“I love you; now change.” Really, Christian?

In a comment on my last post, I, a Bible loving, gospel embracing, Paul-enamored lefty progressive Christian, a reader wrote, “Hi John … your view of evangelism then in a nutshell, please?” So I thought I’d take a moment to address that.

Jesus said (at Mark 12:28-31):

The most important commandment is Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

That’s what Jesus himself declared the Great Commandment.

At Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus also said this to his disciples:

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

That’s what Christians (and not, notably, Jesus) decided to call the the Great Commission.

Throughout history the Great Commission has been the primary motivator for Christians to evangelize to non-Christians.

At the time that Jesus uttered the Great Commission, he was known by almost no one. So it was certainly imperative then that his disciples get out there right away, and start spreading the message about who Jesus was and why he came. If they had failed to do that, then today we might have no idea who Jesus Christ was.

But today Jesus is so extremely famous that Mel Gibson made a movie about him.

Har!

No, but seriously: I think it’s safe to say …. Commission accomplished.

The message of the Great Commandment boils down to this:

God loves you. I love you. You are worthy of unqualified, absolute love.

The message of the Great Commission boils down to this:

You should stop believing whatever you do, and become a Christian. It is terribly wrong for you not to be a Christian.

In combination those two messages—the dual message that Christians are most driven to deliver to non-Christians—amounts to this:

I love you. Now change.

Being on the receiving end that passive-aggressive message doesn’t make anyone feel all warm and fuzzy. Which is why Christians evangelizing or “witnessing” to non-Christians invariably find the target of their efforts walking away from them. (For more on how non-Christians feel about Christians trying to convert them, see What Non-Christians Want Christians to Hear.)

If, due to my actions, a person walks away from me—if they decide I’m not someone they want to hang out with, or get to know better—then I have eliminated the possibility of my having a loving relationship with that person.

Which means that, when it comes to that person, I have broken the Great Commandment. Not to mention the Golden Rule.

That is one big fat Christian fail.

My view on evangelism is that today—and at the very least today in America, where everyone not only already knows about Jesus Christ, but has readily available to them infinite information streams should, for any reason, they care to know more—Christians should resist their urge to evangelize (which, in my experience, is almost always more about the evangelizer’s ego than about anything else, since who doesn’t like to tell others why they should be more like them?)

Trying to convert a person is failing to love that person—because it’s failing to respect them, and love without respect is at best patronizing. Evangelizing—that is, basically trying to talk someone into becoming a Christian—is intrusive, condescending, patronizing, and alienating.

In a nutshell: Trying to fulfill the Great Commission entails violating the Great Commandment. So Christians shouldn’t do it.

Another way of expressing this is this, which I made awhile back:

Another is the eleventh tenet of the document I wrote for the group Unfundamentalist Christians:

God can handle converting people. Our job is to love people.

 

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About John Shore

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

  • Pavitrasarala

    I once believed I had to “win over” non-Christians, and even Christians outside my faith tradition, to my “side” of the fence… and you are right about the outcome. It either damages your relationship with the other person severely, or they leave you in the dust, waving the one finger salute along the way.

    Bottom line: Not worth it. Not when it meant losing people who really were valuable to me, not when I’ve since found having a diverse base of friends means learning things that actually strengthen my faith, not weaken it, because they make me question, seek answers, and the answers I get help me grow and mature.

    One could say it’s also un-Biblical – Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 that if we shunned every single sinner in the world, we would have to isolate ourselves completely from the world and humanity itself. So our hands are going to get dirty being in the world no matter what – may as well make a few friends and learn some things to better ourselves along the way.

    My MIL is a fundy who would make Ted Cruz look like an extreme leftist on the political (and possibly religious) spectrum if you stood them next to each other. Where I stand depends on the issue, and on issues where I’m conservative, I still try to see both sides of the coin, live and let live. I know the world’s not perfect, what makes me happy may make someone else miserable, and life choices can’t always be ideal (and I’d be a hypocrite and a liar if I said I never made choices that went against my belief system’s ideals). So I guess you could say on issues where I’m conservative, I’m really more of a moderate.

    When my MIL wouldn’t stop harping on me and my spouse because we did not fit in her box 100%, I tried telling her something akin to what you said. I believe I even explained that I knew this from personal experience.

    She called me rude. *Sigh*

    We no longer have any contact with her in part because she justifies being abusive and cruel to anyone who doesn’t believe exactly like she does. That includes family members, and it included me and my spouse, among many others. Because she still has enough “yes people” surrounding her, she still believes there’s nothing wrong with how she behaves.

    It’s sad when people consciously tear apart relationships that matter over politics and religion. Didn’t they teach once upon a time that discussing those things was rude in polite company? Maybe we need to go back to that.

    • Kelli Hernandez

      Many evangelicals ‘look down upon’ those they know and those they don’t, as being ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘coming from a poor home’.(these people are hung up about the poor, but in a negative, stigmatizing way)…

      Being someone who comes from a well to do home, evangelicals are some of the most abusive. It took me a long time to realize that not only was my trauma being exploited by these people via shame, but that much of it was a projection. All of them have histories too that are not so pretty….

      There is a lot of narcissism in evangelism. In fact, many disordered individuals hide better in this system, and are wildly abusive at home. If they have money, it just allows them to hide it even more and isolate their victims further..

      Your MIL sounds much like many of the evangelicals I’ve known. Their innate natures are abusive, but they cover it all up in self righteous indignation, projection and superficial ‘issues’ to which they pontificate endlessly and loudly.

      Many evangelicals are wealthy. And if they are not, the flock are exploited via their own pathological issues of hatred or intolerance. It helps them to overlook their own issues, or to work on themselves, instead of focusing on the ‘sins’ of others.
      You made an excellent point too about growth. I have grown more getting away from evangelicals than I ever have within the flock. In fact, I realized that evangelism stifled me personally.

      It’s amazing what happens when we let go of fear and shame and do what Jesus really commanded us to do which was love one another. I’ve learned more from those that were targeted by evangelicals than anyone else.
      Diversity is beautiful, isn’t it?

      • Pavitrasarala

        Really well said, I agree.

        I’ve made the same observations about Evangelicals as you have. I know maybe a handful of people who still associate with these beliefs and even then, many are starting to distance themselves… kind of like someone who would scoot away after seeing a big black widow appear on a park bench.

        My ILs accused me of being “anti-social” and “not family-like” behind my back when they would talk to my husband. I did everything possible within my means to get along… they knew I’m disabled and my conditions put limits on my ability to communicate and socialize, but somehow I was still supposed to make ALL the effort. I finally got fed up and distanced myself some time before we cut off contact completely.

        You are right re: exploitation of those who are not wealthy in those circles. My husband watched his parents get “in” with all sorts of ministries and the pastor, and they got screwed over every time because they weren’t rolling in it.

  • Jill

    Is it at all possible for me to love this anymore than I already do? Doubt it.

  • usingmyvoice

    “I love you. Now change.” John, you are brilliant.

    • Kelli Hernandez

      People with depth and empathy understand that change does not happen overnight and is not conditional based upon a change an evangelical expects to see. This too is a projection as they often subtly demand change in others that they themselves are incapable of doing.

  • Cary Bass

    “Evangelizing” is sharing the good news–that is the literal Greek definition. It is not “making disciples”. That is “proselytizing.” Real modern-day evangelists share the good news by engaging in justice and other activities in the name of Christ. Perpetuation in the conflation of this term with something (something that did not exist until the later 20th century) is telling me to stop doing something that Jesus does call me to do, share the good news by living according to Christ in my words and deeds. It is unfair and damaging. I am angered by this, and disappointed because I usually agree with things you have to say.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Cary: Obviously, no one is going to object to you … well, showing love to people via work for justice and so on. Of course not. And the difference between “evangelizing” and “proselytizing” is semantical. I’m pretty sure people understand that what I mean by “evangelizing” is what you’re (rightfully) calling proselytizing.

      • Cary Bass

        Right. Well, I’m a candidate for ministry of the ELCA. Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. You’ve heard of us :-)

        • Matt

          Certainly I have. I grew up in an ELCA church. They baptized me, educated me, and raised me. I’m only a layperson, of course, but I know my ins and outs. And to me, it is indeed purely semantics, a hair that is only split to protect Christians from the reality of what we’re doing.

    • Jill

      Cary, your kind definition of evangelizing is parallel to what I read in John’s definition and in many, many of his posts over the years. But it’s not everyone’s. Unfortunately, this is not news.

      But to be fair, if anyone thinks that I don’t know the Good News already and feel it is their Prime Directive to explain it to me without my prior invitation, it’s flat-out arrogance and not welcomed. I’m fairly confident that’s not what Jesus had in mind.

      • Kelli Hernandez

        Jill,

        And it is this overwhelming narcissistic approach that turns people off. There is a lot of abuse within the realms of evangelism. A lot of division, a lot of power amongst leaders in the church who exploit a very vulnerable flock.

        Recently, an evangelical church (with merely a “christian” church label),in our area, participated in a ‘warming shelter’ that a Catholic Church had started. The temps here have been very cold and there are a lot of homeless in our community.

        But not ONE of these people from the church who was participating, did not see the homeless as people who just needed a warm place to lay their heads, AS JESUS WOULD DO, but as targets to infiltrate with scripture and ‘sharing the good news’. Tit for tat. What happen to any of the homeless who don’t WANT to be ‘witnessed’ too?

        I had a feeling they would not be ‘welcomed’ back to this particular church, but would be welcomed back through the Catholics who started it in the first place. Say what you want about catholics, but they ARE very charitable and genuinely caring about the poor, addicts and the homeless, without judgment. They are human beings. To an evangelical, they are another ‘prize to be won’…

        I think the teachings of Jesus are missed on these people. They separate themselves from others who are not believers, as if they’re ‘toxic’, not realizing that they are SHAMING them doing it…

        Jesus was not about shame, which to me, seems to be the core of today’s evangelicals. When Jesus commanded us to love, he didn’t mean only a select few and ONLY if they were ‘saved’…

        • Jill

          Hi Kelli, this is such a great comment, and it speaks to so many levels.

          “Jesus was NOT about shame.” That, I think, should be taken up as the Church motto, a new marketing campaign to re-identify the brand. And then people can maybe start to get over themselves.

          • Kelli Hernandez

            Thanks, Jill.

            Shame and guilt are exploited to keep the flock in line. Hellfire and brimstone teaching, carefully selected scripture that is meant to threaten and frighten…how often do we hear about the teachings of Jesus amongst this group?
            Religious zealousness is pathological behavior. There is more going on underneath for those who follow. Shame is one of those issues. Many evangelicals are abusive predators or abuse survivors. I deal with many survivors of spiritual abuse in my work and it’s one of the most devastating of all. More often than not, through exploitation of shame and guilt. They are those who cause one of faith to stumble. I don’t think there is one sin worse than another, as far as God is concerned, but I can’t help but feel that abuse is rampant within the evangelical environment and its survivors that make it out of there, are so spiritually damaged that some never recover, nor know the true love of God…very sad..

          • Jill

            Unfortunately, been there. Done that. Fundy survivor. Still working through pieces of it, nearly 20 years later.

          • Kelli Hernandez

            I understand this completely. I see it everyday…

          • Jill

            As my background attests, I’m a therapy lifer but nevertheless there seem to be certain intractable leftovers. I found it once described, as to the heart of the matter: betrayal by God. That seems to sum it up quite well for me, and others I know who have left it behind too, left broken.

            With your expertise, could you offer any suggestions as to how someone can finally shed the baggage, release the coping skills that no longer serve valuable purpose?

          • Matt

            Jill, if I may cut in. You might notice that when John wrote that letter to the survivors of the IFB cult, he didn’t talk much about God at all. He mainly discussed the people whose job it was to love those survivors carefully, to treat them as sacred, to care for them. And they didn’t.

            That’s the betrayal. What makes spiritual abuse so damaging (as far as I can tell, having not experienced it) is that the abusers make it seem like God is turning away from those victim or is abandoning/betraying the victim. Or the threat that He will, if the victims don’t obey the abuser’s teachings. That causes huge damage, and all the while the abuser doesn’t have to deal with the fallout of their actions, because the victim is too busy wrestling with the spiritual implications for their life if/when they manage to break away, or even resist in the tiniest way. Questions like: Who am I? What do I believe now? Who can I trust now? How do I find community? What is my place in the world?

            These questions are so huge that they swallow up everything, and so I imagine it can feel like God is the source. But it all can be traced back to people saying things and doing things that they know somewhere deep inside are harmful. They made that choice. And in my opinion, they don’t make God turn away from those who need Him most. They’re not big enough to do that. But they do make Him weep.

          • Kelli Hernandez

            The question I hear the most when a survivor becomes aware of the abuse is this: WHY didn’t God INTERVENE? WHY ME?

            This is why predators flourish in the church. We associate them with God in some way, as to be in some sort of authority, whether they are or not i reality. It is the ultimate in power over someone else. With the guilt provoking and shaming that evangelism does through misuse of text and verse, divisions created with social issues, as well as abuse of authority over many extremely vulnerable people, FEAR is utilized as a major control tactic.
            it’s easy to see why we associate the betrayal leveled at us as a betrayal by God. There is an innate belief, especially in church, a perspective held that this is a place that is sacred in some way and therefore all who gather within are GOOD. They are not.

            God will not interfere with free will, this includes predators in church. These pathological individuals know exactly what they’re doing and they do it intentionally to gain more power over others. Many survivors that I’ve worked with were the spouse of evangelical men (and women too, believe it or not) who exploited and manipulated their inner shame, and guilt,and would easily interject scripture in twisting it to align with their motives in making her SUBMIT. They provoke FEAR of God and of themselves, NOT the appropriate ‘fear’ we know as RESPECT. It’s also incredibly unloving, completely lacking in empathy and all too often, authority in church and those who are religiously zealous, actively promote fear to the point that I believe stunts our growth as individuals and limits our ability to love other people in a real, true, honest and unconditional way. Fear does what it is meant to in many churches: to control the flock.

            Some survivors see their abusers FLOURISH in the church they attended and were active in, OR the predator merely re-creates the mask elsewhere with new victims. The abuser often manipulates, exploits and actively campaigns to utilize those close to the survivor in a public smearing of her/him. Survivors wonder where God is in all of this, and if the abuser is ‘successful’ in the smear campaign against the survivor, it damages them even more spiritually, separating them from God further and complicating their recoveries, with the inability to separate God’s perceived lack of action and the abuse of those surrounding the survivor.

            It is incredibly disorienting and excrutiatingly painful, but a critical lesson to learn (providing the survivor is willing to walk through the healing process) in how much we put faith in people, rather than in God and trusting our gut about others (I believe this to be spirit within), in deciding who is safe and who is not to give trust too…

            Jill, I think that some of us are very damaged…but I guess I’m an optimist when I prefer not to say broken..sometimes healing means simply learning to manage the damage that we might always carry, while growing from the experience. To encourage you, since you’ve been on this path for awhile, survivors of spiritual abuse are some of the most loving, kind and empathic people I have ever met.
            The level of damage they have endured, opens them up to what I believe God wants for all of us and is in line with the teachings of Jesus and that is simply learn to love ourselves first (I don’t mean in a narcissistic way), and learn to love others unconditionally (reflecting love for God), even if doing so means from a distance with people who have abused or hurt us.

            We cannot give true love when we are acting in fear of any kind, or we are not using our intelligence and wisdom for DISCERNMENT about other people whom we put on a pedestal, rather than choosing to listen to ourselves and NOT give trust where it has not been earned FIRST.

            Just because someone claims to be “Christian” does not make them one, anymore than standing in a garage makes me a car. As an aside, I’ve also discovered that some of the most helpful, kind and compassionate people were not “Christians” at all, and yet were reflecting in action what Jesus taught. All of my experiences in my recovery from spiritual abuse, were done without ever darkening a doorway of a church again, and just between myself and God. I saw a ‘secular’ therapist and studied other religions and listened to people of differing faiths. Not all the survivors I’ve worked with are of the same faith, although most were from evangelical households. What went on behind these closed doors at home was astounding compared to what it was when at church or otherwise in public for these survivors. A carefully crafted facade by the abuser to protect a snow white Christian image.

            The spiritual wounding that happened to me, was the catalyst to look within, instead of to others who couldn’t hold a candle to the faith that was inside of ME all along.
            The hardest thing a survivor will ever do is to separate the abuse and the abuser, from God as the betrayer. Images in our society of others, particularly those who appear to have it together or appear to be well respected, are given trust spontaneously. We’ve actually betrayed ourselves with our choices to trust others who have not earned it. The abuse is not our fault, Jill, but once we have awareness, we can SEE what is BS and comes from a perspective of pathological fear, hate and intolerance, self righteousness and so on.
            In the article, John said, “I love you. Now change”. Those few words were profound for me because having lived so much spiritual abuse, I love you is conditional in this way. It is a demand for change to the demanding one’s liking. I don’t know many healthy folks who would be turned on by that, but someone who is vulnerable will be.

            People who can truly love, do not cause confusion and they do not advocate for the harm of other people. If anyone needs to make change, it is those who cannot love or those that ‘demand’ this change as conditional with love. People who can truly love, will not spiritually abuse and their abusiveness has absolutely nothing to do with God, AT ALL. God is merely one of their exploits and the abuser uses HIM as much as the abuser, uses US.

            Truthfully, I did believe, early on, that God had betrayed me too by not protecting me. But that wasn’t true. I was not of an awareness to protect myself. I was not taught how by those who were to help me learn to create my own safety from abusive people because they were abusive too, that was not God’s betrayal or refusal to act, but the law of free will and others choices to abuse.

            I think God is probably appalled by all the pathological abuse visited upon innocents by self proclaimed spiritual others. And more than likely very sad. But Jill, He IS real. It’s many people who violated a sacred trust with our spiritual care that are the betrayers.

            I don’t know you well enough to answer your question, as every survivor is different in how they cope and manage. Shedding the baggage is also about perspective. Each survivor has their own they carry, but I do pray that you’ll be able to have peace of mind in some way about it, as it is incredibly difficult to work through, but I’ve found that I have done much better, separating myself from the dogma and Christian evangelicals all together, so that I could come closer to God on my terms and without outside influence. THAT is when things began to turn for me in realizing that God was not my betrayer.

            Jill, please feel free to contact me should you wish to share more. I am happy to listen.

          • Jill

            I try to tread very lightly in this discussion space, because I find conversations around this subject escalate easily, which is by no means my intent. But sometimes talking about ‘God is love, it’s the humans that suck’ premise can come across as dismissive.

            I find some lack of emotional honesty from more than a few Christians defending a view about their God, worthy of trust and respect, but cannot be blamed for the actions of people. And I get it– intellectually it’s quite convincing. I cannot seem to get past this point in that conversation though, and I’d like to, because I’m not blaming God for human decisions. That’s not where we diverge.

            There is a narrative about relationship with the Christian God, as old as the hills, that this entity is anthropomorphized into being a stand-up guy, to count on, to lean on, and to praise. Unless you actually need this God to help you out in a real, earth-bound kind of way, and then it’s a crap shoot.

            I am betrayed by a narrative that tells me, a God of all creation, is sitting passively while centuries of humanity never stops being horrid to each other, and humanity continues to enjoy its bloodshed and exploitation. Where does that exactly originate? (I’m SO not getting into a Satan debate, so please don’t go there.) God’s image is supposed to be in us. The only conclusion I can find is the capacity for horrid is in God too. I simply choose to believe that God is the role model for how to be more than base decision-making and self-absorption.

            But I cannot claim a God of all-power, all-sight, all-knowing, as my God when that God fails to do what I as a conscientious, compassionate person can and must do every day. I have to believe the ethical standards that bind me to humanity must also bind God but it is not consistently the case. I may not be able to single-handedly stop an abuser from harming a child but I am obligated to notice the signs, to report it, to do something. I expect no less from God. Some people claim to experience a miracle cure, rescue, etc, and some find years of silence.

            So the Christian God, as I vainly understand it, is not someone I count on. I don’t wait on God. There are just times when I’m all I’ve got. I sit in reverence frequently though, because there truly are many, many deeply precious things I am grateful for that I am certain did not happen without some metaphysical support. I choose to remain in my gratitude space as much as possible, but then I read statistics and news feed that make me pause and say, I understand why atheism exists.

            There has not been a fully satisfactory resolution for me. There just hasn’t. I’m not looking for anyone to try to fix it. If you wish, just provide a window into how you, a Christian, honestly, reflectively deals with this.

          • Kelli Hernandez

            Jill,

            Your posts are so thoughtful and real. I appreciate them. I’d like to ponder this a bit before I respond. It’s a genuine question, but one I’m not sure I have an answer too….there are so many elements that pertain to perspective, experience and how one personally deals with it. I think that while I can speak in platitudes, and/or offer what works for me, it may not ultimately work for someone else…

          • Guest

            Kelly and Jill: just came upon this conversation, and hope you don’t mind my jumping in.

            I’m also a survivor of abusive spirituality, though in my case it was somewhat more subtle, so for many years, I had a hard time naming what was wrong.

            Now that I’m aware of it, I am consciously choosing to go a different way. I’m involved in a liberal church, and avoid anything to do with evangelicalism. For me, that’s where the healing started… but that isn’t where it’s ended. I’ve done a lot of reading on progressive Christian spirituality, done a little journaling, and have had some brutally honest conversations with my current pastor and other people in my church about my journey. It’s not easy, some days it’s one step forward and three steps back, but what keeps me going is the basic idea that God is good and God loves me. If either of you would like to chat, feel free to get in touch.

            Linnea

          • Jill

            Hi Linnea, your message is very kind. I am exactly in this very situation, and I need to have ‘some brutally honest conversations’ with my new prog pastor as well. Without sounding ominous, I hope he’s ready for such honesty.

            Being a religion abuse survivor and starting over, alone and deeply uncertain what the hell I’m doing, I feel pretty fragile about it. But nothing moves forward (or at all) until I do. For the moment I’m in the three-steps-back leg of the journey, but I haven’t given up entirely.

            I’m going to a 12th Night church party tonight armed with a cranberry almond studded organic salad, if that says anything about my determination. :)

        • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

          I personally know some people who needed the charity assistance of one of these “outreach” programs. I want you to guess how highly one of these needy people thought of Christianity when she got turned away; it seems she could only get food for her two small children if she sat through a two-hour sermon first. WWJD? Apparently those loaves and fishes only got doled out after the sermon on the mount….

    • LeftyLuna

      Oops, I hadn’t read this yet when I responded. :)

  • DonRappe

    Still true. The obnoxiousness referred to is caused by grossly incorrect ideas of how to understand scripture. The correct interpretation pointed out in this little essay is a good example of interpreting with “common sense”.

  • Barbara Searle Kim

    I know this may seem off-topic, but I believe our perception And understanding of Jesus is central to everything. because of this, I think it is a poor choice to depict Jesus as a white guy with blue eyes – making him look more like a WASP than anything else. Given the place and time in which he was born, it is far more likely that Jesus had dark skin, brown eyes,and very dark brown hair. I think it is very important that we do not try to make God over in our own image.

    • DonRappe

      While your point is well taken, many of us recognize “gringo Jesus” as a symbol of the universal in the concrete. For some of us the cement is still wet.

  • Shawn Coons

    I think you’ve hit upon something important but you are using a trick from the evangelical playbook by taking two small parts of the gospels, putting a quick interpretation on them, and ignoring the rest of the Bible.

    For example, you sum up the Greatest Commandment as “God loves you. I love you. You are worthy of unqualified, absolute love.”

    But what Jesus calls the most important commandment isn’t “God loves you” it’s “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” In reading the rest of the gospels I would argue this is precisely a call from Jesus for people to change. That loving God in this way means giving up selfishness, greed, ignoring the needs of neighbor, etc.

    I do think God’s unconditional love is a strong message of Jesus but so is the call to love God and in doing so be changed into the person God wants us all to be.

    • lymis

      Sort of.

      For it to work the way you seem to be saying, we have to start with the underlying idea that everyone who turns their lives over to God will change in precisely the same way, into the same thing – and while you don’t say it and may not believe it, many would extend that to ending up believing the same theological doctrines and worshiping the same way.

      I’ll agree that the fruits of the Spirit working in most people are going to show up as things like reduced selfishness and greed, and more concern for one’s neighbor, but that doesn’t involve becoming Christian, much less becoming a member of a particular franchise.

      Being open to becoming the most genuine version of yourself possible, through the influence of God and the process of loving God and loving your neighbor doesn’t mean ending up with everyone being the same. In fact, I’d say it’s far more likely to turn out with people being more uniquely themselves than anything else.

      I don’t have a problem with John’s summation of the Great Commandment, because there are (roughly) two views of why people should love God with their whole being – one is fear of punishment for not toeing the line, the other is because God’s love is so expansive that turning your focus to God opens you to unlimited and unconditional love that will overflow onto everyone else.

      Since I see everything about Jesus reflecting the second idea rather than the first, then I can see Jesus seeing “Love God with your whole being” and “God loves you beyond measure” as essentially either identical, or so interrelated as to be inseparable. Po-tay-to, Po-tah-toe.

      • Matt

        Lymis! It’s so good to see you around!

      • Jill

        Going through Lymis withdrawal, buddy. Always a pleasure.

      • Kelli Hernandez

        beautifully said…

      • Bill Steffenhagen

        Ah yes! Good indeed to see you again and, btw, I am “Soulmentor” from John’s previous blog.

    • Kelli Hernandez

      Who God wants us all to be, these days is left up to others interpretations of what that looks like and then projected onto us. What about the concept that loving God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength means SHOWING this to others?

      Regarding change: Most people don’t. And if they do, change is YEARS in the making, not days, weeks or even months, but years. It’s a process, not an event.
      “The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” The last word is the most profound in ‘these’, meaning TWO, not one. BOTH are critical. A huge part of loving God is to love yourself. No, not in a narcissistic way, but in a real, compassionate and loving way. We then take that love we have for ourselves and GIVE IT to others, and I think this is a HUGE part of what it means to love God with all of your heart.

      Lots of people don’t love themselves too much and with what evangelism has done to people, it only creates more self loathing, excessive guilt and shame that is continuously exploited in the church.

      Being an evangelical Christian these days means, “don’t be real, be fake”.

      That isn’t love for self and it’s not love for God either.

      • Bill Steffenhagen

        Profoundly right on!!!!!!

    • Bill Steffenhagen

      If one thinks of God as LOVE, that works. But if one thinks of God as that abstract Something Out There, or Bearded old man pushing cosmic computer keys, that won’t work because that is mere mythical imagery that can’t be ultimately maintained. We humans cannot LOVE an abstract concept. Oh, we can talk ourselves into it or allow others to do that to us, for a time, but it can’t survive genuine introspection.

      Jesus was God, or Love with skin on. We can be that too. And THAT’s what works.

  • Paul Roberts

    “Warm and fuzzy.” A maimed, ridiculed, maliciously tortured, and murdered Jesus is just that, warm and fuzzy right? “No on has greater love than this to lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus challenged his disciples to change all the time, along with those who were religiously opposed to him. Now, go watch Disney’s Frozen and learn what it means to love from a cartoon.

    • Bill Steffenhagen

      ******”No one has greater love than this to lay down his life for his friends.”******
      I would just like to point out that that does not always mean to literally die for. It can also mean to sacrifice for, to give to, even when it hurts; physically surely, but also emotionally and financially. For example: I’m doing that now with a 32yo dear friend in prison who is losing his life in the sense that he’s there for his 6th DUI, wife divorcing him and threatening to take his 7 yo son out of his life, estranged from his alcoholic mother and her second husband, barely ever knew his real father, anger issues and twice attempted suicide by heroin. I love this guy and I’m the only person he trusts. I’m all he’s got and it’s costing me, financially and by distracting me from my own life.

      Which is just an example of my above premise. Doesn’t mean I’m any kind of saint. More like I’m just an old fool, some would say.

  • Steve Yna NY

    Agree that evangelizing is often more deed than word. However I disagree that everyone has heard. The children that grew up across the steet from our home (same age as our children) were frequently in our home and grew up knowing nothing whatsoever about Jesus. What they knew they learned from us. They grew up in a very troubled home and had many problems. Recently I ran across one of them while shopping (she is now grown) . She told me about her life – she said she had come to faith in Jesus and got her life together . It was the verbal witness of the people in her life as well as actions of love planted over the years that brought her to faith. So evangelization was very meaningful to her and did not turn her off. Jesus said that some plant and water and others harvest. Sometimes we are called to speak the Word other times we just hold someone’s hand in their pain .

    • Kelli Hernandez

      Steve,

      Why do you imply that dysfunction is limited to those whose households do not uphold “Christianity”?

      I have friends who are NOT believers, yet have healthy minded families.

      I also know a worship leader who was my boyfriend for ten years and was one of the BIGGEST psychopaths on the planet. Evil beyond evil…

      I find it very RARE that a “christian’ can deliver a message in an effort to ‘gently’ convert when nine times out of ten, the attitudes are such that there is nearly always an element of self rightenousness tucked under all that verbiage and love in action.

      Jesus commanded us to LOVE. This didn’t mean just other Christians. Nor did it mean we turn our backs on people who are kind and loving and DON’T BELIEVE….people can ‘get their lives together’ without knowing Christ.

  • R Vogel

    I want to know why Jesus is giving us the finger in that picture :)

  • Evan

    “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
    Ummm… Did you forget about that part?

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      Hey Evan. Jesus wasn’t that big on ‘obey’. That’s a gross (and common) misinterpretation. What Jesus preached was heal a leper on the Sabbath; don’t let Pharisees bully you into condemning an adulteress; and turn over the moneychangers’ tables in the temple. He was … a really crap ‘obey-er’.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

        True, especially as he was often accused of breaking the religious laws, and walking right through social taboos, to interact with people that society had deemed unclean and unworthy.

    • anakinmcfly

      Which Christians already do. Those disciples *did* make disciples of all nations etc; I think that was John’s point. It already happened.

  • LeftyLuna

    Trying to get people to convert is called proselytizing. Telling people about your faith and why it’s awesome for you is evangelism. I love evangelism. I will never proselytize. I have no desire to “convert”. Love Allah? Super! Buddhist? Fabulous! But I do enjoy talking about being Christian. And if someone sees how happy it makes me, what a good person I am (I HOPE! I hope that’s what I’m showing!), and they decide to have a relationship with Jesus, GREAT! If not, no problem.

    I guess I’m arguing your word choice. :) But if evangelism is changed (has already changed?) to mean proselytize, what is what I do called?

    And one other little thing. Not everyone knows. One of the gals who works for me had never heard of “The 12 apostles” and got “Adam and Eve” mixed up with “Joseph and Mary”. She has no idea what Jesus is about. She said, “Christians worship Jesus right? That’s just their name for God, yes?” When I told him that Jesus was a historical figure (probably), she was stunned. She had never heard the resurrection story. Not kidding.

    • Bill Steffenhagen

      Just an observation. Are you getting your pronouns confused? “One of the gals…”, “She has no idea….”, “When I told him…. she was stunned.” , “She had never heard…..” Very strange. Typo? Brain f..k?

      • LeftyLuna

        Huh. That’s a new error for me. Should be “her”. I was VERY tired that day. :)

  • anakinmcfly

    This seems partly cultural though – over here I’ve seen people legit convert non-Christians with the whole “have you heard about Jesus?” kind of approach, because Christianity doesn’t have the same widespread influence and visibility as it does in the West.

  • Toliniega Szebora Dobrowieść

    I would disagree with the “I love you. Now change.” meaning, though. If you claim that God is a father and we are His kids, imagine yourself as a father for a while. Your child is most probably not as wise, as skilled or as responsible as you are. But that’s ok. It’s just a kid. He will learn and do better in the future. He is going to do a lot of mistakes and that’s ok, you will forgive him because you love him.

    But now imagine that this son is going to the parties and not coming back for several days after, sometimes destroying cars on the street, painting on the walls, once he has even raped someone and got arrested and when you went to pay the fee for him to got him back home, he began to complain why you let them take him, why it took you so long to pick him up from the arrest and how can you tell him that what he did was wrong. And that then he has ran away from home again few days later. But sometimes when he is at home, he clean his room, so he think he is a perfect son. Now, you still love him but you certainly want him to change.

    Of course non of us is like that (but according to fundamental Christianity we are), we try to do as much good as we can and as little wrong as we can. Nevertheless, fundamental Christians believe in spirits that want to be praised in stead of God and basically when you pray to Allah, Mithra, Budda, Wiccan Lady or any other “one god” or one of the polytheistic deities, you pray to those spirits – not our God. And they are going to tempt you to fall further from God, disappear from His house, let Him worry about you and later on tempt you to do stuff that is wrong in His eyes.

    For you those spirits most probably do not exist. But what if they do? And your worshipping them actually makes God hurt AND guide you to those “parties”? This is at least what fundies believe happens – God does not want you to change your personality – He only wants you to stop destroying yourself and everything around you.

    I do not say I agree with this point of view, only thought that it may be interesting to some of you to know.

    There is also another one, saying, that any person not being a Christian is heading self-destruction and that one can only be complete in God so when you bring someone to God, you are saving the person they really are and only destroying the fear they had and the bad habits they developed to deal with the lack of God who is the only thing REALLY need in their life.

    That’s what fundies believe.

  • Matt

    When it comes to evangelizing and “knowing Jesus,” I think John 4:7 pretty much says all that needs to be said: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

    Sure, Jesus was one way in which God revealed Himself, and an excellent way at that. But insisting that knowing about Jesus’ story is the only way puts walls around an infinite God. For example, I was already a Christian when I was 16. I knew all about Jesus’ resurrection and divinity and so on. But God still needed to actually give me the Good News that He loved me, and He did that all on His own.

    (I saw people’s reaction to your conversion experience in a supply closet, John. My Big Reveal came in the dead of night on a locked psych ward. You can bet I wasn’t breathing a word to anybody until I was well and truly out of there!)

  • Barbara Heller

    Love love love this! Thank you! I’m just trying to “not hide my light under a bushel”. For me, that’s always been the only relevant symbol or guiding principle. I never want to convert anyone to anything. I don’t want to change anyone else’s mind about their spiritual path. I don’t want to condescend, and I certainly don’t want to evangelize or proselytize. I am just trying to live according to the Great Commandment, be honest and authentic, and show by example to anyone who wants to look. And above all else, never be snarky toward those who have a different opinion…

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    “I love you. Now change.”

    YES. THIS.

    You just summed up my first marriage (to a fundamentalist preacher). Definitely summed up the entire religion I grew up with. That phrase is the distillation of a whole library’s worth of abuse and control tactics.

    “You have to change.”

    “You’re a disgusting puddle of goo BUT BABY THERE’S HOPE FOR US.”

    “You’re broken and need fixing.”

    “You need to be fixed and I’m the only one who can fix you.”

    “You’re incomplete and I’m the only one who can complete you.”

    “I’m the only one who will ever love/understand/accept you.”

    “It’s a really easy burden, except when it totally isn’t, but even then it totally still is. And when it gets heavier and heavier and heavier, and the demands get more and more outrageous and controlling, it’s still totally easy.”

    “Do what I say or else terrible things will happen to you.”

    “I hurt you because I love you.”

    Of course, most of the “I” stuff up there is a church leader being so kind as to speak for his deity. Amazing how often these church leaders can channel what sounds like an abusive husband, isn’t it? And this happened to me over and over again from denominations from Catholicism to right-wing fundamentalism, so I can’t say it was just one church or one denomination doing it. Whatever the case, I now think that proselytization is very rude and disrespectful; I was glad to be able to stop when I left the religion. I’d just had this vague sense of this disrespect before, but now I think I understand better why I think that way.

    I find your posts very healing and affirming. Thank you for writing them. Where do I place my order for a few million Christians like you? We have a bunch now, but they seem to be, well, broken. ;)

    • Erwin

      The very reason Christ had to come, to fix broken humanity :) once and for all, that’s what Christmas is all about, Merry Christmas!

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        You haven’t thought this thing through very clearly, have you? Are you really sure that’s what you’re going with in your attempt to smugly ZING a non-Christian? Because dang, that was lame. If that was why he came, he failed miserably on a scale that I cannot even fathom. 2000 years and Christians are still not demonstrably better people in any single way than non-Christians. In point of fact in many ways they are far worse as people than non-Christians–go look at crime and dysfunction statistics for Christian-heavy states sometime. And the entire mindset, as I’ve outlined above, is beyond toxic to any human being–and you’re trumpeting it as some wonderful thing?

        Keep the Saturn in Saturnalia! Happy Saturnalia!

  • Mike Goetz

    Commission accomplished? I agree with the drive of John’s post, but I think there is a general misunderstanding of the concept of “discipleship”.

    To me, discipleship (‘becoming a disciple’) is a lifelong process that *starts* when you accept Jesus. The Great Commission is about apprenticeship — learning from the master. Yes, it’s about obeying, but not out of obligation or force of law, but rather out of a desire to become more like the master.

    None of that makes sense for a person who doesn’t accept the master or who doesn’t want to become a disciple. So in my opinion the Great Commission is not about evangelism or proselytizing, because why should we expect someone who hasn’t decided to follow Jesus to obey his commands?

    Good discipleship happens within the context of relationships where everyone is already committed to Jesus. Beyond that, the command is clear: love God and love one another.

  • IATSH

    Great points. Although I’m of the opinion that there is a right way to evangelize and a wrong way to evangelize; not that the entire project should be abandoned (although if you’re doing it right you won’t be “evangelizing” in the sense as it is understood in many Protestant churches). The right way being exemplified by Bishop Myriel in Volume 1 – Fantine of Les Miserable and Pope Francis sneaking out of the Vatican to break bread with the homeless. In essence first you have to do the hard work of showing; then when and if they ask you talk. The wrong way being the folks who skip the hard work and jump straight to the talking.

    Real evangelism is filled with grace, understanding, generosity and joy. False evangelism is filled with judgmentalism and self-righteousness. You shall know them by their fruit and all that; cast your seeds on fertile ground and all that etc etc

  • buzzdixon

    To me a crucial verse in understanding what is meant by the Great Commission is John 13:34-35, the new commandment (sidebar: “Commandment” and “law” are terms humans attached to the Decalogue; it is not what God described them as being, but rather terms in a mutually agreed upon contract): “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (NIV)

    The key, crucial difference between this & the two greatest commandments teaching (which, incidentally, is Christ quoting from Rabbi Hillel of a century earlier) is that the new commandment combines what is presented as two separate ideas in the other verses.

    “Love God” and “love your neighbor” indicates a two step program. It holds love of God and love of humanity as two separate thoughts.

    But “love others AS I have loved you” combines the love God-in-Christ has for us with the love we are to show others. In short, loving God = loving others. Just as a genuinely loving and concerned parent would want their children to show love for the parent not by covering the refrigerator w/scribbles while fighting with their siblings but rather by loving & helping their siblings.

    That means much more to a loving parent that a crudely done crayon drawing.

    • Dayton Griffin

      Romans 10:14-15

      14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

      • Andy

        I would love to see you find someone alive now that hasn’t heard about Jesus.

    • JenellYB

      I’ve come to see “Love God” and “Love neighbor” in a sense more of, If/as you love God you will love neighbor (command or instruction) then if/as you live neighbor you are loving God (implementing, carrying out, the command or instruction). So, to love God is to Love neighbor and to love neighbor is to love God. Or as put elsewhere, how can you love He who you have not seen, if you do not love he whom you have seen?

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

        That works quite well for me JenellYB

  • Joe Clark

    Live the word and people will notice. Just speak it and people will ignore it. Pretty simple.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    Why will I never attempt to convert someone? Because my faith, my beliefs, the way I understand God, and religion, etc., are personal. They have evolved over my lifetime in three quite different versions of Christianity, plus looking into the tenets of other cultural and religious beliefs. They are quite unique, and not easily defined into a credal format. I feel no compulsion to “bring others into the fold”, partially because I’ve never felt truly inside it myself. I feel no desire to look at other’s beliefs as worthy of God’s wrath, or that will propell them into an eternity of anguish. Lastly, I can’t see how the command to love someone with the desire I feel worthy for myself, gives me the excuse to dismiss, diminish or condemn anyone, simply because their views on all things divine are different than mine.

    • Jill

      Oh my I love this response. I always love the way you break it down so honestly and compassionately. I learn a great deal from you. Thank you.

  • Dayton Griffin

    1 Corinthians 9:16 makes it very clear that we’re to preach the gospel. To try to twist the Scripture and make a direct command from Jesus obsolete is heresy, plain and simple.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      “Preach the gospel, if necessary, use words.” Francis of Assisi aptly told us that our actions portray the gospel in a much more profound way than any words could ever do.

      And what is the gospel? God loves you, no matter what. No matter who you are, what you are, what you believe, where you live, how you worship, if you worship, if you acknowledge the divine at all, who you vote for, what you do. Its a love without a single condition, without a single “what is God going to get out of it”, it just is.

      So how do we preach that? By demonstrating, as best we can, with far fewer skills, much impared ability and insight, imperfectly, our “not quite there in our understanding of God’s love”. We do this, by trying to be loving, by being compassionate, grateful, generous, soft-hearted. We do this, because we just can’t hold in what we know about that most expansive of gifts, the love of God, so we stumble through life attempting to share it with all we know.

      To me the gospel is not about Christianity, recruiting people to a particular faith or faction of a faith, or getting mine or anyone’s access pass to heaven, or deeming anyone worthy of hell (which I doubt exists anyway). Its simply recognizing that God is here, God loves us, and sharing that love, trying to use the same parameters God uses…the unconditional, no holds barred, everyone has amazing value parameters. The quest, is learning how to love on that level.

      • Dayton Griffin

        What you’ve quoted isn’t biblical truth, it’s man’s opinion. The gospel can be found very clearly in Romans 10:9. Never in the scriptures is the idea even suggested that we prreach the gospel merely by living upright lives. I’m sorry to say that none of your philosophy about what the gospel is or what it means to us is true. When do we ever see God using the, “Unconditional, no holds barred, everyone has amazing value parameters?” Here’s a few scriptures to clear all doubt from your mind about God’s judgement for sinners.

        Revelation 21:8
        But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

        Matthew 25:46
        “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

        Psalm 9:17
        The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God.

        2 Thessalonians 1:9
        They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power

        Matthew 13:50
        and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

        Mark 9:43
        If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.

        Jude 1:7
        In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

        If this isn’t sufficient, I can provide more for you.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          Sufficient? for what? To discourage people from considering God as an entity of love? To encourage people to use those passages condemn, belittle and dismiss others if they are not in agreement, taking joy in the their imagined suffering?

          Where is the hope, where is the love, where is the joy, the promise of peace, where is the comfort…where is the gospel in those verses, the good news?

          • Dayton Griffin

            Of course I believe God is a God of love. You’d stated previously that you don’t think a loving God would send anyone to hell, and I’m saying that according to his own word, yes he would. If you accept all of scripture as inerrant, then hopefully these scriptures have been meaningful to you.

            If someone you knew was ailing from a life-threatening disease, but was wasn’t aware, would you tell them? I surely hope so! What if you also knew the one antidote for their sickness? I know for sure that I’d be urgently warning them, regardless of any offense they may take. What kind of friend would I be not to tell them what can save their life?

            The same principle applies to evangelism. When I go out to share the gospel with others I don’t give them half-truths. Hell (death) is just as much a reality as heaven. Hell is God’s perfect punishment for sin (sickness), but in His love, he wants us to be with him for eternity in heaven. All you need to do is repent of your sin, confess Jesus as Lord, and accept the Holy Spirit into your heart (cure).

            Also, don’t leave proclomation of the gospel to someone else. Romans 10:14-15 says:

            14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

            I want to be the one to bring that good news. What about you?

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            What if this hypothetical illness had a treatment that you weren’t aware of…or the person did k ow their prognosis and bad already decided to forego treatment…or your perception of a deadly condition was completely inaccurate? No matter how much you insist on having the solution, you still would lack insight to the whole picture of what is happening with that person. Telling them.” Well you are screwed then, I wash my hands if you. Would be arrogant and lacking compassion.

            That is why I don’t play the repent or burn game. I lack what all of us do, the ability to peer into someone else’s soul, the ability to gauge their connection to God. It is not our job to do so
            it is not our right to demand the religious connection we think someone should have. We cannot really love a neighbor if we have written them off as “hellbound”.

          • Dayton Griffin

            I see that you’ve chosen only to believe that portion of the Bible that fits your idea of God. Since your God wouldn’t send people to hell, I must be some hateful bigot to point out that the Bible says otherwise. I’m sorry for you, and I pray that someday you come to a true understanding of what the gospel means. I wish you the best. Good day.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I don’t understand the supposed pity, or the assumed need to pray for my understanding of what the gospel means. But I”m used to it, because my faith is unique, non-conforming to the ideals of others. I am at peace and content with my beliefs, it works for me as other beliefs work for others. Through it all God loves us regardless.

          • cajaquarius

            At one point Jesus uses the word “Hades” – do you suppose he was saying the Greek gods were real by doing that?

          • Dayton Griffin

            Absolutely not. Hades is a Greek word used in the New Testament to denote hell.

            Isaiah 45:5a
            I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.

          • cajaquarius

            Why not just stick to calling it Sheol or Hell? Seems like the Bible isn’t all that clear after all on this point, to me. Not like Universalists don’t have their own apologism to back up their points of view, after all.

          • Dayton Griffin

            Whether it’s called Sheol, Hell, or Hades, it means the same thing. Some Greek word study can help with an understanding of the New Testament, if you find something to be unclear. Same with Hebrew for the Old Testament.

          • Doug C.

            “You’d stated previously that you don’t think a loving God would send anyone to hell, and I’m saying that according to his own word, yes he would.” Let’s correct this statement. God doesn’t send people to hell; that’s a choice people make for themselves.

            “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

            As you can plainly see, the Lord doesn’t want any of us to perish, but in order not to perish a person must “come to repentance” and confess they are a sinner and in need of His salvation. If a person chooses not to do this, then it’s not God’s fault—it’s their own.

          • Dayton Griffin

            I understand that it’s not God’s fault. when someone chooses hell. However, God created hell as the punishment for sin, and He is the one who will banish them there. He is the judge.

          • Doug C.

            Wrong again—God created hell as a punishment for satan and his minions; not for people. Like I said above, if people go to hell it’s because they chose to ignore God and His free gift of salvation and ignorantly live in their own sin.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            But what if people aren’t ignoring God, but they are just acknowledging the divine using completely different parameters…you know as the Muslims do, or the Jewish, or the Sikhs, or Baihai, or Hindu, or any of the many other religous format that are out there? And how can we assume anyone is ignoring God or not?

            My thoughts on this, If God insists that s/he will simply dismiss the vast portion of humanity because they don’t follow one particular method of acknowledgement, and that its their own fault for not being able to know about or to live up to such an impossible scenario, then either God is a sadistic power controlling horror, or the theology has got some serious issues.

          • Dayton Griffin

            Matthew 7:21-23

            21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (emphasis added)

            I agree that your sin sends you to hell. However, God created hell as a punishment for sin.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Wait…so God made hell, God sends people to hell, yet God is not responsible for making sure people are supposedly going to end up there? What kind of crazy logic is that?

        • Jill

          And this is your opinion that this shit you’re spewing actually has traction with people who’ve heard all of this many, many times before. And have rejected it outright. Full stop.

          You keep your angry, jealous, demanding god. I’m going to go celebrate me some holy days.

          • Dayton Griffin

            I’ll gladly discuss my viewpoint with you, provided you’re willing to be civil in your discussion.

  • Erwin

    John, you give a whole new meaning to Antinomialism, not! The same old news, just in a new contemporary package , vs. ” Jesus the same yesterday, and to day and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8-9, 20. ( you might want to read all of chapter 13 also). Also, ” … Whatever you do, do for the Glory of God ( not man).” 1 Corinthians 10:31-32,1-33 . Peace!


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