Now here is an interesting article. Anne Rice, a one time author of graphic vampire novels, made headlines a few years ago for converting to Christianity. Because of her conversion, she ceased writing these types of novels.
Today she made headlines by announcing that she was renouncing Christianity and being a Christian:
"In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control," the author wrote Wednesday on her Facebook page. "In the name of ... Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen." Read the AP story here.
Here is another quote from Anne Rice's Facebook page:
For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For tenyears, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
And yet, the article report this: "Although no longer part of any denomination, she remains a believer and continues to read theology and post Biblical passages on her Facebook page."
So, what does this say about the perception of "Christianity" and "Christian"? I am reminded of a joke I heard once in which someone said this in trying to define Christians: "They are against things and go to a lot of meetings." It is interesting that Anne Rice defined Christianity and being a Christian entirely as being against things.
Now, there are things that Christians should be against. But we ought to be known primarily for what we are for. Jesus said that we would be known as his disciples by our love for one another. He said that we should do our good deeds before people so that they would praise the Father in heaven. When Anne Rice thought of quiting Christianity and being a Christian, why did she not think of quitting loving one another or doing good deeds? The reason is simple. Whether we like it or not, the reality is that a great percentage of non-Christians define Christians as being against things and being judgmental.(Check our David Kinnamon's book UnChristian for stats on this.)
It is interesting that Rice says, "In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being a Christian." This seems to confirm that she is making a distinction between what Christ was actually for and about, and what she perceives Christianity and Christians are all about. I'm not sure if she is actually for homosexuality, or is just against being "anti-gay." The Bible, of course, says that this behavior is sinful. Perhaps she is confronting mean-spirited behavior towards gays. It has been said that we should love the sinner and hate the sin. Sounds like a good idea. But so many times, sadly, it seems that people end of hating the sinner, or at least act and speak against "sinners" in a hateful manner. It is interesting that "sinners" seemed to really like Jesus, where as those who fall into the "sinners" category today often run from, well, Christians and Christianity.
Rice is defined by the writer of the AP article as still being a believer, and the writer notes that Rice continues to post biblical passages on her Facebook page. Rice also writes:
"My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me."
But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.
I am glad that Rice took renounced atheism and has made her faith in Christ central to her life. Praise God! I do not know all the rest of her beliefs, and am not here to defend them--that is really beside the point I am making. The point I am making is this--we need to be known primarily for the things Jesus said that we would be known for, such as our love for one another, doing good deeds in the community, etc. We have a huge PR problem, and many non-Christians do not see us as a positive force in the world.
What do you think is the cause of the world's negative perception of "Christians" and "Christianity"? How can we change this perception?