This has always been the case with religion and politics, because these two arenas are at the core of our being. For the most part, who we are and what we do emanates from them. No wonder it is difficult to admit there is even a possibility we have missed the boat when it comes to these topics. If you don't think that's really the case, look at the history of Christianity! The Church has been responsible for far too many atrocities to mankind. Off the top of my head comes: the crucifixion (although good for us, I’m sure it really wasn’t that great for Jesus). Then there's the whole disagreement about the earth not really being the center of our solar system. That debate didn’t end so well either. And let's not forget two scars most people refer to as The Inquisition and the Crusades. Did the church ever miss the point on those ones? Last, but certainly not least is Martin Luther’s reformation. Now tell me that religion isn't divisive and we hate to concede when individuals take a stand and speak out!
As we begin this discussion, I need you to see why it is essential we question things and seek the truth--no matter the cost. First and foremost, we (rightly so) claim Christianity as the Truth. However, if we are going to be so arrogant to make this claim, it is imperative we know why! The other reason being that many of us, in the Church, have been spoon-fed. Sunday morning has served as an indoctrination of sorts, in which everything spoken from the pulpit has been taken as fact. Understand, in no way am I claiming this is everyone in the Church. Neither am I saying heresy is purposely (or unintentionally) being taught from every pulpit. Nor am I saying we need to debate every idea or principle that comes from those in leadership. But we should, on our own, take the time to weigh things against Scripture. The Bereans did this when Paul (the guy who wrote most of the New Testament) spoke. And God credited their earnestness and sincerity for the truth as righteousness. Shouldn't we be all the more eager to do the same?
I spent four years at a Christian university and was required to go to something like two-thirds--I think somewhere around 50--of the chapel services every year (most of which I enjoyed). I give you this information in hopes you will realize I have heard my share of preachers and I'm not just spouting off about one fortuitous incident. And not to be stereotypical or hate on televangelists, but far too much of what I hear from those broadcasts is the Pepsi One of Christianity; it just isn't quite the same as the real thing. Names will not be mentioned, but some of what I've heard preached from a pulpit or seen proclaimed on television is a far cry from the Gospel I read in Scripture. Hopefully you realize I don't have the market on Jesus or Christianity either--so, by all means, question and research it.
At the onset, I admit some of this, I probably misunderstood. On the other hand, some of the teachings were impossible to misconstrue.
During this particular chapel at college, the guest speaker proclaimed "Jesus wasn't really asleep before the disciples woke him and he calmed the storm." Apparently he was just laying there, half awake, with one eye open waiting for the disciples to come to him for help--even though Scripture says Jesus was sleeping. Now, this does not create some large theological riff, but it simply isn't true. Another interesting thing I heard spoken from a pulpit was that, at the wedding party, Jesus turned the water into grape juice not wine. In my professional opinion, that is no miracle. Give me 15 seconds, a can of juice concentrate, water, and a spoon. Again, this doesn't really take away from the overall message of Scripture, but it could make one wonder how we are to believe the Bible is accurate when it comes to something more sizable like salvation. Of all the ridiculous things I've heard preached from a pulpit, the worst was...well, before I fill you in, make sure you are sitting down. This particular service, the message was concluded with the shocking statement that “Jesus didn't die for you!" No further explanation was given even attempting to clarify his point. That was it! Following the concluding prayer, the shocked listeners ushered themselves out of the service and went about the rest of their day.
Hopefully, I have made my case as to why it is crucial we question things (I reiterate, not necessarily in public--there is a time and a place for everything) and weigh them against Scripture. Even the most well intentioned Christians get it wrong from time to time. I warn you, asking these questions is no easy task. Answering them is even more difficult. But, as Martin Luther said, "Peace if possible. Truth at all costs."