Like nails on the chalk board, there are some things I wish my Christian peers (and everyone, I guess) would stop saying. I rarely post lists like this, but you can’t always rely on induction. Now I am posting one.
1: “This is important. You’re going to be dead a lot longer than alive.”
Except you’re not, if the Christian creed is true. We believe in this thing called the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. You should look it up some time. If you want to say that something really matters and has eternal consequences, find some other way to do it.
2: “God won’t give you any more than you can handle.”
Says who? God lets people get tortured to death. Yesterday I read a horrific news story about how the Islamic State conducted a mass beheading of Coptic Christians in Libya. God lets people abandon their faith and their marriage. God lets people crack under pressure and commit suicide. On what authority can you possibly tell people this? Is this what you’d tell the martyrs as the lions chomped down on their neck? “Don’t worry, you can handle this or God wouldn’t have given it to you!” You’re not reassuring people with the truth when you say that God won’t give them something they can’t handle. You’re lying to them and setting them up for personal catastrophe, and at the same time giving yourself a reason not to be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff for them when they realise they can’t handle things.
3: “Are you saying God can’t…” (aka “My God is big enough, isn’t yours?”)
In conversations about the origin of the universe and life: “Are you saying God can’t just create everything all at once, fully developed, and he needs to use billions of years?”
In conversations about charismatic theology and spiritual gifts: “Are you trying to limit God and put him in a box? Are you saying God can’t move in people’s lives and enable them to move in the supernatural?”
In conversations about gender in church: “Are you limiting God and saying that he can’t use men/women [delete as appropriate] to do X?”
Stop it. These and many other conversations have nothing to do with what God is capable of. God is able to turn us all into chickens, but that has nothing to do with whether or not we should accept chicken theology as true.
4: “My prayers go out to those who…”
For a while I just assumed that this was something non-religious people said when they wanted to sound pious when people were suffering some sort of disaster even though they don’t really pray at all. “My prayers to those in the blizzard right now, I hope you make it through.” But then I started seeing Christians say it. What? How can you even put those words together? I offer prayers to God. Yeah, I know, some Christians pray to departed saints, I think that’s wrong and that’s a whole other issue. But why would you send prayers to those who are going through hard times? They can’t hear you. Pray for them, not to them.
5: “Follow your God-given passion and don’t look back!”
Huh. Funny how when people don’t believe in God but just follow unrealistic goals because they’re passionate about them and end up in the poorhouse, they lacked God-given wisdom, but when a Christian is set on doing exactly the same thing, you tell them it’s a God-given passion and they need to step out in faith. I’m a living example of why that may be a stupid idea. Sometimes wisdom is a bucket of cold water dumped on what you think is God-given passion before you do something foolhardy with long-term consequences.
6: “THE GOSPEL IS AT STAKE!”
Did you find out that someone with the chutzpah to call himself a Christian holds a different view of hell from you? “THE GOSPEL IS AT STAKE!” Does (so-called) brother so-and-so think that God’s knowledge of future human choices is different from what you think it is? Well don’t just sit there! “STAND UP FOR THE GOSPEL!” Did you find out that traitorous cow Sally thinks the Bible teaches that women like you and her have different roles in the church from men? But that’s attacking your view of people’s roles and calling, and that means she’s attacking equality, and Jesus is pro-equality, and the Gospel is (now) all about equality, so Sally’s attacking… you guessed it.
Listen, Chicken Little. I’m sure your pet causes are very important to you. Heck, you may even be right. But find a new line. The sky is not falling. The Gospel is not at stake. What you have is a disagreement, and one of these days you’re going to have to be able to talk about it like a grown up rather than spitting out the same slogan every time.
7: “God told me…”
To smack you upside the head? Don’t mind if I do!
That’s all I have. How about you?
(I’m watching you now… if you nominate something that I say, I’ll send my prayers to you in spite of the fact that your God is too small for that phrase so you attack the Gospel instead of following your God-given passion.)
- When did Christians first pray to the saints?
- In Support of Mark Driscoll
- Should Evangelical Ministers Respond with Fight or Flight?
- Into the Anglican Fray on Marriage
- What makes you doubt?
- Ehrman: I’m not destroying Christianity, I’m only destroying the Bible!