Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Are Christians Really….? 6

posted by Scot McKnight


BREWright.jpg
This is the chp some of you are waiting for. In this chp, Brad Wright examines the big one: Are Christians loving? 


And I’m going to depart from normal custom and give the results first:
When it comes to measures of love and compassion, Christians do well compared to society. They are neighborly, forgiving, and care for the poor. Church attendance increases the numbers for each.
But, Christians, esp Evangelicals, don’t do well when it comes to accepting minorities, — racial and sexual — as well as the rest of society. The attitudes of both are doing better over time, but the youth of this generation seem to be the vanguard for new changes. 
We are looking at Brad Wright, Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media

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To figure this out, he found sociological studies that asked the following sorts of questions: Do Christians interact with their neighbors? Do Christians act virtuously? Do Christians love members of other groups? I’d say those are good indicator questions.


Interact with neighbor: Prots do well, then Catholics, then unaffiliated, then other religions.

Care for the poor etc: Evangs (40%), Black Prots (45), Mainline (26), RCC (30), unaffiliated (25).
Feelings for rich and poor: most show same variation between those two groups, but when it comes to poor, we’ve got this:
RCC: 70+
Prots: 70+
Other religions: 67
Unaffiliated: 68
Race, and this disappoints, on an 8-pt warm scale:
Evangelicals: Whites (7.2), Blacks (6.1), Asians (6.0), Hispanics (6.1).
Other religions are better for each category.
The unaffiliated are better for each category.
Gays/lesbians:
Evangelicals: 79 always wrong, 2% almost always wrong, 4%sometimes wrong, 14% not wrong.
But this is also a moral issue for which religious people have little grey area. The issue also involves permission of gay or lesbian to give a speech in a community. Evangelicals have gone from 52% to about 27% disapproval rate since 1975. Young people in each group show marked differences on race and issues around homosexuality.


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Your Name

posted July 19, 2010 at 6:36 am


The reason that Christians are as we are is because we TRY to do the will of our Lord. If Christians would surf the Old Testament, they would find more answers.
I was totally against illegal Immigrants until I read Leviticus 18, we were all aliens and must treat them fairly. Of course, they are breaking the law, and those who break the law need correction. What to do? Just pray for answers.
The New Testament does state to follow the laws that God told Moses.
If only we could find true Christian politicians, our country would run so much smoother. My heart aches as election time comes closer. I just do not see anyone worthy of my vote for Governor nor for the other positions that need filled. No not one.



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RJS

posted July 19, 2010 at 6:48 am


Scot,
I don’t understand the data on race (or feelings for poor). What is an 8 pt warm scale? If 8 is good how much better can other groups really be?



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Scot McKnight

posted July 19, 2010 at 7:08 am


It’s a test and results that he discovered.
8pt is the highest score and Evangelicals are 7.2 in warmth toward Whites, but only 6.1 toward Blacks etc.



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kevin s.

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:25 am


Have the “warm scale” numbers been adjusted for demographics, or do the authors acknowledge regional disparities as a factor?



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JoeyS

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:43 am


The youth who hope to vanguard this change.
http://www.recoveringevangelical.com/



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kevin s.

posted July 19, 2010 at 10:08 am


Great, let’s vanguard change through cheap, divisive political rhetoric. That’ll work out swell.
Also, the youth who hope to vanguard change might want to vanguard a new blog post… May 22, 2009? Just sayin’…



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YourName

posted July 19, 2010 at 11:13 am


One of the benefits of year-old blog posts is that they help remind us of issues we may have forgotten about.
“Who would Jesus torture?” might be cheap, divisive political rhetoric, but on the other hand (quoting from the CNN study) when 62% of white protestant Christians say that torture is often or sometimes justified in order to gain information, compared to 40% among people who don’t go to church, it has a direct bearing on this post’s topic.
If those percentages are more or less correct, there is something in the Christian paradigm that makes a person more receptive to the idea of torture. Correlation is not causation, but let us not toss out the correlation because we don’t like where the causation is heading.
“Who would Jesus torture?” is a legitimate question. If we follow Jesus, and we support torture, then how do we NOT ask what rules Jesus would apply when deciding when to waterboard someone? Or do we just leave Jesus out of it?



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Rick

posted July 19, 2010 at 11:17 am


YourName #7-
I think many that support the torture would tell you that they do so in order to save lives, which would be very loving. I am not advocating torture, I am just assuming that is how many people look at it.



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YourName

posted July 19, 2010 at 11:28 am


Rick,
You may be onto something there. It’s a lot like some of the logic behind Christian opposition to health care for all people: people without health care coverage are a necessary evil in order to protect the greater good of not being dependent upon government. Or the idea that Christians condemn gays as sinners for their own good.
So, one Christian could say that the way to care for the poor is to extend unemployment, and another could say that the way to care for the poor is to not extend unemployment in order to “help” the person get a job and prevent debt that we all share.
That doesn’t tie into the differences on race, though.



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Robin

posted July 19, 2010 at 11:28 am


Well, God was willing to torture his own son to pay for the sins of mankind, so I think that Christians understand that sometimes bad means can serve good ends, the only question becomes how great do the ends have to be in order to justify the use of such terrible means.
Since I am a calvinist and believe in total depravity I am inclined to say that no fallible human being could be entrusted to accurately make that decision so torture should be banned, but I could certainly see how someone with more humanistic tendencies might think that some enlightened persons could be trusted with such a grave responsibility.



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Rick

posted July 19, 2010 at 11:34 am


YourName #9:
“That doesn’t tie into the differences on race, though.”
I think you may be right, and think your previous comment, “do we just leave Jesus out of it?”, very possibly applies to that one.



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Robin

posted July 19, 2010 at 11:40 am


Yourname,
Another Christian might say, “Just last February you passed a law saying that new spending had to be paid for, either by reducing spending in other areas or tax increases, just cut some other spending, pass your unemployment extension, and move on”



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Robin

posted July 19, 2010 at 11:43 am


Or they could just raise current taxes, but what they are not permitted to do, by a law that they passed, is increase spending without off-setting the costs (Or they could repeals the PAYGO law they passed in February)



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YourName

posted July 19, 2010 at 11:56 am


I think much of it all boils down in the end to being able to use the Bible to justify just about anything our sinful natures want to do. With the observation that what looks like sin to one person may look like virtue to another.
It would a very interesting social experiment to have Christians go without the Bible for a year, using only “Love God and neighbor” and prayer as their guides. Of course that would mean no sermons either and what would our preachers do? :)
Interesting point about total depravity, Robin. I had not thought about it that way – thanks.



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mike

posted July 19, 2010 at 12:22 pm


interedting that his stellar research shows that Christians are not as loving of minorities or gays, which aligns to the Barna studies that he takes great pleasure in maligning. Even his book title is misleading – for here it shows that Christians ARE actually hate-filled (or at least less loving) of minorities & gays. It seems like a marketing ploy to sell books. Which again he bashes other organizations for – it seems a bit hypocritical (which again aligns with the title of his book). I don’t get it.



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DRT

posted July 19, 2010 at 12:35 pm


mike,@15
I would not conclude that Christians are hate-filled.
I would like to see these questions cut by the definition of Christianity. Something like:
Is Christianity defined by:
A. A belief in Jesus
B. A way to go to Heaven
C. An attitude toward others (love)
D. A tortured son of God so God would not torture us.
The cut of Prots, etc. is aweful broad.
Wow, we could scientifically find out the beiefs about Christianity and the people who hold them to find out what is most effective in producing loving people…..I bet Jesus got it right….



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Jason Lee

posted July 19, 2010 at 12:44 pm


mike:
I’m sorry, but I don’t see your comment making sense…
BARNA: Just because Wright’s findings are similar to Barna’s on some points, doesn’t mean that he can’t reveal major problems with Barna’s analyses in other areas. Many researchers are going to have similar findings on some things probably because they’re using the same quality of data and analysis. That doesn’t mean that that quality is going to hold across everything they do. When one researcher makes a mistake on how to analyze something, the other researchers are going to be all over that. That’s what Wright is calling our attention to with regard to SOME of Barna’s analyses.
HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR: Does saying that you think something is wrong necessarily mean that you hate or don’t love the person doing it? I don’t have the book to look at, but I think the survey question Wright uses looks at the morality of the behavior. It’s not about loving/hating the people who engage in the behavior. That’s like accusing a pacifist of hating or not loving all soldiers. It could be that the pacifist deeply loves soldiers and sees them as victims being taken advantage of by the state (predatory recruiting etc…). It is possible that certain religious groups (including many non-Christian ones) love homosexual practitioners less. But these data don’t speak to that either way.



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Tom

posted July 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm


Robin, I don’t think it is helpful to think of the cross as God torturing Jesus. It puts too much of a distinction between the persons of the Trinity. Jesus is God-incarnate, so the cross is God taking upon God’s own self the consequences of sin. Timothy Keller talks about this in “The Reason for God”. This also prevents any sense of legitimation of torture, or even any suggestion that the ends justify the means (i.e. it’s really wrong for God to torture Jesus, but because of our possible salvation, God does it anyway.)



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kevin s.

posted July 19, 2010 at 7:18 pm


“Robin, I don’t think it is helpful to think of the cross as God torturing Jesus.”
Neither is it helpful to link to a post entitled “who would Jesus torture?” featuring a picture of a naked man being whipped. That post was crafted in bad faith by an intellectually lazy person, who won’t be the vanguard of anything meaningful.
People who discuss their faith in soundbites should have their voices buried. I agree that we should carefully consider the question of why Christians in this country appear to be less tolerant of other races. Many churches are embarking on that discussion with sincerity. That should be encouraged. Empty pejorative should not be.



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kevin s.

posted July 19, 2010 at 7:20 pm


@Tom
Good thoughts, however… I don’t disagree.



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Richard

posted July 20, 2010 at 11:22 am


@19
“That post was crafted in bad faith by an intellectually lazy person, who won’t be the vanguard of anything meaningful”
Pretty harsh considering he raised questions about the apparent dissonance between “following the prince of peace that commands to love enemies” and “supporting the Iraq war and the use of torture.” Not sure that’s an example of bad faith or being intellectually lazy.



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taye joseph

posted July 21, 2010 at 8:21 am


Really most people think Christians is the model of isrealite ideal but who is a christiany



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