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Christianity is Offensive

HomeChristianity and the BibleChristianity is Offensive

Someone recently pointed out that ‘cheap Christianity’ offends no one. Another responded by asking, “Why would you want your Christianity to offend someone?” Here are my thoughts.

Christians shouldn’t be offensive, of course…but Christianity is inherently offensive.

It teaches that people are born broken and can’t fix themselves, and that submission to God is the only solution. It teaches that the intelligent, the wealthy, the powerful, and the influential aren’t necessarily better off than anybody else. It teaches that our best efforts to do good on our own are all but wasted. It teaches that allegiance to God is more important than allegiance to your family…and that, if you have to choose, you should choose God. It teaches that some actions are wrong, even if they feel good. It teaches that the things that we brag about in our selfishness and immaturity are less important than the things that nobody sees, and get no earthly reward.

In other words, it’s the kind of thing that a lot of people don’t want to hear. Christianity is divisive, exclusive, and difficult. As a result, Christians sometimes offend others by being divisive, exclusive, and difficult. They don’t need to be this way, because Christianity is plenty offensive without their help.


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11 responses to “Christianity is Offensive”

  1. Jon Jones says:

    Christianity is offensive because it creates an “us vs. them” attitude among its adherents. It tells billions of human beings that they deserve eternal punishment simply for disagreeing.

    • Tony says:

      Jon:

      Welcome, and thanks for your candor. If you don’t mind me saying so, I think you’re right, and I think you’re wrong. You’re wrong because Christianity teaches Christians to not take this attitude toward anyone. You’re right because Christians represent Christ, and we often fail to represent Him well. How else should a non-Christian think, when so many Christians do have an us vs them attitude?

      As for the last bit, Christianity does not each that those who disagree deserve eternal punishment. On the contrary – as above – Christianity clearly and unequivocally teaches that those who want nothing to do with God get their wish. People – according to the Bible, which is where Christians get most of their information about Christianity – don’t go to Hell for disagreeing. They go to Heaven because they’re willing to surrender their lives to the God that created them and loves them. When we intentionally harm others, when we ostracize them, when we kill them, when we hate them, we do so contrary to what God has taught. Hell is simply the natural consequence of rejecting God and His offer of abundant life.

      I’m sorry that you’re right, and I’m sorry that you’re wrong. I wish it weren’t so. I wish you well, my friend. Let me know what you think.

  2. Jon Jones says:

    Typical mafia shakedown. “I’m not going to burn down your store. You are. All you have to do is pay me off and then it won’t burn.”
    Who created hell? Who set the perimeters and criteria for going or not going? If I get to decide, then I decide not to go. There. Done.

    • Tony says:

      Your dislike of the process is understandable, Jon. Nobody likes the idea that they’re not the captain of their own ship. We all want control. The trouble is that not liking it is largely irrelevant.

      Pretend for a moment that the Bible doesn’t exist. No Judaism, no Christianity… no Islam or Buddhism or even atheism. Instead, Loki is in charge… and everybody knows it. Not the mostly-fun Marvel Loki, but the basically awful Norse god of mischief and mayhem Loki. Having supreme power and a twisted sense of humor, Loki commands you to eat eleven ounces of cheddar cheese every day… or face unending suffering. It’s either/or. You don’t get to opt out just because you don’t like Loki, or because you don’t like cheese. The equation is simple: comply, or you will wish you had. It would be both stupid and childish to hide under the covers and try to wish Loki away, as you have only two choices… and a decision must be made every single day.

      The primary reason that westerners feel comfortable complaining about Christianity is that the reality described in it isn’t as immediate as Loki looming over you. We would all prefer a win/win situation, rather than a win/lose situation… and, because we’re accustomed to having everything our way (thanks, Burger King), we somehow believe that we deserve a different reality.

      Either God exists or He doesn’t. If He doesn’t, do what you want.

      If God exists, then He either demands something from us or He doesn’t. If He doesn’t, do what you want.

      If God demands something from us, we can give it or suffer the consequences.

      You may enjoy whining about God, and Jesus, and Christianity. You may feel morally superior to people who believe such superstitious, backwards nonsense. You may believe that you’re a very good person, that you deserve to be happy and satisfied, and that you couldn’t possibly deserve to suffer by being separated from God for eternity. If you’re wrong, you’re only pretending that reality is whatever you wish it to be.

      As I see it, the God who offers you Hell also offers you Heaven. Most people aren’t interested in either, as Hell would be bad and Heaven requires submission to another. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you, my friend. Have a great day!

  3. Jon Jones says:

    I imagine Loki would make his “cheese dictum” fairly obvious and not rely on ancient, middle eastern, tribal script to communicate it. So, I guess, sans evidence, I’ll opt for no god; not Loki, not Yahweh. Unless you can offer some evidence I have overlooked.

  4. Jon Jones says:

    Btw, I don’t want a different reality. I just want reality. Not magic and woo.

    • Tony says:

      You’re apparently aware of this “ancient, middle eastern, tribal script.” Maybe it’s more obvious than you want to pretend.

      There’s plenty of evidence available to everyone, Jon. You can look around. You can look up. You can look in the mirror. You can play semantic games if you want, but your complaint looks pretty silly. You live in the most historically Christian country in the world. You have internet access. There are a whole bunch of churches in your area. You can go to a few miles down the road to the Walmart Supercenter (right off the turnpike) and get a Bible, if you want to hold one in your hand. There’s also a Marriott hotel there… I’m sure they would give you a Bible. You’re trying to convince me that you lack evidence? Nah. Some other complaints might hold water, but that one won’t.

      With respect, it seems to me you’re looking for excuses, rather than looking for reality. You ARE offended by Christianity, as we all are… and, like many, you’d prefer a life without this offense. I get that. I’m not a Christian because I like it (though it’s pretty awesome). I’m not a Christian because it works for me (though it really does). I’m a Christian because I believe it’s true. I’ve spent my whole life asking the hardest questions I can find, and nothing else has held up under scrutiny. I’ve studied the world’s big religions, plus all kinds of small and weird ones. I spent decades discussing my beliefs with my big brother, who was an atheist. I doubt you have a question or objection that I haven’t explored, and what Jesus taught simply matches what I see in the world. It takes time and energy to do this kind of thinking, so it’s easier not to… but I’m not built that way.

      If you’re right that there’s no God, then – by logical extension – you must believe these as well:

      • The universe has always existed, or it sprang into existence without a cause
      • Nothing was created, so nothing has meaning or purpose
      • You’re not actually free to think or do anything other than what your biochemistry dictates
      • There is no good or evil, but only preferences
      • Metaphysical things like math, logic, beauty, and fulfillment don’t exist
      • We can’t confirm historical events, logical axioms, or even our own existence

      That’s not all, but it’s certainly enough. The fact that you’re writing to me is proof that you exist, that you have a mind that’s distinct from your brain, that you believe that you’re more than a squishy bag of chemicals responding to external stimuli, and that you believe that things like truth and good actually exist. Were you truly an atheist, you probably wouldn’t be telling me how silly it is to believe in any sort of God. Nobody actually lives that way, Jon. Perhaps it would be instructive to ask yourself why we don’t.

  5. Jon Jones says:

    Telling me to “look in the mirror” to see “evidence” of god, and then accusing me of semantic games, really. I’m sure that you believe it’s true, but it has no evidence for being true. I’m not talking about intuition (faith). I’m not talking about logical arguments. I not talking about assumed design. I’m talking about real, falsifiable evidence.
    I define “god” as a place holder for science – a gunny sack to hold all of those phenomena yet to be explained by science.
    I filled pulpits and seminary podiums for 40 years until I was asked one question. Why did god not tell Adam and Eve about hell? I began to study hell as presented (or not presented) in the Old Testament. When I realized that the construct of hell did not enter Jewish theology until the late 3rd century BCE, brought via the Greeks, that was the beginning of the end for me. No hell, no need for salvation. No salvation, no savior. One by one the dominoes fell. And as they fell years of guilt, shame, and arrogance fell away as well. The world became beautiful because I no longer maintained an “us vs. them” mindset. Imagine! It’s easy if you try.

    • Tony says:

      Thanks for replying, Jon. Faith isn’t intuition. It’s being convinced by the evidence. We all have the same evidence… we just interpret it differently. You might be comfortable defining “god” as a placeholder for science, but I find that silly. That’s not scientific, it’s philosophical. You seem to think that your philosophical musings are backed by falsifiable evidence, but they’re not. You seem to think that Christianity and science are at odds, like so many before you. I’ve not found that to be true. Clearly, you find Christianity offensive. You’re making my point for me, and I’m sorry that you feel you may have wasted much of your life on something that’s not true.

  6. Jon Jones says:

    The list of things that you say I must believe is interesting. Some valid, some not. None of them scare me as most theists assume they will. Purpose? Of course there is no purpose to life beyond each individual’s intrinsic purpose. Yes, the level of consciousness is directly proportional to the number of brain cells, or more accurately, the number of synapses. So yes we are largely controlled by biochemistry.The universe, because of the Big Bounce, has alway existed. As far as math, etc. not existing… certain things, such as the things you listed exist, but are not real. Existence vs reality is an important distinction. I cannot comment on the last item in your list, because, frankly, it makes no sense to me. How would the lack of belief in god’s existence (or the actual nonexistence of gods) affect the confirmation of historical events?
    Apologists throw this list around like it’s some kind of boogie man that makes an unbeliever recoil in terror. This list is actually quite comforting to me. The purpose of religion is and always has been to make this list more palatable to those who fear it. If it works for you then great. But, just because you choose it doesn’t mean I need to and certainly doesn’t give anyone the right to force the consequences of your beliefs on anyone else.

    • Tony says:

      Jon:

      I’m not saying you DO believe them, but that they’re the logical extension of the views you hold. You’re probably familiar with the questions, but you seem unfamiliar with the debates about the answers. Your claim about consciousness has ZERO evidence, being entirely philosophical in nature. You’re completely unable to quantify how much we’re controlled by biochemistry, and the question of free will falls apart on a strictly materialist level… as most atheist philosophers will readily point out. There’s absolutely ZERO evidence whatsoever for the Big Bounce. Yes, numbers exist without being real… but they represent physical reality. Bags of reactive chemicals don’t think for themselves, they “dance to the tune of their DNA.” There’s no room for speculation in an intellectually honest atheist’s world of non-metaphysical stuff.

      It’s silly to think that anyone “throws lists” around to terrorize anyone. Scholars and philosophers have debated the nature of reality since before Boethius and Aristotle, and you seem either unaware of the rigor demanded by such work or you simply prefer to think you’ve got it all wrapped up. I haven’t got it all figured out, for sure. I have no more proof that God exists than you do, my friend… but I’m not afraid to acknowledge my own ignorance. Maybe you haven’t met many willing to be so honest, but we’re around. You seem to think that I consider you an adversary of some kind. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you lived near me, I’d buy you lunch and we could swap stories and, probably, get along just fine. I wish you well.

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