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.
There are many denominations of christianity. Some are hateful and close minded cults and some are very interested in humanity and searching for truth historically and scientifically. Churches have done some questionable things in the name of religion, but that doesn't mean that the bible doesn't contain historical facts. Unfortunately, many ancient scripts have been lost, , destroyed, or changed to fit a political agenda. I think it's very interesting when archeologists unearth new discoveries from biblical times.
Sure, the Bible contains some historical facts, but so does Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Lenn, true. Lol.
Only for then new members of this blog-
Being nice and at the same time truthful:
The Apostles' / Agnostics’ Creed 2013 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)
Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????
I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)
Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,
He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.
(References used are posted on p. 21 of this thread.)
Good evening, all! Hope everyone had a great weekend.
Yes, pretty satisfying all in all. You?
Great! We adopted a puppy.
Great weekend. No god, no church. Just sensible living.
black lab. only 7 weeks.
Fine dogs. They'll play catch til they drop.
Aw, cool. Name? Black labs are great family dogs.
She doesn't have that concept down yet. :)
We named her Chloe.
Which cult have you indoctrinated her into?
Damn! That's funny. A little bit of a low blow, but still funny.
Independent fundamental Baptist.
Chloe. Pretty name.
Thanks. We've been spoiling her since Friday.
I would, too. Puppies are great! Unconditional love at its best. Sweet!
I killed three puppies today!
I remember the first puppy I got as an adult I spent a couple nights with it on the kitchen floor which was covered in newspaper until we could get started on the training. I had newsprint on my face for a week and was afraid I would roll into dog poop at night. My back didn't enjoy it either. Sure made the dog calm down at night though.
As a human being (pretty sure that I am) and a Christian (still working on that) I have to say that too many people see spirituality as a black and white issue, you are either good or bad, saved or lost, loving or hate filled. The reality of human nature is that all people suffer from being mean, being angry, saying hurtful things, etc., it's all a part of of our nature. This isn't a moral judgement against anyone, just reality. As a Christian I had a moment of clarity similar to when an alcoholic realizes that he or she's life is out of control. Being a Christian is about dying, dying to the self, the self which is the unfortunate cause of some pretty horrific stuff. Christ set the example, His Words literally gave life. I cannot judge or say anything about another man, woman, or child on this world or any other, I just know that I am broken and need Jesus.
How is Jesus (dead for about 2000 years) going to repair you? Nice easy-to-remember handle, by the way.
I am glad you like the handle. If you don't know how Jesus can fix me now, if I am broken, no one will ever be able to explain it to you. I like your handle too. :-)
Yes, some people are good, some are bad, some are good one day and bad the next. As far as I can tell, the only people that put things in black and white are believers. Saved or not saved, damned or loved (by the same deity, no less). You can be good or bad, or anything in between, no deity required. It does, however, require something like a religion (mob mentaility) to make good people do bad things.
But then I gave up Christianity and I’ve been growing into a much better person ever since.
LEVITATION CIRCLE USING SUPER CONDUCTION 02/05/13
Good photo of Chad! Or is it Topher, John, Captain Azzhole, or ?
Yes, Tom Tom ...thanks for spelling correction.
I've known several people who've practiced elements of Buddhism without embracing the religion. I'm curious, you are atheist but do you practice meditation or subscribe to any of the recommendations of Buddhism? Some simply take it as an eminently practical philosophy of life.
I know you are trying to be facetious, and that is o.k. God still loves you and you still have a chance to be saved. Praise GOD for that! To answer your question is quite simple, She ran to Jesus and begged forgiveness. He forgave her. Jesus was not the one persecuting the woman, the Hebrews were trying to be righteous by fulfilling the law, which called for stoning and Jesus came the first time to save humanity by being sacrificed and his crucifixion death, burial and resurrection brought in a new covenant which is the covenant of Grace. Jesus had authority on Earth then and had he chose to reveal himself as GOD because of this incident he would have not been able to complete the plan of salvation. The mob asked him what THEY should do, and his response was, "Let him without sin among you cast the first stone". When the mob could not do this, Jesus asked the woman were her condemners were and there were none, and he told her, "Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more". Thanks for your "witty" question and GOD Bless you and your family.
I can't imagine that otherwise reasonable people actually believe this nonsense.
How many people were stoned (in the bad way) before Jesus came?
Also, telling "blonde" jokes and saying they're about Christians doesn't make the non Christians on this commentariat look very bright either. Ridicule never changed anyone's mind about anything.
You must first have a mind before it can be changed.
Shame on these post. There is so much hate.
People are usually in a foul mood when there's not much else on TV except the stinking Grammy Awards.
* the plural of 'post' is 'posts'
(posted with hugs and kisses and positive thoughts for better spelling and grammar for all...!)
Shame on these post. There is so much hate showing here.
I was raised in a buddist family, and the older I got, the more athiest I became. Really, there's not much difference in the two, however, only those closest to me (outside of family) know I am an athiest because it's not worth all the arguments . People can't understand why I am an athiest, but they can be accepting of buddism. Go figure.
You mean Buddhism?
She can't spell atheist right either.
Thank you for your thoughtful article. I wouldn't comment, but it looks like most of the blogosphere missed your point entirely. I agree with you, and find that perhaps yours is a church i could return to after a long absence (funny enough, i live in Flagstaff, just two hours up the hill,mso it is not out of the question). Yes, it is true that Jesus occasionally raised his voice– but it was generally raised against the holier than thou religious righteous of the time. With those outside his belief framework, or struggling on its margins, He consistently demonstrated patience, love and compassion. Those qualities are all that have kept me believing "in my heart," even while I find it too difficult to walk into churches where I know I am judged for my appearance, my non submissive feminism and my "lifestyle choices.". At the same time, I am pitied and judged by non-Christians when I dare to bring up a lesson from the life of Christ, because I am tainted by association with cruel bible-thumpers who Re only too happy to tell them they are hell-bound rather than offing them the receptive listening ear that Christ demonstrated when He sat down with "sinners.". Again, thank you for your article. It is a little ray of light.
Jesus said, "Let him among you without sin cast the first stone"
Jesus was there. If he was without sin why didn't he throw the first stone?
"Religion is what keeps the poor man from murdering the rich”. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~
Oh, I dunno. Lots of rich folks got their heads lopped off during the Revolution.
All religions are mere extensions of primitive tribalism that have been co-opted by greed mongers and power mongers to subdue the ritual enthralled masses. ;)
Organized religions worship only the almighty dollar. Witness the billions of dollars in wealth behind the Catholic and Mormon churches, amongst others. How can they profess charity while they shroud themselves in earthly opulence? :(
Do atheist authors write CNN blogs encouraging other atheists to be nice and dial down the mockery?
ha, just kidding :-)
A Christian man was walking down the street carrying a brown paper bag. He ran into one of his buddies, who asked,
"Hey! What's in the bag?"
The man tells his friend that he has some fish in the bag. His friend says,
"Well, I'll make you a bet. If I can guess how many fish you have in the bag, you'll have to give me one."
The man says, "I'll tell you what. If you tell me how many fish I have in this bag, I'll give you both of them."
I do not mind the moral standing of the bible, it was a fun book to read and I keep it next to my big book of mythology so related reading is nearby. Religion is to conquer fears of the unknown and provide a guiding path for man to live by. Christianity is but one path among countless others, many overgrown with time and disuse. It is no different than the paths to the left or the paths to the right, none are laid with brick or affixed with lighting, just simple and pure dirt ground soft by the path's constant use. these paths are still and patient, accepting all who may walk down them and never intending to lead them to danger. Your religion is a path and not the only option in life, you are no different than me for having chosen your path different than mine. You are neither better nor worse than me.
Yes, but your choice has consequences. Either there is truth or not. Either there is a God, or there is not. Either Jesus is God, or he is a just a imposter or worse. If you have read the Bible as you say, then you know the gospel. Either you receive the Good News, or you reject it. If you reject the gospel, it does not matter, or it has eternal consequences for your soul. All decisions are supported by science, evidence, and/or logic. I refer you to reasonablefaith.org. Are you interested? I suspect not. Prove me wrong.
By this logic a person who has chosen another path is forever damned if it is not your path. He has been led astray somehow and unless he changes his path to your own then he is damned. What of those who did not and will not ever know of your path? their ignorance destines them to damnation? I can appreciate the moral code of the bible, but not its doctrine. a god that I would follow would not create such a beautiful world then demand I sacrifice his living creatures back to him, believe I am free from sin just because he came down and got himself killed, and spend my time on my knees inside a structure telling him how awesome he is. But I do respect your path for what it is, merely leave me to my own without vilification.
darkelemental, Apologies if you felt "vilified." Not my intent. These quandaries you suggest have reasonable answers based on science, evidence, and logic....not emotion. You sound quite intelligent. Do you open yourself to rational argument? Again, I suspect not. This is not about tolerance, for I am not intruding on your stance, and not asking you to change. But I am just skeptical of your foundation. Fair enough? Again, check out reasonable faith.org or even bethinking.org (a British alternative).
Christianity is not a religion...It is a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All other religions require you to perform certain tasks and perform strange rituals or make you think that doing good deeds will send you to heaven some even make you die or kill yourself. All Jesus asks is that you trust in him as Lord and Savior, Love Him with all of our hearts and minds and then love each other as we love ourselves. Jesus died on the cross to pay for humanity's sin debt for all who choose to place their faith and trust in him. Oh yeah, salvation is a free gift. Go find that in other "Religions".
Right on Philip! Christianity is the only religion that you don't have to do anything. All you have to do is receive Christ...no work. The gift of salvation is free, it has already been paid by the blood of God/Jesus...it is a free and undeserved gift. What's more, the faith of Christianity is supported by science, evidence, and logic. All skeptics go to reasonablefaith.org and challenge yourself!
But if Jesus comes in at over 90 miles per hour high and outside he's the very devil to catch... I mean receive.
Yeah? Explain Catholicism. If that's not full of ritual...and don't say they aren't Christian. They are.
Tom Tom... Agreed! Not easy. But it is a reasonable conclusion if you have faith and you put that together with reason. Once you accept Him, that does not mean it is an easy walk either...it's actually easier to be a non-believer. If you catch Him though, He will change your life now, here on earth...that is a guarantee from Him.
I like to discuss the similarities of Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Orthodox, and other Christian churches. They all believe that Jesus is God, and He died for you. By keeping the main thing, the main thing, we can all learn to be tolerant of different rituals and practices.
Ok, ok.... first you say it's easy, then you say a whole lot of work is involved. Which is it?
Salvation is not a place. It is a state of mind. There are multiple paths to achieve this state of mind. If your religion brings you peace, gets you closer to this state of mind and makes you a better, more loving person, then by all means practice it. For those who choose to judge and damn others, this is counterproductive. Instead, take a step back, suspend judgement and try to understand and learn from others. You might be surprised at how this may, in fact, make you a more enlightened and happier person and will, in the end, help you understand and bring you closer to what you call god on a much more personal level.
I'm just saying that Catholics have many rituals, which goes back to Phil's statement that Christianity doesn't have any. They sure do. Because they're Christian rituals doesn't make them any less of a ritual.....
Damocles...right. Easy to receive....no work. For some non-believers, it is not "easy" to get to a position where they "receive" freely. Just look at all the people who blog and have philosophical presuppositions against truth and reason. For them, they are against even looking at the science, evidence, and logic objectively. They take on faith all of their presuppositions...atheism is a faith just like any other religion or faith philosophy...they are just blind to it. If you are a skeptic, if you are rational, if you are able to challenge yourself intellectually, I suggest you start at a website like reasonablefaith.org. It is said that 20% of Christians come to faith from reason. 80% come to Jesus from faith. People like CS Lewis, were ardent atheist, until confronted with the science, logic and evidence of Christianity. It can change your life tool.
Right, so a lot of work. The evidence basically boils down to 'I have a book and believe it is true'. You can't believe that anyone who doesn't believe as you do has looked at it objectively. I see pseudo-science trying to be passed off as the real deal. So, yes, much work involved in trying to make everything fit your view. Not to mention the mental gymnastics involved in saying a deity is all everything, yet is nothing you disagree with.
Ohm, Correct. We should never "judge and damn others." What we should do, however, is challenge people's ideas and beliefs. You say "salvation" is a state of mind? To a Christian, it is not a state of mind, and I was addressing Philip, a Christian. To a non-Christian, to lack salvation, would mean that one would have not received Christ, and therefore, would not have eternal life with God. To not have this relationship would mean that at the time of death, that the non-believer would be eternally separated from God. That person, has chosen this separation on his/her own free-will. Ohm, you are a skeptic of the existence of God. Seek the reasonable basis for your belief of disbelief on reasonablefaith.org
There is as much evidence for Muslim hell as there is for your version. Zero. You wouldn't want to end up there, though.
Check, Right. No evidence for hell. That's because the Biblical hell is not a place, it is the eternal separation from God. More importantly, the scientific evidence for the existence of God is more compelling than the absence of God. This includes the Ontological argument, the Moral argument, the Teleological argument of physics and biology, and the Cosmological arguments and more. You can learn more at reasonablefaith.org
I went to the website. Had a laugh. The arguments boil down to 'this is what I think'. Which is fine, everyone has their opinions, but opinion is not fact.
Good quality education trumps religion every time .
Claiming that education and religion are at odds is absurd.
Except for that, in almost all instances, there's a negative correlation between education and religious belief... I know, though, facts you don't like are absurd.
If the bible was made in to a movie, from begging to end. It would be X rated, and not be allowed to be shown to young children. More then any other book, that one displays hate and anger tons! I would pretty much say, if a Christian is being mean, evil, etc. They are just following the book and would explain the many examples of violence done in the name of the Christian and Hebrew God for centuries. The sooner people catch on, and grow past mythology as a society, the better and safer we will be.
You are ignoring that the Bible also shows the consequences of hate and anger and overlooking one of the main points of the article - that people who are mean, evil, etc. are NOT following the tenets of Christianity.
Under that logic – you would make the assumption that all violence is done in the name of religion – and we know that isn't so. There is no "catching on" – we are human. Violence is in our nature. It can be done in the name of religion, politics, greed, envy – whatever. Drawing the conclusion that violence is the result of religion cannot be supported. I'm pretty sure Dormer (the cop in California) isn't killing people in the name of religion.
However, I would agree with your comment that a movie truly based on the Old and New Testament could very well receive an NC-17/X rating – although given most of the movies out today, we'd be lucky if it was rated R. But your comment actually goes deeper than what a rating would be. The stories about human nature in the bible, which was written 2000 – 3000 years ago – are still so relevant. With all of our "advancement" in technology, science, mathematics, knowledge – whatever – we are still human. We can do wonderful things and we can do horrific things. We just don't change. And that applies to both believers and non-believers.
@Jecbeanz: you ramble on about "human nature" and how "we just don't change", but obviously know nothing about history. Today's world is by far the least violent in the history of humanity. We know from archaeology that in prehistory, 15% of people died violently. How many percent died violently in the 21st century? 0.03%, 500 times less! (These figures come from Steven Pinker; check out his book, "The Better Angels of Our Nature".) How many large-scale wars has the developed world experienced in the last 20 years? Zero. When was the last time any army killed every man, woman, child, and animal in a town after capturing it? According to the Bible, God commanded the Israelites to do precisely that to their neighbors. If any army did that today, it would not be celebrated; rather, it would immediately be denounced as a war crime and sanctions would be placed on the offending regime.
this is about Christian hate??? Read these tweets and you get a real sense of hateful tweets from "non-Christians".
this blog is for the liberal, marginally-labeled (at best) Christian movement. Look at the bios of the writers.
Reading between the lines:
If you don't openly support all Gay thought – then you are a hate monger.
the power of mass media to have a tiny minority feel it has such a large voice. or is that "hate speech" because I disagree?
where's your tolerance, now?
Where is your self-righteous Christian sanctimony – oh, it looks like you found it as usual. ;)
"If you don't openly support all Gay thought – then you are a hate monger'
Nope. Gays are asking for EQUAL RIGHTS.
You likely don't "openly support" other religions. You likely don't "openly support" sports teams other than your own, but you do (I hope) support EQUAL RIGHTS for people who support them.
It is hate speech when you fill your speech with hate. it is the difference between saying "No, I disagree" and saying "Go die you idiot." your opinion is valid, your hate is not.
"If you don't openly support the gay community, you're a hate monger".
No, rather, if you don't openly support the gay community in obtaining equal rights UNDER THE LAW, you are at the very least a jerk (possibly unintentionally), and at worst, a blatant hateful spiteful monster.
The reason is simple, regardless of what your religious beliefs are, you have no place to impose those upon other people. If atheists can get married, then what right do you have to prevent the lawful (not "godly", you can keep your religion to yourself) wedding of two consenting adults?
Why on earth do you people get to vote on the civil rights of others, and impose your biblical standards on others who might not be Christian?
That's a spiteful thing to do. You can 'not support the gay community' all you like based on whatever silly biblical nonsense you believe, but if you use that biblical nonsense to infringe on the legal rights of other non-Christians, you are worse than sc-m.
LOL – Are those Mormon sister-wives? :)
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