What’s in a Name?

Graham

What’s in a name? The word ‘Christian’ has lost almost all of its positive meaning for me. It used to mean something special to me before I learned that those who have called themselves ‘Christian’ used the power of the Empire to violently and murderously suppress opposing viewpoints and later during a series of Inquisitions tortured and burned persons alive who thought differently than they did; before I learned that ‘Christians’ committed atrocities and mass killings during the Crusades in the name and under the banner of Christ; before I learned that ‘Christians’ brutalized, enslaved, and murdered indigenous peoples all over the planet; before I learned that ‘Christians’ killed each other by the millions over doctrinal and political differences; before I learned that ‘Christians’ justified the slavery and dehumanization of millions of African persons; and before I learned that ‘Christians’ persecuted and murdered Jewish persons for centuries, culminating in a self-identified ‘Christian’ nation committing the most horrific atrocities in human history in the torture and extermination of 6 million Jews.

After this horrific history, it should come as no surprise that so many persons who identify as ‘Christian’ have given themselves to movements that oppress women, persons who are LGBTQIA+, people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and refugees. It should come as no surprise that so many persons who call themselves ‘Christian’ would reject their LGBTQIA+ sons, daughters, and non-binary children and drive them to despair and homelessness. It should come as no surprise that so many persons who call themselves ‘Christian’ would justify putting immigrant and refugee children in cages, tearing families apart, refusing immigrants and refugees basic hygiene and medical care, and sending immigrants on special medical visas home to their deaths. It should come as no surprise that so many persons who call themselves ‘Christian’ glorify war and violence and have hardened their hearts to the poor and most vulnerable among us. It should come as no surprise that so many persons who call themselves ‘Christian’ are blocking any meaningful action for climate justice and maintaining a livable climate for all life. It should come as no surprise that so many persons who call themselves ‘Christian’ support an openly racist, misogynist, xenophobic, narcissistic, environment destroying, lying sociopath as their ‘chosen’ leader to enforce their white nationalist vision for America.

Far too often the name ‘Christian’ has come to signify the very antithesis of the way of Jesus; the very antithesis of the way of love, justice, mercy, and grace; the very antithesis of the way of peacemaking; the very antithesis of good news for the poor and liberation of the oppressed; the very antithesis of welcoming the stranger; the very antithesis of caring for the good earth, the very antithesis of everything Jesus taught, lived for, loved for, and died for.

What’s in a name? When it comes to the word ‘Christian,’ apparently not much. Give me a decent, kind, loving, compassionate human being over what has passed as ‘Christian’ for far too long. Give me the way of Jesus and keep the name ‘Christian.’ It has lost its ability to convey the goodness it was meant to possess because of the cruelty and evil practiced for centuries in its name.

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About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. He is the Executive Director of the Leadership, Education, and Development (LEaD) Hub North America of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church and an Oklahoma Humanities State Scholar. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University or the United Methodist Church.
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2 Responses to What’s in a Name?

  1. MomzillaNC says:

    A pointed commentary in an essay of truths. I feel the same.

  2. Donna Vogelpohl says:

    We worry on Sundays if the restaurant will be clogged with tables of people who leave horrendous messes and have screaming kids and leave miserable tips – all dressed in their Sunday best. They demand the best service and ask for more odd items too. We literally call them with a rolling R – Krrrrristians – and feel sorry for the waitstaff.

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