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By Gary F. Zeolla

Having "lurked" and participated in various Newsgroups for quite some time, it is apparent to me that there are two Christianities: the "Christianity" that Atheists, New Agers, and other opponents of the Christian faith know - and the Christianity I know.

The first "Christianity" is the Christianity of the Crusades, the Inquisition, Jim and Tammy Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, abortion clinic bombers, and the like. In other words, the first Christianity is that of a religion filled with hypocrites who persecute anyone who disagrees with them.

Meanwhile, the Christianity I know is filled with Christians who, throughout the centuries, have built and run schools, nursing homes, and hospitals (hence why so many nursing homes and hospitals have the word "Saint" in their names or Christian terms like "Grace" or Mercy").

This Christianity runs homeless shelters and food relief programs and provides disaster relief when needed (The Salvation Army is a Christian denomination with regular church services, in case the reader didn’t know. And many other church organizations are also involved in such activities).

It is the Christianity with pastors that have dedicated their lives to serving God and their congregations, working long hours for little pay. In many cases, they forsook better paying jobs because they believed God was calling them to the ministry (such as the pastor of my church who used to be an engineer).

The Christianity I know is one in which its churches are filled with loving people. They will help support one-another- as much as possible, whenever possible.

It is the Christianity that has been a strong force for positive social change. For instance, this Christianity provided the presuppositions and epistemology that led to the formation of modern-day science (I am currently working on a full length article on this subject for my ministry’s newsletter and Web site).

Most of all, the Christianity I know is one that has changed lives for the better. I know that it was placing my faith in Christ that turned my life around from one of meaningless and near suicide to one filled with meaning and purpose in life. And many other Christians can give similar testimonies.

Even further, this Christianity can change hardened criminals into God-loving and people-loving people. I know this as I have numerous inmates on the mailing list for the hard-copy version of my newsletter. The letters I receive from the inmate are incredibly inspiring. Former criminals now attending Bible studies and trying to live for God as best they can within the limits of prison life. In fact, the next issue of my newsletter will contain an article written by one of these inmates.

So what am I to make of these two radically different viewpoints of what Christianity entails? Which is the "real" Christian faith?

Yes, there are hypocrites who claim to be Christians. But Jesus Himself was opposed to such hypocrisy. See, for instance, His searing condemnation of the hypocritical, religious leaders of His time (Matt 23).

And yes, many horrors have been committed in the name of Christ. But this is only confirmation of the Christian teaching that we are all sinners at heart. Hence the widespread tendency to use something "good" for evil purposes.

Moreover, Jesus told us that not everyone that claims to be a Christian is a Christian. He declared, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matt 7:21).

And God’s will is for His people to engage in the kinds of activities outlined in the second Christianity above and for people’s lives to be changed for the better by the teaching of His Word (Matt 25:34-36; 2Cor 5:17; 2Tim 3:16,17; James 1:27).

Thus the first Christianity above simply is not the "real" Christianity. The real Christianity is the second Christianity. This Christianity is the one that is consistent with the teachings of Christ and His apostles.

For follow-ups to the above article see:
Two Christianities - Replies to Responses and More on Two Christiainities.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above article was published in Darkness to Light newsletter in June 1998.

General Theology & Apologetics
Christianity and Evil: General Theology and Apologetics

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