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.
What do you call someone who disagrees with Jesus, knows very little about the Bible, and pretends that Leviticus requires them to maliciously persecute and discriminate against those they hate in the name of Jesus?
A right-wing Christian.
Clearly many of these evil hate mongers' faith is too weak for them to believe or obey their God when he said "Vengeance is mine." And they're not about to abide by the liberal Jesus' suggestion to "Judge not that ye be not judged" or to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
what does Leviticus say that you so vehemently disagree with?
My take: CNN stuff a sock in it. The 79% of America that believes in the God of the Bible grows weary of your ridicule and taunting. We know you feel threatened by us, as we represent a significant portion of the resistance to the relentless promotion of your far left agenda.
wasn't that 83 or 85% a few months ago? Seems to be dropping like a stone...
You'll continue to take all the ridicule we want to give, blakey-poo, you 3rd rate simpleton.
A Chrsitian man went to a carpenter and asked, "Can you build me a box that is two inches high, two inches wide, and fifty feet long?"
"Hmm..." mused the carpenter. "It could be done, I suppose, but what would you want a box like that for?"'
"Well, you see," said the Chrsitian, "my neighbor moved away and forgot some things, so he asked me to send him his garden hose."
Way to take an article about not hating and throwing your blind hatred at it with numbers and figures as if there is some invisible army to back up your hate. No matter the percentage of Christians in america or anywhere else, YOUR hatred and YOUR opinion is all you may speak of.
Did you hear about the terrible automobile accident last night? A Chrisitan family on vacation lost all of their children. The pickup truck they were riding in ran off the road into a lake and sank to the bottom. The parents got out of the cab OK but all the kids in the back drowned; they couldn't get the tailgate open.
Question: How do you stop a Christian army on horseback?
Answer: Turn off the carousel.
Threatened by you? That's a laugh. It appears to be the other way around.
...as he relentlessly commits the sin of judgmental buffoonery.
If you're so weary of it, why are you not only reading it but taking the time to comment about it? Did you God not give you any common sense, or at the the motivation to turn off the computer?
Personally as a Christian, I dont want to appear " Nice". Jesus was never nice to people in the Bible. He never said " Well, I want to save your soul, but if that offends you never mind." Jesus offended a lot of people. After all, he wasnt crucified for being nice. He was crucified for not sitting back and watching the world turn away from God. And I think THAT is what Christains need to do, whether you're nice or not.
lol – what Bible are you reading? :)
Feel free to act that way, but then don't get all butthurt when I tell you to fuck off.
Sorry you've missed this twice. Here is the HYPOCRISY TEST:
Are there more Christian ADULTERERS or total number of gays?
James 3:1-7 Taming the Tongue (NIV)
"Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, [a] and set on fire by hell"
“Petruchio: Come, come, you wasp; i' faith, you are too angry.
Katherine: If I be waspish, best beware my sting.
Petruchio: My remedy is then, to pluck it out.
Katherine: Ay, if the fool could find where it lies.
Petruchio: Who knows not where a wasp does wear his sting? In his tail.
Katherine: In his tongue.
Petruchio: Whose tongue?
Katherine: Yours, if you talk of tails: and so farewell.
Petruchio: What, with my tongue in your tail? Nay, come again, Good Kate; I am a gentleman.”
The Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare
Did you dance around the tribal fire at church with your witch doctor today? Did he say some magic stuff and sing some chants? ;)
Christianity is one of the biggest problems in this country. The ignorance and bigotry spewed by christians is beyond the imagination. You are free to believe whatever you like but, you are also free to suffer the consequences of your ignorance and bigotry. Your hate of gays, muslims, jews and any other group who doesn't subscribe to your beliefs in imaginary creatures, heaven and hell are usually subject to your quoting bible verses that don't make any sense. You might think you sound intelligent throwing around a bunch of "thou arts" and "the bible says phrases" but, it just shows how ignorant you really are. Let me give you a hint. When you are addressing an atheist, don't start quoting your bible. Why? Because we don't believe in your bible. We trust in facts and scientific evidence. We don't care what the bible says about gays because the bible is wrong and says just the opposite of what you say you believe in. If there is a god; he's very, very confused.
I'm an ex-Baptist preacher. I gave up the nonsense fairy tales for a rational life based on the Golden Rule, a premise found in all good hearts. Maybe be nice and just give up the nonsense myths.
Great decision, Mason. Consider yourself enlightened.
God is imaginary and there will be more and more ex Christians like myself that will realize it. The tide is turning.
The GOP is going to have to invent a new brand of tribalism.
The creed of the agnostic/Atheist;
“Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.”
This is from John Milton's Paradise Lost...though most people only know it because it is quoted in the Star Trek Episode SPACE SEED (the one with Khan).
It is the line that the Satan screams as he is thrown down from Heaven into the fiery pit of Hell.
In it Milton encapsulates why people choose pride over faith. It is Satan's sin of pride. Satan is so tied up in his pride, so enslaved by his pride, that he won't give it up, even if it means eternal damnation. He can't give it up and remain who he is... so rather than change who he is, he chooses an eternity of pain and torture...because he prefers that to swallowing his pride and submitting himself to faith.
And, some sanctimonious Christians prefer self-righteous blasphemy in their attempts to mimic their God.
yeah, the tide is turning.. you're making yourself hellbound.
How ironic for a Youtube obfuscation troll to commandeer this blog.
The tooth fairy is real.
Thou sayest the almighty tooth fairy, If thou leave a tooth under ones pillow, thou shall be blessed with a quarter come morning
The bible says, "Let he who is without teeth collect the first quarter as he cometh into the house of god out of the wilderness and into the light." Praise god who hath created the Tooth Fairy for he is with change and cometh into the darkness to collect teeth. Praise the lord!!!
Keep following the devil CNN
Keep blaspheming God with hateful, judgmental rants. ;)
You'd have to be pro-gay and pro-christian to be anti-hate. Or you can hate everyone equally.
Yep, follow the Bible. Let's bring back slavery and discrimination against women and the handicapped.
it's amazing how much hate is spewed by the gay community towards christians and they're yelling at us to be nice..
We're nice.. we just won't fold and accept what is unacceptable.
Bore false witness. Violation of the Ninth Commandment. Hell.
Jesus was hated for speaking the truth and was also killed for it..
@Judge Not Lest Ye be Judged – learn what blasphemy means.
It's the Christian HYPOCRITES who pick on gays while ignoring that there are FAR FAR MORE Christian adulterers than there are total gays.
It's the Christian HYPOCRITES who pretend the Bible talks about abortion and pick on pro-choice people.
Hey religious people, the tooth fairy and santa claus are real...prove me wrong
observer- you're lost.
Observer- it's the hypocrites that are asking christians to be nice while trying to castrate them. I did not vote for the pro-choice black guy in office.. I voted Romney.
Another hateful Christian. Nothing new here, folks, keep moving...
observers- there have always been adulterers.. there will always be.. Gays especially.. what is your point?
Good ole Vik has managed to work his racism into the topic too. How Christian of him. :(
Blah- you have proven yourself wrong.. thanks!
@Judge Not Lest Ye be Judged- is the guy in the white offiice White? Racist because i call him black? what should I call him?
Hey Vik! Douglas is another Christian who is Reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally obsessed with gays also. Just like you. Maybe you two can get together and share your delicious obsessions.
Vik, you cannot prove that god exists as much as I can prove the tooth fairy does
"President of the United States" – ;)
vik why did you feel the need to mention "black?"
Judge Not Lest Ye be Judged – your president, not mine.
blah- you're free to not believe.. you're free to follow other gods.. you're free to live and die the way you want..Just don't attempt to make me change my faith because you're an atheist. You can't.
Barack Hussein Obama is President of the United States of America. He defeated the Republican nominee in 2008 and whipped Mitt Romney in 2012.
Since you're not an American, where do you live?
Vik – How disrespectful towards our free, democratic nation, and disrespectful toward our Commander in Chief.
But, disrespect is just another little Christian hate game.
Barack Hussein Obama- sounds very american to me :-)
"Barack Hussein Obama- sounds very american to me"
Now you're catching on. It sounds much more American to the majority of people than a name like Sarah Palin.
CNN is so pro-gay and extremely anti-christian.
Right on cue! More "Christian" hate. :)
Yep. Shame on CNN for telling Christians to be nice.
Tell me something that is pro-christian, that can only be done if you are a christian or only done by a christian.
NOOOO CNN is so pro-dogs and extremely anti-cats
So, why do they keep giving christian pastors a forum?
Yeah, that's why CNN has a belief blog.....
Show me the CNN atheist blog.
Show me the CNN gay blog.
Show me the CNN agnostic blog.
Oh that's right.......
People can BELIEVE in other gods or none. That's why it's called BELIEF.
It's telling that many Christians cry "persecution" whenever anyone suggests they should love their neighbors instead of judging and persecuting and pretending some evil god told them to do it.
......... non of it matters because www dot GOD IS IMAGINARY dot com (visit the link) and THANK GOODNESS because he originates from the www dot EVIL BIBLE dot com (visit link)
I'd hate to break it to all of you but the real enemy..the thing that will do you in, that will do me in, that will kill us all is going to come from inside our own bodies not outside of it. It's going to come in the form of overstressed arteries or rapidly dividing cells. All these petty arguments over philosphy is just a weak distraction from the truth of all of our ends. We are all in death's waiting room.
Some of us prefer to enjoy life rather than obsessing about death.
I AGREE 100% WITH THIS YOUNG MAN BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO CALL THEMSELVES "CHRISTIAN" AND PROFESS TO BE "CHRISTIAN" BUT ARE ANYTHING BUT "CHRISTIAN" SOME OF THE MOST HATE FILLED PEOPLE I'VE EVER MET WERE SO CALLED "CHRISTIAN" SO NEXT TIME YOU MEET SOMEONE WHO CLAIMS TO BE "CHRISTIAN" REMEMBER ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS AND THAT YOU CANNOT SIMPLY PROFESS TO BE "CHRISTIAN" BUT YOU MUST ALSO LIVE AS A "CHRISTIAN" ALSO
You don't need to YELL!
Nicholas, turn off your fuking caps lock.
Pickle juice is just another name for cuc.u.mber pickle-ism, dill weed ism, sour tart of back yard garden, old cuc.u.mbers with another pickled lid mason jar, feed humanity based on how many jars-ism of pri.ckly beef steak ism 180 tomatoes, okra, tomatoes too absolute american dill pickles in support of American bar food ism.
Your rastafarian ism pot smoking called irie mon has no legalism in it, rastafarian ism, irie mon from start, Rasta Irie, dread locks irie ism to be reggae. Jamaica ism is blunt ism the dutchie ism and ganja mon, but rasta corrupt reggae is a tool to spread Rastafarian ism, denial of smoke shop passing the dutchie ism laid back among Jamaica and establish rastafarian ism, rasta ism among humanity.
How appropriate the last entries on this blog are being made by bigoted right wing trolls.
Christians – it isn't very sportsman like make fun of the opposing team (Islam). But, that's what teenagers do at pep rallies – which is all that religion is – an overgrown pep rally for rabid adults.
"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."
He must get his news from somewhere else, because I can't seem to remember anyone ever losing their cool in CNN's comment section. And certainly not with regards to religion!
I wish there were likes.
Christianity is moved by the primitive urge to seek protection in herds. From the moment that life began emerging out of the big bang, single cell organisms gathered with their clones in a struggle for survival. We observe the herding instinct in more complex species. We easily see their automatic, robotic behavior. We are unable to see it in ourselves. We are heavily defended. We use the cerebral cortex to rationalize and excuse our own behavior. It allows no thought, no reflection. Imitation is the highest value. The powerful appeal to obey the direction of the herd has never diminished and is, in fact, increasing in these difficult times. It is just as we might expect. We must congregate in herds for protection from God knows what and the more noisy the shouts of fear, the harder we fight to get to the center of the herd. It is hard wired in all of us. Christianity, as a well organized and unyielding herd, is no different. In spite of the fact that Jesus himself was not a member of the herd in his time and tried to teach us to rise above primitive herd instincts and to be born again and to turn the other cheek. Jesus was murdered by the herd. He was not the last to be murdered by a herd. Christians are not immune from these herd instincts. Few will rise above it.
What a nice post. This is worthy of thought and discussion. Worth wading thought all of the vitriol to see. Christ's attempt to teach us that our neighbor is not always the person who is most like us (the good samaritan), that we are supposed to be dispensers of mercy more than justice (see the example of the compassionate father in the Prodigal Son), that we are to extend and accept hospitality without regard for status or position (Zaccheus, the woman who washed Jesus' feet, the wedding at Canaa)– these are difficult stories to live out, because they are so misaligned with our tribalism. And yes, it is so hard to see your tribe when you are inside it. I find this is true of most kinds of people. Thank you.
Mohammad is burning in hell right now for not following Jesus' truth. I haven't been out side for three years. It smells like goat here. Satan Mohammad is expert at spreading lies to make you follow his lies about God. Read the bible and be saved from hell.
Nice effort fake, fake HeavenSent.
Which part of the Bible should i read ?
Exodus 21:20-21 "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property."
Or This one?
Deuteronomy 22:20-1 "If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. "
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.