Confronting those angry at Christianity

rageThere is no shortage of folks out there who are angry at the Church and at “Christianity” in general.  Where did these people come from?  What has caused such a rage and hatred for things.  There are some variations out there in cause.  Some, acting out of their hatred for God will hate anything to do with God – this is a theological truth.  There is also another crew of people out there, who still bear the sinful unbelieving hate for Christ, but they have additional scars as well.  These are the ones catechized by the “church” to eventually leave the church.  Others are angry because they have seen what has happened in the name of Christianity to this second group of angry folks.  They have seen the abuse in the name of “being the church” that has wrought such spiritual damage among the masses.

In his book “Broken” Pr. Fisk really does a good job in putting this second class of folks front and center.  He draws the connection between the fake and forged spirituality of most modern “Christians” and the natural end result of their erring theologies.  This is why I say that the angry ones were catechized to be that way.  Many times they have the same objections to the church that stream from the errors that were “sold” to them as Christian.  So claims of hypocrisy, freedom, boredom, and many other things fill the air, all the natural product of the errors promoted and embraced by most American churches.

So in an effort to confront this, I have begun to ask those who are angry at Christianity a simple question: “Are you sure you have been taught what real Christianity is?”  When confronting this anger, it is very important to remember that this is the product of error, it hurts people and kills faith in Christ.  They expect a fight, that is why there are venting their anger to you.  And they have been wronged.  False teachers have tore into their souls.  They have been spiritually abused, used up, marketed to unto death, and manipulated.  No wonder they are angry, the devil in churchly garb and lingo has damaged them.

Strangely enough, this has all happened in the wake of the church’s great zeal for missions and evangelism.  Nothing has been spared (including sound theology) in the past century in the name of evangelism, but that is the problem – the errors that were allowed into the church propagated themselves in the name of evangelism and now we have what most could call a “burned-over” nation.  People are tired, they have been abused long enough.  Evangelicalism has rotted the spiritual landscape and now created a generation of folks who were “evangelized” to death.

Is there a fix for this?  No fixes, just Christ.  These folks have been sold false Christs time and time again.  Let them meet the real Christ.  The many who have come in His name failed to bring Him with them in their mission.  Ask them, “Are you sure you have been taught what real Christianity is?”  Realize that they may not want to hear it (that is the real danger with error wrapped up in the veneer of truth – it ruins people, destroys them).  Help them to start to realize that false teachers have rendered this unto them in Christ’s name but neither by His command or in His stead.  In the end, invite them to partake in real Christianity, which seeks not to manipulate nor abuse them – but to grant restoration and healing to them in Christ.  Let the righteous anger you feel for those who have been abused in the name of “being the church” propel you compassionately to confront the abuse and call a spade a spade.  Lend an ear and let them hear a pure Gospel for a change.

 

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.

Comments

Confronting those angry at Christianity — 20 Comments

  1. Every Christian denomination, sect, cult, etc., claims to teach “Real Christianity™”
    I don’t see how our tiny backwater is going to convince anyone that we have a corner on theological purity more than any other Christian rendition. And we don’t!
    That’s why we’ve pretty much given up on evangelism and replaced it with “get out there and make more babies!”

  2. But #4 Kitty, surely if one can sit with someone and reason from the Scriptures then the error is more easily exposed?
    Is it not those who do not want to let go of what they were taught, still cling to it and yet ‘hate’ Christianity who are the biggest problem in reaching?

  3. @#4 Kitty #2

    Kitty, what you wrote reminds me of the scripture, “Can anything good come from Nazareth (John 1:46)”? Jesus wasn’t the first to have claimed to be the Jewish messiah and not all believed His truth claims. Surely some doubted because He was from a “tiny backwater.”

    You are right, we are not going to “convince anyone.” That isn’t our jobs, but it will be the Holy Spirit who does the convincing. It is He who makes the unwilling, willing. Our job, as the Church, is to proclaim the Gospel in its purity.

  4. @Stefan #3

    But #4 Kitty, surely if one can sit with someone and reason from the Scriptures then the error is more easily exposed?

    That assumes Pastor Scheer is correct when he writes “When confronting this anger, it is very important to remember that this is the product of error, it hurts people and kills faith in Christ.”

    Do you really think that people hate Christianity because they haven’t been properly catechised? Or is it because they have only been exposed to those false Christians and not the real Christians who attend “Grandpa’s Church”. Seems a bit simplistic to me.

  5. @#4Kitty #5
    I know people personally who hate Christianity because they have learned an erroneous version of it. I have a friend who used to be a very dedicated Christian but expected that God would reward her in this life for her love for Him, and when hard times came to her she felt betrayed and left Christianity and repudiated God. She was taught a false view of Christianity that ultimately destroyed her faith in God. It is one of the saddest faith journeys that I have ever watched, and one that I blame entirely on her ‘name it and claim it’ church teachings. If she had been Lutheran she would not have been taught that stuff.

  6. @#4Kitty #5

    Carol is right on the money!

    I have seen this happen not only in the ‘name it and claim it’ crowd but other groups as well – these folk were not correctly catechised, mainly because their ‘churches’ do not believe in catechism!

  7. For years I was one of those angry at Christianity, in fact, my anger was directed specifically at the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod – the church I was baptized in, raised in by loving and devout parents, educated in through its school system, confirmed in, and married in. Ultimately I let my church membership and my faith lapse. Why was I angry? Because the Lutheran theology didn’t “conform” to the world view I wanted to develop – one that said “hey, it’s okay, everybody is right and there are many paths to God.” I studied different religions and different philosophies tying to find the “real truth.” At one point I even let a friend convince me to go with her to one of those So Cal mega churches and participate in a 4-day encounter weekend. What I witnessed over that weekend was horrific. The mind games and emotional manipulation that the organizers put us through was vile and, for some, completely debilitating – all in the name of “stripping us down in order to bring us to Christ.” I left after two days. I saw the hollowness and untruth in their words. For me, it was a turning point and one that started my long journey back to an understanding of the “real truth,” one found through a renewed study of the Scriptures, one explained and finally accepted through that Lutheran theology I was taught so long ago. Yet I realize now, the journey was not mine alone – each step of the way the Holy Spirit was there, patiently guiding me back and for that I thank God! :-):-)

  8. @#4Kitty #5

    Jim Pierce :
    @#4 Kitty #2
    Kitty, what you wrote reminds me of the scripture, “Can anything good come from Nazareth (John 1:46)”? Jesus wasn’t the first to have claimed to be the Jewish messiah and not all believed His truth claims. Surely some doubted because He was from a “tiny backwater.”
    You are right, we are not going to “convince anyone.” That isn’t our jobs, but it will be the Holy Spirit who does the convincing. It is He who makes the unwilling, willing. Our job, as the Church, is to proclaim the Gospel in its purity.

    Cuatro Gato,
    You should read, and read again, Jim’s comment above. That’s good catechesis.

  9. @Carol Broome #6
    As a child and youth, I converted to “Christianity” many times. After hours of singing, I would enter a state of oneness with the spirit, and experience the presence of “God”. I knew then that I was on fire, I was committed, and I, I, I was full of zeal to love God.
    But over the next day or two I would always realize it didn’t take.
    Day 1: I woke up in the morning, I no longer felt too committed. Maybe if I could sit in my room and play my guitar singing “awesome God” two or three hundred times, I will get the feeling back. I am determined to live in the “spirit” . I I I will achieve this by bringing the mountaintop experience home with me and living it. Curses on my stupid mom for interrupting me to empty the dishwasher! How am I going to live in the power of the “spirit” unless I can keep playing my song???
    Day 2: Waking up I don’t feel anything, except…hmm… dry mouth, hoarse throat, tired hands, and full bladder. Has God abandoned me again? “Awesome God” is the gold standard song for climbing the ladder into God’s presence, but I can’t bring myself to play it. It is annoying to me now. How am I ever going to please God, if I can’t evern stay on fire for Him for three days. I guess I’m not a real Christian after all. Does that mean I’m going to hell? How is it that nothing created God? How is God uncreated? That is too terrifying to think about. I don’t want to think about that any more.
    Day 3: Does it really matter if I sin? It’s not like God is going to be pleased with me if I don’t. Isn’t that the tenth time I’ve proven to God that I don’t have what it takes, that when it gets hard I won’t keep my committment. If I reconvert again, walk the altar call, and pray the sinner’s prayer, how much intensity of feeling will I have to have to know it really really took this time? I’m so sad. I never even imagined I could have such intense feelings as I had this week. If my feelings were this intense and it didn’t take, how will it ever be possible for me to love God? I don’t think I can make myself feel that way again.
    Day 4: I’ve sinned. It’s proof that I’m not a real Christian. God is so terrifying. I wonder what it will feel like when he burns me to a crisp forever. Maybe it will be that super-intense sort of pain that is so consumming that its like you can’t feel anything at all. Maybe next year at summer camp, they will have an even better worship team, and I will have an even more intense experience, and I will really and truly be committed to God.
    Day 5 To Friend: “Of course you need God,. If you love God intensely, then He will make everything in your life work out great, and you will go to heaven. Otherwise, it will be like you’re always jinxed… and sad. I want to share with you about Jesus. When people drink beer and do drugs and have sex, it nails Jesus to a cross which hurts really bad, and that helps you to feel really sad so you can devote yourself to loving God, and not do those things that hurt Jesus, because he was super nice, and thats really mean.”
    Day 6 At Church: Should I pretend to stand up and wave my hands? I don’t feel anything. I am so bad for not feeling anything. It doesn’t matter at all what sins I do. God has abandoned me and I deserve it. Oh Look the altar call. I should go up. I clearly need to reconvert, but since I feel nothing what good would it do?

  10. It needs to be remembered that those who despise the truth will not change their minds because of us, but because of the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. We need to be very, very careful about not falling into the Arminian trap of “It’s all up to us” when people despise us. In one sense, the gospel is not about “making friends;” the gospel is about preaching Christ crucified (and bearing witness to Christ crucified in our vocations for us laymen) regardless of the results.

    Note the parable of the sower in the gospels. Jesus says the sower let the seed fall where it may, but the sower didn’t fret about the condition of the soils; he simply let the seed fall. Also, note that when Jesus sent the seventy into Israel to preach the kingdom, He told them to simply shake the dust off their shoes and walk away if people wouldn’t listen. Nothing there about “keep hitting them over the head with it” or “get them to like you a little better;” if they reject it, be done with them.

    And I would conclude with the verse in Revelation which says “He which is unjust, let him be unjust still.”

  11. @J. You Dean #14
    You are absolutely right that the gospel is about preaching Christ. But Christ has been diminished to a footnote in mainstream American theology.

    But I think the problem is not that the we are concerned about sowing the gospel with the wrong scattering technique or over-worrying about the state of the soil. The problem is that the apostate American church is sowing thistles and thorns of false teaching, and us Lutherans seem to be so jealous of their runaway growth that we are considering doing the same.

    At the same time, we shouldn’t make Luther’s mistake of assuming that as soon as we get the message out, everyone will automatically be on board.

  12. Benji1517 :
    But I think the problem is not that the we are concerned about sowing the gospel with the wrong scattering technique or over-worrying about the state of the soil. The problem is that the apostate American church is sowing thistles and thorns of false teaching, and us Lutherans seem to be so jealous of their runaway growth that we are considering doing the same.
    At the same time, we shouldn’t make Luther’s mistake of assuming that as soon as we get the message out, everyone will automatically be on board.

    Quite right, especially about the idea of looking at modern evangelicalism and thinking that the grass is greener over there.

  13. From the main post: “Ask them, ‘Are you sure you have been taught what real Christianity is?'”

    I’d be concerned about sounding smug.

    Real suffering has challenged the faith of many since the days of Adam. Lutherans are not immune to this difficulty.

    Catechumens are taught Luther’s explanation of the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed, which paints an idyllic picture of the faithful enjoying sustained health, prosperity, and familial contentment. “He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life,” it says.

  14. @Carl H #17

    Catechumens are taught Luther’s explanation of the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed, which paints an idyllic picture of the faithful enjoying sustained health, prosperity, and familial contentment. “He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life,” it says.

    Isn’t it that as Americans drowning in wealth that we are reading prosperity into the catechism. Americans in “poverty” live better than ancient kings, they die of gluttony. The American poor have color TVs. When was the last time someone starved to death in America without deliberately fasting. Show me the American that is naked because they can’t obtain a single article of clothing.

    Is this primarily because Americans are so good at neighbor-loving? Sometimes. But in the context of public policy it is driven by fear. Many socialistic policy-makers hold that if income-equality (measured by the Gini index) gets too out of balance, that there will be revolution in which the rich get exterminated ( al la Marie Antoinette). Therefore capitalist exploiters are free to exploit and amass wealth for themselves so long as the oppressed, the drunken, and the lazy are provided with enough wealth to not feel jealous enough to kill. This system has self-interest, not love-of-neighbor at its core.

    As the church. it is easy for us to give a lot to everyone because we have so much discretionary money. When the ancient church fasted, it was so that the food we skipped could go to someone in need. We need to explain to the catechumens that God is providing for us richly, even if we are in a pit waiting to be executed, and our bellies groan because we haven’t seen a moldy crust in 4 days.

  15. @Benji1517 #18

    I don’t think it means that the system is inherently broken (insomuch as any system can strive to make such a claim), as much as it is some of the practitioners therein. To be sure, the standard of living in America allows for a wealth of basic creature-comforts that is virtually unknown in many parts of the world, but that is not always due to some imagined better system getting the short-shrift in favor of whatever the ruling one happens to be. Recall the Islamic prohibitions against the World Cup broadcasts…in fact, recall the Islamic prohibitions against virtually everything.

    So much discretionary money? Perhaps as the Body in these geographic borders, at this time and at this place. Individually speaking, though (as in ‘for myself and my own’), not so much. Any assertion claiming that fear-driven motivation exclusively inspires public policy in a capitalist marketplace belongs in a communist manifesto, and nowhere else.

    Or perhaps it’s just that I’m too oppressed, drunk, and lazy. 🙂

  16. @Carl H #17
    “He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life,” it says.

    all that I need

    In this country “needs” and “wants” have become confused.
    We too often want more than we need.

    OTOH, if our synod has so much “discretionary money” why do seminaries need huge tuition?

    Something’s wrong with that assessment!

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