The Common Good

7 Marks of A Stereotypical American Christian

1) You Love To Argue, Fight, And Attack

American flag and the Bible, SUE ASHE / Shutterstock.com
American flag and the Bible, SUE ASHE / Shutterstock.com

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There’s nothing quite like flooding people’s Facebook feeds with posts about the sins of gay marriage, abortion, and the Democratic Party or the volleyed claims of bigotry, hypocrisy, and self-interest.

American Christians seemingly love to argue with people and engage themselves in various culture wars. Whether it’s about the existence of global warming, prayer in schools, evolution, gun control, or homosexuality, you love to let people know that you’re RIGHT and they’re WRONG. Oh yeah, and if you don’t agree with me —You’re going to hell! Literally.

Your main forms of communication include boycotting, accusing, yelling, screaming, pointing, spewing, slandering, shaming, shaking your fists, and waving protest signs. In fact, you’ll probably write a venomous response to this piece in the comments section below.

2) You Practice Christianity Through Groups And Institutions

You aren’t just part of a church — you belong to the Midwest Association of Evangelical Believers, part of the Northwest Baptist Conference, located in the Eastern Synod of Inger County ... and you attend the Traditional Service. Denominations, schools, associations, organizations, and institutions are a normal part of your everyday faith. In fact, you hardly worship, fellowship, learn, or minister outside of an officially sponsored function.

Without structured, regulated, and organized religious affiliations, your faith would be radically different.

3) Your Theology Is Borrowed

Instead of constructing your own theology, you espouse someone else’s — most likely a Christian celebrity. Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Joel Osteen, Rob Bell, Donald Miller, James MacDonald, Brian McLaren, Greg Boyd, or Rachel Held Evans — take your pick.

You love that person’s specific theology but hate the opposition’s viewpoint —there is no middle ground.

4) Your Online Faith Doesn’t Reflect Reality

You post Bible verses on Twitter, claim ‘Christianity’ as your religion on Facebook, and proudly put inspiring quotes about God and faith on your Tumblr account. But in reality you never pray, read the Bible, or practically live out your beliefs. If only your faith was as strong as it appeared on Social Media.

5) You Love Labels

When you meet a fellow Christian, you immediately classify them. Are they a Liberal, Conservative, Calvinist, Open Theist, Pacifist, Methodist, Egalitarian, Complementarian, Premillennial, Postmillennial, Lutheran, Charismatic, Catholic, Dispensationalist, Literalist, Universalist, or Annihilationist?

What version of the Bible do they read? What style of worship do they prefer? Do they love the Emergent Movement or think it’s directly from Satan? Instead of seeing Christians as part of a worldwide corporate community, you compartmentalize people based on their beliefs, practices and preferences.

6) You Crave Efficiency Over Spirituality

Ministries, Missions, and Outreaches are only successful if they are quick, streamlined, and financially rewarding. Success is gauged by growth and numbers. If someone isn’t converted or reformed within the first few weeks, it’s time to abandon them and focus on someone else —solutions should be fast and easy.

Your faith is analyzed by business standards instead of spiritual fruits.

7) You Need Entertainment

“Christianity” means summer camps, pizza parties, conferences, exciting guest speakers, mission trips to exotic destinations, concerts, music festivals, and high-energy church services. Entertainment, tranquility, and consumerism reign supreme. And if you experience any sort of dissatisfaction or discomfort you’ll leave and go somewhere else!

Christian education, worship, ministry, missions, and fellowship centers around the quest for entertainment. What can you get from it? The greatest benefactor of Christianity is yourself —not others. The worst enemy of American Christianity isn’t heresy — it’s boredom.

Obviously, many Christians are more complex and inspiring than the attributes listed above, but we need to start realizing the influence American culture has on our faith.

Unfortunately, many of these stereotypes are still perpetuated by American Christians who have strayed away from Christ’s example of sacrificial love and are using religion to serve their own misguided agendas. Nobody is perfect, but we need to start emulating Christ instead of subtly allowing our social surroundings to dictate our spiritual priorities.

Stephen Mattson has written for Relevant, Red Letter Christians and The Burnside Writer's Collective. He graduated from the Moody Bible Institute and is currently on staff at University of Northwestern – St. PaulMinn. Follow him on Twitter @mikta.

Image: American flag and the Bible, SUE ASHE / Shutterstock.com

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