Tom Gilson

“Christianophobia” and “Secular Fundamentalism” Amongst Christians

Jim Jordan at Moral Science Club says,

It is our own [Christians’] folly that we worry that non-Christians will be offended by Christian expressions of faith. This hesitancy in Christians, me included, reveals a stubborn habit that it is somehow better to say or do nothing than point someone to Christ. Again we think it uncharitable that we pray in public or wish someone a “Merry Christmas”. It’s as if “Christianophobia” is a plague that Christians display almost as much as atheists.

And later,

The time has come for all Christians to take on the responsibility that their faith demands; the burden of understanding the Word better, knowing more about other religions, knowing more about the history of the church, and truly appreciating the beauty of Christianity.

We have been called to be Christ-bearers and we need to pray on that daily asking, “Lord show me, use me” or “melt me, mold me” as the song says. Jesus Christ is God’s definition of love and it’s His entrance into the world that we celebrate each Christmas. What a wonderful hope we have! What a wonderful love is available to us! God waits with outstretched hands not just for you, but for all people.

Great points (even though I still don’t know exactly what “fundamentalism” means…).

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9 thoughts on ““Christianophobia” and “Secular Fundamentalism” Amongst Christians

  1. Public displays of faith make other people uncomfortable. So you have to decide whether it is better to make minorities uncomfortable or advertise your faith.

    To a non-believer/minority, it’s more threatening than you think. Religion is tribal, and there’s suspicion that being outside the majority tribe will result in discrimination. I have felt this, both as a Jew and as an atheist. The more the majority advertises its faith, the more isolated and resentful are the minorities.

    I’m not usually offended by personal displays. I see cars with religious symbols in or on them every day, and many folks wear cross pendants. I hear Christmas carols in every store I go into around this time of year (and it drives me bonkers half the time). I don’t feel threatened by these things, even if I don’t like them. They won’t cause me to alter my behavior.

    However, if these things intruded into school, hospital or some other workplace, and if I sensed that the displays were intended primarily as advertisement for a worldview, I would begin to worry that the quality of my service was contingent upon my faith. For example, if I believed the incessant in-store Christmas music was motivated by a desire to convert more people to Christianity, I would not step inside those stores (during the holidays or otherwise). But I don’t believe that. I think the stores are just trying to make a buck, and the content of the carols is of no interest to to management.

  2. I definitely do not want anyone attempting to “point me to Christ” in either the workplace or in a public place. I wouldn’t just be uncomfortable, I would be angry. Like dl, I don’t mind Christmas carols in the store, or Christmas trees (they’re pagan anyway) or even Nativity scenes in public places (I also don’t mind symbols of Chanukkah or other religious celebrations) because I don’t feel as though they are aimed at me or have a message for me specifically; they are just sort of there, part of the background. But someone actually trying to share their view of their faith with me unbidden would make me angry because of the underlying assumptions that person would be making: That I need someone to “point” me to God.

  3. I can sympathize with what OS and DL are saying. For each individual or group there is a proper way to point them toward Christ and an improper way. What is comfortable to one person might be “in your face” to another. As Christians we must be sensitive to that.

    In my opinion, people would rather have a conversation with someone they know (even if only a little), rather than a sermon from a complete stranger — so take the time to get to know people before you dive in.

  4. I don’t think anyone is free from others trying to point them toward a specific belief. As a Christian I’ve had more than my share of friends who want to “enlighten” me about how my beliefs are out of date, out of touch, illogical, etc. It is impossible to get away from this regardless of one’s beliefs, be they atheistic, theistic, or otheristic.

    The same people who are offended by someone sharing the gospel with them are often not offended at all by someone else sharing a different yet less pervasive religious or metaphysical point of view.

  5. “Advertising” our faith is probably not at all what Jim Jordan had in mind. Living it out and being open about one’s beliefs is more likely. There’s a right time and place for everything, and a right and a wrong way to do anything.. After all, speaking about Christ is a major purpose of this blog, and you haven’t been uncomfortable to come here.

  6. Dale,

    It’s not a question of there being no exposure or persuasion. It’s a question of context.

    Tom,

    Agreed. I don’t find discussions or debates with individuals threatening. However, as you say, Tom, there’s a time and a place for that. It’s very different if my physician or my car mechanic goes out of his way to “be open about” his faith to me in the course of business.

  7. DL:

    It’s very different if my physician or my car mechanic goes out of his way to “be open about” his faith to me in the course of business.

    I think there is a time and a place for a physician and mechanic to share his faith in the course of business. I can imagine a few scenarios where it would be appropriate and probably welcomed.

    Still, suppose the message was conveyed in an inappropriate manner. You can always take your business elsewhere. No harm, no foul right?

  8. Another quick comment as I load a new CD onto iTunes… and Merry Christmas again to you!

    Evangelism should be and is properly, a humble offering of love. If it’s “offered” in a holier-than-thou or superior fashion, that’s a violation of its purpose, and if it’s done more or less to “get” someone, that’s also, well, awful. God’s word should be presented as a gift.

    I should add that not every word spoken on behalf of God or of Scripture fits that category. There is also prophecy–not telling the future, necessarily, but delivering God’s message of his standards and his warnings. It’s “forthtelling” more often than foretelling. But it’s also less frequent than the offering of God’s word that we call evangelism.

  9. Evangelism should be and is properly, a humble offering of love. If it’s “offered” in a holier-than-thou or superior fashion, that’s a violation of its purpose, and if it’s done more or less to “get” someone, that’s also, well, awful. God’s word should be presented as a gift.

    That’s exactly my point, Tom

    Here is an important point from that article. After I pointed out that Christians need to be more knowledgeable of their own Word and not be ignorant of other religions, I wrote:

    It’s really kind of funny, Christians afraid of the gospel. However, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves about other belief systems whether they are atheist or religious. God speaks to all people over time and we need not just preach the good news but to listen to what God has spoken in the lives of followers of other faiths and intellectual disciplines.

    I think that should answer some of the objections.
    Thanks for the plug, Tom.
    Merry Christmas to all.

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