Unfortunately, much of post-Christian America left the church due to experiences or misunderstandings that do not represent the whole. I wanted to address some of these stereotypes for both the skeptic and the Christian, so we might draw together in a mutual understanding of the sin and grace present in and for us all.
1. “Christians have a blind faith that rejects science and facts.”
I think it is safe to say the 2.3 billion people who call themselves Christians are not all ignoring science and facts to accept a “blind faith.” Personally, I did not grow up going to church or knowing much about Christianity, and I can assure you my decision to become a Christian did not involve me plugging my ears anytime I was in science class.
I look at the sunset, the stars and the ocean and wonder how there cannot be a God. Observing the intricate beauty of the world and the science we still fail to understand, I would need more faith to not believe in God. I believe “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). In other words, I look at the beauty in creation and see the work of a Creator — God’s glory on display. It is not that I am ignoring or rejecting anything, but I simply fail to see anything but God’s glory in everything around me.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis explains: “Now that I am a Christian I do not have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.” C.S. Lewis viewed the world from both perspectives, and defying the stereotype, the blind faith he experienced occurred while he was an atheist.
In Romans 1:19-20, Paul explains how “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” God has made plain to us his divinity and power through His creation!
John Piper states that “if we don’t want God to be God, our sensory faculties and our rational faculties will not be able to infer that he is God.” In other words, ignorance of God is possible because people harden their hearts and refuse to allow themselves to believe. So, am I rejecting facts with a blind faith? Quite the contrary, I am believing in what has been made plain to everyone through God’s creation since the beginning of time.
2. “Christians are hateful and intolerant.”
Although Christians hold beliefs quite contrary to what society values, we shouldn’t hold any hatred or intolerance for those who believe differently than ourselves. Nevertheless, loving and accepting someone does not mean affirming what they believe.
I believe true love is receiving joy from another person’s joy, and I believe they will only truly find joy when they find Christ. I will always accept you although I might not affirm what you believe. Society may call me intolerant or hateful, but it would be intolerant and hateful for doing just that.
In a world where morality is considered whatever is “right” in each person’s eyes, Christians are very different. Our morals aren’t based on how we feel or what we assume is “right.” All goodness and perfection are based on an unchanging and perfect God. Although Christian morals don’t shift along with society, that does not mean we love people any less than anyone else. In fact, the very basis of Christianity is love.
- 1 Corinthians 13:2: “if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
- Matthew 22:39: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
- John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
I don’t doubt there have been many situations where Christians have fallen very short of exemplifying the love that is demanded from us. However, Christians don’t claim to be perfect. In fact, Christianity is about admitting we are inherently sinful and fall short of the glory of God: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The very name Christian itself is a reminder that we are in need of Jesus Christ as our Savior.
3. “Christians think they are better than everyone else.”
Whether a Christian or not, I think everyone struggles with pride, and it is another example of the imperfections that render us in need of Christ. However, my aim is never to appear better than anyone because that is certainly far from the truth.
My constant need for humility brought me to write an article called “The Humble Truth.” After listening to Matt Chandler’s sermon called “Only The Lowly,” I realized how much God values humility. Chandler reveals Jesus’ humble beginnings: “What palace does He go to? What royal bloodline? A little virgin girl? Jesus is born in a barn…. the first people that were told are who? Shepherds… He exalts the lowly in estate.” Jesus was born in humble beginnings and lived a humble life to show God’s value for humility.
If you read the Bible, God continually exalts the lowly. In Matthew 23:12, Jesus says “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Christianity involves a surrender. We are not better than anyone else because we are Christians, and as I said before, we “all fall short of the glory of God.” Pride and self-righteousness are all results and proof of the sin and evil in the world.
So, Christians are called to be the opposite of prideful. C.S. Lewis describes pride as “spiritual cancer” in Mere Christianity. Pride is something all Christians and I must battle to exemplify the very humility Christ displayed.
4. “Christians are hypocrites and worse than the non-Christians I know.”
As expressed earlier, being a Christian does not mean someone is perfect by any means. However, there is renewing of the heart that occurs when someone fully submits their life to Christ.
In Ephesians 4:22-24, Paul describes Christian transformation as putting “off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Christianity is not another hobby we pick up and add onto our list of activities. Becoming a Christian is a live altering, transformative decision. Although I cannot judge if someone has fully surrendered their life to Christ, a Christian should live radically different than any non-Christian you know because their life is meant to glorify God and reflect the renewal He gives through faith in Jesus Christ.
5. “Christians don’t like to have fun and judge anyone who does.”
I am pretty sure I am still a five-year-old at heart, so my idea of fun looks very different than others my age. “Fun” is very subjective because it is different for many people. There are so many ways to have fun, but for me, I would rather play flag football, hide-n-go-seek or basketball than party and drink. Honestly, I was never interested in “partying” even before I was a Christian.
However, there are many Christians who have come out of lives of drug and alcohol abuse. They did not stop because it was no longer “fun.” As stated before, Christianity involves a renewal of the heart. What born-again Christians previously thought was fun is now quite the opposite. When we find our joy in God, we no longer chase after the things that could never bring the same satisfaction as His all surpassing worth.
2 Corinthians 5:17 describes all Christians as “a new creation.” Paul goes on to describe how “the old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” When they become a new creation, Christians no longer desire temporary pleasures for their source “fun.” Instead, we are “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” due to “the end result of [our] faith, the salvation of [our] souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).
As far as judging others, Christians would be wrong to do so. Matthew 7:1-3 tells Christians to “judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” With love in mind, Christians should encourage others to seek ultimate joy in Jesus, but they should never cast judgement on another. God is the ultimate judge, and we would be horribly mistaken to think we could do His work.
There are many Christian stereotypes that should be fought against, but our weapons should not be anger or fierce argument because only more harm would be done.
1 Corinthians 13:1 says: “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” I pray our words and actions would be filled with love and grace rather than hate and anger. Let us not arouse arguments that only distract like a noisy gong or clanging cymbals. Allow us to break stereotypes and “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).