Does Christianity Foster Hate?

There can be no doubt that certain kinds of Christianity have fostered hate. This has been true historically and it is still true in some places today. I am not speaking of "hate crimes" as defined by secular legal minds in our own time but rather of the type of hatred that makes people see Christians and Christianity as mean-spirited.

I am convinced that the good news of Jesus, properly understood, never breeds a hateful faith, only a gracious faith. The reason for this is that Jesus himself is at the center of real faith and Jesus never modeled hate speech or mean actions. He was firm, especially with religious conservatives who failed to keep the spirit of the law, but he was never mean. He exemplified love and grace and always displayed the virtues of love, patience, meekness and humility in his dealings with people. Since he is our model we should do the same, in so far as we follow him.

What I am really saying is that faith is primarily relational. This does not mean that doctrine does not matter but rather that how you treat a person is far more important to Christ than having all knowledge about the faith. Another way to say this is to say that faith is incarnational more than rational. It exists in flesh-and-blood people who laugh, cry and die much more than in abstract truths and arguments.

So is doctrine important? You bet it is. If your doctrine of Jesus is wrong than you will not be an incarnational person. And if your doctrine about Jesus is wrong you will not have a role model who is truly good and holy. What this does mean, however, is that true faith goes beyond dogma. Dogma without faith is dead. Faith without dogma will never be true faith. But the faith always precedes the doctrine and thus has a priority in how we actually live. When this happens Christianity will never foster hatred.

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