It’s the “Christian” view!
Last week I was listening to a lecture on theology I had downloaded. The guy would outline a position, and then contrast it against “the Christian view”. He repeated this process numerous times. This got me thinking, and got me upset.
He was using the phrase “the Christian view” to denote his view. By doing this, he was trying to bully his listeners into thinking his view was the one they ought to hold. It was basically “if you call yourself a Christian you’ve got to believe X, or else your not really a Christian. X is what Christians believe, so if you want to be a Christian, you better start believing it!”
He used it to claim a moral authority for his own view (as “Christian”), and demonise his opposition as non-Christian. He had no actual logical arguments for his position. He didn’t show or demonstrate how or why his opponents were wrong. He simple declared his view as “the Christian view” and contrasted it with their view. Frankly, this pissed me off and I eventually stopped listening and went in search of more substance and less rhetoric. He was claiming an authority he wasn’t entitled to, in order to bully people to accepting his stupid position which he couldn’t support.
I wonder how often this happens in Christianity? How many stupid and idiotic ideas are there out there that normally we would laugh at, but which propagate themselves through misusing a perception that they are “Christian”? Christian Propaganda, as it were.
The more I critically examine Christian teachings and practices, the more I find that a lot of what passes itself as “Christianity” and which people do because it is “Christian” is illogical and unhelpful and has nothing much to do with Christianity. Christian culture is dangerously open to indoctrination and peer-pressure, and I think Christians need to be on their guard against such things much more than they often are. Since Christianity as a religion is inherently connected with believing things we are told and following practices we are taught, it is easy to accept everything uncritically.
I think the key problem is when things sound pious. If someone is less “Christian”-sounding than the rest of the group, natural group interactions will attempt to pull them into line. But usually the opposite extreme is not regulated to the same degree – if someone is more pious-sounding they are congratulated, and their high level of spirituality held up as an example for the group to follow. In this way, Christian often have a tendency to move toward extremes over time. Attention gets paid to whether what is being said is pious-sounding, at the expense of attention being paid to whether it is sane or sensible.