Survey results show popular attitudes toward Christians are frequently negative, with words like “hypocritical, judgmental, old-fashioned, too political, out of touch with reality, insensitive to others, and boring” coming to mind.
Of course all of these descriptors have some basis in reality, but there’s also a backstory that helps put the unflattering statistics in perspective.
Truth is the stats reflect a mix of truth, self-service, guilty conscience, and ideological brainwashing. Unchristian is an excellent resource for addressing the truth that stands behind negative perceptions of Christianity. All sincere Christians want to better their image among unbelievers, but that will only improve the true part of the stats — the other three components will be unaffected, if not amplified. The hardest thing to address is the ideological brainwashing. This post deals with that.
People have negative attitudes toward Christians in some large part due to ideological brainwashing, or more precisely, the “stupefying” effects of a defective worldview inculcated by the media, the educational establishment, government, and the culture at large. An adequate worldview provides coherent answers to fundamental questions as to the nature of . . .
- Ultimate reality — e.g., what is really real? Is God personal or impersonal? Etc….
- External reality — e.g., is the world ultimately of matter or of spirit? Orderly or chaotic? Etc….
- Human beings — e.g., are humans created in the image of God? Or are they naked apes? Etc….
- Society — e.g., what constitutes a just society? What rights, if any, do humans have? Etc….
- Truth — e.g., how do we know if something is true? How does truth relate to meaning? Etc….
- Knowledge — e.g., how do we know that we know? How can we be certain? Etc….
- History — e.g., is history going anywhere? What is the end of history? Etc….
- Death — e.g., is there life after death? Is there a heaven and a hell? Etc….
- Good and evil — e.g., what is virtue? Are good and evil relative? Etc….
Right answers to the preceding questions correlate with reason and reality and foster just, enduring, and prosperous societies. Wrong answers do not. For over a millennium, Western culture has gotten most of the worldview questions right. If the culture now seems to be spiraling into an abyss, it’s because it has been made stupid by a faulty worldview that gets all the answers wrong.
That puts Christianity and present-day culture on a collision course not of Christianity’s choosing. Most people who see a small dog in the highway will try to avoid it. Some won’t bother, but a few will actually try to hit it. Keep that image in mind and realize the recent conflicts between Christians and government fit the metaphor of Christianity as a small animal trapped on the highway with big government as a “semi” intentionally steering into it. The point here is the marginalizations of Christianity via ObamaCare, the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, favoritism toward Islam, etc., etc. are not random, unintended circumstances — they reflect a kind of slow-rolling transformation of the American Revolution along the lines of the French Revolution, with the endgame being total disinvestment of Christianity from public life.
Stupefied people are clueless about this larger dynamic. Their ignorance is metaphorically very much like a person who walks into a concrete block house, slams the steel door shut behind himself, locks the double-keyed door lock, and tosses the keys out a small window high above his head. At that point, there is no escape. Likewise, the ignorance of the masses stupefied by Leftist ideology is equally invincible. The only hope for both is that someone may extend grace and “open the door from the outside.”
Christians need to understand they have the right answers to the worldview questions needed to “set the captives free.” Yes, they will be blasphemed by the ones they are trying to liberate — some in surveys, others in person — but the reward is more than worth it.
In Eph 4:15, Paul talks about “speaking the truth in love.” In times past, such imperatives seemed trite because speaking the truth was a taken-for-granted thing in a culture whose sensibilities were trained in Christian virtues, but speaking the truth in a hostile, pluralistic culture was not a trite thing for Paul and it will no longer be a trite thing for Christians as they face an increasingly pagan culture. The days of cheap grace and cheap truth telling are over. As Christians face the coming days, they must be prepared to meet the invincible ignorance that comes from a stupefying worldview with the sound mind God has given them through His Son.
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart — Eph 4:17-18