Jesus on Trial

I understand why people reject organized religion out of hand because of the violence, oppression and brainwashing that has occurred throughout history. I can’t find fault with the secularist when so much evil has been done in the name of God. And it’s only getting worse, if the recent activities of some Islamic fundamentalists is any indication. Somehow the work of international terrorists lends moral weight to the rejection of all religion. But is it fair to compare Islam with, say, Christianity?

The Christian Church has its share of blemishes. Many of history’s darkest hours were brought about by men and organizations who carried the banner of Christ. But organizations can become detached from the source. When they do, are we to expect God to incinerate them on the spot just to avoid confusion? And surely some blame must come to rest on individuals. We have the misfortune of living on the same planet with 7 billion freelance troublemakers, many of whom have some pretty strange ideas. If some of them ironically call themselves Christians, does that make it so?

If people are going to judge a religion, they should examine everything associated with it, especially its foundational writings. If the behavior pattern of a “Christian” (or a group that aligns itself nominally with Christ) violates Scripture (e.g., “You shall not murder”), how fair is it for an antagonist to put those misdeeds on God’s charge account? One would have cause to wonder if the combatant is systematically collecting reasons to dismiss Jesus. Christ said, after all, “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16). If I claim to be a Muslim yet regularly drink and gorge myself on pork chops, am I really a disciple of Islam?

What besides a religion’s holy book do we really have as a measuring stick for determining what a religion is? Human behavior is often random, irrational and inspired by inscrutable motives. The only static frame of reference we have is the model that has been written down.

If naysayers want to judge Jesus by the actions of His followers, at least let them give credit where it is due. What cheap, ephemeral motives could Christians throughout history have had for enduring torture and execution for their professions of faith in Christ (reference Richard Wurmbrand’s Tortured for Christ)? Even secular historians have plenty to say about that. What could have so influenced Mother Theresa to pour out her life in service to the poor and dying in Calcutta? Why would William Wilberforce, a comfortably prosperous 18th-century member of the English parliament, fight for decades to abolish the slave trade? What made Clara Barton found the Red Cross, which goes to the ends of the earth to bring relief to disaster victims? Why would William Booth start the Salvation Army, which in 2004 alone operated in 124 countries, delivering services in 175 different languages and spent $2.6 billion on its various programs. Who founded America’s first hospitals and most of America’s preeminent colleges and universities (Harvard and Princeton among them) during the country’s formative years? They were all Christians.

As I conclude this article, I’m trying to figure out why I wrote it. Could I have gotten sore after hearing someone put down the Christian faith? Probably. But after the intensity of my discussion here, I realized that argument is rarely an effective way of capturing others’ hearts and minds. I’m hoping the reader will join me in taking a peaceful and proactive tack with people who believe the worst about our faith. God forbid that in our effort to stamp out inaccuracies we should do more harm by displaying just the sort of ugliness that has Gentleness.2come to be associated with Christianity. There is no Scripture that commands us to turn our faith into a political struggle. God is in charge of His own PR program. The people who are disseminating lies about the Christian faith are not attacking us; they are attacking Christ. Shouldn’t we let Him handle things? If God is love, the best way to get the word out is to show gentleness to everyone. 

About Douglas Abbott

I am a freelance writer by trade, philosopher and comedian by accident of birth. I am an assiduous observer of humanity and endlessly fascinated with people, the common elements that make us human, what motivates people and the fingerprint of God in all of us. I enjoy exploring the universe in my search for meaning, beauty and friendship. My writing is an extension of all these things and something I did for fun long before I ever got paid. My hope is that the reader will find in this portfolio a pleasing and inspiring literary hodgepodge. Good reading!
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6 Responses to Jesus on Trial

  1. Robin says:

    That’s the thing about organized religion – each comprised of flawed human beings. What non-believers see are their actions. We have pedophiles within the Catholic church, the members of Westboro Baptist Church protesting at the funerals of soldiers, Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center burning the Koran in Florida …. just a few bad examples showcased for public consumption. Not quite the messengers we’d wish them to be.

    Conversely, Mother Teresa exemplified the Christian message. You didn’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the woman who ministered to the sick and dying. Sadly, we no longer have our “Ambassador of God”. What’s a religion to do? Rather than worry about the perception others have of the Christian faith as a whole, we can focus on our individual role as Christians. What can I do to change negative rhetoric? What might I do to highlight Christian love and regard? If I were to change the heart of even one non-believer, I’d be a happy camper.

  2. Sarah Willems says:

    I am amazed (or appalled) at the number of confessing Christ-followers who have chosen to be “Lone Rangers.” That is, they feel more comfortable avoiding commitment to a body of believers, so by default their chice is to live the Christian life on their own. What is it they fear? Fellowship? Transparency? Accountability? Others’ expectations of them? I’m not sure, but as I become increasingly familiar with the New Testament scriptures I see in the letters to the churches an ASSUMPTION that the believers have fixed themselves in a family of faith. I must conclude that God never meant a Christ-follower to do the life journey of faith alone. He meant, rather, for us to run that race side-by-side with other struggling runners. That’s what body life is all about. We celebrate with each other, weep with one another and speak the truth to one another in love. Jesus made it clear that the most powerful way we publish our faith to outsiders is by the way we love & serve one another (see John 13).

    • Susan Abbott says:

      We are missing so much of what God has for us by walking alone. It seems to me that the two most important things we get from going to church regularly are teaching and fellowship. We can get teaching from other souces, but fellowship comes only from a close association with other believers. God created us as social beings for a reason. Being part of a fellowship encourages us when we are afraid or discouraged, gives us a feeling of security when we are lonely or uncertain, and—perhaps most important of all—gives us a sense of belonging,which we all crave.

  3. Robin says:

    All that glitters is not gold. (Rev 3:14-22)

    This article – Home Alone – ( does a great job of summarizing the problems or challenges facing the local church. It also offers an ideal of what we should hope to find there as believers.

    Keeping in mind a church shall be filled with believers & non-believers (Matthew 13:24-30), with nobody knowing for sure who is who, are we wise to concern ourselves with the logic of “longe rangers”, placing blame or judgment on them? Wouldn’t we do better to look within the body of belivers; clean our own house first? (Matthew 7:3-5)

  4. fcb3 says:

    I like your post Doug; I love to hear about the good things believers have done as they were inspired by Christ. Your conclusion is probably true because those who seek to discredit Christianity will rarely read the two thousand years of benevolent works done in Christ’s name. That list is endless and goes on today, day by day, but until one of those works is done for the sceptic they doubtless will not be moved.

  5. Douglas Abbott says:

    I agree, Fred. Somehow people have to see grace and mercy directly before they “get it.” Probably all of us who call Christ Lord and Savior received a direct touch from God and responded. That’s where the church and individual believers come in. We are the ones who are given the responsibility (the privilege!) of taking these burning coals of love to others so they can see what Jesus is all about. One person, one encounter at a time. I can’t wait for the next one. Bring it, Lord!

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