Summary: The world believes that Christan is exclusive and divides people.
The trouble with Christianity - Exclusivity
Over the next couple weeks we are going to examine some of the things that people see as being problems with Christianity. We are at a time when Christianity in general – all denominations wither old school and traditional or modern thinking house churches are lumped into one group dismissed.
But the picture is bigger than that. Religion in general is being restricted and controlled. The objection that the culture has with religion is the claim of exclusivity.
Our culture has a question for religion in general. How can your religion claim that you have the one true religion? How can any faith claim to be the one truth about God and the world we know?
That is a very real and valid question. It is a question that we cannot ignore or dismiss. This question is not being asked by just a few. It is huge. The book stores have shelves of responses to that question that come from lots of different religious backgrounds.
If you asked people what was the major barrier to peace in the world in the 1960’s what would the answer be? Would - political ideologies be a possibility. Communist and Capitalist viewpoints had the world on edge and nuclear weapons gave each side massive destructive power. …There was a cold war going on and on for decades.
-- Today, if people were asked about what is keeping the world from being at peace their answer would likely be religion. And more specifically, the exclusivity of religion as the source of separation and strife between people in our world.
We know from the news that people of different faiths are involved in wars based on religious ideology. There are even battles within differing extremes within a single religious faith category.
If you decide to search for evidence that our culture blames religion for the lack of peace in the world, watch the international news, read news articles on the internet, go to the book store and look through the religious and political section. I believe that there will be plenty of evidence presented.
I am going to step out on a limb and tell you that I agree that religion divides people, and families and nations.
Religion can create a short path to oppression and violence.
It documented in history that these things happen!
If you tell people that they are right in their belief and that they are saved by performing that truth…..that has to lead to a feeling of superiority over people that do not hold to the same truth.
Superiority leads to separation, people within a set of beliefs pull away from others which make them unfamiliar with each other. Then it is easier to believe the worst about people and to create negative stereo types about others in general.
Once these images exist as a common view in the minds of a particular religion, it is a just one small step to start passively ignoring outsiders, and it is not a big jump to where the group will actively oppress people with different views or faith backgrounds.
A simple illustration - how do republicans and democrats view, speak about and treat each other?
My point is that, at the least, people within a religion marginalize, discount, ignore people with different views.
In the middle we can dehumanize people, we can feel that they deserve being ignored or abused.
At the worst, religious differences lead to abuse, oppression and even extermination of different people. I will let you think of your own examples of that.
-- Once we realize that religion erodes peace, and separates people…..what can we do about it?
The passage of scripture offers a hint about two ways that people try to deal with that problem. The first two ways will not work. However, the passage clearly identifies one way that will work and that is where we are headed today.
John is writing about people that are teaching different truths. People that are trying to divide or change what the people have learned to be true about Jesus. Generally, John is telling the readers that the information being presented needs to be tested and not just accepted.
The outside teachers are trying to begin a separation or a change in thinking to this group. They are trying to weaken this group of believers. Trying to weaken this new religion.
-- Today there are plenty of authors and educators and groups of people secular and religious that want to weaken religion in general. Richard Dockens –“ the God delusion” comes to mind.
The secular view point in our culture insists that religion should go the way of the dinosaurs and just die off. That evolution and technology have upgraded what man needs and there is no purpose for a crutch that people call religion.