How can God be real when Christians are more evil than the world?

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David Hayward (Source)

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I found a profound comment on this blog article, First Baptist Church Houston – “I saw your blog”  The article was similar to my previous article discussing the failure of church leaders to deal appropriately with sex abuse cases.  This has been a popular topic on the blog.  We can go on and on about how certain leaders play favorites and turn a blind eye when their friend has overlooked sex abuse cases.  We get angry when we see pastors continue to speak, earn money at conferences, while sexual abuse victims and their families have been emotionally and spiritually abandoned.

But what about people in the church who are watching all of this take place?  What about the people on the fringe?  What about the people outside the church who are watching?  How can they reconcile this disconnect?  How do they make sense of this craziness?

The following comment stopped me in my tracks.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  I think many of us have struggled with this issue to some degree or other.   How do I walk out this faith now – knowing what I know – not quite being able to make sense of all the insanity?


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Screen shot 2013-06-08 at 8.06.05 AM

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22 comments on “How can God be real when Christians are more evil than the world?

  1. Please do not send me anything else from this ministry. Thank you. P.S. Please respond that this was request was received.


  2. Julie Anne,

    This is and can be a painful topic for sure, as both my own experience and hearing the experiences of others attest. I’m not sure how this will help any individual in particular, but the bible is full of warnings and prophesies about how the church and so-called believers will be extremely corrupt.

    Jesus warned that two of the four types of seed sown will be false believers. He also warned of false teachers and evil people among God’s people. Paul warned of wolves devouring the flock even from amongst those directly discipled by the twelve. The blind man was excommunicated for receiving his sight and believing in Jesus. The goats separated at the judgment throne will all claim to having done miraculous things in Christ’s name, but will be cast out. An entire church in Revelation was on the brink of being spewed out of Christ’s mouth for being luke warm. The Pharisees were religious leaders and were harshly rebuked by Jesus. We are told that there will be a time where love will become cold, men will be lovers of self, and people will seek to have their ears tickled by false teaching. Add a big “etc” to all this.

    When we experience things in the church and ask, “How can any of this be taking place?” it is a faith-shaking thing. Two things have helped me “reconcile” things as you say. One, the bible predicts all this evil from “God’s people,” and two, God speaks (Ezekiel 34, among other places) that the scattered sheep who are wandering due to evil shepherds will eventually be cared for by God himself.

    In the specific case of listentotheLord, I would say that the WOF church environment can be especially difficult on those who don’t hold to their specifics. Ain’t nobody got time for that.


  3. They say a picture tells a thousand words. The picture you used is heartbreaking but it seems to be the truth. I have seen it with my own eyes. But I have learned that God is bigger than that. He is not contained to a church or a denomination. He is found in the hearts of His beleivers and you will know them by their love for one another.


  4. Ok, Steve, seeing what you wrote: 2 out of 4 types of seed sown will be false believers. 50 percent? That has never cemented in my head for me until reading your words. That is crazy!! When we walk into a church, are we thinking that? I haven’t been. That is something of great significance that needs more air time. It’s so easy to walk into a church wanting to trust the pastor, but if we are thinking: eenie, meenie, miney, moe and 50% are out – YIKES!!

    The Ezekiel passage is a good one. I need that reminder amidst all the chaos I see. Thanks for the great comment (as always), Steve.


  5. The visible church and having elders and ministers is not a bad thing, but the New Testament seems adamant in its warnings to beware of corrupt religious leaders.

    (The context is false teachers): “17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the [g]black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22 [h]It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”” (2 Peter 2:17-22 NASB)


  6. Dear listentothelord,
    I have had to step back from what “church” has become too. In making the decision to do so I have discovered so much. I will just have to list a few: I am closer to the Lord and know beyond doubt that He loves me. There are less obstacles to pleasing God. I have only one judge who really knows my heart instead of a churchfull who do not know my heart. churchfull


  7. Julie Anne,

    I don’t want you to go into a church and think about how many of the people might be unbelievers, but my aim was to show that there is a good deal of warning about how “professing Christians” will show themselves to be. Church people can act worse than “unbelievers.” In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul says that the man who was sleeping with his father’s wife was something that not even unbelievers did.

    There can be bad teachings that even good Christians can hold to where the bad teaching does great damage to people without them realizing it. I personally knew a pastor who, when he became pastor of his first church (he was a young, arrogant Calvinist), he planned his first three sermons to be 1) a free-will bomb to “weed out” all the Arminians, 2) a spiritual gifts bomb to “weed out” all the charismatics, and some other thing to weed some other undesirable group out, so that the only people left to shepherd were people who believed “the truth.” Well, God gave this guy an attitude adjustment over the next few years that I’m sure is of great benefit to both him and the rest of us. 😉


  8. I think the confusion comes when we expect the church to be something it was never intended to be. It is not perfection or paradise. It is a tool of God to perfect the saints and equip them for the work of the ministry. To expect imperfect people to be perfect or sinless is to have an unbiblical and unrealistic expectation that leads to disappointment and disillusionment. Steve has hit the nail on the head. There will always be believers, unbelievers, truth-teachers, and false teachers in the church as demonstrated by the crowd that Jesus surrounded Himself with during His earthly ministry. Since the church began with these ingredients we can be sure they are part of God’s plan for perfecting every saint.


  9. I’ve been watching too much HBO. The first thing I thought of when I saw that cartoon up top was the filk lyrics:

    “A cold Iron Throne
    Has a will of its own;
    A crown soaked with lies
    You Win or you Die —
    Game of Thrones…


  10. I’m not sure if listentothelord is reading here, but if you are, part of the problem is the denomination you are/were attending WOF. (or for those of us who are acronym impaired Word of Faith) is the radical and heretical problems of the movement itself.

    I say this because I have been researching this particular denomination out of interest and also skepticism, as this movement has always struck me as not quite right…AT ALL.

    Here’s the proof I found, really informative, well-researched, well-represented proof from three sources:

    The first is Justin Peters of Justin Peters ministries. His ministry is basically all about trying to make people aware of the stark heresies found in this movement. His informative presentation can be found here fully in this youtube video:

    The second is a expose style report by Derren Brown called ‘Miracles For Sale’ where he literally takes a scuba diver trainer and turns him into a Faith Healer who is able to just walk up to people on the streets and ask people if they have injuries they would like him to heal, he performs his “magic” and the people really are duped into thinking they are healed. Next he dupes an entire audience with his new “protege” and it is really interesting to watch him in action and the audiences reaction. You can see it here in it’s entirety:

    The third is something I just saw yesterday that was as revealing. It’s a report by a show called Unreported World: Nigerian Millionaire Preachers. This is sad to me because these preachers are blatantly taking advantage of people who do not have much and are networking together to train more preachers to do the same. They are not just wealthy in Nigeria, but they are working and reaping benefits in the US as well. Their style is all about the preachers charismatic personality, his vainglory, if you will. People can be seen worshiping the preachers more than Jesus in most of the clips. The full report can be found here:

    Justin Peters states that the Word of Faith movement is the 2nd most world leading religion next to Catholicism so I think it is a real wonder more people are not complaining about the churches they are in.

    A friend of mine who used to be in this religion said the only way he and his family could have good face in his church community was by running up several credit cards and going into major debt, otherwise, they would look as if they were not doing enough, praying enough, giving enough and therefore looked upon.


  11. Teri-

    Yes…we can document till the end of time all the hucksters and wolves in sheep’s clothing. But why doesn’t God intervene?

    It seems to me, he doesn’t exist or doesn’t care very much about those who try to follow Jesus. How else can you explain God’s lack of intervention?

    How many more children need to raped in a church by a trusted leader before we acknowledge that God has done nothing to prevent such atrocities from occurring in the first place?

    I respect all that Spiritual Sounding Board is doing, by giving voice to those hurt by church leaders and abused. It is an important thing to do (give voice to the hurt and abused).

    But it does beg the bigger question as to why God allows so much crap to occur under his banner?



  12. christianagnostic:

    Hear me when I say I completely understand where you are coming from because I used to be exactly in your shoes. I got in those shoes when I had a disheartening experience with a priest at the Catholic church I attended from the time I was 13 until the time I was 18 years old. The run-in was with none other than Fr Rudy Kos, one of the first Catholic priests to be sentenced for abuse and molestation of many minors. Luckily I was not one of them, I could have been, but he preferred the other sex, so luckily I was not, that was not my problem with him. My problem was his lack of compassion for the problem I came to him about and his eerily cold response, which literally sent me out the door to never return there to that church or any church for a long long time.

    From there however, I did find my way into a 12-step program wherein I learned the difference between what it was to be an atheist and an agnostic, the later meaning you believe in God, but not one who is personal to you. The 12 step program is all about you, STEP 1. Admit you are powerless. STEP 2. Come to believe a Power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity. STEP 3. Make a decision to turn your will and life over to the care of God as you understand him. Notice how I did NOT capitalize “him” at the end of that sentence. The reason I did not because after many years in that program and being a Christian now, I understand that the him they suggested I turn my will and my life over to was “as I understand him” or in other words of my own understanding. One I can make up. If God is a loving and kind God, then that can be my God as I understand him or if he is the toaster in my kitchen, well that can be God as I understand him, as long as God is not me. That is what they would say to newcomers in meetings.

    The reason I share my 12 step experience in detail is because it gave me great insight into the Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:13-15 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” My insight of this verse being this; because man at his root is evil and in need of a Saviour, the light and the truth, which is Jesus Christ. His Truth can only be found in His Word. Anything outside that Word or that goes against that Word or is considered in addition to his Word, such as the Catholic traditions and the Pope, such as the Episcopalian female bishop, such as the Mormon’s Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. When those things happen it creates a false religion and people who are more comfortable with a God of their own understanding and do not bother to find out the TRUTH of who He is in His Word will flock to these religions in DROVES and be very very happy there.

    But, if like me, they do not find happiness and they do step back and say, you know, I think there is something wrong here, I think I might even be in the wrong place…those are the ones who will search diligently and find that the TRUTH of who He is,, which can only be found in his Word. And through His Word the Holy Spirit actually can and very eagerly will lead you into His TRUTH because you see…that is the only place the Holy Spirit can meet you, it’s the only place He can be permitted to love you, to care for you to protect you, comfort you, guide you, pray for you when your groanings are such that there literally are no words to express them.

    It’s not that God allows so many people to follow false religions, it’s that so many people would rather hear false words than allow His Holy Spirit to embrace them in the only, only place he can: God’s Word.

    Christianagnostic, I with all my heart hope that my experience can help you. It was painful to be lost for so long, but His Word and the Holy Spirit are as close to embracing you as your nearest Bible. May you give Him just one more chance. I promise, I promise, He will NOT let you down. You are in my prayers!



  13. Oh wow, I can heartily and most sincerely say that I remember the place where “ListentotheLord” is. I was there with bells on. Nine years ago, I left a cult church which was abusive, legalistic, authoritarian and placed more hoops on the ‘narrow way’ for us to jump through than any pharisee in jesus time would have thought of. After 15 years of trying to jump and failing miserably, my husband, children and I left. Some months later we received a letter from a long time christian friend and elder of that church who calmly told us that we were never ‘of’ them in the first place. Why? Because if we had been ‘of’ them, we wouldn’t have left. Now that’s a tautology if I ever heard one.

    So for a few years after I left, I decided I didn’t want to be a christian any more. It DID feel good. I stopped trying so hard, didn’t even try and find another church and tried to heal from the deep and abiding pain of having every friend I had ever known ripped away from me. I was too evil for people to talk to me, so they would look the other way if they saw me in the street.

    Boy, did I try and walk away from God. I was getting into New Age stuff, living in a small mountain community which was deeply into witchcraft (not that I went that far, but I did go to their shop a few times) and eastern mysticism etc. Then I realised after a while that this wasn’t me. Someone once described their journey away from God as being as though they had been in a feverish delirium and then finally the fever broke. Well, it was kind of like that. I started to realise that it wasn’t God who was wrong, it was me. Slowly, I wandered back to the bible, recognised that God does indeed speak to me personally and I didn’t need some elder or home group leader to order my life or tell me what to wear, when to go to church and how to talk to my husband and parent my children. God wanted to talk to me about me, not somebody else, and he loved me. That didn’t even feel real, and nine years later I still struggle with that, but have now come full circle. My deep faith and recognition of His lordship in my life is now grounded in reality, NOT in some false theology, or a group of misogynistic control freaks.

    God is good, and he really does come find the lost. Jesus will not give up on you even if you do find yourself so angry that you turn away from him. That is the thing really, he is faithful, and he can’t turn away from you because it isn’t in Him to do that. So however much men fail, it will never ever affect the unchanging and abiding love he has for us. His compassion and mercies are new every morning.


  14. I went through this period myself, at one point – it was more than that, it was also about my refusal to accept a faith that was only based on fear, but I did leave and I did tell God that if he wanted me, he was going to have to prove it to me, because I never felt loved or wanted or anything but fear and guilt of various kinds, growing up in a very cultic environment. But I eventually said, if the only reason to accept salvation is fear of damnation, then I choose damnation. And if he wanted me, loved me, then he was going to have to come after me and show it to me in a real way, or there was no reason for me to come back.

    Eventually he did reach me, and I realised looking back that he never stopped reaching out to me and speaking to me in every little way, it just took me awhile to understand and see it. I still struggle a lot with my view of God and my relationship with him, there’s too much fear too deeply ingrained in my faith background. But I was one of the lucky ones – so many never find their way back at all.


  15. Kagi – some of your spiritual journey resembles mine – – the part about the perception of God as angry and damning. Spiritual abuse will compound that because it distorts who God is. When I am down emotionally, this is when I have the most challenges and I have to try to throw all emotion aside and rely on truths. You know, this is a great subject for a post. I’ll have to work on that.

    I was amazed at how God met me during my lawsuit, connecting with me in ways that only a loving Father could penetrate my wounded heart. It was quite beautiful.

    This: But I was one of the lucky ones – so many never find their way back at all.

    really tugs at my heart and is one of the reasons why I blog. I think so many think they are the only ones who feel a certain way. Just as you have shared your story and I have found myself connecting with parts of your story, others need to see that they are not alone in their struggles. If I connected with you, Kagi, I know there are countless others who will, too – and that is so cool. Thank you for sharing!


  16. My dad was always very angry, even if he never hurt us, but we lived in fear of making him mad, and by extension, God, because in that world there was little or no difference. My dad believes completely in the head of household patriarchy stuff that doesn’t actually help anyone. I think he’s trapped in his own need to be right all the time and for him saying he’s right to be the end of all conversation on an issue; that if he needed anyone to talk to or take direction from, he’d be less manly, and he already feels that way because of his height. So I know he’s miserable and he’s making everyone else miserable too, especially my mother, since most of us kids are grown now.

    But I grew up with an image of God that was impatient and angry like my dad, while being told that he was also grace and mercy and lovingkindness, and the dissonance bothered me a great deal, so I decided that Jesus was the God I saw in the NT, and my father’s god must be left from the old. It helped me survive, somewhat, but it was still very hard for me to connect, personally, with any side of God.

    I’ve gotten to the point now where I think all my images of God were skewed, maybe wrong, and I need to figure out how to get around them, to find a view that’s closer to the truth. It would help if my dad didn’t keep getting in my way.


  17. Kagi, I hear ya. My father was disinterested, uninvolved, and non-communicative. My view of God was that He was asleep and couldn’t be bothered, not because He’d get mad, just because He’s disinterested. Often what bothers me the most is when I think God is silent and seemingly uninvolved in something. That has an ability to get under my skin and I find myself reacting in fear.

    I keep looking for a better understanding of God’s character so I can change this thinking. There’s been some progress, but it’s a struggle.


  18. Kagi – I can very much relate with you. My dad was a rage-aholic and we never knew when he would go off. I remember being asked many times by counselors if he was an alcoholic because his behavior matched that of an alcoholic. He wasn’t. If he was an alcoholic, that would have given him an excuse, but he had no excuse and that made it more difficult. But I completely get the dad and image of God correlation. It’s difficult to get over that hurdle and even if you understand it, sometimes the feelings don’t always catch up with that knowledge . . . . if that makes sense.


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