What Happened?

December 19, 2006

Jay Bakker, the son of televangelist Jim Bakker and a minister of a church, has a thought-provoking column at CNN that is co-authored by a fellow staff member at his church. The title of the piece is “What the hell happened to Christianity?” While some may find the title overly provocative or inappropriate, it is a column that Christians should read and consider. And the title actually seems to more than an attempt to be funny or controversial; it kind of answers the question of where our problems have been coming from. Here are a few highlights from the piece:

What the hell happened? Where did we go wrong? How was Christianity co-opted by a political party? Why are Christians supporting laws that force others to live by their standards? The answers to these questions are integral to the survival of Christianity.

While the current state of Christianity might seem normal and business-as-usual to some, most see through the judgment and hypocrisy that has permeated the church for so long. People witness this and say to themselves, “Why would I want to be a part of that?” They are turned off by Christians and eventually, to Christianity altogether.

... So when did the focus of Christianity shift from the unconditional love and acceptance preached by Christ to the hate and condemnation spewed forth by certain groups today?

... Christians should be able to look past their differences and agree to disagree. This allows people to discuss issues with respect for one another. Christians are called to love others just as they are, without an agenda. Only then will Christianity see a return to its roots: Loving God with all of your heart and loving your neighbor as yourself.
Amen! This is a much needed plea for today’s Christians. If the difference between this piece and the work of Jim Bakker two decades ago is an indication of a change emerging in Christianity, then we have a good reason to be hopeful. We need to return to a focus on sharing the love of Jesus with everyone, and quit letting other minor issues distract us from that. Instead of condemning everyone to hell, we need to love them and help them find God.

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