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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kind atheists or hateful Christians? Which does God prefer?

Pastor Shawn Craig of Crosspoint Church, also a member of the famous Christian group Philips, Craig, and Dean wrote a thoughtful post the other day about whether God prefers kind atheists or hateful Christians. When I lived in Missouri, I attended Crosspoint, which at the time was called South County Christian Center. My parents remain faithful members, and for good reason. Pastor Shawn is a Bible teacher par excellence!

In this particular post, (see the link below) I found Pastor Shawn's take on the parable of the Good Samaritan to be worth reading, although it doesn't appear that he has grappled too much with the fact that Jesus made the heretic the hero of the story, and what that might mean in terms of how Christians today should view people of different faiths. The closest parallel to the way Jews thought of Samaritans in their day is the way Christians think of Muslims today.

How would the average Christian feel today if they heard a Sunday morning sermon about a guy getting beat up, left for dead, and while the worship leader and the youth pastor pass him by, the person that actually helps the man is a Muslim named Ahmed. This is how the Jews would have heard Jesus' story. The guy that was supposed to be the "bad guy" turned out to be the one who actually fulfilled the great commandment, which is to love your neighbor as yourself.

Contrary to what Pastor Shawn seems to be saying in this post,(and I do emphasize the word seems, since I very well could have misread the post) I do think that the parable of the Good Samaritan lends itself to the question of which is more important: orthodoxy (right believing) or orthopraxy (right living)? I don't agree that it's inappropriate to ask the question of who might God prefer: kind atheists (or Muslims, Jews, gays, insert the standard evangelical heretic here) or Christians who have their theological ducts in order--that is to say, they believe all the right things--but despise outsiders.

Having said that......

Pastor Shawn makes an excellent point when he says that God prefers people that believe in Jesus.

Can't argue with that.

And, of course, I agree that the Old Testament law, as well as many of the next-to-impossible demands that Jesus sets in the Sermon on the Mount, are meant to frustrate us to the point of acknowledging that it's only by grace that we can be saved, not by any works of righteousness or merit on our own part. I just don't think that's the point that Jesus is making in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

I could be wrong.

It wouldn't be the first time.

Read the article here.

What say you?

4 comments:

Allen Andersen said...

"Hateful Christians" is a contradiction. Hate is not part of the Christian life.

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Hi Allen,

Thank you for your feedback. Of course I agree that hate is not a part of the Christian life, but there are various degrees of prejudice, and I feel that only God knows when that crosses the line. A careful reading of the Book of Acts shows that Peter maintained a fair amount of prejudice towards Gentiles, even after Pentecost. It took some dramatic acts of God to set Peter straight.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and daring words. Thanks, Aaron -Dan Sidey

Anonymous said...

I think God prefers kind Christians...