Christianity—The “Obstacle”

By Wayne Jackson

Over this year’s Fourth of July weekend, a young man named Benjamin Smith went on a murderous rampage. He wounded nine people and killed two, before turning the gun upon himself. He was a hate-filled, unhappy person.

Prior to his death, Smith was interviewed for a documentary by a student filmmaker. In that interview, he revealed a bitter hatred for non-white people. ABC News aired portions of the interview on its “Good Morning America” show.

In his conversation, the vicious young man revealed his bitterness toward the Christian religion. In one of his statements, he said: “It’s really Christianity that’s our biggest obstacle.”

Smith was quite forceful in his opposition to the principles of the Christian system. Why? Because of the fact that those who truly respect the teaching of Jesus Christ believe that human beings have been specially created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). They are, therefore, his “offspring,” (i.e., products of his creative genius – Acts 17:28). Accordingly, there is worth to any person.

Moreover, even though man is a fallen being by virtue of his yielding to personal sin, Christ came into the world and died for the benefit of all humanity (1 Timothy 2:6; 1 John 2:2). Those who choose to avail themselves of the Lord’s redemptive love, in obedience to the plan of salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9; Acts 2:38), may do so. Any person for whom Christ died is worthy of our love!

Christians, therefore, love all people—regardless of their ethnic identity. This is the thrust of that wonderful parable, the Good Samaritan. In this story, the despised Samaritan, who showed compassion to his long-time racial enemy, the Jew, is the hero (Luke 10:25ff).

If Christians are to be viewed as an “obstacle” simply because we love all of our fellow beings, then let it be so. Here we take our stand.

But why was Smith’s wrath directed solely toward Christianity? Why was it not aimed at the atheistic community as well? Because infidelity has a history of viciousness toward the underprivileged. Consider these examples:

(1) The ideology of Charles Darwin foisted racism. The subtitle of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, alludes to the “Preservation Of Favored Races In The Struggle For Life.” In his authoritative book, Social Darwinism in American Thought, Richard Hofstadter noted:

The Darwinian mood sustained the belief in Anglo-Saxon racial superiority which obsessed many American thinkers in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The measure of world domination already achieved by the “race” seemed to prove it the fittest (1955, 172-73).

(2) Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was the “philosopher of evolution.” He translated some Darwinian principles into philosophical or social premises—though he thought Darwin was too “soft.” Nietzsche argued a notion he called “the Will to Power,” which, he believed, would result in the development of “the super man.” The super man (not the comic book character) is the one who creates his own values, who triumphs over his own weakness, and despises it in others. Nietzsche’s proclamation that the Christian God “is dead” had a devastating effect upon the values of society, due to his enormous influence. Here is a sampling of his ideology:

[W]e believe that severity, violence, slavery, danger in the street and in the heart, secrecy, stoicism, tempter’s art and deviltry of every kind,—that everything wicked, terrible, tyrannical, predatory, and serpentine in man, serve as well for the elevation of the human species as its opposite (1924, chapter II, section 44).

(3) In the wake of Nietzsche came Adolf Hitler, who idolized the philosopher. Hitler’s racism (e.g., the elimination of the “inferior” Jews) is an undeniable and gruesome fact of history. What is not commonly publicized is the fact that Darwinism was at the root of this mania. Dr. Robert E. D. Clark has written:

Adolf Hitler’s mind was captivated by evolutionary teaching—probably since the time he was a boy. Evolutionary ideas—quite undisguised—lie at the basis of all that is worst in Mein Kampf—and in his public speeches. . . Hitler’s hatred of the Jews was rationalized in the same way. The Germans were the higher race, destined for a glorious evolutionary future (1967).

And so, as long as people subscribe to ideological premises that devalue human life, tragedies—like that described above—will continue to happen.

A key question is: when will folks begin to identify, and repudiate, the philosophical origin of this senseless brutality?

Sources/Footnotes
  • Clark, Robert E. D. 1967. Darwin: Before and After. Chicago, IL: Moody.
  • Hofstadter, Richard. 1955. Social Darwinism in American Thought. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1924. Beyond Good and Evil. New York, NY: Macmillan Co.
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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.