Thursday, June 10, 2010
Something to Think About
As strange as it may seem, visiting Asheville made me realize how the Christian Church (I mean the entire church, not just a particular denomination) is failing a large group of Americans. During my visit, I noticed the abundance of new age books and shops. Bookstores had large sections devoted to wiccan and eastern religions and many shops had crystals and other new age paraphernalia. There was a dearth of books on Christianity. Obviously, the presence of the new age materials means many people in the community are seekers, looking to connect with God. However, they seem to have dismissed the possibility of finding God in Christianity. And I don't blame them.
I took the above photo in a community not far from Asheville. There's a lot wrong with what seems to be going on in this particular church and highlights why I believe people in Asheville (and other communities) dismiss Christianity. I enlarged the photo to show that it says "using only the King James Bible." Obviously, the members of this church believe that the King James version is the one authorized by God himself. Any other translation is wrong, wrong, wrong. Further, the bible verse chosen for the sign is only part of the story. Roman 6:22-23 says: "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Oops, I didn't use the King James version.) Again, these people want to emphasize sin rather than the love, mercy, and forgiveness found within the Church.
Asheville is a very progressive community and the area is home to a number of colleges. An academic community means there are lots of thoughtful, intelligent people in the area. Being a Christian doesn't mean checking your brains at the church door, but lots of churches seem to encourage that. Intelligent, educated people know when they're being deceived or lied to. They know that science has proven the earth is more than 6,000 years old and that any reading of the Bible is subject to personal interpretation. Further, those who care for the environment and understand the science behind global climate change are turned off by the conservative Christians who seem to think it's okay to damage the earth. It is the stubbornness of many churches that is keeping a large number of people away. Those churches need to be reminded of Galileo and the Church's insistence that he was wrong when he pointed out that the earth is not the center of the universe. Why so insistent on ideas that have nothing to do with faith?
As someone who was not raised in the Church but became a Christian as an adult, I understand those who are turned off by Christianity, or at least the way many churches "package" it. By dumbing down the faith and twisting it to suit a particular agenda, the Church is failing large numbers of people. It's no wonder so many in areas like Asheville have outright rejected Christianity.