Worst things about American Christianity?

Published 09 May 2013
AP

Stephen Mattson is an American Christian but that doesn't mean he wears rose-tinted glasses when it comes to American Christianity. Writing for Red Letter Christians, he outlines six things in particular that bother him.

The first is infighting. Instead of unifying believers, he believes Christ has become a "symbol of discontentment and divisiveness" and that Christians are misusing social media to attack those who think differently from them.

"Theologians publicly humiliate each other, pastors hatefully condemn those they disagree with, denominations split over minor differences, Facebook is used as a platform to spread hurtful comments and derogatory memes, Twitter accounts are used as vicious tools of attacks, and people spew degrading opinions and gossip—often without provocation," he writes.

Next, he takes issue with "unfair and inaccurate associations", saying American Christians like to judge others based on the "flimsiest" of associations in order to fulfil their "superficial stereotypes".

"Therefore, someone who likes Rob Bell must be a 'Liberal Universalist', while someone who admires John Piper must be a 'Calvinist'," he writes.

The negative perceptions of Christian groups are only reinforced through campaigns, lobbying and public comments, making it "harder to break down preconceived stereotypes that our popular culture and media continue to associate with Jesus".

The American church is also not immune to the influence of today's culture of celebrity and speed, he believes.

"We ignore meaningful content if it's boring ... We sacrifice contentment, care and thoughtfulness in order to quench our insatiable desire for social interaction and cheap entertainment."

Other sources of discontent for Mattson are the sense of being "privileged", and the price tag attached to Christian resources.  

"The best worship, pastors, teachers, ideas, inspiration and resources should not be reserved for only those who can afford to pay for the latest albums and books, buy tickets to conferences, pay tuition for Seminary, or submit a fee for retreats—you get the picture," he says.

"As Christians, we need to be intentional about fighting our cultural habit of commercializing everything, and be willing to generously offer our gifts and resources freely to everyone—with no strings (or charges) attached."

His last gripe is with what he perceives as an obsession with power.  

"Control and influence is valued above all else, and Christianity's success is measured by research, statistics, attendance and the success of church-supported laws at the state and federal level. Success is hardly gauged by the fruits of the Spirit or by how well we're following Christ's example," he writes.

See the article in full at: http://www.redletterchristians.org/the-6-worst-things-about-american-christianity/

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