I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” C. S. Lewis
LIKE most of my friends I was born and baptized as a Christian. My basic education in religion was about Christianity, about Jesus Christ as the “Son of God” our “Savior who died for our sins.”
My education further brought me to Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, among other primitive religions.
Then came Gandhi, a Hindu, allegedly saying that he loved Jesus but not the Christians. There were Christians who parried Gandhi by saying they loved the famous Indian pacifist “but not Hinduism”. A tit for a tat.
But the most earthshaking discovery I consider as the “shockers of all shockers” are reportedly the myths about my religion.
Do we agree or believe the following myths?
- Christians force their morality on others.
-According to this myth, Christians are judgmental and act as societys moral watchdogs. And they try to censor everything from the arts to sex education.
- Christians suppress women.
-According to this myth, the church through the ages has stifled the voice and gifts of women and has treated women as second-class beings.
- Christians caused the ecological crisis.
-According to this myth, the Christian religion is alienated from the natural world. The Bible says to subdue the earth, and Western Christian culture took that as a license to exploit nature.
- Christians are anti-scientific.
-According to this myth, the church has historically suppressed learning in general and scientific inquiry in particular. Christians even promote pseudoscience by trying to force science to fit a literal interpretation of the Bible.
- Christians have done terrible things in the name of Christ.
-This myth cited the wrongs that have been done in the name of Christianityeverything from the Crusades to televangelist scandals.
- Christian missionaries destroy native cultures.
-According to this myth, Christian missionaries force indigenous peoples to give up their unique culture. Christians dont respect the spiritual value in native customs and religions.
- Christians are arrogant.
-According to this myth, all religions teach basically the same thing, but Christians insist their religion is the only one thats right. They arrogantly claim that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. That may be true for Christians, but it isnt true for everybody.
Freelance writers Dale and Sandy Larsen of Duluth, Minnesota, ask if Christianity is defensible amid these myths.
Isnt it a backward religion based on primitive ideas that have no place in todays world? Isnt the Bible hopelessly out of date? And yet Christians insist on forcing their morality on other people! they intone.
And worst of all, isnt Christianity the cause of so much pain and suffering in the worldfrom destroying native cultures to suppressing women to causing the ecological crisis?
How can anyone take seriously a religion that is promoted by sleazy televangelists and that once sponsored the Crusade?
These are honest questions that deserve straightforward answers. Separating the beliefs and actions of some Christians from our Christianity can be difficult. We need to go below the surface, see how these problems developed historically and go back to the Bible for the full story.
They believe that there is an element of truth in the above-mentioned myths.
Some Christians are arrogant. Some Christians have made their faith into an exclusive club. But Gods forgiveness always reaches out to be inclusive, touching everyone who acknowledges need and responds in faith to his mercy, they conclude. Anyone who has been hurt by Christians arrogance will need to summon extra courage and open-mindedness in order to take another serious look at Christianity.
We must examine our heart. Are we willing not only to look at Christian faith but to find it true and begin to live by it?
Lets examine the heart of Christian belief.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)