I have never come across Benjamin L. Corey before. I am impressed with this article by him, because while I am not a Christian, I believe part of my mission as a Pagan priestess is to ensure that people coming to Paganism are doing so because of a spiritual call rather than to some specious desire, such as shocking their social circle or enraging their parents.
This means I do my best to keep up with the changes inside Christianity, regardless of denomination. This is fairly easy, given that my father is a Christian minister and my entire family (other than myself) are Christians who strive to live a truly Christ-centered life.
I would strongly encourage you to read his back story (i.e. personal history) to understand why he thinks the way he does, especially in regards to Jesus, God and fundamentalism. You should also read his core beliefs (taken from the Anabaptist Network).
But, back to the article under discussion.
I have stated before that parts of the modern version of Christianity (all denominations and flavors), seem to have a persecution complex (defined simply as: an irrational and obsessive feeling or fear that one is the object of collective hostility or ill-treatment on the part of others).
Sadly, it comes straight from the Bible, albeit being taught in a skewed fashion (link has an extensive list of Bible verses that discuss persecution). It also comes from the historical facts that the early Christians were actually persecuted by the Roman Empire until Constantine in 313 A.D. (313 C.E. for those who prefer the modern usage). They were accused of cannibalism (because they spoke of eating the body of Christ, and drinking His blood), incest (called “Oedipodean intercourse” partly by the fact that they referred to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ) and refused to participate in the public forms of the Roman religion. The government, because of its willingness to allow their provinces to worship in their own way, really couldn’t care less about the Christians and their worship. On the other hand, the populace was enraged, fearing that they would be punished by their Gods for the refusal of the Christians to worship those Gods.
I really wish more actual Christians were aware of the history of their own religion.
There has been persecution throughout the last 2,000 years. Unfortunately after some forms of Christianity became the “state religion,” most of the persecution ended up being against two or more variations on Christianity, as well as those who were not Christian (including Jews, the Rom [although, some of the Rom did eventually become Christian], the Muslims [except, if you really look at the Crusades, they were more about wealth and power than actually fighting the unbeliever]. There were oceans of blood spilled in the “name of the Lord.”
Absolutely NOTHING experienced by Christians in the United States of America can compare with what the members of the early Church experienced. Nor does it even BEGIN to compare with the very REAL persecution happening right now in the rest of the world. And Mr. Corey has some articles about this very subject.
- Examples Of Anti-Christian Persecution In Present Day America — (No, your computer is not refusing to load fully, what you see is what he intended you to see)
- Real vs. Fake Christian Persecution: How you can spot the difference
Here, let me quote a section from the list given in the second link above:
He also says in that same article: “On one hand, we can’t help it — we’ve been programmed to label any negative experience related to our faith in the category of “persecution.” However, we should know better — and should know that this is actually hurting the Christian reputation in America.” (again, emphasis is mine)
The problem lies in the psychology of the varied flavors of Christianity. The first set I look to is whether a particular sect is focused on the Law versus Grace. Legalism is attractive to some simply because it allows for the believer to make a clear distinction between “us” and “them.” It lets the believer feel superior to the unbeliever. It also, on some levels, allows them to think — at least here in America — that unbelievers are semi-functional idiots, because they cannot conceive of someone NOT wishing to be Christian. And when they are surrounded by people they consider to be unbelievers (even those who belong to a different sect of Christianity than their own), that arrogance and superiority comes out in spades.
I get it, I really do. Your Bible very clearly states that one of a Christian’s duties is to witness to unbelievers, as both a religious obligation and a moral one. Yet, Christ in setting up his example, spoke from a position of love, of compassion and of truly caring for the unbeliever. He often chose to spend time with the sinner rather than the saved, without judgement and with a caring heart.
I know damned well that many Christians are taught “how to witness.” In fact, one of my most hated experiences as a teenager. Not because of any responses to my attempts to witness, but because it was hour after hour of drudging from door to door, more often than not getting no response to my knocking on the door. Since it was almost always in summer, it was more likely to be that the people were out enjoying summer rather than the typical response to Jehovah’s Witnesses now (i.e. hiding in your house until they’re gone).
I, actually, don’t have a problem with someone being a true witness. They are respectful, polite, courteous and rarely arrogant or hateful. I take witnessing as a way to learn more about the different sects of Christianity are evolving. I’ve sat for hours on my porch speaking to different witnessing Christians. Sometimes, they even have questions for me about my own religion, which I take as a chance to educate them – so they do not make the same mistake about Wiccans that the early Romans did to Christians. I’m specifically NOT attempting to proselytize, simply educate – my religion does not believe in proselytizing.
But you can bet all the money in the world that if someone comes at me with arrogance, hatred and superiority spewing from their mouth, I will fight back. In fact, I will pull out my bible (or one of the ones in the house, as there are several) and point out the exact Bible verses not only about witnessing, but about how to treat others if you are a Christian. That usually not only shuts them up, but tends to make them walk away embarrassed.
Just because I’m a non-Christian now does NOT mean I don’t know the Bible or Christian theology. I didn’t automatically lose all of the 20 years of Christian education when I converted. And, yes, I do still study the Bible (albeit, more often on the Internet than a physical Bible – because I’m more often than not in the midst of a blog post like this. There are hundreds of websites that have electronic versions of multiple translations of the Bible). And, as I have said before, I believe I have been called to my ministry in order to counsel those who are considering converting to Wicca. Too many times there are people who are ignorant about their own childhood faith in Christianity or who just want to be Wiccan to rebel. Those are the people that end up in my life (I don’t go searching for them). I listen to what they have to say, and try to give them the best advice I can – whether that is telling them to go back to their Bible and read specific verses or any other kind of advice.
So, yes, I raise my voice in concert with Mr. Corey. Stop being arrogant, snide and superior when you are attempting to witness. Don’t be a Pharisee, be more like Christ.