Christianity once stood as an institution organized for the purpose preserving the truth. It was not merely a stance of holding to a set of religious beliefs among competing beliefs, but holding truth in a world of lies.
Organized religion was birthed by Christians gathering together to work out a reasoned defense against heresies and cultural perversions and to preserve the writings of the apostles as well as Christians who recorded their apologetic protection of sacred truths. These councils could be said to be the forerunners of modern Christianity.
It might be argued that the first Christians, during the time of the apostles, did not have an organized religion (no Roman Catholic Church or Protestant Denominations). It should be observed, though, that they also lacked a canonical scripture (what we call the Bible), a complete set of writings to preserve the teachings of the church and provide a historical reference. When councils were created to debate heresies, creeds and confessions were drafted to clarify beliefs, and writings copied to be preserved through generations (the Bible), the Christian way of life became an organized religion. For almost two millennia, organized religion has served to preserve the truth and to pass it on to future generations.
In our modern age, Christianity has lost its claim to the truth. Scientific inquiry and ideological diversity have given the irreligious skeptics leverage in laying claim to exclusive knowledge of the truth. In their defeated stance, Christians have become divided and fragmented. The fundamentalists have rebelled against the modern times by separation, the conservatives are seeking a rediscovery of the reformed foundations of Protestantism, and the aimless masses of Christians are seeking havens from the encroaching secularism by joining “non-churches.” Christians no longer look to the church (Catholic or Protestant) for the truth and are abandoning organized religion and its long and important history in search of something “real.”
With the preservation of the truth no longer in the hands of Christians and now in the hands of secular sciences a new paradigm has been emerging to give Christians direction. It is the preservation of love. Good and evil were once defined as the truth being good and the lie being evil (Jesus as the Truth, Satan as a liar). Religions or ideology that denied the claims of Christianity were considered to be a lie.
The emphasis is now on “God is love.” Love is the new truth. It is an all-encompassing idea that is not concerned with the pursuit of truth and ideological clarity, but with unity of any who lay claim to the title of “Christian.” The “love Jesus and hate religion” idea is a reflection of a moving away from the search for truth towards the search for love and the rejection of its counter, hate.
Love as a paradigm is ultimately about acceptance. The word “forgiveness” is often brought up as is the word “judgmental” in describing the problems that Christians have with churches. Organized religion is deemed to be condemning of people, professing Christians and non-Christians alike, being judgmental and without forgiveness. The stereotype is the small town fundamentalist church that announces that people are going to hell for listening to non-Christian music.
The search for forgiveness from judgment uses biblical language and terms, but it masks cultural realities. “Forgiveness” is now synonymous with acceptance and “judgment” synonymous with rejection. Acceptance is love and rejection is hate. The goal is to reach out and connect with others based on a common humanity and the elimination of all boundaries. Complete acceptance (forgiveness) devoid of rejection (judgment) is the fulfillment of “God is love.”
In such a community, sifting through and separating ideas and behaviors into right and wrong is discarded as “judgmental.” A person can live as they see fit and believe as they will and they will be accepted as they are. It is not about Christianity accepting ideas like non-Christian religions, evolution and open sexuality (areas of intense debate), but rather accepting people who practice those ideas without rejecting those ideas. To reject the idea is to reject the person who practices the idea.
A good way to measure this shift is to take the motto “hate the sin, but love the sinner” and change it to “there is no sin, only love for the sinner.” This is the love paradigm and is growing among Christians, especially the younger generation. Sin and judgment are harsh words of a judgmental attitude, of rejection and hate.
The motivation for such a movement is fear. A shift from above ground Christianity in churches towards an underground Christianity in homes is a retreat from lost fields of ideological battle. A secular world based exclusively on humanist sciences for knowledge will eventually be hostile to the church. Persecution would be guaranteed for a Christianity that organized and rose up and stood against the establishment. An underground Christianity, without church or religion, would avoid that persecution. In the past, Christians went underground to avoid persecution and history is repeating itself.
With Christianity no longer founded on its cannon as superior truth, it has only its humanity and the the search for survival and comfort in an un-Christian age. As a religion, Christianity is dying through abandonment. It is moving away from being a declaration of the truth to being a lifestyle of quiet acquiescence under a secular fist. There is much that is cowardly in the rejection of organized religion, though not without sympathy.
Nobody wants to actually believe that the atheists are right, but then again, nobody really believes Christianity is right, either. It is not about right and wrong or truth and lie. It is about love. Anyone can be a Christian. They need only accept that Jesus loves them as they are and requires only that they love others as they themselves are loved. The churches that still preach sin and repentance and salvation from the wrath of a holy God, that still cling to old ideas on Creation and marriage, are considered mausoleums of the evil of hate, full of racism, sexism and homophobia.