Posted On April 9, 2012

Five Favorite Christian Punching Bags

by | Apr 9, 2012 | Contemporary Culture

I’ve never boxed. I’ve only seen Rocky I. And I think Mike Tyson is crazy. But as a Christian I do have a punching bag. In fact, I have several of them and so do you. These are rhetorical targets, things we love to hate as preachers, writers, bloggers, etc. I’ve you read a bestselling Christian book, listen to a sermon, read blogs, scan your Twitter feed and/or Facebook timeline, you’ll be sure to encounter one or more of these. Here are my top five:

1) Most Evangelical Churches . . . .

Yes, we like to stereotype most evangelical churches, don’t we. I even wrote a post about this here. Even though we may have only personally visited seven other churches in our lives, we think we have authority to say, “Most churches . . . ” and it’s usually a negative thing. What’s funny about this is that almost every side of ever debate uses this. People who are more progressive say, “Most churches won’t allow  . . . .” while folks who are more conservative may say, “Most churches wouldn’t preach . . . ”

It’s a rhetorical crutch you will probably find in almost every book, sermon, etc you hear, including mine. We just can’t help ourselves. I’m not sure where it comes from, other than the need, I think to make ourselves feel better about what we’re doing. Our church/sermon/book/movement is better because we’re going against the bad grain of “what’s going on the church.” A good cousin to this is the “most pastors” crutch.

2) Christian bookstores

Man, we Christians hate Christian bookstores. The other day I posted a positive Tweet about one in my neighborhood and it received mostly negative feedback. This punching bag goes like this usually, “Walk into a Christian bookstore and you’ll find . . .” and it’s usually stuff that the person doesn’t want to see sold in a Christian bookstore. Again, this is a bipartisan punching bag, as progressive Christians want to see more risque language, etc in the books sold there and conservative Christians think that bookstores need to sell more solid doctrinal content. I’m not defending every item purchased on the shelves of Christian bookstores, but I do wonder how they might keep everyone happy? And I do know that it’s a really difficult business to sustain. And I also know that it seems virtually impossible to get anyone to say anything nice about a Christian bookstore these days.

3) Joel Osteen

I’m not a big fan of Joel Osteen’s ministry. I think the prosperity message is a false or, at best, misguided message. However, it’s interesting how easy it is for us to “push off” of Osteen as a way of defining our ministry philosophy, as if “not being Joel Olsteen” is the only way to be. He’s a convenient punching bag, a mascot for “what’s wrong in our churches” (see above). What’s more subtle and less acknowledged is the way prosperity preaching has seeped into even conservative evangelical churches in the sense that we seem to implicitly teach that if we just do certain things, God will be happy and our lives will be trouble-free. Easy to blame Joel but it’s likely that we’ve imbibed some of the prosperity message in our own lives.

4) The Religious Right/Republicans/Jerry Falwell

This may be the punching bag of choice for millenials. Every year, many books are published in the evangelical market that decry the church’s selling out to power and/or Republicans. What’s funny is that each author acts like he’s stumbled onto some new theory. I resonate with some of this message, that at times the Church has become known more for what or who it is against than what it is for. I think the church should be wary of aligning itself too strongly with one party/movement. But I also think that this is overstated. Sometimes the acts of individual Christians are conflated with “the Church” itself. I also think Jerry Falwell gets blamed for a lot more than he should. Yes, he made some unfortunate comments that perhaps cast Christianity in a poor light. He also has done much work to advance the work of the Church. But, alas, I don’t think the flood of books blaming his generation for all of society’s social ills will cease anytime soon.

5) Obama/Democrats/Hollywood/Liberals/The Culture

I challenge you to find a book, sermon, etc that doesn’t start with, “And we live in a culture that . . .” I do this all the time. “They” is an easy mark. Why are our kids leaving the faith? It’s the Democrats fault or Hollywood’s fault or the Liberals fault. You’ll mostly hear this on conservative talk radio, but you’ll get a big dose of it from the evangelical world as well. Some of it is true. We do live in a world system that is increasingly hostile to biblical Christianity. But I also know from my own life experience that it’s easier to identify the enemies without than the enemies within. It’s easier to speak out against social sins than identify and repent of sins in my own heart. It’s easy to find the hate and ungodliness on the mean streets or the Drudge Report than the bad stuff lurking in me.

So, these are my five top punching bags. What are yours? Am I missing some?


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1 Comment

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    Now, I am catching up with my email with all the blog. This is a very interesting post to read. One of my punching bag is I just can’t stand some of my charisma friends (Word of Faith or the overboard one) on the facebook loves to slander or Photoshop against Obama and others liberal party too. 

    I am a very conservative and Pro-Life in every way. I wouldn’t vote for Obama as long as I lives unless the Lord changes his heart. As a believer for Christ, we shouldn’t slander or Photoshop anyone and especially Obama or any government authority. We all should be praying for those in position even though we might not like them. But God put them there for His Glory. It just seems to be more common things among those who are charisma friends (Word of Faith or the overboard ones), and I kept seeing ugly remark on the facebook against Obama or Photoshop against Obama. Just a little bit from other religious background and some from Tea Party too. I am not seeing this in my church family or with my reformed friends. Funny thing is that both of my parent (deceased) were charisma but not of that overboard ones, they wouldn’t dare do what others are doing. They would rebuke them. 

    I still want to rearrange and rebuke those who are being ugly on the facebook against Obama. The only way for me to rebuke them is to do in a godly Christ-like way without pointing to them. One of my friend that was a intern at Crisis Pregnancy Center who isn’t conservative and is moderate but is pro-life doesn’t like that Tea Party and how they make fun of Obama. She is for Obama and socialism. It is hard to talk to her about my godly view why we shouldn’t be voting for Obama and other issues as well. She does think that conservative is meanest people without care from what I understand from her. Not all but the one that she encounter. I didn’t have problem with her but being very nice and kind to her to point out the pro and con and the truth.

    There are other punching bags too but don’t know how to write that. I just can’t put my finger in there and praying how to deal with it.

    Hungry to eat His Word,
    ‘Guerite ~ BoldLion


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