Beware the 'tyranny of niceness'

My wife Elena has a very placid nature but, if you want to ruffle her feathers, you simply have to call her 'nice.' She has come to recognise how she and many other Christians have allowed the teachings of Jesus to be painted over with a veneer of niceness, consequently undermining the meaning, power and authority of his words, writes Mark Reidy.

- The Record.

Elena is not alone in her observations. Over recent years there has been a growing awareness of what has become known as the 'tyranny of niceness.' It is the illusion that being compliant and socially appropriate equate to being a 'good Christian.' In June this year, Pope Francis warned followers to not allow Christianity to become a school of superficial niceness.

He described this false understanding as 'liquid Christianity' – a concept without substance that favours a love for external appearance rather than a love for Christ. It is an image that seems to have taken a firmer root over recent years as the reputation of the Church has taken a battering. Many followers, not wanting to add to the tide of Catholic negativity, have sidestepped any stance that may be considered confrontational or provocative – to the point of watering down or even misrepresenting God’s truth.

This is, effectively, the choice to hide behind a cloak of submissiveness and drift passively along rather than making any waves. But not making waves is the state preceding drowning according to US author Paul Coughlin. In his book on how to raise secure and assertive Christian children, No more Jellyfish, Chickens or Wimps, Coughlin is adamant, now more than ever, that Christians need to re-align their understanding of the Gospels if they are to live out Christ’s message of love.

He believes equating 'nice' to 'good' is one of the most damaging deceptions of our time and  has resulted in profound spiritual and relational degeneration. And he is right. Many Christians have managed to mellow Jesus’ radical and life-changing message to a form of tepid and uncontroversial social niceties.

FULL STORY It's not always nice to be nice (The Record)