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This post began as a much anticipated and highly procrastinated Katdishionary post. The term “assholiness” was one of several new terms I feel warrant entry into the annals of my own version of Webster’s, but I think this term deserves its own post, because I like to keep the definitions brief in Ye Olde Katdishionary. This one needs a little more of an explanation.

The term assholiness first popped into my head several months back when a few high profile Christians began to publicly berate Rob Bell’s yet to be released book Love Wins. Many were incensed that Bell had the audacity to suggest that a loving God would not send people to Hell. And while I happen to (mostly) agree with Bell’s detractors in principle, I felt some of the public discourse was downright un-Jesus-y.

For the record, I don’t think God sends anyone to Hell. That’s a choice we make for ourselves. I will also admit that I had some private conversations about the subject that were way more salty than lighty. But I resisted the urge to jump into the fray. Why? Because it’s never been my experience that you convince someone you’re right by pointing out to them publicly how wrong they are.

Honestly, how many times have you seen a situation like that turn into anything more than a pissing match?

I did write a post about it, but the point of my post wasn’t about whose team I’d be on if Rob Bell and John Piper were choosing up sides for a game of Red Rover, my point was that Rob Bell is not Jesus Christ. Neither is John Piper or Francis Chan or Billy Graham or (insert famous Christian leader here). Nor am I for that matter.

When Christians draw their theological lines in the sand, choose sides and start attacking each other, we’re not winning anyone for Christ, we’re just becoming more alienated from one another. And like it or not, if you’re a Christian, you’re part of the same Body of Christ as that fundamentalist pompous ass or that crystal-gripping tree hugging hippie that is woefully misguided and is driving you nuts. Speaking the truth in love doesn’t mean metaphorically neck punching someone with the truth and telling them you love them afterwards.

But assholiness is not a term reserved for Jesus people*. Some examples of assholiness I’ve seen come from atheists. Not all atheists, mind you, just the really angry, Christian despising kind who spend time online searching for a Christian platform where they can pick a fight. Don’t believe me? If your writing is primarily faith based in content, use the tags “atheist”, “Creationism” and “Darwin” on your next few posts and see who shows up on your blog. You may want to turn on comments moderation before you do that, the f-bomb seems to get dropped a lot.

Regardless of your faith or lack thereof, anytime our need to be right takes precedence over all else, it’s counterproductive. You may have a huge following who agree with everything you believe is wrong with that other guy, but like my friend and pastor Jeff says, when all you have in common is a common enemy, once that enemy is gone you will either lose the group or seek another enemy to fill the void.

I’m not interested in building that kind of following.

How about you?

*Jesus people is a term borrowed from my friend Jake Lee without his permission, but hopefully he won’t mind so much.

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28 Responses to “Assholiness”

  1. floyd September 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    But how do you really feel? I’ve just come home from a grueling day, I’m a bit grouchy, tired, and mad. Due to my lack of computer savvy someone has hacked into my mailchimp and used my posts as advertisement fodder. Since I don’t have a clue how to fix it, I’m thinkin’, well, I’ll just see what a few of the people that express themselves well in a situation like this are thinkin’.

    Wah-Lau! (?) Leave it to you! I needed to laugh, and by gosh, laugh I did!

    Yeah, Jesus was about truth, but He was about love and binding His children together first. “They will know Me by the love you have for one another.” (complete paraphrase)

    Where’s the love ya’ll?

  2. floyd September 15, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    Oh yeah, and Jake Lee is worthy… Gotta love him.

  3. Steven Sherwood September 15, 2011 at 11:45 pm #


    Though I get your point and no doubt others will too, I question the method. Ephesians 4:29 NLT Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
    Another passage tells us that our anger does not work the righteousness of God.

    How do we bring peace among our syblings in Christ? By prayer, and example in love, and yet some will still choose fighting, griping, complaining, etc. Paul tells us In Romans 12, “As much as in you is, live peaceably with all men.” In some cases there just isn’t that much in us.

    The Grace and Peace of the Lord Jesus to you and yours.


  4. Amy Sorrells September 16, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    Said as only The One Katdish can say it. One of your best.

  5. Louise September 16, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    I bow to your rightness.

    Oh — I am also bowed over form laughing! 🙂

    Good one!

  6. James Williams September 16, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    Hmmm…I get what you say, and agree in principle, big time. But not with the specific example you provided. People who responded to rob Bell, did so because of that video clip, where Bell was pretty confrontational in his tone. “Really? You think Gandhi’s in hell? And you feel you need to tell us so?” Dang–that sounds like a guy looking to fight. Nobody should be surprised that he got what he wanted.

    • katdish September 16, 2011 at 7:47 am #

      I think you’re right, James. Pretty sure Bell expected the backlash he received. The Rob Bell phenomenon is an interesting one. I like some of the things he says, some things not so much. But there are those among his following that get very defensive when anyone questions what he says.

  7. Nancy September 16, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    Good word, great post. I keep coming across posts about how “we” are more gracious and compassionate than “those” other believers. Then the writer goes on to berate and belittle those others. I think often about the book A Prayer for Owen Meany in which Owen refers to Christ’s followers as dumb shit disciples. The reality is, we’re all dumb shit disciples and desperately need one another to learn how to grow up in grace.

    • katdish September 16, 2011 at 7:50 am #

      LOVE A Prayer for Owen Meany. And yes, I’ve come across a few articles that begin with we need more grace and compassion followed by the equivalent of “but let me tell you what I really think…”

  8. Jake September 16, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    You just made my day. I couldn’t agree more, there’s nothing worse than some self-righteous pig who wants to prove that someone else is wrong. I know this because I’ve been that human. I think there is doctrine worth fighting for, but it’s all about how you do it and they guys who attacked Rob Bell really just improved his sales more than anything. Assholiness. Warrants a junk-punch if you ask me… 🙂

    • katdish September 16, 2011 at 8:14 am #

      Junk-punch: Coming soon to a katdishionary post near you.

  9. Amy Nabors September 16, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    Well said. When we have to be right about everything this is what we become.

  10. Annie K September 16, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    I think the big beef these guys have is with the Emergent church and their watered down version of Christianity. Books written by any of the EC pastors will be heavily debated, as they should be. In my opinion anyway.

    • katdish September 16, 2011 at 8:19 am #

      I’m not opposed to theological debate, I just don’t care for it when it gets nasty and personal.

  11. Tony J. Alicea September 16, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    Brilliant! I think sometimes people confuse speaking the truth in love with loving to speak the truth.

    • katdish September 16, 2011 at 8:20 am #

      Ooo! Good point, Tony.

  12. Annie K September 16, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    For the record, I’m not agreeing with the way it was handled and I may have come across that way. Public attacks via twitter, fb and blogs is so lame.

    • katdish September 16, 2011 at 8:35 am #

      Oh yeah, Annie. I get that. When leaders make public attacks, it’s like a green light for others to follow suit.

  13. Marni September 16, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    I’m with Jake. There is always doctrine worth fighting for, but for me, it takes setting pride aside and willing to hear another point and to kindly disagree (sometimes in my head, not out loud) while still loving my neighbor. But man, that is so stinkin’ hard to do. The more I practice it, I hope to get better at it. But for the most part, come quickly Lord Jesus….

  14. Jeff September 16, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    I just avoided such a debate myself last night on a friend and mentor’s Facebook wall, and I thought the guy was going to go this route on me. It didn’t help that he linked to a post written by a guy who angrily put down those of my opinion on a certain religious/political topic. So I told him I wouldn’t argue, because I was assuming he wouldn’t be persuaded, no matter what I said, as I would not be persuaded by him. He agreed, liked my comment, and left the buttholery to someone else. (Edited for content, as I’m a youth pastor and all).

    • katdish September 16, 2011 at 9:54 am #

      Buttholery: a kinder, gentler form of assholiness

  15. Heather Sunseri September 16, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    I love it! My favorite (not really) is when faith-based bloggers get into a public “discussion” on Twitter that turns really, really ugly. It makes me all kinds of uncomfortable.

  16. Jackson Baer September 16, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    How dare God be so kind and gracious! The Scriptures say over and over again that His love & mercy endure forever. Does it just endure in this life or does it pass over to the afterlife as well? If it’s just in this life, what good is His grace & mercy? Christians & non-Christians alike should discuss and study this together instead of choosing sides and condemning those they don’t agree with.

    The underlying and predominant characteristic should be love.

  17. Diana Trautwein September 16, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    LOVED this. Gonna have to check out the rest of the katdishionary and read up! Thanks for both the giggle and the thinking – both are good medicine.

  18. Helen September 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Katdish, one of the MANY things I love about you is your straight forwardness. You are a treasure!

  19. Mike Elliott September 23, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    Absolutely briliant. I’m gonna borrow that word now.


  1. Reads of the week – 2011 – 33 « Hope In Love - September 16, 2011

    […] Assholiness – Kathy Richards […]

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