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.

Related Posts


  1. Anthony November 29, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    As I am sure you know, the classic formulation for understanding the relationship between faith and knowledge is expressed in Anselm’s dictum “Faith seeking understanding.” An implication of this is that faith leads us to the place where we can begin to properly articulate doctrine. Apart from faith, we are on the wrong foundation, and thus, no matter how hard we may try to seek and speak the truth, we inevitably will go awry.
    Regarding the question of Xianity perpetuating hate, I think no matter how much we actually do embody love, to some degree, we will still be subject to the criticism of hate mongering. The reason is that the world does not fully accept God’s judgment, which is that we are so blighted by sin that only God can deliver us from our dire circumstances. Consequently, when we speak the truth about Sin and the manifold ways it expresses itself, both personally and systemically, we will sound like overly critical hate mongers. In order for the love to be seen in our criticism of Sin, the world would have to accept the judgment. Think of an alcoholic that is profoundly in denial. If you were to tell him that his alcohol using lifestyle is destroying his life and harming those around him, he would no doubt think you are a jerk until he acknowledged the truth of his addiction.

  2. Adam S November 29, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    I think John is asking the right question and Anthony has part of the right answer. I assume that there will always be those that see preaching of love and the gospel as “hate”.
    But I have to say that I am more familiar with are people that feel hate from the church because they have actually been mistreated. Sometimes it was misunderstanding, sometimes it was just sin on the church’s part. The end result is that there are many people that feel that they have been on the receiving end of hate and therefore reject the church.

Comments are closed.

My Latest Book!

Use Promo code UNITY for 40% discount!

Recent Articles