.

    My conclusion, some 34 years after that part of my life ended is that it is Christianity itself, as defined by nearly every tradition of orthodoxy, that is “wrong”. I mean that nearly all of the core doctrines within Christendom are NOT what Jesus taught.

  2. Well said…and it’s the same reasoning that causes me to (very occasionally) take an apologist approach to things said by the nutjobs that you write about.

    I see the guy yelling at people by Wells Hall at MSU, and people holding “God Hates Fags” signs at rallys and people insisting that “Xmas” is an attempt by jews to eliminate Christ from our faith…and wonder what they really think they are accomplishing.

    Somebody basically saying “We’re in it for the faith, come along if you like” is very refreshing.

  3. I didn’t realize that you could become a pastor without actually reading the Bible. Or understanding the message. It most definitely supports those who use it to “bludgeon” people. I think there is quite a bit of that in there, actually. You could also selectively pick out parts that that say be nice to people and help them. But everything he describes and dislikes is extremely “Christian”.

    The Jesus of the Bible is not a nice person.

  4. On seeing that photo, I asked myself just two questions :-

    1) At what altitude are they flying?
    and
    2) To whom is he waving?

    :evil grin:

  5. I’m truly shocked it’s taken as long as it has. We’re talking over two and a half years, here.

    It takes a special kind of crazy to defend against an answer so plainly evident.

  6. Had not noticed Terry’s comments about leaving until I saw this. Interesting.

    As for the minister’s comments; few controversies are strictly modern. Catholicism has had over twenty ecumenical councils and I would wager that the majority of them to some degree sought to address the corruption of the clergy. There have been many efforts in Christian history to shift the focus from the worldly to the spiritual; from luxury, palaces, political power and persecution of heretics to charity, discipline, piety and even firmer persecution of heretics. But no movement or book can change human nature. Idealism and corruption will always be human traits, and religion is not the sole vessel of one nor the remedy for the other. As most of us know, religion cannot perform miracles.

    Point being, and I endeavored in vain to explain this to Terry: we do not need religion in order to live up to high minded principles. Whether someone in the modern world takes the effort to give to charity or not has little to do with the platitudes of first century Palestinians. One can learn the teachings attributed to Jesus such as turn the other cheek, pray in private, care for the poor. One could just as well follow Jesus’ teachings about stoning children, which, as Sam Harris notes in his latest book, was not something that Jesus seemed to frown upon. One can also follow Pope Ben’s lead and ignore child rape and brazenly lie about the efficacy of condoms in preventing AIDS, all the while preaching against “anti-family” liberals and for the “sanctity of life.”

    The reality is that religion is not “good at heart” it is human at heart, a social construct which can only reflect human nature. There is no pure source, be it the Gospels or the Church hierarchy, from which we can find all the answers to life’s problems and man’s imperfections. Trying to uncover the inner-divine through religion is doubly futile.

  7. If more Christians followed the actual teachings of Christ they’d have a much better image.

    Well, biblical scholars cannot agree on what those teachings were, and, in fact, there really isn’t any good evidence that Jesus ever existed.

    The reality is that religion is not “good at heart” it is human at heart, a social construct which can only reflect human nature.

    Indeed, and one of the biggest ironies I encountered in the book Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment was that most Danes don’t believe in God but still call themselves Christians because of the mistaken belief that caring about fellow humans is a moral that derives from Christianity. Instead, it is simply the most humane way to live, something that the Danes and Swedes do better than most societies. The fact that most of them seem to have a mistaken impression of why they do this better than most societies doesn’t seem to diminish their quality of life.

  8. My grandfather always said that “there are doing Christians and talking Christians and that the talking ones don’t do — and the doing ones don’t talk.” He was not at all religious but also said “Throw the Bible in the trash and live by the Golden Rule.” Christians rarely live by the Golden Rule because most of them are too busy assaulting people with their religion. Personally, I think if the Rapture happened the Christians would have been left behind and those of us who “do and don’t talk” would be the ones taken.

    I’ve also found that most Christians have never actually read the Bible. As MV said “Jesus was not a nice man.” He was a pain in the ass and that’s what got him crucified. Some, if not most, of his disciples were nut jobs because you can’t be too tightly wrapped to follow someone who calls themselves “The Son of God” and who deliberately pisses off an establishment who has no problem nailing you to a cross. He was an activist and if He returned now people would laugh at Him and he’d get locked up and probably committed.

    It is nice to know that at least one minister actually understands the monster that the Christian religion has spawned. Now if he could just convince others the world would be a better place.

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