We’re going to pick up where we left off last week, in two ways. First, one of our topics had us thinking about why there seems to be such a disconnect between social justice and the beliefs that many Christians, especially those who appear to be the most visible, actually hold. Well, it turns out that we’re not the only ones asking.
Last week, the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, commented on the results of a recent survey commissioned by the church, which showed a huge difference in how Christians see themselves compared to how non-Christians see them. The survey is eye-opening:
(RNS) — Ask a Christian to describe other Christians and the answers likely will be “giving,” “compassionate,” “loving” and “respectful.”
Ask a non-Christian, on the other hand, and the more likely descriptors you’ll get for Christians are “hypocritical,” “judgmental” and “self-righteous.”
Non-Christians are also far more likely to say Christians do not represent the teachings of Jesus.
Those are the results of a new survey conducted by the Episcopal Church, released Wednesday (March 9), that illustrates stark differences between how Christians and non-Christians view Christianity in the United States.
“There is a disconnect between the reality of Jesus and the perceived reality of Christians,” said Bishop Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.
The Episcopal Church, one of the largest mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S., conducted the survey of American adults with market research company Ipsos in part to identify those gaps, according to Curry.
The denomination also wanted to open a conversation and dialogue, the presiding bishop said. Christians need to learn to listen, he added.
“This was an attempt on our church’s part to actually listen to what others were saying about Jesus, about us. We dared to ask, ‘How are we perceived?’” Curry said.
The presiding bishop also noted that, whatever their views on Christianity, 84% of respondents overall saw Jesus as an “important spiritual figure.” That includes 50% of religiously unaffiliated respondents.
“But they see the contradiction between (Jesus and) their understanding of what his followers are about, or what many of his followers are about. And I think we must close the perceptual gap, both in reality and in perception,” he said.
We’re going to start our conversation by talking about what we should take away from these results, and what we might be able to do in response.
We’ll follow this up by talking about the quote that serves as the illustration for this week’s discussion. Our final mini-topic comes from a quote attributed to popular evangelical author, preacher, and writer Max Lucado. Here’s the quote — “Answer the big question of eternity, and the little questions of life fall into perspective.” What do you make of this? What do you think Lucado is trying to say, and do you agree with the statement? Is there any relation between this quote and the dilemma that the survey discussed above reveals?
Join us for the conversation tomorrow evening, Tuesday March 15 beginning at 7pm at 313 Pizza Bar in downtown Lake Orion.