Some Say Christianity Is Dogmatic, Anti-Science, Judgmental, Intolerant, Anti-intellectual and Bigoted

By: Tia Johnson 0 Comments   7/24/2013

Some say that Christianity is dogmatic, anti-science, judgmental, intolerant, anti-intellectual and bigoted. Is it?

Let's examine these. 

"Dogmatic" means to forcibly assert a statement or opinion "as if authoritative and unchallengeable," according to the World English Dictionary.

Christians likely appear dogmatic because the truths in scripture leave no room for polytheism, or for the following of multiple gods.

The Bible is clear that He is God and following another is rejection of Him. However, Christianity certainly does not set itself on an unchallengeable pedestal. In fact, Jesus welcomed honest challenges. He asked Thomas to feel his nail-pierced hands in John 20. He asked the disciples to explain His identity in Mark 8. Jesus did not appear on this earth and say, "I am God, therefore follow me." He proved his God-ness through His miracles (see John 10) and fulfilled prophecy and let the people decide for themselves. We must take this same approach- standing strong on our conviction, being prepared with explanation, but letting others make their decision. 

The "anti-science" claim may come from the confrontation Christians have with evolution-based curriculum in the public schools. Sometimes this confrontation comes across to non-believers as a complete rejection of recorded observations. On the flip-side, evolution-based curriculum appears to be rather "dogmatic" toward open challenges.

Perhaps the best way for Christians to handle this debate is to analyze the data supporting evolution and bring errors to the attention of educators. The Bible itself is not anti-science. For centuries it was the instigator of science. Scripture encourages discovery. God gave Adam a host of animals of differing characteristics to examine and to name. God has often reminded His people of the wonders of His creation, and how little we actually know about it (Job 38, Psalm 78). I believe He delights in watching us uncover it.

"Judgmental," according to the World English Dictionary, means "denoting an attitude in which judgments about other people's conduct are made." I believe that our culture takes that a step further by saying that a "judgmental" person is judging unfairly. Truly, this is a universal trait- something that not just Christians struggle with.

We all have the tendency, out of pride, to point out the sins of others while ignoring our own. However, Christianity may be one of the few that properly addresses this. Jesus Christ insisted in Matthew 7 that before you remove the spec out of your brother's eye, you must take the log out of your own. The Bible does not declare to look the other way when someone else's action or character raises an alarm- but it does declare the necessity to approach someone with love and humbleness, carefully considering your own faults before you take on the charge of another's.

Perhaps the world would be better off if we had this kind of caring accountability among communities- not gossip, mind you, but the appropriate, humble addressing of problems between the involved parties before they become too big to handle. 

"Intolerant"- now that's a buzzword. It means "lacking respect for practices and beliefs other than one's own," according to the World English Dictionary. The whole of Christianity may have been slung this label because of its intolerant view toward sin. But Christianity also teaches to rule by love- loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself, according to Matthew 22. So, while Christianity is intolerant of sin, it also loves people. It's difficult for some to see this as a working combination, but in actuality, hard-core, authentic, real love must contain a degree of intolerance.

"Anti-intellectual," like anti-science, is a claim that has only recently been slung at Christianity. The truth is that the Bible was required textbook material for centuries in public schools, and major universities like Harvard were founded on Biblical thought. However, our culture is automatic at separating the spiritual from the practical, cultural and intellectual compartments.

As a result, we have people who go to church on Sunday but don't apply Biblical truth practically nor engage their experiences and education with the Bible. The Bible is sometimes seen as a nice poetic book rather than one of great credibility and mountain-moving power. But it's more than good reading; it's historical, philosophical, true and just plain deep. If the "intellectual" sees scripture as "anti-intellectual," he likely has not delved in past the label. 

A "bigot" is someone who takes pride in his own self or ideas to the point of parading around with the impression that all others are inferior to him. I suppose some bigots do wear the Christian label. In this case, however, true Christianity is not bigoted- far from it! Jesus came to save those who are lost, and those who think they are already found will not be found by Him.

Jesus works through the weak and humble, not those who gaze down on others. The truth is, we all are broken potsherds-- pieces of broken, helpless pottery as described in Isaiah 45:9, and if you don't realize this, you'll never know how much you really need a savior! 

So, what is Christianity? At its core, it is truth. Some see the superficial labels and don't care to investigate. Others, however, see the truth and fight it by slinging more labels. This reminds me of King Herod in Mark 6. He heard the truths John (the baptizer) had shared concerning sin, and though he did not like it, he was deeply interested and liked listening to what John had to say.

Eventually, he threw John in prison, but still held him in high esteem. John was beheaded at the insistence of another who hated what John shared. Yet Mark 6:20 says that Herod respected John because he was a "good and holy" man and "Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him." (NLT)  

There are many "Herod"s out there. May we, like John, press on despite the mudslinging. May we be recognized for our good and holy lives and continue to speak truth, thereby "preparing the way of the Lord" (John 1). 

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