We would like to think that Christianity is generally the same all around the world, and that each church has some sort of agreement on the basic beliefs. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Over the thousands of years of the Christian faith, ideas have been manipulated and changed and caused fractures in the overall religion. The culture of the nation can have a huge impact on how Christianity moves forward for those people.
American’s have largely identified as Christian, and the church there is not immune to these societal influences. The changes in America’s society can directly impact the values and beliefs of a church. People believe that they are following a form of Christianity that is the way God intended, however some of the deeply held belief systems are actually just values of the culture.
Here are signs that the version of Christianity you are following has been negatively manipulated by the American culture.
Your beliefs are governed by fear.
There are many factors, historical, social and political, that have helped shape white American Christianity into what it is today. When it comes to keeping American Christians away from the core truths of the faith, though, is the fact that Christians today are governed by fear. Fear moves us away from the core of Christianity, love. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love,” says the first epistle of John.
You don't think your faith is anything like the faith of early Christians.
For many Americans, the religion of the early Christians looks nothing like that of their faith. There is a long list of differences. The early Christians were known for being nonviolent, rejected having any involvement with the government, and redistributed their wealth. For Christians in America, this rejects the ideas of the death penalty, for instance. Seeing these seems un-American and un-Christian to them, and can even cause frustration.
You think God hates certain people.
Americans twist God into what they want His words to say in order to fit their own agenda. Many politicians use God as backing for their policies and beliefs, which end up being hateful and hurtful toward certain groups of people. Many Americans love to put their own ideals into what Christianity is supposed to be. An example of an argument many have is, “God hates gays.”
In the New Testament, Jesus welcomes foreigners, children, the uneducated, prostitutes, the disabled and many more imperfect people. If we are supposed to live Christ-like as Christians, are we not supposed to love these people in the same way Jesus did? We are not the people to decide whether someone is unworthy of love or life. The chief calling of a Christ-follower is to love others. Whether a neighbor across the street or an enemy across the world, Christ’s command is abundantly clear: we are to love one another.
This extends to many groups of people that Americans regularly hate, including immigrants and Muslims. Instead of providing an opportunity for these people to learn more about Jesus Christ, Americans are keen to push these people away. They choose to view these people as a threat that needs to be taken care of.
You know American laws better than the laws of the Bible.
American’s tend to be very proud of their nationality. They are excited to defend the Bill of Rights and the Constitution because it’s the foundation of the country. However, they spend very little time defending the Bible and its laws and beliefs. They aren’t spending time learning more about Christ’s teachings, such as the Sermon on the Mount or the Ten Commandments. If you’re more familiar with America’s founding documents than you are the foundation of Jesus’s teachings, your Christianity might be Americanized.
You don’t advocate for helping the poor.
Jesus wants us to get our hands dirty and help out the most vulnerable in society. Christians are supposed to give as much as they possibly can to change the world for the better. America on the other hand, invites us to view political power and force of government as the solution to the world’s problems, and that we don't have to worry about doing any of the work ourselves. Americans don't think it's their responsibility to help out those that need it most. Even with the belief that the government can be the one that help, many Christian American's will then choose to prioritize low taxes and small government over the elimination of poverty.
Christianity in America has been ravaged by the dominant teaching that we can make decisions for God, rather than just delight in the glory of God. If you suffer from any of these beliefs, your Christianity might not be structured the way God intended. Take a look at some of your beliefs and see if they align with what is in the Bible.