Under the ubiquitous label of Christianity we witness an astounding array of beliefs and practices. By beliefs I mean much more than theology; I include politics, general attitude, assumptions, historical interpretations, and general world views. “Christian” practices involve more than worship rituals and acts of personal piety but would also encompass personal relationships and secular behavior in general.
The great danger that I perceive in all the varieties of Christianity is the tendency to arrogance and self importance. It’s a threat to the spiritual well being of us all and by extension to the well being of our country. The very nature of Christian Orthodoxy makes it a promoter of exclusiveness and divine elitism. If under the auspices of Christ any can claim that they and they alone are God’s chosen, God’s anointed, God’s blessed, then the natural and therefore inevitable consequences will be a sense of personal pride and privilege which will alienate and disunify.
This amounts to the basic conundrum of evangelical Christianity. The mission of evangelism involves attracting people to the message of Jesus and drawing them under the label of Christian. However, as viewed from the outside so much of Christianity’s message is off putting if not downright horrifying. The heaven or hell dichotomy which forms the essence of the gospel for many is the most horrifying part. The fact that so many so called Christians are seemingly indifferent to the implications of this doctrine only adds to the horror.
The implied and even proudly proclaimed elitism of Christian theology is a big part of what pushes outsiders away. Religious arrogance is no more acceptable and honorable than any other form of dismissive self importance. It’s just another form of bad manners.
There is one more aspect of Christianity which is a significant part of the history of the church and the pathway which evangelicalism has taken. There is and always has been a mixing of theology and politics. More often than not, the theology has been subordinate to the politics. The politically expedient has been routinely promoted by the church no matter the theological implications. Politics and ethics are necessarily inseparable, but church politics invariably involves very pliable ethics.