The trouble with born-again Christians


Author loswhit

More posts by loswhit
  • It stands to reason that if becoming a Christian is confessing how much we are in need of a savior and consequently being rescued by that savior, that we’d be the ones confessing how much of a pain we are.

    The problem being that we’ve portrayed Christianity as solely a doorway into right standing with God, and not a doorway into deeper realization of our own sin.

    And that makes us a pain.

  • totally true. People don’t want to be converted to whatever brand of religion you follow – you’re pestering them. They’d rather have friends.

  • Ryan

    To be honest, this doesn’t really stir me one way or the other. I am not sure whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand my lack or reaction could mean that I am not passionate about the world’s perception of born again Christians and as such a passive Christian not committed to the furtherance of the gospel. On the other hand I can see my lack of reaction as not getting so worked up over a small comment like this and as such being able to look deeper into the root of this statement.

    After a little more thought, I tend to lead toward the “It’s not that big of a deal.” reaction. Moreover, I am intrigued to know why Mr. Caen thinks this. What experiences has he had that made him make such a sweeping comment? Who has he come in contact with that has allowed him to make such a generalization?

    If I am honest with myself I can say that if Mr. Caen happened to cut me off in traffic, I am part of the reason he thinks this. If we are all honest with ourselves, we can see something in our lives that, if seen by Mr. Caen, would make him think this way.

  • I think Herb Caen (who is he, by the way?) is just expressing a somewhat dominant view of Christians in today’s culture. I’m not saying this view is necessarily correct or informed, but I do think it shows how we have allowed ourselves to be portrayed in media.

  • This one hurts. In order to truly live out the gospel, we need to have a proper view of God and a proper view of ourselves. The problem is that we think are much better than we actually are. That fleshes out in so many ways. In my role as chaplain at a school in Memphis, I see this daily with kids. As parents, we often prop up our kids as idols. We make them out to be great and do not teach them a proper understanding of themselves and more importantly a proper view of who God is and what He has done for us. I pray that we can model for our kids that we are indeed sinners in need of a savior and how that fleshes out in every area of our life. Maybe then, this next generation is not defined by a quote like this.

  • I’ve heard that quote before and I agreed with it. We’re so full of ourselves. Myself included.

  • bub

    I think it just shows the prevalent attitude that most non-evangelical Christian people have of us. Deservedly so for the most part. It seems that the most vocal of us are the ones that give us the biggest black eye. But on the other hand, if you really went around living out the Gospel the way it sounds as if Jesus intended, you should be a pain in the ass to the point of martyrdom right? So I think yes, we should be a big pain in the ass, unfortunately we are but for all the wrong reasons. Sorry Jesus.

  • Jay

    It stirs in me Matthew 7:6 –

    “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”

    People can talk about the culture and how Christians are viewed and engage in all sorts of self-loathing about how we’re viewed by so many. Sorry, but self worth doesn’t come from people like Caen (who is dead BTW) or any other human beings for that matter.

    I am doing what I can to lead others to Christ? Yes. And you know what? If what I am doing helps one person cross that line of faith and accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior then I really don’t care if people like Herb Caen and his ilk think I’m a pain in the ass.

  • mo

    I can say that going in to my new faith, I felt a lot of humility and gratitude. That has a tendency to disappear after awhile, and I can image it’s pretty tedious for God to see so many people make an about-face like that.

  • Sure a lot of Christians are pains, but this comment smacks of, “Keep them in their place.”

    The first thing I thought of was Acts 17:6: “But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers to the leaders of the city. The people were yelling, “These people have made trouble everywhere in the world, and now they have come here too!”

    Could it be that the nature of the Gospel is to shake things up, not in an obnoxious way, of course 🙂

  • As I read the comment I didnt really understand it… maybe after reading it 10 times I still dont really understand it.
    So with that preface, here is where it speaks to me as the leader of “new born-again Christians”- Im sucking at my job… Think about all the converts in the NT… They all had someone to look up to and to follow to understand how to live… If our new converts are being a pain to people around us then its a reflection of the leadership that are following.

    The real issue is with the annoyance of the leadership of those new born again believers…
    Are you a pain in the _________? (neck)

  • Kevin H

    The truth hurts doesn’t it? I don’t mean the truth that we born-againers are a pain in the neck, but unbeliervers just can’t stand the fact the we’ve got something that they don’t have and they don’t want to hear about it.

    I think there is a line that many Christians cross and it stems from misunderstanding the great commission. We are NOT called to CONVERT the whole world, but rather we are to SPREAD THE WORD. I have seen too many so-called born-again Christians who will badger people non-stop and “Bible-thump” to try to convert everyone they meet…it is not necessary and in my opinion does more harm than good.

    Show God’s love…model it, live it…and tell everyone you meet the reason for your hope and about the source of your joy. Then pray that God would change their heart…

    • david u

      good stuff right there.

    • Erin S.


  • Justin

    I think it mirrors the perception many have of Christians, and honestly, it’s our fault. One of the major problems I see in many areas is the fact that most of us pretend that everything’s perfect. That we have it all together when, of course, we struggle just as much (if not more) as the next person.

    What if we had it all together? For one, we wouldn’t be relatable. Also, why would we need Jesus?

    I think people are waiting for us to be legit. Authentic. To say we’re beaten down. Depressed. Lonely. Struggling to buy food for the family…and STILL worship and praise God and trust Him with all of it.

    Those are my two cents. I am curious to know the context of his statement…

    Thanks, Carlos!

  • Define “pain” ??

    just thinking… it could mean so many things… not to get into a conversation about semantics… but I would love to know what he means

  • This makes me sad. We who have been charged with blessing the world have become its curse.

    (Disclaimer: I know the above statement is both a very broad stroke and a bit dramatic. The reality is that there are innumerable authentic Christians who are truly blessing the world. The problem is that we’ve let the loud-mouthed firebrands bring public perception of Christians to this negative place. No one has held them accountable.)

  • I think it IS often true. I’ve met with it in other people, and I myself have dished is out. The reasons why that is so are many, but bottom line, yes I’d say that’s often true… at least at some point in every believer’s life.

    Even if it were just a stereotype or something ‘portrayed in the media’ there’s always a grain of truth in there to build a case on.

    In my opinion, most of it probably boils down to hoarding grace and trying to convert the planet!

  • Paul

    What stirs me about it, is the broad brush that is used to paint Christians (or most other demographics). Say a blonde cuts me off in traffic during my morning drive…then another does the same when I’m on my way home. Does that mean that everyone with blond hair is a horrbile, unsafe driver with no common courtesy? No, of course not. Then why do we all generalize so much? Are some “Christians” small minded, egotistical, greedy, pains in the butt? Yes. But so are some atheists. Now, I know the difference here, is that Christians are supposed to be better than that…right? We’re perfect…right?

    We’ll be alot better off if we can get people to realize that we aren’t…and, more importantly, that we don’t claim to be. The best way to do that is to love them where they are…not try to judge them from any elevated position. Remember where we were before He found us…we have no right to judge anyone.

  • Lex

    It stirred a chuckle inside of me.

    • Me too! Honestly, it’s a reminder not to take myself so seriously.

  • Robin

    True. My problem is I’m quick to point out other “Christians” when I see them being stupid, but slow to see it in myself.

  • Joy2

    When I read it I LAUGHED! It stirred so many memories of so many crazy things that have happened to me during my walk as a Christian.

    Like…when the situation was soooo bad in a previous church that a bunch of us ended up in court and I had to hire a Muslim lawyer because the Christian lawyers we tried to work with were basically insane (to put it mildly)! Long story behind that one…lol…that was a crazy bunch of folks…fortunately all is forgiven now.

    And the “church” I attended before that one was run by a maniac-control-freakazoid who tried to turn everyone into a “Mini-Me” of himself because he was the best example of Jesus that the world has ever knows. I think the pastor was the President and Founder of “Egostical Control Freaks for Christ”… hahaha…long story behind that, too… this was before being a “Diva for Christ” became fashionable.

    And there was my very evangelical Christian co-worker who would preach to the workforce then remove his wedding ring whenever he would go on travel…yah…not good…

    And memories of friends who would totally GORGE themselves at mealtime AFTER “casting out” the calories! Yup…one would pray “Father bless this food and I CAST OUT THE CALORIES IN JESUS’ NAME!!!!!” For real…I would always burst out laughing during those very solemn prayers against the calorie demons!

    And I love it when some one whose vehicle has those funky fish stickers (those things are bizzaro imo…lol) and 20 million stickers about Jesus, practically runs me off the road and then flicks the bird at me for driving too slowly in the SLOW lane….Just makes my day! 🙂

    I could go on and on ad nauseum and I could add plenty of antics of my own that have surely left people wondering whether there was even an ounce of anything sacred in me.

    Anywho…all of this to say that Caen’s statement doesn’t bother me one bit because I happen to agree with him sometimes. Some Christians are true nut-cases and so have I been at times.

    All of these experiences have increased my determination to be the kind of Christian who simply loves Jesus and reflects his love to believers and unbelievers. I’m still growing…definitely not there yet.

  • Beauty is pain.

  • yea, i agree. in fact i’ve had this conversation with the Holy Spirit. forget what the world thinks. imagine what God goes through to put up with me DAY.BY.DAY. that’s why He’s incredible and why i’m in love with Him. cuz He loved me first…and last and everywhere in between. easier when we had an understanding – i ignore Him. harder the second time around when im supposed to be in love with Him but my heart deceives me and i lie to myself and to God about who and what i really love. my heart is baaaad, but He recreates me every time i let Him. i love being the pain in God’s butt, though because He gets more glory and i get closer to Him in the depths of who i am, all by his unconditional steady love. wow i cant type this stuff without sitting and enjoying it for a little bit

  • Bob

    ya…all those other born again Christians…wish they would not give me a bad name.

  • absolutely laughed out loud.

    So many are so blind to how the world really sees them. And before the cries come of, “Do not be conformed to this world…” “We’re supposed to stand out!” etc., the current way of standing out is not in a good way.

    lack of concern for the homeless & hurting; using manipulation and tactics to “win souls”, putting the US on an elevated plane and not really seeing the reality of what’s going on in America. The inconsistency of “pro-life” with the death penalty. Poliitcs, politics, politics. Most “born-again” Christians ARE a pain in the butt. And not in a “Go and do likewise” kind of fashion.

    I also think it’s a pun on re-incarnation and the word “born again” … I think that a lot of the commenter’s indignation is far more revealing than their actual words.

  • Saloam

    People who say things like this often need to be honest about the reasons why they feel this way, as good born again christians help people and the world they live in

  • A.

    Yeah, we’ve earned the sentiments behind this quote with those who do in-your-face-shove-down-your-throat evangelism to denominations making ridiculous pronouncements during their annual conferences to outlandish TV shows with gold sets and pink hair. Then there are the believers who condemn others and call them or their religion evil and then expect these people to jump up and join us. The whole thing makes me grumpy.

  • Brenda Skidmore

    I honestly believe this quote nails the subject down pretty good. Organized religion of any denomination has, throughout human habitation on planet Earth, been the source of so much discord in the fighting, wars and anger it causes.


    The answer lies in the competitiveness of human nature itself. The weakness of a need to be right, poke around in other people’s business and thinking you know what’s better for them than they do.

    The Christian ‘God’ is an impossible, separate, identity form that church going Christians believe it to be. Perhaps it is not the Christian being wrong in being mislead, but the unquestioning churchgoer.

    “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”
    — Albert Einstein

  • mchasewalker

    Herb Caen is just reiterating what has been common knowledge for 2000 years. Hence it was Suetonius* speaking in the language of his party, who called the Christians Genus hominum superstionis maleficae, ‘the men of the magical superstition.’ He wrote that 1900 years ago. Obviously little has changed in spite of 2000 years of scientific and intellectual advancement.