I’m still reading Unchristian: what a new generation really thinks about Christianity…and why it matters. It’s not that I’m such a slow reader; it’s that I have other things to do. Today, for instance, I have to write a sermon about Jesus taking on the scribes and Pharisees over the issue of ritual handwashing (Mark 7:1-23), a topic not completely unrelated to the way many outsiders view the religious traditions of Christians.
Anyway, I thought I would give you a brief excerpt from Unchristian to keep the conversation going, because it’s a good one, and the comments I have received have been both thoughtful and provocative. I hope you will add to the conversation by clicking the word comments at the bottom of this post and telling me what you think.
In the chapter on Christians being “too judgmental” David Kinnaman writes: “Have you ever heard the Christian mantra, ‘Hate the sin, but love the sinner’? It is not a direct quote from the Bible, but it reflects the ideal most Christ followers embrace. They would like to extend grace and love toward others (the sinner), while firmly rejecting those attitudes and behaviors that contradict God’s standards (the sin). The problem is outsiders don’t think we are honest with ourselves. One of our interviews was with Jeff, a twenty-five-year-old agnostic from Oklahoma. He actually mentioned the catchphrase in the conversation: ‘Christians talk about hating sin and loving sinners, but the way they go about things, they might as well call it what it is. They hate the sin and the sinner.’”
Kinnaman goes on to say, “If our primary fixation is on the sin, it is virtually impossible to demonstrate love to an individual. Think of it: many outsiders, the broken people who need Jesus most, picture Christians as haters.”
What do you think? Is Kinnaman right? Do people outside the faith really think of us that way?