The Embarrassed Christian

August 3, 2015

Dr. Braxton Hunter | Professor of Apologetics
Trinity Theological Seminary, Newburgh, IN

**This article was previously posted by Dr. Braxton Hunter on his website and is used by permission.

Dr. Hunter is: former president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE), professor of apologetics at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana

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WARNING: I love lively debates. For that reason I normally don’t get this fired up. I enjoy discussing differences in a cool-handed way. However, if you’ve read my blog for very long, you’ll know that today’s topic is the one issue that makes my clothes wrinkle. For that reason, please understand my passion.

One thing in this world disgusts me . . . well, two if you count cottage cheese . . . I hate cottage cheese. I’m using the word “hate” here. Nevertheless, atheism does not get my feathers ruffled as it does some people. I expected atheist spokesperson, Christopher Hitchens to say things like, “God is a celestial North Korean dictator.” It didn’t shock me. In fact it’s helpful when people basically hold up a sign that reads, “I don’t know Jesus – If you’re looking for someone to reach, I’m right here!” The same is true with those of other faiths. I expect to encounter Muslims who have Trinity issues, Hindus with logic issues and Mormons with burning bosoms. None of that upsets me. I’m a pretty laid back guy and I expect those who are not Christians to have non-Christian views. But, despite my laid-back-ness, what does irritate me to the point of spilling my coffee is when Christians do not have Christian views. Worse, I can’t handle Christians who have non-Christian views and espouse those views with faux piety. Enter – the embarrassed Christian.

These are folks that wouldn’t know orthodox Christianity from orthodox hog wrestling (in fact they’re more likely to speak up for the hog’s rights than the rights of the unborn). They show up on Facebook with quotes and memes they shared from fan pages administrated by groups of other embarrassed Christians. Those groups got those memes and quotes from the anti-Christian sites they drool over every day. They haven’t even considered whether their drivel aligns with, rather than contradicts, the Bible. That would require reading the Bible. Case in point – I recently noticed one such meme on the Facebook wall of a Christian friend (who I really like, and don’t necessarily think of as an embarrassed Christian) which carried a quote from Gandhi. It said, “Don’t talk about your religion. The rose doesn’t have to propagate its perfume to be noticed.” Okay. No offense to Gandhi . . . or those smug roses . . . but Jesus (you remember Jesus, right? The God incarnate whose resurrection is the centerpiece of the Christian faith) said, “Go into all the world and PREACH THE GOSPEL to all creation” (Matt. 16:15). So Gandhi is awesome and everything, but his words directly contradict the words of Jesus. Hilariously, the name of the group who propagated the meme – Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented. Wow! Just . . . wow. So embarrassed Christians are those who claim to believe in the orthodox or the “mere” Christian message, yet have views that are in direct conflict with that message and instead mirror the non-Christian (or anti-Christian) views of pop-culture. In short, it appears that they are embarrassed of what their faith teaches.

I decided to put together a list to help one determine whether or not he/she falls into this category. I hope it helps.

– You hide the titles of your Christian books in public
– You disguise that you are reading the Bible in public
– You quote non-Christians on worldview issues more than Christians
– You get uncomfortable if religion is brought up
– You are under 50 and loath all Christian contemporary music (don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of sub-par stuff, but you can’t think of one artist that you like?)
– You have close non-Christian friends who you have never talked to about the faith
– You have major views that conflict with the Bible
– You have major views that may conflict with the Bible and you’ve never thought to consult the Bible
– You almost never read the Bible
– You are annoyed at the amount of Christian material shared on social media
– You speak negatively about ministers more than you speak positively about them
– You are pro-choice
– You think that homosexuality is an acceptable alternative lifestyle
– You get annoyed when people use biblical terms
– You think that you have your own “truth”
– You think non-Christian religions are “valid”
– You think it is wrong to defend the faith
– You think Bill Maher (or his equivalent) has, “some really insightful things to say about religion.”
– You are annoyed when you see others in public being outspoken about their faith
– You don’t go to church
– You rarely go to a church
– You go to a church filled with other embarrassed Christians

If you don’t want to be a Christian then don’t, but don’t distort the Christian message. There are some of us who have made it our life’s goal to defend a Christian worldview with consistency and without compromise. What you are doing is setting us back. We are trying to reach a lost and dying world, not capitulate to it.

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Rick Patrick

Excellent post, Braxton. I’ve met some of these “embarrassed” Christians. They claim faith in Christ, but despise other Christians and Christian culture the way you despise cottage cheese. (I’m with you on that cottage cheese, by the way—and I’m sure there’s a “culture” play on words in here somewhere.)

There’s an old expression…”too cool for school.” That’s what I think about when I come across these types. I believe they may indeed embrace the claims of the gospel intellectually, but socially they are “too cool for church.” Despite their cross tattoo, they are more open to pot than potlucks. At some point, a true Christian will not only wish to identify with the Bridegroom but also with the Bride. How can they mature in the faith without being discipled in church?



Should we encourage people who “have major views that conflict with the Bible, ” or who “don’t, or rarely, go to a church,” to think that they can do this and still be a Christian. One can be a christian – a cultural designation – and not a Christian – a born again experience. Satan tells people lies to the effect that they can be a christian and still escape hell. Should we not tell them the truth, that only Christians will escape hell.

Isn’t the term, “embarrassed Christian,” somewhat of an oxymoron unless it means a Christian who lives in today’s world with the things the world calls good.


HMM–my grandkid here locally is definitely not shy about sharing her faith. And she is most assuredly under 50. And hates CCM.

That one doesn’t fit.

Braxton Hunter

Thanks Rick! I was a little irritable that day. Ha ha.

Donald Morgan

Well said. Cafeteria Christians who treat the Bible like a buffet. This is a serious issue in many churches.

Jim P

Dr. Hunter,

Careful to not blame the sheep to excuse the shepherds.

doug sayers

Thanks Braxton. I would hate to be the Christian Pastor that must perform the funeral service for one such as you describe. Reminds me of a humorous story that Ravi Z tells about a preacher who had to eulogize a well known scoundrel. The brother of the deceased was also a man of low integrity. He “demanded” that the preacher tell the folks that his brother “was a saint”… or else… the preacher would face lethal consequences! After a sleepless night the preacher rose to speak. He boldly told those assembled that the dearly departed was a scoundrel, liar, thief, and womanizer, but he said, “compared to his brother he was a saint.”

I agree with Rhutchin (for a switch), this is a question of assurance. We must be careful, as evangelicals, that we do not promise the full assurance of salvation to those who merely make professions of faith in Christ, lest we be caught breeding the hypocritical “embarrassed Christians” that we decry.

If we faithfully told people to count the cost before coming to Jesus, we would have less nominal Christians. The truth must never be compromised for the sake of numbers.

Would you agree that salvation is free but assurance has a cost?

Braxton Hunter

Linda, that’s why it’s a “you might be . . .” list instead of a “you’re definitely . . .” list. Besides, it is clearly a little less formal than other blog articles I’ve written. I’m painting a picture here.
rHutchins and Doug Sayers, I’m not in the business of saying who is and who isn’t saved. I think there are a lot of “embarrassed Christians” who fit the bill, but are in the wilderness. I do appreciate both of you guys though.

Braxton Hunter

Please do not take that comment to mean what I suspect everyone who has read anything I’ve ever written should know I do not mean.

doug sayers

Thanks Braxton. You are making an important point in this post. Still wondering, though, who would agree with the assertion that salvation is free but assurance has a cost?

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