Why so much fear about Christianity?

The tenets of the faith are to love God and love your neighbor. One the surface their is nothing there to hate, but we all see Christianity is coming under further scrutiny. Anger is on the opposite side of the coin of fear. So what are the reasons you hear that people have a negative view of the faith?

Christianity also calls people to live according to certain moral guidelines that - in the view of some - limit personal freedom.

As sinners, we want to do what we want to do when we want to do it, and we take issue with anyone who stands in our way of getting what we want.

The duplicity of so many Christians - they say one thing, and do the opposite.
Such duplicity does not inspire trust for Christianity in non-Christians.

I don’t think that’s the primary reason. But it sure doesn’t help any.

I was thinking along the same lines, Lucy. We’re supposed to be teaching the love of Christ but for many years people who didn’t “line up” with Christian ethics or views were shown anger or hatred. While we should not accept behaviors and lifestyles within the Church we also need to reach out to all with the love that Christ showed all.

Ultimately the devil is behind it. When I was an atheist, I used to be quite cynical about Christianity. I rarely even thought about the other religions, but I was full of scorn for Christian teachings and history (or what I thought was it’s history).

With hindsight, I had no reason to think that way. Christ and Christians hadn’t done me any harm, so where did the anger come from? It almost bubbled up at times.

Granted there might be some people who have genuine reason to detest the church eg. victims of priestly paedophile, but the fact is that most of those who want nothing to do with Christianity or the Church have never suffered at the hands of either. In my own case, I’d suffered at the hands of my father, so I was justified in feeling angry about him. But he wasn’t Christian, so where did this other anger come from?

There’s a spiritual war on. And we forget it, or don’t think its real, so we look for humanistic explanations most of the time.

I think the same argument applies to a lot of hatred of the Catholic Church. The devil is behind it.

Salvation comes through Christ and the Church, so he’s going to do everything he can to get people to despise both. While they’re in that state, they belong to him. And he’ll do what he can to keep them that way, until the day they die. Then it’s too late.

I’ve written before that the night my father died, he appeared in my room. I wrote a narrative, but I didn’t put it all in. One of the things he said was “I’ve been deceived!” And that’s precisely the state the world is in.

1 John 5:19 NIV

We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

Because they confuse Christianity with a system or a philosophy of ethics. Ultimately, Christianity is not about that. There are ethical principles that flow from the reality that Christianity reflects, however, it is an indicative. To the degree that the faith is judged by the actions of its members, this is misguided. Although an individual can be judged by his fruits as to whether he believes and holds fast to the faith; the fruits cannot be confused with the roots.

If someone doesn’t acknowledge that Jesus suffered, died and rose on the third day, then their observations about the behavior of those who do believe that are largely irrelevant.

I think the answer lies in our often rebellious nature. With Christianity, there is the promise of heaven, but also the threat of hell. People do not like to be threatened (at least I don’t), so many of us shrink from this negative aspect of the faith. But there are others who seem to dwell almost exclusively on the threat of hell, and many are clearly put off by this attitude. Even when the hell-mongers approach with the best of intentions, it still often seems like they are more interested in controlling another’s behavior rather than ensuring their salvation. This is why I also think it is more productive to emphasize God’s love and mercy, without, of course, denying his justice. For me, the positive aspects of the Faith are more attractive than the negative.

A simple answer is Truth.

A truth that is derived by relativism or by ones own interpretation of truth, attacks the Christian Truth. Because a truth that derives from relativism finds itself in direct conflict and contradiction to the Christian Truth of Jesus Christ.

The fear derived from secularism, political views, relativism and non-Christian religions is a fear of Truth that exposes them in the light, especially when sin is involved for example; The secular social view of gay lifestyle is a contradiction to pro-creation to life, political views on abortion, euthanasia, relativism of accepting a lie for a truth, and non-Christian religions who hold created things to be divinized.

Truth of Christ exposes all of these to the light of what they really and truly are. Thus fear becomes their motivating factor to attack or discredit the Catholic Church or Christianity in many diverse ways to justify their self truth.

St. Paul is a good example of this, when he is called Saul. Saul had the both the political and religious approval to persecute Christians. Why? because Christianity exposed the Truth of Moses and the prophets who for shadowed Jesus and pre-announced Jesus coming to fulfill God’s covenant in the natural law in Jesus Christ. Saul feared the miracles followed by divine signs and wonders by Christian witnesses which opened up the flood gates of many Jews and Gentiles converting to “The Way” of the Christians.

The Truth of Christianity threatens any and all foundations made by man that is influenced by evil powers and principalities.

Christianity does not battle against flesh and blood. That is why Christianity has and will outlive all man made institutions. The man made institutions and religions fear and battle against the flesh and blood of Christianity’s members. That is why since the resurrection, the Catholic Church has countless Christian martyrs and Saints who give witness and testimony suffered with their blood and flesh against the evil power and principalities that has infected man’s institutions.

Christianity is True Love =God who exposes Satan’s works and influences over man. Fear then, is of the devil not of God.

Truth suffers for the sake of the lack of truth. When Truth brings the light and exposes the darkness for all to see. Darkness fears the light, and darkness scatters when the light (Truth) is revealed.

I’ll third this. Hypocrisy is usually close to the top of the list with most of the non-religious/atheist/anti-theist people I’ve ever talked to about the subject.

Would these same folks reject to be taught a course in advanced mathematics simply because he could not prove a mathematical theorem so difficult that most mathematicians in the world could not solve it?

Would they argue against Usain Bolt’s world record in the 100 meters simply because all the other runners could not achieve his result?

Would they deny the brilliance of a scientist or an author just because he or she had not won a Nobel price for science or literature?

:nope:

Some Christians are hypocrites, but not all and not even most. Others are outstanding representatives…but atheists hold Christians as a group to a higher standard than they would the members of a group in any other field of endeavor and they mockingly measure the fruit of our faith based upon the poorest examples rather than the best.

Which is why we never hear talk of non-believers rejecting Christianity because of its best adherents, do we?

Mother Teresa? Billy Graham?

Religion is simply not comparable to mundane pursuits.
This is the one thing many religious people refuse to acknowledge.

And no, it is not the case that atheists “mockingly measure the fruit of your faith based upon the poorest examples rather than the best.”

The Christians that any non-Christian will likely have to deal with, in day to day life, is not the Pope, not the saints. It’s the average, perhaps not-so advanced Christian.
It is the day to day interactions that matter.

You can tell non-Christians all about the super advanced practitioners of your faith, but if they are so advanced that they never or rarely actually interact with the ordinary non-Christians – what use are those advanced practitioners to the non-Christians?

Telling the non-Christians that there are really advanced saints in Christianity is like saying that you have hidden somewhere a big case full of gold, it’s just that you can’t or won’t show it.

Aparently you are not familiar with atheist criticism of Mother Theresa and some of the popes.

Quite the opposite. We all acknowledged that Religion is something beyond mundane pursuits. However, since there is noting really comparable to it in our sphere of existence, we’re forced to rely on lesser pursuits for analogy.

And no, it is not the case that atheists “mockingly measure the fruit of your faith based upon the poorest examples rather than the best.”

Tell that to everyone who denounces a religion because someone who was a part of that religion didn’t live up to the expectations and demands of that religion. (i.e. - everyone who denounces the Church because a handful of priests have failed to live up to Her moral code; or those who attack the Church for the actions of a small number of Crusaders. These being just the first two examples of such judgments that come to mind.)

The Christians that any non-Christian will likely have to deal with, in day to day life, is not the Pope, not the saints. It’s the average, perhaps not-so advanced Christian.
It is the day to day interactions that matter.

You can tell non-Christians all about the super advanced practitioners of your faith, but if they are so advanced that they never or rarely actually interact with the ordinary non-Christians – what use are those advanced practitioners to the non-Christians?

I don’t see where you’re getting this from. The most “advanced” practitioners of the faith, as you put it, are generally those who are out there interacting with people the most. Missionaries, those who care for the sick and dying, those who care for the orphaned and the abandoned, those who bring aide to war torn and poverty stricken countries; these are the most advanced practitioners of the faith. The Pope is in most cases a very advanced practitioner of the faith, sure, and he generally does do what he can to interact with as many people as he can (just look at Pope Francis for evidence of this). He is, however, limited in this ability by the fact that he has a multi-billion member Church to care for.

The day to day interactions with other Christians are sorely lacking many times in our society, as many Christians are poor examples of Christian living; it is a grave scandal which should be corrected. It does not, however, make the claims are Christianity any less true.

Telling the non-Christians that there are really advanced saints in Christianity is like saying that you have hidden somewhere a big case full of gold, it’s just that you can’t or won’t show it.

Except for that we do laud it about. We show the Saints to anyone willing to see them. We record their lives and the examples they gave us for -everyone-, Christian and non-Christian alike; we honor them throughout the year, and even ask them to pray for us and others. In Catholicism, the “advanced” practitioners are more like bars of gold, set atop a table and offered for free to anyone willing to reach out and take hold of them.

Aparently you are not familiar with atheist criticism of Mother Theresa and some of the popes.

I’m not familiar with any valid criticism of Mother Theresa, but as for the popes, there isn’t a Catholic alive who would argue that every pope has been an ideal practitioner of the faith. There have been several popes who were outright scoundrels. Again, however, this only goes to support the point that people judge Christianity on its worst practitioners, not its best.

The question wasn’t whether its rational or not, the question was simply why people have negative views of the faith. One of those reasons is just that a significant number of people have bad opinions of Christianity simply because they find many of the devout and out-spoken Christians they know personally to be rather unpleasant or they’ve had bad experiences in a Christian community.

If Joe Hypocritical Christian is the most visible practicing Christian someone knows personally and none of the other Christians ever seem to stand up to Joe or present a better visible example, then no matter how many Pope Francises or Mother Theresas there are in the world, Joe’s example and the seeming tacit approval of his immediate Christian community carries more psychological weight. Boots on the ground, every day religious practice is what counts for most people, not so much the important people who are doing cool things far away or the stuff that’s written in a book. And it’s not limited just to religion. I’ve met people who think scientists are just the absolute worst because the only scientists they’ve ever met were arrogant jerks, so they’re biased about any information that comes from a scientist. People are just weird that way. It’s better just to be an accessible good example yourself than to try to convince people to disregard the accessible bad examples.

Personally, the five best and five worst people I’ve ever met personally are all fairly devout Catholics. I can imagine I might have a very different opinion about Catholicism now if I’d only met the five worst ones and never met the five best ones.

These are not relevant analogies. The antipathy towards hypocrisy (pretence, q.v. Mt 23:28) is a reaction against the difference between what people (seem to) proclaim and what they (seem to) do. Better analogies would be whether people will vote for a politician who campaigns against corruption and then is discovered to be taking bribes, or whether they will buy a product which claims to be locally made but is then revealed to be merely assembled from foreign-made parts. In both cases, the same reaction against the pretence comes into force.

Some Christians are hypocrites, but not all and not even most.

Really? Where do you get your figures from?

I have no idea how many of us are guilty of this particular failing, nor how one could demonstrate the validity of a particular numeric claim, not least because concealment is one of the basic characteristics of hypocrisy.

atheists hold Christians as a group to a higher standard

As they should. Since Christianity claims to be about making people better (Col 3:8-10 et pl. al.), it is entirely appropriate for those claims to be critiqued, and so anti-religious people are performing quality control for Christianity when they do this.

Agreed, especially when the hypocrites are media figures.

Since the church sets out to make people better, it has to face the fact that people can reasonably expect it to be better and can object when it fails to be so. One of the interesting figures which came out during the Catholic priests’ sex abuse scandal (and please don’t anyone derail this discussion into claims about how many things others did wrong, too) was that the rate of sexual abuse was higher in US high schools than in US Catholic churches. People were still more upset with the priests because they had expected more from them, and were thus more disappointed.

Granted, but that does not affect the truth claims of Christianity itself. If your local priest is a dirty rotten scoundrel, hypocritical in every way, etc. it does not mean Christ did not rise from the dead, nor does it mean that the demands placed on the non-Christian to repent and believe the gospel is somehow null and void because some Christians don’t follow what they profess.

I would submit that the antipathy many non-Christians feel toward Christianity is based on those demands, rather than on the hypocrisy of Christians. After all, is the atheist disuaded from atheism because there are hypocritical atheists? Or the Buddhist because there are hypocritical Buddhists?

As recently as the nineteenth century, the Church was instrumental in such socialist concerns as the development of public hospitals and public schooling, the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, workers’ rights, bringing everyone the right to vote, etc. Even those outside the Church had to admit that it was a great benefit to society.

Now, gay men no longer risk being hanged, and women are allowed to go to university, but outspoken conservative elements in the Church denounce the former as sinners and refuse to treat the latter the same as men, materially contributing to the continued prejudice against both. While there are theological arguments in some Christian’s minds for such positions, those arguments appear to those outside the Church as “We don’t think that these people should have the same rights as others because our book says that they are bad”.

In other words, the apparent moral high-ground has shifted, and the socialist institution which defended the oppressed is now perceived as being aligned with the oppressors.

Charity, by the way, is not going to fix that. The only real solution is for the Church to convince the rest of the population that they are genuinely working for others’ good, which no appeal to the Bible, to Tradition, or to any other form of revelation will achieve.

While it does not affect their ontological status, it does affect their cogency: if Christianity claims to make people good, and Christians are not reliably good, then non-Christians have reasonable cause to doubt Christianity’s other claims.

I would submit that the antipathy many non-Christians feel toward Christianity is based on those demands

I am friends with and work with lots of non-Christians, but I have yet to meet a non-Christian who actually cares about Christianity’s demands for them to repent and believe. I certainly never cared.

If they did care, after all, they would repent.

There is a widespread misconception in Christianity that “the world” sees the Church as virtuous and upright, and a threat to their own licentiousness. This is not the case.

After all, is the atheist disuaded from atheism because there are hypocritical atheists? Or the Buddhist because there are hypocritical Buddhists?

Atheism and Buddhism don’t (generally) claim to make people better, and so an atheist’s or Buddhist’s financial or marital hypocrisy is not transgression of their ideological claims and thus a reflection on their ideology: it is only a reflection on their character.

What many monotheists seem to fail to realize or acknowledge is that as monotheists, they have special obligations towards others.

Claiming that God exists, claiming to know the truth about God, but then behaving as if He didn’t exist is not righteous behavior, and it is rightly criticized.

*For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
*Rom. 2:24

The moment a person claims to know the truth about God, or to have God on their side, is the moment that this person’s status changes from being just another human, to being a representative of God. And this is not something to take lightly.

There are all kinds of people out there claiming all kinds of things about God, many of them claiming to be the only ones who have the right or full knowledge of God.

So how is someone who is not yet any kind of theist, to decide which one of those people to listen to?

It looks like you actually expect that all those atheists, pagans, and other non-Christians, whom you consider evil, stupid, and all in all, the scum of the earth,
should be more Christian than the Christians.

And the Muslims expect that all those atheists, pagans, and other non-Muslims, whom Muslims consider evil, stupid, and all in all, the scum of the earth,
should be more Muslim than the Muslims.

And the monotheistic Hindus expect that all those atheists, pagans, and other non-monotheistic Hindus, whom monotheistic Hindus consider evil, stupid, and all in all, the scum of the earth,
should be more monotheistic Hindus than the monotheistic Hindus.

Because this is what it comes down to.

On the one hand, monotheists of various denominations like to profess absolute religious superiority.
But when someone points out their poor adherence to their respective monotheism, they want the secular law (which they otherwise so despise) to protect them.

It doesn’t work like that.

Has it ever occur to you that many of those whom you stigmatize as “atheists” might actually be God’s tools for the correction of theists?

After all, is the atheist disuaded from atheism because there are hypocritical atheists? Or the Buddhist because there are hypocritical Buddhists?

Sometimes, yes.

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