Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Christianity has an image problem

My brother put me on to what looks like a very interesting book...

Christians are supposed to represent Christ to the world. But according to the latest report card, something has gone terribly wrong. Using descriptions like “hypocritical,” “insensitive,” and “judgmental,” young Americans share an impression of Christians that’s nothing short of . . . unChristian.

Groundbreaking research into the perceptions of sixteen- to twenty-nine-year-olds reveals that Christians have taken several giant steps backward in one of their most important assignments. The surprising details of the study, commissioned by Fermi Project and conducted by The Barna Group, are presented with uncompromising honesty in unChristian.

Find out why these negative perceptions exist, learn how to reverse them in a Christlike manner, and discover practical examples of how Christians can positively contribute to culture.

1 comment:

Paul's Thoughts said...

Yes Clive, that sounds like a really inquisitive and curious book, hopefully I will get my hands on it one day.

Negative images in the minds of unbelievers are not always conjured up to discredit or malign Christianity. Such perceptions could occur because they were rejected by Christians by an ‘us-vs-them’ or ‘inside-outside’ mentality, or because of inconsiderate reactions to the way they dress, a conclusion that followers of Jesus are only interested in converting them, they may see us as aloof, insulated in some Christian fantasy jungle, that we are not accepting of others faiths, boring, narrow minded, the list is endless. I think it is important to understand how negative perceptions of Christians are developed, propagated and dispersed and why. The book “UnChristain” looks like it seeks to do this, but is restricted to research done on American youth. It would be interesting to get some data on New Zealand.

As mentioned in your post there are many who think Christians are “judgemental”. One cause of this sentiment may be that they view Christians as arrogant in their beliefs because they don’t take the time to listen. This criticism can easily happen when an attempt is made to try and prove that our opinion is right as opposed to that God is right. It is also inherently natural to take offence with a Christian who is projecting their ideas and options but takes no regard for understanding the listener’s own beliefs. I once talked to someone who felt that many Christians do not read beyond a certain sphere of books, meet people beyond their cosy groups, that they were encased in a safe little world that never offers alternative viewpoints, and consequently many Christians lack the will to figure out what other people really think. It is then invariable that miscommunication will result, wires will get crossed, and a bad taste left in mind with a perception of Christians as being arrogant, judgemental and narrow minded.

The Book “UnChristian”, I suspect and hope, offers some advice on how to counter the growing tide of cognitive dissonance and criticism that American youth have towards their encounters with mainstream Christianity.

Thanks for posting that book Clive! It is great to see you thinking about important and multifaceted issues.