I’ve been away for a while, and for that I feel I should apologize – by writing a series of apologist posts!
Being a moderate Christian, I often feel like my greatest witness is taken up by responding to situations like the one in this comic and saying “but not all Christians are crazy. Probably, not even most of us!”
I’m a Pentecostal, which is a conservative subset of Protestant Christianity, which is itself a subset of catholic (universal) Christianity. There are over a billion Christians in the world, with thousands of denominations that are divided either by geography or by slight variations in doctrine (religious views) and practice, but all proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all creation. In spite of all of that diversity, it seems that Christianity is represented by a very small, very vocal minority – basically, there are a few mouthpieces, usually in the US, who get all of the airtime. And like most things in American media, this issue is polarized: we only hear from the ultra-conservatives, or the ultra-liberals, with neither camp adequately representing the majority of Christians and most especially Christian belief.
I’m a bit disturbed, and pretty angry, that so much Christian witness is reduced to how Christians are portrayed in the media. I know that there are many people who do a fantastic job of representing Christ to their neighbours and friends and family, showing them what Jesus is really like; on the other hand, I’ve heard this phrase several times:
“Well, I know you’re cool, but this is what ____________ just said on Fox.”
People that I know and love, who have seen the dramatic change in me since I’ve become a Christian, who respect me and my beliefs to a very high degree, still have difficulty reconciling themselves toward Christianity because of how it is represented in the media (that is, the NEWS media – i.e. how some Christians really behave). And so, as I said above, I spend most of my time explaining what Christians are not, rather than what we are or who Jesus is. I thought it might be helpful to catalogue some of these explanations, perhaps do a bit of a compare/contrast between moderates and extremists in the Christian faith.
So this is my apology, in both senses of the term. First, in the sense of rationally defending my faith – I am, in this sense, acting as an apologist. And secondly, I really do apologize for the excesses, irrationalities, polarizations, and offences of those who claim Christ. Most of them just don’t know any better, but that’s no excuse. Let’s try to set the record straight, so that we might all be without excuse – and hopefully, moving toward a positive, moderate Christianity that is capable of expressing actual Good News. I say “Let’s” because, as always, I crave your comments and feedback. This blog is not a soapbox or platform for my personal authority (of which I have none); it’s a conversation, a public forum, for the discussion of God and his universe.
And so, for the rest of the summer…I apologize.