My Musings

Correcting the Record

Correcting the Record

If the celebrities and talking heads you like most taught you that religion is the source of all bigotry, you might learn to dislike religion. If TV and popular culture only pointed you toward heroic atheists and despicable Christians, you would avoid Christianity. If all you were taught of Christianity were Constantine’s rule, the crusades, the Inquisition and witch trials, you would detest it without understanding it.

The truth is, Christianity has done a lot more good in the real world than secular radicals want you to think.

In America, for example, over two centuries of religious liberty has not lead us to slavery; but away from it. Yes, it was from Christian principles and pulpits that the movement to abolish slavery first found and then sustained its steam. Our Christian heritage did not lead us to a theocracy but to democracy. It did not lead us to illiteracy but away from it. It did not lead us into primitive caves, but to progress. It did not pull us from science, but toward it. There would have been no Enlightenment without the Protestant Reformation diverting the focus of Western society away from tradition and toward Holy Scripture (calling people to read it and respond to its message in fresh and thoughtful ways). Our Christian heritage did not dilute human compassion but instead fostered countless hospitals, the Salvation Army, the YMCA, nursing homes, orphan homes, prison ministries, crisis pregnancy centers and relief organizations world-wide. And that is the tiny tip of the iceberg.

Freedom of religion is part of a priceless heritage we enjoy as Americans. It means you can express your faith out loud and in public. While others can disagree, they cannot muzzle you. Since the opponents of Christianity cannot legally silence us, they often strive instead to selectively discredit and disparage our heritage so that we may silence ourselves in false shame. Today, too many uninformed believers either have no clue regarding the rich Christian heritage we have as Americans or they loathe it because all they know of it is what the radical secularists in our media and our institutions of higher learning tell them. This is tragic.

It is actually possible to share your faith in Jesus without also feeling obligated to bash his beautiful Bride (the church). Try it some time. What good is our incredible freedom of faith if you keep it under the wraps of excessive misinformation or false shame? I am thankful for our freedom of faith in America. Let’s use it for good. Better still, I am grateful for the gospel of Jesus that gives me hope far beyond anything our beloved America can give.

 

Photo Credits:

Religious Liberty. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
White Steeple Retrieved August 27, 2012.

 

The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

4


About the Author:

Joel graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A., completing two majors: Art and Religion. He went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.
  • Claire

    This is a powerful call to celebrate our Christian heritage, Joel. Christian faith has surely led to plenty of good in our country, and we do well to remember it–with the more detail the better. There is much more to be said, for instance, about that interesting relationship between the Reformation and the Enlightenment. I’ll bet there are some biographies that would prise out the harmonies and tensions there.
    Of course, it is not only “radical secularists in our media and our
    institutions of higher learning” who find evidence that in our country’s history, well-meaning Christian believers have used theology to uphold social ills. To acknowledge that evidence is not to “bash” the bride of Christ. If the church is believers, and if believers find fault with their own Christian heritage, then I suppose you could call that a form of self-abuse (though I would call it healthy self-examination), but it would be contradictory to dismiss this criticism as “church-bashing” because one would find oneself guilty of church-bashing in even making the accusation.
    In John 15, Jesus says that he is the vine and the Father is the gardener. He says that the Father cuts off branches that bear no fruit, but branches that do bear fruit He prunes so that they can be even more fruitful. I think the church should and can stand up to regular pruning. If we left all the pruning to the secularists, or insisted that we needed no pruning, you can only imagine what sort of church we would be!

    • Anonymous

      Salutations! Healthy self-examination is when you, in all fairness, cite the concern in a specific and honestly targeted way without casting aspirtions or drawing implications on the group as a whole. The irresponsible church-bashing to which I refer is the all too stereotypical vague and generalized accusations against the church as well as self-important “apologies” for the bride of Christ we hear so much of today, especially from the young who do not know better. It has become fashionable to claim one loves Jesus but not the church (based on unfair stereotypes). I have a tiny voice with which to protest and I believe it is time to let that voice be heard. Call me a modern day “protestant.” Blessings!
      Joel

  • James

    Is it fair to say you consider me an uninformed believer? I am a strong proponent of honoring our Christian heritage….after all my heritage is very literally your heritage. I’m also a thoroughly studied, Bible believing Christian. Ignoring the sins of our past and present does an extraordinary disservice to our potential as bearers of the name of Jesus in this world. I have indeed been embarrassed but the actions of the church (lowercase c) and I stand proudly before the unbelievers to let them know that the Christ of the bible is not represented in the fear mongering and legalisticly exclusionist christians (lowercase c) of our times (or any other time for that matter). You and I both know where the impetuous for this blog originated. I’m sorry to see that you didn’t better represent both sides of this discussion.

    • Anonymous

      James, everyone, without exception, is uninformed in some way. Did I imply in some way that I was speaking of you? No. In fact, you are uninformed about the origin of this blog article. I wrote it a couple years ago for a newsletter and re-posted it here. I hold my convictions sincerely and stand by them. James, I have made no call to ignore any sins at all, past or present. Yet you misjudge me as if I have. True repentance and honest self-criticism is clear, specific and responsible. I am objecting to the popular stereotypes against the church that are being unfairly mainstreamed. I object to agenda-driven, broad-blanket, selective church-bashing. James, your use of phrases like “fear-mongering” and “exclusionist legalistic” for “christians (lower case c) of our time” are too vague and prejudicial, like throwing stones from behind a bush. They LACK specific citations on your part. Who? When? Where? How? I know of specific examples of such flaws myself, but I still do NOT use such phrases for “christians” in general or for the church. Please cite specific examples and blame the examples, not “christians… of our time” in general or the church herself.