Lately, I have had a renewed interest in criticizing some important aspects of Christian and Biblical teaching. My readers must understand that I was one who hung on the words of the Bible for many years. During that ten year stint of serious devotion, I actually had many moments of pause due to the rather extravagant claims that the Bible makes both in the Old and New Testaments.
Today I want to hone in once again on the Bible’s attitude toward those who stray away from faith in God. It is far from one that actually strives to respect personal differences. In both the Old and New Testaments unbelief is understood to be an act of rebellion. There are instances where rebellion is portrayed directly as it involved individuals that apparently witnessed the clear intervention of God into their lives, however, in many other places apart from a more direct experience of the presence of God, an attitude of unbelief itself is portrayed as both wicked and deceitful.
This is what I intend to contest because it really couldn’t be any further from the truth for many of us. Think about it, if Christians are mistaken about the fundamental factors that often contribute to unbelief then this is something rather significant to consider. Many, not all Christians, harbor a bias about what leads people into a path of sin, which in many cases is equated with unbelief. Sin itself is described as rebellious and even treasonous! This is not without a measure of gravity and the weight of this gravity is what looms within the minds of many people today.
It is hard to convince a Christian that the weight of their doctrinal claims in this regard is harmful to embrace as well as not ideal to execute. This is what creates the very mixed signals that unchurched people experience throughout the world. On one hand, Jesus is portrayed with open arms and unconditional love and mercy, on another hand, the teaching of sin and depravity is such that the wicked truly are disposable in this view. Hence, the whole idea that an eternal hell exists.
Repentance is considered a given, because in such a view, people are anything but interested in living a good and righteous life apart from God’s intervention. Is this valid? Now, to one that has been taught this from a very young age just imagine the factors that serve as a confirmation loop for this idea that people are tarnished with a sin disease. People everywhere throughout history have been warring over differences about what authority or sets of authorities one must answer to. It is very tribal. Very, unsympathetic.
To a level I can agree that human beings are very selfish, very territorial, racist, unforgiving, ignorant, afraid, and downright stupid. I just wonder if it may not have more to do with a thirst for tribal and political dominance? I just wonder if disease, suffering, famine, and utter desperation isn’t something that functions as an instigator for humans to do some rather unthinkable and unspeakable acts?
So it is that my challenge for the Christian status quo is to consider whether there is more at play? Perhaps a sinful nature is too basic, too broad brush, too condemning of those who simply think about and view reality differently. This divide between the righteous and the wicked is going to backfire and here is my prediction, this mentality will dampen as varying cultures enjoy more exposure to one another. The human elements that are at play within all religions will have to continually be brought into the light of acknowledgement.
1 Samuel 15:23
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.
Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”