So I have issues with Christianity. Last night, while I was out grocery shopping with my lovely wife, who is a committed Christian, I tried to articulate them as well as I could. I felt like I was able to get it all out in a satisfactory way, but now I’m not so sure I can remember them all. I’ll do my best; here they are in no particular order:
1. The Jack Chick problem. Encountering Fundamentalists and many Evangelicals and other Christian-Right-types and their viewpoints completely turns me off to Christianity in general. Without going into too much detail, there are some popular and vocal approaches to Jesus out there that I find actually repulsive, not to mention preposterous. When I read such a viewpoint, for example, it sours me on the whole of Christianity. I do not want to have anything to do with a movement or a religion that spawns that kind of garbage.
Intellectually, I know that those apporaches to Jesus are not exhaustive, they do not by any means necessarily represent the bulk of Christianity. I also know that just because people do ugly things with Christianity, that does not mean that Jesus was wrong or a fake (in fact, there is plenty of scriptural evidence that just saying you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you know Jesus). But those are intellectual qualifications, and my reaction to ugly Christianity is an emotional one, so the intellectual justifications don’t dispel my reservations.
2. Exclusivity. By most accounts, Christianity is exclusive. Jesus is literally God, and he is literally the only way to return to the Father. All other approaches (whether they be Christian heterodoxy or a completely different religion orspiritual path) are either lies or tragic mistakes.
I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, I grew up Mormon, so a literal and exclusive approach to religion is a familiar one, sort of my default setting, and not easy to break out of.
On the other hand, it just doesn’t feel right. For one, the weight of opinion is against Christianity- far more people are and have been something else as opposed to Christians, both now and throughout history. Now, if Christianity is True, then that theoretically shouldn’t matter. If there is such a thing as objective truth independent from peoples’ minds, then that objective truth would probably not be subject to majority decisions. However, it seems a little convenient that the One True Way just happens to be the majority view of the culture I grew up in. Especially when there is no real decisive objective evidence to commend Christianity over any other religion. Maybe there is an objectively True Way, but who says Jesus is it? I feel like claims of objective truth should be backed up by some kind of objective evidence, at least to differentiate them from competing claims of absolute truth.
I also have this sense that applying Christinity to the whole world is not just like trying to make a square peg fit a round hole, but it’s like trying to make a multidimensional polyshape peg fit into a round hole. It seems preposterous. It imposes a simple worldview on an incredibly complex world. I have a hard time swallowing it.
3. Personal Exclusivity. This one is trickier to explain. I want a religion or a faith system that fits all of me. I don’t mean that I am unwilling to change- I certainly would go to great lengths to change my behavior for what I believe. However, like all humans, I am extrordinarily complex. I feel like a religion should speak to every aspect of human existence in a fitting and compelling way, without oversimplifying that which is in no way simple. What I am not willing to do is to abandon entire facets of existence that are irrelevant to a belief system. I will change, but I will not amputate.
I don’t necessarily feel like Christianity “explains it all.” I don’t feel like it fits me like a puzzle piece. Of course, I haven’t found anything else that does, either.
4. Not feeling the Jesus. Finally, I do not feel spiritually compelled to follow Jesus. I find Christianity intellectuallyand even emotionally appealing, and I even find Christianity reasonable, but to me that is not enough. I want to feel a spiritual pull, and I don’t feel it. Furthermore, I do not want to purposely cultivate a spiritual experience in the pursuit of Christianity, because that’s what I did with Mormonism. Having already decided that Mormonism was true, I then went about specifically seeking a spiritual confirmation of that truth. They say “once burned, twice shy,” and that is appropriate here. In the end, I fell away from Mormonism. The connection that I built was not a lasting one. Honestly, I don’t want the same thing to happen ever again. I am not about to head in any direction that I will just abandon in eight months or eight years. And so far, I have nothing to indicate that a decision on my part to commit to Christ and to Christianity will indeed be a lasting one.