Theological Reflection

Does Christianity Breed Arrogance?

One of the many things that puts people off about Christianity is that they see Christians as arrogant. Christians think they are morally superior to those around them, they think that they are righteous, part of God’s “in-crowd.”

In fact, some go further: it’s not that just some Christians happen to be arrogant. Rather, Christianity by its very nature breeds arrogance.

ArroganceOne website puts it this way:

“Christianity breeds arrogance, a “chosen-people” mentality. It’s only natural that those who believe they have a direct line to the Almighty would feel superior to others. This is so obvious that it needs little elaboration. A brief look at religious terminology confirms it. Christians have often called themselves “God’s people,” “the chosen people,” “the elect,” etc., while non-believers have been labeled “heathens,” “infidels,” and so on. This sets up a two-tiered division of humanity, in which “God’s people” feel superior to those who are not “God’s people.””

So how should Christians respond to claims like this? Is it really true that Christianity fosters a “chosen-people mentality” that encourages Christians to feel superior to others?

‘Chosen People Mentality’

Well, one thing our friend on the internet is right about is that the Bible does talk about Christians as “God’s people,” and “the chosen people.”

But here’s the key question: on what basis are they chosen?

Because if Christians are chosen because they are more deserving in some way – more spiritual, more upstanding, more righteous or humble – then this would absolutely encourage them to think they are superior to others.

After all, they deserved to be chosen, right?

But what our friend on the internet is missing – and this is crucial – is that the Bible is crystal clear that we are NOT chosen by God because we earned or deserved it.

Romans 11 is one of those “chosen people” passages he’s complaining about, but have a look at what it actually says. Romans 11:5-6, “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”

It’s labouring the point here, isn’t it? Chosen by grace, not because of works or anything we do to deserve it.

The word grace means unmerited favour, or undeserved blessing. When you show grace towards someone, you treating them better than they deserve.

So what this is saying is, it’s not like that smaller remnant are somehow more deserving than others. The criteria God uses to choose some and not others is not based on who deserves it – because NONE of us deserve it – but purely by His free, merciful, grace.

Or look at Ephesians 2:8-9, which says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, by faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

What’s the point? No one can boast about the fact that they were chosen or be arrogant about it, because we were chosen by grace. It’s a gift from God, freely given, not earned.

Chosen Based on What?

In so many areas of our lives, being “chosen” is a matter of deserving it.

Whether it’s sports teams, job applications, or educational institutions, people are chosen based on whether or not they deserve it. We choose the “best and brightest.”

But according to the Bible, when God chooses people to belong to Him, this is precisely NOT how he operates.

He does not pick the best and brightest, or the most ‘deserving.’

In fact, on the contrary, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 tells us that more often than not, God picks the lowly, the weak, the foolish, the unimpressive people to be His.

The criteria God uses is not who deserves it most. It’s purely by His grace that he chooses and saves any of us, because none of us deserve it. So the only reason I sit here as a Christian is because God graciously opened my eyes, softened my heart, and drew me to Himself.

He chose an undeserving, messed up sinner like me.

And I can’t take a single iota of credit for it.

And once we truly grasp this, it’s an unbelievably powerful antidote to pride. How could I be proud or arrogant about the fact that I’m a Christian? If we are chosen by grace, that is profoundly humbling.

The Antidote to Arrogance

So, is it true that Christianity breed arrogance? That it encourages Christians to feel superior and look down on others? Well, there are certainly arrogant Christians out there. And if I’m honest, the root of arrogance is in my heart, too.

But once we understand what Christianity is really about, we see that far from encouraging arrogance, the gospel of God’s grace undermines the very possibility of religious pride.

We don’t deserve a thing. We are undeservedly chosen by grace.

And when that profound gospel truth sinks deep into our hearts, it kills arrogance at the root, so that our attitude towards those who don’t yet know Jesus is not one of superiority or arrogance, but a deep and profound love, and a yearning that they would come to know Jesus too.

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One thought on “Does Christianity Breed Arrogance?

  1. Calvinism says that even before creation, God chooses the elect for salvation, not based on anything they will have done or who they will be – but it leaves room the possibility that everyone that God does not choose to save with his irresistible grace are people whom God creates just to destroy and condemn to eternal damnation – not based on anything they will have done or who they will be. This latter group has no hope and cannot be saved even if they think they want to be because God hardens their hearts like Pharaoh’s and they are not drawn by God’s irresistible grace to be saved. They could be the tares that grow alongside the wheat, praying the same prayers, having gotten baptized, believing they believe in God, and done good works in God’s name – and yet, their reward is eternal torture and endless hellfire.

    I rarely meet anybody more prideful than the members of the reformed movement. They speak with relish as they say: “Humans are the worst, most horrible sinners, full of lust and hatred. I don’t deserve to go to heaven because I’m just a disgusting worm, but God loved me anyway and saved me.” Apparently, God didn’t love those other disgusting worms that he’s letting go to Hell because even though he has the power to save everyone, he won’t.

    Imagine, an accident at sea sinks a mighty cruise ship – one life-raft floats up to the surface and God is on board. He has the ability to elect everyone and save them all – but before any of these people even boarded the boat, God knew that he would only save some of them. So God throws out the life-line to those elect few. The others are like: “Hey, we’re dyin’ out here! What gives? Save us!” and God’s all like: “No man, I decided not to save you ages ago. But be at peace dude, I love you.” If love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs, bears all, and forgives a lot – what kind of love this is isn’t truly love.

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