Sunday, June 28, 2009

Religious Snobbery

I believe in God. I believe Jesus was the Son of God. I believe that Jesus was the Messiah who died unjustly on a Roman cross so I can have eternal life. I believe the church is the body of Christ. I have declared that "Jesus is Lord," done my best at living my life in a way that would please God and honor the life of Christ. I go to church. I am a fruitful Christian.

But do I have to be right when it comes to my religious beliefs? Is there a right? Or is it that there is a right for me....a set of religious preferences that fit my personality, upbringing, political orientation, moral beliefs and nationality? If I am religiously correct, does that make others religiously incorrect?

I grew up in Paonia, Colorado, a small, isolated town on the Western Slope. The town is nestled in the North Fork Valley, surrounded by mountains and mesas. The students who attended Paonia High School were very egocentric: "We're number one." "We're the best." Even though we were only OK in sports, to talk to the students, we were the best, the greatest, awesome, nobody else could compare.

It's the same way with my 15 year son who goes to MacArthur High School in Irving, TX. He thinks his school is great, the coolest school in Irving. Perhaps egocentricity is endemic of adolescents...they have to be right, "the best," the only ones that matter. If you have a teenager, you probably know what I am talking about.

But has this adolescent way of thinking infiltrated our churches. The belief that my way of doing religion is the only correct way of doing religion. It sounds just like what I thought about my school as a 16 year old. It sounds prideful and snobbish. It means there is no freedom in Christ for others to express their preferences. Ugh. Do you see the problem here?

What snobbish religious thoughts do you have?


  1. This is good stuff. I still struggle with this sometimes when I meet people of different faiths? or denominations?. It has sent me back to God's word more than once. Sometimes when you can't find a reason why they are wrong you have to admit that they might not be wrong at all. These are the moments in my life when I have really been stretched. Growth can be hard sometimes and uncomfortable but worth it.

  2. Good points. If there isn't a definitive Biblical commandement against, then there is freedom for it. Sounds refreshing, sounds like Jesus...

  3. I like how you started your "essay". That is all I really need isn't it. I remember playing baseball in high school, when another kid and I were chatting and I was telling him he was a christian and he said he was baptist, and I replied he was a christian who called himself a baptist. anyway he proceeded to tell me we (meaning the cruch of christ demonination) though we were the only ones going to heaven. I have never thought that, but it made me take a step back and look at religion in a very different way. With everything I have gone through in my life, the way I think is Jesus is Lord, I don't need to sacrifice or be sacrificed in any way, and "everything is permissable, but not everything beneficial."

    I don't "attend chruch" to find God, I look for him everyday, in my life, and in the lives of others around me. I don't have all the answers and I do suspect he will ever give them all to me. I beleive he is real, even when I am mad, hurt, and angry at him. (How can you have feelings about something not real?) I go to services, sometimes, to be around people, to be encouraged, and to encourage. I don't go to be right, or even because I believe going is the right thing to do.

    When I was a teenager...... sounds refreshing. It's not that we were the best, it's that we believed in the best within ourselves. We believed in us to a point that it didn't matter how good you were, we were just as good. We were comfortable saying we're the best because we knew we were. I think as humans grow older (and more cynical) we refer to the repressed and angry part of "the best" and that is the "I am right and you are wrong" comparrison. I have expierenced what you are saying and talking about. Let us not forget to believe in the best in ourselves no matter what people tell us because we were made by the best!

  4. I am not sure what snobbish things I now hold to....but over the years I have been in different kinds denominational churches and with age I have seen the wonderful unity there is in true believers. We have to hold to the essentials of the faith to have fellowship with one another, but I do believe Christians often are too divisive over things that are not essential to salvation. Christians should be known by their love for one another, not by their nit picking ;-).

  5. That is cool NannyKim. I hope what you say is true for churches all over the world. If we stick to the essentials and lay our foundations there, then unity would be possible.

  6. The other day, I was reflecting more on denominations .....sometimes I see them as similar to the body analogy that is spoken of in the Bible (I Cor 12:12-31) the finger does this, the toe does that, but they are working together as one body. I kind of view denominations like that---some are strong in this point, some in another, some are more "modern" some more "traditional" but they are working together to reflect Christ....we learn from one another and are challenged by one another and hopefully are lead to more maturity in the faith.

  7. Nannykim,
    I like that idea a lot. I have often wondered the same as many charismatic churches seem to have different gifting more prevalent than the church a grew up in. I like the idea of us being one body and cooperating together and I think it is in the church now that we may be more ready to do that more than ever. I had a friend at school that first lead me to that idea. I like hearing it from a different avenue.