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"new Survey Finds 72% Say Church Is Full Of Hypocrites"


McKenna
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For those of you who haven't seen it yet, this article was recently posted on the front page of the TCPC website: http://tcpc.org/news/item.cfm?news_id=154

 

Honestly, I'm really not surprised by the results of the survey, but it is rather depressing.

 

What are we, as Progressive Christians, doing that is negative, that might be contributing to/perpetuating these negative stereotypes? Conversely, what can we, as Progressive Christians, do to reach out to our communities, to show them that Christians are actually pretty decent folk?

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I can certainly understand why 'the church' has this reputation. Christianity as a Way of Faith is not something acheived...it is something aspired to. Mother Teresa was a Christian in my estimation and points to a Way of Living and Faith for me to move toward as a life-long destination that, at its heart, encapsulates a transformative Power. This Power changes us, within and without, as we struggle, argue with ourselves, loose sleep, read this book and that, try to talk to people, try to see clearly, and manage glimpses of what we instinctively come to know as The Truth. This Path is so very different from the 'Christian religion' that is presented to the world via the denominational churches. There isn't much transformative power involved in sitting in a church pew listening to someone else talk. The Power that transformed Mother Teresa over her lifetime was directly experienced by her...not something learned second-hand by memorizing creeds and speaking them aloud and in unison every Sunday. What people react to is the 'going through the motions' by individuals who call themselves Christians. In the post modern, you are who you say you are and when individuals like George Bush say they are a Christian, the entire Chrisitian Faith becomes associated with that individual's actions and words.

 

Today's denominational 'christian' churches focus only on the perceived divinity of Jesus and not the Teachings and the Way that he pointed to. The Way of Jesus is a tough road...one of sacrifice, one of discarding of old ways of thinking, the closing of old eyes and the opening of new ones. How can one claim to be a Christian and support war? How can one claim to be a Christian and not show anything less than compassion, love, forgiveness, and understanding toward others, even if that other is a criminal, an enemy, as defined by our society? Jesus knew The One Truth and constantly pointed to this: We are all Children of The Light, we are all Spiritual Beings having a human experience here on earth, we all have The Light of God within us. From the Iraqi with a bomb strapped to his chest to the kindly man across the street from us, from the most aggravating person at work to the homeless on the street, from the inmate on death row to the newborn child, we all have The Light WithinWhen Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God being at hand, he siad this based upon his knowing that, because we are all Children of the Light, we are already living in the Kingdom. We just don't know it or behave the way that citizens of the Kingdom should behave toward each other. Jesus, on the otherhand, was already a Citizen of the Kingdom and did live his life in such a way. As Quakers say, he let his life speak.

 

Churches fail to convey the Power to transform because they are faulted human constructions. They have become places of talking, places where second-hand faith is passed along as what to believe and what is correct. In short, churches are simply buildings where people go to talk about God. The fault of denominational christianity is that is is simply nothing but talk that requires nothing more that in return. This has become the sad state of religion today. Faith, true Religion, is a Way of Life...actions and not words. True Religion flows from within each and every one of us and does not flow from the outside in. The actions and life of Mother Teresa was based upon her direct experience and knowlege of God and flowed from the inside out. Her life became transformed in this way. Compare her life to priests and pastors accused of child molestation, people who talk about God but whom have never themselves become tranformed by the Power about which they speak.

 

This pathetic state will only change when churches, as Rufus Jones once wrote, become places where we gather together not to talk about God but to LISTEN to God. How can we know Gods Will for us if we're busy claiming to know what His Will for us is? How can we hear God's instructions for us if we constantly talk about and claim to know all along what those instructions are? There is a difference between human constructions and fabrications and The Truth. This quest for this discovery begins The Journey that all of us People of Faith must begin at sometime in our lives. It is only then that we shall begin to experience that Truth and not claim second-hand christianity as being The Way of the Christ.

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Russ:

 

I am truly moved by what you posted in response to this thread. You make so many valid points, it is difficult to know where to begin. Suffice to say, I love the church yet, at the same time, find myself both saddened and disgusted by what is often passed off as Christianity. For years, this has kept me on the periphery of the faith, rather than at its heart. I especially like the points you included made by Rufus Jones. He has been one of my primary mentors for over 30 years now. I think his teachings are due a renewal in popularity. We sorely need his blend of mystical centeredness and social action.

 

Thank you so much for your post and bless you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I am new to the board here, but hope to participate more in the days ahead.

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I can certainly understand why 'the church' has this reputation. Christianity as a Way of Faith is not something acheived...it is something aspired to. Mother Teresa was a Christian in my estimation and points to a Way of Living and Faith for me to move toward as a life-long destination that, at its heart, encapsulates a transformative Power. This Power changes us, within and without, as we struggle, argue with ourselves, loose sleep, read this book and that, try to talk to people, try to see clearly, and manage glimpses of what we instinctively come to know as The Truth. This Path is so very different from the 'Christian religion' that is presented to the world via the denominational churches. There isn't much transformative power involved in sitting in a church pew listening to someone else talk. The Power that transformed Mother Teresa over her lifetime was directly experienced by her...not something learned second-hand by memorizing creeds and speaking them aloud and in unison every Sunday. What people react to is the 'going through the motions' by individuals who call themselves Christians. In the post modern, you are who you say you are and when individuals like George Bush say they are a Christian, the entire Chrisitian Faith becomes associated with that individual's actions and words.

 

Today's denominational 'christian' churches focus only on the perceived divinity of Jesus and not the Teachings and the Way that he pointed to. The Way of Jesus is a tough road...one of sacrifice, one of discarding of old ways of thinking, the closing of old eyes and the opening of new ones. How can one claim to be a Christian and support war? How can one claim to be a Christian and not show anything less than compassion, love, forgiveness, and understanding toward others, even if that other is a criminal, an enemy, as defined by our society? Jesus knew The One Truth and constantly pointed to this: We are all Children of The Light, we are all Spiritual Beings having a human experience here on earth, we all have The Light of God within us. From the Iraqi with a bomb strapped to his chest to the kindly man across the street from us, from the most aggravating person at work to the homeless on the street, from the inmate on death row to the newborn child, we all have The Light WithinWhen Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God being at hand, he siad this based upon his knowing that, because we are all Children of the Light, we are already living in the Kingdom. We just don't know it or behave the way that citizens of the Kingdom should behave toward each other. Jesus, on the otherhand, was already a Citizen of the Kingdom and did live his life in such a way. As Quakers say, he let his life speak.

 

Churches fail to convey the Power to transform because they are faulted human constructions. They have become places of talking, places where second-hand faith is passed along as what to believe and what is correct. In short, churches are simply buildings where people go to talk about God. The fault of denominational christianity is that is is simply nothing but talk that requires nothing more that in return. This has become the sad state of religion today. Faith, true Religion, is a Way of Life...actions and not words. True Religion flows from within each and every one of us and does not flow from the outside in. The actions and life of Mother Teresa was based upon her direct experience and knowlege of God and flowed from the inside out. Her life became transformed in this way. Compare her life to priests and pastors accused of child molestation, people who talk about God but whom have never themselves become tranformed by the Power about which they speak.

 

This pathetic state will only change when churches, as Rufus Jones once wrote, become places where we gather together not to talk about God but to LISTEN to God. How can we know Gods Will for us if we're busy claiming to know what His Will for us is? How can we hear God's instructions for us if we constantly talk about and claim to know all along what those instructions are? There is a difference between human constructions and fabrications and The Truth. This quest for this discovery begins The Journey that all of us People of Faith must begin at sometime in our lives. It is only then that we shall begin to experience that Truth and not claim second-hand christianity as being The Way of the Christ.

 

Hmm. I see what you're saying, and I think it makes sense. Certainly some of the negative perceptions of the Church as hypocritical come from its members being perceived as merely "Sunday Christians." However, I think there's more to it than that: I think there is the other end of the spectrum, the people who do believe they are getting out in the world and "letting their life speak" for God, by trying, for example, to "cure" homosexuals. For this reason (and others) I think a lot of people perceive Christians as hateful, and thus hypocritical because Jesus taught us to love even our enemies. The perception of Christians as hateful is something that really turned me off from Christianity for several years, even though I had Christian friends, and even when I began dating a Christian who definitely isn't a hateful person. Even now, when I consider myself a Progressive Christian, I always put the adjective "progressive" in front of the word "Christian" because of the way many of my friends and family members perceive the Church.

 

So, basically, while I agree with you that Christians aren't behaving the way Christians should, I don't think the problem is just those who sit in church on Sunday and just "talk" about God. In fact, I prefer them to those who use Christianity as a tool to further their own agendas that seem to me so full of hate.

 

[Edit] I just wanted to say that I wasn't trying to say that you thought "Sunday Christians" were the only problem; I was just trying to expand on what you were saying. :) [/edit]

 

Russ:

 

I am truly moved by what you posted in response to this thread. You make so many valid points, it is difficult to know where to begin. Suffice to say, I love the church yet, at the same time, find myself both saddened and disgusted by what is often passed off as Christianity. For years, this has kept me on the periphery of the faith, rather than at its heart. I especially like the points you included made by Rufus Jones. He has been one of my primary mentors for over 30 years now. I think his teachings are due a renewal in popularity. We sorely need his blend of mystical centeredness and social action.

 

Thank you so much for your post and bless you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I am new to the board here, but hope to participate more in the days ahead.

 

Welcome, Mick T.!

 

I'll have to look into Rufus Jones, I've never heard of him...thanks for the reference, guys :)

Edited by McKenna
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The difficulty with the denominational churches has to be viewed as being seperate from the members. People have embraced Christianity in the way that they have because of the way that it has been presented for over 1500 years. People don't know any differently because there is no alternative that is openly being put forward. Denominational Christianity presents religion as being something that you 'get', something that comes from the outside. That is 'old' religion, the religion that is being rebelled against. People reject religion and Christianity because of the way that it is presented...as a system of creeds, things to be memorized, things to be believed regardless of how fantastic or insulting to our moden minds. Congregations are voting with their feet and young people today would rather watch TV than sit in some boring church service. And so would I! I resigned from a major denomination because of its inability to provide dialogue and meaningful direction in relationship to the Teachings of Jesus and the problems of society and the world today. What church has stood up and condemned the oilfield wars in Iraq as being completely against all that Christ taught us? What church has taken the lead and fought for the rights of immigrants, gays, the poor, and the most exploited in our country? What church has called for an end to the madness of this militaristic society and declared that Christ's message to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, etc. MUST be a political and economic priority? None. Not a one. Certainly efforts and contributions are made, but is it enough? Only enough to say that something more than nothing is being done. The denominational churches are frozen in time long past and have become irrelevant. Religion, meaningful, life-changing religion, comes from within and not from without. By constantly emphasizing the perceived divinity of Jesus and not his Teachings, the denominational churches have created a smothering dogma that has become stale, moldy, and without meaning. When we follow Jesus' example of being Citizens of the Kingdom of God because all of us, every human alive today, is OF God and WITH God and IN God, then we realize the Living Truth that resides in all of us. True religion needs no church, no priest, no books, no writings, hymns, theology, arguements, proof, or councils. True Religion is as close and as real to us all as our own skin. All we need to do is close our eyes and listen to the God that is always with us. The rest will follow.

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The difficulty with the denominational churches has to be viewed as being seperate from the members. People have embraced Christianity in the way that they have because of the way that it has been presented for over 1500 years. People don't know any differently because there is no alternative that is openly being put forward. Denominational Christianity presents religion as being something that you 'get', something that comes from the outside. That is 'old' religion, the religion that is being rebelled against. People reject religion and Christianity because of the way that it is presented...as a system of creeds, things to be memorized, things to be believed regardless of how fantastic or insulting to our moden minds. Congregations are voting with their feet and young people today would rather watch TV than sit in some boring church service. And so would I! I resigned from a major denomination because of its inability to provide dialogue and meaningful direction in relationship to the Teachings of Jesus and the problems of society and the world today. What church has stood up and condemned the oilfield wars in Iraq as being completely against all that Christ taught us? What church has taken the lead and fought for the rights of immigrants, gays, the poor, and the most exploited in our country? What church has called for an end to the madness of this militaristic society and declared that Christ's message to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, etc. MUST be a political and economic priority? None. Not a one. Certainly efforts and contributions are made, but is it enough? Only enough to say that something more than nothing is being done. The denominational churches are frozen in time long past and have become irrelevant. Religion, meaningful, life-changing religion, comes from within and not from without. By constantly emphasizing the perceived divinity of Jesus and not his Teachings, the denominational churches have created a smothering dogma that has become stale, moldy, and without meaning. When we follow Jesus' example of being Citizens of the Kingdom of God because all of us, every human alive today, is OF God and WITH God and IN God, then we realize the Living Truth that resides in all of us. True religion needs no church, no priest, no books, no writings, hymns, theology, arguements, proof, or councils. True Religion is as close and as real to us all as our own skin. All we need to do is close our eyes and listen to the God that is always with us. The rest will follow.

 

I would say that's a fair analysis. I think you're right that churches as a whole really need to take more responsibility. I think much is being done on the grassroots level i.e. individual churches and church members helping the poor and condemning war but it is certainly not as well organized as the Religious Right is and it is not, in my opinion, being done on a broad enough level.

 

And I think that's what people see, and that's one major reason that there are such negative views of the Church in our society.

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There is a trend in denominational churches that has created concern. Here in Connecticut, six churches have left the Episcopal Church organization in protest of gay marriage and other issues. The Episcopal Church may split and eventually disappear. The rate of people leaving church membership in general is greater than the rate of people joining in many churches. The TV 'megachurches' may give the impression of mass membership, but a national survey of church attendance and membership would be needed to really show the true picture. Another issue has developed over these 'megachurches' buying sports arenas and shopping malls. Is that what Christianity is all about? Where does Jesus teach us to invest in multi-million dollar real estate? I believe this will eventually lead to a crisis within denominational religion. Writers such as Rev. John Spong are calling for a 'second reformation' in order to debate these issues openly and among Christians and I totally support that action. It is time for Christians to discuss just what Christianity is and is not and do it openly, vocally, in the press, and in the churches. I hope that I live long enough to see it.

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There is a trend in denominational churches that has created concern. Here in Connecticut, six churches have left the Episcopal Church organization in protest of gay marriage and other issues. The Episcopal Church may split and eventually disappear.

 

I certainly hope not! :(

 

The rate of people leaving church membership in general is greater than the rate of people joining in many churches. The TV 'megachurches' may give the impression of mass membership, but a national survey of church attendance and membership would be needed to really show the true picture.

 

The last I heard, mainline Protestant churches are all losing membership, and perhaps Catholics too (although I think the actual number of Catholics is increasing due to the influx of people from Latin America); only Evangelical/Pentecostal churches are growing as far as I know. (In the US I mean.) I'm not sure about the Mormons. But anyway, I think the megachurches paint a correct picture in terms of Evangelical Christianity, but in terms of Christianity as a whole yes I think they're deceitful, because as a whole the religion is losing membership in this country, as far as I know.

 

Another issue has developed over these 'megachurches' buying sports arenas and shopping malls. Is that what Christianity is all about? Where does Jesus teach us to invest in multi-million dollar real estate?

 

That...really bothers me, to put it lightly. I remember a friend of mine who attends a megachurch of sorts telling me that they had just renovated and added an arcade. I was...slightly horrified to say the least.

 

Not to mention the, what, $27 million spent on building the Creationist Museum in Kentucky. Whenever I saw that amount of money all I could think was "isn't there something else those Christians could be spending all that money on??" Like helping the poor maybe?

 

I believe this will eventually lead to a crisis within denominational religion. Writers such as Rev. John Spong are calling for a 'second reformation' in order to debate these issues openly and among Christians and I totally support that action. It is time for Christians to discuss just what Christianity is and is not and do it openly, vocally, in the press, and in the churches. I hope that I live long enough to see it.

 

Yes, I agree, and I really hope this happens soon. But it doesn't feel like it's going that way anytime soon to me. As I said earlier, I read all the time about individual people and churches who are taking on the issues and transforming their theology to fit the times. Heck, that's why we're all here, I figure. But the Christian left just isn't organized enough right now. So it feels like most people are either joining Evangelical/conservative churches that provide certainty, or leaving religion altogether - which is in fact the case if I'm right about the Evangelicals being the only ones gaining membership while the mainline/moderate/liberal churches are losing membership.

 

I think liberal/progressive churches really need to step up to the plate and say "We're ready to redefine theology in light of modern discoveries and so it makes sense to the modern person." No real debate can happen until they take that initiative.

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I think liberal/progressive churches really need to step up to the plate and say "We're ready to redefine theology in light of modern discoveries and so it makes sense to the modern person." No real debate can happen until they take that initiative.

 

There are many who do this but we certainly have not yet reached a critical mass. I live in hope that God will find a way and I am eager to participate in this movement of love as much as I possibly can.

 

love, john + www.abundancetrek.com & www.abundancetrek.com/blog + "The force of love is greater than the love of force.”

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Not to mention the, what, $27 million spent on building the Creationist Museum in Kentucky. Whenever I saw that amount of money all I could think was "isn't there something else those Christians could be spending all that money on??" Like helping the poor maybe?

The 'Creationist Museum' is a sad commentary on one of the outcomes of literal interpretation of the Bible. The 'creationists' would also argue for the world being flat if they were not afraid of looking rediculous. The 'Creationist Museum', however, has done that for them. There were many children's hospitals, food banks, and homeless shelters that needed $27m more than a monument to ignorance.

Edited by Russ
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The 'Creationist Museum' is a sad commentary on one of the outcomes of literal interpretation of the Bible. The 'creationists' would also argue for the world being flat if they were not afraid of looking rediculous. The 'Creationist Museum', however, has done that for them. There were many children's hospitals, food banks, and homeless shelters that needed $27m more than a monument to ignorance.

 

Well, I've known creationists who don't believe the world is flat; I've never met one who does believe it is. But yes, I think the money could have been better spent. They're just trying to defend what they see as the basis of their faith, but... :unsure::(

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  • 2 weeks later...
Hmm. I see what you're saying, and I think it makes sense. Certainly some of the negative perceptions of the Church as hypocritical come from its members being perceived as merely "Sunday Christians." However, I think there's more to it than that: I think there is the other end of the spectrum, the people who do believe they are getting out in the world and "letting their life speak" for God, by trying, for example, to "cure" homosexuals. For this reason (and others) I think a lot of people perceive Christians as hateful, and thus hypocritical because Jesus taught us to love even our enemies. The perception of Christians as hateful is something that really turned me off from Christianity for several years, even though I had Christian friends, and even when I began dating a Christian who definitely isn't a hateful person. Even now, when I consider myself a Progressive Christian, I always put the adjective "progressive" in front of the word "Christian" because of the way many of my friends and family members perceive the Church.

 

+++

 

You got it. People don't like it when the church offers a really nasty and judgmental Jesus and that's what all too many televangelists and Christian Dominionists and other Bible-olatry preachers are offering and seen by so many with disgust and revulsion. We've got our work cut out for us to restore the image of Jesus as non-judgmental, compassionate and liberating.

 

love, john + www.abundancetrek.com & www.abundancetrek.com/blog + "What is required of us is that we love the difficult and learn to deal with it. In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us. Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams: there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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  • 2 weeks later...

All humans are hypocrites to a degree. There is a gap between our ideals and our actions.

 

Having said that I don't usually consider a person to be hypocritical except when they are judgmental. I remember back when Clinton (he) got in trouble because of the whole Monica Lewinsky thing. It didn't hurt him politically because he wasn't hypocritically. He never sold him self holier-than-thou type. IMO, the hypocrites are the "better than you" types who are really worse than most of us!

 

So, no, the survey doesn't surprise me. I can't tell you how many times I've interacted with "Christians" on forums (conservative ones) who are some of the worst ones on the forum!

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