Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Is Bad Christianity Automatically Not Christianity?

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on October 18, 2009

Here is an interesting story from the Associated Press about a movement of several churches in Nigeria who are accusing little children of witchcraft: African Children Denounced As “Witches” By Christian Pastors.

The article interested me, because I have noticed the following heavily-relied-upon strategy of Christians whenever you point to the negative results of their belief system: they reply with, “Well, that person isn’t a true Christian,” or, “Well, that’s not what I think the Bible teaches.” It is a convenient rhetorical strategy, since it allows Christians to avoid and/or deny all negative responsibility for their religion’s oppressive and destructive beliefs and practices.

On the flip side, it also means that no “real” Christian or Christianity exist. This video does a good job of illustrating this:

Note, in the above example from the article, that the Bible does say “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” The problem then becomes, how do you know who is a witch in need of killing? God tells you or shows you the signs, right? So why are so many people upset about what these pastors and believers are doing? If morals stem directly from God’s Word, then why can we not follow them to the letter without atrocities happening? If a kid is a witch, he should be killed, right? I can’t see how God would object to Christians following the message of His Holy Word. Maybe I’m missing something though…

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5 Responses to “Is Bad Christianity Automatically Not Christianity?”

  1. Paulo said

    Well, first of all, I’m pretty sure most Christians (concerning the case of the Nigerian witch-killing pastors) would say they don’t follow the Old Testament anymore, they follow the New Testament (you know: love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, take the speck first out of your own eye, forgiveness, blah blah blah…). And even then, if someone who genuinely seems to be a Christian does anything that isn’t Christ-like, they will say “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”

    Considering that only the Lord can really see “what’s in your heart,” I would conclude that out of all the people claiming to be Christians, only God would know who is a “real” Christian or not. But you can be sure that no Christians think the Crusades and witch burnings and stuff were committed by real Christians.

  2. Charity said

    “The article interested me, because I have noticed the following heavily-relied-upon strategy of Christians whenever you point to the negative results of their belief system: they reply with, “Well, that person isn’t a true Christian,” or, “Well, that’s not what I think the Bible teaches.” It is a convenient rhetorical strategy, since it allows Christians to avoid and/or deny all negative responsibility for their religion’s oppressive and destructive beliefs and practices.”
    ~Instructor

    “But you can be sure that no Christians think the Crusades and witch burnings and stuff were committed by real Christians.”
    ~Paulo

    I don’t agree. I think many Christians do think even bad Christians are still “real” Christians as long as they are true believers. Those Crusaders and witch burners were just really misguided believers.

    Also interesting, my parents’ take: “As long as you were truly saved, even if as a child, then you will always be a Christian. Even if you stop believing.” What? I’m always gonna be a Christian–I’m locked in and my eternal soul is secure? Even if I do some really bad things?

    • Paulo said

      “I think many Christians do think even bad Christians are still “real” Christians as long as they are true believers. Those Crusaders and witch burners were just really misguided believers.”

      Scary, isn’t it?

      On a side note, oddly enough my parents’ denomination didn’t believe in “once saved always saved.” They used some verse about “you can know a good tree by its fruit” and that a true Christian will “produce good fruit.” They definitely believed in the possibility of someone “backsliding” and ultimately becoming an “apostate” (losing one’s salvation by willfully rejecting it). However, even an apostate could repent if they wanted to and still make it to heaven. Now, at which point one actually lost their salvation, Lord knows…

      • Charity said

        Yes, it’s scary.

        My parents do think if you backslide and become an apostate it’s possible you were never truly saved to begin with. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Isn’t it possible to stop believing something is true based on our experience and evidence that demonstrates otherwise? Why is religious belief different? For some people it’s a special belief that can’t change, no matter what. In my situation, I think my parents are unsure what to make of me. They don’t want to think of me as going to hell. I’m in their prayers.

  3. JN said

    Most people would probably conclude that these people aren’t really witches. I think these particular witch hunts may be a result of the popularization of a prosperity gospel that relies on the continual outpouring of the blessings of God (i.e. cash-money) as a sign of faithfulness. When these blessings don’t miraculously manifest themselves, believers have to start looking for answers. It’s not too difficult to imagine how traditional animistic beliefs would be called upon, and a few ‘witches’ killed as a potential solution.

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