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message that not only are Christians evil and murderers but also that science has proven faith in Jesus Christ to be outdated!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. We should seize this for the opportunity it is… it is another chance to encounter people talking about faith in our culture. 


    Talk about this story, then share your own faith story. 

  5. I agree, I plan on seeing this movie this weekend. Most movies have an element of something that is opposite to what we believe. Its all about balance. Oh and I think his name is Dan Brown not Dale Brown.

  6. Raising a ruckus only gives the movie free publicity.

    How long would "The Last Temtation of Christ" lasted in theaters w/o  all the free publicity the church gave it?

  7. I don’t know about Angels and Demons, but with the Code, many people believed it was true. So, I think we shouldn’t treat Brown just as an airport novelist.

    We should be very carefoul about his books.

  8. It’s exactly in the world of popular culture, in this case described as airport novels, that the battle for hearts and minds is so often conducted. As Christians we are called to respond when elements of the faith or even church tradition are being mocked and twisted untruthfully. Not to respond how and when we are able, is simply being timid rather than living fully in the spirit of courage we are blessed with. The crucial thing as always, is to respond in love and grace.

    I say leverage as much publicity as possible, let the producers make their money God doesn’t need it! As Christians, we need to learn to recognise this kind of so called entertainment as opportunity for constructive witness and maximise it to the fullest. As long as we faithfully follow the example we’ve been given it’s a win situation!

    Having said all that, since I haven’t seen it yet I don’t know if Angels is as poor and twisted a film as the Code was…we’ll see.

  9. I don’t believe God needs our help in defending His kingdom. So responding to mocking may not be necessarily mandatory. However, as BELIEVERS it’s time to step up to the plate and show people what a BELIEVER is truly called to do. And that’s not fight a battle that isn’t ours, nor go to bat with organizations because they choose to entertain thier audiences in a certain way. No matter how hard we fight, the world will have thier view of us until we SHOW them the truth. Not fight about it or even protest about it.  SHOW them what Jesus says we are and what we (believe) we are. SHOW them the miracles in Jesus name. SHOW them the love that God has shown us through Jesus. It’s time to stop fighting for Christianity and time to just be… THAT.

  10. "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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