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-Responding to Those Who ‘Do Not Get Religion’

by Dr. D ~ April 15th, 2016


One of the biggest adjustments that I have had to make in my life is facing the fact that an increasing number of Americans that I come in some kind of contact daily may have little or no experience with religion. I can’t begin to put a number on the times that I have been surprised, shocked, or saddened by comments made by others which demonstrated a certain amount of ignorance or bias when it comes to faith and particularly Christianity.

The folks that I have the greatest problems with in this regard are those in the news media who are supposed to be ‘unbiased’ truth seekers. But when it comes to religion their personal attitudes, predispositions, and lack of knowledge and understanding readily comes through. One of my favorite websites- “Get Religion” exposes some of the major mistakes made by the media when it comes to religion.

Here’s a short article I read by Eric Metaxas that got me thinking about this today- “Not ‘Getting’ Religion.” It begins with a story about how a person of faith was mischaracterized on a college campus. But here’s the quote that really got me thinking:

In an increasingly secular age, ordinary Americans know less and less about Christianity and much of what they claim to “know” is wrong, sometimes hilariously so.

Our response should not be anger or resignation. It should be a willingness to set the record straight in a way that does service to our faith. There’s ample historical precedent for this. The first great Christian apologetic work, The Apology of Justin Martyr, did just that. It defended Christianity against charges of atheism, immorality, and disloyalty to the Roman Empire.

<Read the whole article>

On a number of occasions I have recounted on this blog the fact that I grew up in a time (1950’s) when the vast majority of Americans were believers (98%+) and most folks in my old neighborhood attended some kind of church on Sundays except for the Jewish family down the street who went to synagogue on Saturday and the Adventist couple next door.

Things are obviously different now even in my own extended family when it comes to religion. Over the years I have had to learn to drop references to Bible stories that everyone used to be familiar with in my daily conversations and limit my use of ‘Christian’ terminology that are no longer part of the larger American culture.

Older Christians like myself have had to make a number of adjustments since our use of ‘religious’ language may have ended up separating us from others in unintended ways. Christians in general mostly fail to recognize that our community language may sometimes be meaningless or even offensive to others that ‘do not get religion.’

I really like what Metaxas said about how we should respond to displays of obvious religious ignorance:

Our response should not be anger or resignation. It should be a willingness to set the record straight in a way that does service to our faith.

Toward that end, I really do hope to be a better model of grace and love in the future and better reflect the guiding Biblical passage of this website:

   "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. . . " (1 Peter 3:15)


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