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How To Spot A Cafeteria Christian

Updated on August 26, 2014

Easy Sample of Cafeteria Christians


You know, you can't go around pointing to people in church and saying "He or she is a cafeteria Christian." You're actually judging someone. If you suspect them to be, talk to them. Ask what they believe. Old school teaching is to admonish the sinner, but you also must teach them. Point out why something is wrong.

But if you insist on spotting Christians of the cafeteria type, the easiest, most identifiable ones are those in the political spectrum. With politicians, you have them promoting one value by living with another value. For example, have you ever heard this old speech: "I'm personally opposed to abortion as a Christian, but as a public official, who am I to tell people to follow my beliefs" Funny thing is, they ARE telling people what to believe. You can't have your cake and eat it , too.

There are some who go to an extreme and claim a wrong is a moral right. I can pick a few politicians who do this, but I am not going to name names. Have you ever heard this recently "The Church says it's OK to do this or that and I'm a practicing Christian who follows her church's teachings." Talk about distorting what the Church teaches. Ha!

Then there are those politicians who say "Only God can judge me." True, and you will be judged by picking and choosing which commandments to follow. Unfortunately, most politicians know nothing about religion, but everything about manipulation. Keep this thought in mind: If you break one commandment, you've broken them all.

Now I pick on politicians all the time, after all they represent us and most are not doing a good job. Beyond that, those that claim to live by Christian standards tend to fib and are living contrary to those standards. BECAUSE they are public officials and their actions, words or beliefs are open to all, we have the full right to criticize, complain and admonish. Maybe we even point out their inconsistencies on Facebook, hoping they see it and straighten out.

Yes, politicians are easy cafeteria-goers to spot, aren't they?


HOWEVER, A difficult cafeteria Christian to spot sometimes is the one in the mirror. Easy if you regullarily examine your conscience, tough if you have a chip on your shoulder. So look in the mirror and ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I go to Church every Sunday?

2. Do I believe my Church says it's OK not to go to Church?

3. Do I believe Christ does not care if I go to Church?

4. Do I believe that Christ repealed the commandment to go to Church and WORSHIP God?

5. Do I agree with only certain tenets of my Church?

6. Did Christ found the Church?

7. If the Church belongs to Christ and I only believe certain tenets, is Christ OK with that?

8. If I make up my own choices on what to believe, not follow the Church's instructions, is that something Christ would have wanted?

9. Have I ever looked up the full definition of hippocrite and wondered if Christ would be merciful to someone who is an OBSTINATE hippocrite?

10. Given all of the above regardless of what the Church teaches and I go my own way, what if I am wrong?

Think about, for your own good

Denying all or part of what Christ taught and what he teaches through his Church is the same as denying Christ. Christ himself said that if you deny him, which includes what he taught, to men, then He will deny you to the Father. Then again, most cafeteria Christians do not take to heart what Christ taught, otherwise they wouldn't be picking and choosing.


Is Dissent Wrong?

Dissenting from Church teachings before deeper investigation into those teachings could be dangerous. A Cafeteria Christian generally dissents from certain things that they want to be free from. But isn't dissenting in voice not as bad as dissenting in action? I look into a this aspect a little further at my blog. You can read it here >> I appreciate comments regarding the subject matter and content of my articles.

Is It 10 Commandments or 10 Choices?

How To Spot A Cafeteria Christian

A discussion for us common folks

Recently, I’ve stumbled across several blogs dealing with faith and theology that tended to make me cringe. What these bloggers spew out only confuses some readers about what to believe and why it could be detrimental on their (the readers’) faith journey. These bloggers are generally self-proclaimed experts with little or no theological training and little or no formal religious upbringing. The basis of their knowledge is what they’ve picked up here and there and made a part of their core beliefs system.

Now, I am not condemning them for being “Christian”. Although what they profess confuses others, it is far better than spewing dogma about cultic faiths, satanic rituals, and new age spirituality. What one must recognize about these bloggers is that they too are on a journey but haven’t delved deep enough into what they believe. Unfortunately, they are propagating their level of deepness (shallowness) on others who may be on the right track which in effect could stunt their growth. The problem is that they are serving cake before it is completely baked.

Therefore, my issue is with using their opinion, which is without study and reflection, and pretending to be an authority in order to influence those with weaker faith and knowledge. From what I have read, these bloggers have a limited understanding of the Church, history, and theology. What they are accustomed to doing is selecting parts of Scripture to advance their own unique religion. They take parts of Scripture and use it to justify their own position and the unwary reader does not at first see that those bits of Scripture apply to something else usually completely different and out of context.

I am not going to get into a debate about the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism, and among the differences between Protestantism. Nor am I going to write an apologetic against the Christian cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, et al. I want to further discuss these bloggers who may be called “Cafeteria Christians”. Maybe I should say “Buffet-style” but “Cafeteria” has already been in use.

Here is the definition of a “Cafeteria Christian”:

  • A person who openly professes to be a Christian but only selects or accepts certain beliefs, tenets, teachings, and rituals to his liking.

If you go to a cafeteria, you may choose a small salad, a baked potato, a piece of chicken, and a slice of pumpkin pie. That’s great but it becomes bad when you tell another patron that the beef is no good (because you don’t eat red meat), and fries are bad (because they are deep fried), and pumpkin pie is better than ice cream (because you don’t eat dairy). Now, in a real cafeteria this opinion does not affect the other patron’s soul in eternity. However, when you apply this cafeteria method towards religion, it does.

Here’s an example of a cafeteria Christian (let’s forget he is a blogger for now.) Mickey claims to be a bible believing Christian who is born again. Mickey says he worships God in his own way so there is no need for him to go to Church on Sundays. Mickey discounts any scriptural passage that contradicts his beliefs. The 10 Commandments to Mickey are actually 10 Options. And because he believes he is saved he is free to sin whenever he wants because Jesus loves him unconditionally. When we ask Mickey, “If Jesus loves you unconditionally, why did he bother teaching us or dying on the cross?”

Mickey gets stumped and changes the subject or attacks the person asking questions. You see, Mickey is a Cafeteria Christian. He can quote the bible backwards, yet not really understand it. He is not an exegete, not a theologian, and not even a poor soul in the pew. Mickey formed his religion out of a selfishness that eliminates guilt, dedication, and aspiration. Instead of further learning and reflection, Mickey haphazardly picked and chose only those religious concepts that made him feel good and released him from his faith responsibilities.

Here is another cafeteria Christian. His name is Tom. Tom rarely goes to church because he is a workaholic and uses the weekends to party hard. Tom claims he was saved 10 years ago so that exonerates him from going to Church. Tom picks and chooses tenets from a variety of denominations. Tom says that all he needs is faith and no works - that praying is useless and giving to the poor only expands the problem. He said he believes in God and even thinks about God sometimes. He doesn’t believe in miracles but he does believe in evolution. He also believes that he may be reincarnated in his next life to correct the problems he encountered in this one. He believes the Pope is the anti-Christ. He also said that in one of his future lives he will be caught up in rapture. Tom tells his co-workers about these beliefs and speaks as if he were an authority. Tom who works hard, plays hard, also preaches hard a bit to convince his co-workers that his beliefs are rooted in the Bible.

This mish mash of theologies is very detrimental. Tom formulated his own religion but consolidating certain aspects of different faiths. In reality, the more unique a cafeteria Christians faith is, the more it is its own individual religion. It is a religion which has only one adherent and teaching authority - that particular cafeteria Christian.

Now if you try to draw out the problems of Tom’s religious beliefs, he will just get indignant and attack yours. Surely, a good apologist would be necessary to speak with Tom. Although Tom claims to be a bible-believing Christian he admits that the bible has exaggerations and errors. He picks and chooses from the bible and discounts the hard passages.

If you approach Tom and ask “Why did these miracles could not have happened, but evolution, from which there is no proof, did happen?” Tom will claim in an enlightened way that “Science” has the answers, not the ancient writers who were ignorant of “science”. Then you ask “Well, if science has the answers, how can you prove the Pope is the anti-Christ.” He will then pull out a passage from the book of Revelation to  answer with distortion that question. Tom has an answer for everything, unfortunately not the right answer.

Another type of cafeteria Christian is one who professes to be Lutheran or Catholic or Baptist but not only selects specific teachings of that particular church and also selects outside fiction as truth. We will use a man again and call him Tyrone. Tyrone believes in the Trinity, and the sacraments but disagrees about the sin of adultery and selects fictional thought as a belief.

Tyron has added that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus Christ and they had children who kept the secrets of the universe in a secret order of knights who were murdered by the Pope. Tyrone also believes that Adam and Eve were Neanderthals and intermarried with Cro-Magnons and that gave rise to the people of Atlantis. Tyrone also believes that Jesus was once Michael the Archangel and that Judas Iscariot was Christ’s evil twin brother. Tyrone wanted to learn more and off he went to the library and found a book that claims the story of Christ is actually borrowed from the story of Krishna and Buddhism.

The twisting of religions and different beliefs is dangerous to the unawares. Cafeteria Christians, once they’ve solidified their own faith in their selections do tend to drift off into other world religion views, and many times take others along with them. And one of the latest ways to drag people further from the Truth is to proclaim you teach the Truth and blog about it to snatch the unsophisticated online.

So how can you distinguish a cafeteria Christian?

Simple. Ask these questions first before debating and hopefully straightening them out. Keep in mind that if they have really gone beyond the normal boundaries of Christianity, you need to study apologetics or get someone to coach you.

 1) Ask “What Church or Congregation do you belong?” If they answer none, ask why and their answer will confirm the overall question as to whether or not they are cafeteria christian

2) If they belong to a Church then ask “Do you agree with all of the teachings of your Church?”

3) If they answer negative, ask “Even though you may disagree with some teachings of your church, do you nevertheless live by the precepts and teachings?” If they answer in the negative then you have found yourself a Cafeteria Christian.

Remember, if you yourself are a Cafeteria Christian, you may be endangering the faith of others by your influence. Please realize that what you believe and disagree with affects your soul’s eternity. While you still have time on earth you need to study more and reflect before you open your mouth or write a blog about what to believe. It may take your whole life to find the Truth, but in the end, wouldn’t it have been worth it?

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