What Non-Christians Want Christians To Hear

2010-03-10-scream.jpgBy way of researching a book of mine (“I’m OK – You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop“), I posted a notice on Craigslist sites all over the country asking non-Christians to send me any short, personal statement they would like Christians to read.

“Specifically,” I wrote, “I’d like to hear how you feel about being on the receiving end of the efforts of Christian evangelicals to convert you.” (To that I added, “I want to be very clear that this is not a Christian-bashing book; it’s coming from a place that only means well for everyone. Thanks.”)

Within three days, I had in my inbox over 300 emails from non-Christians across the country. Reading them was one of the more depressing experiences of my life. I had expected it to be a message of anger, but if you boiled down to one the overall sentiment most often expressed in the nonbelievers’ statements, it would be this: Why do Christians hate us so much?

Below is a pretty random sample of the statements non-Christians sent me. If you’re a Christian, they make for a mighty saddening read. Or they certainly should, anyway.

“The main thing that baffles and angers me about Christians is how they can understand so little about human nature that when, in their fervor to convert another person, they tell that person (as they inevitably do, in one way or another), ‘You’re bad, and wrong, and evil,’ they actually expect that person to agree with them. It pretty much guarantees that virtually the only people Christians can ever realistically hope to convert are those with tragically low self-esteem.”– E.S., Denver

“I feel that Christians have got it all wrong; it seems to me that they’ve created the very thing Jesus was against: Separatism.”– T. O., Denver

“I am often distressed at the way some Christians take as a given that Christians and Christianity define goodness. Many of we non-Christians make a practice of doing good; we, too, have a well-developed ethical system, and are devoted to making the world a better place. Christians hardly have a monopoly on what’s right, or good, or just.”– C.R., Seattle

“Christians seem to have lost their focus on Jesus’ core message: ‘Love the Lord your god with all your heart and with all your soul, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”– R.M., Tacoma, WA

“I have no problem whatsoever with God or Jesus – only Christians. It’s been my experience that most Christians are belligerent, disdainful and pushy.” — D.B., Atlanta

“Whenever I’m approached by an evangelist – by a Christian missionary – I know I’m up against someone so obsessed and narrowly focused that it will do me absolutely no good to try and explain or share my own value system. I never want to be rude to them, of course, but never have any idea how to respond to their attempts to convert me; in short order, I inevitably find myself simply feeling embarrassed–first for them, and then for us both. I’m always grateful when such encounters conclude.”– K.C., Fresno, CA.

“I don’t know whether or not most of the Christians I come across think they’re acting and being like Jesus was – but if they do, they need to go back to their Bibles, and take a closer look at Jesus.” — L.B., Phoenix

“I grew up Jewish in a Southern Baptist town, where I was constantly being told that I killed Christ, ate Christian babies, and was going to hell. So I learned early that many Christians have – or sure seem to have – no love in their hearts at all. It also seems so odd to me that Christians think that if I don’t accept their message my ears and heart are closed, because it seems to me like they have excessively closed ears and hearts to anyone else’s spiritual message and experience. They seem to have no sense of the many ways in which God reaches out to everyone. As far as I’ve ever known, Christians are narrow in their sense of God, fairly fascistic in their thinking, and extremely egotistical in thinking God only approves of them.”– B.P., Houston

“I wish Christians would resist their aggressive impulses to morph others into Christians. Didn’t Jesus preach that we should all love one another?”– M.G., Shoreline, WA

“I’m frequently approached by Christians of many denominations who ask whether I’ve accepted Christ as my savior. When I have the patience, I politely tell them that I’m Jewish. This only makes them more aggressive; they then treat me like some poor lost waif in need of their particular brand of salvation. They almost act like salespeople working on commission: If they can save my soul, then they’re one rung closer to heaven. It’s demeaning. I always remain polite, but encounters like these only show disrespect and sometimes outright intolerance for my beliefs and my culture. In Judaism, we do not seek to convert people. That is because we accept that there are many paths to God, and believe that no one religion can lay sole claim to the truth or to God’s favor. Each person is free to find his or her own way. To Christians I would say: Practice your religion as you wish. There is no need to try and influence others. If your religion is a true one, people will come to it on their own.”– M.S., Honolulu

“When did it become that being a Christian meant being an intolerant, hateful bigot? I grew up learning the positive message of Christ: Do well and treat others with respect, and your reward will be in heaven. Somehow, for a seemingly large group of Christians, that notion has gone lost: It has turned into the thunders and lights of the wrath of God, and into condemning everyone who disagrees with them to burning in the flames of hell. Somehow, present-day Christians forgot about turning the other cheek, abandoned the notion of treating others like they would like to be treated themselves; they’ve become bent on preaching, judging, and selfishly attempting to save the souls of others by condemning them. What happen to love? To tolerance? To respect?”–S.P., Nashville

“There are about a million things I’d like to say to Christians, but here’s the first few that come to mind: Please respect my right to be the person I’ve chosen to become. Worship, pray and praise your God all you want–but please leave me, and my laws, and my city, and my school alone. Stop trying to make me, or my children, worship your god. Why do we all have to be Christians? Respect my beliefs; I guarantee they’re every bit as strong as yours. Mostly, please respect my free will. Let me choose if I want to marry someone of my own sex. Let me choose if I want to have an abortion or not. Let me choose to go to hell if that’s where you believe I’m going. I can honestly say that I’d rather go to hell than live the hypocritical life I see so many Christians living.”– D.B., Seattle

“I had a friend who was, as they say, reborn. During my breaks from college she invited me to her church, and I did go a couple of times. In a matter of a month, at least ten people at her church told me that I was going to hell. The ironic thing is that I do believe in God; I’ve just never found a church where I felt at ease. However, in their eyes, I was nothing but a sinner who needed to be saved. I stopped going to that church (which in the past four years has grown from a small to a mega-church), but in time, through my friend, have seen some of these people again. None of them ever fails to treat me exactly as they did four years ago. All I can say is this: Constantly telling someone they’re going to hell is not a good way to convert them.”– A.S., Chicago

“I am a former ‘born again’ Christian. It’s been my personal experience that Christians treat the poor poorly–much like the Pharisees did in the parable of the old woman with the two coins. I found the church to be political to a fault, and its individual members all too happy to judge and look down on others. As a Christian, my own fervor to witness was beyond healthy. My friends would come to me to vent and express emotions, and all I would do is preach to them. I was of no real comfort to them. I never tried to see anything from their perspective.”– J.S.W, Philadelphia

“Once Christians know I’m gay, the conversion talk usually stops. Instead, I become this sympathetic character who apparently isn’t worthy of the gift of Christ. From my childhood in a Baptist church, I recall the ‘loathe the sin, love the sinner’ talk, but as an adult I can’t say I’ve often found Christians practicing that attitude. Deep down, I’m always relieved to avoid disturbing “conversion” conversations with Christians; discussing one’s most intimate thoughts and personal beliefs isn’t something I enjoy doing with random strangers. But at the same time, I feel as though Christians make a value judgment about my soul on the spot, simply because I am gay. I don’t pretend to know the worth of a soul, nor the coming gifts to those who convert the masses, but I would guess converting the sinful homosexuals would merit a few brownie points. But I get the feeling that most Christians don’t think we’re worth the hassle.”– R.M., Houston

“Religion always seemed too personal for me to take advice about it from people I don’t know.”– D.P., Denver

See also How Is “Convert, You!” Loving Others?

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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. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Sabina

    John,

    Very depressing and unfortunately I can relate. As a Christian I often found a conflict between what I read in the Bible and studied with reality (Christian/religious practices) . For years I stopped going to church because I felt isolated and oppressed, saw otheres being isolated and oppressed and just couldn't be a part of that. I then spent some time looking for a church were I was able to worship where I felt included. Its difficult. As a Christian, I want everyone I love to be in heaven and I want to get there, but I am absolutely not interested in making people feel bad about not being a Christian. I try my best to share the good news, but I know full well that I'm not perfect-no Christian is and its not good to pretend that we are.

    • Jay

      Great dialogue here. As an agnostic with very dedicated Southern Baptist (my side) and Catholic (my wife's) extended families, there are several things that stand out to me:

      1) Why do Christians work so hard to pass legislation to confirm / enforce their own moral beliefs? You have no right to force your beliefs on anyone else!

      2) From my experience, most Christians don't seem to understand their own beliefs. When I was a boy, my paternal grandfather was under the impression that I was being raised Methodist (he's a Baptist), and told me that I was going to hell. When I got older, I asked him to articulate the difference between the two denominations – he couldn't tell me, nor could anyone else in the family. (This obviously happened pre-Internet). =)

      3) Many Christians are woefully ignorant of the discrepancies in the Bible. If the Bible is the unfallible word of God, why are there so many inconsistencies?

      4) Why do Christians refuse to acknowledge historical facts like the reason we celebrate Christmas at the Winter Solstice, or that the Bible was created by men at the Council of Nicea? Or, more importantly, how many people have been killed throughout history in the name of God?

      5) Why do Christians believe that it is necessary to follow the Bible to the letter on some issues but not on others? I have never seen an adulterer stoned to death in the public square! (I am not suggesting that we should start stoning aduklterers to death – only making a point).

      Interested in a Christian's feedback…

      • Jay

        And before you hammer me on the little details, I am aware that the Bible was generally agreed on before the council and formalized after Constantine's death. I am only using the Council as a historical reference point.

      • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

        I'm not sure what the existence of the Internet has to do with it. Christians are uncurious about other religions and even other sects. They are discouraged from learning about other beliefs because it might cause them to question their own.

        • Kilyle

          I can say that being in the throes of doubt isn't at all pleasant. And being not sure which way is right is downright scary.

          It disturbs me when other Christians – even my own dad – council me not to study comparative religions and such. After extensive study into the facts of Christianity over a decade or more of research, I'm pretty certain that (1) the evidence (the testimony of the four Gospel documents, along with extrabiblical sources) points toward the advent of Jesus Christ on earth, (2) the evidence isn't shy about the conclusions thereof, and (3) assuming the first two points, then the Bible was given us by God (and we can argue about the finer points of that), and then (4) the God of Truth wants us to know the truth, wants that truth to be our freedom, and is willing to guide us into the truth if we seek it with an open heart.

          Paul himself commended people for testing his teachings and comparing them to the rest of scripture instead of just blinding accepting them.

          So I can see where Christians are coming from when they shy away from things that would make them doubt (it's painful and uncertain!), but I find it a little… well, childish. We need more study, not less.

      • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

        @anne

        Comments are being moderated, so sometimes we find something in our email that was removed as disrespectful.

      • Cicero

        A reason evangelicals are so ignorant about the contradictions is they start with the premise that the Good Book is infallible and inerrant. Obviously contradictory passages from the Bible must not really be inconsistent; there must be a third explanation, which they are happy to concoct.

        Their premise is a matter of faith, not of serious analysis.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Thank you for saying “evangelicals” instead of “Christians,” Cicero :)

      • Don

        “1) Why do Christians work so hard to pass legislation to confirm / enforce their own moral beliefs? You have no right to force your beliefs on anyone else!”

        Actually, we collectively do have the right to force beliefs on other people. That is the entire basis of society. Without that, there is no basis for a social system of any kind. For example, the vast majority of people in society feel that pedophilia is morally wrong. Therefore, society forces this belief on everyone. Whether you agree or not, society has said that you will not engage in this activity, regardless of your own values and beliefs, and if you do you will be punished. Christians – at least the segment of activist Christendom to which you refer – simply casts a wider net of values that they want society to enforce. They absolutely have a right under our democratic system to peacefuly influence society to achieve their goals. The fact that you don’t agree with all those values doesn’t mean that suddenly society has lost its legitimacy to enforce social rules. If you want to debate them on the merits of your beliefs vs their beliefs, by all means, go for it. However, don’t use the argument that people have no right to force their beliefs on others. As a society, we absolutely do have that right. It is the whole basis by which we have a functioning social system.

        “2) From my experience, most Christians don’t seem to understand their own beliefs.”

        There is a tremendous amount of sectarian division and chauvinism within Christendom. In no way does this invalidate all of the Christian faith. Christianity teaches that humanity is terribly flawed. Christians – despite the chauvinistic claims of some – are included in humanity. Of course, many Christians are going to get it wrong and not be good examples of what the Christian faith teaches.

        By the way, I’m not a Protestant, but I am yet to meet one that would say that other Protestants are going to Hell because they are members of a different denomination. The fact that one of your grandparents was a loon doesn’t mean all other Protestants are.

        “3) Many Christians are woefully ignorant of the discrepancies in the Bible. If the Bible is the unfallible word of God, why are there so many inconsistencies? ”

        As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I am very much aware of the discrepencies and contradictions in Scripture. Scripture contains truth only when interpreted within the tradition and witness of the Church. Protestants would disagree, but Scripture is part of Church tradition. Your comment applies only to Protestant evangelicals who hold to Sola Scriptura.

        “4) Why do Christians refuse to acknowledge historical facts like the reason we celebrate Christmas at the Winter Solstice, or that the Bible was created by men at the Council of Nicea? Or, more importantly, how many people have been killed throughout history in the name of God?”

        I was always taught that pagan holidays were superseded by Christian themes throughout the Roman Empire. This is something for which the Church should rejoice, not be ashamed of.

        The Council of Nicea did not write the Bible (I’m assuming by “create”, you mean wrote). That is historically inaccurate and unfactual. The Nicean Council simply formalized into an official creed the core Christian doctrines that were already being taught throughout the Church. They did this in response to several heresies that were threatening the unity of the Church.

        The Bible was written by many different authors over centuries. The process of formally collecting these desparate texts into a single Canon did not occur instantly at any council. It was actually a rather long process.

        “5) Why do Christians believe that it is necessary to follow the Bible to the letter on some issues but not on others? I have never seen an adulterer stoned to death in the public square! (I am not suggesting that we should start stoning aduklterers to death – only making a point). ”

        I don’t know of a single Christian denomination that teaches that every single rule in the Bible is to be obeyed. Even your most strident fundamentalists don’t teach that. The fact that YOU misunderstand their beliefs doesn’t make THEM hyporcrites, it just makes you ignorant of their actual beliefs.

        Nowhere in Scripture is it taught that the Church established by Jesus Christ in the New Testament is under any obligation to enforce the civil code of the ancient Hebrew kingdom. The moral guidelines that we can draw from that code (such as adultry being a terrible sin…hopefully we can agree on that, or at least that it is bad) are instructive, but the Church has never held that we should seek to apply the ancient Hebrew civil system. The New Testament nowhere compels the followers of Christianity to adhere to this ancient system. In fact, quite the opposite is true. For example, God revealed to Saint Paul that there are no dietary restrictions for Christians and that any meat can be freely eaten so long as we do so with thanksgiving. If the dietary laws of the older order don’t need to be followed in the new age established by Christ, why would other aspects of the ancient Hebrew civil system be adhered to? Such a thing is illogical.

        I don’t know of any mainstream Roman, Orthodox, or Protestant denomination that teaches otherwise.

        In closing, I find that most of the comments seem directed at Protestant Evangelicals. I would just remind everyone that Protestantism is a new development in Christianity, and they are only part of Christendom. They are predated by over 1,000 years by the Orthodox faith. Many of the criticism and questions don’t seem to hold much significance if you consider the Eastern Church.

  • Sabina

    John,

    Bless you for being willing to start these dialogs and provide an avenue for people to talk and heal. I hope you know how important this is and I am so grateful to have found this blog.

  • windyblue

    We cannot force Jesus on anyone. Some people just do not want to hear it. And shoving Jesus down their throats just makes them angry, and they back off more. I work with many people who do not believe in God. They do not attend church either. They remember as a child be forced to go to church, and this turned them off to it totally.

    Prayer is a powerful thing, and its just best at times to pray for a person and leave them in the Lords hands.

    • Tom Vidager

      why would a supernatural being bother having hands, feet, etc.? Does this by implication mean that God has a gastrointestinal tract? Does God use it, or is it just in there for decoration?

      • Karen Taylor

        If there is a supreme Omnipotent Creator (yeah, right), what comes out of his gastrointestinal tract are the ideas that become religions.

        John, I'm a lifelong nontheist. What I'd like the Evangelicals to know are two things: 1)not being religious does not mean I do horrible "sinful" things; I don't fear Hell, but I have a strict personal code of ethics that I live by, and I consider myself a good person, and I think you would too if you knew me. 2) Stop saying, "If there's no God, how did everything get here? If you won't accept my assertion that all the matter currently in the Universe has always existed in some form, then when I ask how God got here, don't say he's always existed. Either allow me the "always existed" argument or don't use it either.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Do you believe that the essence of what it is to exist is a meaningful concept? In other words, do you hold that any existing thing objectively exists? If so, then a thing exists such that it is. If such a thing communicates something to you, its reference to itself takes the first-person, and this becomes "I am that I am". Such an entity is the God of the Israelites!

          Ah, but you think no such thing communicates to you, right? Tell me then, what does it mean to communicate?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well, one posting at a time, my friend. (And, honestly, I personally couldn't tell any "See how trying to turn people who aren't Christians into Christians works?" stories. I'm certainly not saying such stories don't exist — of course I would never even suggest that. What I am absolutely saying is that I personally have never known anyone who was converted as a result of being evangelized to by a Christian — and I've never known anyone who has converted a non-believer by evangelizing to them. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I've never been told a story by anyone who knew of an occasion when a Christian converted a non-Christian. I'm sure such stories exist, of course. But I can definitely say I've never heard them. So I'm afraid someone else'll have to tell that sort of story.)

    • Harriet

      I was brought up Anglican and I'm now an agnostic with atheist leanings. Since I stopped feeling myself to be a Christian the people who have brought me closest to considering Christianity again are those who have been non-judgemental, thoughtful and caring. They are people who are interested in sharing human experiences and seeing me as a whole person, people whose faith helps them in some ways but who accept that I may be helped by other things and are interested in talking about those things. I have met some very special Christians, and I maintain a deep respect for these people.

      Conversely I have experienced Christians who almost bullied me about my agnosticism/atheism and it was very hurtful. I was vulnerable at the time, and I think they'd been informed of that. I was left shaken and scared, with my most personal thoughts and feelings attacked by strangers. Since those occasions even the memory of kind and gentle Christians hasn't been enough to stop my kneejerk fear and revulsion of anyone throwing religion in my face (even when they're my parents!). It's not because I hate these people but it's because I do not want to let them hurt me again.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        In my opinion (and—it seems to me—the "opinion" of Jesus Christ as well), those who attacked your very soul when it was at its most vulnerable are *not* Christians.

        It is my prayer that people not be fooled by followers of an antichrist—I mean those acting out of a spirit diametrically opposed to the Spirit of Love, and of Truth—into lumping all those who call themselves Christians into the same boat with them and basically causing the same sort of fear and/or hate that can lead someone who was victimized by an African American (or a few African Americans) into a prejudicial discomfort with and distrust for an entire race.

        I'm truly sorry that you, and many others, have been hurt "in Jesus' name". I hope that agnostics/atheists with common decency and humanity recognize that—even if Jesus was but a man—if he said anything like what's quoted in the Bible, those who do that are doing terrible dishonor to the name and memory of one of the most caring, most inspiring, most revolutionary men in history.

        And then, I believe there's even more to Christ than all that… and more to the world than all this… more than is dreamt of in any of man's philosophies…

  • Billy

    John, what I'm saying is when it comes to evangelism or witnessing unless I missed something, (which I may have) the focus is always on how poorly Christians do that. The onus is always for Christians to be perfect in our witness/sharing and to be ever so sensitive to not offending others.

    I read how missionaries are being persecuted every day. Physically beaten, homes burned down, churches destroyed all for reaching out and sharing the Gospel.

    Read a few of these articles http://www.gfa.org/persecution or visit Voice of the Martyrs.

    Today one of your brothers or sisters in Christ will give their life for witnessing. Part of the price they are willing to pay.

    Offended or Martyered? Who again is suffering the greatest?

    • ionthegravity

      Versus the millions of people throughout the ages who were tortured and/or killed in the name of religion? I’d say their suffering is.

    • Tom Vidager

      Billy,

      You just gave Torquemada a big laugh, even though he’s suffering eternal agony in a pit of burning brimstone in hell.

    • http://ffrf.org Karen Taylor

      Doesn't Jesus say in the book that his followers should pray "not in the public square, but at home in a closet?" Sounds to me like he didn't like proselytizing any more than we heathens do. Not that I expect so-called "Christians" to put Jesus ahead of their worldwide power grab, er, I mean church.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Billy: I'm sorry; you've confused the issue. I didn't write anything about Christians in foreign nations being being martyered for practicing their religion or evangelizing. That's horrible, of course. But it has nothing whatsoever to do with my post. Two … totally different subjects.

  • Cathy

    I, too, am dismayed that non-Christians see us as pushy, intolerant, and hypocritical. And I agree with Greta–no one is perfect, and the whole light/dark, love/hate, right/wrong analogies she made are great. My comment to any non-Christian is: I am not perfect, I am human! Get to know Jesus if you want to know what perfect is!

    (Just finished reading "I'm OK You're Not". Excellent book. Thanks for that)

    • ionthegravity

      "Get to know Jesus if you want to know what perfect is!"…yeah, see, that's the condescending stuff that we can't stand as secularists…that gives me the right to say "you can't see reality because your religion is in the way".

  • Billy

    Cathy, all you can be concerned about is how they see you. If you accept that they "all" see "us" that way then that belief could keep you from witnessing. Is it better to offend six and save one than not share at all? Can a person who is already lost be more lost? One response from a Craigs list inquiry is not enough data for me to come to that conclusion. How am I to even know they were being honest in their responses?

    Scripture however does say this. John 7:7 – The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.

    • ionthegravity

      I am NOT LOST!!! and quoting ancient desert myths to me doesnt' make me a lost/immoral person!!

      Besides if you call witnessing "sharing", the concept of "sharing" as I understand it means that the other party has to be a willing participant. Forcing your beliefs on someone else is not "sharing", it's harrassment. (coming from a former Baptist, who comes from a family of Ministers)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Billy: If the save-to-alienate ratio for domestically evangelizing Christians was anywhere NEAR six-to-one, you'd have a point. But it's not even in that universe, and you know it. We ALL know it.

    And it wasn't "one response" from the Craigslist posting: It was well over 300 in less than four days. And why would they write with DISHONEST personal testimony? That's … not reasonable.

    And about your quote: GOD telling someone that they or the world is evil is one thing. A PERSON telling another person that they and/or the world is evil is a whooooooooole other can of repellent.

  • Billy

    Brother John, first the response was to Cathy.

    Six to One? No John I don't know it, not sure how anyone can. It was an open question. I don't know it, how can anyone?

    Why are we to assume their response are all honest? Why would I assume they are reasonable? Like I said it is not enough info for me. If others want to buy into that is their business. I think you have faulty data. Just my opinion.

    The world is dirt, people are what make it evil. We will have to agree to disagree.

    • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

      See, you are clearly illustrating why non-believers have no reason to listen to you. You made up a bunch of numbers off the top of your head, and when someone points this out to you, you try to claim that their data is not good enough for you, so you can fabricate whatever you like. You can lie to yourself, but we see it as inherently dishonest.

  • Penlee

    This will be a good and needful book John if any find it depressing they have a problem. Winning people to Christ should be as Jesus said like catching fish. That is with wisdom, love, listening not pushing your ideas on them, not judging, not having to agree with them but being wise in your responses, showing you are interested in them and more importantly gaining their friendship, confidence and trust to leave the door open.

    • PearTree

      If you are viewing them as "fish" to be "caught" then you are not truly respecting them, and you are not truly "not judging" them though you can pretend all you want. How would you feel if an atheist friend viewed YOU as a "fish" to be "caught" by being converted to HIS way of thinking. Bet you wouldn't like it much, would you?

  • Sergmummy

    Hallelujah for Penlee. Honestly I haven't gone through all the readings because I just popped in before I run off to a class. But I thank John for putting this particular topic out there because a lot of the 'older' Christians (not necessarily matured) do like to tell non believers how bad and evil they are…and sometimes even shun these people…not showing the love of Jesus Christ at all. I am not saying that we should get in the 'miry clay' with the non-believers, but at least remember when we/they (the old ones) were in the miry clay, what it was like to be looked upon by the Christians of our time…how we felt that we could never be made clean – but THANK GOD FOR THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST. I love you John – and you don't even know me. ;) God bless you all.

  • http://www.brianshields.com Brian Shields

    After recovering from my crying fit that John didn't post MY "Non-Christian Statement", I did what any self-respecting egomaniacal model agnostic would do and dug it out of my e-mail. So here goes:

    "As a non-believer educated in the Scripture, I would say I would have much more respect for most Christians if they lived and preached the Beatitudes of Matthew, rather than emphasizing the moralistic social dogma of St. Paul and the non-Gospel books of the New Testament. I also often wonder why Christians pay so much attention to Christ’s death and (alleged) resurrection, rather than to the liberating lessons of his life and teachings. I also find that most Christians who try to evangelize don't have the knowledge of the Scripture they should, which leaves them unprepared to answer the tough questions about their religion."

    • PearTree

      LOL to the first part, and I completely agree with your statement. I am an agnostic, and I find it kind of amusing and disturbing at the same time that some Christians (see the comments just above yours) equate my rejecting their views and their brand of Christianity as "rejecting Jesus." Really? I might be an agnostic, but I think Jesus' life and teachings had many good lessons for all of us. I wouldn't call that "rejecting Jesus", I'd call it "being open-minded" — something many Christians could stand to do a lot more of.

      • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

        Then they turn around and say we are “denying God”, which is ridiculous, since we see no evidence that there even is a god. God is a faith-based concept.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Angela Quattrano is a faith-based concept. oh, wait; there’s evidence from those words attributed to her.

          Well, there are words attributed to one Jesus of Nazareth, who claims that *he* is God.

          Of course, now we need to look into who or what an “Angela Quattrano” is so that we could recognize one if one actually did exist. Same goes for this “God” that everyone keeps talking about.

          How do I know, by the way, that you actually do exist and aren’t just some cunning computer system designed to mimic meaningful responses? Or a cunning biological system designed to mimic meaningful responses? Or a random configuration of matter that happened to assemble in such a way that it mimics meaningful responses? And what makes for genuinely “meaningful” responses?

          Perhaps this response wasn’t really meaningful… or perhaps it’s more meaningful than you’ll ever know.

          • Aradiel

            Welcome to Solopsism and Nihilism.

            As for the second paragraph: I can claim I am a pink elephant, but that does not make it true. The only evidence is my claim. To believe me would be a faith based concept. But believing that someone or something wrote it is less so.

            Unless you think that your sense are incredibly untrustworthy, and that maths and logic are purely faith based, in which case: Pinkle squirmy blip blap blap.

          • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

            Excuse me?

            You have clearly demonstrated here the failing of religious "logic".

            The "words" attributed to Jesus were written down 100 or more years after he supposedly was born, the evidence of which is mighty slim indeed, while I appear to be responding to posts here intelligently.

            Perhaps you could check the facts on me. Ignoring facts that are inconvenient to your straw man argument is not "clever" or "cunning". Search on my name, with or without the space, and you will find I have left comments all over the web.

            Ignoring inconvenient facts to come to some bizarre and irrelevant conclusion is only considered profound and clever between those who believe, against all evidence, that facts don't matter. Keep patting yourself on the head for having "proven" reality doesn't exist.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I did. I also did the same with God. And aparantly God is even more active than you are, Angela. But I don’t claim to have given proof of anything at all. Now what “facts” is it that I’m ignoring?

  • PJ

    “” I was nothing but a sinner who needed to be saved.”

    Aren’t we all? ”

    …………………………………………..

    Um…nope.

    But hey, if it works for you, great!

    _________________________________

    This is what I'm talking about. If they've heard the message, and they just don't want to hear, if they don't want to accept that there's only one true God and that he has a son…

    we have to love them anyway. And we have to accept that they're rejecting Jesus as their savior. But as Christians, we simply can't accept that "all paths lead to God", or that "there is no God". Sorry. And that's what some people don't like. That evangelizing is part of what we believe. That we think Jesus is the only true way. We just have to do what we have to do, which is evangelize (with love and respect), and when they reject the message, respect their decision, and move on…don't get hung up over not "converting". God converts, not us. But we can't assume that everyone's heard it. Some people are very uneducated about what us Christians believe.

    • Rainne

      We don't care if you accept it or not. What bothers us is that you won't leave us alone once we tell you that we aren't interested in what you're trying to sell. You know how you go into a clothing store, and some pushy saleswoman comes at you with an ugly sweater? And you tell her, I don't like that sweater. And she says "It's totally in, it's the style, you NEED this sweater" and proceeds to follow you around the store with the sweater, going on and on about how you need to buy the sweater?

      You're the saleswoman in this analogy.

    • Aradiel

      "But as Christians, we simply can’t accept that “all paths lead to God”, or that “there is no God”. Sorry."

      …and as non-believers who have heard the message before, some of us just can't accept that there aren't many path to God, or even that there is a God.

      We aren't trying to make you a "non-believer". We aren't trying to convert you. But when you try to convert us, it is annoying.

      We don't want you to believe that there are many paths to God (or that there isn't one), but we do want you to understand and respect that that is what we believe, just as we respect and accept that you believe the opposite.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Folks: Mr. Shields, a well-known television producer in the San Francisco Bay Area, was, I believe, the very first person to respond to my Craigslist posting; since then we've become something of e-pals. He runs the fabulous weblog, "Today's Cool News," which you can link to under "Links" in the column to the right.

    Brian! Did your comment here make it into the book? I believe very much it did, but can't be positive. I don't see why not; it's wonderful. Anyway, for the ones I put here, I simply went in order of the way they appear in the book–so perhaps yours in in one of the latter "Ouch" groups, if that makes sense. Anyway, yes. Good points here.

    For an agnostic, you're not a bad guy.

    Holy cow! There's been a lot of comments here. They've been so good, too: so rich, and obviously heartfelt. I wish I had time just now to comment on them all, because I really do so APPRECIATE them all.

    Brian: I DO have awesome readers, no?

  • PJ

    If someone else's religion said I was going to hell and felt bad for me…

    I wouldn' t think a thing of it. Jewish and Muslim religions already do think that of me. I don't hate them, I don't feel sorry for them. I just believe what I believe in, not what they do. I can accept them as people, and get along with them, but I can't accept what they believe. And I understand that that's what some nonbelievers want to get across. Our religion says we have to speak, and that's what we do. We don't know if you already have rejected Christianity. We have to accept that you don't believe it, but you have to accept we can't not say it. Now that's tolerance. We can' t just be separate, I hope you agree with me on this. You already don't believe, and I can't convince you, and you can't convince me. I know the thing people hate about us is our evangelism. We can't change that one thing, but we can change the reason of our evangelism back to Jesus and his love.

    • Laura

      For your information, Jews do not believe in Hell, nor do they preoccupy themselves with the status of other people’s souls. You clearly know nothing about Judaism.

      • Marie

        hahahah RIGHT ON Laura!

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen

    I'm reminded of a co-worker I knew several years ago. We were talking briefly and somehow we happened across the subject of church. She said something like, "I need to start going to church, or I'll be in trouble, won't I?" We had to cut it short there for some reason, but I wanted to tell her that we're all in trouble, we're all in the same boat, but Jesus came so we could be saved.

    A few things God wants us to hear:

    (non-believers take note:)

    "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)

    "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14.6)

    "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

    (judgmental believers take note:)

    "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5)

    (hypocritical believers take note:)

    "…you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? As it is written: 'God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'" (Romans 2:21-24)

    (overbearing believers take note:)

    "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town." (Matthew 10:14)

    • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

      "A few things God wants us to hear:"

      How do you know we haven't heard those exact same things hundreds or thousands of times in our lives? Why assume we are utterly ignorant of Christianity? I know the Bible better than most Christians, whose knowledge is extremely selective, and who have absolutely zero historical perspective.

      • Sika

        I agree Angela. I also don't understand why Christians quote a book that non-Christians don't believe in as proof of what to believe.

        • Shelley

          AGREEEEEEDDDDDDDD. UUGGGHHH!!! When I was in undergrad, my peers would use the Bible as an academic reference. Uh… hello, the Bible is full of ancient stories and parables. You can’t use it as “proof” for things that either aren’t related to the subject matter (so you can say “well.. God said so, so there”) or to try to guilt people into agreeing with you. I’ll say it… I think the Bible is a big bunch of hooey. Don’t quote things at me that I’ve most likely heard about a million times in my life. I might be a “nonbeliever”(this term is addressed somewhere in this blog), but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t raised in a religious household. I’ve met many Christians who don’t actually understand the theology behind a lot of their doctrine. It is very difficult to have a debate with someone when they don’t even understand the things they claim to believe in. I’ve done a lot of research on Christianity and I’m no longer a Christian because of the things I’ve discovered/finally admitted/etc.

    • Anne

      Seriously?!

      I try to lead my life as I see fit, following an ethics and moral code I have developed from studying philosophy, other religions, and looking into my natural reactions to things and thinking things through. Like most "non" believers I do not need a book, that over the millenia has been edited by different factions to create a message they want to hear. All you have to do is look at how many different sects of chritianity are out there.

      Protestant, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthadox, Evangelicalism, New Frontiers, Baptists etc. I am sure the list goes on, and each church believes their message is true, but the other churches are misguided or missinterpreted. The Bible has contradictions, good moral points and outdated views, some messages good, some aimed at an era that no longer exists. If you believe that I judge you, I don't, I don't see the point. Whatever I believe should not be aimed at changing how you live your life. Nor should a Christian point of view try to change how I live my life. If I go to "hell" (if "hell") exists, fine, but I will not lead my life following rules that do not fit my ethical and moral view of the world purely to avoid consiquences that might occur after I die?!

      If I do something wrong, I make it right in this life. Not go and repent and serve out the sentence after I die. I do not want to be converted and I do not want to go to a church and try and "convert" people to being atheist.

      What is so wrong with mutually respecting each others stand points, agree to disagree. Neither holds a higher moral ground – morality is a perspective formed on culture and sociology and other factors including the religion of the country. How is it that Bhuddists, Hindus, Jews etc dont have a problem with live and let live, yet a majority of christians feel the need to prove something. If Christianity is so wonderful, it should shine on its own for people to come if they see it. Even the most beautiful sunset can become ugly if being constantly told it is…..

      • PearTree

        YES!!! Beautifully well-said.

    • ionthegravity

      "non-believers take note"…all of that "spooky language" means nothing to me. If anything, it reinforces what many NON-CHRISTIANS already believe…that you guys are nothing but half-crazy, arrogant zealots.

      And why do Christians always quote the bible to make a point to people who don't believe in it?

      It carries as much moral authority as a Berenstein Bear book.

  • http://www.whytedovepress.com kayoung

    John, thought-provoking as always. Comments, too. I will soberly meditate on the love of GOD in Y'shua to see how I should behave in word and deed to others, those who do believe in the Word and those who don't. It isn't an either-or, this matter of loving others by telling them about the Way, the Truth, and the Life … and loving them by helping them along the way of life, listening to them when they express what they do or don't think or understand about truth, and living the Life as we live life alongside them, interacting with them as caring people, getting involved with their concerns to the degree they invite us to. The container our light can so easily be hid in comes in two sizes: silence when words are wanted and words when silence is wanted. I only pray that I will be more sensitive to others and sensitive to the Holy Spirit's guidance. Not either-or … both. I have failed most miserably when I've cared most heart-wrenchingly.

    Thanks once again, John, for giving us all much to think about and a place to discuss these things. –kathleen

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    That was thoroughly depressing. It actually causes me physical pain to think of this being someone’s idea of Christians in general. The one thing that i try hardest to show people is that for me being a Christian is all about love and grace. Not about intolerance and judgment.

    Wow

    WM

    • http://www.noelfigart.com Noel Lynne Figart

      I’m delighted that you do want to show Christianity as love.

      My church used to preach love, love, love. I can only say the actions were very different.

      Here’s the thing: I can’t entirely hang this on Christianity. It has been my experience in general that far too often HUMAN BEINGS use their various religions as an excuse to behave very badly, indeed. I’ve seen neopagans behave almost EXACTLY like the church I grew up in if I did not conform to expected behavior. I’ve seen gossip rip apart the live of young Jewish women. I’ve seen… Well, you get my point.

      Maybe it’s a human trait to think we have a Divine mandate for our nastiness. And shame on us for it, too!

      • Mary Linda

        My experience has been the same! I used to belong to an "inclusive" homeschooling group which was inclusive of anyone except anybody who wasn't liberal. They were particularly intolerant of people who were politially or religiously moderate. I was a core member of that group for years and contributed to the atmosphere of welcoming everyone except anyone who was not like us. One day, though, I got began seeing the walls for what they were and realized that I need bridges instead of walls.

        Mary Linda

  • Billy

    John maybe to balance things out it would be encouraging to hear how former no-believers came to Christ because someone did witness to them and they were confronted with their sin nature. I’m on your mailing list and read new articles when you post them. I may be wrong but it appears to me that you have a tendency to blame your brothers and sisters in Christ for always turning non-believers off. Sure that may be the case many times but not always. Why focus on the negative all the time?

    • Jill

      He doesn't focus on the negative 'all the time', and while I also find this depressing, it is only when we take responsibility that we even begin to have the ability to change it.

      That said – non-Christians see anyone who claims to be a Christian as a Christian. It doesn't matter what their behavior is like, but we know there are many people out there making this claim falsely, and we can know this by their fruit. In addition, it wouldn't take many bad experiences to turn a person off and paint us all with the same brush.

    • Joe

      Wow – you don't get it do you, Billy? Live and let live. Did it ever cross your mind that maybe you're wrong?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Sabina: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Way to … represent Christ, frankly.

    Winey: Yeah, this stuff is just wounding. And the incredible thing is, I was expecting so much rage with these letters–but, instead, overwhelmingly, what I got was sadness and confusion. As I say in the book … well, this, exactly: “Where I expected mostly anger, I got instead a kind of pervasive, resigned bewilderment. If you boiled down to one thought the overall sentiment most often expressed in the nonbelievers’ collective statements, it’d be, ‘Why do Christians hate us so?’”

    Awful.

    • Sika

      Well John, let me start by saying, one of the reasons why we probably feel that you hate us, is that you call us "nonbelievers", as if we don't just believe in something else.

      • C.M.

        I would like to mirror this sentiment.

      • Marita

        Agreed. It kind of makes it sound like we're all godless infidels without any sense of right and wrong whatsoever. It's condescending.

        • http://ffrf,org Karen Taylor

          You said it, Marita! Considering the amount of sinning Christians and their leaders do, they have some nerve thinking if us as evil.

          And why do so-called Christians overwhelmingly support Republicans? Jesus, according to the story, was the ultimate liberal…does, "Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor" sound like a GOP-approved idea? (Not that I've ever once known a "Christian" from either party to actually obey Jesus on that particular instruction.)

          • Matthew Tweedell

            What matters is what God calls you to do–a consequence of the greatest commandment, to love God above all else. This example was a specific call to a specific individual, to prove that he in fact loved his wealth more than Jesus. (And it is completely foolish to love wealth because possessions are not spiritual entities; the object of True Love must be a spirit.) If you feel called to give up all your possessions, by all means, do so. But taking a vow of absolute poverty for yourself on the premise that it would benefit the poor seems misguided, for you've simply increase the numbers of the poor by joining them in destitution. However, if you yet have rather more than you need, I am certain the Spirit of Love does call you to give to the poor. Again, it's what you're called in Truth and love to do that should be done. Jesus also said not to judge, but that doesn't mean we should boycott jury duty. Christianity isn't about religious legalism, especially by the letter of the law. As St. Paul said, the letter is lifeless and brings death, but in the Spirit there is Life!

      • Aradiel

        It's as if those who call us that think that it is our only defining character trait.

        • http://ffrf,org Karen Taylor

          But to be fair, they consider being "a Christian" to be their defining character trait. That's where the animus starts, people breaking themselves down into "us" and "them" groups. We all have that instinct, the result of millennia of aggressive jerks having an evolutionary advantage.

          Fun fact: Before Charles Darwin became a naturalist, he was in seminary, studying for the clergy. Far from being an atheist, Mr. Darwin felt compelled to study the world he believed God had given man, and he found that world endlessly fascinating. He understood the implications of his discoveries, that understanding the mechanism by which species evolve, while being scientifically important, would lessen the importance of God in explaining life, and he was greatly bothered by this. But he knew that what he had discovered was unadulterated proof that his theorized evolutionary mechanisms were genuine and must be shared, as with all great understanding, with the world at large and the scientific community in particular. Years later, when asked what his study of nature had led him to conclude about God, Darwin replied, "That he is inordinately fond of beetles." :D

      • Shelley

        ditto.

      • liberaltarian

        Yes… I agree. This appears to be quite a bandwagon I happened upon here, but I feel it's worth chiming in too: We are not some legion of "others".

        Btw… great posts here John. From what I have seen so far, I am impressed and intrigued by the level of discussion achieved on your pages.

        • http://integrallife.com/node/53586 Leslie

          Sika..so glad you named this as it is a crucial distinction. As one raised in a progressive Catholic environment, I rarely heard the term "believer" or "non-believer." When I did hear it from friends in other Christian faiths, it had a sort of zealous ring that made me uncomfortable. It also felt exclusivist…either this or that…you/not you.

          There are many of us who rarely call ourselves Christian as a label; we practice Christian Centering Prayer, we deeply identify with the Jesus story as a template for spiritual transformation, our attention tends toward the poor and people on the margins…all rooted in experience…but we rarely identify with the word "belief" because it assumes a certain list of criteria.

          This doesn't mean I don't "believe" in Jesus. For me, "believe" isn't about announcing a religious affiliation …it is something one gives one's heart to…I believe in my friend or my sister. I believe in my son (who also happens to be atheist). And he believes in me. I believe each has the capacity to manifest goodness, compassion and love.

          And, in the case of my son, I believe he has the ability to see people's (esp. Christians) glaring blindspots. Kind of like Jesus. And I believe in him too.

          • Sika

            Wow everyone, I guess I really struck a chord here. I don't want to be one of those people who jumps all over others for PC semantics, but the term "non-believer" speaks to more than a stereotypical label.

      • PearTree

        Another ditto here. I'm an agnostic, and very happy with my own personal beliefs (which I never try to force on others – why would I?) and I'm very sad to say that I think it's just part of the nature of being Christian. As hard as you all might try to be this way or that way or graceful or kind or not turn off us "non-believers," you still see us as "non-believers," or "sinners" or people who need to or could benefit from being changed in some way (by you or by "The Lord" – it really doesn't matter.) Just see some of the above comments, and I can tell you that they made me cringe. They are so patronizing.

        • PearTree

          I just wanted to add – I'm not talking about all Christians here. I think it depends on your personal way of practicing and interpreting Christianity. My husband has relatives who are Christian and they are wonderful people, and I feel totally comfortable with them.

          But, if for you being Christian means that:

          You are right and others are wrong.

          People who don't believe what you believe are "non-believers" or "sinners" rather than just people who believe something different from what you do.

          People who don't believe as you do need to be changed in some way.

          You need or want to "convert" others to your way of believing.

          You are unable to accept that others' beliefs are right for them and just as legitimate as yours…

          Then you are probably offensive to/going to offend us so-called "non-believers."

          Believe me, I know what I am talking about. I was raised by Christian parents who believed in "witnessing" to others, and I had a lot of Christianity shoved down my throat. I went to college and developed my own beliefs, and I have had to impose a "no talking about religion" ban with my father because he just. doesn't. get. it. Oh, he loooooves to talk about religion and can't understand why I won't. (I will – but only with others who actually respect and listen to my beliefs and aren't using the conversation as a way to look for ways to poke holes in or criticize what I believe or shake their heads in sadness about what I believe or change what I believe.)

      • Wordmonger

        I wholeheartedly agree. It's so baffling and hurtful to have a stranger come up to you and dismiss all of your beliefs as irrelevant, and all of your actions as wrong. Why would I want to spend another moment speaking to a person who has absolutely no respect for any of my beliefs? It does come across very strongly as hate, or an attempt to maintain a self-righteous sense of worth, of feeling superior. Not a desire to help.

        • Wordmonger

          Also, it assumes I need help, which I don’t, as I find my life fulfilling.

      • ionthegravity

        Thanks for saying that!!! I’ve been telling Christians that for years!!!

      • Rex Van Buren

        I prefer Infidel.

    • Tom Vidager

      John,

      Now why would those of us who wouldn't call ourselves Christians be angry or bewildered by Christians.?

      I for one find Christians in the US to be a great source of amusement, not anger or bewilderment. I mean, you can't beat the brainless bleating of born again Christians about the glory and wonder of God's love for sheer amusement value. Televangelists are priceless entertainers, both while preaching fire and brimstone and while sobbing on TV when they get caught in homosexual activities or adultery. The sheer stupidity of Pat Robertson's comments make my gut hurt from laughing. And the false piety of those who use churches as money milk cows, political tools and witnesses of their window decorating faith is a great joke.

      I would rather say that I, like probably many others who haven't seen the Christian light, view American Christians with bemused pity for their sheer ignorance and lack of perception. If anything about them is bewildering, then it is how it is possible adult human beings can be so limited in their intellectual perspective and human empathy.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Billy: Now, now: No fair. If you really do read my stuff on any kind of regular basis, you know that I hardly “focus on the negative all the time.” In fact, of my last 20 posts, exactly TWO could be in any way construed as “negative”–yesterday’s and today’s. Seems like a reasonable ratio, no?

    I’m not sure they’re negative, either. I think that’s too easy an assesment. If you’re trying to do something right — like, say, not alienate non-believers — it seems to me that it’s just as positive to consider what isn’t working as it is to consider what is. More positive, really: What’s working, after all, doesn’t need attention.

  • Billy

    So there is something that is working? Please share.

    • PearTree

      As a "non-believer" (a term that many of us pointed out above is offensive to us) I can share what "works" (ie: what allows Christians and those of other faiths/beliefs/atheists) to coexist peacefully and have a mutually respectful relationship and even talk about religions and beliefs together:

      1) Know that what is right for you may not be right for others; have a "to each her/his own" approach and really mean it,

      2) Look at people who don’t believe what you as just people who believe something different from what you do, not "non"-anything.

      3) Accept people who don’t believe as you do fully, sincerely and openly.

      4) Don't ever try to “convert” others to your way of believing.

      5) Happily accept that others’ beliefs are right for them and just as legitimate as yours.

      If you do all of the above, I can almost guarantee you will be able to get along very harmoniously with everyone from atheists to people of other faiths!

      • ionthegravity

        And I would like to add,

        Keep your beliefs out of my kid’s science class

        Keep your beliefs out of government

        • SBRoss

          I agree ionthegravity, religion should be kept out of the classroom and government. People of all backgrounds have a good understanding of what is ethical for good governance and schooling doesn't require religion. This can be taken at any time outside of the classroom.

  • Dave

    ” I was nothing but a sinner who needed to be saved.”

    Aren’t we all?

    Dave, the Baptist. from Texas

    • Paul

      This is exactly the attitude that turns off non-believers. “Hey, I’ve got some Good News to share with you: You’re a horrible person, and unless you believe me and love a God you’re not sure exists, you’ll drown in a lake of fire! You need to be saved!”

      Presented in this context, evangelicals make God and Jesus seem no better than an abusive husband that demands obedience and love from his wife. “Hey, honey, I’ve got some great news! You’re no good, and unless you’re totally devoted to me, I’m going to beat you!”

      I’m a Christian because Jesus wanted to make the world a better place, showed us how it could be done while still keeping our dignity and self-respect, and sacrificed himself so the world could be saved. Reasons do NOT include wanting to avoid hell; avoiding hell would be nice, of course, but it kind of misses most of Jesus’ main points.

      • Rainne

        As an atheist who is sick and tired of having your Jesus jammed down my throat every time I go somewhere, I would like to say the following:

        BINGO.

        This is EXACTLY the problem with those of you who insist on cramming your religious beliefs down the throats of those of us who DO NOT WANT THEM.

        Those of you who have this "everyone's a sinner who NEEDS JESUS" attitude need to understand something:

        If I say I am not hungry, do not make me eat food.

        If I say I am not thirsty, do not make me drink water.

        If I say I am not cold, do not make me put a coat on.

        If I say I AM NOT INTERESTED IN YOUR RELIGION, DO NOT PROSELYTIZE ME.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          "As an atheist who is sick and tired of having your Jesus jammed down my throat.."

          you talkin' to me? Hey now, that ain't *my* Jesus! That's an imposter! I know Him personally, so I oughta be able to recognize Him when I see Him, and that ain't Him. Wait; I know who that is: That's the antichrist!

          God damn it! And I mean that. Shut up; can't you see I'm praying here? An' Lord have mercy on me, 'cause I'm more obsessed with my sinful nature than Jesus is, so I'm driven even deeper into the excrement of sin by a pride that compels me to compensate by accusing others of the same damned thing. You're not too upset with me, right Jesus? right?? I sure hope not, 'cause I don't hear you saying anything, but I'm not really listening anyway, so maybe that's why; I'm too preoccupied with my own thoughts of myself, my sins (boy, were those fun!), and the fact that they aren't really so bad after all because… because Rainne does it too. Amen.

          Hey, Rainne, you're a sinner, and you need Jesus…

      • ionthegravity

        I’m an atheist for the same reasons…I can do my part to help society, and live a good life…I don’t need to subscribe to dogma to be a good person. Religious people have been some of the most horrible people I’ve ever seen.

    • http://ffrf.org Karen Taylor

      Nope. I don't consider myself a sinner, and why would I think I needed to be saved from going to a place I don't believe exists?

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta Sheppard

    Like Sabina said: “Very depressing”.

    Seems ‘christians’ are damned if they do and damned if they don’t!

    Maybe all christians should become hermits, so those who aren’t can continue in their…um…. whatever you want to call it, lifestyles. How sad that their cage has been rattled! Light has always disturbed Darkness. Right has always confronted Wrong. Justice has always confronted Injustice. Love has always confronted Hatred. Problem is, some who hate refuse to be loved. I echo both comments by Sabrina.

    More power to you, John. Thanks for ‘being in touch with the times’! You have been gifted with a measure of wisdom for this time in Time.

    • Allie

      Greta,

      You seem to have missed the point here. Your posting illustrates the exact kinds of attitudes and behaviors that keep many non-Christians from seeing things YOUR way. No one suggested that all Christians should become hermits; by all means, live your lives the way you see fit, but pay us the same courtesy and allow us to do the same. You say, “Light has always disturbed Darkness. Right has always confronted Wrong. Justice has always confronted Injustice. Love has always confronted Hatred.” Your confirming exactly what many non-Christians feel about Christians. You think that one side is right (YOURS) and the other is wrong (OURS). What happened to respecting our differences. There are many paths to God; must we all travel together?

      • PearTree

        Yes – exactly! You are not "damned if you do, damned if you don't." And definitely don't become a hermit. Simply don't approach matters of religions as "I'm right and I have the one true path and you're wrong and need to convert to my way of thinking" and you'll be fine. I know some wonderful Christians who truly see Jesus as a role model and do wonderful things and are caring, kind, open-minded, well read and most of all do not shove their faith down others' throats, talk about it when the other person is interested in talking about it and then only (and, believe me it's a lot more likely someone of different beliefs will want to talk about it if they know you will not shove it down their throat but simply talk about your own experiences and viewpoint) and, above all, truly respect the other person's beliefs, accept that their beliefs might be right for them, and do not try to change them.

        • Tom Vidager

          Christian fundamentalists should all become hermits. Hear, hear!!!

          That way they won’t have to deal with us heathens doomed to hell, and we heathens won’t have listen to their religious nonsense.

          Bingo – Everybody’s happy!

        • rdsoderstrom

          First of all, I am a deeply spiritual born-again Christian, but I am not an evangelist.

          That you are not a Christian is your choice, and you most certainly have the right to live your life as you see fit (it is YOUR life after all).

          What many Christians do not understand is it is not our responsibility to “convert” anyone. Rather, it is our duty to respond to those whom the Holy Spirit directs us too. It is the Holy Spirit who converts people. Further, Christians must understand not all of us are evangelists. If you are not called to be an evangelist…don’t be one….you will drive people away! We must quit trying to be what Jesus never intended for us, as individuals, to be. A Christian’s unwillingness to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit is after all….sinful.

          The most effective evangelist I have ever seen never led anyone to Christ, rather, he just responded to their questions. The Holy Spirit did the rest. After all, no man is capable of forgiving yours, or my own, sin. And, my fellow Christians, we are all sinners, not even one of us is better than any other man/woman. The apostle Paul asserted he was the greatest sinner off all, yet we regard him as one of the greatest Christian leaders.

          Also, Paul used the term “non-believers” not to ostracize, but to identify as those living differently than himself; not to condemn. Christians, it is not us who will judge anyone, treating others as “sinful heathens, unworthy of the love of Christ”; condemns us to a judgment worse than theirs.

          Last, so many Christians miss that Jesus came to be a servant to all…He washed the feet of others…the job of the lowest slave….the least of all of us. He visited the homes of non-believers, and treated them better than His followers. He did not curse the sinful women at the well…rather He commended her. Consequently, who are we Christians to condemn our fellow human beings. For those of you non-Christians…seems many of you have already been judged here on earth…your judgment in Heaven might not be as bad as some of my fellow Christians would have you believe.

          God loves each of us the same…I am no better than anyone…and I am to show everyone agape, not hate.

          • Aradiel

            Nice post, but I feel I must disagree on your statement "That you are not a Christian is your choice," which kind of flies in the face of the rest of what you say.

            To describe religious belief as a choice reduces it, in my eyes, to the level of what to eat for lunch, or what clothes to wear. It makes it incredibly trivial.

            I don't choose to have my beliefs – I didn't wake up one day and choose to believe in any particular thing and not in others. My beliefs are formulated from looking at the world and thinking about it.

    • Rainne

      Self pity much? Nobody's asking you to become a hermit. You can live your own life by any rules you want to live it, and if you personally think your god doesn't want you to have alcohol or premarital sex or whatever, you personally are free to abstain from those things all you want.

      What we as non-Christians are demanding is the right to live OUR lives the way WE see fit, without interference from YOU. Nobody is forcing you to go to bars or to get an abortion, so if you think it's a sin, don't do it.

      What we are asking you to do is mind your own damn business.

      • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

        The issue is competing "rights". When the right of one person to practice their religion (in this case what they see as an obligation to try to convert everyone who doesn't belong to their sect) conflicts with the right to be left alone of those who practice some other religion or none at all, there is simply no resolution possible.

        I have a book somewhere about JW's that proposes that it (and I would say other) extremely devout religious groups work very hard to keep their members busy with obligations like praying, attending services and meetings, studying scripture, and proselytizing because it keeps them from having the free time they might use to ask some fundamental questions whose answers might lead them astray.

        Strict religions do not want people to think out things for themselves.

      • JustMe

        I am a “christian” a person who believes in Jesus as my savior so whatever labels come with that. I am not perfect by no means!! I too am a sinner just as everyone here is – christian or non christian in fact just this week I have smoked pot, had premarital sex, I have a horrible cussing habit……and the list could go on and on. I dont judge people who do not believe the way I do. The reason I believe in God is because he has made me believe in him. In my life’s journey he has showed me he is real and present in my life. So I believe God saves not man, and if you think you are the one saving ppl you might need to take a humble step down. But God has used me to love people and to be there for them and to let them know God loves them no matter what – because if he can love me a sinner hanging on by grace – there is no doubt in my mind he loves us all.

        • Tom Vidager

          How the heck do you know God is a “he?” Did you reach down and grab his sack to make sure? Why wouldn’t God be a “she,” or even more logically, an “it?”

          As I’ve pointed out before, it sure must suck to be condemned to eternal sexual frustration. If God is a He, then his palm must be hairier than a 60s rastafarian pot dealer.

          • JustMe

            It seems like you just want to argue – You Win!!

    • ionthegravity

      Who’s talking about justice vs. injustice? We just want to be left alone…if a Muslim walked into your church and pronouced that everyone in attendance was an idiot, you’d be furious! If an atheist told you to your face that you were wrong to be Christian, and should be committed, then you’d be terribly upset. A real atheist/agnostic doesn’t care what religion you are, as long as you don’t force it on anyone else…and that includes forcing your beliefs on society through lobbying the government, and church political involvement.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Dave: Good point! Yes! True! Not sure what it has to do with this post, but … Great point!

    Greta: Could you BE any kinder?

  • Samhain

    Good post, John. It’s very informative and helps us to realize that our actions affect how others see us Christians. One thing I’ve learned from studying theology is that non-Christians really notice our hypocrisies. LaVey pointed out the “Christians” he noticed that attended clubs or bars where he played piano and then the same gentlemen attended the same church on Sunday where he, again, played piano!

    One thing both sides tend to forget is that we’re all human, none are perfect, and realizing that fact goes a long way. R.E.S.P.E.C.T…

    Anyway, if one is living their life accordingly, others will notice. Be ever humble, patient, and faithful; God will take care of the rest.

    • rdsoderstrom

      Amen

  • Dave

    I quoted A.S. from Chicagos’ entry about Non-Christians telling Christians what they think of them.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    “” I was nothing but a sinner who needed to be saved.”

    Aren’t we all? ”

    …………………………………………..

    Um…nope.

    But hey, if it works for you, great!

    John,

    Those are some very interesting letters. As a non-believer, I think I’d like to add that it seems many Christians (not all) seem to go from the assumption that a non-believer has never heard of Christianity. Living in America, I think we can both see how silly that assumption is. Most non-believers were either Christians at one point or have experienced it through others and the culture, since 75% of the population is some sort of Christian.

    This, in my eyes, is why most witnessing really fails. We’ve heard it and we’ve made our choice.

    It’s almost like vacuum cleaner salesmen coming to your door. You’re happy to listen to the first one’s pitch and then send him on his way. You may even be fine with the next three or four who come to your door selling the same thing. But when you have to turn salesmen away every day it gets a bit frustrating, and you may blow up at one.

    Unless you enjoy debating and driving salesmen crazy, like I do. ;)

    • PearTree

      Yes! I was raised by hardcore Christians and remember going door-to-door "witnessing" with my parents when I couldn't have been more than two or three. Yes, I have heard it ALL before, yet Christians approach as if they are presenting this new thing. It's like they just can't comprehend that someone would have been there, done that and ultimately rejected it.

  • PJ

    We don’t have to be hateful as Christians, but if respect means agreeing with them, we just can’t do it. Jesus loved everyone, but to those that rejected him, he clearly told they would not be let into the Kingdom. We have to act with love, respect, but also dignity. We should rejoice when we are rejected for knowing Jesus. I get rejected all the time, but I know that I’m doing what the Lord wants me to, and that the good news might not convert someone immediately, but that the Lord will work in their hearts with that seed, and maybe later, they will hear the message again and be touched. God will work with them when He desires. Sometimes people don’t want to hear the message, and they get offended because they’re uncomfortable. Sometimes they’re right, we might be too aggressive. Just look at Jesus and the way that he preached. Some loved, some hated, but he was always loving. Sometimes he angered. We must always speak with LOVE. That’s the whole point. But we should never agree with anything that is contrary to the message, no matter how offended people are that we think they are going to hell if they don’t accept Christ. After all, we were headed straight over there!

    • Koushik

      What do you get, if you replace God/Jesus with Allah, and Christians with Muslims, above? Basically, if you don't believe in my God you are condemned. Is it a common ideology between evangelical Christians and say the Taliban? Just a thought…

      • biblehater

        Why dont you christians understand. We do not need Jesus and his Kindom. We do not care one bit. We are okay with going to hell. Cause our hell would be much much better place than the so called kingdom

        • Aradiel

          To paraphrase Marcus Aurelius:

          Live a good life. If there is no God, you have lived a good life.

          If there is a God, and he is good, he will send you to heaven.

          If there is a God, and he does not send you to heaven, he is not worth worshipping.

          • Tom Vidager

            Ah yes, wise words. But according to Christians, Marcus is now in the pits of hell. Being saintly is not enough…you have to kiss Jesus' a** to get a career in higher places.

      • Marie

        EXACTLY the point I was going to raise. Christians seem to be so scared of any belief that isn't their own, that they don't take the time to look at the similarities between themselves and those that they deem to be evil or wrong.

        Lest we not forget– Christians have started some of the biggest wars in HISTORY. Maybe they're finally getting a dose of their own medicine. That doesn't make it right, but everyone is capable of hate, and sanctifying yourself because of your beliefs is just ignorant. Learn to appreciate the mirror that someone hands you, and take it as food for thought. If you think Muslim extremists are so evil, why don't you pick up a history book and look at what Christian extremists have done? they have destroyed countless beautiful cultures and literally CHANGED the social landscape of the globe- and not always for the better.

        And, to be fair, I am not saying this as a "non believer" or a "believer." Although I don't identify with any religion, I do have faith and I know that i believe in SOMETHING, i just don't know if it's YOUR God. but I respect that YOU believe in your God, while I still search for mine.

  • http://www.barethoughts.com/blog tam

    I really debated weighing in on this one… John, I can relate to all the comments the non-Chirstians sent you. It is what I experience from many Christians.

    Luckily I know many decent Christains who actually practice love, tolerence, resepect and decency… or I would end up detesting the whole lot of Chirstians. John, you are a great example of one of the good Christians…

    Take it from a non-Christian: tolerance and respect goes a long way. And that is something we are not shown by many Christians. Many of us non-believers are just as strong in our faiths as Christians are, and it doesn;t make us evil, full of darkness, etc.

    For the Christians: how would you feel if someone was telling you that your religion is wrong or evil, that you are going to some form of hell, that things you belive are okay are sins, that someone is praying that you change your religion, and all the other things Christians use on non-believers? Would it make you likely to convert and give up your religion? Or would tend to annoy you?

    I respect a lot abput Christianity and Jesus, it is many of his followers that I think are the problem.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian

    It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? When Jesus (as well as some others) say “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” why do so many assume that he isn’t applying this rule of life to our evangelism as well? Yet how many time have I heard that to be zealous, rude and dogmatic with those who do not believe is exactly what we would want if we were in their shoes? After all, the stakes are so high.

    But it ain’t so. We all crave respect and when people listen to us we tend to listen to them as well. I’ll take a gamble here; no one comes to Christ through intimidation and ridicule. Those aren’t his tactics, they’re the other guy’s.

    • vj

      I think kayoung and Christian have summed up the approach I always try to keep in mind:

      - in the words of Francis of Assiss, 'preach the Gospel at all times, use words IF necessary'

      - [God's] KINDNESS leads us to repentance

      Practical acts of friendship, support and kindness to those who need it must surely be more attractive (to non-believers) than a verbal onslaught of criticism?

      • vj

        sorry, should read Assissi…

  • breezy

    you know I love ya John but Billy does have a point…have you ever put the question to those who have been converted?

    Billy made the correlation between six offended and one saved, do you not think that you might get 50 stories (in four days) of non-believers coming to Christ as a direct result of some one sharing the gospel (good news) with them?

    Many times the minute I tell someone I believe in salvation through Christ (I have not addressed myself as a ‘christian’ in over a decade because of the immediate dislike non-christians have displayed) the whole tone of any conversation we may have had changes. Is this because of their preconceived notions of christians in general or is it really as Christ said,”people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.’

    Now to address your statement, “It was well over 300 in less than four days. And why would they write with DISHONEST personal testimony?” God said “ALL mens (mankinds) hearts are excedingly wicked” . Do I personally think all 300 are false testimonies, no. I do think there are voices that need to be heard from the other side though…(just to let you know I came to believe because someone had the guts to tell it like it is and lovingly pointed me to Gods laws – The Ten Commandments – which revealed my sin toward God and my desperate need for a saviour)

    Before I came to believe I too was filled with disdain for those who thought they were so godly and holy, after all I wasn’t a bad person. And I knew there was a God and I’d get to Him when I was good and ready to give up all the fun I was having. It was my body so I could get high if I wanted. Abortion? MY body! I was an HONOR student, studying for my PhD. I helped out at the SOUP kitchens and FOOD pantries. I was a GOOD person.

    But nobody had the guts to tell me all my works and all my protests about being so g–damned good would mean absolutely nothing once I came face to face with my creator.

    Should we risk offending six to help that one back home…Christ says we should leave NINTY-NINE behind to guide that ‘one’ back home….

    My ‘friend’ (who at the time I certainly didn’t view as a friend) told me something that shut my mouth against all my rationalizations against Christ. He said, “You know when I look at someone who doesn’t know the truth of Christ, I see a human being trapped in the only room not consumed within a burning building. Sure, trying to expain in a loving, non-judgmental way that he’s gonna burn to death would be lovely but grabbing him by his shirt collars and throwing him out the window to the waiting firefighters below is what’s gonna save his life.”

    I stick to my earlier post where I stated that once I’ve told the good news (all mankind sins against God when we break His laws.The punishment for sin is eternal DEATH. He is an Almighty loving God who, because we are part of His family, will do anything to save us…even to become the perfect sacrifice for us all) after that short, direct witness I tell them, “Go read the book – it’s all in there.” Does it offend people? H-ll yes, am I to worry about it? No. Do I continue to force feed them doctrine? No…I pray for them and continue to prepare myself should they come back for seconds.

    p.s. This is one thing I need to get off my chest …and it’s directed towards Christians primarily. Stop picking and chosing which commandments are ok to break and which ones you can use against your fellow man.

    Homosexual sex and pre-marital sex are the exact same thing – sins against God. Just like loving money is, just like hate is, just like lying is, just like forgeting the sabbath is, just like looking at your neighbors wife/car/dog and thinking “I wish I had one like that” is….to break any commandment is to break them all. Breaking a commandment is sin. Sin is death.”

    • http://josephrobertlewis.wordpress.com Joseph

      The burning building analogy is a reasonable thought experiment. Here is another one:

      Imagine that you encounter a person wearing glasses and there are flames drawn on the lenses of his glasses so that everywhere he looks he sees things "on fire." This causes him to run around trying to save people from the "fire" that he sees. Now: should you engage this person in a rational discussion to convince him that the fire isn't real, or should you just take the glasses away before he hurts someone by throwing them out the window of a "burning" building?

      • PearTree

        Joseph,

        INteresting comment. I like it.

    • Marie

      HOMOSEXUAL SEX IS NOT A COMMANDMENT.

      • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

        Neither is central heating, nor are housepets. But we do those things.

      • Tom Vidager

        It is if they have sex to procreate.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    “Homosexual sex and pre-marital sex are the exact same thing – sins against God. Just like loving money is, just like hate is, just like lying is, just like forgeting the sabbath is, just like looking at your neighbors wife/car/dog and thinking “I wish I had one like that” is….to break any commandment is to break them all. Breaking a commandment is sin. Sin is death.”

    The above may be part of the reason why the largest growing religious group in the country is the non-religious.

    • http://johnshore.com Christine Conti

      You can say that again. Also the sexism: "your neighbors (sic) wife/car/dog…" Where to begin? All his readers are hetero men? Or lesbians? Or only men count? Also, are wives just another possession along with the dog and the car? At least she comes first! Another large and growing group of the non-Christians–women.

    • Tom Vidager

      Morse,

      You’re way off the mark. Sin is a real upper! Having extramarital sex or sex with someone who’s married is a lot more exciting than riding the same ol’ hag at home. It’s also helluva lot more fun to be rich and flaunt it than be poor and worry about how you’re going to pay your next bill.

      As a Catholic, I can always fall back on repentatio in ultimum to get me to purgatory instead of hell, and then, eventually, into paradise.

      So I say sin, whore, lie, cheat, covet, steal and feel great, because who doesn’t sincerely repent at the moment of one’s death?

      Gotta love the Catholic church. Every card you pick is a “get out of jail free” card. Only dumb Protestants believe in that self-denial crap.

  • Wingless_Angel31

    maybe what we Christians need to remind ourselves is that we were once sinners too. then maybe that way we will get off our high horse of ‘holiness’. the conviction of sin should be the Holy Spirit’s job, not ours; we are only interfering with and frustrating God’s redemptive purposes if we do not do what we are supposed to do: exemplify God’s love. when the prodigal son returned to his father his dad didn’t go about telling him that he deserved to die because he ran away or that he should have been disowned. his dad threw a feast for him. hugged him even though he stank like pigs and ate what was offered to the ‘unclean’ animals, making him worse than unclean. his dad continued to love him tenderly before he returned – before he repented. shouldn’t we, too, love our neighbours in such a way that we do not condemn what they do but tenderly exemplify God’s love even before they repent? the principle is this: converts don’t need an extra dose of guilt and shame; when the Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin, they are full of it. what they need is the demonstration of God’s love and mercy.

    Philip. =]

    • Shelley

      “once sinners too”… really? One of the reasons I’m an atheist is because Christians simply can’t get it through their heads that they do commit offenses against their own doctrine. And I don’t just mean Susie told a white lie or something. You ARE sinners by definition of your own faith. Being Christian doesn’t magically omit the wrong things you do. Ugh… it’s so frustrating to read that people think they get a free pass because they ask forgiveness for something that was 1. bad and 2. they’ll probably do it again. They aren’t TRULY remorseful. They just want to get off the hook, to escape responsibility for their actions.

  • Wingless_Angel31

    that being said. when it is necessary. confront the sinner in love and truth. without either, it is not God’s way.

    Philip. =]

  • http://cometothewell.wordpress.com dsrtrosy

    Breezy–who on earth would “come back for seconds?” Bless your heart. Jesus’ good news was a message of love. He didn’t need to convert people to believing they were sinners before he met their real and specific needs–met them right where they were, in sin or out of it.

  • http://www.kayoung.info kayoung

    Breezy, the Bible says people need to hear the law first and then the grace; otherwise, they feel no need for the grace. Thanks for sharing that aspect of this discussion. Yes, the motive and delivery are of paramount importance, but we all need to get past our feelings for or against this-that-or-theother and get our heads and hearts in the Book and see what God/Jesus say and show is Love. Also, your P.S., Breezy was so right-on. I’m grateful to John for pointing out, through these e-mails he’s reprinted here, how very important it is to examine our motive and delivery. That doesn’t negate motive and delivery. May we all be instructed by the Lord and His Word. In His love–kathleen

    • Deb

      It looks like John's message is being lost on some of these Christians. And it seems that some Christians are going "Oh I guess we must change our delivery of our message." Try some other trickery? How about trying respect for someone else who is different than you?

      Your proselytizing shows no respect. It's apparent in quite a few posts, Billy's for instance. Blame the person who doesn't have the same belief as you? They are lost, they hate, they don't know, they are wicked, etc… The message that is being conveyed is that Christians turn people off, because Christians show little to no respect for others.

      What I want to know, is why a anyone would worship something that would punish someone for eternity for failing to believe? Seems like this god is the wicked, evil being–an abuser of the worst kind. No thanks, you can keep your god. I personally couldn't worship something so evil. And if I was bound for heaven and another was going to hell for an eternity, I could not in good conscious take a seat in heaven, knowing someone was being tortured forever. I would give them my seat and take their place, before I would give myself over to a being that needs 24/7 worshipping, calls me wicked, makes me grovel, while he threatens to punish in the worse possible way.

      You keep him, I don't want anything to do with such an abusive deity.

  • Second Michele

    This is a good discussion – I think I might weigh in more later but…

    Kayong, about the law needing to come first…

    You do see that model being used by Christ with the rich young ruler.

    The ruler asked what he could do inherit eternal life, and Christ, (amazingly, saying nothing about grace, His impending death on the cross, or the sinner’s prayer) tells him to keep the commandments

    The ruler pressess the matter, and Christ zeroes in on the commandment the guy is NOT keeping (Have no other gods before Me. The ruler loved his money more than God and wasn’t willing to part with it)

    So in that case, Christ starts with the law and conviction of sin. And for some people, this is the best place to start

    But note Christ’s actions in John 4 while talking to the Samaritan woman at the well. Christ first

    1.) Asks for help

    This does an amazing job of breaking down the wall of prejudice.

    Non-believers think believers think they are better than them. Samaritans thought the Jews thought that they were better than them.

    Christ, knowing this woman would feel judged by people in His ethnic group, first shows her that He does not consider Himself too high and lofty above her to ask for her help.

    A little humility goes along way.

    2.) Next, Jesus shows her that He has something she needs (Living water)

    3.) After she has shown interest and evidence that the Holy Spirit is working on her heart – then and only then, does Jesus start in on her about the five husbands (AKA, the law, conviction of sin.)

    I think it is very instructive to look at how Christ dealt with people coming from differant backgrounds. At the very least it shows us that we should not rely on a one-size-fits all approach to witnessing.

    Whether you are a person who tends to go right up and confront people with their spiritual state, or someone who is very uncomfortable making such confrontaions, God may ask you to break away from your “formula” for a specific person

    There is no subsitute for asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit on reaching non-believers.

  • hughvic

    Hello, John. First, your book topic is worthy not only of a premier publisher of religious titles, but also of any academic press interested in publishing worthy titles in Sociology of Religion.

    Second, I trust you realize that from the standpoint not of Sociology but rather of Anthropology, several of the interviews excerpted here represent superannuated adolescence, in the context of this country’s uniquely and increasingly intense and protracted coming-of-age process. (As many ethnologists since Mead have shown, not all cultures “do” adolescence, and nobody but nobody does it like we Yanks do.)

    Finally, in your research for and composition of this work, did you ever get the creepy feeling that what these non-believers are reacting to (or against) are manifestations of something other than Christianity, by professed Christians? I reckon I mean this in a Kierkegaardian sense; that all of your work on this subject may amount to the detection of a vast, complex and, frankly, diabolical set of categorical errors evengelized by dark proselytes unawares. Principalities of the air, and all that.

    I’d point to, for example, the strong evidence here that these non-believers are reacting in almost every case to persons who actually have no idea what Christianity is and is not and who therefore tend to mistake it for, e.g. bits and pieces of fitfully received incantations or even just vaguely religious-sounding words without any real Christian referent or meaning.

    Call me Father Tireseus, but I get the strong feeling that these non-believers were meant by a certain power to react with precisely the revulsion they evince. That’s why I used the word “creepy”.

    Pax Christi,

    Hugo

    • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

      I would say no. There is no "evidence that non-believers are reacting in almost every case to persons who have no idea what Christianity is and is not". In fact, whoever believes that Jesus was divine is a Christian. If you don't like what some people are doing in the name of Christianity, that doesn't mean you can pretend they are not "Christians". The continuum of Christianity is huge, and it encompasses thousands of sects, from the most liberal to militant extremists who want to overthrow the government and establish a theocracy.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        It is correct that anyone who believes that Jesus Christ is divine is a Christian. But how do you know that whom they believe in is truly Jesus Christ and that what they believe Him to be truly constitutes divinity? As Shakespeare wrote, "What's in a name?" What matters is not the word used (obvious examples being Christians who follow "Yeshua" and ones who believe He is "Dios"). What matters is the referent!!

  • http://www.barethoughts.com/blog tam

    Sigh…

    Some of the comments on this post make me feel there is hope, and others make me very sad and realize that many Christians simply will not respect or show tolerance for those who are non-Christians.

    BTW PJ, I think tolernace is a little on-sided if you think it covers Christians constantly brow-beating the non-believers.

    John, I will say again that you are one Christian I really respect, and I think your really show and live your faith through your actions. I thank you for that… and for accepting those of that are not -Christaians and trying to start a dialog that respects both sides. I wish more were like you.

  • Cheryl

    The 300 responders to your Craigslist posting sound as if they might be sharing essentially the same frustration: talking the talk is not the same as walking the walk.

    Sadly, that is not an inconsistency limited to Christianity or Christians.

    But as I recall, Christ’s message, and ultimately His gift to us, is based on the idea that since we are human, we will sometimes fail. Failing, in fact, is a defining characteristic of a Christian — an acknowledgment that perfection and salvation can only come through Him.

  • http://www.barethoughts.com/blog tam

    John, I do no mean to monlopolize your comments but I feel the need to respond to Cheryl.

    Cheryl… the frustration is not primarily the “talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk”. Yes, the hypocrasy of some Vhristians does affect ones general over-view… but it really isn’t the key frustration.

    What is most frustrating is the lack of respect and tolerance. I respect your beliefs… why can’t you respect mine? Why must you, once you know I am secure in my beliefs and do know of Christianity, try to keep changing them? Would you really appreciate it if the shoe was on the other foot?

    Yes, I get one of the tennents is to spread the word… but many of us have already heard the word and decided otherwise. Respect that! It is not somehow that you failed in conveying it to us, that we are just evil or in the dark, that we are somehow unenlightened. Accept we heard, we understand, and just believe otherwise.

  • Catherine Howell

    When I first became a Christian many years ago, I practically attacked people with the Gospel! I was a mighty church worker…there all of the time. It took me falling a terrible fall to see how much I needed to depend on Christ. I quit being a mighty worker…always there, and always feeling guilty when I was not. It also made me see just how forceful I had been in some of my approaches to others. I truly know in my heart that Jesus Is The Way, The truth, And The Life…The only Way. I also realize that Jesus Himself said to be ready to give a response…if asked. People will follow an example more than a thousand mighty words. I, too, stayed out of church for years because I got so sick of the ‘church game!’ All of the gimmicks certainly make me ill! Where is the simplicity of loving our neighbor as ourselves? It seems that people that are not Christians are much more willing to be friends than people in the church. Everybody seems too busy trying to be a super saint to get down in the nitty gritty dirt of the true needs of others. We finally found a place where we started going and have yet again gotten involved with the worship group…and there are already those putting everything under the magnifying glass. This should not be! I realize we are all just human…and apt to fail. But how are we ever to be an example!! If the believers cannot ever get along with each other, then how are we to help or be an example to anyone else? Like the Word states: Get the board out of your own eye before you try to remove the splinter from someone else’s! Let us all examine ourselves first!

    Great Blog. None of this surprises me. I realize that there are some unbelievers that are trying to find any excuse to ‘not believe.’ I have known a couple. Then there are some that have truly been damaged and chased away. How sad. To everyone that reads this that is a non-christian. I aplogize if I have ever failed in front of you. Unfortunately, I struggle to grow in Christ. It is not easy. The world gets worse by the second. I get made fun of. People call us brainwashed and weak. I have two natures that war against each other. Hey, when I was living against God…nothing ever bothered me. You know, live and let live! But I will tell you this: I would not trade the night that He forgave me for all of the riches, money, sex, or possessions in this world. I am a rebel at heart…rejected by my earthly father. He still forgave me!

    Keep writing these awesome blogs!

    • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

      The issue for unbelievers is not that they are "trying to find any excuse to 'not believe'". It is that you would need to provide them with a real reason to believe, which is something that believers cannot, as belief is based on faith rather than reason.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        So you admit that you have faith in reason?

  • http://www.chencenter.wordpress.com Michael Joyce

    Brilliant. I keep coming to your blogs John! I’m addicted and am always eager to “dip my toes in your pond.” So, here’s my two cents:

    I grew up Moravian, was baptised when I was a baby…became what many would call an agnostic in high school, and returned to religion with a new zest after taking several religion courses at St.Louis University. Understanding different religions, in my opinion, gives the learner a much-needed perspective on human nature, culture, history,… the whole enchilada. It’s not just a recommendation,… I feel this is essential, especially to Christians. Christians can love people the way Jesus intended by understanding exactly whom your “neighbors” are!

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    John,

    about your comment: "GOD telling someone that they or the world is evil is one thing. A PERSON telling another person that they and/or the world is evil is a whooooooooole other can of repellent"

    AMEN.

    The WWJD mindset is so often misused. I have to remind myself that Jesus could SAY exactly what the person needed to hear because HE (Jesus) could see directly into that person's heart. We humans do not (thank God) have that vantage point. When we attempt to do or say many of the things that Jesus or God did or said (e.g., "you brood of vipers") we do so by means of enormous judgment based on, often extremely limited, observations of their external behavior. And this is a sin all of us Christians are guilty of.

    We need to stop trying the remove the sins of the world. We are not qualified for that job … and besides that, It is finished.

  • http://kayoungblog.wordpress.com K. A. Young

    Second Michele, thank you for the remarks about NO FORMULAS. Amen. I appreciate the reminder–needed it.

    –kathleen

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hugh: Real quick. I've heard your argument … well, for at least a year now, from innumerable people. The argument (sp??) is that people who reject Christianity aren't, in fact, rejecting Christianity, but rather the INFERIOR, errant version of Christianity communicated to them via the evangelizing efforts of Christians who basically don't know what they're doing or saying. I'm FOREVER being told that people who REALLY know how to evangelize, who REALLY understand Christianity, who REALLY have the Holy Spirit within them, are GREAT at evangelizing, and should really be the only ones out there doing that.

    Real Christianity, goes this argument, is forever suffering at the hands of what amounts to inferior Christians promoting a weak, bastardized version Christianity.

    If you'd like to see my full response to this arguement, I'm afraid I'll have to refer you to this terribly long (but at least truly comprehensive) interview with me: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/cms_… We discuss this at right about the middle of the interview

    The short version of my answer to the case you and others have made about this is this: Take the loser, errant, unhelpful, unenlightened Christian evangelizer. Now take the fully enlightened, Spirit-based, fully-informed, fully articulate Christian evangelizer.

    Now. Find the difference in what they would actually SAY. My contention–which no one has yet to even almost disprove–is that they'd say the exact same things. They'd talk about the same things. They'd point to the same evidences. They'd use the same arguments. They'd quote from the same Bible. They'd use THE EXACT SAME LANGUAGE. Salvation. Hope. Sacrifice. Redemption. Heaven.

    Same, same, same. As it must be. A Nobel prize winning author and a schmoe off the street are going to tell the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in pretty much the exact same way. Cuz there's only ONE story there.

    Your argument that people who reject Christianity only do so because they haven't been exposed to the RIGHT Christianity is (besides being functionally, practically impotent, since you can't DO anything about all these loser evangelizing Christians out there blowing it for the rest of you wise, true Christians) founded upon a spiritual and intellectual elitism that, on the ground–in actual, spoken practice–has no more difference between it and what it looks down upon than a finch does from a wren.

    All ANYONE being told they need to become a Christian is going to hear is that they're wrong. You tell someone they're wrong, and you just alienated that person from you. Which means you've then broken Christ's Great Commandment with that person, since it's impossible to love someone with whom you have no relationship at all. Thus the contention of my book: In too zealously persuing the Great Commission, we neccessarily fail at the Great Commandment.

    • James

      As previously stated in another reply, let me start off by saying I DO believe in God. I just don't consider myself a "Christian". Let me tell you why: I don't hate people who are gay. I don't brag about the good deeds that I do. I don't approach people and initiate conversations based on the goal of converting them to my belief system.

      I don't know why but every time I go to a church I feel like I'm at a used car lot and someone in trying to sell me something. Often by using only parts of Bible versus in an effort to prove their point. I see in these lavish temples very expensive A/V systems, with projection screens that take up half a wall and sound systems that rival movie theaters. Boards posted in conspicuous places listed who donated the most money and all the charities and good deed the church does. And I can't help but think, why is all this necessary? When did the message itself become not enough? Why the slick lighting, the fancy presentations? Why the overt pressure to give more than someone else? Do more than the other guy?

      I think if Christians really wanted to convert people in a meaningful "I'll believe for the rest of my life and not just while it's convenient" kind of way, they could take a page from the Masons. Their motto is "To be one, ask one." If you live your life my the virtues of your religion, and it truly makes you a better person, others will be impressed and ask what your secret it.

      I guess the best way of saying is, "Lead by example." If it would anger/irritate you to have say a Muslim come knocking on your door asking if you believe in the Word of Allah, what makes you think anyone else wants you to knock on their door asking if they have received Christ as their savior? (As every new minister of each church in my neighborhood does from time to time.) And if, by chance, the person's door you have knocked upon is interested, be prepared to answer some difficult questions! The people you're trying to convert to your cause are NOT stupid! For years I would tell any wandering minister that I would attend their church if they could answer the following question: Where did Cain and Able's wives come from? If you are NOT prepared to deal with questions like that, you have NO business trying to convert someone to your religion! If you don't know the answer then it just makes you look like an idiot. If you know the answer and refuse to answer it or it upsets you, then you can pretty much write off that person not only as a convert, but I think it's safe to say you've just helped paint a bad picture for the next guy that brings an unwarranted interruption to their door. It's the first rules of sales (And make no mistake, you're SELLING your religion to someone who isn't a believer) KNOW YOUR PRODUCT! In all the year's I've been asking that question, only 1 minister has ever answered it truthfully and on the spot. 1.

      If memory serves, and I will be the first to admit that since I haven't read the entire Bible I could easily be wrong, there weren't a lot of door to door missionaries back in the day. In fact, unless I'm very badly mistaken, the modus operendi was someone would start talking and if people were interested THEY would come TO the church/missionary, not the other way around.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      While I'm not at all advocating door-to-door ministry, I do wish to respond to your challenge to "[f]ind the difference in what they would actually SAY."

      How about this: one starts with the question, "Do you believe in Truth, the only Way to which is True Reason?" If they say "no", then (s)he could tell them that they're "going to Hell, and have a nice day," and leave. If they answer in the affirmative, one could ask, "Do you believe in applying reason with compassion–that is, using your reasoning not only to enrich yourself or to serve some other mortal person, but acknowledging the reason for reason as Love?" If the answer is "yes," then the evangelizer could say "Then you are truly a disciple of Christ! Do you have a church or other house of worship that you attend regularly?" If the answer is yes, (s)he thanks the person for their time, wishing them (and their family) God's peace and/or blessing, and then is on their way. If the answer is no, (s)he invites the person to come to church with them. Now, if the answer to that question about Love was negative, (s)he could say, "Doesn't that seem rather empty and meaningless then? I mean, what will become of your having even existed? What's the point in doing any of it at all?" If the person has a reasonable answer to this, then the evangelizer should possibly consider apostasy. Otherwise, an intelligent and diplomatic person could then—time permitting—persuade this individual away from the error of their ways and to adopt a spirit of Love and Truth, which we call the "Holy Spirit", since therein there is Life, eternal; for lies come and go, hate, fears come and go, but Truth and Love remain, transcendent; they are what they are—the Great "I am"—no matter what we might "believe" about It! Of that which is wrong there are endless possibilities, but what is right… is one. And that's the One that we can all have confidence in and believe in. It is, in fact, mankind's only hope. But sadly, we have crucified our Savior; we killed It—dead. But I have Good News—wonderful news in fact! He is risen!

      • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

        Well, how about this one: instead of going door to door, offending only those who you meet that are not already members of your church, you can go on the internet to find meaningful discussions to kill with hollow self-righteous/self-serving arguments that not only offend everyone who is reading what you say but poison the discussion completely.

        Then, self-satisfied, you can tell yourself that your "truth" won the argument, when in fact you are such a boorish troll that you've bored us all to tears.

        For you, it's not about "truth" in any meaningful sense of the word. You don't believe in the concept of truth. For you, "truth" is something you make up to manipulate other people. God wants you to confuse other people because it makes them easier to control.

        It's about censorship through bullying.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          But censorship through bullying is entirely antithetical to love!

          Moreover, to what end is it worth doing? You seem to say it is self-serving. In what way is that true unless one is a competing author/publisher censoring his or her competitors?

          And speaking of what is true, if one doesn’t believe in an absolute objective truth, then one couldn’t see any meaningful means to effect control over anybody.

          Your arguments appear to suffer from internal incoherancy; the reason seems to be that, as I believe I’ve said to you before, as far as meaning is concerned, what matters are the referents, and perhaps you neglect to bear those in mind as you’re constructing your arguments.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          I am a big fan of truth. Give me a definition of God, and if it’s true by that definition that God doesn’t exist, I will wholeheartedly respond that God does not exist! Not too many Christians would feel comfortable saying those words, but it is not because I don’t truly believe in “truth” that I would say them, but rather because I do! I’m not a highly religious person generally, but I am interested in the truth, and I want to use it to promote love. Pure love. I’m not trying to preach any gospel other than that. There are people all around me who are quite confused, so I try to explain this to them in words that they can relate to (same reason I’m using English right now). It just so happens that this gospel is very one that Paul, John the Evangelist, and so many others preached, and that–it seems to me–this is what Jesus would do.

          I think the only one I actually cause confusion in is myself, since I know perfectly well the uncertainties of some of the claims I stake. But that’s when you have to take a leap of faith, like when you fall in love even though you know that in giving your heart to someone you open yourself up to being painfully hurt by them.

          The truth is there are no words that can describe life’s greatest mysteries or answer life’s greatest questions. So here is at least a label for it: God.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Angela, I apologize that evidently I’ve offended you. And I apologize to anyone else whom I may offend as well. I mean no offense; I desire only to promote clearer understanding.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        I recognize that telling people who disbelieve objective truth and reason that they will go to hell does seem a bit harsh. (I meant divine Reason, not flawed human reason, but wrote simply "reason" for the sake of those who wouldn't accept this distinction.) Indeed, this sort of thing is exactly why I'm actually *against* door-to-door ministry.

        You can't convince somebody of the truth if they won't acknowledge the reality of Truth, so there's really no point in bothering to try. Yet you also can't allow people get the impression (subjective though it may be) that we're OK with that perspective, since (as Angela wisely recognizes) it is a cause of untold evils, a gateway to selfish, hypocritical, Machiavellian plots of domination and senseless destruction, an "abomination that causes desolation" so to speak. So I would have to advise to sharply rebuke them, and then leave them be.

        If we adopt the perspective of such a worldview, then it shouldn't really matter anyway: not only would such a statement be equally meaningful to a dog's bark or an owl's screech, but who's to say that one really did say that or even that s/he exists in any meaningfully way?

        Of course, you and I, Angela, find such a perspective quite insane, and I and—I assume—John find such perspective veritably Satanic, utterly godless (other than perhaps some imaginary, subjective god, though I guess that's what Angela supposes our God to be, although He is actually entirely grounded in—though transcendent to—objective reality. (Indeed St. Paul seems to argue that, in a sense, the Son *is* the reality!))

  • http://fcabiling.multiply.com Ferdie Cabiling

    thanks for this john.

    post-modernism is truly alive and well in our world today…

    this might last for the next 500 years, who knows.. so might as well leave behind our modern ways of doing ministry…

    lets engage the culture so we can fullfill the the GC effectively.

  • nats

    i think christians would convert more people if everybody wasnt trying to be a preacher. after all preaching is a calling to which most of us are not called to. Our job is not to tell people how bad they are but how good the word of god is and its upto the individual to choose which path to take. Conviction is a very personal thing and when we are forceful about getting people born again they miss the point or rebel against christianity not because they dont believe but because they feel it is being impossed. I am a christian myself and i must say after reading those comments I could see that we do behave in a self righteous holier than though manner alot of the time and its not right. we should take the time to listen and hear the other parties views etc and when given the chance tell them ours and let them see it God's way not our way.

  • pontiacdan45

    John,

    I can't believe all the responses to this topic. I guess we do a pretty lousy job, as Christians, remembering to be humble in our approach to the Great Commission and the two greatest commandments. We come off like the gong in First Corinthians Thirteen. For it is all about people and love. I believe a well placed word, a hug, being an example and not pretenting that the "Christian" life and those of us who subscribe to it are always right, always patient or always anything.

    In a recent survey Christians listed knowledge and practice about love as the most important Christian virtues. How can that be?

    I'm new to word press, but I like what I see so far. Keep up the great work.

    Dan

  • http://remarkableordinary.wordpress.com Ray

    Hm, can’t remember subscribing to your email, but thanks anyway.

    Nice blog, and really good statements of non-christians this time.

    For me the problem starts when people think they’re better than others just because of their religion, because ..well, they aren’t. I would tell them that anybody who thinks he has to do something for an ‘afterlife’ is just plain stupid. They should look up ‘end’ or ‘death’ in the dictionary or just think about it. We have to life in here and now and make the best out of it. That is important.

    ..but I don’t tell them, cause I’m friendly and everybody should be able to live by their own beliefs. And that’s my agnostic-thinking difference.

    Regards.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Billy,

    Concerning your 1st point, what if someone said God says, "…"

    It has been my experience that everyone has been introduced to the God of wrath and judgment. It is the God of mercy and love most are unfamiliar with. This is true within and without the Church. Barna's surveys serve to illuminate this issue quite well.

    To your second point, the example of a man who is thankful for his sister-in-law's tenacity. The key words in that description are "his sister-in-law would always.." I suspect an authentic relationship of love and heart-felt concern was behind this sister-in-law's words and actions. The time she committed ("always" implies they saw each other several times over a long period of time) illustrates / reveals a love that he, no doubt, had not seen before.

    Someone can be the bible/Jesus in someone's life but never in someone's face.

  • creedorchaos

    John~

    Great post, although I wouldn’t say I ‘enjoy’ it–this kind of thing reminds me of Merold Westphal’s suggestion that Christians read things like this for Lent, so that the deep failings of the church drive us back to our only hope, in Jesus who never failed. I have 2 comments:

    1) I think the state of affairs in the US — covered in a Christianity about 3000 miles across and about an inch deep — is such a big part of the dynamic we’re talking about here. Just about everybody ‘out there’, it seems, has heard it all before, didn’t buy it, and wants to stop being harassed. I totally sympathize; if I had the bulk of what was passing for ‘the faith once for all delivered to the saints’ these days foisted on me, I would be repelled also. And this is nothing new, of course; some of the staunchest and most thoughtful opponents Christianity has ever seen have been those who came up against exactly the kind of ephemeral moralism that hangs thick in the air in and around so many churches, like LA smog.

    Having recently moved from California to Scotland for PhD studies, I can say that some (not all!) of this is different, for a variety of reasons, one of them being so few professing Christians.

    2) Along these lines, it seems the church so often never actually gets around to the GOSPEL–whether in the pulpit and pews or out. If the gospel is ‘the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes’, and if the gospel is an announcement of something we’ve never heard before, something that God has done through Jesus Christ (instead of simply a lifestyle of trying to be like Jesus), then the message and the method must follow suit. A huge part of the reason why non-Christians have ‘heard it all before’ is that many have never really heard the gospel before, because it’s the only thing that’s NEW–it’s the only thing that’s different from everything else we know and assume and feel.

    The gospel comes to us taking away all hope in ourselves and offering all hope in Jesus, who died the death we deserve to die and lived the life we should have lived, gaining all our standing before God, accomplishing all on our behalf–a reality freely offered to those who look outside and apart from ourselves and trust in Jesus alone (which is what ‘faith’ means). THIS is foolishness to the world, precisely because it’s nothing like anything we know and believe in and of ourselves. But it’s also the wisdom of God.

    Because this is the gospel, Christians should never come across as self-righteous (because Jesus is all our righteousness) or hypocritical (because in and of ourselves we’re EXACTLY like everyone else) or proud (because we have received the gospel and everything good we have as a gift, not as a paycheck). This isn’t directed at ‘bad’ Christians out there; it’s for me too–if we believe the gospel, we have to believe that we have nothing of ours to appeal to before God or before the world, except Jesus on our behalf.

    That’s why the Bible calls the church ‘saints’ and ‘righteous’ and ‘holy’, because we have Jesus, the only holy and righteous one–or rather, Jesus has us. We all as Christians have to say with the apostle Paul, ‘Not I, but the grace of God that is with me.’ And isn’t this, then, how we should approach our fellow human beings with the gospel? In our weakness and Christ’s strength?

    ~B

    • rdsoderstrom

      I agree with you.

      What many Christians fail to see, is Christianity is a spiritual experience. I can do nothing by myself, rather all things are possible through Christ my Savior. This a cry of human inability, and an affirmation of the power of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who is a true Christian understands this not only with their mind but in their heart.

      Another thing Christians miss is most Church-going people are there for the social interaction, not for the purpose of worshiping, in spirit; thus your comment of "3000 miles across and about an inch deep". Those are powerful and convicting words of the present condition of "Christianity" in America. It is the stench of hypocrisy, or the "LA smog" in our churches. Empty words built on ignorance and apathy will not "convert"; only reinforce a non-christian world view.

      I have taught an Adult Sunday School class for many years and remember an incident which clearly defines Christianity in America. I asked the class to turn in their Bibles to such and such a place. One of the leaders of the church asked her daughter to go get her Bible from the trunk of her car where "I left it there last Sunday". Now that is apathy and hypocrisy!

      "Trying to be (on our own) like Jesus" is to deny the power of the Word and Holy Spirit. It isn't what we do…there is nothing we can do that leads us to Salvation; the work has already been done.d And, only Holy Spirit can convict us to repent and bring about true change in a man/woman.

      Thanks for your insight and thought provoking post!

  • Sabina

    The bottom line is that God doesn't need us to convince anyone to be a Christian. God will reconcile His people to Him. We as Christians need to do what we are specifically directed according to what we believe is our guide (the Bible) and that is to love one another-if we forgave each other-truely and loved one another truely, this world would be so much better. Our behavior as Christians can either be a beacon for folks or a deterent-each Christian has to decide if they will show Gods grace, mercy and love through thier actions or not.

  • http://mcclaud.wordpress.com/ mcclaud

    I’m still a Christian as it were, although my choice is to follow Jesus’ teachings and the Bible without bending knee to the institutions of Men that often cause more problems than they solve. This is why I’m no longer a “Catholic” so to speak, and more of a man of my own religion.

    I often try to see things the way a non-Christian sees them, and I do see the point of this book. The problem is not when Christians treat other people well – when Christians act like good Christians, why criticize them? Brian seems bent on saying that we need to focus on both sides, but that’s not the purpose of the book. The purpose of the book is to look at the reasons why some non-Christians have legitimate issues with Christians. And the issue is that a lot of Christians tend to be over-zealous, less-than-pious, and self-righteous to the point of being even too much for other Christians! There are plenty of responses in these comments that prove that to be too true.

    That is the issue. And that’s something a book should be written about. Something that makes us – the imperfect mortals – re-evaluate our approach and think about the Faith. To assume we are too good for doing such is self-important and misleading. It does not hurt to revisit our convictions internally. It does not hurt to listen to the criticism, and see if we ourselves are at fault.

    If we’re not at fault, then we should take measures to be sure we’re never those zealots and indignant worshippers who drive away others. We should take comfort that we are doing our best and proceed to do good in the Creator’s name.

  • the evolved ape

    John,

    I think that your post is a brave and interesting step in the right direction.

    I fear though that a change of attitude against the members of the “other” group is not enough to resolve the overall conflict.

    As long as we define and classify ourselves and others primarily according to our religious beliefs or non-beliefs there will be a potential of conflict. What we need to do is to establish humanism as the right measure for ethics. It should be secondary if we believe or not in this or that goddess or prophet or whatever. This is of course more difficult for Christians (or Muslims or Jews) who are trained to think that their moral standards are God given hence supperior.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thanks, Dan. And Amen, Sabrina.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Another point about why the "My Sister In-Law Helped Convert Me" story fails to support the argument that evangelizing to nonbelievers is good is because the kind of evangelizing we're talking about here–the kind nonbelievers undestandably have so little tolerence for–is COLD CALL evangelizing, the kind where someone you don't or barely know starts telling you what you should believe. That's not anywhere near the kind of relationship this guy obviously had with his sister-in-law, who was a constant, long-standing figure in his life. INTIMATES discussing faith with you is one thing. A stranger telling you you're wrong for whatever you believe in is certainly another.

  • Billy

    I thought the issue was not to offend anyone, because my friend's sister-in-law was did offend my friend initially. He got over it. But now I understand that it maybe ok to offend someone you know, a relative? As far as cold calling analogy. I've never know anyone, and I work with missionaries, who ever considers "telling someone" what they should believe. That is not sharing the Gospel. I don't personally believe there is a magic formula for evangelism. Sometimes strangers receive the Gospel from strangers, sometimes friends ignore it from friends. How are any of us to know in advance if the person you witness to has a friend who has been praying for someone to witness to them, and your are that someone?

    What determines a stranger? Does it take a face to face to relationship or can that be established, in like a blog? Am I a friend?

  • Paula

    I don’t see what is so depressing about this article. I know there are many so-called Christians who are self-righteous and hatetul, but that’s to be expected if you read your Bible. Jesus said many would cast out demons and prophesy in His name and He would tell them that He never knew them. Jesus also told us that many would be called but few would be chosen. That tells me that we should expect to see alot of self-described Christians behaving like heathens.

    As far as the opinions of non-Christians, most of the opinions in this article are just personal perceptions that seem to me to be influenced by the world -Satan-more so than ‘bad’ Christians. Don’t get me wrong…I know there are those who have had really bad experiences with the church…but most of the comments I read sound like people who have a very limited understanding of Christianity with little or no desire to learn more. The things they complain about most are the things that Christianity is most about….Jesus Himself said that He alone was the way, the truth and the life NO ONE comes to the father but by Him. This is construed as egotistical and narrow minded by non Christians, even though we didn’t come up with it….Jesus did. Jesus was also anything but tolerant. Apparently people think that love and tolerance of intolerable behavior are the same thing. Non-Christians don’t like being called sinners? Well….what are we supposed to tell them? That is what we believe…..that *everyone* is a sinner but God loves us anyway. They seem to really like Jesus and most of His message….all except for the *dying for our sins* part.

    I was born and raised in a Christian family, turned away from the church for a long time and recently came back for good. I find it interesting that so many people have had such bad experiences with Christians, because it has been *my* experience that *most * of the Christians I have known were good, kind and loving people.

    I also experienced a time when church made me feel uncomfortable, until I realized that the discomfort was coming from within and not from the people in the church. When I owned up to my sins and confessed them to God I was changed forever. Some folks sadly just don’t want to hear that.

  • Brett

    John

    Thank You for bringing these feelings to light!! What shot of reality. Bottomline is we need to see this world for what it is.. Fallen!!! We need to just Love . God give us an awesome gift in the freedom of choice. All we are to do is share the Good News and he will do the rest. People will live as they wish and we can’t force anything.

    We have a ” Church ” group coming to our hometown to protest the FUNERAL of a young man killed in Iraq, I thought this is a great way to witness to the Lost. But it is what it is . God will use this for His Glory.

    Good stuff!! When we think WE have it all figured, God has a way of remindung us we don’t.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. Truly a blessing for us all.

    B

  • http://www.whytedovepress.com kayoung

    To SecondMichele (I hope you don’t mind, John, if I reply once again to her reply to my comment on your blog–smileyface): At 2a.m. my mind was a little sluggish, and so my response to your response to my comment wasn’t complete. Even though, yes, no formulas, the turning point in Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well was when he let her know that he knew about her immoral past and present (5 husbands and the one you are now living with isn’t your husband). She wasn’t just excited to find a fortune-teller; she knew she had found the Messiah. The great thing is that He didn’t condemn her (tho being GOD, He had the right and the power); instead, he offered her the living water so she would never thirst again. The only “formula” we need is the Gospel, which doesn’t begin with Matthew; it begins in the Torah. GOD’s holy standards show man’s inability to meet them and need for sacrifice provided by GOD. This was and is the pattern. Those of us who believe, first recognize who and what we are in the sight of a holy GOD, then we recognize the sacrifice He has provided and our need of it, then we can enjoy relationship with Him. But you’re still absolutely right, SecondMichele. The presentation of this good news is not formulaic. It’s as personal and filled with love and consideration as the GOD Who commands then sacrifices Himself to fulfill those commands so we can live in love with Him forevermore.

    And I gotta say, amen and amen to Creedorchaos.

    Way to go, John! I’ve never seen blog comments exceed 50!!

  • hughvic

    tam,

    I appreciated your comments. As they came directly following mine, I’m not sure whether you were counting me among the intollerant. In any event I’d like you and John to know that I have been in almost daily dialogue for a long time with non-believers—specifically, with activist atheists—who are seeking greater freedom of expression of their convictions, a project I wholeheartedly support. I’ve always found ecumenism far more difficult and disingenuous than my conversations with non-believers. There’s a strong theodical element, though, to John’s project. I’m not a mystic; nonetheless, I can feel it. My guess is that he may too, though I’d be surprised were he comfortable with my terminology.

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  • Billy

    Ric, ok, how about this, a believer tells an unbeliever that God says “The world and the people in it are evil?”

    I spoke to a friend this morning and asked him how he came to Christ. He said his sister-in-law would always get on his case about how he was living. He use to get mad at her, but she persisted. Eventually he came to Christ and now is in full time ministry. He now says he is glad she did. He said what was making him mad was he was being convicted of his sin nature.

    People get over being offended, they never get over being lost.

  • http://thestateofamerica.wordpress.com Daniel

    So what is evangelizing anyway? Is it preaching? Is it winning souls? What is the appropriate method(s)? 4 step, D James Kennedy's Evangelsim Explosion, let er rip? Is the content the gospel, Jesus only, personal experience…? Jesus told many religious leaders of his they were snake-devils, hypocrites, children of the devil, and the like. The the gospels and epistles, and Revelation all cover hell, God's wrath, and why people will experience it. Jesus came for people to gain eternal life, which OT and NT teaches even evildoers will live forever anyway. Someone mentioned yesterday that hell is life without God. Death is life without meaningful relationship and eternal life seems to mean an unending relationship with God. Jesus preached to crowds who followed and later demanded his crucifixion, but the few who hung with him no matter what received the Spirit, power to be witnesses unto Him, and were eventual killed because they refused to accept, believe, and or speak what powers that be (then) determined was right. They were terrible multiculturalists, moral relativists, and pantheists. Those are the stars of the early church, but the many mentioned in Acts who fled persecution for their beliefs worked and shared their experiences and the message upon which it was based. The unknowns are said to have increased the size of the church (if I remember correctly).

  • hughvic

    I’m sorry, John, but that happens not to be my argument. I’m quite familiar with that one too, and look forward pretty eagerly to looking into how you’ve dealt with it, as I’m sure you’ve done so better than I have done. What I mean is really a theodical question: what role Satan in all this? A bit more specifically, what role, if any, via the professed Christians? (Please understand that “it’s against my religion” to judge who’s an ontological Christian and who isn’t; I’m basically a Kierkegaardian, so I can say only that I pray that I am a Christian.) Perhaps it would help if I explained that I believe that Christianity lasted about 30 seconds, and that after that, sacrificial (false) religion crept back in. So, the most extreme of distinctions between the two cities, the two churches.

  • Ingrid

    I did a post a few months ago entitled “The Paradox of a Fundamentalist Liberal” which explored this very topic. We as Christians have to embrace the gentleman in the Lord. He would never force himself upon us and it is not in his will that we force him on others

  • Billy

    Ephesians 4:11-12

    11: And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; 12: for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

    Any action for Christ without seeking God first and asking for His guidance will probably fail. If evangelism is your gift, and you want to be effective then you must, above all else, pray first before you share or witness to others. Some people confront others with the Gospel, some are relational, different tools for different jobs. Main point being if you ask Christ for His guidance and ask Him to use where you are and with what you know, He will.

    If we spent as much time praying as we do arguing, we could be more effective in our witness. Myself included.

  • http://deltachord.tennerblog.com/ Deltachord

    As a Christian, I think this is a good discussion and as someone who has before been treated in a very ugly confrontational manner by Christians…it is easy to understand the complaints about the way some Christians approach others.

    Really, maybe that is the problem, approaching non-Christians verbally, perhaps we need to show them Christ through who we are and our actions, rather than trying to talk them into conversion. Actions do speak louder than words.

  • hughvic

    My God in Heaven, what a stunningly fab question, Billy. What does determine a stranger? Who is the ontological Stranger? Who the Friend? Who the Enemy? Who the Outsider? The Bible treats all of these, throughout, but I never thought to frame it so straightforwardly as you do. Wow.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    You can’t tell the difference between a friend of yours, and someone you’ve never met before?

    Wow indeed.

  • Billy

    hughvic,

    Brother I have a lot more questions than answers. This I do know, God says His Ways are not our ways. For that I am grateful.

  • Billy

    John, where did I say that? I asked what determines a stranger because you said the following, and I quote, to a woman who asked why Jesus. Somewhere here on your blog.

    “You’re born human. That means you’re extremely inclined to be selfish, greedy, snarky, gossipy, lazy, impatient, mean-spirited, ego-driven, etc., etc. You’re just born to … self-promote, shall we say. It’s not all you’re born to be: you’re also born to be virtuous and kind and loving and so on.”

    I’m asking if she was a stranger because if she was you “seem” to be breaking your rules on evangelism. Never offend a stranger.

    I’m at a point where I can recognize the difference between someone I know and some I don’t. It was a challenge. (tongue in cheek)

  • pontiacdan45

    I guess I have one more thought about this. If hell is the absence of God, and it is, for all eternity, why wouldn’t we use the most charm filled approach possible to get people engaged in the debate. The debate about their souls.

    Because God selects us, not the other way around. So all we’re trying to do is present thoughts and ideas, or life style examples, so someone is curious about Christianity.

    A church can attract people many ways. Saddleback and Willow Creek have a certain appeal as does Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church in downtown Chicago. But every church has something in common. They all must attract the curious and then give them a reason to return again. Failing that, stagnation sets in and people never have a chance to hear about the Good News. Even those who are born in the faith, as we Catholics like to say, still need a reason to return.

    Whether in word, deed or the 90 minutes spent at worship on Sunday, people look for a reason to belong. If we’re smart, we give them that reason. As they grow in faith and knowledge, they realize, as we do, that love asks how not why. Love is a patient, thoughtful approach, not strident or rude.

    Dan

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Billy–I was answering Hugh; I knew my comment would go directly beneath his. But you ask, “What determines a stranger?”

    Um. Well, a stranger is someone you’ve never met before. See? Easy. (And PLEASE let’s drop this now. It’s just too … stupid, basically. You understand, I’m sure. Resist commenting for awhile, if you’d be so kind?)

  • Lisa Harris

    I agree that we as Christians often do more harm than good which pains me greatly, yet this should not prevent us from advancing God's Kingdom by way of The Great Commission. As one who feels a burden and a compassion for the lost and currently attends seminary, sadly, I don't feel Christians share their faith enough! While I admit we must work more intentionally at forging genuine relationships with unbelievers, there comes a point when we must share truth in love if we sincerely love them as God does. I know more Christians who are petrified to share their faith for fear of rejection. Many of the posts were clear evidence of the darkness not wanting to be exposed to the light, but it is the light of truth that sets us free! I trust this book provides helpful insight for Christians who earnestly desire to share their love of Jesus Christ. God does all of the wooing, but in His mercy He has chosen broken vessels to be the messengers of His saving grace.

  • http://yaelsjewishworld.wordpress.com yaelbatsarah

    Tam,

    I like your comments: What is most frustrating is the lack of respect and tolerance. I respect your beliefs… why can’t you respect mine? Why must you, once you know I am secure in my beliefs and do know of Christianity, try to keep changing them? Would you really appreciate it if the shoe was on the other foot?

    Yes, I get one of the tennents is to spread the word… but many of us have already heard the word and decided otherwise. Respect that! It is not somehow that you failed in conveying it to us, that we are just evil or in the dark, that we are somehow unenlightened. Accept we heard, we understand, and just believe otherwise.

    and I don't think you're being heard. It was something I wrote on one of my blogs about how once people become enamored with an ideology, other people become invisible to them. People like you and me, we're invisible here. Who sees us for who we are? We're just 'lost souls' needing to be 'saved'.

    If we can't be reached then that just means back to the drawing board to figure out better tactics….

    The good thing is in real life where I can interact with Christians one on one, I've been able to see a change, the moving over just a bit to leave one tiny space in the world of God which others besides themselves can occupy. I never ask them to give up their beliefs, but just to allow that question to exist, that perhaps they don't have God locked tight in their God box after all. It's a slow process, my patience is ever tested and often runs out, but then I start all over again.

    Interesting the comment about not knowing anyone who has ever converted as a result of being evangelized, I don't know anyone either, but I can give long lists of converts to Judaism who converted in spite of Judaism not seeking converts, who converted in spite of rabbi's turning them away three times, who converted in spite of the requirement to spend months or years studying and becoming part of a Jewish community prior to being allowed to convert. At my shul about the time Rabbi finishes studying with one convert, another person desiring conversion requests to begin studying with him. It is pretty amazing. Zechariah 8:23 but only the persistent will make it through, most will go back where they came from, hopefully with a deep respect for us and a realization that we do NOT need Christian 'salvation'.

    Not that anyone here will see me. I'm invisible…..

  • http://journeyto.wordpress.com/ Carina

    It’s convicting… but also encouraging because a lot of it is true. Lord, and people who yet do not believe, please forgive me. Our focus as Christ’s disciples should be on HIM. And so often, you’re right, we lose sight of what we were made to be.

    I’m glad I read this today.

    “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” –John 13: 3-5, 34

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  • hughvic

    Well "shove me in the shallow water"!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Now, now, let's not get dramatic. I've seen you, Yael–and appreciate what you've written here. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

    Lisa: You said, "I agree that we as Christians often do more harm than good … yet this should not prevent us from advancing God’s Kingdom by way of The Great Commission." When we try to advance God's kingdom by way of the GC, do you think we MOST often do more harm or good? Because if you think we MOST often do more harm, than we SHOULD stop doing whatever we're doing to "advance" God's kingdom. (And we are doing more harm than good. The proof of that is that American churches spend 50 to 60 BILLION dollars a year on domestic ministry–yet, right now, for the first time in this country's history, less than 50% of our population is Protestant. Mainstream churches are losing members or flatlining. We're obviously losing more people than we're bringing in. Which means we're failing. Which means we should stop already.)

  • http://pppsr.wordpress.com/ Kelsey Martineau

    Good post. I didn’t read through the comments, so maybe this has been mentioned, but I’ll say it anyway. To me, the whole focus of Christianity has been lost. Most Christian’s focus to much on converting, spreading the word, and shoving the “you’re going to go to hell” message down people’s throats, when in reality, their lifestyles should be the prime example of how to live, in their own opinion. Like I said, the whole focus has been lost. Churches have become enthralled in politics, boards of trustee’s, deacons, elders, etc… Most of them have become more like an agency or corporation than a house of worship. On that note, most churches (not to bash them, but particularly the Catholic Church) have turned a time of worship into a strict ritual. I’m not saying I know God’s intent for our worship, but I have a feeling it’s not what He had in mind.

    I’ve seen churches turn away people that weren’t well-dressed enough, that were homosexual, or bi-sexual. This isn’t what Jesus had in mind when he preached the gospel. Religion as a whole has become far too controversial. Not only are religions fighting each other, but sects within religions argue over doctrines, beliefs, and standards. The problem stems from societies inability to admit that their own personal beliefs may not be right. Simply my opinion, though.

  • Adrian

    I've been too lazy to read all the responses so I'm not sure if this has been said but does anyone notice how wrong alot of the respondents are in their knowledge of Jesus? The impression seems to be that Jesus was just about love and 'your ok, i'm ok'.

    As far as what other people have said about preaching – and I know people use this as an excuse to Bible-bash, but the apostles preached and people were converted and many missionaries over many years preached and people were converted. The reason that we don't hear about many conversions via direct evangelism is because of the societies we live in, not because there is something inherently wrong with evangelism. If you go to places where people have not heard of Jesus and you read of the work of missionaries there are plenty of examples of people being converted through evangelism.

    I would also like to say that there seems to be a misunderstanding about 'saving souls'. Some people are motivated by selfishness, others by guilt, others by intolerance, but for the others, they are motivated because they believe, not just think, but actually believe that another person is going to suffer terribly – and put yourself in their shoes (just as you want them to put themselves in yours) how would you respond? – And you may say that you wouldn't keep telling them, but wouldn't you want to be certain that they knew? However, if you wouldn't tell them at all because you 'respect' their decision, would you say the same about someone walking off a cliff? Just to be clear – because it's obvious that non-Christians like to jump to conclusions as quickly as Christians – I'm not advocating Bible-bashing or continual preaching.

    Since many people react badly to direct evangelism we should look to alternatives but we shouldn't just dump on evangelists.

  • Adrian

    Add to the last sentence – Because that's what appears (although I realise that this may just be my perception) to be happening.

  • http://beverleypekema.blogspot.com/ Beverley Pekema

    Wow, what an excellent Evangelism tool! Thanks and keep up the good work. It keeps the rest of us on our toes.

  • Adrian

    Oh, I should also add that I think what you did was good John. Knowing how non-Christians perceive Christians is healthy and helpful. Thanks.

  • hughvic

    But John, in Him we are neither gentile nor Jew, bondsman nor freeman, male nor female, but rather are all one, a family. There is no stranger, no outsider. Come stoning time, the scapegoat always is the one with a difference. It’s usually a perceived outsider. Sometimes it’s a whore or a Nubian, or a club-footed person. Sometimes it’s a radical rabbi from Nazareth. But in the light missing from Golgotha, we see that these are all false distinctions—categorical errors. As Billy says, our kin are beyond our ken.

    So I’d argue that Paul was trying to tell us that in Christ there are no strangers. Moreover, we will know Him when we see Him for the first time.

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  • http://thestateofamerica.wordpress.com Daniel

    Sorry, I got carried away. John thanks for another provocative topic.

  • Platy

    Wow… that is depressing. So much, I actually felt something pressing against my heart as I read those comments. It hurts to hear how badly some "Christians" act around non-Christians.

    I know about those types of people, but I don't *know* those types of people. They're not in my circle. It might help that I live in a laid-back country like Australia… ;) Sure, there are some pushy Christians here – there'd have to be – but I don't know any of them personally.

    Jesus told us to be the light and the salt of the earth. We're supposed to shine our goodness, from the inside out. And we're supposed to give a tantalising view of life… Savour in the Saviour.

    Thanks for posting those comments, John.

  • Cliverty

    More on my post above regarding [b]"solutions given before problem detected"[/b] — in 1Cor 3 Paul says one plants, one waters and another reaps. We can't go around always thinking we will be "the reaper" in that sequence.

    As Second Michele said – we have to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us into doing the part he dictates for that person at that moment.

    But the notion that the unsaved are looking for an "I'm Ok – you're OK" kind of Christianity is predictable. If they ALREADY had the world view "I'm am not OK I NEED Christianity" they would be pounding on our doors.

    Where is the "surprise" in all of this discussion so far?

    Bob

  • http://yaelsjewishworld.wordpress.com yaelbatsarah

    Now, now, let’s not get dramatic. I’ve seen you, Yael–and appreciate what you’ve written here. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

    Whatever, John, as the conversation heads right back to the same old, same old…looking for new tactics to lure people into the fold….

    • PearTree

      Yael – you had an excellent point that did not deserve to be brushed off, but instead deserved to be really listened to and heard. I completely agree with you, and I appreciate that your religion does not feel the need to try to convert people. That is respect. Thank you.

  • Cliverty

    The thing that seems to get missed here is that it is God’s Job to evangelize. “IF I am lifted up I WILL draw all unto Me” John 12:32 and so HE sends The Holy Spirit to “Convict the WORLD of sin and righteousness and judgment” John16.

    Not too surprising that “the world” doesn’t like it or find it flattering. No question that Christians are not getting a warm fuzzy reception by asking people if they would like a solution to that irritating conviction coming from the Holy Spirit – unless that person is already desperate to solve the problem.

    Answers with no questions are seldom appreciated.

    Bob

  • modset

    The true way to witness is to LIVE IT. After all, when the Holy Spirit works, it's undeniable. Show Love. Actions speak louder than words to the world. I've come to find this out first hand.

  • Maria

    yaelbatsarah-

    You’re not invisible and I can truly understand what you are saying. As a christian, and if you were my friend, I would not keep chasing after you and trying to change your mind. I would respect that you had been told and did not want to hear it again. I would live my life in a godly way to the best that I am able and maybe that would have an effect on you, but it wouldn’t matter in the end because I’d be doing it for my Saviour. But I would hope that seeing a true difference in me would give you something to think about. And since friends share good news I would tell you when the Lord has blessed me and hopefully that would be more awesome testimonies because truly I have tasted the Lord and seen that He is good!

    In other words, having Christ in my life has been a huge change for me in many wonderful ways. I won’t push him on you at all, but I would hope that if you’re around me for any amount of time you will see how happy He has made me and maybe want some of that for yourself. If you do, you’ll ask and we’ll talk about it. If you don’t, then you won’t ask and life will go on.

    • PearTree

      Or maybe you would see what Yael has and want some of that and decide to convert to Judaism!

  • http://www.barethoughts.com/blog Tam

    Sarah or is it Yeal? My hebrew is laking… Thanks you for your comments to me, I was beginning to feel like I was going unheard (except for the gentleman who, after basically saying that non-believers are only such becuase they haven't heard it correctly, made sure to tell me he really is tolerant – yeah, right!). I love how you are working on the Christians to get them to understand… and wow on the Jewish converts.

    Maria – you have exactly the right idea (at least to me) and you also sound like a wonderful friend. Many of the Christians I know are like you and I so appreciate them.

    And please, don't get me wrong – I am not the type who wants Christianity out of the public eye. In fact, my child goes to a public school and in choir, sings Christian songs. Doesn't bother me a bit (except when they do them in Latin cuz not understanding the words to a song sucks!) becuase they are just songs… now if someone was to start preaching to him.. I would have an issue. Religeous stuff on public property – fine with me. I just don't want my child or I to be preached at, or have people attempt to convert me or him.

    I think the issue is that there is some arrogance amoung Christians regarding their religion. They are so sure it is the right one, the only one… they are so invested and such firm believers, that many just can't fathom how someone can know about it, and not become a believer. So they decide it is because the message wasn't delivered right, the person isn't informed enough, that the person is living in darkness, or whatever excuse they give… and so try harder.

    What they are missing is that many of us our as strong in our faith (or even lack of faith) as they are in theirs. They need to respect the fact we too believe in our faith… doesn;t mean they have to agree, but just accpet out faith is strong and will not change (and attempts tend to be annoying at the least).

    Save the converting for those that may be undecided… that are looking for something to truelly believe in… and then use a deft touch.

  • Jeremy

    John — Have you ever been to a harvest crusade?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    No, I've never been to a harvest crusade. I was interviewed last year (about my book on this topic, "I'm OK–You're Not: The Message We're Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop) on The Harvest Show (for 10 minutes, by a former Miss America named Debra Maffett, now one of the hosts of THS), but … that's about it, Harvest-wise.

  • http://yaelsjewishworld.wordpress.com yaelbatsarah

    Maria,

    Thank you for your kind response. You sound like a nice person who I wouldn’t mind hanging around. In response to your comments:

    But I would hope that seeing a true difference in me would give you something to think about.

    Well, it might, but not in the way you’re hoping. I would be truly happy for you, but it would be nothing which would interest me personally. But, perhaps hanging out with me would give you something to think about as well? :)

    In other words, having Christ in my life has been a huge change for me in many wonderful ways. I won’t push him on you at all, but I would hope that if you’re around me for any amount of time you will see how happy He has made me and maybe want some of that for yourself. If you do, you’ll ask and we’ll talk about it. If you don’t, then you won’t ask and life will go on.

    Nope, but if it makes you a better person, I’m glad for you. People who convert to Judaism will talk about the wonderful changes in their lives; I’ve heard the same from a friend who converted to Islam. Another woman I know says this about her journey into paganism. I see it as change is good, shaking things up, dumping old baggage, exploring new venues, that’s what makes the difference for some people, not the version of God that person takes on. People whose lives are in meaningless ruts respond well to new situations where they have the chance to start out new again. Immigrants forging new lives because they see opportunities the rest of us overlook, that kind of thing….It’s nothing unique to Christianity.

    I blog quite a bit. Most of my readers are Christians who, for whatever their reasons, find Jewish views of Torah to be of interest. Whether we agree on anything or not, they treat me and mine with respect which is all I ever ask.

    Tam,

    Yael is my name. Yael bat Sarah just means Yael, daughter of Sarah.

    Well, I hope I didn’t use the term ‘working on’ because that sounds like that friendship evangelism mentality that I detest….These Christians are people with whom I interact just living my life. I openly go along living my life as a liberal religious Jew, where I work such a thing seems to be a novelty so people regularly approach me.

    What they are missing is that many of us are as strong in our faith (or even lack of faith) as they are in theirs. They need to respect the fact we too believe in our faith… doesn’t mean they have to agree, but just accept out faith is strong and will not change (and attempts tend to be annoying at the least).

    Exactly!

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian

    I’ve heard versions of the ‘six to one’ theory before. But doesn’t that argument cut both ways? Is it worth turning six people off of the Gospel for the sake of one who might respond to this type of ‘in your face’ technique.

    Besides – are we allowing God to work in this situation? How much of other’s ‘salvation’ (and I assume we are talking heaven vs. hell here, something that I am not convinced of) is dependent upon what you or I say?

    Evangelizing techniques aren’t what’s needed. Let’s lead others by example.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    If by this "6 to 1" business we're suggesting that for every one person we save through cold-call evangelism we alienate six, that's absurd. If we converted 1 out of every 6 people we tried to, I'd say let's do it, nonstop, every day, all day. I spent a couple of hours a month or so ago watching a fairly large group of young, earnest, articulate, clean, enthusisatic Christians evangelizing in front of and around a table they set up on the busiest street in downtown San Diego. In the two hours I sat there, I watched hundreds upon hundreds of people walk by these kids. Those kids would have had more luck if they were handing out snails. People just don't want to talk to people they don't know about something as personal as religion–and they SURE don't want to talk about it with someone whom they know is coming into that conversation with an agenda so strong the conversation with them is sure to be nothing resembling a genuine exchange of thought. I just cannot see why/how so many of us can remain so ignorant about the most basic, inviolate truth of human nature. Continuing to act like that ISN'T true is what's keeping so many people so far away from our churches.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com Skerrib

    I hadn’t heard the ‘six to one’ theory before…or rather, I hadn’t heard it put that way. Interesting.

    Something else to consider–someone parroting the ‘sinner’s prayer’ might make the witness feel like (s)he ‘won one for the kingdom,’ but it doesn’t really speak to the person’s heart, either. I mean, maybe they meant it, maybe they like the idea of going to heaven instead of hell (which really doesn’t do Christianity justice, in my opinion), or maybe they’re just appeasing the witness so (s)he’ll leave them alone. I mean, in my braver/cheekier moments, I like to mess with people’s heads a little. I’m certain some ‘witnessees’ do the same thing, and i can’t say I blame ‘em, either. I’m just sayin’…

  • hughvic

    Yep, there’s a lot of that kind of triage thinking among the evangelical and missional set. It’s damnable “statistical Christianity”, as Kierkegaard called it to distinguish it from…Christianity. Once you settle into that Rate of Exchange mindset (in the military, a reference to the enemy’s casualties vs. your own), you’re utterly inured to throwing fellow Christians overboard—for example, ridiculing them to curry favor with the unbeliever—to gain a soul for Christ.

    You see the fallacy, of course: it’s not for Christ that the soul has been one, because the Spirit is not in it. Our “enemies”, the one’s we are told we will have and must love, but whom we are not told we may choose, are the enemies closest to us: sham Christians, unawares.

    Because we are forbidden to judge them, we can only, and must, discern which they are, and then love them. I believe that our preeminent Commission is to evangelize the lost evangelists.

  • hughvic

    Lots of things are keeping people away from our churches. Avoiding the strong meat is one. Pulpit ignorance (especially of the Biblical languages) is another. Fitful steps back onto the bunny slopes of long-abandoned ritual constitute another. This very medium, dominated by the American language and by virulent anti-religious sophomoria, is yet another.

    The 6-to-1 critique does not refer to a pollster's, or to your (105), idea of a reasonable trade-off, because it's not about bagging one-in-seven call recipients. It's about hardening six for every one you soften. And it's centrally about the problem of misguided Christians being happy with that "exchange rate".

  • Maria

    Yael–I really do believe that friends rub off on each other. So, while I would hope to catch your interest (a girl can hope!), I know that I would learn things from you as well. Sometimes Christians do forget that we can still learn things from others. True Christianity teaches that the Jewish people are God's chosen people and those who bless them will be blessed while those who curse them will be cursed. That's why you will find some Christians interested in the background–I do not know about the Torah, but our New Testament seems to pick up where the Torah leaves off.

    Anyway, I think you and I have different personal experiences. I can see what you're saying, but haven't really known anyone that rejected Jesus in favor of other religions, I'm just not familiar with that. I'm more used to coming across to people who say they believe the Bible is true and that it all happened and then just seem to not do anything about it. I feel like if you believe it then there's no way you could not act on it. If you don't believe it, then just say that.

    Tam–I think one problem is just what you said. Some Christians think you can't hear it and not believe it. That's not correct. I can understand not believing it as we live in a world of "believing is seeing." I don't talk about my beliefs to strangers because they're personal and intimate to me. When I do talk about them I try to explain so that it's understood. Once it's understood, it's up to that person to believe or not. Now, if you believe but don't act, that's what I don't understand.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian

    Why would I want to 'harden' anyone? How do we know we aren't 'hardening' 60 for every one we soften? Where does this idea come from? (Please no proof texting). The entire Gospel would speak against this concept. Jesus' example does not suggest this.

    BTW- I love snails. I am (in)famous for my Chili con Carne Escargot.

  • hughvic

    What does an evangelist's not WANTING to harden anyone have to do with the disturbingly consistent responses John got from non-believers hardened in their views by their run-ins with evangelists?

  • hughvic

    I cannot believe how profoundly unserious you guys are.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian

    Hughvic -sorry, I think I originally misunderstood your statement about hardening hearts – I 'think' we're on the same page here. Although I try my best to not be too serious. ;)

  • hughvic

    As long as you're seriously unserious, Christian. Wouldn't want any unseriously unserious Christians blogging around every street corner. Everything in moderation. I mean, why shouldn't the God Squad be the Mod Squad? To say nothing of the Devil having all the trix…

    And if you have no idea what I just said, then we really do agree.

    Except on chili. You can't even be unserious about "Chili con Carne Escargot", unless you want to take refuge atop the henhouse and see which sovereign nation declares war first, France or Texas. There's no such thing as hyphenated chili. There's no such thing as bad chili, even. It's either chili or it isn't.

    If it's "chili", then nothing then can be said of a thing. People think that Theodore the Great went around saying "Bully!" Far be it from a fine Knickerbocker gentleman such as he to be so confused about the things that make life worth living. No, the truth is that he had been to Texas and had tasted of the dish that maketh the rough places plain and the crooked places straight (to say nothing of taketh off the top of the head), so he fanned out to the Four Corners, proclaiming "Chili!" to all the world, that all flesh might taste it together.

    That's my opinion, anyway, and it's very true.

    Pax Christi

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Okay, boys, I'm thinking we've now wandered far enough off topic….

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    In the place of snails I originally had the word “turds.”

  • hughvic

    Yep, no fair getting all silly on John's blog. That's John's job!

  • http://yaelsjewishworld.wordpress.com yaelbatsarah

    Maria,

    That’s why you will find some Christians interested in the background–I do not know about the Torah, but our New Testament seems to pick up where the Torah leaves off.

    Since I'm a Jew and not a Christian I have a different take on this in that Torah has never left off but is still alive and meaningful to this day. However, I understand what you're saying here. From your side of the great divide this is how your text is viewed. One man with whom I blog regularly has come to a deeper appreciation of your texts as a result of what he has learned from Judaism. I find that somewhat amusing and ironic, but also gratifying. I'm not out to convert anyone. If someone is able to take from me things that help them make a better connection to the holy in their own lives, I think I've done a good thing.

    You might find it interesting that some months back a pastor and I started blogging together. We do learn much from each other. We started out a bit dicey, but I find it a worthwhile endeavor seeking to speak in ways that are meaningful to each of us across that great divide. The nice thing with blogging together is that we make the effort to find common ground without blurring it all together and without tearing each other apart. He's still a pastor and I'm still a Jew who will never step foot inside his church, but I think we help each other learn more and be more, each within our own traditions. And perhaps that is a rare thing in this world, from both of our sides.

    • Tom Vidager

      Yael, you are right that the Torah never stopped and keeps going to this day. How else can Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people be explained? Only in the tens of thousands killed by YHWH and the Israelites on YHWH's command. You can find all the relevant passages in Exodus.

  • http://yaelsjewishworld.wordpress.com yaelbatsarah

    Hughvic,

    Thanks. Yours is the understanding expressed by Franz Rosenweig "We agree on what Christ and his Church mean in the world: no-one comes to the Father but through him (Jn 14:6). No one comes to the Father – but it is different when somebody does not have to come to the Father because he is already with him."

  • hughvic

    Yael, I’m abashed by Christian evangelists who don’t realize that as a Jew you already are with G-d, and don’t need a Christian ticket to go that Way. So, my apologies.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian

    hughvic – we do agree mightily upon the subject of chili. But…I once had a pot cooking over a fire pit and accidentlally spilled it upon the wet grass. Nobody was around at the time so I scooped it back into the pot. Apparently I also scooped up dozens of tiny black grass snails (it was dusk at the time). My friends all loved the chili, especially those neat little crunchy things. Chef's secret.

    Sorry,John.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Do NOT make me come back there…

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  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    This is nice. You seem like a really sweet person. I've really been enjoying all your comments on different posts of mine. Thank you so much for them.

  • arlywn

    you're welcome. glad to know some people like it when I talk. lol

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian

    alrwynn – you sound pretty cool. My son dabbles a bit in wicca, along with Zen and a couple of other things including Christianity. When his parents (us) converted to Christianity about 5 years ago we were a lot like your grandparents. This was real tough on my son, who had lots of friend who were 'pagans' and he wasn't ready to condemn them to hell just because our pastor said so. Turns out he was a lot smarter than us, and a lot more compassionate. Thank God we aren't still in that scene and I thank my son for sticking to his convictions.

    I can't tell from your writing if you are a man or a woman, but that's probably a pretty good thing. My daughter is 19 and my son is 21 and even though I teach at a high school I realize that there is a gulf between the generations.I don't want to make too many assumptions.

    Would you (and John) mind if I share your comments on my blog? I feel that what you have said might make a lot of people think twice before they judge those who believe differently than they do.

  • arlywn

    I dont mind if you use my comments. Thank you for asking. I'm female actually. And its sad but I really do think most people are okay with differences in religion. Not agreeable about it, but agreeing to disagree at least. My boyfriend, or ex currently, is a satanist- and I think one of the first things I ever asked him was "do you know you're going to hell?" He was the one that got me to thinking that maybe 'hell' isnt as bad as people say. That maybe its only a ruse to control people. Like parents do to make sure their children do as they're told.

    He also got me to see that not all religions are bad. I thought satanism was bad, but wiccan is evil to other religions. Its how you use the religion that's important. If it harms others, then it isnt that good. But it's also how it affects you.

    I always thought the ten commandments werent that far off to begin with, since most of them are laws.

  • arlywn

    why is only one religion right? Why cant god exsist in different forms?

    I’m not christian. I grew up in a christian household- that was very happy and good up until 10 or 11 grade of high school. No my family werent active church goers. My father is a very bad catholic. I’m sure they would disown him for his deeds. My mother is the nicest woman in the world who believes in god, and believes she can hear him just fine at home.

    My grandparents used to take my brother and I to church whenever we were at their house. They were under the impression that we were missing something very valuable in our lives. ( Which I personally think is an insult to my parents)

    I dont get along with my grandfather. He tells me every time I visit that I’m going to hell and so are my parents because I dont go to church. It has only worsened since he found out I am not christian. Lately my grandmother has started the same thing. As has my other grandmother.

    both grandmothers believe I’m going to hell. One because I see good in people with out believing in christ? And the other because I’m not christian and she thinks I’m a devil worshipper. Because I’m in an evil religion.

    My mother- who used to have the same opinion, has recently begun to change her mind since I have begun to really explain what I believe. I respect the fact that we are closer, nicer, and more understanding to each other now that she has become more tolerant.

    I generally dont talk about religion, abortion, or any other controversial topic because all I seem to hear are how I’m wrong and other’s are right. That was not what I was talk about christianity, or the world.

    I have a friend that a rarely speak to because of religion. Everytime we talk she brings it up. And each time I get this indirect feeling that she thinks I’m evil. the recent thing, was her comment – “So you do believe in something.” Which just told me that she’s never really listened to my opinion. I have always believed in something. What the something is is entirely different.

    I was also harassed by a christian in high school. She came to my table and wanted to talk to my and my friends. I have no problem with that. I’m pretty friendly and usually give people chances. She proceeded to tell me and my friend that this wasnt going to be a religious conversion. She just wanted to get to know us. I told her if it turned out to be a religious conversion, we would have to ask her to go away because we did not want to ruin our lunch by bringing up religion.

    Needless to say she started talking about christ. We made the mistake of telling her we werent christian. My friend was agnostic, and I was wiccan at the time. She asked our beliefs. I started to tell her, but she interupted me, told me that god loved me, but I was going to hell because I worshipped the devil. She rounded on my friend and told him he was worse off then I was because he was the devil.

    I explained to her, that she should just get up and walk away right now because she had lied to us and we werent trying to be mean- but this was not a conversation we wanted to be in. She said she understood but continued to sit there and bad mouth our religions.

    I warned her once more that she should leave because I was going to walk over to the administrater and inform him of her harassment if she didnt. She left after informing us we would talk later. She harassed me every chance she got for the rest of the year. Because I think she truly felt we were friends. It finally stopped when I told her one day at the begining of my senior year that if she came near me one more time I would curse her family, sacrifice her dead body to satan and perform orgies in her blood in a ritual for satan to come to earth.

    my brother is christian and I like his church. They are the nicest people in the world. And I’ve gotten to know some of them. the pastor’s sermons are easy to follow and no one has said anything about my religion. In fact they have asked me to continue coming back. Almost makes me want to.

    I have nothing against most christians. my attitude toward them is if you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone. I dont care what/ who or how you believe in something. I’m happy you believe, and you should be happy for me. My favorite movie is Dogma. Granted is a weird way to represent christianity, but I like the messages. I dont have a problem with religions. And honestly I like hearing about them. I just dont like being told I’m a devilworshipping whore that’s going to hell. I cant tell you what to believe, and I cant tell you if any of it’s true. But I think it’s more important to have faith, then what you have faith in. And I’m not saying that christians are evil- but no other religion gets in my face over faith. I dont have jews coming to my door. I dont have muslims calling me, or harassing me at school. Seems to me christians are the only ones who dont tolerate others. Every other religion seems to be cool that you at least believe.

    but this is my opinion, and I’m sorry that some of you are tainted by others. I have my own issues with the bible, and I find it as easy to believe in vampires and werewolves as I do god of any kind. Because I dont personally know.

    • Tom Vidager

      Funny how brainwashed American christians are by their nutty fundamentalist "pastors."

      My grandparents on my mother's side were very devout catholics, yet while my grandmother was fond of blessing me, she never raised the issue that I would never go to church with them when they were visiting, nor did she ever ask me about my religious beliefs, criticise my lack of faith, or tell me that I was going to hell.

      Europeans, with our longer history, have learned that condemning the religious practices of others or trying to convert people usually ends up in war, genocide and intolerance.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    How old are you?

  • arlywn

    19. I’m in my second year of college, and graduated high school last year. it’s cool. lol

  • Zach

    Billy

    I read your link on martyrdom. For the most part it looks as though people are just getting arrested for proselytizing where they are not supposed to. The violence seems to be typically started by other religious extremists. I can’t count the amount of time Christians have done violence to others for doing something that they disapprove of. Also I don’t think a story entitled “Elephants trample believer’s homes” counts as persecution.

    I also think you made a perfect illustration as to why people are so turned off by Christianity. “to hear how former no-believers came to Christ because someone did witness to them and they were confronted with their sin nature” It’s this view of all non believers “with their sin nature” that causes you to look down on them. Most, if not all, non believers as you call them, anyone who isn’t of your religion, have their own set of morals that works perfectly fine.

    You assume that anyone who does not believe in your god is living in sin. From Greta’s post, “How sad that their cage has been rattled! Light has always disturbed Darkness. Right has always confronted Wrong. Justice has always confronted Injustice. Love has always confronted Hatred.” While you say your religion stands for light, right, justice, and love. Anyone who is not part of your religion therefore stands for darkness, wrongness, injustice, and hatred.

    It’s this “us and them” mentality that causes people to hate one another. And more importantly it is the “we are better than them” mentality that allows you look down on nonbelievers as if they were human garbage, worthy only of your scorn and derision.

    As I am sure that all non believers would agree we do not stand for darkness, wrongness, injustice, and hatred. I am willing to guess your views on the world are not based on firsthand experience. And as your quote sounds like something you would hear in church or read in a religious tract. I can only assume that this view stems from what your religion has told you about the rest of us.

    I would also guess that you treat your (probably exclusively Christian) friends and acquaintances with respect. And that your behavior towards them is only based on how they have behaved towards you. Logically this would mean that your negative views of a particular group of people are caused only by your own religious convictions. And if you did you have your religious convictions then your negative attitude towards outsiders would also disappear.

    This means that without your religion you might actually be a nicer person to be around and that you would feel more “compassion and love in your heart” for others as well.

    This is what puts a lot of people off about your religion.

  • joeseeker

    John, just discovered your blog. I like what you say and quote in this post. How ironic that so many of the comments do just what we non-Christians are put off by. Some people never learn.

  • SLG

    Arlywn- You asked the question in an earlier post, “Why is only one religion right? Why can't God exist in different forms?”

    I do not condemn non-believers; I fervently believe in God’s Word: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34); however, I am strong in my Christian faith and believe there is one way and only one way because that’s what Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6. People cannot take the parts of the Bible they like and ignore other parts (general statement-not directed towards you).

    It is a strong conviction that we Christians have that Jesus is the only way to God. That being said, sometimes we can’t help but to share our faith to proclaim what we believe to be as Truth. I’m sincerely sorry that Christians in your life have been preachy and turned you away from the faith. I believe there are ways to share my faith without imposing on non-believers.

    I guess I have a question for you…if you were going to base your life on any one thing, wouldn’t you choose something you believed was above all else Truth? I have confidence in an all-mighty, all-powerful God of the universe- who Himself says he is the ONLY God of the universe. So, I guess to answer your question, Christianity is completely based on the truths of God’s Word; He himself states there is only one way to Him, and that’s through His Son Jesus. This may sound exclusive, but I'd rather worship a God who says He's the end all, be all rather than a wishy-washy god who says anything goes. That's just me.

    With deepest respect…

    • Tom Vidager

      Funny how Christian fundamentalists love to quote John 13:34 while ignoring Mark 10:18, where Jesus, when a rich man comes up to him and calls him a "Good teacher." seems to disagree. "No one is good—except God alone" he says. Since Mark is universally acknowledged to be the earliest gospel, while John is the last, and most heavily edited gospel, written for Alexandrian jews and as an apologia for Christianity relative to the Roman empire, it seems more likely that Jesus saw himself as distinct from God, who was the ultimate judge of goodness.

      SLG, you are naive to the extreme – as "strong believers" usually are – to say "I guess I have a question for you…if you were going to base your life on any one thing, wouldn’t you choose something you believed was above all else Truth?" The key word in that sentence is "believe." You don't know what the truth is, but you choose to believe in something you think is the truth.

      80 million (give or take a few) Germans believed that Hitler was the truth. Turns out they were mistaken. My question to you, SLG is: When you die and find yourself standing in front of Muhammed, are you going to say "oops, guess I missed something?" Or if you find YHWH examining you, or if you find yourself going through the journey described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead until you are reborn – would those be "oops" moments too?

      It's great that you believe strongly in something. Just don't be obnoxious about it, because in reality, you're just as ignorant about the truth as a muslim, jew, buddhist, shintoist, hindu atheist or a shamanist. Socrates was wise to heed the writing above the entrance to the Pythian temple in Delphi and acknowledge that he knew he didn't know anything. This realization leads to intellectual and spiritual growth. Blind faith only lands you in the dark.

      And what is this thing about God being a male? Why the heck would a divine being choose to provide itself with a gender if it is unique? It would seem rather cruel or silly to condemn oneself to an eternity of sexual frustration, would it not? Perhaps He had the hots for Gaia and was afraid to admit it.

  • Valerie Wall

    Hi John my name is valerie, and I guess since i havent read your book but today I just discovered your blog and read alot of it, and I just wanted to say as a Christian, I’m guilty of so much of what has been said and I’m so sorry and I want to to what is right in the sight of God Almighty, Jesus has been so very good to me, for example back in the early 1990′s, I was in the hospital and had been diagnosed with esphogalical-varacies, I probably didn’t spell that right, it’s like vericose veins in your throat, to make a long story short , they told that with in two years, I’d be dead with out a liver transplant, One of my very dear friends, came with two elder men of her church, as I wasn’t attending church at that time, they all three laid hands on me and began speaking in tongues, and I felt this warm sensation from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet, and I was instantly healed. I told the doctor I was healed, and he told me no way as the only way, was with a liver transplant. They took tests and to there amazement my liver functions were normal, until this very day my liver is 100% healed, I guess what I’m trying to say is that the truth about Jesus, in the old testament in Isiah 53-5-6 , and is backed up in the new testament in 1 peter 2-24, in Isaiah 53-5, before christ came kjv, But he was wounded for our transgressions,he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him: and with his stripes we are healed. Then after the death and reseruction of christ in 1peter 2-24, the bible says:

    who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, thet we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. I’m a living example of the unmerited favor grace and mercy of jesus christ , I don’t want you or anyone else to think I’m holier than thou, because I’m not, I’m a sinner saved by grace. I’m not in church on a regular basis right now as we’ve moved, and I don’t like it at all, when we were in church every sunday Me and my husband were in the prayer room, We were greeters and I took care of the bed babies, and we were also ushers, the most gratifying thing was the prayer room and watching the prayers of people being answered through jesus as our mediator to God the father, as Jesus sits on the right hand of the father and intercedes for us to the father as our prayers go up before the altar of Almighty God. This is just one example of the help Jesus has given unto me believe me they are endless. As I truly don’t know what people who don’t believe in God what do they do when a crisis comes, myself I know I truly would be dead without the intervention of God the father , God the Son{jesus] and God the Holy Spirit. I know to people who don’t know jesus , this all sounds like hog wash, but if I can just help one person to believe that what jesus has done for me, and they come tho Jesus it’s worth every second it took for me to type this. As I said I don’t want anyone to think I’m any better than anyone else because I’m not, God loves each and everyone of us equally, I believe that means even people who have not yet come to know jesus, I certianaly don’t judge anyone Period, as it has been stated throughout several other peoples testimonies , that for the same measure you judge it will be measured back unto you, and I do believe that as Christians we get way to judgemental, we are to love each other , as we are all of his children. He don’t love one more than the other, it states in the Bible that he wishes not one would perish, that his people perish for lack of knowledge,and he created each and everyone of us individually, as we all have diffrent finger prints, no one else in the world matches ours, that’s why we were all uniquely, and wonderfully made. What one person can do I certianaly can’t do as we are all gifted with diffrent talents. And from the lowest income bracked to the largest it makes no difference to the lord, as in his eyes were all the same. I raise chiahuahua puppies, my husband works as a maintenance man at the school, so we are considered poor in the world’s eyes, but I believe we are rich in the lord’s eyes, he provides daily, new and exciting things for us, so please let’s love each other for the wonderful creature God created us to be, and try to help each other in every way we can, and that to me means helping some one less fortunate than i financially, and to let others know in a kind way of what Jesus has done for me in my life personally, and they to have that same inheritance just as I do, all they have to do is Repeant to Jesus and know you can’t do it on your own, let Jesus be first in your life, and watch the changes that come upon you in every way imagineable.I hope I don’t sound to preachy, I just felt as though I should share just a sample bit of what Jesus has done for me, and believe me, if he can do it for a wretch like me he can certianly do it for you. May God Bless each and every one who read’s this abundantly. I do want to practice what I’m talking about and believe me I fall short in every area, as I said I’m a sinner saved by grace unmerited favor and the mercy of Jesus Christ, and what he did for all of us at the Cross when he was crucified upon the cross for the perfect sacrifice once and for all. So, please everyone just give Jesus a chance and read the Holy Bible it’s the Blue Print for life, I promise you’ll never be sorry, for there are great and mighty things in store for everyone, who searches for the truth, the bible say search and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened. God Bless everyone and I hope we can all come together and love one another as God intended, and help each other to discover the wonders of God. Thank You just a concerned person in Texas. Love to all Valerie

    so

    so

    go

  • Kat

    I just recently became a Christian. It took me soooo many years to finally accept Christ, and one of the main reasons why it took me so long were the Christians from my High School. Those kids had their noses up in the air, called me all sorts of foul names behind my back, condemned me without even knowing me, and etc. My mentality back then was, “if those Christians are anything like their Christ, then I don’t want anything to have to do with them.” In them there were no love, no compassion, and no image of Christ for the unsaved. But God loved me too much to give up on me…eventually I met some Christians who walked the talk and invited Christ into my life. Best thing that ever happened! Overall, I think my experience with the Christians from my High School has made me a better Christian–I try to be very sensitive in sharing the gospel, and I try to always react with compassion and love. It’s what Jesus taught me.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Kat: Thanks so much for sharing this. Wonderful stuff; it really rings with the truth of your experience. I hope people read it.

  • arlywn

    SLG: I’m not saying believe in a god who thinks everything is right. Most religions do think they are the only right way. I also understand why you believe in someone who has faith that they are right. My question, which… not really sure if it made sense, was that if things like math problems can have different answers. Like 1X6=6, but 3X2= 6, why cant christianity be one way, and say…. hinduism be another? Why isnt that the same? Does that make sense?

    oh, and my brother showed me a bible verse that I like very well now. Romans 1:1? I think it says that christians should invite people into their homes, not to quarrel over beliefs but to… and I just forgot. I’m looking it up again when I got home, but it was a good point! I swear! lol

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  • Sara

    I heard a very wise man say something that I believe applies here. If you have a thought in your head, you do not think it is wrong. If you are hungry and want a salad, you do not think to yourself, "Boy I bet I am really wrong about wanting a salad, maybe I should check with someone else about this first…"

    You eat a salad.

    I guess I see this debate the same way. We have thoughts in our heads and do not think they are wrong because they are our thoughts. Why would they be wrong?

    I am not saying that the Christian side or the non-Christian side is wrong. I may be a Christian, but I have friends who are not Christians and we get along just fine. I may talk about my beliefs while in their presence, but I do not try to convert them. That is not my job as a Christian. My job is to be Jesus-like. To be an example of what a Christian is and not condemn them for their beliefs – whatever they are. To love them where they are in their lives and to appreciate them for what they can teach me. Every person in this world is my superior in some way, and I can learn – and have learned so much when I remember that fact.

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  • Hugo

    Wonder how Jon's mastery of Ancient Hebrew, Koine Greek, Coptic, Syriac, Aramaic, Latin, German and French has been going these days…

    Yuk-yuk. Lick the new wrapper! It's the latest thing, with Xylitol, the Amazing New Sweetener That Everyone's Talking About!

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  • Steve

    John, I actually stumbled across this site because I have tried to witness to a person that I really care about, but she is full of rejection. That type of situation can be hurtful to the Christian as well, when they are rejected. I have read the majority of the responses, but I failed to see many Biblical references to find what God thinks about all of this. Point taken that there are some, but I wanted to point out a couple of things. Without all the references, are we told that we, as Christians, will be persecuted for what we believe. We are told that we should dust off our shoes when we leave a place of closed ears, we are told that if a brother is in sin and we don't acknowledge it to them then that is on our heads, and even in Ezekiel…God told him specifically that he would be sent to a place where the people may or not listen to what he had to say. God even said he would make him as stubborn as they are and to not be afraid of them. Why did God say this, and why are Christians witnessing with a pure heart viewed by non-Christians the way they are?…I think God made it clear to Ezekiel and thoughout the Bible. They reject you(Christians) because they turn against me(God). Truly, Jesus never hated the person, he despised the sin. Non-Christians don't hate the Christian, they despise the message.

    • Fred

      No, I hate the christian as the bringer of the "message". The message only annoys me when someone won't shut up about it.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Steve, I think it depends on how you view the rejection and what you do with it. Is she rejecting your message or you as a person?

    If she's rejecting you as a person, then I agree that this might be a situation to dust off your sandals & move on.

    If she's fine with you as a person but rejects God–well, it's not really about you. In my opinion, if this is the case then you've done all that is within your power to share the good news. The only thing to do now is love her for who she is & let God worry about her heart. After knowing where she stands, if you show disrespect by crossing her personal boundaries your well-intentioned efforts will likely be counterproductive.

  • http://www.myspace.com/sickofdrama123 amanda williamson

    i am a chrstian and as for ones who have wriiten about what we need to here as christians. and as for the ones wha have to use ugly words relize that cursing is nothing but, makeing you look ignorant. Meaning you need to learn english. I am 15 years old. Name is Amanda so if u want to write back ignorately but just remeber before u open your mouth and say it make sure u have a reason to back it up because the more u say the more the bible proves you wrong. I was saved at the age of 12 and lived for God every sence and there are times when I come across non-christians everyday at school but i just remeber to keep me in there prayers and yes many of you talk about christians call you bad or evil but christains are trying to prove apoint that u are on your way to hell it is not to say you are a bad person but to say you need to grow up and relize god is bigger than u are just think of the titanic the man at the beginning of the movie the man said "God cant sink this ship" well God put an obstical in the way to prove that he could sink the ship. so an ice berg would be there to prove that God is there. But i I pray for you people daily but remeber. we do good for the work of mean and i can do all things through christ witch strenthens me. and before u open your mouth to prove me wrong. read the bible to find your index and then if u see where it is against what you are saying then u can ask. but.

    dear God,

    i come to you today in your sweet holy name to lift these up to you that are not capabile. of understanding it for themselves that need help. i pray for there guidance and for you to put a hand on them. and GOd keep me in your prayers as i try to make a point that everything is done through your mercy and power. and any prayer request out there i may not know what they are but just put a hand on them and lead them in there diraetion and give them the strength to know you are the midst and for them to give it to you god. I would like to thank you for another day you have given us and we love you jesus and your father god.in your most precious name.

    AMEN.

    • Tom Vidager

      I pray to God that He may save your English writing skills, since they are clearly going in the direction of hell at the moment.

      God bless, peace and amen to you too.

    • Terri

      This is EXACTLY the judgemental attitude from Christians that we all are talking about!!! Maybe when you grow up, you’ll get it but I doubt it…you’ll probaly only become more judgemental & damn others that dont agree w/ you to hell!!

  • Glen

    All of my closest friends are Protestant Christians. We get along just if we don't get on the topic of religion. My views come from a secular position, and generally I get a lot of flak. I try to disarm the conversation before it gets started. The only really annoying things for me are the points they bring up related to politics. They don't actually persecute me too when we debate specific issues of morality like gay marriage. For the most part they respect my opinion on those kinds for issues, but it drives me insane when they say stuff like 'the nation will go to hell if we vote for Barack Obama, that muslim'.

    • Tom Vidager

      You need to hang a large crucifix upside down in a prominent place in your house, and put a figurine of a donkey – the one from Shrek will do just fine – underneath the upside down cross. Above the cross, you should hang a framed copy of the Saudi Arabian flag, and placing a prayer rug underneath it all will complement the whole magnificently.

      Then stop shaving and tell your friends you're starting to grow a long beard. Next time your "friends" come over, greet them with "as-salaam aleikum, inshallah."

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    But … how can you be close friends with someone who would say something that mean and stupid?

    • http://docdowns.wordpress.com doc1970

      I think, still trying to be friends with someone who would say that, just might show Christians how real love and respect looks like. You know, instead of that faux love and respect that they keep practicing.

  • Hugo

    John,

    From the foundation, I do apologize to you for being so bitter and petty toward you, all those months ago, on this and other contemporaneous strings of the time. I was wrong.

    It's clear to me now that yours is an authentic, and perhaps unique, vocation, and that you've rendered ripened fruit.

    I'm sorry.

    Sincerely,

    Hugo

  • Dale

    John,

    We definitely have a mountain to climb in shining the Love and Light of Jesus Christ to the world. R.M., from Tacoma, WA hit it right on the head.

    Matt 12:34-39

    34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

    36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

    The more we love and spend time with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the more the world will see Jesus through us. Love and spend time with Jesus today, Praise and Worship at His feet and be silent. Seek to hear His voice. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of the Word of God to you as you read His word. Then go and let His Light shine mightily through you. Tomorrow and each day going forward do it again, again, and again.

    All Praise and Glory to God our Father!!!

    • Michael

      I believe you have it right.

  • Julia

    What do non-Christians want Christians to hear?

    For them to actually hear us. For them to actually listen to us.

    But they do not. They cannot. Their religion puts us in the box labeled "THEY ARE NOT ONE OF US" and thus their hearing goes no further. They no longer hear us. They no longer see us. All they hear are voices of those they believe are lost, never hearing what we are saying to them.

    It is hard to be heard when you are put in a box against your will.

    We do not need top be put in your box. We are not lost.

    We simply walk a different path than you.

    Respect our path and we will respect yours. It is that simple.

    ~Walk in Beauty,

    Julia

    • PearTree

      Yes! Very well-said, Julia. I love your sig line, "walk in beauty." So nice. Thank you.

  • http://thetruth MIGUEL

    READ YOUR BIBLE.HAVE FAITH IN GOD.

  • http://thetruth MIGUEL

    GOD BLESS YOU,READ YOUR BIBLE

  • http://twitter.com/choondooga choondooga

    Also, Amanda, don't begin arguing with your amazing knowledge of the English language. That angle isn't going to work for you. May I suggest the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary for your spelling needs?

  • http://twitter.com/choondooga choondooga

    Every Christian I know has tried to mold me into the perfect little Jesus-lover.

    Well, I’m not. I’m a sarcastic, unhappy, person a great deal of the time. And Christians trying to force their religion down my throat doesn’t help my mood at all.

    Know when, I’m happiest? When I am doing what I ENJOY: going outside and hiking. Nature is the only god I need. Yes, I’ve dabbled in “dark” things. I’ve read the Koran, I’ve studied Buddha, I’ve talked to witches and I’ve even tried the worshiping of ancient Native American gods.

    I don’t like having rules and regulations to make me obey someone or “go to Hell”.

    No offense, “MIGUEL”, but you are not helping your case in the slightest.

    Have fun preaching at us, Jesus-people. We’ll continue to marvel at your dress code of pantyhose and flowered dresses.

    • Tom Vidager

      You're a dark-dabbling amateur. You should try to worship Satan – that's where the real challenge lies.

  • http://docdowns.wordpress.com doc1970

    Oh yeah, I have been reading the Bible again, recently. (KJV) Quite often, it just sounds like the mad ramblings of an insane person. Yes, it has wonderful stories, and is a great guide for a lost soul, at times, but what it does most for me is confirm how much of a hand Man had in writing it. So, "Read your bible" is having quite the opposite effect that most Christians want it to have on me. Sorry believers!

    • PearTree

      The whole concept of a "worship me or you'll burn and suffer for all eternity" kind of God just smacks of being invented by egotistical, imperfect man. And actual higher being would behave and think in a much more enlightened manner.

  • http://www.valdemar.net/~phil Phillip Alden

    It is a sad commentary indeed. But you, sir, are a breath of fresh air in this highly-charged atmosphere. I will continue to read your blog with interest.

    As a gay man and a Taoist, I am taught to respect the spiritual/religious paths of others, as long as they do no harm. Sadly, by targeting people like me, I find it very hard to respect Christianity, especially when I read continuous stories of your most powerful preachers and politicians being caught engaging in gay sex. I also agree with the person who wants Christians to keep their religion out of the public schools and the government, as do most of us.

    And it's funny, but the "most Christian," literally the most "Christ-like" man I ever knew was a gay man with AIDS. Donald was a Christian, active in his (gay-friendly Christian) church. He was also the sweetest man I've ever known. He would never say a bad word about anybody.

    I try to be like him. (What Would Donald Do?)

  • http://docdowns.wordpress.com doc1970

    I am so glad to see that there are others out there who are open minded to the fact that, no matter what you believe, there is no guarantee that you are right. Keep seeking and learning, all!

    “Doc Thinks” docdowns.wordpress.com

  • anon

    Christians not only try and impose their intolerant beliefs on the living. A lifelong college friend ignored the wishes of my dying husband in his last email to her and her husband that he wrote specifically to tell them his/our feelings on religion, and that the proselytizing that the husband had been attempting to impose on me had to stop, the discussion of religion was off the table if our friendship was to survive.

    The first thing they did after he died was to donate to a proselytizing, evangelical cause in my husband’s name. Not once, (which I could have overlooked) but on a continuing basis. When I told them to stop I got the most egregious, insensitive, self righteous, self aggrandizing, personally insulting, response from my so-called friend. It was beyond belief that she would make the comments she did at any time, much less while I was devastated with grief. (It was four years ago and I feel if anything, even more strongly now about her response.)

    The time for us “non-believers” to be polite and tolerant to you is over. You are doing too much harm in this world and it has to stop. I am now very vocal on how I feel. I am no longer polite to spare the feelings of those who care nothing for mine. You not only did not convert with your hateful tactics, you have created an activist against your religious hocus pocus. Religion is no longer – “it’s their business what they believe – and – if it makes them feel better it’s ok etc” to recognizing that the horrors of religion and religious persecution are not a thing of the past, they are alive and well and flourishing in this country, and if we don’t speak out against them, and do something about their growing political power, history will repeat itself and we will all be plunged into another long dark age of misery, ignorance and despair.

    • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

      My mother arranged for my father to have a Christian burial service, in spite of the fact that he was so opposed to religion that he never would set foot in a church in his life. What’s done is done, but that was so disrespectful.

    • Tom Vidager

      Nietzsche rocks!

  • Jeyssika

    If I hear one more Christian talk about ‘Man’ as some ominous devil-like creature I might just scream. I don’t in anyway say this is the same but remember how the Nazis used to always refer to Jewish people as ‘THE JEW’ Yeah? Stop it… You are Man too you know.

    But anyway…

    Thanks for writing this article! I love it and agree fully. I’m 17 and am a non-Christian and I always have been, it’s just not part of my life or who I am and I doubt it will be. In PTE (Religious studies) we discuss many issues and me and my friend are known for being the two major atheists in the class perhaps – him focusing on the scientific mainly – and it irritates us constantly when we are seen as people full of hate. This I say with shame for the person I said it though I mean nothing against the person whom I’ve known for a long time and it’s just her views conflict greatly with mine but in a lesson we were discussing abortion and I happen to be pro-choice and she sat across from me talking to her Christian friend how it is ‘disgusting’ how can I do that & the like whilst I am sat there listening to her basically saying I’m disgusting – I was offended to say the least. The majority of conversations with her and her friend, who is my friend also, in PTE are us arguing over our conflicting views and I really get the feeling of being constantly judged as a bad person because of my views – and I hope that they don’t really think that as they should know me by now and that I’m not a heartless, soulless person I seem to come across to them apparently.

    Thank you for helping people say something I’ve been feeling for a long time. x

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  • Katherine

    John, Thank you for your post, it gave me hope, until I read some of the comments.

    I am Jewish, I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta. My parents were founding members of the first synagogue in Gwinnett county. Over the years there was repeated vandalism involving swastikas and vulgarities and even a bomb scare. I have memories as young as kindergarten being told I was going to burn in hell for my beliefs.

    I also have wonderful friends who are Christians, they respect my beliefs and I respect theirs. They were present at my Bat Mitzvah and never disrespected me or my religion by implying that I was a sinner, inferior in G-d’s eyes. They understand that our G-d is the same G-d, that my religion honors G-d’s laws and it is not bad.

    Unfortunately that is not the majority of my experience. We do not rail at you for what wrongs we consider to be inherent in your religion, we ask for you to respect our right to worship our faith without being harassed or threatened. The fact that many of the most fervent Christian’s I’ve met fail in a basic understanding of their religion’s history leads me to disregard anything that comes out of their mouth. The arrogance and hypocrisy that is rampant among many claiming to be Christian turns me off from the faith. What many Christians don’t realize is that we think you are wrong. However we leave you to your faith as your soul is your business, as is your relationship with G-d. You have the right to your faith, I have the right to mine.

    John, I wish you much success in your endeavors in reaching your fellow Christians with your message of respect, thank you.

  • Bevin

    I am a Christian and the thing I hate most is that people assume I will shove it in their faces, but I don't. Another thing that I hate is that once other Christians find out I am pro-choice, and I believe in evolution, and I'm a liberal I am told I am going to hell for not living God's word. I was brought up believing we are in God's image so my personal take on it is that maybe God has some of our flaws too. Or maybe at least the bible has some, because they aren't God's word, but our interpretation of it and is it possible not his word at all, but only ours?

    I don't know, but I do believe on God and Jesus and that Jesus is Gods son and we were all born worthy, because Jesus was and Jesus was supposed to be living exactly how we did w/ the same negatives and positives. I don't want to ram anything down anyone's throat and I want to be able to love God and please him by just being the best I can be.

    Another thing I have never done is put anyone down for not-being Christian. I don't think my religion is any better than anyone elses. After all, much of what we do was adopted from non-Christian religions or Pagans. I leave this door open, because maybe there is something else going on spiritually I could never understand or know about. I know I have felt God and that he has helped me, but doesn't mean it is God at the end of the day, you know? Maybe his real name is Herman or her name is Barbara or something.

    Then I also wonder sometimes where aliens would come into this if there are any. Does God come in many images? It's possible and I get sick and tired of hearing I am a non believer and not worthy of heaven just because I have an imagination and realize that as a human being not graced w/ God's or any other higher powers gift I may not have all the answers and I might ask questions and I might get confused and I might make wrong choices, but I think truly think if God is all love, which I think he is, then at least he will understand that if no other human can.

    • Tom Vidager

      I hope you're a Catholic, Bevin. Repentatio in ultimum can still save you.

  • http://huffpost Helen

    I live in Northern CA, and religion seldom comes up here because no one holds the majority position on the issue. It is really easy to be tolerant when everyone feels safe. I wish Christians the best. I hope they get their afterlife. However, I am not a theist and when I wander off to other parts of the country and evangelicals tell me that I deserve to go to hell NOT for how I live my life, but for what I believe it does get my hackles up.

    My favorite gently anti-Christian joke is the one about the atheist who is met at the Pearly Gates by Peter. "You don't belong here," Peter says. "Just go on down to hell. It's pretty nice there also." So the atheist goes down to hell and is having a nice conversation with the devil when suddenly a screaming man falls from the sky. The ground opens up, flames bellowing out, and the man disappears into the flames, the ground closing up behind him. "Who was that!"exclaimed the atheist. "Oh, that was a Christian, " replied the devil. "They won't have hell any other way."

    Peace.

    Helen

    • PearTree

      Helen, that's a very funny joke. I also agree with what you said about everyone feeling safe. It's when one group starts getting power and trying to foist their ways on others that things start to go all wrong.

  • Sika

    I'm sorry, I don't have time right now to read all your comments, but I have to say that this post is so cathartic to me.

    If I had responded to this craigslist add I would have said that every time a Christian on the street asks me if I have heard of Christ I want to scream at the top of my lungs "Of course I've heard of Christ! Christ has been shoved down my throat all my life! You'd have to be a complete idiot to be in this country for more than ten minutes and NOT have heard of Christ! Is that who you want to convert!? A complete idiot!? If I want to seek Christ, don't you think I know where to find him!?"

    But I don't say that…because I know that this person is asking me this question out of love. He loves me and wants me to go to heaven. Unfortunately for him, I don't believe in a Christian heaven, so his point is moot. I also know that Gods love can touch everyone, not just Christians, so I feel it too, and if I were to convert for my community, friends, in-laws, or even my husband, I would be lying to God and rejecting the love I already receive.

    We non-Christians can be smart, and well informed. We have often made our choice after careful seeking and don't intend to change it.

  • Nick

    Has anyone seen the movie "The Invention of Lying"

    • PearTree

      Yes – I love that movie. I love how everything is named so literally. Like a church being A Quiet Place to Think About the Man in the Sky.

  • Eddie Van Helsing

    If I had seen your ad on Craigslist, I'd have replied with the following:

    I'm an atheist. I have my reasons for being an atheist, reasons I have spent years considering, and I will not turn my back on the years I spent considering my stance just because you think I should.

    I despise Christianity. As far as I'm concerned, to be a Christian is to spend one's life apologizing for the 'sin' of having been born human. Furthermore, I despise evangelical Christians. I have never been approached by an evangelical who did not resemble one of the Pharisees that Christ was said to have driven out of the Temple with a whip.

    Don't give me any nonsense about needing to "spread the Good News". Johannes Gutenberg took care of that for you five hundred years ago when he invented the printing press. Guess what: copies of the Bible are *dirt* cheap. You can find them in the nightstands of hotel rooms. Anybody who wants to hear the "Good News" can get a copy and read it. I myself have already heard the "Good News" — and I must confess that I am *not* impressed.

    So look here, brother: just who do you think you're jiving with that cosmik debris?

    • Tom Vidager

      Eddie,

      While I basically agree with you, don't you think that a blanket statement like "I hate Christianity" is a bit over the top?

      I hate what Christianity was and is as an organized religion, which has been taking advantage of people and sought temporal power through politics and wars for ca. 1800 years with a total disregard for morals.

      However, the system of ethics contained in the New Testament (not the Old one, which, in my opinion, should be banned from the Christian Bible) has value if read on the basis of ethics alone. Unlike Islam and Judaism, the New Testament nowhere encourages violence. Quite on the contrary, it teaches forgiveness, acting in a just manner and compassion (portions of the epistles of Paul excluded).

      Surely, this is not a bad message in and of itself, leaving matters of faith such as the Son of God, the resurrection and "believe in me to get into heaven" aside. I'd rather people heard these ethics than be completely unaware of them (if they don't otherwise study philosophy or comparative religion).

      I have no idea if heaven exists, or, if it does, what shape or form it might take. But IF it exists, then following such ethics – indeed believing in such ethics, if Jesus meant that he embodied ethical conduct, rather than just believing in his physical essence – would hardly bar you from any such potential heaven, I'd think. Afterlife regardless, following the ethics expresse by Jesus in one's life, whether one considers oneself a Christian or not, cannot be a bad thing either.

      Let's remember that few people, and certainly not the governments in that era, acted in an empathically ethical manner that most of us would recognize and agree upon today. The poor peasants of Judaea did not have access to the works of Plato, Aristotle, Zeno of Citium or Epicurus. Nor did the lower classes and slaves, who seem to have been most predominant among early converts to Christianity. So at least initially, the message of Christianity was not a bad influence. It only became that way after Jerome, Ambrose, Tertullian, Augustine et al. got their hands on it and introduced their self-loathing, phobias and manias into the mix.

  • Marita

    What many Christians don't seem to realize is that I don't WANT to be converted and that this is a conscious and thought-through choice on my part.

    I get that it's coming from a place of love, but it's still demeaning and offensive when someone prays for me to find the path to God. Why? Because I am a grown and rational human being with the right to make my own choices, and I have. Is it too much to ask for that decision to be respected? I'm not a lost sheep in need of guidance. I am so tired of Christians who insist that I must be, and who are you (the general you, that is) to tell me I am going to Hell?! Congrats on missing the whole point of your own religion…

    I have tried to explain this so many times to Christian friends, and the response has almost invariably been them passive-aggressively attempting to make me feel guilty for not understanding that they only want what's best for me. How can I make someone see things from my side when I'm instantly shut down? It's impossible to have a dialogue that way, so why even bother? And this is why we've reached a stalemate and just don't go there any more, because it only leads to endless frustration and hurt feelings if we ever try to discuss it.

    Find your own truth, but please leave others in peace to find theirs. I don't want or need anyone's help to do that.

    • Ben E. Fiber

      Marita – attempts to convert you are coming from any place but love. It comes from an attempt to score points for themselves for the afterlife. It comes because of constant reinforcement by their religious leaders that the only way to salvation is their particular brand. The last place it comes from is a genuine effort to save your soul from your misguided life.

      • Marita

        @Ben: Well, yes, I know that what you’re saying might be the case with some, but I still choose to have enough faith in people to believe that it isn’t true for all Christians, ever. I genuinely think that many are just so overcome with joy over what they believe that they’d like me to share in on the awesomeness.

        The problem arises when they won’t understand that not everyone will respond positively to the same things. Going on about it only serves to alienate me further, since it shows such a complete disregard for my right to make up my own mind in my own time. (I feel pretty much the same way about people who get very vocal about rejecting religion altogether, because that’s just more of the same tiresome preaching, only from a different point of view.)

        I also generally don’t respond well to emotional manipulation, so actually crying when I express my displeasure at being prayed for (it has happened) won’t get us anywhere. I am not an unenlightened child in need of saving — I am not yours to save! — and organized religion will never be something I personally can get behind.

        It should also be said, though, that the most devout Christian friend I’ve ever had is also the one person I’ve known that has had the most respect for everyone else’s beliefs (or lack of such), and it’s great to have experienced that side of it as well.

        • Ben E. Fiber

          John Lennon said in 1966 that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus and had to run through the usual process of making a hollow apology to appease the pretended-offended so everybody could get back to their lives. In the apology he said that "Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary". In that, I agree. I can live with christianity. I just find it difficult putting up with christians.

          I take your point though. Some of the people I hold in high esteem are those christians that practice christianity by example, not by preaching alone. This goes for all personal philosophies, actually. I find hyprocrisy to be the worst behavior of all. I prefer to know where someone really stands even if I don't agree with their philosophy.

          • Marita

            Yes, I take your point as well. And let me also just add that I have this sneaking suspicion that those who were offended by Lennon's words would probably have had a lot more energy to spend on things that were actually worthwhile if they'd just stopped for a moment to consider the actual meaning of his statement. I mean, if you try hard enough most anything can be misconstrued to mean something negative, but this bizarre need I often see in people to be constantly offended is something I really don't understand.

            If everybody could try to take themselves less seriously and develop a sense of humour about the state of things, I'm pretty sure we'd all be better off for it. Not to mention that fewer of us would die from complications of hypertension. In other words: everybody wins!

          • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

            How can the believers who are so offended take themselves less seriously? What they feel is that they are surrounded by blasphemy, which is an offense against God.

            If God is offended, let God deal with us in the afterlife.

          • Ben E. Fiber

            Fine. Then they should suffer in silence. I certainly don't want to hear about it. It's not up to me to make someone else feel comfortable in their religion. They chose their religion, so why do I have to suffer?

          • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

            I can't argue with that. I was just trying to explain their motivation, which seems to be a common one with fundamentalists of all stripes.

          • Ben E. Fiber

            Good enough. :-)

          • Marita

            Pipe dreams; I have them.

            So, yeah, what you pointed out is exactly what makes this topic so difficult and, frankly, tiring to discuss. Religion it's not an objective matter, and it never will be. I'd appreciate it if Christians would just leave me alone and trust their god to sit me down to talk things through when the time comes, though. When push comes to shove I'm pretty sure God would have very few objections to the life I've chosen to lead. Ethics and morals aren't exclusive to Christians, after all, and whether or not my soul is worthy of living happily ever after is honestly none of their damn business.

            Which again takes us right back to the start, where what they perceive as their right to evangelize clashes horribly with my right to live my life without their interference.

  • Valerye McGreevy

    John,

    I appreciate what you are trying to accomplish with your book, but I believe that your data is skewed because of the way you collected it.

    If you look at consumer product reviews, you will not see many middle-of-the-road reviews. Most people take the time to write reviews because they either LOVED the product or because they were at least somewhat disappointed in it. I have found that even when reading reviews of products I know to be pretty good that the reviews tend to be more negative than positive. People aren't moved to take the time to write about something that they like pretty well that works about as well as they expected and lasted about as long as they thought it would.

    You asked non-Christians to write you to tell you what they wanted Christians to hear. A person who was not moved by the gospel, but who was not put off by their Christian friends' evangelism, probably isn't moved to make a public statement to the Christian community. A person who was moved by the gospel is unlikely to still be in the category of "non-Christian" and is therefore ineligible to answer your survey. That leaves people who were offended by evangelism.

    • Rainne

      Exactly the people whose opinions you LEAST want to hear, am I right, Valerye? You don't want to hear what we have to say because you might have to accept the fact that we have feelings and opinions and beliefs that are different to yours, and if you hear us, you might have to admit that we have the right to hold our opinions without constant assault by yours and those of people like you.

    • Tom Vidager

      Valerye, viz. my comment to Eddie on May 10, 2010 at 1:04 pm. That's pretty middle-of-the-road and provides some justification of evangelism, at least such as it was in palechristian times.

      It is, nonetheless, a fact that people today are generally educated and knowledgeable enough about religion to have formed intelligent opinions of their own. Mere "evangelism" isn't going to cut it with those who've read the Bible and have an interestin in exegesis, but who don't consider the Bible as the holy and infallible word of God.

      I find the Bible to be a tremendously interesting and valuable historical document, because it covers certain historical occurrences not covered elsewhere, and because it provides a picture of the life of average people in the Roman empire. Plutarch, Suetonius, Livy and other historians from roughly the same period focus only on emperors, the upper classes and the military. I also find exegesis an interesting study, because the, struggles with "heresies" (though I prefer to call them other interpretations of Jesus' words) such as the gnostics and the machinations of certain bishops and emperors provide an interesting insight into the first example of how a society was changed through primarily ideological means. We have since seen how Lutherans, communists and fascists were able to achieve the same, using methods not too dissimilar from those used by the Catholic church to gain power and domination over others.

      Evangelism is not a good point of departure if you want to discuss the Bible and its impact on history with people like me. While I recognize the Bible's importance in history, I also realize that its oldest parts were composed by primitive bedouin desert tribes and that its New Testament contains perhaps 10% fact (Jesus' teachings and his crucifixion, the acts of the apostles and the epistles), 90% of it is pure fairy tale padding used to impress uneducated, illiterate peasants. What is it you would like to evangelise about in this context?

      There are more than enough words in the Bible for me to need to hear MORE words about the words. If you want to evangelise in a way that will make me pay attention, show me how you gave all your earthly possessions away to the poor. How you work to ease the life of the poor and diseased while owning nothing, and how you attain a life of joy through such good deeds. How this enables you to live morally where you honestly don't covet, lie, fornicate or judge others. if you can inspire by example, instead of trying to remonstrate through words I might be tempted to look more closely at this idea of life in Christ.

      Last I heard, not even Gandhi or Mother Theresa were able to quite live up to these ideals, so what makes you think your "evangelising" will have any kind of effect?

  • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

    From reading the comments it is clear that those who ought to want to read this book the most certainly never will. They are not interested in what non-believers think or why they think it. They cannot conceive that we have a right not to be harassed by an endless series of people trying to “save” us.

  • Ben E. Fiber

    Interesting how so many comments talk of how depressing this article is. I don't find it depressing since it pretty much affirms my experience with religion. Since I've found that faith is incompatible with reason I don't waste my time talking to someone basing their entire point of view on faith. I just say "not interested" and walk off.

  • Jen

    What I’d tell Christians who wish to evangelize:

    I’ve read the Bible (admittedly just skimming much of the stuff about who begat or begot whom).

    Read the Book of Mormon, too.

    I’ve read the Koran.

    I’ve read bits of the Vedas and Upanishads.

    I’ve read poets of all parts of the world, and all eras.

    I’ve had deep spiritual experiences (I would say direct experiences of “God”) in many places and ways, but especially while enjoying nature, or simple pleasures like the company of friends.

    All have been enriching, and sometimes perplexing.

    But, as far as spiritual texts, I mostly I read and study the dharma (its sutras are also enriching and perplexing). And I meditate.

    I’m a Buddhist.

    I’m not lost, and not living in darkness. I know and live within an indescribable light, every moment of every day, even when things aren’t going as I would like–the light is still there, even then.

    I am not at all unhappy.

    I’m also not a “non-believer”; I simply don’t believe what you believe (at least, with regard to Jesus and being saved. I’m sure we’d find some other beliefs in common, though). I would never disrespect YOU or completely discount the validity of your belief system by characterizing you as a “non-believer” because you don’t know or consciously attempt to live according to the dharma. That would be arrogant, rude, and simply unfair to you. I love and respect you as a human being too much to do that.

    My life is good, and I am happy. I also live what I consider to be a moral and compassionate life of service to the world.

    If you have also found these things in your life through your belief in Jesus as your savior, I rejoice for you.

    How nice if you could also rejoice for me. It would make me feel that you actually see me, understand me, love and respect me, and TRULY want what’s best for me, even if it doesn’t look or sound the way you thought it would.

    Thank you for a great and thought-provoking post, John. This is my first visit to your blog, but I will visit again.

    • PearTree

      Wow — you sound like someone I would be happy to know! I think many people could learn something about true tolerance and respect and love by reading your post and taking your words to heart.

  • Martin

    My main problem with Christianity I call "The Fault With The Fault"

    There is this God. Who is all powerful, all knowing and can see the future. Gives us free will which creates the "fault" of sin. This God punishes for this fault that they created (and knew would happen when they gave us free will) at one point exterminates a massive number of us. Then to stop punishing us from this fault comes down and kills itself to stop itself from harming us for the fault it created. Then expects us to be grateful?

    If you can't see that sounds screwed up to anyone with a mind of their own then you're clearly a believer without questioning.

    However sadly the other fault was that this "God" gave us the ability to question things. So again it's God's fault I don't believe because all the evidence I have doesn't support the idea that this God exists.

    IF this God exists this God is a jerk.

    • Rainne

      @Martin – yes, exactly.

  • sarah

    As an atheist from a predominantly Christian family, who spent 13 years at a Christian school, I would like to weigh in and second some of the things other "non-believers" have said.

    1. Don't refer to me a non-believer. There are many things I believe in. It just so happens that I do not believe in your deity.

    2. Do not assume that non-Christians have not read the Bible, or that if you just EXPLAIN to them about Jesus enough, they will be converted. This is arrogance. I have read the Bible, and I went to church for many years. I am well-versed in the dogma and traditions of Christianity. Quite often, a Christian will be trying to convert me, and their grasp of the Bible, and of the history of Christianity, will be very shaky indeed. I'm not saying I'm a professor of theology. I'm just sick of Christians telling me homosexuality is wrong, for example, and then turning out to know very little about what the Bible actually says about homosexuality, the context of those statements, and the translation issues involved. Often, it is only as a "non-believer" that you can critically analyse the Bible in a sufficiently rigorous way – without (as much) prejudice, without guilt, and without the vague idea that you should somehow agree with all of it.

    3. I am sick of bigots using the Bible to justify their prejudices. I am queer. I am pro-choice, and I have had an abortion. I am a feminist. I won't start on how the majority of Christian beliefs on these issues are outmoded and based on statements taken out of context from cultures thousands of years old – I am sure every Christian on this page has hundreds of arguments against everything secular liberals have to say on the subject. I will just say this – do not patronise me, or others like me. I am a rational, autonomous human being, and I make my choices based on reason, love, and compassion. If you believe I am going to Hell, you go ahead and believe that. Just don't be surprised if I laugh at you, and if "the seed of belief" you believe you have planted in me never sprouts. And don't you dare pray for me.

    4. Morality does not begin with religion. I intend to spend the rest of my life working in the voluntary sector, working with the homeless, the poor, and the abused. I do not need God to tell me this is a good thing to do. And your belief in God does not make you a better person.

    • Tom Vidager

      I completely agree with the "non-believer" epithet. How would Christians feel if those of us, who have seen beyond the confines of their religion, called them "wrong-believers?"

      I have found that, when asked "what denomination are you?" (oh, presumptiousness!) by people here in the US who might be inclined to pursue the issue further if I said "I don't have one," the answer "I'm European" provides a mental challenge bordering on a non sequitur.

      By "European," does he mean he's an unbeliever, since we all know Europeans hardly go to church anymore? Or does it mean he's either Catholic or Protestant….surely he can't be both….and will it be insulting if I ask which one knowing which country he's from? But then, maybe he's just joking….

      I haven't found the religious American who's gotten past this conundrum of an answer to the point where s/he would want to start convincing me about Christ dying for me on the cross. And that's great, because it spares me saying "nunya" to them. And while they're trying to figure out what I meant, I can make my escape with a chuckle. Being rude wouldn't be a Christian thing to do at all!

      This preaching the faith issue was most easily avoided when I lived in Israel. Upon being approached by conservative jews on Friday afternoons while strolling down the street, and asked to come to shabbat prayers with them so they'd have a minyan quorum, I just had to say "I'm not jewish." They'd spit, mutter "ben zona" and quickly walk away. Ah, the wonders of non-proselytical religions….

  • William Luke

    I..don't know where to begin..

    First, I will say that I am the son of a Wiccan High Priestess, and as a result, the city I was born in shunned my mother and I. I have ADD and am Bipolar. My grandfather was mormon, so I had conflicting thoughts on what was right and what was wrong. I never saw anything wrong with the Wiccan belief system, as far as I understood it, as my mother wouldn't teach me much of the faith.

    Growing up, I went to several different churches in an attempt to find myself, all to no avail.

    One Church, in a hymn I found myself robotically singing as a result of my sudden confusion, told me I was born dead in sin, and that until I was saved, I would be condemned to hell from birth. I was 6. It didn't make any sense. My worst experiences were during a time when I was homeless, and my Godbrother took me in on the condition that I went to church with him.

    It struck me as odd that here my Godbrother was a good man, but he was so devout in his beliefs, so blinded by them, that he would force me to go to church or kick me out in the cold of mid-winter if I didn't obey and go to church. I was not happy. I went to church, feeling more like a slave than one whose soul had been saved. I felt like nothing but a notch in his belt, another shot at his faith's heaven. I have had no faith in Christianity in some time as a result of the past. As a bisexual individual and a member of the furry community, I feel as though I have already been condemned simply for being who I am.

    I am a good man. I strive to help those in need..Though I have little to give, I share the roof over my head with those who need shelter, despite the rules of the complex I live in stating that I cannot have guests for more than two weeks a year…I have nearly been evicted several times in my effort to help my fellow man.

    Most of the people where I live are elderly and devout Christians. I live at the James Inhofe Plaza in South Tulsa, an apartment complex reserved for the mentally and physically disabled and elderly.

    I fear getting on the elevator with people because I know that at any moment, they're going to ask me if I've been saved, or try to drag me into religious conversation. I can truthfully tell them that at one point, yes, I was…but I go no further in the discussion other than to say "Yes, I was saved." and they don't understand the context of the word ~was~.

    I often feel that I have a connection with some force that watches over us, but i am never sure if it is God or if it's my own mind trying to cope with feeling forever alone. Having had no true spiritual guidance without being forced into it, I have never been able to find my own way in a seemingly Christian-dominated world. I fear most Christians inadvertently, simply because my personal experience with them has resulted in feeling as though most of them are pushy, intolerant, and that I want no part of their salvation if it means that I would end up becoming like them.

    I am a simple man. I give what I can when I can…yet I don't need a bible or the word of God to tell me that I should be a good person.

    Chain Letters…I abhor them. Such as the one that goes something along the lines of "God, where were you when this happened at this school, or that school?" and the response is. "Dear whomever..I am not allowed in Schools." As if the people writing these letters know for a fact that the people involved in those massacre's weren't Christian.

    I am as confused about Cristians today as I was at the age of 6. I am still part of no faith, but believe that someone or something is watching over us. I think…I don't know…it requires faith, I suppose, to know whether or not you are being watched over…and I guess that I don't have any…

    • Wordmonger

      I sympathize greatly with your plight. Although it may not be your path, if you seek a community, you might look into the Unitarian Universalist Association. They have no creed, may be Atheists, Christians, Pagans, Wiccans, Buddhists, or of any other faith, and they affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person. They have also had an Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Concerns since 1973.

      As I side note, I suppose I don't feel like I am proselytizing simply because I am not a member myself.

  • Rowan

    John,

    thank you for trying to see things from our point of view but it would also be helpful if you stopped calling us non believers. We simply believe differently than Christians. Pagans, Wiccans, Jews, Muslims, Hopi, Mayan and others – we all believe in a greater power, something beyond ourselves.

    I chose to leave the Christian Church after my baptism because it opened my eyes to some of the flaws of the Church and it's teachings of blind faith, of never asking questions. When I questioned what was being taught I was told I simply didn't have enough faith. Once I turned to a different path my questions were not only welcomed but answered.

    You ask what we want them to hear – accept us as we are. The paths to righteousness are many, each person can follow but one that is theirs. It may not be your choice for me but I will suffer the judgments alone when my life comes to a close.

    • Ben E. Fiber

      Rowan – please don't speak for everybody when you say "everybody believes in a greater power." Lots of people don't. Lots of people are convinced that death is the end. There's nothing afterwards. No heaven, no hell.

      Biologically speaking, the whole point of life is to reproduce and make more life. That's it. No lessons to learn, no reason for being. Birth, maturity, reproduction, death. All of the other stuff – religions, karma, dogma, reading the chicken bones and eating and drinking the symbolic flesh and blood of a long-dead philosopher is just made up nonsense to scare the kiddies into being good and give people comfort that maybe there is a reason for their existence. There really isn't.

      The end.

      • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

        "Scare the kiddies into being good"? I don't think that's an apt description. Religion is a socio-political organization based on the exploit of spirituality. To maintain their power structure, they need control and blind obedience. Permitting people to question basic concepts might mean a power challenge down the line, or a loss of income as believers lose the faith and stop doing things like tithing.

  • Sam

    I remember back to my days as a literature major while working in a hotel. I was taking a Indian lit class, and reading _The God of Small Things_, when a man I was checking in saw the title and said, "Oh yes, he is the God of Small and Great things." and literally thumped his Bible at me. I calmly looked at him and said, "why, yes, you're god is of the Christian's, and this book is about the God of the Hindu's." At which point he said to me…"well then, it should be burnt."

    You don't tell a literature major to burn books. And it sure doesn't turn one on to Christianity in the least.

    I've dealt with this time and time again. I was born into a Christian home, raised in a Christian church. My family almost begged for me to go to college, and once I did, I was handed more Christian literature in my general education classes. It was presented in a literature perspective and I learned a great deal, I began to see how all the years in church, preachers had been giving my loved ones and myself the most superficial of interpretations, with no real history of the religion or it's original roots that pre-date Christianity.

    Out of choice, I began to take classes that introduced me to numerous other religious texts. I came to the Bhagavad Gita, and for the first time, I saw god presented to me in text as the way I visualized God to be. The Gita converted me, and since then, I have claimed to be Hindu.

    Yet, I was then completely shunned by all of my family. To the degree that my own mother has called me Satan himself. Their alienation of me has left them unable to actually witness my life and my behavior. They do not see how much influence Jesus still plays on my life. I consider myself a TRUE follower of Christ because I do not judge anyone and love freely. I will give the homeless person all my change or my food even though i too live in poverty and struggle to have food every day. I provide shelter to those in need when the opportunity is presented. I listen to all who need a kind ear, and never proclaim to know any answers.

    The most damning thing that Christianity has done in my life is shown me how hypocritical it is by those who claim to practice it. Being outcasted by one's family, it leaves one feeling as though they are Job himself. It has left me feeling as though I am not seen, nor heard, only judged…and what it is they judge, they know nothing about because they are the ones who outcasted me.

    I personally believe that humans were created in God's image, which i take to believe is our Soul. In that regard, then aren't all Soul's perfect? to be anything less would mean you are not created in God's image.

    Within the first chapter of the Bible it says that the sun, moon and stars are all fixed within heaven. I see it as ignorance that, considering we as humans have been to the moon and looked upon beautiful Earth hanging in that same places as all the other celestial bodies, that anyone could not believe that Earth too is within Heaven itself. The big flaw of Christianity is that, even though it is stated in the first chapter of the Great book Christians claim to follow, they still see this earth as an evil place. I would love for all to wake up and see that Earth rests in Heaven, stop waiting until death to get there and live as though Heaven is here on Earth as you live the life God so gave you with all His great Blessings.

    • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

      Beautiful post, Sam!

  • Rowan

    A Pagan friend of mine was attending his dying Grandmother (a Christian). When her time came my friend tells me he saw Jesus himself come for her. When I asked him why he (a Pagan) would have seen such a thing he replied "That is what she believed in and who she expected to see. So that is who came for her." When I asked if that change his beliefs he replied with "why would it? I converse with the Goddess everyday, I know she exists as well."

    Which confirms to me the truth of many paths.

    • Tom Vidager

      Rowan,

      Could you tell me what the name of the stuff you're smoking is and who your dealer is? I'd LOVE to try some of it to get those cool hallucinations.

  • Dan

    Personally, I would fall under that "non-believer" label, though as others pointed out it is already shading the argument, and that's really all I have to say on that.

    When I was young, I was kicked out of my Sunday school class. When my parents asked why, they were told it was because I wasn't repeating parts of the prayers. Basically I was in a trap. Do I lie and repeat every word in a house of God, or do I be true to myself and God by saying "hmmm, I don't know, maybe I'll keep my mouth shut for this line". I would keep my mouth shut, my doubts to myself if only because if God exists and is the accepting and forgiving one then the fact that I am being honest is less of a sin than lying or going through the motions. It was almost 8 years after that before I stepped into a church for anything other than a wedding or funeral.

    I feel that posts that I've read seem to fall into the trap of tarring everyone on all sides with the same brush of "but they think we're all the same". Those who aren't Christian are of different faiths, or are seeking to understand the pattern and fabric of the universe by understanding the fundamental laws that govern it and respect our place in it. There are the loud, and ironically 'holier-than-thou' anti-religious types out there too.

    The fact of the matter is that no matter what group you find yourself in, the more that the nutters on the extreme edge are tolerated, supported or even promoted, the more extreme reaction you will provoke in others. Without that moderate power base, the ones out on the edge condemning others for their beliefs can be seen for what they are. As they are elevated or revered as being 'fearless' or 'telling it like it is' or 'fighting back against political correctness' by the moderate middle, they become *the* focus. So if their message is hateful, barbaric, inhumane, amoral or anything else, everyone else gets tarred with that same brush.

    I am very polite and patient with those who try to convert me, though I admit I have told someone that I was quite happy with my 'current spiritual arrangement and was not entertaining other bids at this time' due to being in a satirical mood. The fact of the matter is, if your message is peace, love and embracing others make sure you're on message. Telling me that I'm doomed because I question literal interpretations or adherence to a rigid ideology or theology, or condemned because I believe that we as humans have equal rights turns me off immediately.

    If I was to summarize my state of "non-belief" it is that I want to make the choices that are the least harmful of others, to respect their thinking and basically do no harm/not be a jerk. I am a humanist, I believe in our abilities to do amazing things in a Universe of wonder but doubt there is a being judging every one of us every day. Most of my issues with the Church are the application of 'laws' by religious organizations run by mortals with their own agendas. Usually those mortals with the loud voices out on the extreme edge…

  • Shelley

    I have really enjoyed reading the posts in this blog. I'm going to weigh in with my biggest complaint about Christians. Firstly, I was raised Southern Baptist. We went to church every Wednesday and Sunday. I absolutely respect many of Jesus' teachings and I agree with others posters' comments about Christians ignoring the actual teachings of Jesus as opposed to all of the ''magic'' surrounding his death, etc. Jesus said some pretty awesome things. When early Christianity started taking hold, it was supported by women of the Roman middle and upper classes- cool. Hypocrisy, obvious biological flaws, and brutal practices aside, the Bible does have some gems of information. However, thousands of years of virtually oppressing women, the underprivileged and homosexuals, killing in the name of God, etc. totally takes away from whatever message was originally intended. Also, many Christians don't seem to understand the difference between Old Covenant and New Covenant. It took me a LONG time to admit that I just didn't believe what I was reading. There was always a little doubt, but I disregarded it as "lack of faith" which definitely equals SHAME, FAILURE, etc. I'm not a militant atheist-leaning agnostic or anything. My family doesn't even know. I try to live my life by appreciating/performing true gestures of kindness (rather than doing them with the hope of getting a prize later on), finding common ground with people I disagree with, and trying to figure out what works best for humanity. Instead of relying on a being in the sky to forgive me for things I'll most likely do again, I try to change my way of thinking/behavior. I take responsibility for my actions.

  • Jo

    I am a spiritual "What would Jesus do?" Christian. I was a born again and the church was so hateful of any thoughts other than their own. I did start speaking in tongues (this is not fake…it's not a conscious thing), and still do now that I have left every church, when I pray.

    I do not believe the Bible is "the way". It was written by man and is their own agenda, not God's or Jesus' ways. The Gospel was written so long after Jesus died, the stories take on a note of the authors and their interpretations, not that of Jesus.

    I greet every person with a simple hello/hi and a big smile when I pass them. I always have. I treat every person as I would hope they would treat me. Jesus is my savior and I don't have to tell that to other people. God continues to amaze me with small miracles in my life. My family's Guardian Angel is my Grandmother. She catches us when we fall, and is around us when we are having fun. Things of hers appear in front of us to let us know she's with us.

    Through her, I see that there must be a God greater than she. It's not necessary for me to just believe. I know.

    • Shelley

      Ok… I’m sssoo not trying to be disrespectful. Your post was very positive and thoughtful. At the same time… the subject matter is yet another problem I have with Christians. You don’t know your own doctrine. And once again… I really don’t want to hurt your feelings or make you mad… but um… humans (according to Christian doctrine) CAN’T become angels. They are two completely different species. There is nowhere in the Bible that says people turn into angels after they die. Now, if you mean her spirit is around then sure… according to your doctrine I’ll buy that (not that I believe it, but you get what I mean),

      • Tom Vidager

        Shelley, do you understand the concept of a "metaphor?" Metaphors don't have to become angels which contradict Christian doctrine.

        • Shelley

          Many people do NOT know the difference. The previous post implies that Jo thinks her grandmother is an actual angel. Please don’t try to use snarky sarcasm to make a point that is invalid due to rampant ignorance on the part of people who don’t know about their own doctrine.

          • Tom Vidager

            And you have the presumption to decide that "implication" is the same as "reality" for Jo, huh? Don't use your smarmy superiority complex to read things into what people say, when you have NO idea what Jo knows or doesn't know about her religion. Do you know Jo personally since you are so certain about the meaning of her words, or are you an angel in disguise who can see into the depths of the human intellect and soul?

  • Saje Williams

    Imagine someone coming up to you and saying "Hey, I have this great land I'll lease it to you. Cheap. All you have to do is give up everything and anything you believe now and move there."

    Except, well, it's sight unseen. You're told about all these wonderful neighbors you'll have, and how the grass is as green as green can be, and that all of the trees bear wonderful fruit all year around. Except there's this one guy who actually owns this land and if you should happen upon him you have to drop to your knees and stroke his massive…ego… or he'll shoot you in the head. Or worse. You're told that he's a loving guy, nice as kittens… unless you make him mad. Like by not groveling enough. Then he turns into a psychotic bastard. And if he does, it's YOUR fault.

    On the other hand, you're told, if you don't buy this wonderful land cheap, the person trying to sell it to you is going to kidnap you, haul you off to this place without your consent, and torture you until you die. Because you refused to buy this land.

    Count me out.

    This is what it sounds as though Christians are selling, in a nutshell, and they wonder why some of us are scratching our heads wondering who spiked their kool-aid?

    The God described in the Old Testament makes Saddam Hussein and Adolph Hitler look like Ghandi. And while this Jesus guy had some great ideas, they pretty much boiled down to "Don't be a jerk." And what did his alleged followers do? Use him as an excuse to be jerks. For hundreds of years, nearly every self-described Christian went around acting like a complete tool. From the Crusades to the witch trials to Manifest Destiny and the "White Man's Burden."

    Some truths cannot be rehabilitated by simply wishing them away.

    There may be some sort of God and there might be some sort of afterlife. Nobody knows for sure. But careful observation has shown one thing to be true. Revealed religion is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on humanity. It's been used to justify nearly ever crime in the book, and then some.

    Don't tell me what your bible says. I don't care. The only phrase in the bible that should be taken seriously is this: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Everything else is window dressing or political posturing.

    The reason we non-Christians aren't Christian isn't because we don't know any better. It's because we do. Trying to lease us that land isn't going to work. We've sent in a survey crew and discovered that it's swampy and smells a bit like raw sewage. And the old man running the place can be a right bastard. And his kid may be cool, but he's less convincing than a drunken used-car salesman. And his employees? Don't even get me started on THEM.

    The whole "worship me" thing is evidence of a being with ordinary human failings, not some sort of allegedly omnipotent being. You explain to me why someone capable of creating whole universes would need a SINGLE worshipper to make him feel good about himself, and you may have a convert. But probably not. Particularly when one considers the supposed punishment for failing to worship at the correct altar. Eternal punishment in exchange for a justifiable lack of faith in his salesmen? Seriously? Dude, your God needs psychiatric help. STAT.

  • Tim

    I found this blog very interesting. I think there's an important point being missed here though.

    I was raised in an evangelical independent baptist church. These days I'm an agnostic and much more comfortable with my current set of beliefs.

    I don't care if someone tries to convert me as long as they aren't pushy and as long as it doesn't seem to be the ONLY reason the person wants to talk to me. My patience won't last long if they seem completely uninterested in what I believe. I have no use for salesmen.

    What REALLY does concern me though is that most of those I've met who believed they had a right to evangelize also believed they had a right to legislate morality. Those "christians" really want our country to be a theocracy and NOT a democracy.

    A "christian" can judge me for living my life as I see fit. I can judge that supposed "christian"'s hypocrisy and lack of understanding of the supposed philosophy of the religion they claim to follow. So far we two are still living in a free society.

    What induces fear in me are those bullying moralist "christians" who feel it is their divine duty to try to outlaw behaviors they do not agree with. The bible belt is full of these folks and they do much to make christianity seem literally dangerous to folks like myself.

    History is littered with death, torture, and devastation wreaked upon others in the name of "christianity" when the religious gained control of government.

    • Anne

      Tim makes an exellent point. I have several friends who belong to a type of New Frontiers Church, they don't try and convert me on a daily basis, but more than one often tries to tell me to attend and convert before it's too late. I dont mind, they're simplying doing what they believe is right, and I live my life how I believe is right.

      However, religion and politics should not mix. Religion is a choice, much like the majority of the decisions in our lives, Democracy is about that right to choose, the right to express and having a religious doctrine telling people how God told them to live their lives, is not democracy. Theocracy can only work once liberties have been taken. I believe the reason why Christians and Muslims have such deep set arguments is because both want theocracy. A great deal of Muslim countries have Theocracy and the western and more democratic lifestyle we all hope and want for would be changed forever, being told what to do by law based on a religion we dont believe in…. how is that diffferent from christians wanting religious doctrine in government. It's not – it's just a different religion doing it.

      The American Bible belt is renowed and even feared because of the extreme religious attitudes. I do read a round, while not pretending to fully understand the Bible, as it is clear even those who spend their lives devoted argue over it's message, I do find it upsetting that, like my friends believe, being gay or lesbian is wrong, abortion is wrong, extramarital sex is wrong, not believing in god is wrong. I know a lot of christianity is about light and love, but if it was, then there wouldn't be such a sinister and overwhelming number of people brow beating religion around.

      Christianity is known pretty much everywhere, so the message is not new, therefor, spreading the word to the rest of the world is outdated…. I have heard it and would rather base my life, my morals and ethics on philosophy and understanding not because of a god. This is my choice and I respect those that believe God gave them the message.

      The Crusades did much damage between religions, the dark age of religious ferver cause science to take a leap backwards, even Einstein made errors out of fear for contradicting his god.

      The fight to make others believe in religion or in evolution or not to believe in religion is futile.

      You cannot kill ideas, or beliefs either way. Ideas and religions flourish, blossom, and some fade.

      But you cannot force people to change without attempting to break someone as a person. Isn't that wrong?

      Acceptance is a difficult thing for humans to do, as we all believe we each have the answers. But we will never respect each other unless we accept, fully each other as equals – we can't even do that, gays, women, racial differences are still prevelant – how if we can't accept all humans are equal can we accept the beliefs they hold as being equal.

  • fritz

    I think that Christians today could learn a lot by listening to non christians talk about Christianity because we non Christians sometimes see clearly what Christianity is and what it is not ie. we are not one sided because most of us were initially raised in the Christian Church, myself included. I was very fortunate in the early 1970′s when I went through confirmation and my open minded, loving, intelligent Pastor taught us all about other religions including but not limited to Bhuddism, Taoism, Hinduism, Judaism. Thank God he was put on this earth to offer some additional points of view. His teachings opened my eyes to the wonder of life and the beauty of God’s creations. He loved Jesus but he loved life and his parishioners as much or more.

    It is my belief that the Bible is a wonderful historical book with several timeless truths. It is a book that was written 2,000 years ago or more during a time period vastly different from our own not to mention a culture that fits nowhere in modernity. The “Bible” is a book that is a compilation of many books, the collection that became the Bible also had additional material that was considered for entry into the “Bible” but was determined by someone or some group to not be worthy. I’m not talking about far out conspiracy theories here either but simple historical facts. I have always wondered who was it that felt that they had the authority to determine if a book was written by God or not written by God, obviously this was a human being who thought that they had sufficient insight into that in order to vote yes or no when the time came for final approval of entry. The Bible has gone through time, politics and language, it has gone from Aramaic to Hebrew to Greek to Old Germanic to Old English to Modern English. Any text with such a history deserves to be read and it deserves to be questioned.

    I have met many Christians and many non Christians during my 48 young years of life. I have intriguingly observed that there are as many “non Christians” who live their lives in a Christ like fashion as their are Christians that live that way. I have observed that there are many “non Christians” who are more Christ like in their living than some Christians. So to a non Christian it is certainly puzzling to us when we hear Christians state that THEY will be going to Heaven and we will not since they have uttered and believed the words “I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior”. Do Christians actually believe that the Creator of all of life would actually only accept people back into the Kingdom who made such a pronouncement? Our vast Creator would not come up with something that simplistic and non loving. The creator who created and continues to create vast universes, galaxies, planets and all of life who is omnipotent, omniscient and unconditionally loving does NOT JUDGE you no matter what you do. Judgement is a human idea, judgement is a human invention and until Christians truly understand that they will never truly understand God in my opinion. It is patently false that an immense Divine Being would ever limit who is welcomed into his/her Kingdom. I will offer a simple analogy if I may in order to more aptly demonstrate what I’m referring to.

    Let’s say that you have 4 groups of people, each group is going to be examined by an objective third party Christian organization. The purpose of this 3rd party is to determine who is objectively living a Christian life by Christian standards. All 4 groups have 10,000 people in them.

    1. The first group is made up of Christians that regularly attend church. The 3rd party determines that 50% or 5,000 of those folks are living as Christ did ie. walking their talk. The other 5,000 people are not.

    2. The second group is made up of Christians who never attend church but they share with others that they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The 3rd party determines that 5,000 of these folks are living as Christ did and 5,000 of those folks are not people you would want your children to spend any time with due to their dishonesty and an abundance of other egregious activities.

    3. The 3rd group is comprised of 100% non Christians. The 3rd party found after interviewing them that 50% of them were walking their talk and living as Christ did. They found that the other 50% you would not want your children to spend time with.

    4. The 4th group is made up of folks that live deep in the jungle of the Amazon and have never heard of Christianity. The 3rd party found that 50% of them were living as Christ did and the other 50% you would not want your children to hang out with.

    According to some Christians, all of group number 1 and group number 2 would be allowed an eternal life in Heaven, but all of the folks, no matter how they are living their lives, in group 3 and group 4 would simply be left out because they didn’t choose the “right” answer in life, better luck next time. That in a nutshell can help Christian understand why non Christians are not beating down the doors of Christian churches begging for entry. We non Christians wonder out loud whether your “faith” and your Bible trump your common sense? Does your faith and your Bible supercede your intelligence? Does your belief in your faith and the Bible beat out the wisdom that is available to you by pausing and listening to the Kindgom of God Within your own heart? We are often left wondering about those very questions since every time we question Christianity the Christian responding seems to only be able to rely on either the Bible or your faith. The Bible and your faith can make you blind to God and blind to the love and charity and good deeds of both non Christians and Christians alike. And it can cause you to have blinders on and forget that Love is always the answer. It is of course your right to rely on the Bible and your faith but it is also our right as non Christians to questions what we believe is your utter lack of disregard for all of God’s children. God loves and accepts us all whether we label ourselves as Christians or non Christians. There is room enough in Heaven for everyone, not just the “chosen”. If Jesus were walking among us today would he actually be encouraging people to accept him as the Lord and Savior? It is my belief that he would be both embarrassed and appalled that people would actually be doing that. I believe that he would set things straight from the get go and tell Christians to start changing their tune. Life isn’t a sporting event where one team wins and the other loses, this is what you as a Christian are stating when you utter that only those who accept Jesus will enter the Kingdom. Instead Jesus would possibly be asking you questions like How are you? Are you living the life of your dreams? Can you believe how beautiful life is? I love everyone who about you? Let’s some solve of these difficult problems we have here shall we? Do you know that you are always loved by God no matter what your religion or non religion, always? Did you know that you are loved simply because you exist?

    Thank you for listening. Fritz

  • Tom Vidager

    As an European, I find this whole conversion conversation absolutely hilarious. If anyone walked up to me in my European home country – or any other European country for that matter – and started to ask me about my relationship with Jesus, I’d think that person was nuts. In polite society, such conversations simply do not take place. At least not if you want to be invited back.

    Sure, there are “saved” Christians in Europe too. I know a family where the parents went from being convinced communists to born again Christians, after one of their daughters became a believer in Christianity. They spoke freely about their experience, and how happy they were, but they never even hinted at the thought that I should follow their path. That simply never entered the conversation. If there are born again Christians in my country of origin who consider themselves as “superior” to me because of their faith, it seems that they fortunately look down upon me with such vigour that they refuse to have anything to do with a heathen bound for hell. And that is just fine by me.

    It is amusing that the US, which was founded as a secular state, should be as religiously bigoted as it is today, when European countries, which have state religions that one pays taxes to support, and which in one case have a picture of Christ on the cross on the first inside page of their passport, should consider the separation of church and state to be a non-issue.

    If there is a problem arising from this European culture, then it is the fact that Muslims have problems being integrated into the mainstream of society. Europeans simply do not trust people with fundamentalist beliefs, who have to constantly demonstrate their faith through their dress, appearance and demands for special consideration in one matter after another. We finished arguing over which religion was the “right one” and who would go to heaven or hell in 1648 by signing the Westphalian Treaty, in which we agreed to disagree. And a revival of any similar debate is not welcome today.

    Religion is like sex. I don’t care what you do at home when the door is locked. If you want to party in a swinger’s club or go to a strip joint, then by all means, but keep it between yourself and your fellow practitioners. In the meanwhile, I’ll do what I feel like – within the constraints of the law, of course – and I’ll spare you the details.

    There is, after all, nothing new in Christianity. The Old Testament is based on Sumerian mythology, ancient Egyptian religious practices and Zoroastrianism, and the New Testament doesn’t contain anything in terms of ethics that wasn’t said by Buddha, Kung Fu-tse, Socrates, Plato, Seneca and a whole host of other philosophers. The only “news” in Christian texts is that you’ll go to hell for eternity if you don’t believe in Jesus and God, the Father. The National Enquirer can provide me with equally interesting “news” anytime.

    • SMS

      Tom, you are the voice of reason. Unfortunately that doesn't do much good with the type of Christian who thinks everyone who does not share their exact set of superstitions is going to be physically tortured for all eternity after they die, no matter what kind of life they have led. Personally, I feel extremely sad that such people cannot find it within themselves to be decent human beings, but have to have decency imposed from without through threats of violence from some supernatural abusive Daddy figure.

      I was raised in Canada, where, like Europe, religion is considered a private matter inappropriate for public discussion. I agree that that most annoying thing about Christians in the United States is their very publicly expressed assumption of superiority which goes hand and hand with their hypocrisy. Every time I hear one railing hysterically against homosexuality or prostitution, I always wonder when they are going to be forced out of the closet or caught hiring prostitutes. Or both.

    • PearTree

      Between this and the health care issue, I think I'll move to Europe if I can find a country that will take me ;)

    • Marita

      "In polite society, such conversations simply do not take place. At least not if you want to be invited back"

      You speak the truth. Imagine my surprise when I, a Scandinavian brought up to think of religion as something intensely personal that you don't just spring on people when in polite company, went to the U.S. to visit a friend and was at one point faced with a woman who, ten minutes after meeting me for the first time, asked me straight up whether I was a Christian. How do you even try to make someone who'd ask a question like that understand that they've pretty much just charged into your personal space with their shoes on, tracking mud all over your carpets? I mean, it's okay to show an interest in people, but jeez..!

      I think people here generally have a more relaxed relationship with religion. This may seem like an alien concept to many of the commenters in this post, but, while we're all fairly close, I don't even really know what the members of my own family do or don't believe in. What is more, we like it that way because, to us, what we believe has little to do with who we are as people.

      What I mean is, many Christians need to understand that believing in Jesus isn't obligatory for everyone who wants to be a good person. Just because I don't subscribe to any particular religion doesn't mean I don't share the same baseline values as those who do.

      • Tom Vidager

        As a Scandinavian citizen myself, I can relate.

        I well remember once I was visiting the US on an exchange program with my high school band, during which visit, we were put up individually in private homes.

        Come Saturday, I was having dinner with my host family and out of the blue, I got the question "would you prefer to attend the 9 am or 11 am service tomorrow?" I felt like I'd just gotten a pail of freezing water poured over my head.

        at age 14, do you tell your very nice and generous host family "I don't GO to church" and potentially shock and insult them? Fortunately, good upbringing took over after a brief silence that seemed to last an eternity, and I managed to stammer out "11 am."

        I was acutely bored and embarrassed for an hour, but figured 'twas the politic thing to grin and bear it.

    • Michael

      Tom,

      You are right on, however, let's not forget the fact that many European nations today still foster in various degrees levels of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim tendencies. Such bigotries have evolved over the centuries as more anti-cultural aspects than religious, but just the same, the roots are of the prejudices are based on the religious differences.

      That said, in the United States, those evangelize are in fact trying to proselytize. What evangelicals do or don't realize is that such actions are insulting and demeaning to those they are trying to convert. For those that actively try to convert people,would you appreciate it if someone from a different religion tried to convert you child into their faith? I am sure you wouldn't.

      The Spaniards attempted forced conversion with the Inquisition by violent means. Up until around a hundred years ago, the Catholic Church in Itlay would sometimes kidnap Jewish children and force baptize them, then keep them away from their families. Under the Communist Chinese governent, the opposite took place, with the destruction of religious shrines and churches during the revolution. The list goes on and on with one group after another trying to force people to believe one way or another. This has to stop.

      The best way for Christians, or any religion (or non-religious group), to attract practitioners is to just do good works for good works sake, and leave the door open for anyone who cares to venture in.

      However, telling me the G-d only recognizes one religion over another is arrogant to say the least. In my opinion, religion, all religions, are man-made. Before humanity ever existed, there was no religion. Religion probably evolved as a socio-political instrument to keep society from falling into anarchy and to establish moral, ethical, and early legal ground rules.

      But, G-d by definition cannot be anything but good. And, by the very logic that G-d is omnipotent, all-knowing, etc., etc., then he/she would have welcomed with open arms all religions into his graces. But more so by the same logic, G-d welcomes anyone who does good deeds for the sake of doing right, and not for purpose of reward or other measure. And, insomuch as to include agnostics and athiests into the discussion, if G-d exists, he would would welcome them too for their good deeds too, however he would not be G-d, but Nature. In other words, G-d is whomever we envision him or her to be, and not what any person or religion says it is.

      But as long as people try to force their opinions down the throats of others, either through force, politics, or proselytizing, then there always will be wariness between cultures, religions, ethinities, and people in general. On other words, just let people be.

      • Tom Vidager

        "let’s not forget the fact that many European nations today still foster in various degrees levels of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim tendencies."

        Michael,

        Let's not forget that the US has a strong history of anti-semitism (read the post by a jewish reader above), that there have been lots of reports of threats against muslims, and that the US today stil forsters various degrees of racism against blacks, hispanics, and just about every other minority group including homosexuals.

        What is your point, exactly?

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  • Will

    Christianity has already taken over, in my opinion. I am not a Christian, I have no given faith, though I believe a greater power exists.

    The reason why I say that Christianity has already taken over here in the U.S. is because, despite the Separation of Church and State, It says, right there on all of our currency "In God We Trust".

    Who Trusts? "We"? Who is "we"? I am not a part of "We". We is used as a collective, to put it bluntly. Someone just seemed to assume that everyone who uses money believes in God?

    Another example is Swearing on the Bible. Granted that it is not required, but I have noticed that every individual who did not swear on the bible got funny stares and harsh whispers in response.

    Here in Oklahoma, tattooing was only recently made legal, as, being the heart of the Bible Belt, most Christians here believe that permanently marking one's body is a sin. They let their Christian belief guide their hand when voting on such topics as this and gay marriage.

    This is what has lead me to believe that the separation of Church and State is a total farce, or at best, a veil to conceal the truth that the controlling party involved in most lawmaking is Christianity.

    When you let your beliefs overrule your common sense, you ruin the hopes of other free-thinking people who are not necessarily a part of your religion when you cast a vote in favor of what your faith, and not your common sense, believes to be the correct answer. And when you answer through your faith and not through your good judgment or common sense, you are making the wrong choice.

    Why should Christians, or practitioners of any other faith, for that matter, be allowed to use their faith in the voting booth? Religion has no place in politics.

    George W. Bush was the most recent President to use God as an excuse to go to war. He openly admitted that God ~told~ him that he wants him to go to War in Afghanistan. This got the hardcore Born-Again Christians up in arms against Afghanistan. "IF The President said God said we should, then by God, Let's go to War!"

    This is, again, another example of why I feel that the Separation of Church and State is nothing more than a concealment effort.

    Christians are sometimes so hardcore that, in the town I come from, Ardmore, Oklahoma, when a Priscilla's (An adult entertainment store) was being brought into the bustling city, the Christians tried to have the store banned by taking the owner's to court. The fact that such a store could bring more money into the city wasn't considered. It was the fact that it was a store whose primary purpose was to sell sex that was the deciding factor for them. They didn't care that it could help their city's economy. It was "A sin in the Eyes of God" that was the deciding factor for them. When the case was thrown out, the Christians built a Christian Bookstore right next door to it.

    So now you can get your porn and your religion in one convenient location! Spiffy!

  • Dan

    I try to be a Christian. I left the faith as a teen (becasue i had been forced into being confirmed) and returned in my early 20's. I returned for two reasons.

    1). I Felt an internal pressure to do more than just exist. and the Faith (not church mind you!) offered me a channel back into spiritual comfort and activity.

    2). My Father, who is humble, kind, compassioate, and a model of many virutes i admired. He never tried to convert me, just lived his example, and I was happy to follow. His type of Christian life, open, honest and non-appolgetic is the way to go. He just lives his life, and people see what peace his faith brings, some of them seem to try and follow, or at least reexamine what they are doing.

    thanks for the article.

  • William

    John, thank you for sharing this, and for being understanding. I am both pagan and gay, and overwhelming sadness describes how I feel about when many Christians proseletyze to me. It's as if my orientation or beliefs is bad enough by itself, but both together is an unconsciable. Many treat me as if I completely unworthy of Christ's love, and that they are doing me a favor just by choosing to speak with me. And when I turn them down, they condemn and judge. I just do not understand. I came to my beliefs after a lot of soul searching. They are just as strong and grounded as any others, I believe just as firmly that I should do good, and have strong morals and a sense of justice. But what I most don't understand is how any Christian can act this way. I was raised by one of the most loving Christian women I have ever met, and her mother was the same. Both of them have always been loving and accepting of all people, of all faiths. My mother, rather than preaching, accepts and includes others faiths at holiday celebrations. Given this example, how can one help but be hurt when people of the same cloth knock on one's door or stop one on the street and deliver a message that sometimes sounds very condescending and exclusive?

  • Uncle John

    "If you're looking down your nose at another human being, you have taken your eyes off of God." Uncle John

  • burt

    I was raised in a strict christian family and upon becoming old enough to think for myself and use logic it became very clear that organized religion is a system designed to control the behavior of others and the persistent attempts by christians to save people is the christian form of procreation. The primary means by which they replicate themselves. It is really just a power struggle.

    It also helps to demean, scare and humiliate someone if you want to control them. It softens them making them more vulnerable and susceptible to all the mind games you enjoy playing so very much. Also depersonalizing them making it easier for you exercise control over them without having to feel guilty about it. After all they are just sinners, you have cornered the market on what is right and you are doing it for their own good. Heck you can even feel good about stomping on another human beings rights and reducing their ability to exercise their freedom of choice. Best of all you make up for all your own past and present wrong doing by bringing souls to God. Beg, lie, force…God approves of it all because after all the end justifies the means.

    If christians are so good and favored by God then why is there so much sexual abuse of children in the catholic church, so much financial corruption in evangelical churches and why is no one turned off when ministers preach politics from the pulpit or when small churches grow gigantic by fleecing their flock?

    I think it's because christians are so busy running around judging, condemning and trying to save everyone else that they have forsaken their own salvation. It's like any other business there is to much money, political power and control to be exercised to ensure clean functioning. And best of religious leaders give you permission and put you under pressure to behave this way and God knows they are beyond reproach. Also if you can keep your congregation scattered all around saving the world it makes it easy to get away with a lot of unsavory conduct that if someone other than a ministered did it would be called…well sin. It’s kind of disgusting to non-christians.

  • Anne

    I can't find the post but i got the email of a post from —-

    "paul bunyan"

    Wow, talk about easy money! I wish I could get others to do my work for me this easily. 5 points for creative thinking! However, Jesus never cared what those who were against him thought or said about him, he never eased up on his message to them either. Why should we then make room for peoples “feelings” when it is those very “feelings” that are keeping them from a relationship with God? Life isnt nice or easy or fair. Get over it and take a good honest look at yourself and you will find that you arent all that. God is!

    ————————————————–

    * feelings are integral for our humanity, our feelings help govern our sense of right and wrong – which is (as you obviously believe) God given, Love and respect, fear etc are all emotions – you cannot be close to god if you dont love him, or believe – and to believe you must have a feeling of some sort.

    *no life is not easy or fair – i deal with the hardship and good in my life – I do not expect God to swoop in and make it all better when I am dead.

    *Yes god is soooo all that, you know, the fear of not worshiping him, the idea that people are born in sin, because he made them do it – yeah, funny how the whole original sin thing – designed by God (and don't say the devil, because God created the tree as tempation so man could fall and learn to progress – (though this is my totally humble opinion) – whatever and whomever, he is partially responsible, and blaming natural disasters on Gods wrath because we have too much sex or don't worship him etc is wrong. after the flood didn't he say he'd never interfer like that again?! and then sent his "Son" to help people be clensed of the originial sin? But no, seriously, he must be such an AWESOME man to make such an imperfect world and then make everything materialistic as a test so we appreciate what we can have after death. hummm TOTALLY RIDE ON.

    Sorry, that post irritated me. I do not pretend to be on the same level as any God, I do not demand people to worship me, pray to be and sacrifice their lives or to follow me or offer them rewards if they do what i say and punishment if they dont. I do not profess to be omnipotent or omnipresent.

    If you want to think God is all that, fine. Do not lower other people or disrespect them because you believe something else. That is sad, pathetic and while I have lowered myself to answer this with high emotion, doesn't mean I am all that.

    I have so many friends who are christian, pagan, jewish it doesn't matter to me, they have their faith, and I don't – i study the sciences and philosophy. I do not disrespect their opinions, or their Gods. I don't laugh or get affronted if they say something I dont believe in, because a universal message of love one another, translates across religions and most moral stand points, and it is even possible to respect one another. Yet you seem to think because people use their humanity and their feelings in their lives they are sooo mislead and are blinded by these emotions to God??????

    I would re read the Bible – Jesus suffers and through his emotional torment does he give humanity its salvation – there are harsh messages in the Bible but there is also the commandments of love and honour (respect) of others.

    I take an honest look at myself everyday to learn how I can be a better person – a nicer person, a person who is ready to admit I dont have all the answers, but wants to spend their life searching, studying and discovering the wonders of the world we live in. Life is too short not to spend it in wonder. I just dont see the point in spending it following rules and guidelines in one book that was put together to form an oganised religion. If it and God was all that, there wouldn't be such a seperatist attitude, the "us and them" is all that people seem to do. Especially in America (sorry not from USA) there's Black vs White, North vs South, East Vs West, Christian vs Heathen, Science vs Religion, Capitolism vs communism, Right vs Wrong, you dont have a middle ground ever..

    even when Obama tries to introduce a healthcare system its too communist for most people to handle. It's not, it's respecting everyone has the right to live equally.

    Why can't you just respect someone without having to put them on a different ball court?

    • Anne

      Oh thanks. Now I feel a little silly if it isn't actually up here!! Well I suppose that's the point isn't it. To hit a nerve, cause a response! Well I know I get a little carried away, everyone's human.

  • Tom Vidager

    In recent years, we have seen the horrible effects of islamic fundamentalism: Terror bombings killing not only the "infidel" but also fellow muslims in the interest of turning secular muslim governments into theocracies; forcing women to wear burkas and niqabs, depriving them of education and social interaction; hatred of western civilization to such a degree, that killing infidels is considered a divinely sanctioned activity; caning and jailing women who have gotten raped, while letting the man get away scot-free; a desire to introduce sharia law in all islamic societies, which includes amputating the limbs of thieves, stoning adulterers, caning young people for going on an innocent date without supervision, etc.; and, bringing death in general to those who refuse to convert to islam.

    Do we, the inhabitants of civilised countries, whether we are Christians, of other faiths or atheists approve of fundamentalist islam? I think not. We are, in fact, engaged in active wars against islamic fundamentalists.

    If we feel such outrage at religious extremism gone amok, why do we so readily accept Christian fundamentalism? No, Christian fundamentalists generally do not engage in acts of terror (though a few fringe groups have done so). But they do impose their values on others through "dry" counties, social pressure if one lives in the Bible belt and shunning if someone's gay. We accept fundamentalist Christians as "harmless" in spite of the fact that they, if they could, readily would impose strict Christian guidelines based on the Bible upon everyone else. I'd bet that one would even find Christian fundamentalists who are so radical that they would be ready to throw the first stone, because they believe they have lived a life free from sin.

    Would we readily welcome Torquemada, the inquisition and auto da fés for heretics and non-believers back if fundamentalist Christians were to gain worldly power? Would we encourage Protestants or Catholics to burn Catholic priests or Protestant converts as was commonly done in England from 1534 – peaking during the glory years of those admirable queens,Mary I and Elizabeth I – until the end of the 17th century? How about the Salem witch trials and Jewish pogroms caused by paranoid Christians? Do we want Ivan the Terrible back to forcibly convert Muslim Volga Tatars and pagan Chuvash, Mordva and Mari? What about some interfaith massacres, like the French religious civil wars – including the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre – the English Civil War (which parliamentarism aside also was a religious war about fundamentalism), or the 30 Year's War, in which some regions lost up to 75% of their population? Toss in clerical pederasty, forcing girls as young as 13 to marry men who are 30 years older than them and already married to several other women, and you get the unsavory picture of the implications of Christian fundamentalism (including Mormons as being a heretical quasi-Christian sect).

    If we are fighting one form of religious fundamentalism today, namely islam, which in many ways is reminiscent of the nature of institutional Christianity from the middle ages until the Enlightenment, why are we so readily accepting of Christian fundamentalism? If this Bible belt fringe gained control of the government through their incessant meddling in politics (in spite of 501(c)(3) organizations like churches being barred from engaging in partisan politics), does anyone outside of this fringe not believe we might end up in a society that reminds us more of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia than we would like?

    Next time someone tries to bring you closer to Christ, ask them what they think of civil liberties, the separation of church and state and indiviual freedoms like freedom of speech and the right to choose one's own sexual orientation. Would they follow Christ's example of not forcing anyone to follow Him if that person so chose (e.g. Mark 10:25), instead of advocating that they be killed as Muhammed did (ayah 5, Sura 9 At-Tawba "Ayat al-sayf"), or shunning them, as advocated by Menno Simons (Loving Admonition, 1541)? If that person believes that "God" should be featured on US currency and in the Pledge of Allegiance, that people should swear on the Bible in court, that anyone who doesn't accept Jesus as their personal savior will go to hell, that homosexuals should be shunned and adulterers stoned, then tell them to go to Waziristan because they'll find more potential converts there than in the U.S. They're already more than halfways in agreement with the local population in that part of the world.

  • Phoebe

    I'm a Christian, and more specifically Calvinistic. In the Bible I see very clearly that God is the one who converts people to be his children, not me. This frees me to relate to non-Christians in my life in a relaxed way. I'm just supposed to be myself, be a follower of Jesus, without trying to finagle and manipulate others into that too. God will work in their hearts and I should pray for that.

    On the one hand, sometimes I do have good spiritual conversations with my friends. Sometimes I just listen.

    Sometimes I care far too little about them and their eternal destiny and don't even try to have a conversation.

    On the other hand, sometimes I'm not careful when I perceive an opportunity to talk about something I dearly care about, my Lord and his importance in his life. And then I'm over-zealous to say my piece. And then I forget to listen. I can look back at a couple times when I think I went overboard — it's possible those people classify me as one of those unfeeling, disrespectful Christians. I'm grateful for those who take my enthusiasm with a grain of salt and remain my friends anyway.

    So, for a sincere believer, it's quite a balance beam. I hope unbelievers can respect that. If your Christian friend suddenly changes key to something rather odd, please understand that it's something very important to them and they care about you. Try to help them have a good conversation with you. Reaffirm your friendship.

    • Tom Vidager

      Phoebe,

      As an “unbeliever” I call you a wrong-believer. Anyone who can believe in crock like organized religion in any form, or that whatever the bible says is right, is totally wrong.

      Sorry, but if you’re going to speak your mind plainly, so will I.

  • Id

    Incredible, the comments on this blog are amazing. Most of the Christians posting here go on and on about how the "wicked ignore the light" and about how their way is the path of righteouness, completely oblivious that they are doing exactly what the bible tells them not to do. They are considering other people as less than them just because they are not the same as them. Congratz guys, you did it again, you acted like the worst type of christians there are.

    One guy even claims he was having fun and being wicked until he converted because he "HAD TO". These people act as if they are brainwashed… this reminds me of a joke they used to tell on my country.

    "Do you know what we do with religious extremists?"

    "We put em in a boat and send them to new continents."

    Most of you are extremists and totally oblivious, you take your faith as battering rams instead of ideals to follow and you attack others with it, even passively. Stop assuming superiority over the rest of mankind based on a book you happen to claim to follow while driving your SUVS past homeless shelters to go pray in churches laden in gold to be more like Jesus.

    • Shelley

      Haha that reminds me of some gossip about the new pope a few years ago. There was an article about his choice of shoes… they were versace, and people were debating about whether or not he should be wearing them. I definitely kept my mouth shut since my best friend's family (super devout Catholics) were discussing this, but I was thinking "he's the head of one of the most powerful banks in the world. He owns property EVERYWHERE, his employees have diplomatic immunity no matter where they go, he lives in a mansion, he wears custom made fancy pants clothes, drinks the fanciest wine, rides around in a mercedes pope-mobile… i think that 'overdone' is a bit of an understatement." If you want to be a baller I suggest taking up company with the pope, lol. So much for poverty, chastity and …whatever the last one is.

  • zmeski

    MDterry are you trying to convert people reading the blog? Please dude we are seriously talking about how offensive this is and here you are doing exactly that. John was trying to promote understanding you are certainly ruining that.

    • mdterry

      no I am not. I don't convert people. That's up to God honestly. Just because I state my own convections does not mean I"m trying to convert anyone. Why can we as Christians not simply state what we believe without one trying to convert. How is that fair? I was just trying to explain that Christians aren't perfect and should never claim to be. I don't claim to be. My decision to believe is just that, my decision, ya know. You are free to believe those in which you believe as well… I"m not hating on you for it. And why exactly are you the only one allowed to be offended here. I'm offended by the things that have been written about me because I'm a Christian. You can't claim your offended while you are offending.

  • Tom Vidager

    mdterry, methinks you don't know bible.

    The Gospel of Mark, along with the ephemeral Q text, is generally agreed by scholars to be the oldest gospel, dating back to about 65-70 AD (though some researchers claiim it is even earlier), John is the last, written as late as 110-120 AD and influenced by Alexandrian jewish theosophy. Therefore

    Mark 10:18 – And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone."

    is much closer to the original source and the words of Jesus than

    John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    It seems that Jesus originally indicated that goodness came from God alone, and not through Himself. From this we can deduce that individuals can receive goodness directly from God without intercession from Jesus being necessary.

    John 14:5 merely reflects the conservative teachings of an author who was primarily jewish, though he accepted Jesus as his savior. According to the Mishnah, jews have to be guided through the torah by their rabbi, who at the time the Mishnah was written were presidents of the Sanhedrin (you know, the guys who demanded Jesus be crucified). Although John's Gospel was ostensibly written as an apologia to the Romans, 14:5 reflects an oblique way of communicating with jewish-christian readers to indicate that it was the Romans who crucified Jesus, and not really the Jews who demanded it, because Jesus implicitly agreed with the competencies of the Sanhedrin. The jewish mob chanting "crucify him" is in fact out of touch with God. They were written into John's account of events as a distraction from the orthodox subtext of the gospel, since John wanted to make the Romans look good in Christian writings to gain legitimacy for the new religion, and to hopefully prevent future persecutions. The Gospel is thus not, as many jews claim today, anti-semitic, but rather a document with two messages. One for uninitiated Roman magistrates, another for initiated and potential jewish Christians of Alexandria, with its large semitic population.

    You, my friend, need gnosis more than I need salvation through Jesus. As others have remarked, it is sad how little "Christians" understand the Bible and its exegesis.

  • Audrey

    Okay, I'm sure this goes without saying, but I'm the most depressed by the scathing generalizations. It seems like alot of people have pre-conceived schemas about "Christians" as a whole when so many levels of moderation versus extremism within the Christian faith. I have been a Christian my whole life and never for a second believed any of the hateful things that Christians are often accused of believing and I think that the greater portion of Christians believe along the same lines; it's just that the extremists are the most vocal. I can understand why many people would feel wary of our faith after an encounter with such a person. However, I can't help but feel like the generalizations made toward Christians about them being hateful and closed minded is akin to someone thinking that all followers of Islam are suicide bombers.

    At the same time, I realize that my post may just be me stating the obvious and whining a bit about my hurt feelings. I've experienced this bias first hand and it's rather hurtful when someone decides to preemptively strike you for something you were never planning to do (evangelize).

    • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

      I think you are misunderstanding. While there is an enormous number of sects that fall under the general term "Christianity", which means "believing in the divinity of Christ", the ones who are being discussed here are the ones who belong to fundamentalist sects and identify themselves as "Christian", rather than as a member of a particular sect, which would be "Methodist" or "Lutheran".

      The ones who don't listen at all are not the ones who take a "live and let live" attitude. We're really not talking about you and your beliefs and practices if you aren't trying to convert us.

  • mdterry

    John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (NIV)

    Ephesians 2:8 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

    2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

    Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”

    We as Christians are sinners too. We constantly need to be repenting and searching our own hearts. Our hearts are evil. Just because we have accepted the gift of salvation, it does not mean we are perfect and without sin and wrong doing. We are human, so we will fail. As a Christian it is important for us to strive for humbleness. Christians are by no means better than those that are not. We have just put our just in the promises of God word though his bible. We believe in the bible, all of it, and yes, some of the things that are covered are offensive. The cross is offensive. The bible tells us that. People are not going to like it.

    We are not Jesus and sadly we can never love the way he loved all of you.. best we can do is try.

    We all need Jesus, because He is the only way to salvation, He is the only way to the Father.

    • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

      Your post demonstrates what I posted earlier: that Christians simply cannot hear.

      • mdterry

        please explain? is this just because i posted some bible verses that I choose to live and believe in…. was the rest of what I wrote me not listen as well?

        • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

          Md, when hear non-Christians speak about their paths, do you actually listen to what they say? Or do you -as you above post seems to demonstrate- tell yourself that they are non-Christian so they dont know what they are talking about?

          IOW's do you ever hear a single word their say or do you automatically dismiss them?

          To me your post above with all its bible quotes tells me you cannot hear beyond the bible.

          If I am wrong please elaborate.

  • UU

    I am not religious. Some members of my family have become fundamentalist Christians. They only want to talk to me if they think they can convert me. They are so hung up on being "Christian" that they ignore the members of the family who aren't. They can't be bothered to talk to the rest of us. The one who became a minister is the worst of the bunch. Me, I'm an easy going person and I love them, so I just ignore their obnoxious comments and focus on the good parts of the relationships. But I get really angry when I see them going on about how much good they are doing, because I see the family members that they should be helping and aren't. I'm not talking about financial help or anything extreme, I'm talking about phone calls and little stuff, like helping someone move furniture.

  • Dave

    I'm a very strong believer in "you respect my beliefs and I'll respect yours." I appreciate my Christian friends offering me their thoughts and beliefs in an attempt to "save me" – I feel that they do that out of true friendship and love. However, when I tell them that I'm not interested, that should be the end of the conversation.

    Sometimes it's almost as bad as talking to a car salesman… it seems like they will say whatever they need to say to close the deal. That appears very insincere to me… more like they are trying to "close a deal" than save my eternal soul. And to the author of the story, you are correct that the more pushy they are, the more they are likely to drive the person away from the church altogether. At least that's what happened with me.

  • id

    This is a video about the pope visit to Portugal.

    http://sic.sapo.pt/online/video/informacao/sinais

    He just spent seventy millions euros to prance around in gold foil. You guys can pick up all that salvation of yours and all that glamour, and actually give a GOOD, hard , look at the persons you have become. You consider yourselves above everyone else for the belief in a set of moral values in a book. Its disgusting, stop it. "OH BUT THE WICKED, OH BUT JESUS" No one cares. You arent superior to anyone for your belief in jesus as I wouldnt be superior to you by my belief in Santa.

    Also, the whole "We are persecuted for being christian" thing is retarded, get a grip, be logical and realize that believing in things is a choice done in perfect conscience, nothing that you are forced upon and have to stick for the rest of your life.

  • Sarah

    That's too bad that a few nuts have given Christianity a bad rap. The problem isthat newconverts are "on fire" for God, but lack the knowledge, wisdom and guidance to be bearers of the word of God, and subsequently are off-putting to others. Not all who are called, come, and some who come were not called to serve. Even Christ preached against the evils of religion, knowing that men twist the message in their hearts for their own purpose. We are all sinners and the only one w/o sin and who was righteous was Christ. If Christians would spend more time reading their bibles and in prayer, (as we are instructed to do) we would benefit greatly from the wortwhile messages it teaches us. THAT would honor God and Christ greatly…..

  • Id

    TBin…. wowie, you are comparing scientific theories to religion and asking why one isnt forced to learn at school and the other is. I cant point out how ignorant you are making yourself sound.

    Also, omg, your boss wants to hug you? THE FIEND. He is showing care and concern for you and all you can worry is about what "perceived" sins you think he committed.

    You should be very ashamed, your religion isnt being persecuted, you just cant keep it out of everything due to your cultural bias.

    • TBin

      Point is evolution and big bang theories contradict my child’s belief of creation and he is forced to learn it. I wasn’t comparing the Bible to science. It was to illustrate Christians are forced to listen to things against their beliefs in all kinds of settings all the time and remain silent. The he was a she and I later found out the hug and the Wiccan she tested me with next were actually to test my ability to keep my faith out of the work place. I passed with flying colors, but it was the fact no one else was done that way. Here again I was illustrating how Christians have biases against them too. Hey thanks for proving my point how it’s okay to call us names, try to may us sound ignorant, and make us sound delusional , but it’s ok we deserve it because we are Christian.

      • Tom Vidager

        TBIn….

        Have you ever put "strong believer in creationism" on your resume when applying for a job (outside the lunatic church fringes, if you've gotten that far)? Or "Truly believes in all biblical tenets?

        THAT will land you a good job real quick. Evolution is a scientifically proven theory and fact. That God created the universe, the earth and all living beings upon it in 6 days is a scientific joke, and can't be proven except inside the mediocre minds of Christian nuts.

        Nobody's forcing you or your kid to listen to anything. If it's such a big deal, homeschool the poor li'l feller. He'll turn into a properly brainwashed Christian that way, completely ignorant about that offensive evolution crap.

        Yeah, you're delusional, and as regards your boss, you're paranoid too. Have you considered seeking out medical treatment and psychological help?

      • Chris

        In your first couple of posts I see a recurring form of label: "The Wiccan". Do you have something against Wiccans? Do you not know that quite a bit of Christianity is actually based on these original "pagan" rituals? From the way it is written, I sense that you have a problem with anything that is not your personal view. That is called being close minded.

        • TBin

          The Wiccan thing was one of the things my boss used to test my ability to remain neutral. Here again nothing personal her choice not mine. Her test her push her perspective not mine. Actually, I have two people I correspond with quite often who are practing Wiccans. We’ve had some pretty good debates repsectful I might add and with their pursuing. Nothing like this hateful stuff. Maybe its time I quit reading this junk.

          • Chris

            Well then, thank you for the clarification. As stated, that is simply the way I read it from how it appeared to be written. I appreciate you taking the time to set this view straight.

          • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

            Perhaps you are not as good as other people are at expressing themselves. For instance, you previously appeared to express the idea that children of non-Christians should be taught your version of Christianity in schools so they might choose it later, though now you say that your own child is being taught tolerance in a religious school.

            I am also confused about the “test” your boss put you through. Does she do this to everybody? Perhaps someone complained that your expressing your religious beliefs was bothering them. If you had not brought up your religion in the workplace, how would she have known? I have never discussed my own preferences where I have worked.

            Keep in mind that many of the annoying habits you attribute to us are just as true about Christians – judging people, being rude – and those of us who do not believe have often reached our lifetime quota of hearing rude or insulting things said about atheists, non-Christians, and Christians who belong to a different tradition from yours.

          • TBin

            No my boss asked me why I was working in the field I was working in and I simply told her my reasons which included my faith. No she did not do that to anyone else THAT IS MY POINT.

            I AGREE with you all types of people do annoying habits or things even Christians. That’s been the other point. What’s fair for one should be fair for another. I don’t condone anyone including Christians pressuring or bashing someone!

            I also wasn’t saying I wanted Christian doctrine taught in school. The whole point I was trying to illustrate through an example ( I guess poorly so) was that children of Christians are exposed to things that are contrary to their beliefs all the time and most (well I) don’t go around saying I hate everyone because of it. That simple and nothing more.

            I wouldn’t expect a public school to teach religion; again it was only meant as an illustration. I also poorly tried to illustrate that I am not threatened by these teachings nor afraid of my child learning about them and didn’t understand why others are so closed minded about hearing about things different from what they believe rather its Christian or not. It was that simple nothing more.

            But hey I have definitely learned things from this experience. Now I have to decide have I had enough? What is my tradition?

  • Robert

    I have had close romantic relationships with 8 women in my life, met randomly as people meet. 3 of them were molested as children by Christian clergy and one by her brother while said brother was on his Mormon mission. The 4 who were not molested as children were not raised in religious circumstances.

    None of them were molested by plumbers, auto mechanics, doctors, or librarians. Only by "christians".

    Tells me all I need to know. Any time I see someone with a bible, I just call it their child molesting uniform.

    • TBin

      ummmm? I am a victim of child sexual abuse and my abusers were a car salesman, a mechanic, and fireman all of whom were NOT Christian but child pornographers.

      • Tom Vidager

        I'm a victim of alien abduction and medical experimentation. I'm a victim not of Christians or car salesmen, mechanics, librarians, doctors,

        Where does that put me in the scheme of things?

    • mdterry

      Sadly those people were giving lip service to Christianity, Not true, Heart changed, Christ followers. There are too many who do a huge disservice to Christianity. They are not living by the Holy Spirit, nor did they even have the Holy Spirit. People who molest children are not people who know anything about the Lord, Jesus or what it means to follow him. The bible clearly warns of those people.. it's Satan's master plan! and sadly tons are believing it.

  • biblehater

    A question for christians. Jesus could not even save himself. How is he supposed to save you?

    • Marita

      Um, well, you just answered your own question, didn’t you? Unless I’m completely mistaken, that’s exactly how Jesus is supposed to save Christians. He probably could have saved himself, but the entire point is that he chose not to.

      • Tom Vidager

        So if I see a house on fire with people screaming for help at the windows, I can just stand by an look while they burn because the whole point is that I'll look divine if I choose not to help the people in the burning house.

        Ah, how god-like that is…..

        • Marita

          Er, no. Look, I can't tell you how this works for someone who actually believes in this stuff, but I believe the point was that Jesus sacrificed himself and chose to die for our "sins." So I guess what would make you look divine was if you were to risk your own life saving those people even if you knew them to be thieves and murderers?

          But I'm sure you'll agree that being a thief or a murderer in a burning house isn't a good allegory for being an atheist who's perfectly happy living your own life the way you choose to, since in reality no one is actually suffering any danger.

          • Tom Vidager

            I think that the appropriate allegory is saving mentally retarded, handicapped and bipolar people (aka “Christians”) from the burning house that is their sodomitic, money-grubbing and lying church. It would surely make me look divine if I saved some people from THAT.

      • biblehater

        There is a difference between choice and capability. In this case Jesus was incapable of saving himself therefore he did not and hence he cannot save anybody else.

        • Marita

          On the contrary — as far as I recall Jesus knew all along what would happen to him. He could have packed his bags and moved far, far away to avoid it, but he chose to stay.

          It has been expressed over and over again in the comments that we who aren't Christian just want our choices to be respected. We don't want or need anyone to try to convert us, and it's only fair that we don't then turn around and try to convince Christians that what they believe is wrong and illogical, because that is really not much different from trying to cram religion down someone's throat. It doesn't matter that we don't believe Jesus will save us, because we don't have to.

          • biblehater

            The point is Christians need to be told their so called savior is not as great as they think. Read about Guru Gobind Singh, the founder of the Sikh religion. He had sacrificed his entire family including himself, his father, his wife and his sons while fighting atrocities of the mughal kings on Hindus and Sikhs of India. Now that is called a true savior not the one who meekly submits himself to evil after showing some cheap magic tricks.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guru_Gobind_Singh

          • Matthew Tweedell

            biblehater,

            The Christian Savior is the most powerful being in existence—and the simplest too. By Him (masculine grammatical gender here, not biological sex) all things have their existence, through Him are all things sustained in their being. And that includes you. A man on a cross is not the Christian Savior; God-man crucified is! Logos… crucified by man. the One… broken up. Love… lost, dead. But in the fulfillment of the promise of the resurrection, we have our assurance of the Truth, and with it the Good News of the Life, everlasting, resurrected in the spiritual body formed of the spiritual seed that sowed love in a lump of flesh, wrought from barren earth—from hollow matter, a hallowed Spirit.

            The "savior" you describe does not appear to me to be Christ Jesus. Perhaps you have been misled and confused Him with someone/something else. But it seems to me that if you are indeed a devout follower of this guru, then you already know about Jesus Christ, though you may not have been aware that that's the Name by which He is known in my religious tradition.

          • Tom Vidager

            "The Christian Savior is the most powerful being in existence"

            Says who… you? If you do, then you have a napoleonic complex and delusions of grandeur, because you have NO proof for what you say is even remotely the truth

            Spare me the bible quotations if you want to insist you DO have proof. You may believe fairy tales, but I don't. So why don't you go read Snow White or Red Ridinghood and quote those to us. They're just as credible as the Bible.

          • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

            According to your argument you are acknowledging that people who worship differently are worshipping different gods. So that means there are thousands of competing "Gods" and "Jesii" out there. Who said Christians were monotheistic?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Angela: Christians are monotheistic in that they believe that there is but one True God, but you are absolutely right that others are acknowledged to be worshipping false gods like “money” and various perversions of “Jesus”!

            Tom: All I’ll say is that Snow White, Little Red Ridinghood, and various apocrypha didn’t make the cut to be in my Bible, and for good reason.

          • Tom Vidager

            Then Tom Thumb, Chicken Little and Mother Goose must be your thing. But Jesus and the 12 Little Apostles is a good fairy tale too.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Oh, and I should make clear that by "the 'savior' you describe" I am reffering to the meek magician that biblehater described the Christian Savior to be.

    • Tom Vidager

      Who asked him to save us?

      • Matthew Tweedell

        I’m sure someone must have. There are always those praying for salvation (at least, this fallen world we live in).

        • Matthew Tweedell

          *in this fallen…

        • Matthew Tweedell

          I was just reminded of how Peter asked Him to save him (Matthew 14:30).

          • Tom Vidager

            Yeah Matthew…I’d ask someone to save me too if I were on a sinking fishing boat during a storm on the Sea of Galilee. I guess Jesus was the 911 exchange operator back then.

  • Rosey

    What I would like to add to the list:

    Yes, I have heard the Word of God according to the Bible. There is nothing you can tell me about Jesus that I haven't heard. I have made my choices in life, and am happy with them. Please respect the choices I and others have already made.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      It seems to me though that if someone really had a close personal relationship with Jesus, you should expect that they’ll actually be able to tell you quite a bit about Him that you’d never heard before!

      Your experience certainly doesn’t reflect too favorably on the depth and sincerity of some people’s spirituality!

      • Tom Vidager

        Rosey,

        If people have a close personal relationship with Jesus, does this mean they date him or engage in casual sex followed by pillow talk with him? Jesus has been dead 1980 years, give or take a few, so how the hell could anyone have a personal relationship with the guy today?

        Maybe you speak to Jesus in your dreams and gain your personal knowledge of him there. I sure hope you don't wake up in a wet spot in the morning if you do. If you really think you're so spiritual you talk to Jesus Christ, I believe you need to be treated for schizophrenia and spend some time in the psych ward, because you've clearly lost your marbles.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          I like schizoids more than pathological liars. I think it’s better if someone actually relates personally to Jesus than if they claim to have a personal relationship with someone they clearly don’t, although they may even have lied enough to themselves to convince even themselves that they do. It seems many speak to “God”, but few hear God speak. As for me… Tom, I never had any marbles to begin with. And those who do are all gonna lose them sooner or later! What are they good for anyways? Now, if you mean to imply that, lacking them, I am irrational, I suggest that it is only because you do not know me well. (I may be crazy, but I’m not insane, though it would serve well to remember that all men suffer a psychiatric condition–that our culture as a whole is as the ravings of madmen.)

          Now, I thought Jesus died around 20-30 AD, not 1980. But maybe we just use different calendar systems. Anyway, the answer to the question that follows that is something called the resurrection.

          But I know… sounds like a bunch of bull.

          • Tom Vidager

            The difference between crazy and insane is merely a question of semantics.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            There you go: such is the difference between sanity and insanity! Moreover, such is the difference between godliness and godlessness. And so we must study the semantic relation of these things to what we observe in the real world. We must learn to translate between different frames of reference, any internally consistent system being equally qualify-able as true (though not always of equal utility).

          • Tom Vidager

            Are you trying to say Christianity is internally consistent???!?!?!

            LMAO – good one!

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I would be extremely interested to learn of any inconsistency in my philosophy.

  • Chris

    Ah, I got about halfway through all the responses in this interesting blog before getting tired of the repeated words, and scrolled to the bottom, where I had the opportunity to catch TBin's posts.

    I am agnostic, I suppose you could say, since everyone feels the need to label everyone else. I have not always been so, and do not know if I will always be so, it is certainly who I am right now. I was raised as a Catholic. I was not interested in this Catholicism, pushed on me at a very young age, until I was about 15 or so. I have been baptised and confirmed into the Catholic church.

    I no longer am a Catholic.

    I was considered a born-again Christian of the Baptist persuasion. I wholeheartedly believed in God and his Word and everything that comes with it, but then I began asking questions, and the answers I got to those questions were at best condescending and at worst downright off-putting.

    I am no longer a Baptist, let alone a Christian.

    Do I have Christian friends? Yes. Do I care about their conviction in their religion? Only when they try to push said conviction my way. I do not care if they use this religion in our everyday conversation (such as saying "God blessed me with such-and-such, or we are blessed because my sister is pregnant after trying so hard, etc), I only care when they try to apply their religion to my life, knowing my past and my own convictions. When I am told that my baby is a bastard, and even though he/she will be loved, he/she is still going to Hell for being a bastard (which of course was not up to the baby in the least).

    When I have people tell me they are going to pray for my soul, I tell them go ahead, but it is not going to do you or me much good. I have made my decisions, and I am going to stick by them as strongly as you stick by yours. If someone asks for prayers through a hardship, I do not "pray" specifically, but I offer a crying shoulder, a listening ear. I do not need religion to feel pain, nor do I need religion to feel joy.

    When I am accosted by those people who claim to love me for who I am and proceed to then tell me I am wrong in my way of thinking, no matter how nicely they put it they are still telling me "You're wrong and I'm right so nyah-nyah!"

    When I tell these same people I was raised as a Catholic, I am told that "oh, you must not have been to a good church if you feel the way you do", because we all know it is the church's fault that I believe in what I believe. Of course. Because I must be just another sheep in the herd that I blindly follow the blind, right?

    And the term of non-believer is rather disgusting. By using this term you are pretty much saying I have no beliefs in anything whatsoever, because I am officially labeled as a non-believer. Because I do not believe (note: follow your religion and your God) in the same thing you believe, I am just lost and need help, desperately.

    In short, all us "non-believers" are asking is that you let us live as we want to live. Not everyone you meet is uneducated. You can have all the religion and faith you want, but don't try to pass it of on me. You may find it has made you different, that it has improved your outlook, but that does not mean I want that also, or that it will have the same effect.

    For instance, if the local grocery was having this awesome sale on milk, and I knew or suspected you were lactose intolerant, I would not go and tell you because that is just ridiculous. You can't drink it, so therefore why do you care? This is a simplistic comparison, but it gets my point across.

  • TBin

    I don’t usually post stuff on line. I actually stumbled upon this site and it intrigued me because of the topic. First, I would like to say I grew up in the central part of the states and knew ABOUT church, God, Jesus but I never understood it. So the post “everyone in American knows” is a wrong statement. Even if everyone else in America did I didn’t so that’s not everyone. I am also not an idiot I have several professional degrees. I did not understand who Jesus was, why his death meant anything, and what the resurrection meant. I studied for 6 months mostly on my own and began to learn what it did mean. I can say I was not pressured or judge during this time. It wasn’t until I had a PERSONAL EXPERIENCE with a live GOD, ALONE, that I understood MY wrongs (not yours that’s between you and GOD) and why I needed Jesus in my life. After I had this personal experience I wanted others to experience this radical experience I had encountered.

    Now, to address the ones describing themselves as atheists and agnostic would say we don’t want “pushy”. It wasn’t because I thought I was better, it wasn’t because I thought I was right, it WAS BECAUSE of the great joy, happiness, and relief I felt. I wanted others to feel it! Feel the experience and awakening I felt. See, I partied all the time got high and drunk only to wake up to feel used, alone, and afraid. When I lived this life when I found a new drink or a new high I would sure share the news with a friend. So what’s the difference? If you find what you think is the next great thing do you not share the news? What’s your passion? See most people want to talk about or encourage others to try what they are passionate about. So let me ask…. are you not passionate about something in your life? If so do you not talk about it to others? Why should we as Christians be held to a different standard?

    Just like the different posts referring to keeping the Christian perspectives out of: MY kid’s science class, government, etc…. What about MY kids having to learn the alternative forms of creation, alternative life styles, or reading about the gods of mythology? See if everyone thinks the gospel is nonsense then why are they so afraid of their kids learning about it, reading the Ten Commandments in the court house, or seeing another child praying? I teach and encourage my children to learn about the other theories and religions so that we may discuss them, their views and why I believe differently. If everyone thinks the Bible is nonsense why are they so afraid of it in schools? DO they not think their kids can make their own decision or perhaps there is a little tiny fear it may have some power? Just food for thought. I have studied a lot about other religions including the theology and doctrine of my faith so I am prepared to help my children to make informed decisions. They have all made professions of faith on their own and are young adults on their own and have not left their faith in Christ or their convictions of what they believe is right.

    If you ever REALLY experience Christ you will become passionate. (just something I have witnessed about 200 times) I too have done a few case studies (informally of course) and will tell you I have documentation of people who claimed to have known Jesus but will tell you after they really had an encounter with the Lord they realized they only knew OF him they did not know him. So I am so sorry for people who are afraid of the great experience. Your right though you can’t force it on to you. First you have to have the pricking of the ‘Holy Spirit of God”, then YOU have to chose. You are also right it’s then your own free will, God won’t force you. So it’s your choice. Now what happens in the life after death we will all someday know the truth and then there will be no more finger pointing, no more debates, but somebody is going to be right. Are YOU sure it’s you? That’s the question we all have to live with. Do you have peace with it???

    Lastly, It amazes me that everyone points out Christians for their failures and they don’t want anyone pointing out theirs. There are people calling themselves Christians’ who are not, there are uneducated Christians’, there are Christians’ who are in disobedience to what God teaches and yes there are us who fall short just because we ARE NOT PERFECT either. If we were then our faith would be useless because I believe we can only be perfect if Jesus is mediating for our mistakes. Saying that do you persecute and bash all groups because a few of them are in error? All ……… are bad because this one or that one is……………..! Ummm ???? That’s stereotyping isn’t it???? Isn’t that just as judging????? Doesn’t that make you like the Christians most of you are complaining about???? I just don’t understand why you believe it’s okay for non-Christians to bash, criticize and push your beliefs into our lives but we are to remain silent about our beliefs and rights. Many of you have talked about: equality; the compassionate lives you lead; letting me lead my own life and leave me alone; BUT you don’t want to let the Christians have the same freedoms and liberties you are shouting about having. I do believe there is a double standard going on here. Maybe John we need to start a blog about how Christians feel when we are treated with contempt, rudeness, hatefulness, bias and are forced to accept other beliefs. I have encountered this to the fullest. For instance in the work place where they can have any of their religious symbols or personal statement objects they want, but lets us have the Bible, a cross, a picture of Jesus and oh forbid a prayer over our meal and we have infringed upon their precious rights!!!!! But hey my gay boss can hug me full faced and tight without my permission, I have to listen to vulgar profane language, and the stories of everyone’s after work escapades, I can’t talk about what I did last night because I was at church are my rights are not infringed upon???????? I say It’s okay for you to chose because it will be you who will live with your choices, but Christians should have the same rights… or you have become what you say you hate a hypocrite and bigot.

    • no

      error

    • Marita

      TBin, I am not entirely sure why you think professional degrees should enter into the discussion at all, but okay.

      "See, I partied all the time got high and drunk only to wake up to feel used, alone, and afraid. When I lived this life when I found a new drink or a new high I would sure share the news with a friend. So what’s the difference? If you find what you think is the next great thing do you not share the news?

      Not if my friend had politely told me they weren't interested, because then I'm pretty sure they'd soon grow extremely weary of listening to me going on and on about it. Perhaps they'd even tried one or two of these drinks before and reached the conclusion that it just wasn't for them and that they were really more the beer-drinking type anyway.

      "See if everyone thinks the gospel is nonsense then why are they so afraid of their kids learning about it, reading the Ten Commandments in the court house, or seeing another child praying?"

      No one's saying we shouldn't learn about any of these things. In fact, if you read the comments on this page you'll see that most of them are in favour of people educating themselves in any way they can. Despite what you seem to think, seeing a child praying doesn't send me into fits of indignant rage, but I also don't want the gospel forced on my child. I am against the "Bible nonsense" in school because it's not the school's job to take care of my kid's spiritual education and growth — just leave that part to me. Would you, as a Christian, think it was just fine and dandy if your son or daughter was, for argument's sake, made to turn to Mecca and pray to Allah during the school day?

      "But hey my gay boss can hug me full faced and tight without my permission, I have to listen to vulgar profane language, and the stories of everyone’s after work escapades, I can’t talk about what I did last night because I was at church are my rights are not infringed upon????????"

      …I don't even know what to say to that. Wow. Just, wow!

      Would you mind your boss hugging you if s/he weren't gay? Because if that's the case the problem lies with you. And if it's simply a matter of your boss having no concept of personal space, then his/her sexual orientation has absolutely no relevance at all.

      Basically, you used all that space up there trying to convince us that you only want to share with us the great joy, happiness, and relief you felt when you accepted Jesus into your own life, and then you cap it all off with a statement that comes pretty damn close to being outright hateful.

      Good job! *slow clap*

      • TBin

        Well the degrees had to do with the blog that said if you didn’t know about Jesus you were an idiot. It was a disclaimer.

        I agree I never have pressured anyone to listen about Christ. I actually have been very respectful to those who are not ready to hear, because I was there for 40 years and didn’t want people trying to pressure me either. It really doesn’t help unless God has prepared their heart anyway.

        About my child….Maybe you are not offended or afraid of them being taught. However, read some of the prior posts and read some of today’s headlines and you will see many people do have problems. My child has been forced to read books and study about other creation theories. Again it is my responsibility to teach the difference of how I believe. Soo…. again I asked why is Christ is so offensive and not allowed when evolution and the big bang theory are covered in science??? I don’t know of any child forced to pray a Christian prayer at school. No I would not mind if my child were to sit quietly and allow another child the privileged to practice his faith why would I care. See I would know my child is firmly grounded and would not be influenced so easily as witnessing someone practicing their faith swaying his beliefs.

        Yes I would have had an issue with any boss hugging me without my permission. However in this situation she was testing my reaction to see what I would do and say. I felt like I was on trial and was about to be judged for my reaction.

        Yes, I took all that space to say it is your choice and I only share because of the personal peace I have. No I didn’t mean it hateful. I meant it for people to think about how reactions and beliefs of all people can sound close to what some are accusing Christians of being. I intended to illustrate how others and their rants affect people too. Christians are not the only offensive people.

        • Tom Vidager

          TBIn,

          "My child has been forced to read books and study about other creation theories. Again it is my responsibility to teach the difference of how I believe. Soo…. again I asked why is Christ is so offensive and not allowed when evolution and the big bang theory are covered in science???"

          It's sad that your child has been "forced" to learn about science in school. Did it enter your mind, that the purpose of schools is to teach kids about scientific facts, whereas it is the job of your church to teach your child creationism, that God created the world in 6 days, etc.? Then your poor child can make up his/her mind up about what s/he wants to believe and what s/he accepts as scientific facts. I happily leave that choice to your child, but don't you dare try to mix religion and school so MY child can't avoid learning about your religious fairy tales.

          • andallthat

            Oh yeah, the big bang theory and evolution are scientifically proven. LOL Scientific data is based on prior assumptions which are based on prior assumption, which is based on prior assumption. Shall I go on? LOL !! My children learn it all and make their decisiosn based on the convictions of their belief I don’t have problem with it!!!!

          • Aradiel

            Sorry, but scientific theories are based upon experimentation and observation. I'm sorry you misunderstand science.

            You can make your own decisions, draw your own conclusions, but at least understand what you are disagreeing with, otherwise your decision is completely under-informed.

          • MrScienceMan

            “scientific theories are based upon experimentation and observation”

            So…the earth is flat because the theory and observation said so? Believing that “science” is infallible is no different than being a “closed minded” christian. Theories are constantly being shot down and re-written. Science is a belief system in and of itself, no matter how many athiests/agnostics try to convince us otherwise.

          • Aradiel

            I’m not saying science is infallible – far from it. I am in fact a falsificationist: Someone who believes science cannot really “prove” anything. At most it can disprove other things, but a theory itself may get refuted later on.

            The Scientific method (which you obviously don’t understand) draws conclusions from observations and experiments.

            Observation previously made some people believe that the Earth was round. They were wrong, but that doesn’t mean their methods were wrong (at least in principle)

            However, the scientific method is based on observation and experimentation – that is irrefutable.

          • TBin

            Not all scientific data is based upon experimentation and observation. Many are based upon concepts and theories that cannot be completely proven. That’s why when you write a scientific report, research or want to support your claim with empirical based research you MUST say it is evidenced by not PROVEN by. I am educated in research, data, statistics, and theory. Only some things I know of are proven fact most are based on mans concept that may or may not be proven. It’s according to what field of science you’re talking about. I was referring to the Big Bang Theory.

          • mkfs

            Actually, all scientific data is based on experimentation and observation. That is the very definition of data: measurements (observed facts), from which theories are proposed.

            You can take issue with how specific data is collected; that is fine. You can take issue with how a specific theory is derived from the available data; that is fine. But you cannot discard 'data' as a concept; that is beyond ludicrous.

            If you were truly "educated in research, data, statistics, and theory", of course, you would know this. Your posts make it very clear (in content as well as language), however, that you have never been exposed to, or at any rate understood, the scientific method.

            The scientific method is no way incompatible with theism. If anything, they are complementary.

          • TBin

            Aradiel, mkfs, & Mr. Tom Vidager

            You’re arguing the wrong point but hey I am game. For limited space we have no room for complete lessons in research and scientific data. Maybe I am confused so what???…. or maybe I am not making myself clear in my posts.

            First I am not discrediting science I use in it my work. It is the best we can do but don’t give it an unequivocal stamp of proof, excellence and without doubt.

            What I am saying is observation and experiments have many variables, limitations, and all answers cannot be proven a fact. Which is what SOME complain about and state as is the reason they don’t believe in Christianity because it can’t be proven true or they have questions about the validity.

            Now most research is reported in statistical data which is defining relationships by probability not unequivocal absolute truth. They find causal relationships based on human observation (which we all know can have bias (like our personality, what we are trying to find, conditions in which the experiment is done, and human limitation of perceiving truly all that has occurred) of experiments (which can contain limitations, bias, and are only evidence of not proof of) by using instruments based on mans concept of what measures what they say they are studying (reliability).

            But you cannot discard ‘data’ as a concept. Did I say that?? No. What I meant by what I said was that data collected for experiments is based on a prior concepts in that area of study. Actually data means groups of information that represent the qualitative or quantitative attributes of a variable or set of variables (oh I did take that definition from Wikipedia so I could have creditability; I thought I might need a little help). And for the record variable means symbolic name ASSOCITAED with a value and whose associated value MAY BE CHANGED. I understand it, utilize it, but I know scientific data is not absolute truth. Clear as mud huh. My point!

          • Aradiel

            Just a quick reply, due to the limited space – equations contain both constants (non changing numbers) and variables (numbers that can be different)

            Those equations are derived from observation and repeated testing. They get refined over time.

            Some don’t believe in God because God cannot be proven in the same way that scientific theories “can” (by using maths, so to drill down like Descartes, the only assumption we really make is that 1 + 1 = 2)

            Others, for example falsificationists, don’t believe in God because it can never be dis-proven.

            There can be many reasons to not believe in God, but that is a pretty big one to at least not put religious belief in the same camp as science.

          • Tom Vidager

            TBIn,

            You're just using the old argument that sense-perception can never be accurate. This may have been true of the Graeco-Roman philosophers, but since Descartes, Pascal, Spinoza, Leibniz Galileo and Newton, philosophy became (for a few hundred years at least, in certain disciplines) the co-equal of science. These and other brave philosopher scientists realized that if we were ever going to get beyond the sense perception fallacy and gain real knowledge, we would have to develop methods of empyrical research and verification of results so that real truths could be established.

            The Catholic church, of course, hated this idea, because they realize it would be their end if empyrical truths could be established outside the religious sphere, becase empyrical truths didn't exist within it. This would mean the end of the gullibllity of the uneducated, and outright questioning from the educated and/or rich, which would bring the whole rotten edifice of faith crashing down. In spite of the burning of Giordano Bruno and the confinement of Galileo, they couldn't stop the process. And the result was as they predicted. The church lost power and prestige until it is but a shadow of its past satanic power and glory.

            The main thing to consider that this began humanity's path of learning. Until the industrial revolution, the average person lived the same way his ancestor would have 2000 years ago, perhaps with a few exceptions in the military sphere, where gunpowder was introduced. Since science was established, we have been on an exponential growth curve of provable, useful knowledge.

            Sure, Newton's theory of gravity has been supplanted by Einsteins theory of relativity, which some day will be replaced by a unified theory of the cosmos. That is theoretical science, which explains a great deal, but which has levels of complexity that require their own learning curve. More simple theories involving, e.g., electricity, the atom, the causes and cures for many illnesses are now verified scientific facts. While statistical aberrations can occur when working with such scientific facts, this does not change the facts themselves. It merely broadens our knowledge of the applicability of what data applies in different situations.

            Science is not yet perfect in all areas because we have a learning curve as our understanding evolves and new research equipment is developed to match the evolution in understanding. Such is the path of progress.

            Now, DO tell me where we have such a learning curve and where we have been able to determine observable and statistically valid scientific facts in the realm of religion? Christian epistemology has made no progress in the realms of metaphysics and the ontology of divine essence, metaethics or theosophy. Whether God exists or not is still a matter of faith, not proof, whether one religion is more closer to the truth than another is a matter of faith, not proof, and whether an afterlife, heaven and hell exist is also still a matter of faith, not proven fact.

            So a 2000 year old religion has been tossed into a vastly different world from the one in which it was created, and blends with the modern world as well as oil blends with water (for empyrical ontological proof of that, go visit the Gulf of Mexico(. You can shake a container of oil and water to momentarily make it seem as if the two blend better, but ultimately, the two will separate again. This is an experiment: Shake the water and oil to see if they will blend that way. The invariable outcome is that they don't, the statistical probability 100%.

            Thus it is with religion and real knowlege. You can't blend the two, because one is based on faith, the other on fact. Faith may create metaphysical proof based on logic within its own field, but it can never create empirical facts. Furthermore, metaphysical proof can always be challenged through other logical propositions, because a metaphysical fact can never be established beyond conjecture. Basic, empirically established facts, such as humans have been able to grasp using incontroversible scientific proof, cannot.

            So don't try to mix the two in the workplace, school or in social interaction with other people. You'll always end up with religious grease in your face.

          • Tom Vidager

            Aradiel and mkfs – right on, you get it, you're educated.

            andallthat and TBIn,

            Mary's virgin birth, Jesus' "double" nature as son of God, yet co-equal with God, Jesus' resurrection, the holy ghost giving the apostles the ability to speak in tongues and bla bla bla bla bla bla…….

            None of that is based on any kind of scientific assumption or presumption or gumption for that matter. I'm starting to agree with Marx (God forbid!) that religion really IS opiate for the people. However, nobody who's not high on some substance could possibly write what you guys just wrote.

            When science was NOT based on observable facts that can be corroborated by independent research (as it wasn't until Galileo, Newton et. al.), then such religious nonsense might fool some people. Certainly it did not fool the better-educated religious establishment, because popes and prelates were happily whoring away and producing offspring ever since the 10th century. Guess they didn't hold Jesus' divine nature in much respect, or think that God existed, because if they did, they'd have been scared of going to hell.

            Look… Mary got knocked up outside marriage, and used the rather commonplace excuse in antiquity that a "god" had impregnated her. Lying sure as heck beats stoning. The apostles had 3 days to roll back the stone, steal Jesus' corpse and hide it, so their street cred wasn't totally shot after Jesus' rather ignominious ending. Then they gave a couple of women a few shekels to go to the cave and come back shouting "he's GONE.. it's a MIRACLE" and Christ was resurrected. Nobody could really figure out why Jesus blathered on about being the "son of God" because it didn't make any sense. What had Jesus been doing since creation if he was co-equal with his dad? The guy was a draft dodger, because Jesus didn't even help dad fight the rebellious angels. No…poor Michael had to fight that one while Jesus relaxed on cloud 9. But since science doesn't have the answer for everything (which scientists readily admit), then all the above must be true and miraculous.

            Don't be such pinheads. Any astrophysicist will openly admit that we don't know what happened prior to or at the moment of the Big Bang. We do not have the scientific tools or provable theories to explain it. That doesn't mean I'm going to start insisting that the Big Bang was caused by God farting, and that it's true because I believe it to be.

            Just because you Christians don't have any rational explanations for anything doesn't mean that lack of rational explanations for scientifically provable events do not exist at all. 400 years ago, people would have laughed their heads off if you suggested that it would be possible to fly in the air in machines the size of the largest naval ships. The science was latently there, but nobody had figured it out yet. Thus for them such science was preposterous to contemplate. We'll figure out what happened before and at the moment of the Big Bang eventually, but we just haven't yet. Doesn't mean we'll never know. Unlike the existence of God.

          • TBin

            Mr. Vidager,

            I have not once been harsh, critical, or personally attacking to you or anyone else on this post. It seems you have a lot of hate and anger toward people you do not even know. Not once have I tried to force my beliefs on to you, criticized you, or belittled you for your statements. I surely cannot say the same for you. It is evidenced otherwise. Now in any realm or belief why is it acceptable? If you posting your observation and interpretations of Christians are your attempt to define Christians I would say you are quite biased in your observations. It is quite evident you have extensive study in theology and philosophy, but I don’t see why you believe it qualifies you to judge others, their abilities, and try to force your beliefs onto others who are different from you. I will agree there are many people who call themselves Christians who are not equipped to debate theology with you. I will hesitantly share with you one belief. I can’t prove everything in the Bible and people like you can make it sound ludicrous but I personally have experienced and observed unexplainable events firsthand and have seen people experience quantum changes in circumstances such as addictions. I personally believe (it’s my right as much as it yours not to) that it was the power of God. So you can TRY to discredit the miracles of the bible but you can’t discredit what I have witnessed firsthand. Oh maybe you can call me delusional, psychotic, or uneducated as I have been called so far on this post in attempt to discredit me to others but you will not and cannot change what I believe or what has happened in the lives of many people.

            By the way this will probably start another wave of ranting and raving…………… but I met a man very theologized and who had studied many hours of philosophy. He loved to debate the facts as he knew them. It could be with me or anyone else who would take the time. A funny thing happened. He came to me sometime later and said he had encountered Jesus in a personal way and started rereading the Bible. He told me he saw things he had not seen before and it read completely different after he had the experience. This is a true story believe it, hate it, or you can even say I’m trying to pressure you; not the case. Just stating an experience I had. That’s fair since I read your view. Right???

            Any astrophysicist will openly admit that we don’t know what happened prior to or at the moment of the Big Bang. We do not have the scientific tools or provable theories to explain it.” So I am just curious to how you think? Why is not being able to prove the foundation of a theory in which you believe any different than what you criticize and call Christians names for being unable to do?

            “We’ll figure out what happened before and at the moment of the Big Bang eventually, but we just haven’t yet. Doesn’t mean we’ll never know. Unlike the existence of God. “ Won’t you know when you die if you were right or not?

          • Tom Vidager

            Dear TBIn,

            Don’t get your briefs all up in a knot. I am a rather sarcastic person, who likes to debate a given proposition on its merits. I won’t call you a pinhead again – I’ll grant you that you are a thumb tack.

            I don’t hate anyone, far be from it. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, and I would never dream of criticising them – I always prefer a propaedeutic debate – if there is a bona fide discussion of personal beliefs, and not an attempt to prove that having religion is hugely beneficial relative to not having it. I do, however, debate with a passion, and I don’t think that rhetorical devices are out of bounds – they just provide a little spice to one’s points.

            Just because I argue an issue purely on its merits doesn’t mean I am dismissive of personal religious epiphany. I’ve had what you would call spiritual experiences (surprise!) myself. They were very interesting, I don’t doubt what I sensed and experienced happened, but I also cannot categorize them within any broader system. They were personal experiences, and thus only apply to my spiritual beliefs (surprise again, I DO have those). I would call myself spiritual, and I devote a fair amount of time contemplating what the purpose of human life might be, and how humans are still able to create so much beauty despite their inherent thirst for destruction. I have come up with a number of possibilities which have some logic to them on their own level, but which do not represent a single way or answer. As I remarked in another posting, I think the ethical teachings in the New Testament are admirable, even if not original.

            I suppose the main difference between the two of us in the spiritual realm is that you prefer to see things within the framework of Christian theology, whereas I try to see things as applying to a personal experience of gnosis. Therefore I don’t advertise my beliefs, since I feel they are personal, and thus only relevant to me and the conjectures – limited as they may be – I have tried to develop regarding human existence. I believe that neutral monism is a part of human existence, and I personally think that Descartes latched onto something interesting in the epistemic mind-body duality, like when he stated: “I can abstract from the supposition of all external things, but not from the supposition of my own consciousness.” [even though the merit of this aphorism, like all other philosophical propositions, can be debated).

            As for the origins of the cosmos, you’re talking apples and oranges. As I pointed out, I believe that the origins of the cosmos down to levels we do not comprehend today will someday become scientifically proven, since we’re dealing with the physical universe. The Big Bang was a physcal event, therefore, it should by all accounts be provable using physics, without becoming a reductio ad absurdum proof of God’s the existence as the universe’s prime mover.

            However, at this point, such proof is way beyond the current state of science, and does stand at the crossroads of what is physics and what could potentially be a divine principle, this I will give you. Therein, I suppose, lies religion’s last hope of factual proof. We have scientific proof of what happened miliseconds after the Big Bang, but none to describe what happened before that point. To that extent I suspend belief in anything, because I – we – simply don’t know. But just because I or anyone else do not understand or “know” what happened prior to our current astrophysical models kicking in doesn’t mean that it will remain impossible to understand and prove in the future.

            You are quite right about my obtaining knowledge (presuming post-mortem consciousness on a metaphysical plane) when I die. This is why I don’t bother trying to get any answers about what will happen through religious means, because the fact is, noboy knows what will happen. It is a matter of pure belief or suspension thereof, so why believe in something when you may be completely wrong? Belief in the form of wishful thinking will not create a heaven where we meet all our dearly departed family, friends and pets to reside in bliss happily ever after.

            That’s not to say I would mind such an afterlife at all. I just can’t believe in a divine existence that is supposed to be all-knowing and all-loving, which determines your eligibility for eternal bliss or eternal suffering on the basis of what you believed in or a prima faciae evaluation of your deeds while alive. It would seem to me that the matter would be far more complicated.

            If you want to apply logical argument to this kind of epistemology, it simply does not hold water, because any way that you twist an turn the matter, it makes any divine essence less than perfect, which is self-contradictory. But then, maybe we were created by little gray aliens, and they, naturally, may be less than perfect. Again, I cannot voice an opinion, because I have no clue, A 2000-3500 year old collection of writings by humans just doesn’t qualify as proof of anything, or even as a basis of “faith.” Neither do more contemporary “faiths” such as Scientology or Mormonism.

            Independent research and the formation of one’s own spiritual system, on the other hand, does have some merit. It forces you to consider what role ethics play in your life, and which ethics are truly relevant to you. If I were a God judging a soul’s merit, I’d much rather look at their efforts in this area, and the actions flowing therefrom, rather than whether that person happene to believe in me or not.

            Just as an example: According to biblical ethics, homosexuality is a grave sin which will send its practitioners to hell and damnation. In my ethical convictions, I do not condemn homosexuality as an unethical – “”sinful” if you will – act in and of itself. If a homosexual leads an ethical life, finds a partner they are true to, don’t lie to and don’t cheat on as long as they have a covenant between each other, then they do not differ from a married heterosexual couple leading a life of respect for each other.

            If, on the other hand, they break such rules of human decency, then they are no better than a heterosexual couple where the same deceit takes place. Who you’re having sex with and of what gender they are is rather irrelevant in this context . With the advent of birth control, heterosexual sex is a sin according to the bible, because it most often is “merely” an act of love, and not necessarily of procreation. What divine essence would want to see its creation drown under overpopulation with ensuing disease, famine, suffering and death on the matter of a mere principle, which was valid when the total population of the Earth was around 200 million people, but which is now heading towards the 10 billion mark?

            As you see, I treat the debate of religion and spirituality in a completely different way if it is discussed as a topic of one’s own personal views and experiences. If you choose to discuss your beliefs with me as an individual and how they impact your life and those of others, I will discuss with you as I have been writing.

            But if religion is discussed as a matter of your (generally meant) divinely inspired truth vs. my ignorance, or your salvation vs. my damnation if I don’t believe in the same things as you, then my views focus on the merits of those propositions, and are far less charitable in the evaluation of such obtuse views which completely lack the ability to think critically. That’s what I brought with me from the Danish educational system, and I’m glad to have learned that.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I don't mean to seem too confrontational, but I just want to hit few nails on the head right quick :)

            1) To speak of time before the big bang makes as much sense as speaking of places to the north of the north pole; all of spacetime orginates at the big bang in the standard cosmological model.

            2) When you say nobody knows what will happen post-death, what sort of things do denote by the concept of knowing? What is it to know or to be known?

            3) Why should you think that Biblical ethics pegs homosexuality as such as grave–even, you seem to imply, unforgivable–sin?

            4) Christianity doesn't preach a divinely inspired truth, but rather the Truth, which is divine!

          • Tom Vidager

            Matthew,

            Who says that all space time originates from the Big Bang? No scientist contends that because they don't know the exact origin of the big bang. It could have been caused by the implosion of the previous universe in our dimension, and would thus be a continuous process that would exist in time.

            Your point 2 is nothing but blathering. Knowing pertains to the knowledge of scientific truths. Being known pertains to any kind of crap modern culture imposes on us, from being the winner of American Idol to being a mass murderer like Ted Bundy. You're not making a point that I can relate to.

            As for 3, the Bible condemns homosexuality in multiple passages, to the point of sodomy being name after the biblical town of Sodom that was destroyed by the supposed wrath of God.

            What is truth, said jesting Pilate? Truth is truth, and there is nothing demonstrably divine about it, except maybe in your deluded mind.

            If you want to engage in polemics with me, get an education and work on your intellectual skills so you know the difference between logic and making dumb statements, pal.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Tom, it seems you implicate me in those things of which you yourself are guilty.

            "Who says…? No scientist contends…"

            "Asking what the universe was like before the big bang is like asking what is north of the North Pole. It is a meaningless question." – Steven Hawking, renowned theoretical physicist

            Point 2, ironically, is specifically targeted at what appears to be blathering on your part about some sort of "knowledge" not related to material reality.

            Sodom yielded the word sodomy thousands of years later when people started to get all that Victorian prudishness. In Sodom, the problem is that you have a culture that–far from being liberated to embrace their homosexual or heterosexual identities as the case may be–would think nothing of perverse and vicious assault of vulnerable travelers staying in their city. By the way, they were sent there because God had *already* decided to destroy the city, according to the Bible, on account of the general wickedness, not homosexuality, of their culture and attitudes, repeatedly emphasized in the text, to which this simply bears further witness. It is never stated there that homosexuality was what made it evil. Rather it is that Lot took them into his home, insistently, and these strangers among them, guests in their land (to which the Jews could relate after their enslavement in Egypt), they wanted to treat in such a vile manner, the antithesis of Lot's hospitality (and the tradition of hospitality was/is a big deal in the Middle East)–to rape them, Lord knows how many times with such a crowd as that–beating them into submission, and most likely robbing everything they had. If it was seriously about the gay sex, why would Lot not object to or appear reviled by it? Rather, he objects to doing this to people he, as their host, feels an obligation to protect. If he had one, it seems to me that he would have offered his son rather than daughter, to them instead. Perhaps his aim was simply to point out the hypocrisy in how they would never do such a thing to a vulnerable person they knew, who lived among them permanently, and yet they could do this to total strangers–a lesson much needed for some in our culture today. So why do you perpetuate the idea that homosexual==rapist? I bet the perpetrators here weren't even really of homosexual identity.

            And about 4, what the hell *is* divine then in your understanding of that word?

          • mdterry

            and how do you explain the 500 people that saw Jesus after he resurrected from dead? guess they all lied.

          • Rainne

            How do you explain the hundreds of people who have been contacted and/or abducted by aliens, mdterry?

          • mdterry

            schizophrenia

          • Rainne

            Well, then, that’s how I explain your supposed 500 people who supposedly saw a dead guy supposedly walk around after he supposedly died.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_hysteria

            See also: The Emperor’s New Clothes.

          • mdterry

            above comment in reference to: Tom V – "Then they gave a couple of women a few shekels to go to the cave and come back shouting “he’s GONE.. it’s a MIRACLE” and Christ was resurrected."

          • Rainne

            good for you. Now answer my question, which was in reply to you.

    • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

      What’s your passion? See most people want to talk about or encourage others to try what they are passionate about. So let me ask…. are you not passionate about something in your life? If so do you not talk about it to others? Why should we as Christians be held to a different standard?

      Actually, I do not talk with everyone about the joys of writing code. I see no reason why they would be interested, as passionate as I may be about it. Nor were I to be on a diet, successfully losing weight (as I am), do I think there is anybody who cares, let alone who I would want to convince to lose weight, too.

      Trying to talk everyone into becoming Christian is entirely different from every other sort of passion. The way you do it must be several orders more annoying than the woman who is obsessed about her diet and needs to "share".

      • TBin

        I don’t usually start a conversation about my beliefs but I am quick to tell if asked. I pray for many and the opportunity to tell others about what has happened in my life, but I don’t do so unless asked. By the way I am asked a lot. By the way I passed the test with my boss and the Wiccan she sent in to me next. In my evaluation she did actually praise me for my tolerance and respect. See I believe if I live my life by example and people see the difference in my life, and God pricks their heart they are going to asked me what they are sensing. You can believe it or not but I have shared Christ with Atheist, Buddhist, and Wiccans and it’s been because they asked and now they are sharing Christ hopefully because someone senses or sees the change in their life not because they are pressuring them to listen. If you pressure someone to listen about the gospel they are going to pretend or they are going to offend unless God has pricked their heart and they are ready to hear.

        I am sorry that you feel others would not want to hear about your diet or your passion. If someone is interested or cares for you they do want to hear what is important to you.

        • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

          First, let me start by saying I'm also a christian. Respectfully, I read this implication that your boss is somehow "testing" you by hugging you and then sending a "Wiccan" in to do the same thing as something akin to paranoia. I work with mostly non-Christians and they hug me because I'm huggable, they like me and they are affectionate. That's it.

          I know you probably won't see this, but the point of John's post was for Christians to *listen*. To really *hear* what non-Christians need from us. And your post started out defensively and you've not stopped talking. You didn't reference any of what the non-Christians via John's Craigslist posts said. To me, that is a tragedy, it actually brings tears to my eyes. I wish you'd not do that. I wish you would listen. It's so important that we just listen and really just seek to understand what we're doing. You need to understand that as a Christian in America, you get listened to constantly. Laws reflect our values. Politicians cater to us. For hundreds of years, we've dictated what is "moral". We've left virtually no room for atheists and non-Christians to have any significant seat at the table. It's time we do that.

          You seem entitled to have an experience as a Christian on your own terms dictated by your own feelings (including excitement and passion for the Gospel). But true connection with others means it's not about you – in this instance, "you" being your faith in Christ, your desire to share it and the belief that everyone is after you because you're a Christian. Consider that you're not being persecuted if you don't get your way every second of the day in every conversation. I honestly don't mean to be insulting, I just believe that you and I and a lot of Christians are spoiled brats who at the first second we're confronted, countered or challenged, get defensive.

          Have you

    • emac

      @Tbin:

      I think you are confusing universal “freedoms, liberties, and rights” with “the ability to do whatever I want, and damn how it may make others feel”. You have every right to be a Christian. You have every right to say “I am a Christian” in any environment you wish. You (unelss the company has written policy against the display of ALL religious iconography, though those types of policies rarely stand up to scrutiny) have every right to have a Christian symbol, such a cross or crucifix, displayed in your office/cubicle or on your person. However, you DO NOT have a right to push your Christian beliefs on others within your work environment. Those people who don’t share your beliefs have every right to complain that you are engaging in activity which creates a hostile work environment for them, and they would probably win any ensuing arbitration/lawsuit/etc. This is NOT proof that Christianity is persecuted or that you are being treated as a second-class citizen because of your religious beliefs — it is simply proof that you are a pushy ass and that you have no regard for the privacy and personal boundaries of others. If your co-coworkers engage in water-cooler conversation about the previous nights’ events, and you don’t want to hear about their night at the strip club or their date with their boyfriend, you’re free to excuse yourself from the conversation. If you don’t leave, then when it’s your turn, you can happily chime in with “Well, I was at church all night,” because that’s what you were doing! Just don’t feel hurt or discriminated against if no one wants to ask you for details and the conversation quickly moves on to Rick-from-Accounting’s new boat. Religion is a very personal and private experience for many people, after all. If someone wants to ask you for more information about your church or your beliefs, great for you and them! Though I would recommend waiting until after your workday ends to have a religious conversation with them — you won’t get in trouble for doing non-work activities during work hours AND you’ll have plenty of time to go into detail if they so desire.

      Hopefully (and this is a big hope, based on the language in your post) you don’t actually engage in disrepectful behavior (such as active proselytizing or uninvited conversations about religion) at work, or in other public places for that matter. By the way, if there are policies at your place of employment that forbid “vulgar language” or physical contact between employees, you have every right to complain to HR about those activities you have witnessed that have made you uncomfortable. Be prepared, however, to possibly have the company rule against you — again, NOT because you are a Christian, but because you may have no grounds on which to complain, either because company policiy does not forbid these activities (which are usually permitted on a limited basis) or because you lack the proof to support your claims.

      As an aside, your post makes it seem as if you are uncomfortable with gay people touching you in any fashion, even in a platonic form. Do you have this same aversion when straight people of the opposite sex touch you? If not, you have a double standard yourself — “this class of people usually attracted to males is worse than this other class of people usually attracted to males”. (I am under the impression you are male yourself, but correct me if I’m wrong.)

      I work for the federal government — the entity that mandated common employment policies and procedures that ensure no one is discriminated against or made to feel they are in a hostile work environment. So you would think that I never see or hear about church or religion, or be told about any deities, or anything like that, correct? Wrong. I often see fliers posted about memorial services at various churches and cathedrals, some co-workers have images of religious significance in their work areas, and religious conversations happen at times. My direct supervisor even has a business card holder on his desk with a Bible verse carved into it, and the cards inside the holder are evangelizing tools, not actual business cards.

      I am intelligent enough to realize these examples are simply evidence that other people in the office are Christians. Unless they start trying to convert me or others to their specific flavor of Christianity, there is no problem. Unless my boss hands me a “business card” one day and says “I thought you might need this,” I have no problem. I have no legal standing to prevent others from expressing their Christianity through decorating their personal spaces or making simple statements about their religious identity, but neither do they have legal standing to force me to listen to religious messages or participate in religious activities. I don’t have the right to do those things to other people either, by the way.

      You also complain about non-Christians pushing “their beliefs” on you, that you are being forced to accept these nameless”other beliefs” that are so harmful to you and yours… As an example, there is a difference between your child’s science class being taught a RELIGIOUS creation explanation AS IF IT WERE SCIENCE and your child’s science class being taught a SCIENTIFIC theory. Religious schools exist, if you would like your children to have your particular religious beliefs infused into otherwise secular subjects. Secular public schools are not the venue for this to take place, however. If you want religious instruction for your children, send them to a religious school. (And by religious instruction, I mean proselytizing, as is the case with ID and creationism being offered as valid scientific arguments, when they are in fact venues to introduce or implement Christianity; not familiarization, as takes place in literature classes when learning about religious, mythological and cultural texts.)

      I have a sneaking suspicion that when you refer to other beliefs being “forced” upon you, you actually mean other beliefs merely existing and not giving way for your own beliefs. You cannot claim a double standard of “tolerance” if you believe you have an absolute right to speak about your religion to others or practice it, but that others don’t have the same right to speak about their religion or practice it. Just because someone else is rude to you, doesn’t mean that you have been persecuted. It just means someone was rude to you! Maybe you deserved it, maybe you didn’t, but, however inappropriate, rudeness from those that don’t share your beliefs certainly isn’t a pattern of discrimination. It seems you want Christians to have the right to grandstand their beliefs while others should keep theirs quiet, becuase it “offends” Christians or something. I don’t think many here are arguing that Christians should necessarily have to keep quiet either, but we are asking that Christians understand that we don’t have to listen to their sermons or accept them or even keep quiet about how we think Christians’ beliefs aren’t necessarily true. I think all sides have the right to argue, but we need to learn how to respectfully argue — without the rhetoric and fear-mongering.

      There are many more things I could argue about from your post, but I’m getting a headache having to refer back to the “wall o’ text” and its “????????” and “!!!!!!!”. Not that I think you’ll actually come back to this site after having gotten your message of “I’m discriminated against as a Christian” across.

      • TBin

        Well, evidently I need to get better at expressing myself. Actually there is a lot of what you said I agree with. However, there are many things you were very wrong about. The gay work experience wasn’t that it was gay or sexual it was the fact nobody else was pushed or tested in the same way. It was openly expressed it was attempt to see if I would express any aversion or attempt to use my faith. By the way I DID NOT. I no longer work there by my choice. I have had close gay friends in my life and I am far from homophobic and no I am female. I do not at any time, that I am aware of pushed my faith, beliefs or try to witness to someone that has not asked. I believe we live in a different kind of world and Christians cannot be the same in their approach to sharing as in the past one thing the environment, people, and the culture has changed. I can also tell you I have always had the respect of my coworkers and peers because of the way I am. I am not pushy. I have never visited a site like this in the past, cannot say I ever will again. Most of what I have said has been twisted to meet the needs of others to prove a point or changed to mean what I never intended. I will take the blame for not being able to communicate well. I followed this because I was curious not because I was trying to convert or change anyone I don’t claim to be able to do that. My child is in a Christian school (by his request before anyone bashes me for that) but he is taught about other beliefs, religions, and the cultures of the world. I teach him to respect others and have relationships not based on orientation, race, culture, or faith. I believe his faith is strong enough to stand up to what others are telling him. Perhaps even a raving madman telling him his parents are delusional liars. Here again it was a point that I was trying to make that people all have to live with people that have other beliefs and faiths we should be respective to the person first. Bashing, pushing, and judging one another isn’t the way to have an environment in which we can live peacefully with one another. Again I have seen more pushy behavior, judging, name calling, phobia, and poor treatment toward the Christians on this site than the other way around. In the beginning of theses post it was one of the main things people said they hated about Christians. I just don’t understand why it’s ok to bash me just because I’m Christian no more than it is ok for someone to push or bash you for not being one. By the way while some of your information was true some is not how it happens in the real world; Don’t forget I’m in the real world too.

    • mdterry

      I love you and was so encouraged by this. Amen brother. Thank you!

      • Tom Vidager

        It doesn't take much to make a simpleton floor-level christian happy. The smart christians leaders require lots of money, casual sex with church members of both sexes and any age as well as adulation to make them happy.

        When will you people wake up and discover you are worshipping the structures Satan took over long, long ago?

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      Just like the different posts referring to keeping the Christian perspectives out of: MY kid’s science class, government, etc…. What about MY kids having to learn the alternative forms of creation, alternative life styles, or reading about the gods of mythology.>>>

      Umm – they don't. Public schools aren't going to teach "theology", it's not a religious institution and Creationism is not accepted science. So your kids – if you choose (the operative word) to enlist them in public school – will learn evolution which is our nation's understood scientific approach to how life began. As far as Greek mythology, that's the root of a significant body of art and literature so of course they are going to learn that as well.

      You're not victimized by the public school system. You can choose to home school or place your children in private schools should you wish to customize their education, but public schools should not teach religion.

  • TBin

    Ok I’m tired and bored. I am not trying to convert any of you it was never my intention. I just wanted you to see most of you are doing what you accuse Christians of doing to you. Most are bashing, hateful, name calling, judging, and trying to change the essence of my posts. Great job in proving my point! I was just like you until 2001 at age 40 and a God touched my life. Regardless of what you’ve said I will pray for you and hope you have peace in your life.

    • Marita

      Ah, and there it is again…

      You were just like us, were you? Was that back when you were just a bashing, hateful, name-calling and judging heathen? Gosh, you know me so well!

      "Just like" us?!

      Seriously, are you for real, or are you just trolling this post?

      • TBin

        No actually I wasn’t referring to bashing, hateful, name-calling and judging that has been going on with this post. I was talking about how I did not want people pushing their beliefs down my throat either. I am still trying to make that point. No matter which place you stand rather you are Christian, agonist, atheists, or whatever you label yourself you shouldn’t be so intolerant of others. See if a person is sincere and lives his life according to his beliefs they are going to offend someone who doesn’t think like them. So why does all the bashing, hateful, name-calling and judging have to be the result. Again my point is everyone should have the same rules it’s called justice not Christian.

        • Marita

          See, this I can absolutely agree with, but outside of that I am having real trouble figuring out what you’re actually saying. With every post you’ve made here I keep getting confused about where you stand, so I don’t understand what you mean, and I feel like the wires are crossed somewhere.

          But okay. You didn’t (and still don’t) want anyone’s beliefs forced upon you. I get that, after a bit of rereading. I’m sorry for getting up in arms about the whole thing, but the “nonbelievers” terminology issue that’s been discussed upthread has me on edge since I really do not like the implications behind being called a nonbeliever. Not only does it make those without any stated faith sound like we’re somehow inferior, but it also keeps creating this unnecessary divide between “us” and “them”. Anyway.

          Having once been in our shoes, I hope you understand that not everyone is going to start believing in God like you did. It’s awesome for you that you found meaning and purpose that way, but I am still not pleased with the idea of you or anyone else praying for me, if those prayers express of a wish and desire for me to follow in your footsteps and become a Christian. Why? Because it’s intrusive and belittling and you’re stepping on my turf. My life isn’t like some half-empty cup which ought to be filled.

          • mdterry

            You don't believe what I believe… therefore to me, you are a non believer… I don't believe in what you believe, therefore to you… i am a non believer. Who cares what the title is? It is what it is – we disagree, and ya know what.. that is okay. I can no more get all bent out of shaped because you don't believe what I believe, than I can Yell at God for not doing something about it. He's the sovereign God and He saves. It doesn't matter two loads what anyone says to you or doesn't say to you… if God wants to reach you He can meet you exactly where you are and he doesn't need any of us.

            But one thing I do know…. God loves those who don't believe in Him or His Word. And, He always has a way of getting to you. He has a way of piercing the heart of the hard, He sure did a number on mine. I"m glad he did. It changed my life.

          • Marita

            Not so.

            You don't believe what I believe, therefore to me, you believe differently. I don't believe what you believe, therefore to you, I am still a non-believer, no matter what I do or say. I am freaking tired of this discussion, because we're going in circles and you're not listening. Instead you're cheerfully steamrolling right across everyone's arguments with your talk of a god half the people in here don't actually believe in! I get that God is important to you, but you're never going to convince anyone like that, and we don't want or need you to! And don't presume to know anything about my heart — it is far from hard.

          • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

            It doesn’t bother me to be called an unbeliever, or a nonbeliever. I am an atheist and don’t believe in any deities. But I can see where someone who believes differently from you, as many do, would get upset when they are called that. Using it is to say that person believes in nothing, which is untrue, or that what they believe in doesn’t matter, which is insulting.

            The standard for belief is not whether people believe in your God exactly as you describe him. Each person knows for him or herself whether they have belief and how they identify themselves.

            It seriously makes no sense for people to go around calling each other names that we know offend others. The name “heretic” is no longer commonly in use, but in fact it describes perfectly many of the differences between different flavors of Christianity.

        • Tom Vidager

          Now you want “justice” and not Christianity. But TBIn… you’re talking about SECULAR justice. Our justice system is not based on the Bible, but on Salic law coming from heathens.

          That’s like saying you want to listen to science in school instead of instruction in matters of faith.

          You just don’t get it, do you….?

          • TBin

            ummm…… Yep your right I don't get what your saying. sorry?

    • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

      TBin, some food for thought.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/uganda-gay-righ

      Again, as a non-Chrisitian my wish is for Christians to ACTUALY LISTEN.

      REALLY listen.

      But, when you are put into a box against your will by folks who believe god wants it that way, well, its hard to communicate with those who cannot hear for they already have judged.

      • TBin

        I am sorry you are exactly right! It is hard to communicate with those who cannot hear for they already have judged you.

    • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

      Well, then, it's a good thing that nothing fails like prayer.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      I'm honestly struggling where anyone called you a name here. Your behavior has reflected a defensiveness, a touchiness and hyper-sensitivity that to me communicates more of an insecurity in what you're saying. In short, you actually led with hostility – perhaps that's why you see it being leveled at you.

  • http://www.barnmaven.typepad.com Mary P

    I don’t really like the word “nonbelievers” for referring to non-Christians. I’m Christian, but my main interest in other people isn’t about what religion they choose (or don’t choose). I feel like my job as a Christian is to do the two basic things Jesus commanded: Love God. Love others. That’s pretty basic. I think it shows a great deal of disrespect to assume that other people aren’t capable of exercising the free will that God gave them, or to assume that the belief system they currently hold isn’t something they’ve already given a great deal of thought to.

    I don’t get how some Christians can’t realize that it is totally disrespectful of others to treat them as ‘potential converts’ or ‘projects.’ Humanity is wonderful in its diversity and people have so much value as individuals, regardless of their religion. I think more people would be open to Christianity if Christians weren’t such sanctimonious, ‘holier than thou’ finger-pointing types.

    • http://www.barnmaven.typepad.com Mary P

      I want to add that it took me years, after a bad experience with an evangelical church, to realize that just because some of God's "people" were jerks didn't mean that HE was. Being able to separate my relationship with God from my relationships with other Christians was what has allowed me to fully pursue my relationship with Christ. I've also been very blessed to find a church that is respectful and welcoming where I can go praise God and not be forced to listen to someone telling me about how everyone else is "sinful" and that I have to go "save" them.

      • Tom Vidager

        I'm OK with being called a "nonbeliever." I call Christians "idol-worshippers." It's all good….

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          Tom: As a favor, I'm asking you to please show a little more respect. You've taken on a real vitriolic, caustic tone I'd appreciate you toning down. I know you think Christians are delusional idiots. That's fine. But if you could maybe just be a little kinder in your articulations, I personally would appreciate it. Doesn't have to be a lot kinder — but a little would be beautiful. Thanks a lot.

          • Tom Vidager

            Sure John, I'll can it – I let my sarcasm get the better of me at times. 'Tis true there's not a whole lot to discuss anymore.

            I don't necessarily think Christians are delusional idiots. Not any more than followers of other religions, agnostics and atheists are.

            I just find it amusing that some think they have all the answers wrapped up in an "ism," "ity" or "am."

            Admittedly, though, it's intellectually more comfortable to think that you do.

  • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

    Christianity is all about judging: "Hello! Are you a Christian? Do you know God? Do you have Jesus?"

    Christianity teaches to seek others out for conversion purposes. For obviously if they are not a Christian they dont know god.

    And that is my main gripe with Christianity: It isnt about sharing at all, but shoving. Christianity does NOT want to learn or hear about how non-Christians views and experiences with the Divine. That would be sharing. It wants you to seek others and see if they know the bible god to know wether to treat that person as a believer or a non-believer in Jesus. And if they dont believe then they are treated as targets for conversion.

    You are not treated as an equal past 'Hello.'

    When you are put into a box without your consent and forced to communicate via that box then you will meet resistance.

  • id

    This reminds me, once in a conversation with a christian friend, he told me that all the good deeds I ever were to do ( I was at the time serving in a charity project for the blind) existed only because God was acting through me, and without his action, I wouldnt have done anything good at all. Whenever we did the right thing, as atheists, it was because God so had wished it and not really because we could control ourselves. Apparently the same thing applied to people that werent of his religion, holy men and the like, from other religions. They were doing good deeds only because the christian God was acting through them to show them the error of their ways.

  • Chris

    There are three sides to every story:

    Yours.

    Mine.

    And the truth.

    So tell me what you want to tell me, but that doesn’t mean it is true. My thinking the way I think also does not mean it is true. No one knows THE truth. It is very likely we never will know THE truth. So for now, I like to think that your truth (God and Jesus and so on) is not THE truth, but I am not claiming my truth (currently sitting high and pretty on the fence) is THE truth either.

    Love your God if it makes you happy, but I am going to love myself.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    so true!

    and yet you speak of “THE truth” as if *that* were God or something…

    • Chris

      I did not speak of THE truth as being God or something. That is the Christian's truth. I do not know what the truth could even begin to be. For all I know, those stupid Matrix movies were the truth.

      The problem with any story is that no matter who you are you are going to see it differently than all the other people, hence the 3 sides of any story, which is a simplistic summary but it works.

      My current personal beliefs have very little basis on my past religious ventures (I have a post above describing those). I do not know if I will always be this way, or if someday I will go back to being another sheep believing in something that may or may not actually exist outside of my thoughts. I will know when that day gets here.

      And i really hate possibilities, such as the "possibility" of there begin a heaven or hell. I say there is not. Someone else says there is. And there we have it, 2 sides to a three sided story. Who is right?

      • Matthew Tweedell

        "Who is right?"

        I think you already know the answer to that. Perhaps it will help you see it to reword the question just a little:

        What is right?

        Well, obviously, the truth. And if the Matrix movies were found to be the truth, a true Christian ought to profess faith the matrix movies. It's not like "God" is what distinguishes the "Christian's truth". Lots of these incomplete—and often quite fallacious—"truths" involve god. I venture to argue that your "THE truth", or that which you call THE truth while wisely acknowledging it may not be what you call YOUR truth, fits the very definition of a god and, I believe, THE God. Among three sides of a story there is yours, there is mine, and whose, prey tell, is the third?

        (If you would choose the answer "no one's"—which doesn't seem to me at all preferable to the answer "everyone's"—then I must ask, who do you believe is God? No one? That's what I thought.)

        And how does one go about reducing heaven and hell into matters of possibility/probability? And is not this question in-and-of-itself vain meaninglessness?

        God doesn't create true sheep to just follow blindly; if it were to be so, why would sheep have eyes?

        In any event, this much is clear: your right, Chris!

        Sometimes we're right in more ways than we even know.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          oops, that should read *you're right…

  • KH

    Christians, those primarily referred to in this post (those many of us don’t believe to be the ‘true’ Christians) have the ability to create so much harm. One person commented that many people laugh at them – the Pat Robertsons, etc. – but there is a point where we can’t laugh because they cause harm to others. I will use an overused description in our society that may often, more so, apply to them – terrorists. They terrorize others with their judgement, their desire to convert the masses with hatemongering all in the name of God, and their control over politicians who pass harmful laws based on ignorance and fear of losing that particular ‘constintuency’.

    Some time ago, my mother decided she would find Christianity and began to attend a church regularly. I had attended a church of the same denomination before and found it was not my cup of tea, but I was happy for her that she had found solace. The day came when she decided to be baptized in the church. Althoughshe had not attended long, I wanted to support her decision. So, my brothers, husand and I agreed to attend her baptism. We arrived at the church where no one acknowledged us. Okay, a lot of people, maybe an oversight. The regular pastor announced a special, nationally known pastor who was honoring the church by offering a sermon. The guest pastor was passionate, full of conviction and a total… well, all of the adjectives I am thinking I will not use here. There was no love, no caring, no real purpose in his sermon, except to promote hate. With my gay brother standing next to me, whom I love and adore, the man who professed to be a Christian spit out horrible expressions of contempt and hatred for homosexuals with everything just short of genocide as a solution to the ‘gay problem’. Had I not been in shock and not wanted to embarrass my mother, I would have walked up the pulpit and asked him how he could say all of that and at thesame time profess to be a Christian. I do wish I had simply walked out, but I was there for mom, I told myself. That led to resentment for my mother. We had other issues, but I lost a lot of respect for her that day for not rounding us up and refusing to be baptised by haters. I didn’t fully understand how angry I was until later. Not only did my mom condone his statements and allow my brother to suffer his hateful words, she later told him that in fact, he was going to hell – in a matter of fact way – because he is gay. He is who he is – as he was born. And, born to her no less. She was willing to listen to and believe strangers over the man she had birthed and whom she knew to be a loving, caring, really incredible human being. I believe in God – I have felt God’s grace and been a recipient of God’s love. Organized religion? Yeah, not so much.

  • http://friendlymama.blogspot.com Mary Linda

    Standing in the Need of Prayer

    1. Not my father, not my mother, but it's me, O Lord,

    Standing in the need of prayer.

    Not my sister, not my brother, but it's me, O Lord,

    Standing in the need of prayer.

    2. Not the people that are shouting, but it's me, O Lord,

    Standing in the need of prayer.

    Not the members I've been doubting, but it's me, O Lord,

    Standing in the need of prayer.

    3. Not the preacher, not the sinner, but it's me, O Lord,

    Standing in the need of prayer.

    Not the deacon, not the teacher, but it's me, O Lord,

    Standing in the need of prayer.

    Chorus:

    It's me, it's me, it's me, O Lord,

    Standing in the need of prayer.

    It's me, it's me, it's me, O Lord,

    Standing in the need of prayer.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9d8iMWBno4&fe

  • mkfs

    This is obviously an emotionally-charged topic. The non-Christians tend to air past grievances, the Christians seem to feel threatened. Neither side has done much to reduce the us-versus-them rhetoric, which is unfortunate. In fact, the question on *both* sides seems to be, "Why do THEY hate US?"

    There are some recurring points on both sides which are founded mainly in ignorance, and serve only to muddy the debate:

    * Christians are hypocritical. This includes 'Christians are intolerant', as it is hypocritical for any self-avowed follower of Christ's message to be intolerant of others. Sadly, hypocrisy is a human trait; the Christians have no monopoly on it. Any individual who lacks integrity (and most do) is going to be a hypocrite.

    * Christians want to convert non-Christians. This is not true of all Christians. Proselytizing may be due to a sect (such as the Jehovah's Witnesses) declaring that evangelism is a requirement of faith. Personal attempts may be made by individuals that wish to share the joy and inner peace they have found; these must be construed as the actions of overly excitable individuals (like an acquaintance that insists on sharing the latest music/cuisine/movie/drug they've discovered), not of Christians. Some individuals are ruled or even driven by their faith. This can be disconcerting to discover, like uncovering a serious addiction in a trusted friend: their ability to assess a situation and make decisions has been compromised. Again, it is a human failing, and not a trait of Christianity.

    * All Christians are alike. The previous two fallacies generally reduce to this one. A Baptist is not a Roman Catholic, and neither is a Born Again Christian. The fact that some sects have distasteful rules or beliefs does not mean that all Christians share them. The fact that some Christians act as poor human beings does not mean that all Christians do.

    * People are either 'believers' or 'nonbelievers'. There is a third class of people for whom the question of belief is irrelevant. Some of these people are incurious, some have accepted that many aspects of life are unknowable. This secular philosophy is common in Europe, as an early poster mentioned.

    * Science is the enemy of religion. The goal of science is to develop an understanding of the world: to find cause-effect relationships which can be exploited to command man's environment, as directed in Genesis. Science causes fire to be created, shelter to be build, crops to be grown and harvested. Attempting to discredit "science" due to the theories, beliefs, or mistakes of scientists is no better than attempting to discredit "Christianity" due to the indiscretions, hate speech, or outright crimes of religious leaders.

    * Faith is a prerequisite for morality and ethics. The foundation of personal morality and an ethical code is self-integrity: being clear, honest, and consistent with oneself. Adopting the moral code of another entails an abdication of personal responsibility, as the determination of what is right and wrong is no longer determined within the individual (which, in turn, leads easily to hypocrisy). The language which many Christians use to describe their relationship with God tends to reinforce this sense of abdication: God is a loving parent, a watchful shepherd, or one's armor and shield.

    In a nutshell, many of the things each side dislikes about the other are simply human failings that have been generalized. Attributing these failings to "the other side" only serves to weaken one's own position.

    There's not much to add to the debate itself, really. The Christians need to stop providing justifications for self-righteous behavior, and the non-Christians need to stop blaming Christianity for attracting self-righteous personalities.

    • Dean

      @mkfs – get out of here with your balanced, even-handed, logical response… feh…

  • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

    Hi mkfs.

    As a non-Christian my frustration for me stems from the core belief of Christianity: the Christian concept that Christ is the only way to know God and get to heaven.

    All stop.

    I do mean all stop. Nothing else can be said. At least from the non-Christian that is. Nothing else can be shared for Christ is the only way and that's when all communication between Christian and non-Christian pretty much stops.

    Christ is the only way. Period. End of sentence. End of sharing. End of conversation.

    How can I as a non-Christian offer anything to the converstation once that is laid out on the table? What can I share that would be of value for the Christian to want to stick around and hear what a hellbound, devil deceived fillthy rag as myself has to say? I may as well pack up and leave the room for all the unwanted and useless non-Christian babble I could share that the Christian would find interesting.

    Christ is the only way = there is nothing the non-Christian has or can say that is of any worth for they dont have god.

    Christ is the only way = the non-Christian knows nothing of God.

    Christ is the only way = all communication is useless for the non-Christian is not coming from a place where they have/now God.

    Christ is the only way = Just shut up and leave for all I could say that the Chritrian would WANT to hear.

    How can I share, how can I communicate anything of spirituality that has any worth? There isnt and I cant.

    The problem of Christianity is that there is NO sharing when it comes to Christianity. Christianity does not want anything from the non-Christian except for the non-Christian to agree that : Christ is the only way.

    And THAT is my main p[roblem with Christianity: Christianity does NOT want to hear us. How can one get around the all inclusive concept of 'We have God and you dont." You cant get around it for Christianity does not want to hear the non-Christian. Really, it doesnt.

    It cannot. For to hear anything other than 'Christ is the only way.' is blasphemous, is of the devil, is sheer nonsense, is absolute stupidity.

    In reality there is no sharing. There is only the Christian way and the wrong way. Christ is the only way and all other non-Christian concepts and faiths are the wrong way.

    All others need not apply. All others just need to shut up and leave the room for CHRIST IS THE ONLY WAY. Not much left to say, is there?

    Fine. Heard you. But you arent hearing us. Conversation is over. Got it.

    Buh-bye. C'ya. Caio babe.

    It's all rather frustrating….

    • http://friendlymama.blogspot.com Mary Linda

      If it's worth anything to you, I call myself a Christian, but I don't believe that Jesus is the only way to know God or to be "good". I believe "the inner Christ" or "that still small Voice" within each of us is our connection to God (the Divine, Spirit) not matter what we call it or how we "hear" it. I think even folks who call themselves atheists have that inner guide. It comes down to being able to really hear or feel or be aware in some way of what we're being called to do–what is right for each of us individually in each moment. It is my understanding that God infuses everything but I also understand and accept that not everybody is, can or even wants to be aware and in touch with God for whatever reason. It's not my place to "correct", educate or guide anyone else.

      Mary Linda

      • Rainne

        Why does it have to be the inner Christ? Why can't it just be one's conscience? I don't have an inner Christ, because I don't believe in the Christ of the Bible. I do, however, have a conscience.

    • Tom Vidager

      Julia,

      Your frustration is understandable. However, "the Christian concept that Christ is the only way to know God and get to heaven" is a fallacy. One caused by over-zealous writers of the 4 canonical gospels and exacerbated first by Irenaeus of Lyons, finally by Jerome and in between by the various councils and synods of Rome (382),Hippo (393), and Carthage (397 and 419) which established the bible canon.

      If you read the Gospel of Thomas, rediscovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945, which some scholars believe may date back to as early as 50 AD, you will get another perspective. The earliest date of writing would, incidentally, make it contemporary with the earliest writings contained in the canonical bible.

      Unfortunately, the Gospel of Thomas never made it into the bible canon, thanks to the above early clergy, church fathers and synods. There are likely several reasons for this; It may not have been known in the theological centers of Rome and Alexandria, since it isn't mentioned by sources from those cities until the 230's AD. Secondly, it appears to have been popular with the Manichæans, which would automatically have made it suspect, as Mani (216–276 AD) was declared a heretic. Finally, the Gospel of Thomas has some unique elements, such as being a compendium of the sayings of Jesus and not a narrative, omitting the crucifixion, and other non-canonical passages.

      Of greater interest is the fact that in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus nowhere says that the only way to heaven is through belief in him. He indicates that he can facilitate the process of getting to heaven, but that it is up to the individual to make the effort and the individual's responsibility to get there. For example:

      (3) Jesus said, "If those who lead you say, 'See, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."

      (44) Jesus said, "Whoever blasphemes against the Father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the Son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven."

      (55) Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where did you come from?', say to them, 'We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established [itself] and became manifest through their image.' If they say to you, 'Is it you?', say, 'We are its children, we are the elect of the Living Father.' If they ask you, 'What is the sign of your father in you?', say to them, 'It is movement and repose.'"

      (108) Jesus said, "He who will drink from my mouth will become like Me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will become revealed to him."

      So as you can see, in the Gospel of Thomas the emphasis is on knowledge of the self and the nature of the divine, externally and internally of oneself. The Gnostic branch of the early church (branded heretical and eradicated) has a completely different way of interpreting Christ. Gnostics considered Jesus as a light that had shown the path to God. It was up to the individual, however, to follow his path towards "salvation" by living as Jesus' example had shown. THAT was the way to god through Christ – it wasn't through the simple act of belief in him. The Gospel of Thomas basically states that Jesus said (viz above) that it was not a sin to blaspheme god or himself, but that blaspheming the divinity within oneself was unpardonable.

      It is a pity that the unholy alliance between the catholic church and Roman imperial power came about to eradicate any voices which didn't support this structure of power and aggrandizement of individuals in the worldly hierarchy. We should be aware of these facts, and that we can't blame Jesus for being misrepresented by people who most definitely were not divinely inspired.

      • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

        Tom, thanks for replying.

        Though I appreiciate what you are saying, many a Christian will simply say that if it is not in the bible then it is not of God. So much of what you posted will simply be dismissed and, well, there we are again…

        There is for me way too much blood, fear, hate and death in the bible for me to believe any of it to ever be of god. And as to Jesus, well, if he actually ever existed, I do not think he was anything more than a man with a radically different spin on his faith of the time. I can appreciate what he supposedly tried to say without having to see him as god incarnate or put him on a pedistal to be worshipped.

        Unfortunately, as many a Christian has told me, that means I am going straight to hell.

        I find that the ideology that says anyone who tries to live a life of compassion and kindness regardless of faith or lack of one will still go to hell for failure to worship a god in a book that supposedly is all about loving and forgiveness fails miserably.

        And because of that I am STILL going to hell in some Christian folk's eyes. I guess I'm just screwed….

        • Tom Vidager

          Julia,

          I don't really care what many a Christian may say. The opinions of closed-minded christians are of absolutely no import to me. Those who are open to a good discussion I'm happy to talk with, even if chances are we'll never agree on the nature of Christ, god and the holy ghost. We will, however, agree on most of the ethics expressed in the bible even if we disagree on whether that makes one of us a christian or not.

          I in no way disagree with you about the Old Testament portion of the bible. It has no place in any kind of ethical system, just like the Qu'ran fails miserably on the count of its condoning violence and murder.

          Who cares if christians think we're going to hell? THEY don't know we are, and they don't even know if they are. I worry more about paying my next mortage payment than I do about going to heaven or hell. I care more about how I act in life towards others regardless of their faith or lack thereof.

          If we end up in hell, let's find a good bar and I'll buy you a Bourbon Street Blaze to celebrate the fact that there IS an afterlife. And there are worse things than being screwed, as the British say…. ;)

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            Um, if I may: Amen.

          • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

            Oh I like you. ;)

            Make that a cuppajoe and it's a date.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Dear Julia and Mary Linda,

      I don’t mean to seem intolerant, but what Way is there unto Truth but Perfect Logos? What Way is there to Love but through Love’s incarnation? And in what else but the Holy Spirit of Truth and Love is there Life everlasting? Can we find Truth in just believing that something is however we want to think that it is? Can we love without being formed in real material substance?

      Truth is one; sages call It by various names. Yet what Way thereto can be found but on the path of righteousness, that straight and narrow Way (from which we all are innately prone to wander) which reveals itself in Divine Wisdom?

      If you have answers, I’m all ears, since I would love to be more tolerant if I could do so honestly without compromising my integrity.

      • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

        "what Way is there unto Truth but Perfect Logos? What Way is there to Love but through Love’s incarnation?

        Matthew, define 'perfect logos' then 'love's incarnation'.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Perfect Logos is highest reason, without flaw — straight the mind of God, as it were — thought lacking any contradiction given a form recognized as bearing meaning — the first principle ontologically proceeding from absolute Truth, which remains, ultimately, hidden to us (anything we think of it might prove to be in error) but for its disclosure by the sole legitimate Way of divine (as opposed to its often-in-error human imitation) Reason, the True Light, by which Truth might be seen (though our vision of it still might error), the one and only path to Truth, as far as I can tell. And Love's incarnation is its presence in the flesh, not as some disembodied spirit, but literally among our very corporal essence — as the material body must come first, then the spiritual, and spirit, it seems, doesn't exist except in possession of some body, which may be corporate (as a relationship among individuals) or individual (as a relationship among parts thereof, in particular those parts which constitute the soul).

          Both of these (pure Logos and pure Love–ideal Rationalism and ideal Humanism) find their synthesis in unification in the Christ.

          • Rainne

            Your argument fails because you do not have any idea what you are talking about.

            1) The word LOGOS does not mean reason, it means WORD.

            2) Reason has nothing to do with the mind of any god.

            3) Any church will tell you that reason is the enemy of faith.

            4) The god of the Christian Bible has nothing to do with love and everything to do with fear, autocracy, persecution, murder, rape and torture; therefore the incarnation of the god of the Christian Bible cannot have anything to do with the incarnation of love.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            It's true that "logos" may be accurately translated that way, but it is the sense of the word "word" that is important here. In Greek, there's more than one word that could be translated as "word". Logos refers to the thought behind the word, the divine Logos would be the thought made known to us as the True Word, where word means something like "saying", not fully-inflected morpheme, like when we say that someone keeps their 'word'. Logos refers to the attempt to convey some sort of understanding, and as such provides the root of the suffix in geology, biology, sociology, etc. It also is the root of the word logic, as it really does refer to the logic behind the statement (or "word") it is applied to.

            I apologize, but I find the rest of your arguments not worth my time at present. Perhaps I'll get to it later this evening. They seem rather trivially false however.

          • Rainne

            Don't bother. You're an idiot and I have no further interest in hearing the ridiculous rambling that comes from your mouth.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Rainne, you make me smile :). I'm sorry I'm an idiot. No human being in fact knows (or is capable of knowing) even the tiniest fraction of all there is to know! I appreciate your honesty in how you feel about me, so I will be honest with you too, that I'm disappointed that you don't objectively look at the accuracy of these objections before you claim them. I can only guess that this is because this is somewhat of an emotional topic for you. (I don't mean that in a bad way; as John's most recent post points out, religion itself is ultimately all about emotions; I don't consider your being passionate to be a bad thing.)

            I can see you have some level of knowledge about Christianity, but it seems you've stopped at that–for example, having learned that Logos means Word but not wanting to delve any further into the meaning of this term (which could easily be found online in various encyclopedias and Greek dictionaries). So perhaps something happened that drove you away from faith. Sadly, some do act like reason is the enemy of faith, but the orthodox theology of Christianity (especially adhered to today in Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox communities) and I myself actually claim faith IN reason! (Yes, I'm aware that many within those communities I mentioned are nevertheless quite unreasonable. What can I say? They're human beings.) And the New Testament repeatedly asserts that God IS love!

            Yes, Christianity is currently quite a bit messed up in some serious ways. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't have faith. Now, I'm not saying that you have to follow any particular set of rules, or pray/meditate/worship to any particular name. I will say, however, that the world needs changing… and it will be changed! You just wait and see. And if you want to leave your mark on the world–something of your own spirit that will survive even after your body has turned to dust–you can be a part of it too, by putting love before bitterness and truth before conflict, setting things right – one thing at a time – where now they may seem impossibly wrong. And if you want help in overcoming these obstacles or better understanding some things, feel free to message me on facebook, Rainne: http://www.facebook.com/waiter.call

          • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

            Matthew, your argument makes as much sense to us as it would to you if I told you that you should worship Isis because She is the embodiment of all knowledge, wisdom, truth, beauty, love, and grace.

            How do I know this? Because She told me so.

            That's what your all your arguments about perfect knowledge and truth sound like to us.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            What would be wrong with worshipping Isis? (As long as it is clearly understood that an idol representing Her is not in fact She Herself.)

            Especially if there were a once-living person to associate with Her, one who truly did so inspirationally embody those virtues that She gained a huge following within a few decades at a time with no mass media, high-speed travel, or even the printing press, perhaps by giving Her life for these values. And if, somehow, it might be then that She isn't really dead at all! And that I too could have Life beyond my death by pursuing these virtues in all things, though even as I fail in them, She'd be more than willing to grant me forgiveness if truly I repented! And then, if only there were a large community of fellow believers that I could be a part of, providing a vast support structure, helping me to grow in faith and understanding, joining me in my greatest joys and sorrows (like Holy Matrimony under Isis, or when those I love depart this world to be eternally together with Isis).

            I would love to worship Isis. Indeed, I do worship Isis! After all, Isis is just a name, and – as I believe you are well aware by now, Angela – it is what the name refers to that truly matters!

          • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

            Except you're not talking about Isis at all. You have made up a load of fictionss about what you imagine the Goddess Isis to be so that you can claim she is just a different way of worshipping Jesus.

            Isis was nothing like Jesus, and the cult of Isis was nothing like Christianity.

            You should study other religions before you speak about them. Either you don't know anything about them and are making stuff up off the top of your head to impress yourself with your cleverness or you do know. Either way you know what you have written is untrue.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Apparently you lack an understanding of the word "if".

            I made sure to admit only that about Isis which fits your definition that you claimed was revealed to you by Her. And even then, this is a goddess the adoration of which is commendable!

          • Matthew Tweedell

            How dare you bring such accusations against me lacking even a single point of evidence?

            You really don't seem to get it that the point was to show how Christianity proves preferable to the cult of Isis, even while recognizing some degree of legitimacy therein.

          • Rainne

            You really are a complete idiot. Angela wasn't claiming that those things were revealed to her by Isis. She said those are the same arguments YOU make in your passionate exhortation of the Christian god. The Cult of Isis is absolutely nothing like Christianity, and to say that "Isis" is just a name that refers to the Christian god is to exhibit your complete and total lack of anything representing cogent thought to the entire forum.

            Your whole problem is that you are so intent on proselytizing to us and convincing us that Christianity is preferable to whatever we currently believe (or our current lack thereof) that you refuse to LISTEN to the fact that WE DON'T WANT YOUR CHRISTIANITY. WE DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR CHRISTIAN GOD. We have heard it all before, many times, and WE REJECT YOUR CHRISTIAN FAITH COMPLETELY. Nothing that you say in your long, wordy screeds (in which you attempt to impress us and end impressing only yourself) will serve to change our minds.

            WE DO NOT WANT YOUR RELIGION. Get that through your thick skull.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Did I claim the the name "Isis" could equal refer to the fullness of the Christian Godhead? Not at all!

            Did I say that I BELIEVED it when Angela writes that Isis "told me so"? Of course not. (I was well aware that this was used as a rhetorical device. I'm just saying that if someone believed Isis revealed Herself to them, why should I argue with them about Isis' true nature? Isis means to Angela whatever she *believes* about it. So, if she wanted to claim, for example, that Isis is male, the only way I could engage her argument rationally would be to adopt he definition and use "he" and "him" in reference to Isis. From a rhetorical point of view, such differecnces are inconssequential; they say nothing about the reality *behind* the words.)

            Why on earth would you think I'm proselytizing? I thought I make it pretty freaking clear that I don't care what the hell you worship as long as you admit the same objective reality behind it! Anything else is your own fantasy! Now I'm trying to defend the objective truth against certain people's attempts at divisive manipulation for no other purpose than to promote their own selfish agenda at the cost of respect for their fellow man.

          • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

            Matthew, there is no "objective reality" when it comes to religion. Either you believe on faith, or you don't believe. Emotions and inspiration you have felt in your mind do not count as "objective reality". We have every reason to question whether you even believe what you are saying at any time, considering the lame justifications you have come up for what you are saying.

            If I were to tell you I believed Isis was all those things stated before because Isis told me so, I would have exactly the same amount of evidence as you present us here.

            Despite your self-consciously clever protestations to the contrary, you have done nothing but proselytize to us in all your posts here. You are trying to convince us that you can outsmart us, which you imagine would fool us into thinking that it means you are directed by God. Or some danged thing.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            "If I were to tell you I believed Isis was all those things stated before because Isis told me so, I would have exactly the same amount of evidence as you present us here."

            I think we already went through this: I agree.

            What "lame justifications"? Is there some particular claim for which you need me to cite more specific evidence?

            "There is no 'objective reality' when it comes to religion." Lame. So please provide your proof, supporting evidence, citation, or whatnot.

            I think I told you before that I'm not particularly religious generally (though it seems I've been undergoing some changes in this regard in the last few months). It really isn't a matter of emotional inspiration to me. I mean, I have much awe, wonder, and respect for the magical mysteries of our world. But I don't really need any particular religious context to put them in. I wish that you, Angela (and especially Rainne), would see the truth more objectively (and if there must be some emotion—for we are all at our core emotional beings—let it be greater empathy).

            Me? Directed by God? Like, right now? Um, I don't think so. (I'll be sure to let you know if I think that I am though). If I were, I think I ought to be able to prove it with more than a witty word or two.

            It's not my objective to outsmart you. It's just that I ought to set the record straight (if no one else is willing to do so) when people espouse irrational points of view.

          • http://blasphemouth.com/blog/ Angela Quattrano

            Well, Matthew, I really don't know what you're referring to. My original Isis example was in direct response to your statement that you know all about truth because God told you personally, and we ought to consider that as real evidence.

            All religion is based on faith and opinions. There is no physical basis for the belief that God exists. That's why it is a faith-based claim. This is a definition. I don't need to prove that those voices you heard in your head were not real.

            Now you've changed your story yet again. By all appearances you really don't believe in the concept of truth at all. You just make up stuff as you go.

            You have created in your mind a "reality" that is unconnected with the real world. We see it as imaginary, not something that needs to be disproven.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I'm sorry, what did I say God told me personally?? I really can't figure out what you're talking about. It most certainly seems that YOU are the one quite out of touch with reality; I haven't said anything of the sort. And what voices I heard in my head? My conscience? It doesn't literally talk, you know. Or my own verbal thought stream as I type this right now? That's not God; that's me. The only voices I recall hearing are ones that clearly passed through my ears (except for in my dreams, and I don't suppose you expect me to decrypt some sort of meaning from my dreams). Really, in what way have I altered my claims in any regard? Where is there any contradiction in what I've professed? And about religion being opinion-based, it looks like what I've said is pretty much all objectively verifiable claims or the questioning of your own, except the implication that Christianity is preferable, which I don't insist that anyone agree with me about. What have I said that's of the imagination? Find me 1 instance of that, and I'll point out 3 of your own!

  • id

    Dear Matthew.

    To presume in self righteouness that our culture is the only truth and method for love universally is not only intolerant as its hateful in its form.

    Your truth and God holds no more reason to himself than that which was held by those that adored Zeus and Ra.

    Gods come and go, morals, righteouness? Justice? Those have several incarnations but those are real.

    Be a moral person because you should be, dont colour a path that is only present for those that do the same rituals that you do, in 3000 years people will look at your rituals the same way you look at those that adored Zeus. And what remains is what you do with who you are, not which God you believed in.

    Blessings upon your house.

  • Tom Vidager

    Matthew,

    I can't be incorrect and you correct since there is no way you can prove humans are made of light, especially since a concept such as "pure" light doesn't exist in physics. The gospel of Judas, if anything, shows that light can be shed on a path of faith through many different means.

    The discussion is pointless anyway, since neither of us knows whether there is a god and if there is any path to it, regardless of what Jesus might have said. I was merely trying to show Julia that early christians weren't as idiotic as christians are today.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      OHHHH, so close.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Ok, Tom, how about you're correct AND I'm correct, but we're speaking somewhat different languages? (although — as I've already posted below — I don't postulate humans to be made of light. (But could it be true that we "came from the light" that burst forth in the Big Bang, "the place where the light came into being on its own accord"? I'm not saying I believe that either, but it is, I think, an interesting thought.))

      • Tom Vidager

        No Matthew, we can't both be correct. If you want to compromise, we can agree on neither of us knowing anything about a deity, an afterlife or the metaphysical essence of human beings.

        Saying anything else is a matter of faith, and there we can agree to disagree profusely.

        These hypotheticals are becoming irritating, so you can agree with me, disagree with me or make up any number of fairy tales you want. I'm not commenting on anything you write further.

        Write a book instead, about a young theological acolyte at a seminary called Godwarts and how he learns to use the mystical powers of the soul to defeat the evil Voldebub using a crucifix as a weapon. Oh, by the way, Voldebub killed his father, Jesus, and his mother, Mary Magdalene to make the drama more exciting.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          But you and I both know everything about a deity, an afterlife, and the metaphysical essense of a person, so why should we agree that we don't know anything? Do you not know that there is some rational law at work in the universe bringing together and holding together all that is made? Do you not know that even when you've ceased to live, the rest of the world will continue to exist? Do you not know that in that moment that you cease to live your material essense is not changed, thus recognizing the metaphysical essence? These may be matters of faith, but no more so than any other kind of empirical knowledge! Of what hypotheticals do I speak?

  • id

    Matthew:Id: I don’t think I’ve said anything about any certain rituals being required. Our culture doesn’t have any say in Truth. Truth is supremely transcendent. Would you subject ultimate Truth to the whims of culture? Then culture has become your god, and you will be as surely dead as your culture will surely someday die. Now what is Zeus that He should be considered a distinct entity from the Most High?

    -Zeus is the Most High for some in the past. He is just not "your" most High.

    Labels for it come and go, but God is eternal! And if not for that, why would you advise that I should be a moral person? What point is there in it then?

    -If you do not see the point of having morals without a God to credit them to, or be moral for, you really are no better than any of those other cultures you see as little for lack in faith on your God.

    You are the peasant on the nordic shore praying to the almighty Zeus for safety on his travels and wellness for himself and his own. But you only ask for those things because you have a God, and without one, you would see no point to it. If you need a God to have morality, you have already renounced your humanity in order to feel self righteous.

    I hope one day you awaken and do the right thing because its the right thing, not because you feel the need to belong.

    To Op, Mr Shore, thank you for your articles, but I hope you realize you are putting yourself as a target for hate in the eyes of many religious persons that will feel threatened for having things they believe questioned. Many people do not enjoy at all having to question their cultural blindspots under the eyes of those they consider inferior to themselves.

  • Tom Vidager

    Excuse me, Id, but but your superego's memory is a bit out of synch. Peasants on the nordic shore prayed to the almighty Odin or Woden.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Rainne, you're right, the still small voice you call your conscience is not divine! It is the Mind which speaks it that is! John the Baptist was the voice—every prophet was the voice—but they are not divine. Yet the Word, in the sense of “Logos”, not “rhema”, of which they spoke, is divine, and that is, by name, in English, Christ. (John the evangelist may have been redacting the Rig Veda in this regard in producing the opening hymn of his gospel.)

    Tom, humans… made of light? I've never said anything to that effect nor endorsed anything in the Gospel of Thomas which might imply that. And who regards the Gospel of Judas as a divinely inspired text? If pure light is not a physical concept, how so? Is not a stream of particles consisting exclusively of photons pure light? But if there are not only photons but also beta particles, is not the radiation received no longer pure light? And may Woden bless you (although today is Thor’s day)!

    Id, my friend, what other cultures did I say were lesser or implied were inferior? Now, if you don't think that Truth and Love will survive beyond your own life, I seriously struggle to see why one should dedicate one’s life to them. I still just don't see any point: what actual good would come of it then? If morality is just culturally defined, why does it matter, unless you ARE doing it just to belong, which you’ve admitted is not the right reason to do it—so what is? Now, as for me, I do not have a need to call the fullness of perfect morality by the name of God, nor am I pursuing it because some god tells me to—I do what is right because I believe in it! And I certainly do not need some church group or religion to give me a sense of belonging. In fact, where do you think I belong on these issues exactly? Zues bless, Id!

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Sorry, it would be more accurate to say, "I attempt to do what is right," in place of "I do what is right".

    • Rainne

      Sorry Matthew but I don’t hear voices from beyond. If I did, I’d get myself to a psychiatrist on the quickness.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        Om… You don’t? I feel sorry for you. I hear the birds chirping and the leaves rustling in the wind and know the Spirit lives; I hear the static on the radio from the cosmic background radiation and listen in on the very moment that God spoke: “Let there be light!” Your life must seem quite dull, and the world—quite empty. But truly all around you is the vibration of the voice—a cosmic orchestra is our universe—the monosyllable: Om…

        • Rainne

          Shows how much you know. In fact, the world around me vibrates with life, color and sound. Just because I don't hear the disembodied voice of some nonexistent deity doesn't mean I'm unable to connect with the natural world around me. The universe is very, very large and I am very, very small, and I don't need to clutter my mind with the ramblings of some insane Bronze Age drug addicts to appreciate the wonder and majesty of it all.

          In fact, I think I can safely say that since I discarded the trappings and limitations of Christianity, my life has been richer, fuller and happier than it ever was when I was still debasing myself in the worship of an imaginary deity that's done nothing to earn my worship.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            "disembodied voice"? Now you too are starting to sound like a Gnostic, just like Tom! I'm obviously just kidding; I know you both are firmly committed Satan-worshippers ;-) But seriously, a disembodied voice is tad bit unrealistic, don't you think? So perhaps you (like the Gnostics before you) may have missed something, because the truth can do better than that! Of course no one hears the disembodied voice of some nonexistent deity. But you appear to be proving, Rainne, that you ARE (as I knew all along–shows how much I know) hearing the embodied voice of some existing deity!

          • Rainne

            To worship Satan, I would have to admit the existence of a deity; after all, Satan is the evil god in your mythology. And as I have already told you, I don't believe in your mythology.

            Further, I hear no voices at all. And you still know nothing about me. You are determined to interpret MY experiences, about which you know absolutely nothing, in the context of YOUR religion, and you will never understand me in that context because I don't speak retard.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Rainne… don't you get it? I was joking, about the Satatn-worship. Are you deaf? ;) (Get it? another joke–this time about you not hearing anyone's voices and so you wouldn't hear what I was really saying. Oh, just lighten up, man.)

            Now, what on earth is retarded about my religion?

            By the way, I'm not any more interpretting your experiences (about which I do indeed know very much, because you live in the same reality that I do and you've shared your views on it) than you are interpretting my religious beliefs!

          • Tom Vidager

            Matthew, you're not joking, you ARE the joke. Stop dabbling in Aquinian scholastics and have your ontological self do something more productive than producing written garbage using your Wikipedia-learnt metaphysical nonsense.

            Nobody gives a sh*t about your religious beliefs, so refrain from spilling your mental refuse in here. The birds you hear chirping must be cuckoos calling out to you because they recognize you as one of their own.

            By the way, the monosyllable "om" is used in a number of the texts found at Nag Hammadi, so it sounds like you're a closet gnostic yourself. Furthermore, due to the wave–particle duality, perfect light is a paradox, which is a fitting way to describe the fact that you your brain enables you to communicate in writing.

            I should have written this to you yesterday, Monday, since you are a lunatic.

            May your security blanket god be with you :)

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Is perfect light realizable by man? No. But is it a paradox? I think not. Perhaps you could explain how so. In any case, I really don't understand what this has to due with the topic at hand.

            Now all that the presence of Aum/Om at Nag Hammadi demonstrates is the accuracy of my assertion of one Truth, disseminated through various interpretations—the Aum is associated originally and most commonly with India, and I adopted it from its present usage there to try to demonstrate what it means in relation to objective reality to be listening to and meditating upon the voice of God.

            Where on Wikipedia might one find a metaphysical exogenesis of scriptures with the profound peculiarities that I emphasize? You don't get that from reading websites, but from broad experience meeting good education, informing the reading of scripture. You don't get it from mindlessly absorbing what others have written, but from meditating upon it in earnest. (And I’m not the biggest fan of Thomistic Scholasticism, which ought to be evident from what I’ve written on this page.)

            In any case, I'm not here to be your teacher. I barely show the tip of an iceberg on these matters. I just know that it is best not to let irrationality and mean-spiritedness go unchecked. Indeed, what more productive thing is there for me to do (in the developed world today)?

            You must think you're so funny, Tom :)

          • Rainne

            Could you please shut up? You are so stupid, I'm starting to get embarrassed for you.

            There is NO SUCH THING as "one truth." Truth is dependant upon perspective. Don't believe me? Ask any police officer who's had to take statements from more than one eyewitness. People who witness the same event will recount it in different ways based on the angle they saw it from, their personal perspective on what happened, and any background baggage they bring to the event.

            What more productive thing is there for you to do? How about GO GET A JOB. Take a class. read a book. Go DO something instead of sitting around here trying to impress people who already think you're functionally retarded.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Why on earth would a police officer take statements from more than one witness if there weren't some objective truth that he/she is trying to discover hidden among their various perspectives? Seriously.

            BTW: I have a job (two, technically); I just finished up reading a book; and why the hell would I want to impress YOU?

          • Tom Vidager

            No, I think you're a retarded moron who just doesn't get it – in all of the physical,metaphysical, cosmological, ontological, epistemologocal, ethical, political, aesthetical, logical, philosophical and psychological senses of "it."

            But you DO provide amusement through your trite and hyperbolic babbling, which is totally devoid of casuistry.

            If they ever put humans into zoos next to monkeys, you are sure to be the first specimen put on display. You display all the entertaining characteristics of a male orangutang sitting and playing with himself.

        • Marita

          …Brutha, is that you?

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Id: I don’t think I’ve said anything about any certain rituals being required. Our culture doesn’t have any say in Truth. Truth is supremely transcendent. Would you subject ultimate Truth to the whims of culture? Then culture has become your god, and you will be as surely dead as your culture will surely someday die. Now what is Zeus that He should be considered a distinct entity from the Most High? Labels for it come and go, but God is eternal! And if not for that, why would you advise that I should be a moral person? What point is there in it then?

    May God bless you and yours as well, Id!

    Tom: The Gospel of Thomas doesn’t seem to allow any other possibility than that the Way to God is one. Even just from what you’ve quoted: saying 3 clearly indicates that no other Way is possible but through knowledge of oneself; saying 44 shows that if you go against the Holy Spirit, you cannot make it into the Kingdom; and 55 and 108 don’t seem to speak directly to this matter either way. The Gnostic view is not a completely different interpretation. The Gospel of John, for instance, also backs up the assertion that Jesus is the Light, but I think your conclusion is incorrect that the Light merely lights the way. Rather, Light is the Way! Gnostics would I think agree, except that they thought the material essence and spiritual essence could be separate in substance. But pure light even is made of the same stuff that forms our bodies; they are just different forms of the same energy and may be transformed one into the other. You are absolutely right though that it’s not as simple as claiming, “I believe in Jesus!” Many indeed believe, not knowing that they do! And many think they do—hearing, but never understanding, seeing, but never perceiving!

    I appreciate the last sentence, Tom; Too true! God bless!

    Rainne: What’s in a name?

    • Rainne

      Names define things. You believe in God – a specific god derived from a combination of the Hebrew Jehovah, the Biblical Christ, and a bunch of crap that a bunch of medieval guys threw together to control the masses.

      I have a conscience, which is an INNER, MORAL SENSE of right and wrong and has absolutely NOTHING to do with your god or anyone else's. A conscience is not a divine being; a god is.

      Save the blessings of your psychopathic deity; I don't want them.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        Then may the almighty nothing bestow on you the greatest blessings it never brought into existence!

  • denver

    WOW commenting on this post has been going on for over two years? O.O

    Anywho…

    As someone who was raised Catholic, then tried a born again church, then back to Catholic, then a blend of that plus Pagan, then just Pagan, now again Catholic/Pagan (and I say that last one just recently), I have been on both sides of this fence. I know part of the Christian belief is that you are supposed to witness. Even in my total-pagan, angry-at-Christianity (more on that in a moment) days, I DID NOT MIND people making that effort. AS LONG AS THEY WERE RESPECTFUL OF ME. If you ask me if I know Jesus and I say "I'm not interested," and you say "OK" or even if you ask follow up questions – what I believe and why, or why I'm not interested, or something – that does not make me angry in the slightest. I had a Jehovah's Witness who must have thought I was going to convert because every time she knocked on my door I was polite and would discuss with her rather than slam it in her face. I don't mind discussions on the topic as long as there is respect. But if you're just going to yell at me like you're Westboro Baptist Church or Bill O'Reilly, and no matter what I do or say you treat me like I am less than you, then you're going to tick me off. One of the big things that drove me away from Christianity in the first place was the judgemental, I'm-a-better-person-than-you-are mentality; the I'm-right-you're-wrong, my-interpretation-is-flawless-and-I-will-scoff-at-yours, and what I call "Competitive Christianity" ("I'm a better Christian than you are because I have more extracurricular activities (bible study, choir, etc.), know more bible verses by heart, have been in this church my whole life, never had to be converted," whatever). That stuff made me so mad! I just want to hold a sign in front of the Westboro (the "God hates fags" sign people that protest funerals and stuff) people saying "judge not lest ye be judged" "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" and "do not point out the splinter in your neighbor's eye when you have a plank in your own". It was the using Christianity as an excuse for their own bigotry, hate, politics, whatever people. It was the hypocrisy. I could no longer associate myself with that NEGATIVITY and hate. I felt like Christianity was tainted by these people. What once was an innocent, pure, love-filled message to me now was this murky, dirty sludge. It is only within the last several months (literally) that I finally realized how truly angry I had been, and that I can again go to the good parts without having it be tainted by what I call "the nasties." There are plenty of good Christians in the world, who do good things, and are good people. Mother Theresa. My grandmother. Etc. People that anyone of any faith or lack thereof can see are good people. But for many years I was so disgusted by the nasties that I couldn't separate the two. And even in that revulsion-to-religion state, I did not mind getting witnessed to. It didn't change my mind, but it didn't make me angry – again, as long as they were respectful. I would rather have someone, seeing the pentacle earrings I used to wear every day, ASK what that was about rather than assume I was an evil devil worshiper (despite my telling anyone who did ask that you can't worship something you don't believe in). I have had plenty of nice people who discussed, asked, and respected, and those people are a credit to their faith, and may actually reach someone who is interested and ready to listen to their message, whatever it is. It's the people who are rude, arrogant, disrespectful, and, as one of the commenters above said something about, will try with some people but completely write off those they deem "too far gone" – his example was gay people, my personal experience was once sitting at a bus stop when a carload of Jehovah's Witnesses stopped and handed out pamphlets to EVERYONE EXCEPT ME – a tiny little girl that dresses conservatively, btw, so not stereotypically intimidating in any way – because I was reading a book for all to see titled "Being A Pagan." I laughed *so hard*. Scared of the little pagan girl? Or am I too far gone to be saved? Really? Shouldn't I have been the one they should have TRIED to "save"?

    Anyway… you don't have to think all paths are the right path. You can think your way is best. I honestly don't mind. But when I tell you that your way is not for me, accept my answer, and don't treat me like I am less than you. Even if your way is the best way, that doesn't make you a better person. You're still human and mess up and sin, same as anyone. That's all I ask. Respect, please and thank you. :)

    Wow. I really said a lot there. Sorry about that. :)

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      No, don't be sorry. This was really good. Thanks for taking the time to do it. I like it a lot.

  • Elizabeth

    I was raised very religiously (S.D.A.) and attended religious schooling from K through University. In 3rd grad I asked the teacher, "If I'm just a little kid and God is all-powerful and just, then how come I can imagine a world a lot better than this one?". Teacher then forbade me from playing at recess for 3 days. From that point on, I've been an atheist but it took me many many years to come out of the closet, so to speak.

  • jhs

    I think the original point has been lost here – even if you DO believe that it's your duty to save hell-bound non-believers, even if you spend all your time doing so, you're wasting your efforts (and, according to your own religion) possibly doing a lot worse if you don't first LOVE the people you're trying to save.

    "But I'm loving them by bringing them to Jesus" doesn't fly. If you know anything about love at all, you know it takes patience, diligence, good will, THOUGHT (both fore and after), and also a dedication of time and insight. Are you giving those things, even in the slightest way, to someone you encounter on a street-corner? Evangelists would do better to (as some other religions do) spend their time making sure that people who WANT to convert are doing so effectively and with maximum knowledge and trust.

    Anything less is superficial and, as John points out, mostly ineffective.

    Once I was on the streetcorner waiting for the bus and a group of die hards from the country showed up at the intersection with signs and posters all about sin. These were the stereotypical little old church ladies. Everyone on the bus was disgusted. Someone said, "they think they're gonna come up here and show all the sinners in the big city." People laughed. It was one of the only times I've heard strangers agree on religion.

    In my beautiful religion, the one your Jesus followed, a rabbi is supposed to turn away a convert three times, just to make sure they are serious. Imagine if Christianity did something similar. I actually think it would be a more effective tactic, a kind of reverse psychology.

    Finally, I would like to offer this very superficial biblical thought: according to the New Testament (if that's a benchmark or not), when they asked Jesus what the most import rule was, he didn't say "believe in me". He said love.

    • http://none Don Rappe

      Yup. Doesn’t sound superficial to me. It sounds deep.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      THANK YOU. Caps for yelling, cheerleading, back flips and yes, emphasis.

      A long time ago, a woman who could not be more different from me said, “DR I love you but you know what? I really *like* you. I just like you, you’re interesting and so fun to be around.”

      Christians seem to use the word “love” so much that we don’t even know what it means anymore. I think to really challenge what it means to love those who aren’t christian could be the most worthy of discussions we could ever have. It might be listening and saying nothing at all in response. It might be taking the anger hits when someone whose been scared of and shamed by Christians for years needs to say it, needs to vent and just get it out.

      The best example is my friend Sarah. She is a friend of mine here in San Francisco. She is tiny (this being an important part of the story). She reminds me a little bit of Bambi, very gentle and doe-eyed, she’d literally not hurt a fly (she captures them and carries them out of the house).

      When gay marriage was legalized here, there was some really intense – borderline violent – protests at the capitol. Violence was certainly felt in the words and the signs of the Christians who were protesting. One Saturday morning she called me, shaking and crying, asking me to come and fetch her to take her home.

      Sarah had watched the news at all of the horrifying things being said to gay and lesbian couples who were getting married. So she decided to take her 95 lb self one morning down to City Hall where she engaged with the protestors. And believe me, they got in her face. They screamed at her, called her a traitor to her faith. For a little woman like Sarah, any confrontation is draining so this took all her effort to engage.

      I have no such issues, when faced with fight or flight I am a definitely “fight” individual, I will give you the beat down of your life if I think you’re hurting someone. So I was furious, oddly at her. I asked, “Why in the f**k would you even engage with these people? Look at you! You’re shaking. Why would you do it? They are Fundamentalists, they are unable to change.” She simply said,

      “I knew I couldn’t change them. But I also knew that if I provoked them, for a few minutes there would be a few people who just celebrated getting married that wouldn’t have to face them if I took it on myself. So I absorbed it so they wouldn’t have to. I think that’s what Jesus would have done.”

      Of course, I promptly burst into tears. Even writing that makes me cry. Sarah is the kind of fighter and the kind of Christian I aspire to be. She’s the one who does it right. Hope comes in surprising forms and Sarah doing that has created waves of hope for me that perhaps, Jesus isn’t bound by this horrific dogma, fear and control that so many are trapped within and choose to validate themselves with.

      • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

        That was beautiful, DR.

  • http://www.narth.org Narth.org

    RM from Houston's comment is sorta out of step with the others. Everyone gripes about Christians attempting to convert them, especially when they get too aggressive.

    But RM seems offended that they don't.

    I can't you can't please everyone. Damned if you do..

  • Christian

    Reading through this, along with all the comments amazed me.
    A lot of people that were claiming to be Christians in these comments where not acting like them. Saying that is not a correction out of hate, but out of love.
    Being a Christian has become almost a social status, or a "club" to be into.

    Jesus DID NOT die on the cross to start a religion, He died to start a revolution.
    1 Corinthians chapter 13 talks about love.
    Guys LOVE is the number one thing we must possess. Without love WE ARE NOTHING.
    If a non-christian says something you don't agree with, don't interupt them or say, "No, you're wrong.". Be their friend. Jesus was friends with plently of people that weren't Christians and showed them love, even if they never became Christians.
    It's love guys.
    One of my friends is actually gay and I asked him if he'd like to hang out or something, and he said "Wait don't you go to church?" and I replied "Yes, why?". Then he told me "Well doesn't that mean we can't hang out since I'm gay?" and I told him, "No why would you think that?" and this is what he told me. "Wow, you're the first Christian to ever tell me that. Every other one told me that I'm going to hell. I always wanted to go to church and have a relationship with Jesus but every church I went to kicked me out."
    Guys let me tell you something, that broke my heart ten thousand times over. Does that sound like the church Jesus wanted? I actually led that friend to Christ after just showing him love and compassion and he eventually just wanted to know how I had that kind of love for people like him that everyone else hated, and my answer was Jesus.
    Guys seriously, if someone doesn't agree with you being a Christian, you are STILL called to love them.

    If anyone has any questions or anything at all that they'd like to just talk about, please feel free to ask for my email.

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  • Elizabeth

    I can totally understand where they’re coming from. I’m Catholic, and even I have had people of other Christian denominations try to convert me – and then, when I tell them thank you, I’m a practicing Catholic, they tell me I’m wrong for worshiping the saints and continue trying to convert me even though I already believe in God and Jesus like they do! (By the way: We do not WORSHIP saints: We honor them. They’re a combination of the Catholic hall of fame and God’s secretaries.)

    Gandhi had a nice quote similar to what at least one of the people above said:

    “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    Well said, sir, well said.

  • Julie Smock

    I am suprised by the comments of non christians but maybe I should not be. We are the worst people sometimes. Intolerant, hateful, gossips, rigid and hypocritical. Wow. On the other hand, some of us try so hard to do and say the right thing all of the time and it is just impossible. All I would ask of non christians is just don’t judge us too harshly. We don’t have some magic potion to be perfect. If anyone does, dump it because it is a fake potion. We just all try to do a little better all the time and when we fall, hopefully we get back up again and try not to look stupid. I am sorry for all of the arrogant stuffed shirts out there. They give the total wrong picture of Jesus. Believe me, He was none of those things. He conformed to almost nothing. He brought freedom to a rigid society. Boy am I grateful. But God still has the most excellent way. And for me, He is the only way. No one else would die for a bunch like us.. Really. But to Jesus, we are worth it. Do I get it? No. Do I love it and accept it? You bet!!!!

  • Julie Smock

    Wow. That is alot of anger and frustration on all parts. If people don’t agree, walk away. No one is going to win anyone over with nastiness. Some things you must leave to God. Crimany. Who ever you are, Matthew, walk away. You do more harm than good. I wish you could see that. God values and loves all of us, no matter how we feel about Him.

  • D Brown

    Hey folks, No One converts any one else. It only happens when one accepts Christ as their personal Savior. And only He knows for sure who are His followers. If you are converted,i.e., born again, there WILL be some changes in your life. It is fact. All we ever are is one beggar telling another where to find bread. I am not ashamed to call Jesus my Lord and Savior. I have no problem letting anyone anywhere know that. How I live my life is just as much between my Lord and I as it between you and God…

  • Lymis

    One would think, given the huge advances in other aspects of digital technology, that internet spam-bots would have gotten more coherent by now. Go figure.


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