Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Christians In and Out

Thursday, December 1st, 2011 by JEL

Lots of people become Christians, some by birth and others by conversion from a spectrum of influences. But many people also leave the Christian faith. Did you ever wonder why? Is Christianity not providing the spiritual meaning they seek? Are they dismayed at the un-Christian behaviour of their supposed peers?

This study looked at why Christians leave and found a very interesting answer:

A majority (42 out of 50) of the deconverts that we studied did mention frustration with the Christians they knew, but it usually wasn’t misbehavior, per se, rather it was something that I never would have guessed: Frustration with how their fellow Christians reacted to their doubts.

The way that Christians react to the doubts of others can, inadvertently, amplify existing doubt. Many of the writers told of sharing their burgeoning doubts with a Christian friend or family member only to receive trite, unhelpful answers. These answers, in turn, moved them further away from Christianity.

Pastors were among the many giving unhelpful answers. Interesting stuff; read the whole thing.


Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 by JEL

It’s a big world out there, and we at What He Said are all about broadening horizons. I found this article today about the conversion of Iceland to Christianity. Early islanders were pagans who worshipped the Norse gods and were fairly resistant to Christian missionaries’ approaches:

They had limited success in their attempts to convert Icelanders. Allegedly, they were ridiculed and eventually forced to flee the country. The king [of Norway] was of course not pleased to hear that, so he sent his bishop Thangbrandur to Iceland to spread the word of the Lord.

Thangbrandur boasted some success in baptizing a few chieftains but like his predecessors he was also met with opposition and got into trouble because he killed a few Icelandic skalds who composed lampooning poetry about him.

Eventually, King Ólafur learned that conversion by violence and murder was not working and instead pushed preaching. Iceland’s conversion to Christianity became the most peaceful switch in history.

Fourth-Quarter Rally

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 by JEL

I’ve always liked watching Tim Tebow play football. He’s a lefty—which is always odd to see in the quarterback position—and his style is a bit unorthodox, to say the least. He also seems like a genuinely nice person who works very hard. Now that he’s in the NFL and getting a chance to actually play with the Denver Broncos, Tebow Mania is taking over. Given Tebow’s fervent faith, some in Christian circles are keeping vigil on his games, seeing his performance as, well, something a bit more than just playing football.

Over at Grantland, Brian Phillips has written a terrific piece on Tebow, God, and Country. Here’s a snippet:

I’m sure there are people who manage to escape the demographic rooting pattern this creates. But in broad strokes, it’s fair to say that how you feel about Tebow depends on how you feel about youth groups and Elisabeth Hasselbeck and, I don’t know, WWJD bracelets and raft retreats with a lot of bonfires and swaying. Other religious players are religious individuals; Tebow is a whole culture. It helps that, as an NFL player, he’s both nontraditional and kind of bad, which makes it easy to see his success as guided by a higher power — if a dude with that background and that throwing motion completes a touchdown pass, it almost has to be a miracle.

How Close and How Far?

Monday, October 10th, 2011 by JEL

Who knows if Mitt Romney will be the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2012. I do know that his Mormon faith will be getting an increasing amount of attention as the next thirteen months tick by. Mormons say they are “Christian,” but many Christians say/believe that Mormons are not Christian.

I found this Reuters “Factbox” illuminating. Among the article’s points:

  • The religion is growing fast and half of its members live outside the U.S. (many in Latin America).
  • “Mormons have three books of scripture other than the Bible.”
  • “Mormons also believe that Jesus visited the Americas after his resurrection and that there is no eternal hell.”
  • The church policy of polygamy was removed in 1890 as a bargaining chip for Utah statehood.

And two more:

* The LDS Church says it is truly Christian, believes in Jesus Christ and corrected mistakes it says mainline Christianity made in its early centuries. But it has a different view of the Trinity from mainline Christians and additional teachings — such as the prophesies of Joseph Smith, Jesus’s visit to America, baptism of the dead or the existence of God the Father married to a Heavenly Mother — that those churches reject as unbiblical or un-Christian.

* While most Christian churches do not require rebaptism if a believer switches from one denomination to another, Mormons do not recognize baptisms in other churches and require all converts from those churches to be rebaptised. The Roman Catholics and Methodists require converts from Mormonism to be rebaptised while other Christian churches cast serious doubt on the validity of Mormon baptism.

Ten Things Everyone Should Learn

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 by JEL

Kathy from Canyonwalker Connections is sharing some insights she’s learned from 10 years of working on the front lines of a very important issue. Take a gander (and bring your notebook):

A Clear Separation

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 by JEL

With What He Said, we redesigned the Four Gospels to make them easier to read and explore. We saw the low readership numbers of the Bible then looked the Bible itself and saw a clear usability problem. All that tiny text burying Jesus’ message is really hard to read.

I realize I’m off on a tangent to my original purpose which is to talk about the separation of church and state that our founding fathers did such a nice job to establish. Believe what you want, but there’s a wall there. Government stays out of religion, and religion stays out of government. Perhaps you’d think that the designers of a religious book would want that message force-fed to the masses. Not so. Why? Well, Dan Brimrose does a nice job of explaining:

Unfortunately for [the religious right] the very first Amendment of the Constitution is nothing but clear that there should be a separation of Church and State. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

They shout that it does not say separation of Church and State. Who cares? The intent is obvious and the result is the same.

The Supreme Court has often used the words of our third President Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, to help them interpret and enable others to understand the intent of the very first Amendment. Contained in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association from Jefferson were the following words, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

Less than ten years after the ratification of the Constitution in the treaty of Tripoli which was initiated by President George Washington, signed by President Adams and unanimously ratified by the Senate were the words,”As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion …”

Faith is a personal matter. We’d love you to buy our book, but the last thing we’d want is any government body making you.

What Time Is It?

Monday, September 26th, 2011 by JEL

Time for a Monday grab-bag, I suppose. First off, there was a report that the BBC had officially dropped the use of “AD” (Anno Domini) and “BC” (Before Christ) in favor of “CE” (Common Era) and “BCE” (Before Common Era). Turns out it isn’t true, but it is giving reporters and producers the leeway to use whatever terms they like.

Whilst the BBC uses BC and AD like most people as standard terminology it is also possible for individuals to use different terminology if they wish to, particularly as it is now commonly used in historical research.

A while back we wrote  a post about Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. In it he challenged the thinking that all non-Christians will spend eternity in hell. Predictably, it caused all sorts of closed-minded firestorms. He led a megachurch in West Michigan for 12 years and now he’s leaving. We hope he takes his message of “God is love” to greener pastures.

Finally, I saw this piece regarding the dangers of confusing Christ and Christianity. The whole thing is worth reading, but this paragraph jumped out:

The fact remains that most people don’t desire true life-giving faith in God; they prefer the convenience of inherited religion. The reasons are obvious: Religions give you rules to obey. They are handed down, no thinking need be done, and most people prefer to hang on to their institutional club membership for the tradition and the perks.

Something Beyond Mammon

Monday, September 12th, 2011 by JEL

Did you know there are Christians in China? Lots of them? It’s true: serious estimates put the number at roughly 60 million and growing rapidly. As this BBC article covers, more people go to church on Sunday in China than in all of Europe. While the Party promotes atheism, it says it will “protect and respect religion until such time as religion itself will disappear.”

So what’s the draw? I found these two quotes to be illustrative:

“We have 50 young professionals in this church. Everyone is so busy working, you don’t have time socialising, and even if you are socialising, you are putting on a fake face. But in church people feel warm, they feel welcome… they feel people really love them so they really want to join the community, a lot of people come for this.”


“The worship of Mammon… has become many people’s life purpose. I think it is very natural that many other people will not be satisfied… will seek some meaning for their lives so that when Christianity falls into their lives, they will seize it very tightly.”

That Pesky Evolution Problem

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 by JEL

Darwin’s theory on the evolution of species has had its detractors from the beginning. If we evolved from apes, they say, what happens to that Bible narrative on the creation of Adam and Eve? An excellent question, and one they choose to simply sweep under the rug. And then not bring up in their evangelical colleges. And oh, by the way, stay away from that museum down the street that has dinosaur bones dating back a few hundred million years.

This post from Mathew Schmalz extends the question much further. In it, he talks about how Catholics have never had the problems with evolution that evangelicals do. And then he continues:

But there is a problem with evolution nonetheless. My views in this regard have changed in dialogue with many evangelical colleagues whom I respect. For them, the issue is not Biblical inerrancy as much as it is probing the theological implications of Darwin’s theories. For example, if there is no radical distinction between humans and animals, when do human beings become “human?” When does a human have a “soul” that can be saved? More broadly, what theological sense can Christians make of a natural world that operates on Darwinian principles?


To be sure, much of the resistance to evolution comes from a need to defend a particular construal of “Biblical truth”-after all, if the Bible is shown to be false in one aspect, it throws into question the entirety of scripture. Some of the resistance also stems from a misunderstanding of what a scientific theory actually is. But the real problem with evolution is that Christians have yet to reflect deeply on how they fit into a Darwinian world.

“No Sin There.”

Monday, August 29th, 2011 by JEL

There are shades of grey in almost every debate. Take Christianity vs. Capitalism. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus makes it pretty clear where He stands on the wealthy. Remember the camel and the eye of the needle? Well, St Margaret Lothbury, a very old church in London, has a different take. It doesn’t have services on Sundays and caters to financial services executives during the week. The vicar, Reverend Jeremy Crossley, has no problems with Christians making money:

“As long as you’re being honest about what you do, it’s not a sin to make money. God rewards industriousness, and that’s what most of the people who come here are. Good, hard-working honest people who want to make money. No sin there.”

Read the whole article here. What do you think?