The Painful Shallowness of the Christian Audience

Let’s just face it – Christians will fall for just about anything. It is not to say that all Christians are gullible, but many segments of the Christian world can be convinced to buy or believe just about anything. For some reason, Christianity attracts people who are easily manipulated and unfortunately, those who manipulate often become Christian leaders.

It really does not matter what brand of Christian we are talking about either. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Rodric de Borja and Giovanni di Lorenzo d’Medici (as popes Alexander VI and Leo X respectively) manipulated and cajoled millions if not billions of dollars in donations for the reconstruction of Rome and their own personal enrichment. They used the papacy as a tool for fleecing Europe of every cent they could get out of it. Martin Luther rose up against them, and within a generation his own followers were fleecing Europe for every cent they could get out of it.

Revivals were preached across the world in the 18th and 19th centuries, and soon they were being copycatted by shysters and charlatans who used emotional preaching and miraculous manipulation to create followings for their particular brand of Christianity, enriching themselves along the way. Today, their philosophical descendants manipulate people with promises of God’s blessing and demonstrations of “the Spirit” in their churches.

Fundamentalists get on the band wagon of any preacher who tickles their ears; Pentecostals and Charismatics bend to whatever teacher has a “new word” for them. People spend millions on Christian books; Christian music is such a significant niche of the music market that every major label owns a Christian label and markets the hell out of it. Men and women live lifestyles of bold face sin and then parade around as preachers of the gospel; and we buy it.

Most of the pyramid schemes and infomercial scams that bombard us constantly are led by nominal Christians and targeted at a predominantly Christian audience.

We buy everything they sell us.

I’m not sure if it is that Christianity attracts the gullible or if it breeds gullibility. Either way, it is pretty obvious that it is wide spread among us.

3 thoughts on “The Painful Shallowness of the Christian Audience”

  1. I wonder if it’s just Christians … next time you’re in the store, check out the “magnetic healing bracelets,” or in another area, listen to some Hanna Montana (or worse, watch a video of a performance) and try to figure out why she’s remotely popular, as every aspect of her performance is mediocre at best.

    But, back to the Christian realm, the sad reality is that the modern Christian, especially in what I call Neofundamentalism and in the metaphysics movement, is taught not to think, or at the very best, taught to think in seemingly logical ways that fail under testing.

    For example, there is a relatively popular, though ridiculous, movement that insists that pi is exactly 3, based on measurements provided in the Old Testament for one of the round vessels used in the temple. The “logic” used goes like this: “We know the Bible is God’s perfect Word. The Bible clearly shows by example that the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is exactly 3. Therefore, anyone who insists that pi can be approximated as 3.14159265358 … is completely wrong.”

    The fascinating thing is, this could be obviously refuted with a string, a circle, and a ruler, but the people follow the “logic” and would probably continue to refute their own experience if they experimented with it. I wonder what happens when such people notice the difference between the parallel accounts in 2 Samuel 24:13 and 1 Chronicles 21:12?

    I found similar inability to reason when examining the PowerPoint files for a six-week course on the “Superiority of the King James Bible,” which contained not a shred of evidence supporting the provided topic. (At best, it occasionally supported the reliability of the KJV, but never its superiority, and generally did not hit the topic at all.)

    Our metaphysics (“health and wealth gospel”) advocates fare no better. “Jesus wants everyone healthy and rich!” (He does? Like Himself? Like the apostles? Like the believers in the early church?) Let’s ignore history and Scriptural context so we can justify our pursuit of materialism …

    And don’t let me even begin on so-called Biblical diets. :: shudder ::

    I would love to blame Christian education, with its lack of real-world skills, love of mediocrity, and reliance on rote learning through high school, but that certainly doesn’t apply in every case.

    Is the problem, as Erik suggested, authoritarian pulpits that squash discussion or even opinion if it contrasts the official party line?

    Or could it be that we are no longer a culture of thinkers? Of readers? Were we ever? Heinlein wrote about the languages and mathematics his father had to study in relatively low grades, and how his own education was not as good.

    What will it take to transform the people who are supposed to be “wise as serpents,” into people who think, read, discuss, argue, and reason?

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