Why Is There Always a Christian Version of Something Non-Christian?

No offence. Really. But why is there always a Christian version of something that’s not Christian? Why do Christians feel the need to go out and baptize stuff and make it Christian? Is the world that appealing and is Christianity so lacking that there is nothing within it that can hold the attention of its members?

It’s like we’re all sitting inside a circle, keeping ourselves away from the world while longing after it in our hearts, and because we’re not supposed to long for it, we take it and redecorate it so it’s okay for us to want it and have it. We make it Christian.

I hate stuff like that. Making me have to listen and answer to non-Christians about why we had to go and do that and how it’s not right and how we shouldn’t be mixing with the world and doing what it does.

Sigh.

Debates have been going on about this for a while and, as in any debate, both sides have valid points. I just wish I was left out of it all, but because I have the label Christian on me, everyone who knows me thinks I’m some kind of authority on these things and that they should ask me what I think, because what I think must be so important or awesome or whatever. Meanwhile, in my head I’m just like leave me alone!

 

***I’m going back to work now.

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12 thoughts on “Why Is There Always a Christian Version of Something Non-Christian?”

  1. I used to hold to a similar perspective, until a friend presented an interesting point of view. While I still do believe that there are times when we need to be very wary of our motivation for Christianising that which is non-Christian, as my friend pointed out, God is a God of redemption. If, at its core, there is a potential for good in something cultural, and our desire is to redeem that good from its worldly trappings, we join God in his work of redemption and restoration. There are times, of course, when it is done to justify taking part in worldly activities rather than to redeem worldly activities into Godly ones, and thus requires a great deal of discernment. Nevertheless, there is always value in seeking ways to redeem cultural and worldly things when there is something in them to redeem.

    1. In order to make sure I wouldn’t be uttering garbage, I looked up the word redeem before responding to this comment. I first thought of it in light of God redeeming us, as in taking us back, from sin, because we were His to begin with. After looking the word up however, I realized that it had two other meanings. One is to make something bad or unpleasant better, and the other is to exchange something, like a lottery ticket, for money. This last meaning we can forget about. The other two however, we can deal with.

      Your last sentence looks like it’s using the meaning of redeem which has to do with making something bad better. Before that, when you use the word redeem it seems to be conveying the meaning of buying something back, the way Jesus did us. Redeeming good from its worldly trappings sounds like what Jesus did, because we were trapped in the world and the sin that’s in it. But originally we weren’t like that. We weren’t made to live in sin. That’s why God did something in order for us to be able to get out of it.

      Your last sentence however, is about taking things from the world and making them good so that we can use them, which is exactly what God does not want us to do. At least that is how I understand it. He doesn’t want us to teach men’s commandments as doctrines and thereby worship Him in vain. He wants us to be separate from the world, not like it. Us taking the things of the world and trying to make them godly is not something I think we should do. It’s only keeping us attached to the world. It certainly isn’t drawing people to God, not the ones who know what the world looks like. I know there are people who have switched from the worldly version of one thing to the Christian version (me) after giving their lives to God, but there are people who recognize it as the world dressed as Christ and who stay away from Christ because they don’t like how Christians are parading the fake; the one they made.

      Was this too much? Sorry. And if I misunderstood you I apologize.

      1. I suppose what I possibly didn’t make clear enough in my initial comment was my emphasis on “when there is something in them to redeem” in my last sentence. A distinction I might make here is the difference between that which is fallen and that which is evil. Love is something that is fallen – human love is flawed and imperfect, but even non-Christians are capable of loving to some degree, and that love represents a flawed picture of part of God’s character. Rape is something that is evil – at its very core, rape contains only sin, and is completely against the character of God. When discussing whether to Christianise something from society, I believe that it is necessary to determine whether it is fallen or whether it is evil.

        God created the world and everything in it as “very good” – the majority of our experiences are with things that are fallen, not evil. If we identify that something is merely fallen, our desire for it should be redemption – if, for example, a particular form of media is fallen because it communicates ideologies that are against God, we redeem it by turning it into a tool for worship and Gospel proclamation. This can be done with all musical styles (even the ones that I absolutely can’t stand like heavy metal), as long as the style of music fits the words – heavy metal might actually be the most appropriate genre for a song that expresses an accurate understanding of the depravity of sin. Something like pornography, on the other hand, is evil – by its very nature it is a tool to encourage lust and takes an activity that is meant to be private and makes it public. It can’t be redeemed, and thus it must be shunned.

        Western Christianity seems to have imbibed an overly strong dose of Gnosticism at some point along the line, seeing the material as inherently evil while the immaterial is the only place that good can be found. This form of dualism isn’t the picture we see in the Bible – the material and immaterial were both created good, and both became fallen. Christianity should involve the redemption and restoration of both the material and the immaterial. Because of the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit, we get to see the restoration of the immaterial immediately; it is not until Revelation 21 that we see the material completely redeemed. However, Romans 8:22 points out that, for all of creation, something changed with Christ. Restoration of the material began with Christ, and its part of our calling as Christians. We must never love things that are evil, and we must never love fallenness, but we are called to be part of restoration and redemption from fallenness.

        I do agree with you when you say that the Christian version of some things is actually worldly, just with a nicer coat of paint on the outside. In this case, it hasn’t been redeemed, it’s been given some camoflague; this is something I’m totally against. It takes discernment to tell which is which, but that shouldn’t discourage us from seeking to see things redeemed.

        It might help if you gave some specific examples of the things that you’re thinking of when you give your critcisms, because it may be that we’re thinking about totally different things being Christianised. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had a long discussion with someone before realising that we had totally pictures in our mind about what we were debating, haha.

        1. Haha. Cool. Okay. I totally understand you now.

          As for examples, when I was talking about switching from a non-Christian to a Christian version of something I was thinking about music. I love alternative and soft rock and I was happy to find that this kind of music exists in the Christian world because soon after I became a Christian I gave up listening to secular music. As I got deeper into my “faith”, and I put that in quotes because it had nothing to do with belief but rather religion and the gathering of knowledge, I learned some not so wonderful things about music, instruments, rhythm and the power they have over us, so much so that the lyrics that accompany them are basically nonfunctional. They don’t work. The music works, but the lyrics don’t. Or the lyrics don’t make the music “good” then. They don’t baptize it. They don’t change it and make it better. It’s not redeemed.

          When I spoke about people not liking Christians baptizing worldly things, I was talking about non-Christians, specifically my father and one of my friends. My father saw a commercial for ChristianMingle.com once and shook his head while verbally expressing his disapproval of that site. He did not like that Christians were taking it upon themselves to do something like that which was already well known outside of the religion. I don’t think he likes dating sites at all, so he wasn’t very accepting when he found out that there was a Christian dating site.

          With my friend it was the same discussion that was going on in church about whether or not it was okay to put Christian lyrics to worldly music, though not on such a deep level.

      2. I thought music might have been what you were talking about, hence using that as one of my examples, haha. As for the objections to rock music and such, I’ve run across them as well before. In fact, I encountered them soon after becomming a Christian, and responded by developing the habit of checking any song I was listening to for syncopation and avoiding any songs that had it. However, I ended up trying to chase down some of the medical papers that supported those objections, and found them to be mostly unsubstantiated. Music does affect the human body, but not to the degree some people would assert (certain rhythmn and tempo combinations can have somewhat of a hypnotic effect, which should be avoided in Christian music, but beyond that there aren’t too many concerns). In addition, when you research the history of Christian music, a number of classic hymns were originally pub songs with bawdy lyrics – the only changes were the lyrics and the instruments upon which they were played. Christianity has a long, long history of redeeming non-Christian music for Chrisitan use – it’s absolutely not a modern innovation.

        As for the dating websites thing, that does sound mostly like a personal objection that your father has. There is some reason to question whether the world’s approach to dating is one that should be mimicked by Christians, but that increases the value of a separate dating website for Christians. It’s not so much a matter of baptising a non-Christian practice as simple recognition of practicality – there’s certainly nothing un-Christian about getting in contact with new people with a view towards a God-honouring, lifelong relationship.

        1. The music thing got too much for me. While I did look here and there (and by this I mean YouTube) on my own in order to confirm what I was learning, I didn’t really do much research. I don’t think I’ve ever done much personal research.

          The dating thing does seem to be a personal thing for my father, I have some too. What I’m getting at is that he comes to me with that sort of thing. Anyone does. And I am asked my opinion, or not even my opinion, I am asked whether or not those kind of things are right – as if I would know – just because I was a Christian who never missed church on a Sabbath. I have to deal with these things and be at the end of other people’s questions when I’d rather not because I really don’t know any more than they do.

      3. While this is somewhat tangential to the original topic, for me, whenever somebody asks me a question about Christianity that I don’t know the answer to, my response goes through a few stages. Firstly, I admit that I don’t know; secondly, I may speculate on an answer if I feel as though one can be derived from things that I do know (I am very open through this process about the fact that I am speculating and thus could be entirely wrong); and thirdly, I promise to go research a better answer as soon as I can. That third step can involve consulting with Pastors, reading books, listening to sermons and perhaps even scouring the blogosphere, and it’s not always a quick process either (finding a satisfactory answer to the question of genocide in the Old Testament took me the better part of 12 months, but I learnt an incredible amount along the way). I’ve found that most non-Christians are respectful of this; some may take issue with the confident assumption that an answer does exist rather than a more sceptical assumption, but apart from that I haven’t encountered too many issues with using that approach.

        1. Wow you actually research stuff. I do parts one and two when I have to answer questions I don’t know the answer to. Besides my usual reading, which I did a lot of, I never really researched things like that. I was busy trying to learn how to be a perfect Christian. I wold love to know what answer you found satisfactory to the genocide question though. An atheist classmate of mine brought that up to me and nothing I said appeased him.

      4. I’m an academic by nature – for me, there is joy in finding an interesting question to research the answer to, haha :) I’d advise getting into the habit of researching questions when you get asked, mostly so that you don’t leave the person who asked the question feeling as though there’s no answer to be found.

        The answer to the genocide question isn’t a short one, unfortunately; it comes down to some pretty major differences in worldview. I’ve written a couple other comments on other peoples’ blogs addressing the same topic, so I’ll start by pointing you towards those:
        http://grownupsforpretend.com/2014/05/01/my-best-theory-is-already-in-me/comment-page-1/#comment-27 (I also had a reply on the same post that adds a couple points I forgot to mention in the comment proper)
        http://quinersdiner.com/2014/05/14/why-was-god-so-vicious-in-the-old-testament/#comment-28416
        I’ll probably end up addressing it on my own blog at some point but, in the meantime, if you have any additional questions that I didn’t cover in one of those comments, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to respond here :)

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