I’ve started writing a book about Changing the Face of Christianity. I’ll post excerpts here as I go in order to get your feedback before the book is published.
When I talk with various groups about Christianity and reversing negative Christian stereotypes, I always begin by listening. I like to learn what my audience thinks.
In other words, before telling people what I’ve discovered about the Christian stereotype, I’m very interested in finding out what their perceptions are of Christianity.
As I mentioned earlier, everyone has their own view. So even my own personal views of Christianity don’t paint a perfect picture of what we’re like. You also have an image in your mind about Christians.
So I ask the question, “What do you think of when you hear the word Christian?” In my most recent talk to a Christian audience, here are some of the responses:
These were Christians commenting about Christians. You would reasonably expect a heavily positive bias. But every time I’ve asked this question, I have received a mixture of positive and negative perceptions. I find that fascinating!
What it tells me is that as Christians, we ARE willing to look ourselves in the mirror and tell the truth. We aren’t completely blind to the “ugly” side of our faith. We aren’t so biased that we only focus on the happy, positive, “glass half full” image. And this is so encouraging because we can’t change what we aren’t willing to first acknowledge.
[…this chapter will be continued in the next post…]
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John Sanders says
It depends greatly on how, where, and when it is presented and used. If a person I do not know identifies themselves as Christian in a church, christian event, or other areas where you would expect to find a christian I can accept that as positive and a honest testimony. However if I am considering a financial or business purchase and a person identifies themselves as christian because of some telltale on my part, I instantly grab my wallet and begin to back away. This is not a positive action based on my belief that they are using my faith in Christ to con me into falsely trusting them and give greater credence to their sales pitch. When reading online or news accounts I find the word Christian to be negative. This is based on the perception of the writer. Most are not descriminating in the use of the label of christianity. It is applied to most of the people of the U.S.A , people who don’t follow or know God or Christ. It is applied as a class of people, rather than to believers and disciples of Christ. Most conservatives identify as christians even if they have not set foot in a church, read the Bible, or worshipped the Lord God and his Christ and do not know or accept most of the teaching of the Lord. They use the title to promote their political views, their own ethics, and justify their own judgements and actions of what is right and acceptable. This is not to say “liberals: are following the Christ, they also promote their own beliefs and ethics based on their own ethos of right and wrong. But they do not use a wolfs fleece to fool the people by proclaiming Christian as most Conservatives. So once again the label Christian is found to be negative. It is unfortunate that the term Christian is judged , even among true believers, negatively based on those who abuse the name Christian.
Ron Neeley says
As Brad points out, we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. There has always been, & always will be Christian stereotypes; many of them from the non-believing “world” we must be in, but not part of. As Christians, we can never compromise the Truth, & as He taught us, we will be hated because of His name. However, many of the stereotypes must be acknowledged; as the excerpt points out, we must look in the mirror & examine ourselves to see if we are perpetuating them. In Scripture, the Apostle Paul gives us many examples (1 Corinthians 9:20-23, 10:33 – – Romans 14:1-2, 15:1-2) of how to conduct our lives so that we don’t come across as, “holier than thou, I don’t EVER associate with non-Christians, you non-believers are filthy sinners, etc., etc., etc.” An excerpt from the ‘Hypocritical’ section of the “Reversing Negative Christian Stereotypes” Bible Study offered by Changing the Face of Christianity points this out, “Every Christian is guilty of living a sinful life because no one is capable of escaping sin on our own. When we speak or live in a way that hides our sins, or we act as if we do not struggle with any sins, we start down a road of hypocrisy. We begin to live as if we are above those who do not go to church…..” As Christians, we MUST remember people are supposed to see Jesus in our lives; Paul sums this up very neatly in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “…we are ambassadors for Christ.” We represent Him, & with guidance, direction, instruction, & counseling from the Holy Spirit should live our lives to minimize the negative stereotypes that all too often, we bring on ourselves.