Recently I had an on-line dialogue with a few secular humanist friends of mine on Facebook. It started when one of them saw a billboard that said something like, “God does exist so deal with it!” My friend thought it was rather silly and didn’t really help either side. I had to agree. How does that further dialogue. How would that sign possibly convince someone who doesn’t believe that there is an actual God?
But then his brother jumped into the conversation and again I don’t have his exact quote but he said something like, “See, look at the evil that religions can perpetuate by trying to force their views. It ultimately leads to violence like the Crusades, etc.”
Of course, I took offense to that statement because TRUE FOLLOWERS of Jesus who have submitted to God’s ways would not perpetuate violence in ways that the institutional church has advocated or turned its eye to. But as much as I didn’t like his statement, he’s right. So-called Christians and the institutional church are responsible for untold violence, bigotry, racism, hatred, etc.
At the same time, that has been true of pretty much every culture and religion. It’s not just certain Christians that have been responsible but we see this in other world religions and even in secular states. In fact, between Hitler’s pure race ideology and Stalin’s pursuit of secular power, more lives were destroyed by those 2 men than any other 2 men to my knowledge. Don’t think that “the absence of a belief in God” is not a belief that can be just as dangerous.
See, religion is a dangerous thing. But true faith in Jesus Christ is not. Because following Jesus is not about how “I’m better than you.” It’s about realizing that “I’m not better. In fact, I have a propensity to screw up and sin. I need forgiveness. I need grace. I need love. And only God can really provide that through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.” And then here’s the difficult part…after I confess that I have to start living like Jesus wants me to live. I don’t see Jesus advocating anything remotely close to the horrors that Christians have perpetuated. And even when we’re not “violent” but arrogant or self-righteous we injure the Body of Christ, the True Church. Why would arrogance or self-righteousness help someone far from God, see God’s love? It can’t. How can we be arrogant about our beliefs or self-righteous about our behavior when we must recognize how SINFUL we were and are?!
So…Have Christians caused more harm or done more good in history? I’ll answer that tomorrow.