For many individuals, the option of Christianity as a life-directing belief system of faith is simply not an option for a variety of reasons.
Negative Firsthand Experience
The individual may have witnessed hypocrisy from the pulpit; a legion of abuses from the priesthood; infidelity amongst clergy; greed from televangelists; criminality among evangelical politicians; cover-up and every other kind of scandal imaginable.
Often times, the critic or skeptic points to such wholly unChristian conduct exhibited by some Christians as a key proof point as to why they reject the postulates of all faith traditions.
Historical Perspective of Abuse
Or perhaps the individual is offended and alienated by Christianity’s bloody past. Human history is pocked with periods of persecution, torture, murder and butchery all in the name of the cross – including the Crusades, the Inquisition and Salem witch trials – to name a few.
However, despite these inhuman efforts against and among one another, I would respectively propose that even the most extreme and barbaric examples of conduct that have ever occurred under the banner of Christianity, are more of a human problem than an actual theological problem.
For the sake of this discussion, it might be useful to compare the tenets of Christianity and their daily application by followers (or misapplication at times) with the work of a famed composer and the range of performances that might occur from various musicians who play a given piece of music.
The Composer's Analogy
Few honest Christians can ignore the fact that the masterpiece concerto of Christianity has been muddled, mutilated and co-opted over the centuries by flawed and fallen human performers who can’t play the masterpiece on their own. However, the conductor, who also happened to write the work, is ever at the ready to help us practice our respective parts.
Unfortunately, we seem to want to grab the sheet music or instruments from other players; improvise our own riffs; complain about the poor quality of our own instrument or that of surrounding players; steal the solo spotlight; rationalize our lack of preparation or any number of other problems besides our own issues as we struggle through the piece, leaving a disbelieving audience in the discordant wake as they choose to exit the analogous performance.
The Coach's Analogy
The aforementioned analogy might not resonant with some. If you're not a music fan, perhaps a sports analogy hits closer to home. If a head football coach develops a perfect game plan to win that addresses every possible contingency; exploits the opponent's weaknesses while maximizing the strengths of his team - the possibility still remains that the players will not execute the agreed upon plan.
For instance, players might be interested in padding their own statistical performance rather than winning; not prepare physically or mentally for the game; forgot a piece of their equipment at home; run the wrong play at the wrong time; be out of position to make a key play; run into their own players; get injuried thereby necessitating a lesser prepared backup player to step in; commit a penalty against a member of the other team...etc.
So even if the coach has a perfect, divinely-inspired game plan, that plan must be performed by flawed individuals.
The Bottom Line
The final point is that the real problem with Christianity is not the Christ, it’s the Christians who try to apply His principles absent Him. If there's a bad musical performance the blame ultimately falls on the muscians - not the composer. Similarly, if a team badly loses a game that they should have won, the failure most often falls on the players since it's up to them to execute the game plan.
Christianity: Is the Composer or Orchestra More to Blame?