“Not A Real Christian” Is Real Rhetoric

Perhaps Sarah Palin will actually read about what that Jesus guy kept talking about and her head will explode.

Reddit user Popcom

I have spent the past couple of weeks spending 15 minutes chunks on Reddit, leaving when I become disgusted enough to get back to working through my topology textbook. The experience has, however, been enlightening insofar as it sheds light on the opinions of the masses. Hence, this post.

Discussions will often go something like this: some religious group deviates from Reddit-brand progressivism (which is almost a caricature of the United States left). Then, some commenter denounces them as not a real Christian and receives several hundred upvotes. The Westboro Baptist group, infamous for protesting funerals, is a common punching-bag in these discussions.

Now, I hope the brain damage here is already evident, but the reasoning seems to go that real Christians cannot believe anything that the typical Redditor finds morally repugnant. Otherwise, they’re not following Jesus! If it’s not my personal brand of Christianity, then it’s not Christianity.

You’ll often see something like, “Any real Christian supports equality for gays,” but let’s be honest here. The Bible’s position on homosexuality is about straightforward as these things get. So, if you’re going to argue that the One True Christianity supports homosexuality, you’ll find yourself scrambling for justifications as to why certain parts of the Bible don’t count.

But such an enterprise is circular. People who are arguing about what makes a real Christian are not interested in what the Bible says. It’s rhetoric. They’re interested in picking and choosing pieces of the Bible that support the belief system that they already have in place.

How do people construct their initial belief system, the one they’re using to fence off the real Christians from the fake ones? Through osmosis. It’s a patchwork of influences of peers, parents, the media, etc. The user who writes, “Not a real Christian!” means something more like, “Boo! Not a member of my tribe!” and is not making a point about what does or does not make a Christian.

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