Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

christianity: the two sided coin



Nearly every tenet of Christian theology and practice has a good and a terrible aspect. This leads to widely disparate opinions of Christianity. Many Christian adherents apparently don't recognize how negatively their theology can appear to outsiders.


Take for example the Christian practice of attending worship gatherings. On the one hand these meetings offer fellowship, community building, mutual support, and benevolent outreach, all of which are beneficial. However, on the flip side, these small enclaves tend to segregate the congregants from the larger community and to isolate them from the issues and concerns of their outside neighbors. In fact, a key tenet of the church is the necessity to be separate from the world at large, hardly an endearing practice.


Then we must consider the evangelical activities of the church. Evangelism is promoted as a benevolent activity, designed by God to demonstrate His love for all mankind. However, in telling the tale, the message always devolves into a threat of eternal punishment if the evangelical effort is ignored or even improperly applied. Threats and true benevolence seem far removed from each other.


Then we notice that some people feel led to devote their lives to the church and its mission and support. These people in some cases forgo a normal life in favor of focusing on spiritual development for themselves and others. In that pursuit they sacrifice their personal lives to emphasize the ultimate importance of a higher non-physical reality. Such self sacrifice can be an example to us all. On the other hand, self appointed religious leaders so often become embroiled in controversy largely due to having been seduced by their own prominence and importance within the church hierarchy. A divine call to lead religiously is a heady, intoxicating business by anyone's measure.


The church's historic emphasis on moral uprightness has been largely positive. By encouraging people to avoid behaviors which violate the Golden Rule, the church has promoted a sense of moral discernment in the general population. However, in turning the church into the moral enforcers of our society, Christianity has been associated with many violations of its own moral code. Additionally, by becoming absorbed with the idea of seeking God's acceptance by obedience to rules and rituals, the church has completely lost track of what made Jesus better than Moses.


The general ambivalence, which many display to the message of Christianity, is the result of this two sidedness. People honestly don't know what to make of a religion with so many contradictions and ambiguities. In its defense, the church is dealing with many paradoxical and counter intuitive elements in the Bible. Deriving a consistent and totally reasonable theology and practice based on all of the Bible has been the challenge of Christianity from day one.