Ten Things Christians Say That Drive Me Crazy

speakandspell

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1. I’ll pray about it. a.) Really? When? For how long? How will you know when you’ve prayed enough? b.) Most of the time I believe this is just an excuse to avoid having to say a direct “no” to things we don’t want to do. After all, “No” is harder to argue with if you’ve prayed about it. Like “Oh great, the No is coming directly from God now. How can anyone argue with that?”

2. Got saved. Like it’s past tense, or ancient history. Like saving isn’t still happening. Like the biggest thing that has ever happened in your spiritual life happened back then, kind of like that concert you went to way back when. You don’t remember much about it now, other than it was awesome. But it was awesome. And by the way, saved from what? Most people can’t really articulate this very well.

3. The end times, or last days. I’m not sure if any concept has been responsible for more “Christian” lunacy than this. Setting aside the fact that the theological concept of the “rapture” was almost completely invented in the early 1800’s, even if we are “living in the last days,” the response of every single human being doesn’t change one bit — to live with honesty and integrity in the present moment and, if you are a Christian — to know this is what honors God.

4. Is this a sin, or will I go to hell if... This one may bother me on so many levels as to require its own post. Summary — adventures in missing the point. Salvation is life with God. Sin is that which keeps us from knowing that life. Both holiness and wickedness are cumulative. They both grow slowly in the human heart and they both lead a person down a certain path.

5. He/she would make a wonderful Christian. Why is that? It’s usually because they are especially kind or loving or patient, in which case that person already makes an exceptional human being. I think more Christians should focus on what it means to be an exceptional human being. We would discover that being an exceptional human being pleases God. Jesus was an exceptional human being. By the way, Jesus wasn’t a Christian either. He would have made such a wonderful Christian!

6. Do you believe [such and such] at your church? I have yet to hear that question asked as anything but a litmus test for whether a church is doctrinally “correct.” The problem with this, of course, is that people who worry a lot about doctrinal correctness so often seem to be fairly unconcerned with what bastards so many doctrinally correct people are. Right theology leads to right living in the deepest sense. Bad living stems from bad theology.

7. “The church just needs to rise up and…” The church needs to STOP rising up. Why don’t we get that by now? We need to stop trying to change the world, look in the mirror, and change ourselves. This applies to all of those overhyped worship conferences that talk about a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, yadda, yadda. We don’t need a new outpouring of anything. God has given us his presence. Our failure has mostly been in learning how to live deeply in what has already been given.

8. “Defending the faith.” It is nearly impossible to defend anything without being or getting defensive. I’ve never once seen a single person being defensive in love. What do we need to defend? God is a big boy. If I can’t believe this, I don’t have any reason to believe in God at all.

9. “That sermon (worship, song, etc.) didn’t feed me.” If you have been a Christian less than two years, you get a pass on this one. If more than two years, you should be feeding yourself like we expect of any two year old. It’s not a meal, so you don’t come to church to pig out. It’s a celebration, so you come to share in the presence of God with other believers.

10. “Evangelism training…” Perhaps more than anything else, the need for modern evangelism training shows how drastically we have missed the point. When your first child was born, no one needed to train you to tell others about it. When something that’s part of your life matters to you, you talk about it. Period. That so many Christians struggle so deeply with this is absolute proof that we are taught to “learn” religion rather than live into it. We need training because we think we have to “learn” others in the faith, rather than inviting them into it with us. Don ‘t think too much about that one or it’ll move your cheese big time.

BONUS THING CHRISTIANS SAY THAT DRIVES ME CRAZY

11. “Love the sinner but hate the sin.” You are not wired to do this. God created you as a whole person. You either love or you don’t. “But I don’t want to love that part of someone else that is sinful.” Yes, certainly. We wouldn’t want a murderer thinking we love that part of him that is most filthy and dirty or he’ll think we approve of murder. True. “What the world needs now is love, fully provisional and contingent love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” What is your choice? Love people — all people — through and through, head to toe, top to bottom. Accept the choices they make, even if they’re not the choices you would make. Believe that your all-powerful God will forgive you for taking love too seriously and erring on the side of compassion, if indeed either of those is possible. For all our talk about the power and love of God, we sure are afraid of taking God’s love too far, aren’t we? Of all sins, perhaps that’s the one God can forgive most easily.

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  • Bob Tong

    I’ve read some books of Bertrand Russell. He’s an agnostic. Hope his theories can be helpful to you. btw,I used to be a Christian.

    • I haven’t ever read one of his books, but I feel like I’ve heard him quoted in enough books, both sacred and secular, than I’m really familiar with his work!

  • Craig

    I also don’t see your conflict. Jesus said we would not know the hour of the rapture. The second coming however can be clearly marked on the calendar on the day that the world leader, whoever that may be, signs a 7 year peace treaty with Israel.

    • What I have been saying is that the words that appear to you, so certainly, to mean one specific thing, did not mean that thing to any Christian up until the early 19th century. What is so obvious to you was passed over by centuries of saints and scholars. That is my point. I know what is written, but how has it been historically understood by the church? That is precisely the issue I’m writing about.

  • Craig

    As to your question, the latter. As to the rest. I don’t suggest atheists are the enemy. They are just lost souls that are in need of rescue. I say if they are agreeing with you, not having been converted, then you have likely compromised what the Word teaches.

    Like these ideas you have about the rapture being an invention in such and such century. The writers of the NT believed it. They put it in there. Jesus’ own words say so. Any beliefs that came after, like yours for example, are moot. Yes the word “rapture” is new but the idea is not. It is right there in black and white and red.

    I believe the Bible is to be taken litterally whenever human comprehension allows it. And probably is literal even when it is beyond our comprehension. To say otherwise is to call God a liar.
    I am aware of your metaphorical views, I’ve read a couple of your blogs. I fear for those who you teach.

    • Thanks for the clarity of your response. I guess the question, then, is which view can actually produce the love and the transformation I think we both say we believe in. As I have blogged elsewhere, those with this highly literal view of scripture “might speak of [love], claim to believe in it, and passionately and sincerely attempt to live it out, but will ultimately be constrained and prevented from doing so by their own vision of the world — their own way of seeing, understanding, and practicing faith.” That’s just my take on it from what I have experienced. Perhaps someone may come around sometime whose life will prove me wrong. Perhaps you, Craig! I’m open to it.

      It may surprise you to discover that your Biblicist view itself, Craig, is a fairly recent phenomenon in the church, starting around the time of the Enlightenment. I don’t want to force that on you, but if you care to investigate at all, it’s a matter of history and there for you to freely discover.

      As for your fear for those I teach, do not fear! Christ has overcome the world, and fortunately he is way bigger than both my ignorance and yours.

    • Craig wrote:

      if they are agreeing with you, not having been converted, then you have likely compromised what the Word teaches.

      He said he thinks I am reasonable. Is reasonableness contrary to what the Word teaches? Didn’t Jesus claim to be “the truth”? How do you arrive at truth without reason? If reason seems to you like a tool that favors the atheists, you’re going to find my writing very frustrating and perhaps threatening.

  • Craig

    If you have aethiests praising you, that aught to be a clue something is wrong with your beliefs.

    • Thanks for being part of the discussion, Craig. Your comment is false though. 🙂 It assumes that just because an atheist does not believe what you and I believe, he/she is therefore incapable of grasping any truth whatsoever. As Dallas Willard points out, Muslims and Buddhists eat breakfast, and it’s still a good idea. It also assumes that atheists are the enemy, which I reject. It also assumes that I am personally responsible for making sure no atheist ever agrees with any aspect of what I believe, which is impossible for me or anyone to do. Also, the atheist you’re referring to called me a “voice of reason.” I’ll take that as a compliment and run with it any day and can’t imagine any sense in which it can ever be a bad thing to be reasonable. And it kind of depends on what an atheist is praising me for, doesn’t it? The comment, it seems, was benign enough.

      BTW, hypothetically speaking, do you think I should be more ashamed of brilliant and loving atheists who agree with me on some things, or of unloving and judgmental Christians who do?

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  • Just wanted to say I appreciated this post. Growing up in a Christian household, I think over the years I’ve repeated many of these phrases without thinking too much about what I actually meant when I said them. It’s easy to repeat something you’ve heard without any deep thought involved. The last few years I’ve re-thought so much of what I actually believe and why; it’s been good for me. I’m not exactly thrilled about all the events that led me to question so much (ha!), but ultimately the questioning has been good for my faith.

    • I love this, Jessica. The things that cause us to start questioning are normally hurtful or frustrating or both. I know just what you mean about not loving the events that caused you to question. But as you say, it’s so good for us. Thanks for reading my post and commenting.

  • This is a great list Dave! The only problem you have is number 3. If you believe the Rapture was invented in the 1800’s you have some more studying to do. I’m assuming you’re using the John Newton Darby argument that he invented the rapture based on some prophecies he received from a mentally challenged girl or some bogus crap like that.
    The rapture actually ties into your number 2 of “Got Saved.” Salvation is an ongoing thing absolutely! But we are only saved in part currently. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit as a promise and guarantee. Promise of what? The rapture!! The rapture is simply that event when Christians are called up and given their glorified bodies – that moment when we see Him and become like Him! The rapture is when our salvation is made complete in Him. It’s not something to be pushed aside as nonsense, the rapture is connected completely with salvation itself. If you reject the rapture you reject salvation. This is all Biblical. As for the end times, we’ve been living in them since Jesus ascended – Peter dealt with this when he said God is not slack in His promises. He is waiting patiently and lovingly so that more people can come to know Him. But there is going to be a point when God says enough – boom- Christians raptured.

    • It began with St. Anselm in the 1500’s and then lay dormant for centuries. It was picked up again by Darby and I do not know how, and doesn’t matter. From Darby it moved, I believe, to Scofield and the Scofield Study Bible, then making its way into American seminaries where eventual giants of evangelical dispensationalism learned it and began writing books about it. I know the doctrine is hugely important to you personally, Jerry, but it doesn’t have real legs to stand on. N.T. Wright writes beautifully on this issue. I strongly disagree that rejection of rapture is rejection of salvation. That statement borders on ludicrous, and thousands of years of church history testify against it, as the vast majority of Christians who have ever lived have not had this belief. I love your comments on my blog, Jerry. Please comment often. You have a great heart, and great passion. But do your homework, my friend. Your certitude is inconsistent both with the best of current Biblical scholarship and historical fact. Start here.

      • I love you Dave and I love reading your blogs (I hope you have the patience for my following long reply) but of all the things taught in the Bible this is the one thing I’ve studied the most. Also not just my views on it, I’ve read about all the different views, theories and origins. You’re tossing this out because you believe that it’s a recent invention but that’s incorrect, there are many extra-biblical teachings on the rapture dating even into the early 100’s AD, but it’s not necessary to look for extra biblical teachings because the rapture itself is in the bible and requires tossing out huge chunks of scripture in order to deny it. What is the rapture? It’s simply the promised resurrection of the saints! This was looked forward to in both the old and new testaments. It’s only natural to assume that at whatever point this promised resurrection occurs, there will be living believers who will not see death but will be transformed instantly and raptured up to Jesus.

        [MASSIVE SNIP]

        Dave I know we have our differences on this matter. I by no means believe people can’t be saved, or go to hell because they don’t believe in the rapture. But the reason I’m so passionate about it, is because I believe you are missing out on an extremely important blessing in the Christian faith. Sure the rapture has been abused in its teaching over the years but it is by all means real and completely Biblical.

        • Lots of scripture there, not historically understood in the way you interpret it. Has not been for the vast majority of church history. I have snipped out the vast majority of your reply simply because I’m the only person allowed to post anything close to that long on my blog (!), but I did read it thoroughly. I would certainly invite you to post a link to my blog where we are having this discussion, and then make your reply here into a response on your blog.

        • I can do that. 🙂 Don’t know why it wouldn’t be interpreted that way though. Upon reading through the whole new testament as whole, I can’t come to any other conclusion.

        • Just out of curiosity, how are some of those verses historically interpreted? I’m genuinely interested in what else they could mean.

          • Read your NT Wright son! 🙂 Jerry I actually agree with you. I agree that when I read the New Testament, what I see is rapture as it has been taught to me since I was a child. But that’s what’s amazing. It is so clear to us that it is this way, and yet for the first 18 centuries of the church, scholars and pastors and theologians read those same scriptures and didn’t see at all what we see. Now the fact that rapture as we know it is not historical doesn’t in itself make it wrong. Theology evolves and maybe we now understand things we didn’t understand then. The problem is that rapture as we know it seems to dreadfully conflict with Christ’s teaching of the coming of the Kingdom of God. I can do no better here than to refer you to this article.

  • Ruth

    Oh what a mess we are…
    Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.
    Lately in my life I’ve been feeling a need for more grace, grace all around, grace to those inside and for those outside whatever that means.
    Interesting list…

    • What a mess for sure. I feel it in my bones constantly, torn between such deep love and affection for the tradition from which I came, and yet often feeling such contempt for it.

      Richard Rohr speaks of the necessity for self-criticism. We need to be able to evaluate objectively the things that mean the most to us. This includes family, church, religion, country, everything. Regarding grace, I find it comes (and goes!) in waves. I hope that ultimately my life and my posts arc towards grace, though my posts — if I write them properly — will reflect the waves. Bottom line for me is that, like anyone else, I can only say what I have to say. Some will receive it as a gift and it will move them on to amazing new places. Others will be offended and angry, but maybe even in their offense and anger, they will somehow grow, or learn, or come to see something they otherwise couldn’t see. All I can do is hope somehow to make a difference.

  • Flak

    Gotta say, I always appreciate someone who’s happy to let others live the way they want to. If more people focused on the love and togetherness of Christianity, as opposed to the divisiveness and exclusionary aspects of it, I bet a heck of a lot more people would be on board with the whole thing. As a personal atheist (and someone who knows of Mr. Flower’s awesomeness first-hand), I feel like I should thank you for trying to be a voice of reason in what is increasingly an unreasonable and partisan world.

    • Thanks Flak, I just wish you had identified yourself by name because apparently we know each other?!

  • Dan Flowers

    Surprise! I have a few to add…

    -Every head bowed, every eye closed
    -Satan is attacking me on this or that
    -I’m being led by the spirit to tell you ____ (insert horrible feedback)
    -Sincerely, You Brother in Christ
    Dan

    • Love them all. Great stuff, thanks Dan. Especially the third one.

  • I love #7 & #8.
    Your best quote is ‘God is a big boy. If I can’t believe this, I don’t have any reason to believe in God at all.’