After 12/7/2011, this blog will no longer be updated, although content will remain. Please visit my new blog at Hidden Latitudes.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Can you be a criminal and a Christian?

   A blog I read on occasion is Friendly Atheist. It is the work of Hemant Mehta, a math teacher in suburban Chicago (and who is, indeed, a friendly atheist). On September 8, 2011, the title of his blog entry was:

If People of Faith Commit a Crime, Do They Still Represent the Faith?

   Mr. Mehta then referred to a study by the Brookings Institute and the Public Religion Research Institute. The study reveals that, if a Christian were to commit a terrorist act in the name of religion, 83% of Americans would declare that person as not a true Christian, while only 13% would say that you COULD be a Christian and a terrorist.
   The survey also found that, asked the same question about Muslim terrorists, the numbers are much closer: 48% say NO, while 44% say YES, a Muslim terrorist is probably a true Muslim.
   The blogger's only comment about the findings are this: "How's that for a double standard?" Well, it is, for sure. But I guess it bodes well for Christianity in general that we are disassociated with violent acts in the name of religion (although some think otherwise). As an aside, I think it is worth noting that the most horrific and brutal acts in history were carried out by people who, like Mr. Mehta, professed no faith at all.
   But I'm sure Mr. Mehta (and the Institutes) would never have thought to ask an even more provocative question, and it is this:

   Isn't being a criminal actually a prerequisite for being a Christian?

   I think the answer to that question should be an unqualified, emphatic YES! For at the heart of Christianity, as Christ taught it, were two hard truths: 

   First, Man is a criminal, if not for crimes against humanity, then for crimes against divinity—rebelling against and denying a God who made him and sustains him.
   And second, judgment has been passed and a sentence has been handed down. But strangely enough, the penalty has been paid for the crime, and we can walk free, if we admit our guiltiness and accept the payment.
   I have said in the past that a church is "a wonderful community made up of murderers, adulterers and thieves." If you've worked it out how to atone for your own shortcomings (sin, in Biblical parlance), or you disagree that you have any, then neither Christ nor Christianity will be your cup of tea. But if you have doubts...
—Wayne S.
P.S.: For those of you who like to get your sociology freak on, the above mentioned study is fascinating stuff. 

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