The Christian Superiority Complex

I was talking with a friend the other day about “The Christian Superiority Complex”. Before I go any further, let me explain exactly what “The Christian Superiority Complex” is.

As we delve deeper into the complicated faith of Christianity, one might feel a certain enlightenment – like “Oh I get this now. I have seen the light.” And often times, spiritual encounters feel exactly like that. I know for myself I’ve thought, “Look at how much liberation and joy I’ve been missing out on because I was too stubborn to accept a higher power. If only everyone else could experience this too.”

Stop. Stop right there. That, in of itself, is not a destructive thought. But when you start thinking that every day, and implementing it into your faith, it can contribute to “The Christian Superiority Complex”. We begin to think that we are somehow higher ranking than not just non-Christians, but all of humanity. And how precisely ironic – how exactly opposite of Jesus’s teachings.

I wrote a while back on how others sins are none of my business. It’s so difficult to remember this. But really, quite honestly, it is none of my business.

I’ve often wondered if we can separate Christianity from “The Christian Superiority Complex”. How can I humbly practice the Catholic faith without criticizing others? Here are a few of my ideas:

1. Reconciliation and a daily observance of conscience:
    Confession is one of my favorite traditions of the Catholic faith. Strangely enough, I find much comfort in seeing a line of people waiting to confess. It feels like, “It’s ok, no one’s perfect and we are accepting that we can’t do it alone.” A daily examination of conscience is also very important – when I look critically at my own flaws, I find myself a little more patient with other’s shortcomings.

2. Prayer:
    Pray, pray, pray. I mean technically, prayer could be an answer to anything. But again, admitting that you can’t do it alone is the first step, and a huge one at that.

3. Keeping yourself surrounded with people from all walks of life:
    I know people that were born and raised cradle Catholics and pretty much spend all their time around other Catholics. Fellowship is incredibly important and healthy for a flourishing spiritual life, but it’s not the only component. Spending time with people of different faiths, no faith, little faith, and lots of faith help keep me grounded. And it makes me constantly question and challenge the Catholic faith, which ultimately strengthens it.

4. Take a step back from what you’re told and listen to your heart:
    I once heard that the Catholic faith stands for all that is True, Just, and Genuine. Meaning despite all that we know as scientific, analytical humans, the faith stands as a cornerstone of truth. I struggled (and still do struggle) with some of the teachings of the church. I learned the valuable lesson that if I don’t agree with something, I don’t HAVE to blindly agree with it. If it really is true, just, and genuine, that will be revealed to me in the right time and place. So how does this play into “The Christian Superiority Complex”? We start thinking only we know truth, justice, and genuineness. But we forget that the language of the heart is more powerful than any bishop, priest, or pope. Let other people’s hearts speak to them. As Christians, it is not our job to replace anyone’s heart.

I don’t want to feign mastery of this subject. I am so far from a saint, but I think it’s important to discuss these things. No offense guys, but a lot of people really hate Christians (including myself a few years ago). Can we leave people and their sins up to them and God? Good grief, God knows I’ve got enough of my own sins on my plate.

You can practice Christianity all you want, but above all, if we don’t love our neighbor, we are forgetting the point of our faith.

How do you all deal with this? Have you ever fallen prey to “The Christian Superiority Complex”?

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6 responses to “The Christian Superiority Complex

  1. This is an awesome post. Great tips!

    The “Christian Superiority Complex” is an easy trap to fall into. I have done it too.

    The Catholic faith does claim “to stand for all that is true, just, and genuine”, and we are called to share our faith. And sometimes we just get overly excited about a spiritual experience.

    A few useful tips I have found:

    1. Talk less, listen more.
    2. When you do talk, aim to share and explain, not to argue.
    3. Have diverse friends and expose yourself to diverse opinions. You may be missing something or misunderstanding something.
    4. Don’t try to do the job of the Holy Spirit. You cannot change anyone’s heart. That’s not your job.

  2. Christians who act as if they are better than everyone else are certainly not living by the creeds of Christianity. Jesus himself despised this kind of people–the scribes and pharisees of His time. If we are indeed Christians, we should know better than thinking that we can be righteous by our own good works.

    As apostle Paul said in Romans 2:2 “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself.”

  3. Pingback: Fueling Christianity and Atheism with Pride | 20somethingcatholic·

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