Why I get concerned about articles like “The Myth of the Hateful Christian”

Last night I came across a very well written article by John Dickson exploring “The Myth of the Hateful Christian“. John is (almost always) well reasoned and written on a wide range of issues surrounding the Evangelical Christian Context in Australia, and this article is no exception.

I had posted this article on my Facebook feed with the following, surface level analysis:

I read this article by John Dickson tonight. I think he may have captured a large part of where the problem may come from; but I wonder – to what extent is the Christian church, when in argument with secular society, responsible for consistently re-establishing the framework of grace – each and every time we begin a conversation.

John touches on this at the end of his article when he writes “[a]s Australia secularises, perhaps there will be less and less of a tradition of grace. Ethical disagreement may increasingly be equated with judgment and bigotry. Christians need to think through the implications of this for how we communicate in public.”

But surely as we analyse this, we also need to ask the question of how /will/ we communicate, and in what way does our message need to be nuanced to reflect the culture and society we are actually speaking to.

I wasn’t flooded with likes or shares, but as I looked at the shares and subsequent on-shares over the last 12 hours or so, I’ve become concerned about the way that articles like this are used.

My hypothesis is this – a number of Christians use articles, such as this, to justify and then excuse why the secular world takes offence at the position they hold on moral and ethical issues.

Whether it be issues such as Same Sex Marriage, ordination of practicing Homosexuals, Euthanasia, Abortion, the Role of Women in the church – in each case, the church often has quite distinct, counter-cultural views of how these individual “moral” and “ethical” topics play out within the life of the church, and the world. We are often very quick to state our view as the “Christian” view because “God says it in the Bible” – but very slow to shape and mould our argument to win the hearts of those we are speaking to; and then when people react negatively to our arguments blame those that listen for our failure to communicate.

While it may be true that we are not speaking to a culture as steeped in grace as we once were – if anything the fault should be ours for becoming lazy and complacent about the argument we place forward and assuming that our listeners will assume grace.

It is true – the Church must remain salt and light in the world. We, as Christians, believe that belief in Jesus is necessary for salvation and the chance to live life to its fullest. Now we just need to learn how to share that, as a Church, with the world we live in.

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