I walked into the filled college lecture hall. The room seats about 200. The seats are terraced up to the two-doored exits at the auditorium’s rear. I took my place alone on the floor of the semicircle, eight foot white boards and smart screens behind me. And then I told the student the seven lies that Christians tell.
1. We lie when we claim we are more confident than we really are.
The culture of pretending within Christianity seems almost at an epidemic level. Many of us feel the need to hide our doubts and questions. We feel compelled to act like our faith life is totally satisfying, when we often feel dry, cold, or numb.
2. We lie when we claim that unexplainable things are in fact explainable.
God is transcendent and beyond even the shadowy wisps of imagination in our finite minds. The Trinity, for instance, is not as simple as a metaphor of water (ice, liquid, gas) or an egg (shell, white, yoke). Sometimes I think we would be better off if we just said, “These ideas are so beyond me that if God did reveal them to me, I’m pretty sure my brain would explode.”
3. We lie when we don’t acknowledge our doubts within the drama of faith.
This is similar to number one above but just on a more detailed level. When another person challenges us with a difficult theological issue, sometimes it is best to just admit we don’t know.
4. We lie when we pretend that the Bible doesn’t say some really nasty things when in fact it does.
For instance, God commands genocide. He just does – at least from a clear and honest reading of the Bible. There is also a verse that says, “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” (Psalm 137:9). If we want the Bible to be our document, we need to own the whole thing.
5. We lie when we claim we understand other beliefs, faiths, and world views.
We need to stop saying, “I understand Islam,” or, “I know what a Muslim believes.” Do you want someone saying that they understand your faith experience just because they met a Christian?
6. We lie when we claim that all of our beliefs are a “10.”
This one is probably going to frustrate some people, but we are disingenuous when we claim all of our dogmas with equal veracity. To put it another way, on a scale of one to ten, not all Christian beliefs are a “10.” For example, I’m not sure I’m ready to put my life on the line for my belief in a floating zoo. Was the Noah story real, or a parable? I think it was real. But I can’t give it a “10.”
7. We lie when we pretend we really love the other person when we don’t.
We do not love people when we dismiss their story. We do not love people when we do not empathically listen to them, as opposed to spending that time formulating our counter-argument. We do not love others when we reduce them to labels, caricatures, or opponents. If we love, then we will find them shockingly beautiful and fascinating creations. We will find their stories riveting. We will radiate affection. Humans know deep down if they are really loved or not.
About the Author
Tony Kriz writes for Christianity Today.