Thursday, February 6, 2014

Why All the Anger?

Modern theological discussion is marred by anger on all sides. There are those who support Christianity who are consumed by anger against those outside. But there are also atheists and secular people who are driven by anger. A civil discussion of differences seems impossible. I am convinced that all sides feel like they are being backed against the wall and are afraid they are going to lose. Therefore, they respond by vilifying and lashing out at their opponents. But this tends to increase their fear and anger and worsens the situation. Is there a way out of this?

How can everybody believe they are losing? To understand this, we need to understand what the vocal representatives of both sides want. They want society to accept their values and hold them as givens. They may be willing to let the other side continue to exist, but only as marginal people with no power who keep their opinions to themselves. Now I doubt either side is going to achieve this in the near future. To add to this, both sides have vivid memories of what the other side has done in the past to enforce their point of view. And unfortunately, both sides have a point. But the solution is not to become so afraid of the other side's enforcers that you go out and get your own.

On the one side, until recently Christianity at least seemed to be nominally in charge of western culture and took this for granted and was comfortable with it. But in more modern times we have lost this kind of control. And the result has left many Christians feeling very uncomfortable and longing for the good old days. But I am convinced many atheists and secular people thought that if Christianity once lost its nominal control of our society, it would just nicely vanish and they would gain total control. It did not happen. Even in Communist countries, where atheism was firmly enforced by law, Christianity did not disappear. In fact, it has prospered, not only in spite of, but because of persecution. To make things more interesting, there has been the rise of New Age and other alternate beliefs, which neither side is really comfortable with.

How then should we respond to this? I cannot advise atheists, but as Christians we need to put aside our anger (Ephesians 4:26-32; James 1:19-20; Proverbs 22:24,25). To do this we need to trust God, even if things do not seem to be going our way and we are not comfortable with what is going on around us (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 37:1-6; 46:10). And we need to remember God commands us to love even those who oppose us (Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 12:17-21; Proverbs 15:1). Now this is hard to do, especially when there is someone in your face, going at you hammer and tongs. But if we wish to help break the cycle, we need to made the effort.


  1. I enjoy dialog with atheists and visit a few blogs where a civil discussion is possible. Regarding:

    "until recently Christianity at least seemed to be nominally in charge of western culture and took this for granted and was comfortable with it. But in more modern times we have lost this kind of control. "

    I think that things began to change in the 80s with the televangelists scandals. Christians lost the moral edge and, with the divorce being the same as outside of the church, do not seem to be very different than anyone else.

    My neighbors do not go to church but have served me greatly while my wife has been in the hospital (a week and counting) with meals and rides to the hospital in really bad weather.

    I know that faith is not all about morality but it is hard to see the difference sometimes between those inside and outside of the church.

    1. I think a lot of it is that Christians became so comfortable and complacent in the culture that when the culture departed for traditional Christian values we just went along with it in many cases and things like the Televangelist scandals are symptoms of this. But it is sad when we cannot see much real difference or even when it goes the other way.