Recently I’ve read a lot of blog posts on a variety of topics where I have observed professing evangelical Christians cock their pistols, aim, and fire. They blow each other away, turn around, walk away, and don’t look back. Whether it’s through a blog, twittering, or in comments, we are killing one another with our words. Personal attacks abound. We are at war with one another because of disagreements over what is and isn’t orthodox, over what is conservative and what is liberal. I am not saying that there are not legitimate disagreements or issues.
You see it in the fact that we Protestants are splintered into over 30,000 different denominations or denominational groups or just groups, if you will. Yet we boldly proclaim, “We have no pope.” But we do. We have our popes. We align ourselves with this person or that person and then demonize anyone not in our camp. One of my friends who studied Church history is fond of saying, “Independent or non-denominational churches have a pope in every pulpit–the pastor.” Perhaps this is unfair to the humble pastors of such churches who seek to do God’s will and lovingly shepherd their sheep. But I find that I can list some of these more popular pope-like individuals, but I won’t. I will only say that their words are nearly gospel truth to their followers. It’s the “I follow Peter, I follow Paul, I follow Apollos” mentality.
So right now, there is a power struggle amongst evangelicals. These are wars over power. The question is, who calls the shots on what is and isn’t orthodox? Who’s in control of the theological minds and hearts of the people? Many who are reading their bibles are coming to different conclusions. Not over who Jesus is. Not over the central tenets of the gospel. But over some issues that are open to debate. In some cases, over lifestyle preferences. The result? Battle lines are drawn. Shots fired. Bayonets inserted into the bowels of theological opponents and ruthlessly twisted and extracted (by publicly and personally insulting their opponents who are really brothers and sisters in the body). Bodies hit the ground.
If witch hunts and burning people at the stake and throwing people to the lions weren’t illegal or seen as barbaric ways of ridding the world of those with whom we disagree–some of us would do it. Our words and behavior betray hearts that would do such things.
Some see these public rebukes as their Christian duty, as defending the faith.
But others see it as wearisome. And some unbelievers or those at the periphery of the Church see it as proof that the Jesus we proclaim is powerless to transform his people. We murder each other with our words and insult Jesus with our behavior (and words) and then wonder why unbelievers have the view of us that they do?
If the world is going to hate us, let the world hate us for actually being Jesus to them. Not for sullying his image. John 13:15 says people will know we are Christians by our love. Maybe that’s why our collective Christianity is mostly unkown in the known world.
Where are the peacemakers?