Editor's note: John S. Dickerson is author of the book “The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors that Will Crash the American Church ... and How to Prepare” and senior pastor of Cornerstone in Prescott, Arizona. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter @JohnSDickerson
By John S. Dickerson, Special to CNN
Last week a high-profile American writer and news personality asked me a painful question: “Hey pastor, can a Christian tweet hate?”
It was not a hypothetical question. He was asking because some of his 1.3 million Twitter followers claim to be “Christian,” and some of the meanest, most perverse hate-tweets he receives come from these self-proclaimed Christians.
We’ve all seen folks, Christian and otherwise, lose their cool in a Facebook face-off or in the comment section under a controversial news story. But as I scrolled through the “Christian” hate tweets to this news personality, I was baffled and ashamed by these so-called followers of Christ. One user describes himself not merely as Christian but as “sharing God’s message of Grace with everyone I encounter.” The messenger of Grace recently tweeted that he doesn’t merely hate this news personality, he despises and loathes him.
These are the moments when it’s embarrassing to be a Christian. I’m not embarrassed to believe the extravagant claims of Christianity: that Christ was born to a virgin, died for our sins, physically rose from the grave and is returning to rule the world. But I am embarrassed to be associated with some of the people who claim his name.
I have written in the past about the bad reputation that Christians have in America. Some argue that it comes from misrepresentation by the media. Others argue that “all who live godly will suffer persecution,” and that’s why we Christians have a poor reputation. Maybe there’s some truth to those claims, but we Christians have to acknowledge another reason why we are perceived as hateful: because many of our number are.
More and more, I see hateful Christians chalking up their disrepute to “persecution.” God tells us otherwise. In 1 Peter 4 we’re told, “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed. …” And that’s the truth; sometimes we are insulted for proclaiming the good news of salvation in Christ. But listen to what follows: “If you suffer, however, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.”
The Apostle Peter is more or less saying: If you suffer for sharing the good news of Christ, great, you’re blessed. But if you suffer just because you’re being a criminal or acting like an idiot, then don’t blame it on Christ.
Some 2,000 years ago, Peter knew so-called Christians would be criminals and “meddlers.” He knew some would claim, “Wow, I’m really suffering for Jesus,” when they are really just suffering for being jerks.
The word “meddler” means busybody: someone who inserts himself into matters that are not his own. Might this include some people involved in the Twitter, Facebook and “comments” showdowns of our day?
So yes, “all who live godly will suffer persecution.” But let’s not be jerks, get persecuted and then blame it on Christ. American Christianity, with its past position of cultural superiority, gave birth to some self-righteous and condescending so-called Christians. These folks may be culturally Christian, but they know little of Christ and his actual message of humility and repentance. I am convinced that, if Jesus Christ were here walking among us, he would have nothing to do with those who claim his name and consistently spew hate.
Theologians and academics will argue about that last sentence. Isn’t Jesus “a friend of sinners?” Yes. Doesn’t Jesus’ grace wash away the sins of those who trust in him? Yes. Wouldn’t that include the sin of "hate tweet"? Yes.
In seminaries and churches, we tend to engage in obscure questions about theology. For example, “Is it possible for someone to truly trust Christ and spend their entire life tweeting hate?”
Maybe so. But Jesus didn’t engage in such esoteric abstractions. He taught simple truth with clarity, authority and practicality. On controversial issues—“Are hate tweeters true Christians?”—I find myself drawn to the simple words of Scripture. Theologians will argue and debate, but God’s word is simple and clear.
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” (1 John 2:9,11)
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:9,10)
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
Jesus put it this way in Matthew 12:34-36: “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”
If we will give account for every careless word spoken, might we also give account for every careless comment typed or tweeted?
Christians aren’t the only ones hurling hateful blows on the Web. But we are the only ones who claim to follow the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. So let’s be nice.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John S. Dickerson.
Everyone needs to be nice, no matter what your Greed, race, color, political party, age, gender. IMHO
The whole point of belief blog is to come in here and be a but hole.
... as opposed to being an and-hole.
(sorry, couldn't resist)
I've seen enough articles targeted at christianity to realize that this website and its contributors are cowards. Not one "opinion" piece mentions Islam and atrocities committed in it's name. Why not? Because its edgy and cool to attack whatever hipsters aren't enamored with at the moment. CNN, at this point you're no better than Fox News.
Thank you for epitomizing the "Christian" hate this article espouses.
Joe, you might spend some time on learning the difference between its and it's. Proper use would make you appear to be somewhat smarter than you do now.
1 – I've seen articles on here by Imans condemning Muslim violence
2 – This article is written by a Christian pastor, about Christianity, for other Christians. There is no reason he would mention Islam or any other religion.
Congrats on memorizing the basics of grammar. I'm sure "it's" paying your bills.
Actually there is an excellent reason that CNN posts the type of articles that they do, they generate traffic and add revenue.
Atheists dont aggressively (if at all) attack Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.. Articles on those religions dont generate traffic.
Atheists spend the vast majority of their effort opposing Judeo/Christian people.. When an atheist says "I dont believe in God", everyone knows immediately who they are referring to.
Whydontyougramarnazis give it a rest and say something clever instead?
Says someone who can't spell "butt."
Generally, God referes to the Abrahamic one, yes.
However, most atheists lack a belief in any god.
Chad, you fvcking moron, this issue has been explained to you time and time again, but you're too stupid to understand simple facts. Atheists don't believe in any god, but they have the most to say about the god of their culture. Atheists who were raised and live in muslim countries talk the most about Allah, too.
It's not Islam that is the major threat to our freedoms. It is Christianity
Joey.....there have been lots of articles on Islam. But, don't let facts get in the way of a good rant
Oh, Chad, my Chad, why have you chosen to ignore me?
Infrequently, there is an article on Islam. Those articles are conspicuous by their lack of responses. What responses there are are oddly enough characterized by anit-judeo/Christian content.
There are rarely articles on Mohammed, as CNN doesnt want it's offices bombed.
When the term "God" is used, it is immediately understood to be referring to the God of Israel, most certainly not the object of Islamic worship.
Chad, you're having trouble with "its" and "it's" too, aren't you?
It's already been explained to you, Chad. As to why CNN does what they do, you contradict yourself, as if either of your assumptions might be true. LOL!! Are they pushing articles that get the most traffic or are they afwaid? Which is it? Does your christianity make you so supremely arrogant, or does christianity attract arrogant people like you?
How could I ignore you Planck epoch? You are the first period of time immediately "after" God created the universe.
Very important time period.. Immediately after the origin of the universe.
In physical cosmology, the Planck epoch (or Planck era) is the earliest period of time in the history of the universe, from zero to approximately 10−43 seconds (Planck time).
Always want to make it about somebody else's faults, eh Joe?
I frequently have problems with its it's to too a an etc...
fortunately Tom Tom the grammar police usually shows up to help me out.
There was no god "before" me, and if you knew me and acknowledged me, you would recognize that there is no such thing as "before" me.
"There are rarely articles on Mohammed, as CNN doesnt want it's offices bombed."
Do you have a source/citation for CNN's reasoning, or are you just perpetuating stereotypes, i.e. judgements?
"When the term 'God' is used, it is immediately understood to be referring to the God of Israel, most certainly not the object of Islamic worship."
True, when "God" is used most people, in the west, assume the Christian one. Usually people use Allah when referring to the god of Islam. What's your point?
@The Planck Epoch "There was no god "before" me, and if you knew me and acknowledged me, you would recognize that there is no such thing as "before" me."
=>Oh, I know Mr. Planck, there technically is no before as time came into existence at -0-.
But, you really have us on the edge of our seats here:
you had an origin
you had a discrete existence.
we know you didnt start because the universe created itself. (see first law of thermodynamics)
we know you that some non-natural causal agent must have been involved..
so, wont you tell us Mr Planck, who IS that non-natural causal agent? Please dont say something like "that's a stupid question, dont ask it".. We really want to know!!!
The RELIGION BS
Scholarly articles for non-natural causal agent
Exploring the natural foundations of religion – Barrett – Cited by 321
Spreading non-natural concepts: The role of intuitive … – Barrett – Cited by 162
Are children “intuitive theists”? Reasoning about …
Yes, Christians should be good. But those who call them out tend to be judgemental hypocrites, especially atheists who have no moral code by which anyone can hold them to measure.
...speaking of self-righteous, judgemental, sanctimonious blasphemers.
Christianity did not invent morality. I am an atheist with a strong moral code. It doesn't take a God to tell you not to murder, steal, lie etc. It is fairly obvious.
"Yes, Christians should be good. But those who call them out tend to be judgemental hypocrites"
Really? Wow, unbelievable.
Emile, there is more to being moral than not murdering or stealing. Atheists often condemn Christians for not following the Bible, but I'd like to see them do better. If I want to see if you are holding up your own morality, then how do I go about checking to make sure yoy're being consistent? It's so easy to condemn Christians, especially when you don't have to take a look in the mirror.
Atheists have moral codes. They are individual, not that of Iron Age sheep molesters. Now, go know yourself in a biblical manner
"If I want to see if you are holding up your own morality, then how do I go about checking to make sure yoy're being consistent? It's so easy to condemn Christians, especially when you don't have to take a look in the mirror."
Atheists aren't claiming that everyone should follow their specific morality code, or that theirs is the absolute correct one. The point of showing Christians their own short-commings is that they do claim that their code is the one and only True code. In other words, the are claiming moral authority, or at least to speak for a moral authority, and yet can not follow the code they espouse for everyone else, i.e. the whole plank in thine own eye, kind of thing.
Wars don't make you safe.Wars are violence,and violence begets violence says the Bible,so wars beget wars.So wars don't end wars,wars just produce more wars,and so make you less safe,not more safe.
What I don't get is how a pastor can go to seminary and study the bible deeply AND STILL BELIEVE IT! I have to believe you pastors know that you're getting away with living off of other people by feeding them a bunch of witch doctor BS. To demonstrate, let's say that I come to the church and tell the pastor that I'm hearing god and he says that I should kill my son to prove I love him. Would the pastor go, "Super cool, my brother... you're hearing God just like Abraham did... you need to get out there and start killing your children to make God happy..." Or, would he say, "Let me call you a psychologist." Christians don't believe this bible crap or else we'd all be dead by now.
It's a Master of Snake Oil (aka theology).
Dude, pastors don't get payed enough, the most honest of whom are barely scraping by. There's something called faith that you overlook. Seminary does destroy the faith of some, but they were possibly headed down that path anyway and thought they were going to learn some proof positive of God there. Some call faith a crutch, but I'd rather go through life with a crutch than go through it lame.
God in His way was testing Abraham to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his own son,God had no intention of letting Abraham do this,as the rest of the story shows a Ram was sacrificed.God already had decided to Sacrifice His Son Jesus,as the Bible says Sacrificed as the foundation of the world. God was revealing to Abraham,and to all,you love your son,and I love my Son,I'll Sacrifice my Son in all mankind's place,so the sacrificing of both animals and man will never happen again,as we all love our sons and daughters,the sons and daughters of all people everywhere.As John 3:16,says,God so loved the world,the world is all the people in the world.
angel, don't be absurd. Your bible is bullshit. Your book says god hates deceit yet he used deceit against abraham. Your childish book of rules contains contradictory advise on every topic so anyone can point to it to defend whatever control goal they hold at the moment. It is hypocrisy defined. Grow up.
HeavenSent – no disrespect but you're just an online entertainer, please come to blog everyday, we love reading your posts.
Speaking of entertainment. Is that an Islamic slur from another "Christian"?
Somebody new in my hood?
2,000 years of claiming they are the fountainhead of morality, and they don't even know they should be nice.
You misunderstand Christianity
Christians dont claim to be perfect, just forgiven.
Christians dont claim morality comes from them, rather that there is an objective standard of morality that the God of Israel has defined.
Christians don't even try to follow their own rules, much less be nice.
Christian morality is not objective at all. It regularly changes. The shift from the Old Testament rules is clear proof that there is no universality, that what you should be doing keeps changing. The morality of the early Christians is quite different from the morality of the Dark Ages Christians which is different from Rennaissance Christians which is different from Puritan morality which is different from . . . heck, if I got ten different branches of Christianity in a room, they could not agree on what you should be doing.
God's universal morality? Bullshit. It's situational.
"Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven"
Translation: "Many Christians don't considers themselves obligated to even try practicing the lessons of their savior."
"Christian morality is not objective at all. It regularly changes. The shift from the Old Testament rules is clear proof that there is no universality,
=>that's not true at all, what example do you have to support that claim?
I agree that Christians should not express hatred and should also work very hard on not internalizing it, but I am a bit wary of any advise given to Christians from CNN.
I am a bit wary of any advise coming from people who believe in imaginary friends.
The advice is from a pastor, not CNN.
I hate it when people udge me.
Actually, I kind of like being udged.
I got "udged" about a half hour ago Zingo...it wasn't half bad.
Jesus Christ's truth is resurrected to eternity. I am flying with Evil. I wonder how gas stations keep their rest-rooms so clean. I know from Moe Curly of the 3 stooges that nothing works.
You're going to get the good Doc into a lather again.
Hi Akira! (ab)
No, you need to figure out something to do with your life, because you sure are wasting it.
And god so loved the world he condemned to eternal torture anyone who never heard of or could not believe in an absurd story from long ago and/or far away. You don't get much nicer than that. Apparently they are just following god's example.
Not to worry for you. You don't have the excuse of having "never heard".
I'm so glad that I am still relatively young, that I will live to see a time when the nonreligious are the majority in this country. It is estimated that within ~20-25 years, the "religious nones" will outnumber the fairy tale believers, as the nonreligious are the fastest growing demographic in this country. One the nonreligious are the majority, education will be king, not mythology. Crime will go down, because nonreligious people time and again have shown themselves to be more compassionate that christians, since the nonreligious love all mankind, not just those that believe in their own fairy tales like christians. The nonreligious help their fellow man, instead of being hypocrites like christians who preach about jesus, then vote republican so they can tell someone "sorry buddy, should have had health insurance"....is that what your mythical jesus would have done? ....said "sorry buddy, should have helped yourself!" I think not. When the nonreligious are the majority, this country will finally understand the freedoms that our founding fathers intended....freedom from the shackles of mythology and ignorance, freedom to live our life in peace without fake gods being shoved down our throat. The country will finally live in peace.
I agree. I was raised evangelical (now an atheist), and some of the most angry, hateful people I know are Christians. And as far as I can tell, they are real Christians. I always find it amusing when one branch of a religion denounces another branch. Catholic vs Protestant, Methodist vs Anglican, etc. To me it is McDonalds vs Burger King. Just different franchises of the salvation business. And just to be fair, I think I can name one or two of my Christian friends and acquaintances that aren't angry or hateful.
I am always vastly amused when different factions of the same faith start on each other...and this happens pretty much within all of the Big 3.
Angry reglious zealots: How's that shaming and blaming of others been working out at getting your ideals realized?
About as good as it's worked for the angry irreligious zealots I guess...hows by you?
Silly ancient myth and folklore ... that's all religion is. Bible was written and changed myriad times by men to gain power.
If you're an evolutionist, it ain't ancient. It's recent.
Ancient in terms of history. Recent in terms of geology.
Yep....just another copycat book written by men and for men from stealing snippets and stories of things that had already happened to other great leaders/teachers all over the world. Oh, and don't you love when a new King takes over he just rips out the parts he doesn't like like it never happened. I'll stick with my Flying Spaghetti Monster....seems to make more sense.
The older you keep making the history of man, oral, written, or geologic, the greater the opposition you need to make to the appearance of the Son of Man, AKA the Son Of God. He does claim to come at the end, ya know. Now you've doubled the 200,000 to 400,000 years. The last 2,000 years are just 1/2 % of mans age on that basis. At the END!
Sorry, I don't follow.
Ancient myth and folklore ... that's all religion is. Bible was written and changed myriad times by men to gain power.
Primitive, ritualistic tribalism. Nothing more.
religion was man's first attempt at science. some things were right, some were made-up. we mixed empirical knowledge with myth and got religion. now we have a much better system, where the myth has been removed: science.
prove how that claim involves the Christian Bible
I assumed that a degree of knowledge or intelligence could rule here.
This level of stupidity and ignorance is how the world ended.
Wait, watch and witness…
There’s no deity to save us. We have ended this all alone and all by ourselves.
Or.....and more likely
The world will end by some natural cataclysmic event like the Yellowstone supervolcano erupting, or the moons orbit will get so distant that the earths wobble will go out check by the moons gravity and cause the sun to blow our atmosphere into space because the alignment of our natural defences , the earths magnetic fields will be at such an angle to no longer protect us, or even a large asteroid. So many possibilities....are you a prophet? "cause you know there is no such thing right?
CRUCIFIXION OR CRUCI – FICTION ABSURDITY OF FOLLOWERS OF MITHRA ISM, PAGAN SAVIOR ISM CALLED CHRISTIANITY.
Pay no attention to the small minded fools that got their brain fried. Notice who is most quoted in the Golden rule. Jesus Christ's wisdom. I moved the Raid so I would not mistake it for Pam again. Humble yourself and ask Jesus for forgiveness.
WHO WAS ON THE CROSS?
Please go away. This world has no place for adults that believe in mythology. The flying spaghetti monster will forgive you, for he is righteous and all knowing...and I said so, so it must be true!!! Surely, you must be doing this to get a rise out of people, because I doubt someone as ignorant as you sound would even be capable of using a computer.
It's sarcasm, people.
Accept Jesus or you will have your own personal worm feeding off of your fat drippings for all eternity. Those that believe in Him go with Him to eternity. My camel-toe was aquitted this time. Blame it on the Christians for having the guts to tell idiots God's truth.
Christianity... when you just don't like cognitive thinking....
HeavenSent – the word Jesus has no meaning, it's like I am telling you to accept Peter Pan.
it's a name, not a word. historians don't even deny Jesus of the Bible existed.
The primitive tribalism in modern religion can still be seen in the ornate garb worn by priests and holy men – quite similar to the ole witch doctor.
Don't know if you can blame dress wearin" priests on some tribe but why did the copycat gubmint god do the same thing? Doesn't look appropriate for men.
The "gubmint god"?? OMG – how delusional can you get?? :0
Special hello to Bootyfunk!
Well hello sailor!
woohoo! aloha from the islands! :)
[God] puts an apple tree in the middle of [the Garden of Eden] and says, do what you like guys, oh, but don't eat the apple. Surprise surprise, they eat it and he leaps out from behind a bush shouting "Gotcha." It wouldn't have made any difference if they hadn't eaten it...Because if you're dealing with somebody who has the sort of mentality which likes leaving hats on the pavement with bricks under them you know perfectly well they won't give up. They'll get you in the end.
- Douglas Adams
it MAY have been an apple. all we know that it was a fruit.
yes, more likely a pomegranate than an apple. but it's just a quote - don't take it so serious. if you want to really talk about it - no tree of knowledge ever existed. so it wasn't an apple or any other fruit - just the imagination of man.
Oh yeah. Don't get the type of fruit wrong, guys. That's the most important part. The resultant damnation of countless unborn generations is merely the sideshow.
when you give quotes that have inaccuracies in them, it says a lot to who said it. same way atheists try to pick apart the bible to find contradictions. not being silly about it. just appears juvenile to whoever said it, that's all.
*to try and find contradictions.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.