Engaging Culture

Why Christians Lose Credibility with the Non-Believing Culture

My friend Jonathan Bock pointed out an interesting paradox this week.  A few days ago, a Christian ministry organization sent out an email “warning” about the upcoming movie “Angels and Demons” that said:  “A clear anti-Christian message that not only are Christians evil and murderers but also that science has proven faith in Jesus Christ to be outdated! In the end, it is the highest echelon of the Catholic Church who is the villain!” But the next day, the official Vatican newspaper review of Angels & Demons stated, “Two hours of harmless entertainment, which hardly affects the genius and mystery of Christianity.”

In our efforts at fundraising, or getting noticed, too many Christian organizations overstep, and make something out of very little.  As a result, the non-believing culture views it as hypocrisy.  The truth is, in my opinion, Dan Brown is a good airport novelist.  He’s a skilled novelist, but won’t be remembered as a serious writer. But he does know how to write thrillers that connect with people.  Another reviewer this week said that Brown simply uses the Vatican is a backdrop to the story, and hardly for a serious theological confrontation.  But – and probably without even seeing it – some ministries will trash it in an effort to raise money.

As Jon pointed out, there’s an old Irish saying, “when everyone tells you you’re drunk, you better sit down.”  I have no idea what that means, but it sounds like good advice.


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  1. Amen, preach it brother Phil!! 🙂

    If Christians are to make a difference in the world, they need to be on a united front, first and foremost. We need cross-denominational relations and some might even argue the breaking down of denominations, altogether.

    It is understandable for two people to have a difference in opinion about a movie. But when the movie has the Catholic Church as its backdrop, I’d let the Catholic Church handle the PR. I’m not suggesting we not help our fellow believers in times of trouble, but when many Protestants tend to poke at Catholicism to begin with, it’s tough to understand why they act like they are being persecuted when the ‘ridicule’ is aimed at a group of people they openly ridicule themselves.

    Although, on the opposite side of that coin, Director Ron Howard claimed the Vatican prohibited them from shooting on historical church landmark sites as a form of protest against the film. The Vatican denies having done any such thing and that Ron Howard was simply pulling a publicity stunt. So, the ‘hypocracy’ seems to swing both directions from the perspective of the general population.

  2. According to Kinnaman in his "Unchristian," here’s how the world sees us (in order) :

    Antihomosexual, judgmental, hypocritical, old-fashioned, too political, out of touch with reality, insensitive, boring, narrow-minded, confusing.

    Hmmm … I don’t remember Jesus being described like that … Shucks, do you suppose we might be missing the boat, ahh, … just a tiny bit?

    And we wonder why the world doesn’t flock to our holy huddles …

  3. I wish we could just keep a low profile when it doesn’t count (movie reviews), and a high profile when it does count (such as helping people, being accountable, etc.  It may be utterly cliche, but what WOULD Jesus do?

  4. "Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that Day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. " -Jesus

    From God’s standpoint: lots of people liking you could be a counter indicator of your success. We can improve our walk but must recognise the inevitability of suffering. Chinese believers embrace it and are greatly blessed with massive growth. Faithfulness and obedience is recognised by God regardless of the results we can-or can’t measure in this life. 

    Understanding the horror of sin is necessary for the idea of salvation to have any meaning-but it’s also inherently repulsive. This is a very complex marketing challenge unique to christianity. Starbucks and Nike are great-but they aren’t fighting against the forces of darkness or trying to be ambassadors for Christ. 

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