To My Recent Commentators

To people leaving some of the less loving comments on my Great Commandment vs. Great Commission pieces: It’s not, as I’ve said, that I don’t want nonbelievers to be saved by God. Of course I do; what Christian doesn’t? My point is that until someone asks me to share my faith with them, I should only love them, and trust the Holy Spirit to take care of the rest. You can’t talk anyone into being Christian; conversion is an emotional experience, not an intellectual one. No one (that is, no adult, in this culture) isn’t a Christian because they lack information about Christianity. Everyone has available to them, 24-7, all the information they could ever want or need about our faith. What I think nonbelievers don’t have enough of in their lives are Christians who “just” love them, who show true and thoughtful respect for who they are and what they believe — who, in other words, have clearly made their primary imperative fulfilling the very commandment Jesus said should be the believer’s primary imperative. Jesus didn’t say to love our neighbors once they convert. He said to love them, period. And that means respecting them, since love without respect is no love at all — it’s condescension. And if you respect someone, you don’t disrespect them — you don’t undermine that love — by telling them that they’re wrong about virtually everything that’s important in life. If you do tell them that — if you do try to convert someone who hasn’t first asked you for that kind of intimate, extremely personal input — then you will repel them away from you, the same way any of us would be repelled by someone telling us Christianity is wrong. And a person repelled from you is a person with whom you don’t have a relationship. Which means you can’t fulfill the Great Commandment with them. Which means that you’re directly disobeying the one, supreme, overriding directive given us by Jesus.

I mean … I’m not by nature an argumentative person. I don’t like having an opinion that makes people want to … write me a lot, to tell me how wrong I am. That’s just not me. But I just can’t see any way around this clear, simply logic. “The Great Commission and The Great Commandment are perfectly compatible” is an outstanding, heartwarming, inspiring theory. But as a practical reality, it falls apart just as quickly as it takes anyone to want to stop dealing with anyone — and especially with a stranger — who has insulted them.

But believe me, I’m totally open to how telling someone they’re wrong about whatever they believe isn’t insulting to them. That’s the language I would very, very much like to hear.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Todd Darby

    I read your article and also your comments regarding others reactions to your piece. I guess I would just like to add that you don’t have to put either the Great Commandment or the Great Commission into words. That has already been done (obvious I know). For me, I see both as completely going hand in hand. As you love people they will Christ in you, but you also must remember we are called to GO. We can say we love all we want, but we must put that love in action. If I say I love the people of China, but I do not go to them then do I truly love them….

    I’m not sure if I made any sense I just wanted to add my two cents.


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