skip to Main Content
Large 3949662248

The Arrogance of Christians

[box_holder background_color=”]

It has often been said to me, “Christians are SO arrogant! They think they have it all figured out, and everyone needs to be like them to be happy.” Why has this often been said to me? Well, if you don’t know me, I’m like a discussion machine. When people come around me, I ask all sorts of deep and personal things and often engage in either philosophical conversation or debate. Thus, you can begin to imagine how often I have asked people what their opinion of Christianity is; and how often I have been given the spectrum of reasonable and unreasonable opinions.

Some of my favorite that you are probably familiar with:

“Christianity is just something you follow because you were raised as a Christian… if you grew up in India, you would be Hindu.” -sounds true

“Christians are such hypocrites. They say that they are followers of Christ, but they don’t act anything like Him.” -sounds true too

“Christians are arrogant always trying to convince themselves that they are right by convincing others to join them. Evangelism is just self-assurance.” -sounds pretty true

“Christians make the best employees. For the most part, I know that if I hire a Christian, then they are going to be honest and pretty hard working.” -sounds true

“There have been some pretty cool Christians, like Mother Teresa, and some not so cool ones like George Bush…” -fair assessment (however, if you check out how W has spent his time since he left office I think you would have a hard time faulting the man’s post-presidency life. He has been bringing hope to people in Africa and NOT for publicity. Check this article out among many others.

All the above opinions I find interesting. I don’t fault anyone’s opinion. You have the right to believe what you want in many countries around the world… this one included. The one I find the most interesting is those who think that Christians are arrogant. The reason I find this one interesting is because if arrogance as defined by Google is: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities… Then Christians are very arrogant, and have good reason to be.

Please don’t misunderstand me! Arrogance isn’t a good approach to life or evangelism. In fact, Christ calls us to be humble servants. Just look at Mark 10:42-45 or Philippians 2:3-8. But while an attitude of arrogance is exactly what we don’t need when we present the gospel, the gospel itself is an arrogant message about its own self-importance saturated in humility.

Allow me to explain:

We claim our Lord Jesus was God above any other god on earth (not even willing to capitalize your god’s claim to godliness). We say that He humbled Himself to become a servant to humanity by becoming one of us. Then we say that He kept God’s law (The Law we claim He wrote Himself) Perfectly! You and I sin all the time, and we are trying to say that some dude never undressed a woman with His eyes even once…yep… arrogant. Then He did a bunch of supernatural things like healing leprosy, giving sight to blind people, healing entire towns and villages, and even….wait for it… yes, even… raise someone back to life. That is quite a claim. Finally, we tell people that He somehow -ethereally… no literally- took all human sin on Himself and died on a Roman cross…then we look people in the eyes when we deliver this line… for YOU! Wow, I wonder how people feel about that one. Then it gets better. We tell them that He is the ONLY way of salvation, and unless people accept Him as their personal Savior then they will go to HELL!

Oh mercy, it is just dripping with arrogance (and I didn’t even share all of it with you, like how you -everyone- have a God shaped hole and Jesus is the only one that can fill it). Christ’s message was even arrogant during His own time. He claimed to be God and people were trying to kill Him for it (then they succeeded).

The crazy thing is… I believe it to be true. Yep, I just reread everything I wrote and I believe it to be true (if I’m a “good Christian” then I “know” it to be true…amirite?)

But seriously, I really honestly truly totally unabashedly believe this to be true!

When I say I have peace and joy in Christ and you can too… I really believe that to be true.

My difficulty comes between knowing this and telling other people about it. Somehow I see the humility and grace of Christ as amazing and deep. I see Christ as meek yet firm. I literally see Him as God: someone who only spoke the truth about Himself in love. I see His claims not as arrogant but as loving; trying to save a sinful race from murdering each other. Sometimes the truth seems arrogant, but I wonder if it is simply a crossroads where one can take the view that the truth is arrogant but another can see the truth as compassionate. It was truly the compassion of God to come down and die for a bunch of nobodies… but that view necessitates that you believe Jesus to be God. And, a compassionate God on top of that.

Many people don’t believe God is compassionate because some Christians really truly are arrogant about their faith and their belief. They say things like “I know”, “I am certain”, “well, Jesus is the answer to all your problems”. And to be honest with you I resonate with both sides on this one, it is arrogant, but again, I believe so deeply that to say I know there is a God isn’t arrogance, it is who I am. And it probably says more about me than it says about you (both the good and the ugly). When I say I have peace and joy in Christ and you can too… I really believe that to be true. It’s just the perfect storm putting Christians in contact at all with skeptics, because the Christians have been commissioned to tell the world about Christ and what He did and can do for them. They are constantly thinking about how they can evangelize people to “get them in the kingdom.”

All these things roll through my mind in a flash when I hear someone say that Christians are arrogant. I often don’t know how to respond to those people. I end up defending the fact that some aren’t… but I am beginning to wonder if I should just own the attitude: “Look, I’ve got the truth and I’m right. If you want to hear it then I’ll tell you so you can have it too, otherwise, if you are happy being wrong, then go ahead and be wrong.” But something about that doesn’t seem very Christlike or loving. I am at a loss trying to reconcile these two opposing views of the same data. Even when Christ is packaged as loving, He is unpackaged as arrogant. I struggle to paint an accurate picture of who God really is when met with such staunch resistance. Maybe my best bet is just living like Christ and continuing to love my neighbor even though they might call me arrogant… at least I have the peace of Christ, which is far past my understanding… what do you think?

[/box_holder]

Nelson Fernandez

Nelson serves as a pastor in a growing in a bilingual and multicultural church district in Greenville, South Carolina in the Carolina Conference. He is married to the love of his life Sarah, who is Venezuelan and American. Born and raised in Miami, FL, he is a second-generation Hispanic of Dominican-Salvadorian decent. He loves reading, learning and blogging about leadership, church growth, discipleship and practical Christianity at www.nelsonsblog.com

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. As a former Adventist (and current atheist) it is the smugness in simplistic arguments on both sides that bothers me the most. It’s related to arrogance, but it’s what we do with our respective in-groups rather than outsiders we’re trying to impress. The Adventists sitting around the table after Sabbath lunch talking, not about evolution, but about how stupid and blind people must be to accept it. Or a Bill Maher panel discussion with snide comments about a man in the clouds needing to rest after magically creating the universe. Perhaps we need to recognise a bit more complexity in the world around us. Not unnecessary complexity, but the acknowledgment that our understanding is always going to be limited and incomplete and that the universe might actually an incredibly complex place. We can move towards understanding many details, subtleties, and truths – and the journey is valuable and important – but, face it, we’re never going to get to that place of complete knowledge. Not in this lifetime. So would a little bit of patience, empathy, and willingness to listen with our mouths shut be all that bad?

    1. Hi David. I agree that most humans, Christian or not, could stand to create and embrace more of those spaces that allow for the unknown. I feel like the more we can all do that, the more we brighten our corner of the world. I believe in God. I believe in His promises because of what He’s personally done for me. I wish I could have the blind faith others profess to have – the faith that didn’t need God to do something miraculous before believing in Him. Instead, I have faith based on my experiences, and if others don’t recognize those personal experiences with Him, then I don’t see much of a reason they’d believe, either. But here’s the thing: I trust God to give others the same opportunity to recognize His love that He gave me. I trust that He’ll reveal His love as obviously to others that He has to me. Ultimately, I trust God to be God, and I hope that comes off less as arrogance and more as personal belief founded on personal experience with a personal God. 🙂 All the best! 🙂

    2. I am with you bro. Since you are a former Adventist I don’t need to explain to you what Christians call discernment. My understanding of Christ before Pilate was that He kept His mouth shut for the most part, but often among His people He was preaching like crazy. It would be nice if we were all a little better at discerning which approach is right for which situation. I also think that we clearly need to stop the circle bashing, instead I believe in the banner of building people up. Even an Atheist can see that the man Jesus was a person who edified people. It would be great if all people were more like that. I also like your thoughts on complexity. The more educated I become, the more I realize how much I don’t know… and the more I take leaps of faith. Ironic isn’t it? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top