How Is “Convert, You Sinner!” Loving?

How Is “Convert, You Sinner!” Loving? June 14, 2010

“I don’t think you’re a loser; I know you’re a loser.” That’s the message that non-Christians necessarily receive from any Christian who tries to convert them.

In Mark 12, Jesus emphatically declares that the most important commandment of all is to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself. “There is no commandment greater than these,” he says. Mark 12:14-28 is known as the Great Commandment, because that’s what Jesus himself called it.

At the end of the Book of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples to, “Go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:16-20 is called the Great Commission, because that’s what people (and not, notably, Jesus) decided to call it.

So the conscientious Christian engaging a non-Christian does so mindful of two imperatives: to love him (thus fulfilling The Great Commandment), and to convert him (thus fulfilling The Great Commission).

Thus is the Christian in the position of wanting to simultaneously convey to the non-Christian two diametrically opposed messages: “I love you,” and “You should completely change everything about yourself.”

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is the name of a long-running off-Broadway musical comedy. Funny title! So passive-aggressive!

Less funny if you’re actually on the receiving end of that message, of course.

Most people react to being told that they need to become someone radically different than they are — and especially to being told that by someone whom they never invited to venture any opinion on the matter at all — by (in one way or another) distancing themselves from whomever told them that. Who wants to hang out with a person who they know believes them to be wrong about some of the most personal and important topics anyone can be wrong about? And the non-Christian isn’t being told by the evangelizing Christian that he’s wrong about what team is going to win the Super Bowl, or about which brand of toothpaste is the best. He’s being told he’s wrong about God. And if you’re wrong about God, you’re wrong about a lot of extremely crucial stuff: divinity, cosmology, nature, destiny, morality, knowledge, the nature of Self, the afterlife, what you should do on Sunday mornings, etc. Being wrong about God means being about as wrong as wrong gets.

And it’s not like Christians believe that non-Christians are just a little bit wrong about God. They think they’re so incredibly wrong about God that the price they’ll have to pay for just how wrong they are is having the living flesh seared off their bones for all of eternity.

That’s one big giant can of wrongness.

And so the Christian, wanting only to save the non-Christian from the damnation of eternal hell, persists in “witnessing” to the non-Christian. (Forgetting that a witness is only supposed to ask questions when asked.) To the Christian, trying to fulfill the Great Commission is fulfilling the Great Commandment. It’s true that the Christian (usually) evangelizes out of love, and no one can fault him for that.

The problem is that evangelizing fails like a coke-snorting preacher sermonizing on the joys of moderation. Trying to convert people never works, and every Christian who’s ever tried it knows it. It’s no mystery as to why that is: again, who enjoys listening to another person tell them that they’re unworthy of respect? And that’s where the logic board of so many Christians seems to blow: they can’t grasp why telling a person that they need to radically alter who they are is profoundly, offensively disrespectful to that person.

The inseparable subtext of the message, “It’s absolutely essential to your well-being and happiness that you completely change,” is the message, “I don’t respect you. I don’t respect the choices you’ve made, the opinions you hold, or the values you’ve chosen for yourself.”

And that’s a long, long way from a message of love. Because love proffered minus respect is like a bowl of plastic fruit: it looks healthy and nourishing—but it’s not. Love without respect is, in fact, no love at all. At best it’s patronizing.

And—duh—people who’ve been patronized and insulted tend to not hang out with those who’ve partonized and insulted them.

And so ultimately there stands the shunned Christian, full of love for the non-Christian he has insistently driven from himself. We can only hope — before it is too late for his soul — that he realizes that in his zeal for fulfilling the Great Commission, he has egregiously violated the Great Commandment.

For Christians to solve their “I love you; what a terrible shame you’re you” conundrum, all they have to do is realize that what Jesus tells his disciples at the end of Matthew was critical at that time. When he said those words, almost no one but those at that moment listening to him had heard of Christ or his message; then, his disciples needed to get out there and spread the word, in order to ensure that word survived at all.

But today? Not so much with the urgency.

Today, Christians can rejoice in the fact that the Great Commission has been fulfilled. It’s done! It’s over! Yayeth! Christianity is, and has long been, firmly entrenched virtually everywhere in America. Television, radio, video, the Internet, almost as many churches as there are Starbucks: there are infinite information streams about Christianity available 24/7 to any and all. No Christian has to worry about anyone out there being ignorant of Christianity. Everybody knows about Christianity. Which means that in America today, it’s very safe to trust that the reason for which any given person is not a Christian is because they have weighed the evidence and chosen not to be a Christian. (And it’s likely that one of the reasons they so decided is all the Christians forever running around telling everyone else what they should and shouldn’t believe. Most people aren’t keen on joining a club of apparent crazies.)

I am a Christian. And oh, Lord, how I wish my fellow believers would start worrying less about fulfilling the Great Commission, and start worrying more about fulfilling the Great Commandment. It’s too easy — not to mention egotistically gratifying — to preach to others about how they should be. We need to do the infinitely more challenging and certainly more humbling thing. We need to do as Jesus did. We need to love and respect people exactly as we find them.

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  • I think you are creating a straw man here John. The message of Christianity is not to tell someone they are worthless and they need to change.

    The message of Christianity is to tell the person that God loves them. The great commission isn't a command to try and change a person, its a command to bring God's healing presence into a situation that needs God's presence.

    As to your statement about no one needing to hear the message of Christ. How did you come to know Christ and accept His message of salvation for yourself?

  • When you figure out how to tell a person that they're in need of God's presence without it sounding to that person like an insult, please let me know. For you'll have really stumbled upon something.

    And trust me, I became a Christian in spite of those Christians who tried to "witness" to me, not because of them.

  • michael

    So, it seems like Jesus loves and accepts us exactly as we are, and he does; but in fact loves us even more, enough not to leave us there. He meets us where we are and loves us enough to offer an invitation to go beyond where he finds us. Just sayin'

  • Lisa

    Craig you are right about the message of Christianity, but I think John is stating that people go about it in an a way that can seem insulting or that "less than" if you don't accept Christ. I have been a Christian all my life, in spite of myself.

  • temidoskylla

    thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. I've tried to have a religion (didn't work out so well) and I wish that my in-laws would understand this. Just because I don't believe in God doesn't mean I have no morals, though the tattoos I have probably don't support that fact, ha ha. Trying to convert me is like talking to a brick wall.

  • john

    Brave topic. Touches so many things:

    – Abandonment (often moving to a radically different religion means leaving/losing friends behind)

    – Apostasy (some religions demand the deaths of those who leave the fold)

    – Audacity (what makes anyone think their religion is better than anyone else's)

    Each of those above can have a huge impact on a person's life, and the life of their family.

    I think you made your point so clearly that I will pile on in another direction.

    If the afterlife plays out the way many evangelicals believe it does, things are MUCH worse for the person who doesn't change. This applies specifically to the hundreds of millions to billions of people who have never heard of Jesus.

    In my understanding of the Christian faith, a person is judged based upon their decision to take the steps to salvation. If a person does not know that Jesus offered a salvation, they are judged by their knowledge. This last statement is based on my teen-age years where I listened to Pat Robertson and the leadership of the AoG churches. I can't defend it very well, but understand that many Christians believe this.

    If that's the case, telling someone the "message" means they have "heard", and as a result, they can no longer get out of it by claiming ignorance.

    Since MANY of the adults that have been introduced to Christ's story have not changed their beliefs, what are the implications to their afterlives?

    From a game theory perspective, it seems that the best way to keep people out of hell is to never tell them how to be saved. Just hold your tongue and save billions.

  • Alison

    I love your post! Something that I've always wondered about – it doesn't say "make converts," which is really what (we) Christians keep trying to do. It says "make disciples." Totally different thing. Keep writing.

  • dear john 😉

    you put words to thoughts i've always had. your words make me feel less alone in the universe. thank you for writing. thank you for dealing with the small-minded, fear-filled, self-righteous responses that cause me to be silent. you are light in the darkness of what we call "christianity". ignore everyone who attacks you. audience of One. audience of One, love. i will never right you a real dear john letter. i'm forever yours 😉

  • write, not right. damn.

  • Jason Turner

    Discipleship is an amazing thing. Once a person is truely a disciple they feel the love of Christ in every part of their life. They can't help but go out and let others know, training them in the ways of the Lord and encouraging people to be who God wants them to be.

  • onemansbeliefs

    I will be eternally grateful to the young lady that approached me in the red light district of Amsterdam to ask me if I knew Jesus. I didn't get saved that night, but (on further review) I can pinpoint that moment as the turning point of my life. She did not offend me that night. Yet, she took a risk that she might. A risk, I consider, well worth taking…

  • Bri

    John, in this post as well as in your comments, you are aggressively denouncing the behavior of some Christians in the same manner that those Christians may denounce non-Christians.

  • Bri

    Quick response: I was composing my message before I had the chance to read the post by Heather and your reply to her. I am now composing a more complete response to you.

  • Diana

    Thank you! Yes, I agree with that distinction. I wish more Christians (especially those who seek to evangelize) understood that distinction.

  • Another reason: Many Christians have it in thier minds that they have non-Christians all figured out. You know, it's that y'all have god and we non-Christians don't. The result is my main issue with many Christians: they dont hear us. How can they?

    How can they hear us when they believe all we nons know is essentially nothing…?

    I find this really sad.

  • onemansbeliefs

    You are correct, I did not know her…

    As for me being on my way to becoming a Christian, I would say hardly…

    The only thing on my mind during the conversation is that we should go to a hotel and do many things that should remain unmentioned here…

    It wasn't until years later (some 20 years later) that I understood how that brief conversation would be the changing moment it became…

    "She needs to stop."

    I'm happy she didn't stop with the person she spoke to prior to speaking with me…

  • Heather

    Thanks, John. I will check out the article. I agree with what Susan said about loving others unconditionally and demonstrating the love of Christ by how you treat other people being the answer. I would never walk up to someone and say "do you know Jesus?", as I do find that offensive myself.

    I think when we Christians live out our lives in the way Jesus did and by his example, then people take notice and want to know what it is about us that causes us to behave that way, especially in this world where everyone seems so selfish and self-centered. This provides us with an opportunity to share our story with them.

    I belond to a church that believes in doing just that. We go out into our community and the world and minister to hurting people. If the opportunity arises to have a conversation with them about our faith, then we do so. If not, then hopefully, a seed has been planted and they experienced the love of Christ through us.

    Do I think there's a way to go about talking to non-Christians about Jesus Christ? Absolutely. Do I think many Christians miss the entire point many times (it's about LOVE!!), giving us all a bad name? Definitely! I hope my comments didn't come across that I was suggesting that we brow-beat people with our faith.

    On the other hand, there is no greater gift than the free gift of salvation. What Jesus did for us is awesome!! If we are afraid or hesitant to share the message for fear of offending someone, then shame on us. Why would we not want to share the life-changing message of God's love and salvation with others if given the opportunity?

    I'm sad to see that so many non-Christians feel that Christians have such negative feelings about them, believing them to be immoral, unlovable or hopeless. There's nothing worse than self-righteous people. I hope they know that not all Christians are like that.

    We have a sign in our church that says "no perfect people allowed". Our church receptionist is a former stripper who showed up one Easter with nowhere else to turn. I believe that absolutely anyone could walk into our church and receive a warm, open welcome. Christians seem to forget who Jesus associated with (tax collectors, prostitutes) and who he didn't have much use for (Pharisees and Sadducees). Wouldn't it be great if all Christians were more Christ-like?

    Ok, off my soap box now 🙂

  • Diana

    Julia, please don't blame God for what some of us "followers" do in his name. There are a lot of bad Christians in the world–it doesn't mean God is bad or that Jesus is bad or that the Christian faith is bad. As Tolstoy put it "If I know the road home and go along it drunk, staggering from side to side — does that make the road along which I go the wrong one?" Moreover, not all Christians believe that those who die without accepting Jesus are doomed to spend eternity in Hell. Granted, those who don't believe that are regarded as heretics (at best) by those who do, but the Christian Universalist viewpoint has been around since Christianity began, even when it's been stifled by those who are more rigid in their viewpoints.

    Some books I can recommend (besides those written by John, of course, those are a given) that offer a different viewpoint on the character of God and how that impacts those who are not "Christian": 1) The Misunderstood God by Darin Hufford; 2) The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbott; and 3) If Grace Is True by Philip Gulley & James Mulholland (also, the sequel to this book If God is Love.) Anyway, just wanted to share. Thanks for your patience with my long reply to your post.

  • But … you didn't in any way address the validity of what I said. Nine out of ten is … horrible. It means she IS doing way, way, way more harm than good.

    Oh, well. No worries. I hear what you're saying.

  • John, check out this interesting video by magician Penn Jillette, an atheist, on this very topic. It's fascinating:

    Excerpt from it where he talks about proselytizing:

  • And while I agree with the gist of your argument here, I absolutely believe it's possible to say, "We all need God" without being insulting.

  • Yeah, but you mistake me. I'm saying proselytizing fails because it doesn't WORK, not because it's not reasonable for the Christian to want to convert the non-Christian. Please see my comment to onemansbelief above. (And, of course, my post.) And the tired "truck" analogy used here is worthless. It's a blatant subjective-objective category confusion.

  • Yeah, but "We all need God" isn't what the evangelist is saying. What he's saying is "I've got God, and you need God." Not the same message at all.

  • Christine Kesling

    Oh, how tempted I am to re-post this on my Facebook page for my brother, who insists I am not a Christian as I do not believe the exact same things he does, and insists on reminding me of this and re-posting articles that support the "right" way of believing. If nothing else, maybe he would take you on and leave me alone.

  • Diana

    That getting a life thing–I know all about that! When/if you do manage to get a life, "If Grace Is True," will probably the least Christian of the three, followed by "The Misunderstood God," and "The Inescapable Love of God." They're all written by people who consider themselves Christians, so they'll all have Christian themes–but maybe not as arrogant toward Non-Christians as the average Christian book. Peace be with you, Julia. Be well!

  • Thank you, Fred, for sharing with us your experience and insight. It's a genuine pleasure.

  • Thank you, Diana.

    Peace to you as well!

  • (In case anyone's noticed/cares, I deleted the exchange between Julia and I, because it simply wasn't germane to the discussion here. It was my fault for beginning it.)

  • Great point. As an atheist, I would love for Christians to respect me enough to realize that I know what is best for me. What works for you does not work for me, but that should not mean we can't be friends. It's a very simple common courtesy issue. As it stands, I can rarely maintain a friendship with a religious person for long, because they always have to find a chance to try and convert me. It is extremely disrespectful and rude.

    Thanks for the good read, John. I hope you can influence some of your fellow Christians by setting a good example.

  • Amelia

    I was a missionary for 15 years. I trained to 'evangelise', but eventually moved myself on to simply serving people- figured out that witness means to answer when asked. That has made a huge difference in my life and those around me. I no longer looked at people as, well, targets of un-savedness.

    Also, Dante and his infernal Inferno. That stupid thing has so influenced poeples' perception of hell.

    Now, I've moved away from Christianity. Maybe I'll move back, maybe not. Life is a journey.

  • Gina Powers

    THANK YOU, John, for posting this….the whole concept of evangelizing has buggered with me ever since I "got saved" half a million years ago. Wish that I would have heard this perspective back then. I have ALWAYS had a distaste for being a "salesperson" for Jesus, and have never, ever been comfortable with the concept of "evangelization" in the first place. And since practically day one, I too have encountered fellow believers who insisted that I was less or not at all a Christian because I didn't measure up to the stereotypical Christian standards (I cuss, wouldn't dress conservatively, listen to Heavy Metal, and the big 'un–I had sex with my boyfriends, whom yes, I actually did care about). So I'm totally with you on this one.

    (Oh yeah, and btw–after I "got saved", MY first worry was the "Please don't send me to Africa" thing–I forget which CCM band does that song, but anyway……I worried about that for a LONG time! Pretty silly, no? 😉 )

  • i have been a catholic, changed when the man i married was married before in a catholic church, so we had to go to the mayors office, when my daughter was born i was told that as her mother i would not be allowed to have communion, so i had her baptized in a episcopal church, later on when my son was born i had him baptised in the catholic church knowing that they were full of it for they were not god.i had my children going to evangelical church as well as pentecostal. all of these churches had dysfunctional people working in low positions as well as high positions. did i mention that my brother was molested by a priest in our Parrish. i am on a spiritual journey answering only to myself and doing fine for i know that i will be judged when i cross over so i am true to myself.oh and my children were verbally and corporal punishment when they were little.

  • Well, see, now, here’s the problem with that. I’m going to to assume you didn’t know this girl before she approached you.

    So she, a stranger to you, came up to you, and asked you if you knew Jesus.

    That is extremely personally intrusive. I can’t imagine you’d even suggest it’s not. It manifestly is.

    You’re saying it worked for you. That’s a beautiful thing.

    My contention, though, is that the reason that worked for you is because you were already heading toward God. If you weren’t, what that girl said to you wouldn’t have resonated with you in anywhere near the way it did. You were already well on your way to becoming a Christian. Clearly, she encouraged you in that regard; but ultimately she did nothing more than push you in the direction in which you were already going.

    Now here’s the thing. If she said what she did to you, she said that same thing to a lot of people that night. I’m sure she does that all the time.

    Now, what percentage of the people do you think heard her the way you did? I’m saying ten percent, max–and I’m sure it’s more like one, maybe two percent. But let’s say 10 percent are receptive to what she has to say.

    One out of ten people are drawn closer to God because of what she goes up on the street to them and says.

    But nine of ten people she speaks to are driven further away. Nine out of ten of those people think “Oh, God. Another intrusive, rude, crazy Christian talking to people in the streets.” And those people are given, right there, yet another reason to stay away from Christianity.

    Those are horrible odds. That girl’s not helping Christianity. She’s hurting it. She’s working against its interests. You would have come to God anyway. The cost of helping you along toward God is nowhere near worth the price of all the people she further alienated away from him.

    It helped you. It hurt nine others. She needs to stop.

  • “We should listen to what non-Christians are telling us, and remember what Christ told us. We should, in other words, forget the Great Commission, and remember the Great Commandment.”

    I hear what you’re saying, John.

    But, sadly I dont see it ever happening.

    Not when you’re god views us as spiritually dead, worthy of only his wrath and will go to hell for refusing to worship him. As non-Christians we are children of satan, filled with the devil, our faiths nothing but devil worship where our prayers nothing but black magic straight from hell thu never heard by god. As a non-Christin we are nothing but filthy rag immoral lowlifes who cannot to anything good and have no values for we do not have god. We are not to be trusted, not to be dated or married lest we drag the Christian’s soul straight to hell along with us.

    All these things I’ve been told to BY Christians. Including told to my face numereous times by sevral Christians over the years that my 3 deceased brothers are allready in hell for dying non-Christians. (2 were killed seperately by being hit by vehicles, the 3rd a massive corornary.) Lovely thing to hear, especially since I still have very vivid memoriers of one of my brother’s deaths as he was killed right in front of me.


    I mean, if your god cannot even hear us, how do you expect your bretheren to….?

    Just sayin’….

  • Susan

    I always love reading your posts John. I completely agree with this. I do believe many Christians who attempt to convert people have good intentions. They probably believe they are doing the right thing. I mean we Christians don’t want anyone to go to hell do we? Maybe if we tell others what will happen if they don’t accept the gift WE are presenting them, they will be saved and we can claim we had a hand in their decision. Sadly that is the attitude I have encountered many times in the churches I have been belonged to. Loving and accepting people as they are takes much more work and commitment and we won’t get the immediate results we want. But I believe that is what we are called to do. I was fortunate to have a friend love me unconditionally through some hard times. The way she lived her life and treated others set her apart in my eyes and I wanted to have the peace she had.

    I view the practice of “converting” others as more self centered. I have the answer. If you don’t do as I say you will be sorry. I know this isn’t always the case, but I have seen this happen often enough. Loving others is selfless. Christs’ time on earth was the ultimate example of selflessness. If we are His followers, we should follow His commands, and this is the Great Commandment.

  • Heather

    6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

    12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

    I think sometimes love means loving people enough to tell them the truth. Jesus didn’t hesitate to tell people who he is and that he is the ONLY way. I agree with you on some level that the methods of some Christians leaves something to be desired. Telling people they’re going to Hell if they don’t convert is very disrespectful and you must always balance truth with grace. But, I think it’s pretty unloving not to tell people the truth. If you’re a Christian, then you should believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father. And if you believe that, then how can you NOT tell others about it?? Anything short of that doesn’t sound like love to me!

  • Heather: About John 14:6: If you’d like, see a piece I wrote called “Jesus the Decider: Do Only Christians Get Into Heaven?

  • Really? Because I just said to Heather, “If you’d like, see a piece…” How is “If you like” aggressive?

    And in my response to “onemansbelief,” I wrote, “You’re saying it worked for you. That’s a beautiful thing.”

    So I’m not being too aggressive, dipshit.


  • Jason Turner

    Christianity can be so UNCHRISTIAN. There are three main reasons why young people are not coming to the Lord and in a study the main reason was because the church was Unchristian. They were hypocritical, unloving and the main argument was that they were homophobic.

    I find this really sad

  • An absolute standing and loudly clapped ovation from me John. This is one hundred percent on the money. Listen up Christians. I have loudly proclaimed this very theme with every excuse to open my mouth I could use. Thank you for letting me know that someone else "gets it". Almost makes me want to call myself a Christian again.

  • Fred Wachtman

    I am within 4 months of 90, have served Christ since 1937. I won my first convert immediately after being saved Have been witnessing and winning lost souls ever since, I am sure some were repulsed by how I approached them, but I progressively learned better approaches. After some years I had another experience that greatly enabled me to win a much greater percentage of those I approached. I was bapyized in the Holy Spirit, which took all the fear of man out of me and gave me greater love and power to witness effectively. Love of sinners makes a big difference, The boldness coupled with love and the power of the Holy Spirit is what it takes to win most effectively. Remember Christ told the disciples to “tarry until ye be endued with power.” before going forth to make deciples. We are to manifest the love of Christ to everyone, even rejecters.

  • Oh What a wonderful piece, and I utterly agree. One of my favorite quote is "Preach the gospel daily, if necessary use words." To me that tells me that our actions preach a gospel. What kind of gospel is far more evident by those actions then anything we ever say. Do we preach respect, kindness, acceptance, willingness to care, patience and all those other wonderful attributes or do we preach condemnation, disrespect, a mindset of superiority, unwillingness to care?

    Like Gina I have problems with the "salesperson for Jesus" thing too. I know He doesn't really need us to reach the lives of others, but chooses to use us. He gave us a beautifully simple way to demonstrate what HE is all about in that Great Commandment. Simple acts of love are far more powerful and impacting then we may realize or see the results of, but they are so needed, much more then telling people they need to be saved. Besides I am of the mind we can't save anyone, we lack the qualifications, all we can do is point in a direction. How we do the pointing, however can and often does matter.

    And Gina, I'm an out of the box Christian as well, and I know that God is perfectly ok with our uniqueness.

  • Diana, I dont blame God. Never have for anything. People will be people based on alot of things they believe and have experienced.

    As to God, well, I am not a Christian. I do not view God via the bible or Christianity. Never have. And never will.

    That’s just me. No offense.

    And thanks for the book suggestions. Will add them to my list of must reads when ever I manage to get a life. 😉

  • Ace

    I think it's possible to do both – love your neighbors and help bring them to Christ – BUT I think the latter is best done by DOING the former, not talking about it.

    I think you can represent Christ best by leading by example with your own behavior, not running off at the mouth. And I think that's where a lot of Christians screw up, by assuming that the only way to change a non-believer is by bald threats, intimidation and harassment. Those are the tactics of insurance salesmen, not Jesus. And I've never met a single Christian who was actually converted by somebody getting in their face or telling them they are evil, just a lot of bitter non-believers fed up with such childish antics.

    It's also a very lazy way of doing things, because it requires nothing on the part of the Christian besides memorizing a few pithy bible quotes. It's easy to yap and yap away in peoples' faces, it's much harder to change your own behavior and attitudes to reflect Christ.

  • Craig,

    You said, "The message of Christianity is not to tell someone they are worthless and they need to change."

    I think this is John's point. This is not the message of the Christianity perhaps that you know, nor of what the message of Christianity *should* be. But it is the message of a version of Christianity……and we of the recovering Fundamentalist variety can attest that this version of Christianity, at least in America, is alive and well…….and it really screws people up and turns people off.

    Theologian, philosopher, and physician Albert Schweitzer desired to work as a physician in Gabon but was criticized by the Missionary society to which he applied because his theology did not match their own. They eventually allowed him to go as a doctor but not as a missionary asking him not to speak of his theological beliefs only to serve the medical needs of the people.

    Schweitzer believed that a life of service would say a great deal more than preaching and wanted his life to be his argument. He said, "Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing."

    So many Christians get hung up on the literalness of the great commission, missing entirely that the best preaching doesn't use words. God has passed grace onto us, now go be grace in the world. God has passed love onto us, now go be love in the world. How we treat others IS evangelism. When our actions match what we say we believe then maybe we'll have a little more street cred.

  • DonP


    "recovering Fundamentalist": LOL!! I love it . I think I might have some of those genes me.

  • DonP


    You said, "its a command to bring God’s healing presence into a situation that needs God’s presence" as if you have the power to bring God anywhere. Perhaps you do. Please forgive me if you do. However, I find the argument a little self flattering. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know He indwells the Christian and all that good doctrine. I say bring God's presence quietly and with humility and a spirit and willingness to be a a comfort for those who find themselves In that "situation that needs God’s presence" that you spoke of.

    For me though Craig, the "great commission" is more about the freedom from the law that God's sacrifice gave us. This is His message, This the "Gospel". We live in that freedom as a testament to his grace. Our actions of obedience to His law and our humility with our fellow man should be such that it causes another to ask us the nature of our faith. That is why we are told in 1 Peter 3:15 "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:"

  • Gina Powers

    Slyvie, how cool!! Nice to meet another one!! You rock!! 🙂

  • Diana

    Hi, Christy!

    I just posted part of what you said on my Facebook page, along with the link to John's blog. I hope you don't mind–you just expressed so succinctly what I've always believed. "God has passed grace onto us, now go be grace in the world. God has passed love onto us, now go be love in the world." This is the part I quoted. Thanks, Christy!

  • Diana

    Me too! I think there are a lot of us running around.

  • There surely are. 🙂

  • DonP

    I forgot to add: wait for the question, then be ready to answer…………….with meekness and fear. Fear meaning reverence and respect.

  • Joel


    First, thanks for the site and your postings. I came across something you wrote on HufPo a few weeks back and started visiting your site and reading your posts. I agree with most, if not all, of your ideas.

    I don't think the Great Commandment and the Great Commission are necessarily at odds. As a mater of fact, I belive that if we follow the Great Commandment we act out the Great Commission without even knowing it.

    I once heard a quote that I will paraphrase here: "You do not convince (convert) someone by telling them, loudly, how wrong they are and how right you are. You convince them by being a light so lovely they want to know with all their hearts to source of it."

    If we really, radically, loved everyone we came in contact with they would, perhaps, want to know the source of our love.

    I recently decided that I was more interested in being a disciple of Jesus than in being a Christian. The two seem not to have much in common, and I like Jesus — even though those who claim him, loudly, often don't like me. (I'm one of those Christ-centered Quaker Queers you hear so much about.) Also, as you point out, being a disciple of Jesus is much more difficult work, but also much more satisfying.

  • It's true — the logical conclusion of the heathen principle is that Christians should stop preaching the gospel to people who haven't heard it yet.

    In a similar way, the logical conclusion of the age of accountability is the automatic abortion of every baby conveived. That would give them automatic tickets to heaven, and would mean abortion doctors save more souls than ministers.

    So either our logic is off, the doctrine of hell is off, or we live in a seriously #$%#ed universe!

  • John Murphy

    Interesting post, John. A couple of difficulties in it, it seems. First, you seem to be analyzing evangelism pragmatically (What percentage of people come to faith through that approach?). Where, exactly, does that standard come from? Second, your position rests upon your assumption that the Great Commission has been fulfilled. This is shaky ground at best. Indeed, it is driven by another pragmatic assumption "It seems to be fulfilled to me (at least in America); therefore it MUST be fulfilled, and we should stop doing it (because it doesn't work anyway)."

    If we were concerned about percentages and a subjective definition of what "works," ("who can know the heart?"), we would have stopped this whole faith in Christ thing a long time ago. And perhaps, just perhaps, getting pissed off at someone who shares Christ with me, is the first step TO Christ. Read Richard Wurmbrand, "Tortured for Christ" for some good examples.

  • mark

    John: I hate you, I hate you, I hate you…..not really, it is just that since finding your blog and its respondents, I have spent more and more time, hours upon hours, reading and re-reading both the blogs and the responses, discovering NEW trains of thought, afraid to miss even the slightest possible impulse or idea. Not to mention the absolute need to write my own responses, both to you and to them! There should be a government-mandated warning: This site is addictive……

    Without further ado:

    If we are to accept onemansbeliefs' apocryphus of the young lady in the red-light district in Amsterdam, we also then must assume that he had never heard of God or Jesus before her question nor did he hear of them in the 20 years intervening before his conversion. After all, he himself admits that his sole interest in her at the time was in getting to know her in a carnal manner. And yet, again according to him, her question was his primary motivating impetus in his eventual conversion twenty whole years later! Might it not be more logical that his tale is a parable to support his unstated contention that it is the duty of every REAL Christian to browbeat, excuse me, I mean, preach about the salvation through Christ and/or Christianity?

    In the course of my life, I have been the target of many, many freelance conversion specialists, both professional and amateur, and not just for the fact that I dress in strange ways. I understand the motivation of some proselytizers like Fred Wachtman; they KNOW something so profound, so incredible, so joyous, so deep, so important, so necessary that they can't NOT share it with any- and everyone they encounter. The problem that arises, even in those who share out of a need to, is that they all come across as 'holier than thou.' When I respond with my own evident knowledge of the Bible, the non-inspired, mandated-by-their-cult ones generally, eventually, back off, as they realize that I know as much, if not more, than they do and that I can counter virtually anything other than Faith that they throw at me! The inspired ones? We usually part in comity, agreeing to disagree. Those are the encounters that I bask in, the ones that make me think, that make me work to get my points across, kind of like this site. One such comes to mind, but that's a tale for another post.

    I do have a few questions though and I've yet to find the proper post in which to ask them……..

    1) What kind of omnipotent being (GOD) creates evil to tempt His oh-so-fallible creations?

    2) What kind of GOD would create HELL for creatures that are going to fail Him, (by nature of their


    3) If Jesus was 100% God yet 100% human male, would He not have had a fair amount of

    testosterone flowing within Him?

    4) And if so, as a good Jew (probably the best ever), would He not have behaved in the manner

    culturally expected of Him, both to advance the propagation AND population of Jewish life and


    Also…..consider the following quote:

    John 14:1-7…

    “‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’

    Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’

    Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’”

    “In my Father’s house are many rooms…….No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well….”

    Do these phrases mean what I think they mean? Specifically, that the Father has a place in heaven for EVERYONE, followers of Christ as well as non-, each to her own room in the House? That the true believers in Christ see GOD as the Father in their own Christian room…….that others will know God or Yahweh or Allah or…..but not as His Father?

    Jest axin'


  • onemansbeliefs

    "Might it not be more logical that his tale is a parable to support his unstated contention that it is the duty of every REAL Christian to browbeat, excuse me, I mean, preach about the salvation through Christ and/or Christianity?"

    Nope… Thanks for asking…

  • Ally

    Heather — that is the point. Love them. That’s it. You ARE showing them grace and love when you simply love the person. Insisting that you have the ONLY right way — even if you believe that to be true — makes the other person automatically become defensive. But if you love the other person, are a good friend to them, coworker, family member, whatever, and show Christ — you will get their attention in ways proselytizing never can.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    I was reading some of the comments at Huffington Post, and I think we need to find a new way of delivering your message here. People consistently (and not only in those Huff.Po. comments) miss the point that it’s great that Christians want to convert those around them, but such means as this does more harm than good for the Gospel. (It’s a shame, but—from what I’ve read & seen, from seeing how faith manifests itself in other cultures, from what I hear of non-Christians views towards Christianity (about which—as you say—they’ve all heard before) in North America & Northern/Western Europe—we know it’s true: most direct evangelism pushes away significantly more people than it wins over.)

    My thoughts would be perhaps to reduce the role of the argument that the Commission has been fulfilled in our nation already and instead propose better ways of promoting Christianity, such as, where people have already heard *about* Christianity but have just chosen often not to *believe* it, just to try to live out a good, Christ-like example, as a living testimony to the work of God, while relating to others in just the words of this world, words that bear meaning to those who think “hell”, “heaven”, “God”, etc. to be mere empty concepts and meaningless words, and, therefore, for whom *any* argument using such words is, automatically, equally hollow and invalid.

    What are others’ thoughts on this matter?

  • Matthew Tweedell

    I’ve got to agree, mark: the government really ought to require sites like this to carry some sort of addiction warning. But at least no one’s found any indications (yet) that it’s bad for our health :).

    Allow me to try to answer some of your questions:

    1) God is all good. To the divine nature such a concept as evil is utterly foreign. Unrevealed divinity is such as knows no evil. Yet such is not the fullness of what is, for then it would be not omniscient. It is, however, in man that evil is known, along with whatever guilt or shame is associated therewith. Thus He must be a man that would judge. For this reason, judgment rests in the hands of the Son, fully God *and* fully man. If, however, one should reject Him, it would not be He that would condemn; it is whatever else one puts his or her faith in (for everyone puts it in something) that stands as his or her accuser. Now if man judged not good and evil, he’d be not judged, and there would be no shame in what is natural, like our primordial nudity. To do this though we must become as children: for we are born wise in this regard; God willing—we die wise; in the meantime, though, life makes fools of us all, and so we not only wear clothes, but tie ties about our necks and place grossly inordinate value in a particular shiny substance called gold.

    2) I don’t know.

    3) Yes, I believe He would.

    4) Again, I don’t know. But to me it doesn’t seem that, culturally speaking at least, Jesus was particularly Jewish. In Galilee, they spoke a funny dialect and were generally less religious than the folks in Judea, and Jesus’ followers didn’t even wash their hands before eating. As the Bible reports that Jesus spent much of his early childhood in Egypt (and extra-biblical sources place Him everywhere from England to Tibet) He may have been more culturally diverse than many tend to think. Anyhow, it seems the Essenes (such as the ones who likely left the Dead Sea scrolls) discouraged marriage, and it seems John the Baptist’s movement originated therein, and Jesus made His appearance within the context of that movement—so it’s possible Jesus wouldn’t have married, in order to devote more of His time to religious matters and less to family affairs, like monks do (& not only within the Christian monastic tradition) (see also Matthew 12:47-50, Luke 14:26).

    And about the last: dunno, but I doubt it. “Many rooms” is not the same as “a room for everyone”, and just because people are invited there, doesn’t mean that they will show up. I would hope you’re right, but if it were not so that some would be cast into the fire of the bottomless pit (where there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth and the thirst will not be quenched), would not He have told us? We’ll just see what man decides: will we destroy the legacy of those who’ve disagreed with us, deny the immortal Truth and the undying Love, or will we reconcile so that we might live in one house not divided against itself?

  • You know what I think I should do, is blog off and on about this for three years straight, and write a whole book about the subject–one that deeply explores not just this question but the entire dynamic whereby Christians and non-Christians relate, in which I of course go deeper into the whole matter than I can do in any one blog post.

    Oh. Wait. Sorry. I already did that. Carry on.

  • Hey, Mark. In answer to your four questions (to which I see our friend Mr. Tweedell already beat me!)

    1, Please see my post, Evil: Surprise! It’s a Good Thing!

    2. Lots and lots and lots of Christians don’t believe in a literal hell any more than they do in Santa Claus. It’s entirely possible to be a Christian and not believe in hell. Search the term “hell” in the Bible yourself, and see how real/important it seems to you. See my “God Can Love Me or Send Me to Hell. But Not Both.

    3. Please see my posts, Christians, Non-Christians, and the “Fully Man” Problem with Jesus, and “No Mate for Jesus.

    4. N/A.

    5. Too big/complex a question. But see my post, “Jesus the Decider: Do Only Christians Get Into Heaven?

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Point taken.

    It’s gotta be super-frustrating to have the whole point so frequently misunderstood. I know it’s not possible to condense the issue to a single blog post without leaving out a substantial portion of even the very heart of the matter, so I thought the input of various (hopefully somewhat diverse) individuals, each bringing his or her own perspective to reading it, might help determine what’s most important for keeping the overall point lost on as few readers as possible.

  • textjunkie

    I love it. The Great Commission is done, fulfilled… ::phew:: 🙂 But I think you have something–part of what underlays the emphasis on the Great Commission over the Great Commandment is the commission, while painful, is *easier*. It carries with it the reward of martyrdom with every rejection and rebuff. The Great Commandment? Less obviously rewarding, more complex, more difficult.

  • Well, you are a winningly resilient chap, I’ll give you that. And no, actually, I am pleased with they way I’ve honed it down. I don’t think I’ve left out … well, really, ANY of the heart of the matter, say, with this last articulation. I wish I had more words to use so I could smooth it out: trying to say so much in such a short space (without working on it for three months) leaves is with a real direct oafishness I deplore. But … whatever. The truth is, people believe what they believe, and a blog post won’t impact that, no matter how artfully or sincerely it’s done. (And the REAL truth is people don’t read such things with anything like a truly open mind. The come into stuff like this so loaded-down with preconceptions they can barely make out the words. And THEN they read super-fast. And then, so very, very often, they start arguing with me not over what I actually said, but only over what they THOUGHT I said. And by then, of course, I’ve already moved on to what I’ll be writing for the next post.)

    The truth is, the only real reason I write all this stuff about the Great Commission and Commandment is for that one reader out there, who is a Christian, who might be feeling guilty because he or she doesn’t evangelize–at work, or whatever—with the zeal they think they’re supposed to. I want them to know it’s perfectly all right–that it’s actually, BIBLICALLY better, even–if they don’t.

  • I see a lot of talk here about winning people over with your actions. But from my point of view, why not just be good to others without expecting it to win them over to your way of thinking? Why the need to change people’s thought process to begin with? This is an issue I have always had a hard time understanding. Why not just accept that your way of thinking might not work for others? If the same mental process worked for everyone we would all be the same, but we are clearly not. Being good to your fellow men and women has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with being human. Why not just leave it at that?

  • Exactly.

  • I agree; in fact, I once wrote a piece here called, “Why Must Others Be Like Us?”

  • mark

    #5—DID read it; that’s what provoked the thought.

  • I love Ernest Hemingway. Well, his writing and studying his life, which was haunted by several propensities toward human frailty. I like this quote accredited to him:

    "When people talk, listen.

    People hardly ever listen"

    We all want it; not many of us know how to do it. Christian or not.

    And I am, if it matters at all.

  • Fred Wachtman

    First off Sorry for my goof that caused you to eclypt my blog. Will be more careful henceforth. I am enjoying having my say in this discussion. I do not want anyone to get the impression that I feel holier than thou. One time as I was teaching a church group on this subject and mentioned that we should remember to smile in a friendly way. Then I realized that I was not smiling even then. So I jokingly said

    “Do as I say not as I do.” We all laughed together. Out of time. Will pick up later today. Love yaall.

  • No, it is very simple. Being good to other people is not subjective. You don't cause them harm. You help when you see someone really struggling. These are good. There is no need to define it further.

    An example:

    I see people all the time here in Texas who think they are doing good for their god by being bigoted and ugly to others. This is wrong, no matter what those involved think or believe. Every time someone approaches me with bible pamphlets or spewing bible verses, I think of those bigoted losers and I immediately disengage myself from the conversation with said religious zealot. I don't see anyway that a person's actions can change my mind after the damage I have seen religion do to people.

  • Joanne W.

    This is a terrific post – thanks! You are absolutely right that “I love you, now change” is what comes across when conversion and saving souls are the goals of Christianity. For many Christians, those are not the goals. For these other Christians – the ones who aren’t all about converting folks – the two great commandments (love God, love each other) are the whole point of the Great Commission. Go out – not to save souls, but to change the world. Change the world to be a place where love is lived out in more justice, more peace, more inclusion, more reconciliation – regardless of whether people believe in Christ or in anything at all. There is another kind of Christianity that doesn’t make the headlines as often as the Westboro Baptist Church or Jim and Tammy Faye.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    It's not quite so simple, William. Sometimes, what you see as helping, another sees as interfering; sometimes what you expect of others is not what they'd expect from you; you might see robbing a mint as harmful, while another may see it as not doing any real harm to anyone; and sometimes you have to cut someone up to piece them back together. These are not objective notions. Harm to a persons "feelings" or some sort of "property" that isn't actually *of* them but assigned in the mind *to* them is a naturally subjective phenomenon. Even regarding the material side of things by itself, harm vs. benefit is not something intrinsic in it but a judgment placed upon it: a twister could open your eyes to the land of Oz, or it could paralyze you for life; a scar could a tell the tale of horrendous torture or a successful medical operation, and perhaps both might have ended up saving lives…

    It's just not so black and white.

  • I disagree. Harm can be measured in damage and dollars, so it is very real and factual. I don't expect a religious person to understand my view, but I will try to explain. You cannot steal from someone, damage private property or assault someone without cause and claim you were doing good, it is not possible. It is common sense really. Harm = wrong. Giving food to someone who is hungry = good. Most people do not need your help, so not doing harm is the best thing you can do for them.

    Emotional harm is hard to measure, but is indeed quite real and can be equally damaging. It also takes longer to heal in many cases. The best way to avoid causing emotional harm in your daily life is to just mind your own business. Don't give an opinion unless asked for one. I know it is easier said than done, but it is the right thing to do.

    The only reason someone would want to complicate the issue is to try to justify doing bad in the name of good. It is factually wrong.

    Lets keep the conversation to real life please, Oz is not real or relevant.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    I see that you’re wise with the choice audience for whom you really write this then: otherwise you’d run into the problem of, basically, telling evangelizers they’re wrong and need to change, because they’re losers when it comes spreading the Gospel, since they try to do it by telling others that they’re wrong and need to change because, in essence, they’re losers–but we love them and evangelizers too!

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Mental processes do not so much define our differences as the experiences that shape them. And because all those experiences share the same common reality, we are indeed very much the same. We just happen to focus on differences because, well, what is there to talk about where we agree? “The sky is blue.” Ok, so what? Foods with high sugar content tend to have a pleasing taste. And the same mental process “works” for both of us to find aspartame about 200 times as sweet as sugar. If our minds weren’t so much the same, how could you say that being good–clearly a subjective judgment–has anything to do with being human? Our ways of thinking can’t be that different and allow us both to survive in the same one objective reality. That’s because there is a certain ideal Way that we are both trying to emulate, that both of our minds approximate to some degree or another, and in some form or another.

  • Diana

    Okay. I watched the video and I think it made a lot of good points. However, I'm not sure that I agree with the basic premise–that science, by itself, can show what's right. There are the facts–the objective who, what, when, where, why and how–and then there are the interpretations of the facts–which requires context. The context in Sam Harris's case seems to be that human well-being is an important value–and I actually agree with that context. However, not everyone may agree that human well-being is an important value–thus, changing the context of the interpretation of the facts.

    One of the examples which he used was the Muslim treatment of women vs. the (I'm going to call it) worldly treatment of women. In both cases, women are dehumanized. If, (as I believe, and as I think Sam Harris believes) women are human beings deserving of human respect, then anything that dehumanizes a woman is wrong. But for years, it was universally agreed (not just among Christians or other religious groups, but across the board) that women were not human beings deserving of human respect, but subhuman, needing to be controlled by the "obviously superior" male, thus making it perfectly okay to dehumanize women.

    I guess my point is that science (as I understand it) doesn't make the context–it just presents the facts (the hard realities, if you will.) Human beings decide the context based upon their own values, which may or may not be based on any formal religion, but usually have their context in how they were raised–which includes, but is not limited to religious upbringing (or lack thereof.)

  • Well I am glad that you did watch the video before commenting on it, I do appreciate that courtesy 🙂

    The context of someone's belief is not really relevant. It is simply wrong to cause needless harm to others. Religion cannot be allowed to be used as an excuse. I think there are certain things that are universally "right" and "wrong". Just because a person grows up in a religion that demands its members to completely dehumanize an entire half of their population does not make it right to do so. As long as belief systems are allowed to be used to justify wrong behavior, these actions will continue.

    If my value system included the belief that all women are objects for my amusement, does that give me license to rape them? The answer is simply no. My belief otherwise would be completely irrelevant.

    If someone does not value human life, it does not mean they have a right to kill or main another. This is not open to interpretation in any rational sense.

  • Diana

    I think I am in agreement with you. I may have misunderstood your intentions in posting the video or I may have misunderstood the video itself. I don't think religious orientation is an excuse to do what is wrong either. My own beliefs have been strongly influenced by Christianity. When I discovered the more fundamentalist wing of Christianity, I found it difficult to reconcile my own beliefs with those of the more fundamentalist wing–and wanted nothing to do with the organized Christian church. Eventually, I came back–but I still wouldn't say I'm overly fundamentalist in my approach.

  • Your position is one that I hear a lot. My question is this: If you can easily throw out the parts of Christianity that you don't like, then why take any of it? What is it that you found so appealing that made you "come back"?

    Please know that I ask this simply as a question, it is not intended as a judgment or criticism. I simply do not understand the mindset that you are expressing.

    I personally have yet to find any redeeming qualities in the actual religion, though I do have a fondness for many Christian people, including most of my immediate family. But Christianity itself I find to be offensive to both my morals and the intelligence of mankind. No offense is intended to any individual, but the more I understand Christianity, the less I like it. I just wish people could be good to each other simply for the sake of being good, instead of doing so with the hope of a promised reward as a motivation or to avoid horrible punishment. That is not morality, it is fear and greed.

  • Diana

    Fair enough. It's a hard thing for me to explain, but I'll try.

    "I just wish people could be good to each other simply for the sake of being good, instead of doing so with the hope of a promised reward as a motivation or to avoid horrible punishment. That is not morality, it is fear and greed." See, I actually agree with you on this and when it comes to attempting to do good, I'm not doing it because of any promised reward or to avoid horrible punishment. In the post John wrote about how his wife took his sudden conversion ( he says: "At the church she was surprised to find nothing said, sung or read aloud that contradicted her lifelong, unwavering sense of what she’d always thought of as simply the Good." This is a term I like and basically what I mean when I think/talk about God. God by (my) definition is good–therefore anything that is not good is not of God. So when I do good, I do it as a servant of Good (God). When I do what is wrong, I am clearly serving something else (my ego, my need to fit in, the gun that's pointing at my head, whatever.)

    What appeals to me about Christianity is the notion of a God who cared enough to come down to earth and get his hands dirty. God did not stay aloofly in his Heaven, uninvolved in the lives of his creatures why everything went to Hell in a hand-basket. He came down. He became one of us. He walked among us as an ordinary human male–until such time as his Godliness got him arrested, convicted and executed. Even then, he didn't invoke his Godly powers to escape from the horrendous death he ended up suffering. He stuck it out to the bitter end. So, it's the premise of a God who cared enough to get involved that appeals to me.

    As for "throwing out the parts of Christianity that I don't like," I'm not sure how you're defining Christianity. If you're asking me why I'm not a biblical literalist (in terms of taking every word written in the bible as "The Living Word of God that Must Be Unquestioningly Believed and Obeyed Lest Ye Fry in Hell," well, I don't take anything like that. The bible is actually many books stuck together into one, written from many different viewpoints and agendas over several hundred years of human history. Thus, it includes many different ideas, some of which are helpful and others of which are distinctly not helpful. Thus, rather than be a dogmatist, who buys every word of the bible unquestioningly, without investigating how those ideas might (or might not) apply today, I choose to question what I read in the bible, just as I question every other idea with which I am presented.

    Does this explain anything or would you like me to discuss further?

  • I think I understand what you mean now. I do not share your idea of god, but that is irrelevant to the point. Thanks for sharing. Also, thanks for not getting mad at me. It is strange for those of faith to treat my lack of compliance with something other than anger. That is why this is the only Christian blog I ever read or comment on.

    I have enjoyed this topic a lot.

  • Okay, that was a serious wall of text there. You seem to misunderstand what I am saying here, or I have misunderstood you at some point. You ideas jump wildly in a logic I can't seem to follow.

    I am simply saying that it is wrong to cause harm to others. It does not matter what sort of harm, it can be theft (which takes a persons lively hood) bodily injury, emotional trauma (such as making people feel bad for how they were born) or killing someone. It is wrong to do any of those things (it is worth noting here that everything has an exception and there are no complete absolutes, such as killing in self defense). I don't see how you jumped from that to communism.

    No wonder religion has a bad name if there is an actual disagreement as to whether causing harm to another is right or wrong. You are just over complicating a minor point of the conversation and it is becoming nonsensical ramblings. Read your post above and see if it actually says anything relevant. If it does, can please summarize it into a coherent paragraph so it is clear.

    The "Kingdom" means nothing to me, so leave that part out.

  • Prisca

    Mr Shore

    You are quite snarky and use sarcastic humor to declare that everyone in the United States has heard the message of the gopsel and so the great commisiion has been fulfulled and so Christians should just keep their mouths shut. That is nonsense, I know many people who have been saved in the last 8 years– only AFTER they were approached and invited to a Bible conference or church service or Bible study– invited by your average Christian– which they then attended and in the course of time they accepted the message and were saved. It did not happed through a TV show or radio program that many Christians want to believe is relieving them of their responsiblity to share the gopsle with others. , No one should be sitting back relaxing leaving it to TV ministries. Its my personal experience that God is still sending his to share his message and people are still being saved through it, –my own came through people who helped me with prayer and accept my need for salvation as truth.

    My other comment is that you share this kind of message at Huffington Post, Why would you think that "taking your fellow brothers and sisters to task" as is the purpose of your article– that it is wise or even biblical i to do so before unbelievers? When here is problems at home with your wife and kids, do you post it online as a way of addressing it? Would that not just cause otehrs to look with contempt upon you are yours?

    What could it possbilly do to help unbelievers–and how many believers do you think visit Huffington Post–if you want to criticsm the churhc why arent you wrting Christianity Today magazine? You give non believers more excuse to cry "Oh those Christians are such hypocrites, I'll never be a Christian!" I guess you arent concerned about that or even thinking that way however –that is, your effect on unbeliefers because(altho you are concerned about OTHER Christians effect on them) because you claim everyone that can be saved has been already as you claim the great commision has already been fulfilled. in America–that means everyone here that can be saved HAS BEEN. I think you best ask yourself what you are getting out of these clever smart-aleck-y articles–you obviously want to share something or you would not be writing them– and what you are sharing is not pointing people to Christ, but it is getting you a lot of attention.

  • emma

    If all the people spending so much time posting about these stuff would go out and ask God to direct them to one person who He wants to hear about him– and then ask HIm for wisdom in how to speak to that person about God directly or even indirectly by just sharing something that God did for them perosnally, then the great commision could be fulfulled in America and beyond, Get offline

  • Prisca/Emma: Changing your screen name and email address doesn't prevent me from seeing that you're the same person.

    Yeah. Lecture me about how an honorable Christian behaves in the world.

  • Fred Wachtman

    Thankful to still have oportunity to blog on this subject.To Emma: Very simply put. Dont understand why John didnot Like your simple conclusion. I think something still needs to be said. God did not create

    hell to punish nonbelievers. "God is not willing that any man should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9 Hear Christ on the cross:"Father forgive them for they know not what they do." Then Stephen as they stoned him, "Hold not this sin against them". Now try to understand how we should feel and act when we witness to strangers. We are often missunderstood as rude intruders, but in Chistian love we must attempt to help them see that they need to get right with God before they die. Our home in heaven is an absolutely pure place never to be defiled by anything or person. If you were to go there without being cleansed by the blood of Christ you would be tracking mud all over the streets of gold.

    So go in the name of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit and try to win them,.

  • I didn't say anything about her conclusion. I criticized her for on the one hand lecturing me about the ethos of Christianity, and on the other lying about being one person sending two different comments. She didn't understand that I could easily see that "Prisca" and "Emma" are the same person.

  • You criticize John for saying that people should be treated like adults? You are very arrogant if you think you have all the answers. You most certainly do not. It is not up to you to treat people like children, each adult knows what is best for him/her.

    If someone asks you about it, that is one thing, but if you push yourself on someone unasked for and unwanted, then you are just being rude and insulting. You do not know what is best for me or anyone but yourself. Another person's soul is none of your business and they don't need to be "saved" (lol) by you. Religion is a private affair and you should keep your nose out of other's business unless you are asked. Religion has nothing to offer a person like me except an entertaining blog debate.

    It's really hard to believe how rude and insulting you are. I can only imagine how hard it is to spend time with you in real life.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    “I don’t expect a religious person to understand…”

    Actually, religious people understand you on this; it’s postmodern moral relativists you need to worry about. I believe in moral absolutes (though I admit that circumstance is certainly necessary to consider in formulation of the specifics–that there aren’t really any universals, per se, except to love), as should seem clear from the fact that I referred to a belief that there is one ideal way in life.

    “Oz is not real or relevant.”

    I’m getting the vibe that you’re not much into metaphor, but that’s what it was. I was saying how sometimes, what looks like a bad thing to us, like Dorothy getting hit over the head, can make someone else simply ecstatic, give them a realization of something that, for them at least, was a very good thing in fact.

    You find damage and dollars objective? What is a dollar, objectively speaking? (It’s not even some fixed amount of gold or a slip of paper, in the modern economy.) Then, relating it to a measure of damage, means giving it value. Why is money valued? Might not the same quantity of money mean more for some people than for others? From my experience in the world, I would judge that it does, and the Official Christian Position agrees—cf. Mark 12:41-44.

    It’s actually a good thing that different people value different things somewhat differently. These differences make it possible for *everyone* to feel they’re getting more than their fair share of common resources! (However, the optimization necessary to achieve this is quite problematic: Pareto optimality would be unsustainable under conditions of imperfect information and free choice.)

    Now, you think stealing from the mint is wrong because there is an economically measurable net-loss. So how is it any different really from theft of our common natural inheritance? (I mean natural inheritance in the sense that Thomas Paine used it.) So I guess homesteading is wrong; inheriting money from one’s parents is wrong; wealthy parents paying for their kids to go to the best schools–or even getting to go to school at all–is wrong; using up the earth’s limited oil (or any byproducts thereof) is wrong; etc. It’s not just unfair bias, it’s theft: from others’ opportunities, or from that which was formerly reserved unto future generations, until you decided to steal it away from them.

    Thanks for the link! Very interesting video. And I agree with the majority of what Sam Harris is saying here.

    As I said, I’m not denying objective moral truth; I was simply saying that an individual’s judgments on it may well be mistaken, and it seems Mr. Harris would agree. Furthermore, you seem to see crystal-clearly what Sam Harris suggests requires years of careful scientific scrutiny.

    People tend to make their personal decisions in the interests of their own overall, long-term well-being (or, if sufficiently empathetic, that of those closest to them), but they make their prescriptive moral judgments based on the well-being of society as a whole, just as morality is defined by Mr. Harris. This creates conflicts in personal ethics (from blatent hypocrisy at its worst, through self-deception regarding society’s best interests, to a failure to really think through such matters at all, or even more extreme, the rejection of the institution of society altogether).

    Sam Harris mentioned the distinction between individual well-being and collective well-being but never directly addressed the matter of conflicts between the two, It appears from his definition of morality though that would defer invariably to the communal interest. Sounds OK, until you realize how attempts to acheive this optimization affect the individual. I will leave someone feeling wronged all the time and all feeling wronged some time. So why the society over the individual? And how are you goint to get individuals to cooperate with that? It’s the same ideal that communism starts off with, and it invariably backfires. It’s possible that one might be starting down a slippery slope when asking, as Sam Harris does, “How have we convinced ourselves that every opinion has to count?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of free-for-all market economies either, but with this sort of thinking, it seems that not only abortions but, after birth even, infanticide, could be okay, and where do we stop? with “inconvenience” to society sent to Gulags? As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social. And the Kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.”

    There are a substancial number of people who’d have problems with this ethic, based on “truths about how human communities flourish”. For example: neo-cons. A lot of people solve the is-ought problem by saying what ought to be is what works for me, not society (especially if that would require giving of myself for somebody else’s benefit). Why does society matter? What’s the point in it beyond serving the individual? Either way, there’s still a hole in the is-ought problem. It is why. Of Randian objectivism we may ask: Why should I–or you as the case may be–“flourish” in whatever sense we define it? And of Harris’s ideology: Why should the community “flourish” in whatever sense we define that? Why should we care, about either of them? What makes them “right”? And then, which is *more* right? (I don’t have much of problem here really, since Jesus already gave us the solution almost 2000 years ago.) What is it to flourish anyway? What I consider optimal society, might not be what you do. Perhaps you would think it a society that’s growing, numerically, while perhaps someone else would think the world crowded enough already. But why should we flourish? Some would rather we suffer! (e.g. )

    Of course, the fact that, in most cases, almost everyone can agree regarding these sorts of issues is further proof of my point that human minds and metal states are really quite similar in fact! Indeed it is this fact that Mr. Harris suggests using to formulate general rules about social behavior to apply to the problem of community optimization. The same things that cause you pain, suffering, harm, detriment, generally cause it for me. But you can’t measure such detriment in monetary value or any other sort of value, because sometimes, some people WANT to give their money to someone, and other times they don’t, and that is a subjective judgment.

    Anyway, Sam Harris appears to agree that it’s not so black and white as you say. He says there can be multiple peeks with different optimal solutions along a continuum of possibilities. Speaking of which, he neglected to address the conflicts that arise from different people trying to climb up different peaks, which came to mind since I coincidentally had happened to see yesterday at Huffington Post an interview by Steven Colbert with the author of “God Is Not One”, who said basically, the way he sees it, different religions are charting paths up different mountans, and these differences are critical to understanding the cultural dynamic and conflict in the world today.

    Sam Harris is proposing morality as the means of optimization according to the social welfare function–which it is–it truly is–but he neglects the little matter of there not being any “objective” ideal for the social welfare function. Some are better than others, but Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem (a brilliant work of logical reasoning, if you ask me) basically means that the only “fair” social order is a dictatorship. That result doesn’t bother me; my goal is to ensure that it is a dictator of the Holy Spirit! I’ve got no problem with having despot in the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. So is that “good”? Well, it’s surely either bad or good–net-harmful or net-beneficial. (God, how I hate using such criteria, because, deny it as you might, it gets so subjective and subject to manipulation in the worst sort of ways–just go watch some college debate teams, training our next generation of politicians, lobbyists, junk-marketers, and trial lawyers to lock up the innocent and get the guilty of scot-free–thanks to brilliant manipulative skills that we consider it a virtue to instill in our youth, while failing to educate them up to par on the international arena in so many other ways. Surely that’s not net-harmful overall though, right? Well, at least I’m sure somebody out there could convince the majority of the US population that this is the case.) So how can we know? How do you measure the benefit of seeking first the Kingdom? And in the ways should we seek it? Caring only about the net result, shouldn’t we be as Machiavellian as necessary? Yet that undermines the very nature of the Way to the Kingdom!

  • vj

    "John: I hate you, I hate you, I hate you…..not really, it is just that since finding your blog and its respondents, I have spent more and more time, hours upon hours, reading and re-reading both the blogs and the responses, discovering NEW trains of thought, afraid to miss even the slightest possible impulse or idea."

    My thoughts EXACTLY!!!! Found this blog about a month ago, best brain food I have had in a long time – still working my way thru the archives, trying to digest it all is making my head spin. So wonderful to read real God stuff without the 'Christianese' – so much I agree with, so much that has challenged me to meditate more deeply on the things of God. Truly a C.S. Lewis type for a new century – PLEASE keep it up!

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Clearly, you don't care to understand anyway. The last sentence alone says it all. If you don't know what something means, it's not my fault. Look it up. Why should I avoid relevant terminology just because you don't care to hear it?

    Of course, you don't care to hear anything. Where's this disagreement about whether causing harm to another is right or wrong? You know darn well that the disagreements come from different notions of what causes harm and different perceptions of the harm it causes. I see you must be a vegetarian, since it clearly harms a cow, or whatever else—pig, newborn baby, etc.—to kill it. What I *don’t* see is why you’d bring Sam Harris into this when you don't really understand what he's saying.

    This is no "minor point of the conversation", but a matter touching on the very nature of good and evil. If my response seems sketchy, this is because it was necessarily tremendously condensed; no less than an entire book could adequately address this issue. But why challenge me to do so—with such condescension towards me—if you're "simply saying that it is wrong to cause harm to others," and I simply agree on that?

    Yet that's not simply what you're saying. Now, for instance, you say theft is taking from one's livelihood, in which case robbing the mint is *not* theft, because the government can just print more money—all the workers still get their paychecks. And you contradict yourself in so many other ways. How can it seem so simple to then? Oh, that's right, you just don't care think about it.

  • I did not say I did not know what it means, I said it means nothing to me, there is a difference.

    I am not a vegetarian, there is that crazy meandering logic again. This whole thing was a minor offshoot of the main conversation regarding johns post. I don't think there is an actual disagreement here, you are just trying to split hairs.

    It is wrong to harm humans and I was simply trying to express that there is are certain things that are always wrong no matter what your religion because religion has nothing to do with actual wrong and right. That is all I was saying. I'm not a pacifist or a communist or a vegetarian or whatever your nutty logic wants to cook up about me. I'm a person who tries to care about the wellbeing of other people as best I can. It really is very simple, as I said before.

    You and I obviously live in different worlds, and communication seems impossible.

    Stealing is always wrong. Period. Your morals seem a little askew if you actually think otherwise. But I don't think you really do.

  • As to robbing the mint: It costs taxpayers in labor, material and transportation to print money. So robbing the mint would be stealing from everyone who pays taxes. That is certainly causing harm. I'm not sure why you would think otherwise.

  • What is hard to understand here? Murder = wrong, theft = wrong There is no way around this.

    It does not matter how someone perceives it, it is wrong. Religion (not necessarily Christianity) often condones or even demands murder or other repugnant acts and people who commit these acts often see them as right. But their perception of it does not change the fact that causing this harm is wrong. There are many moral issues that are grey areas and open to interpretation, but there are also certain things that are always wrong. Seeing some of comments here is a little scary. I can only imagine the sorts of things you would justify if your religion called for it. Despite the propaganda, morality would exist even if religion never had.

  • I do agree with you about wrong prevailing in history. But that really does not make the actions any less wrong. We are civilized now and should take efforts to rise above our animal beginnings.

    I personally use a simple method to decide for myself what is right or wrong for me to do. If it causes needless pain or harm or if my action will infringe on the rights of another to live his or her life, then I don't do it.

    I would never give support to the taking away of basic rights from groups of people or individuals because I did not agree with how they live their personal lives. Most so called morals are enforced simply as a means of forcing views on others. To many people, the way I lead my life is totally wrong and they would love to cause harm to me or force me to change my "evil" ways even though I often go out of my way to not cause harm to others. There is room for difference of opinion in this area as long as no harmful action is taken on another because of those differences.

    Murder, for example is so obviously wrong that no holy book is required to tell us that. We can see that loss of life is a bad thing. I am not saying that ALL issues are cut and dry, but certain ones are.

    I think there is a misunderstanding here, because I cannot imagine that you folks are seriously saying what it sounds like you are saying.

  • DonP

    you missed my point: Wrong according to who? Where is your absolute?

  • okay, try this:

    Murder = wrong because it takes away a persons life

    Murder is obviously wrong. You do not need anyone to tell you that, you can see it. That person is dead and the murderer robbed them of their life.

    You seem to think that a person's perception of what they did matters. If they think they were right for doing so, that does not change the reality that the victim is dead.

    If you need someone to tell you what is right and wrong, then there is an issue.

    A person can see the suffering his or her actions cause with their own senses.

  • DonP

    "okay, try this:

    Murder = wrong because it takes away a persons life"

    You say! I ask again what is the source of your definition of wrong? Is it you? If so, who the hell are you? Is it humanity? We have already agreed that in both our opinions, wrong wins. It prevails. If that is true then wrong must be right.

  • My definition of wrong is causing suffering to your fellow man.

    No religion is required to come to this.

    Just because something wins, does not make it right. Also, wrong does not always win, it is just harder for right to win. That does not mean we should not all try to do what is right by our fellow man. There will always be those willing to do wrong to get ahead or those who simply enjoy doing wrong and justifying it. But that does not change the fact that murder is wrong.

    I understand that you feel that a god is responsible for making murder wrong, but I disagree. That's okay, god or not, we both know that murder is wrong, so why argue about it?

  • DonP

    We both agree that murder is wrong. We just disagree on the source of that knowledge. You believe it is self evident. As a representative of humanity, I just question the authority of any "self" that would place it's judgment above mine. In fact, I rebel against it.

  • See, we are not so different after all. What you just described to me is how I feel about religion. You don't need me or god or anyone else to tell you what is right and wrong. I think that even if you were not religious, you would still see murder as immoral.

    I am not asserting any authority, just observing a fact as I see it. I would not dare to presume myself to be a moral authority, I am much too flawed to be such a thing. All moral authorities are frauds anyway.

  • DonP

    You should re-read what you just wrote. You proved my point.

    Listen it's been a nice exercise for me here this morning but I have to go tend to my chickens now.

  • No point was proven there sir, except that we disagree on the source of morality and that murder is wrong.

    You say that you rebel against anyone telling you what is moral, yet you allow religion to do so. Very strange.

    Anyway, yes thanks for chatting. Religious people confuse me so much, but I am trying to understand your point of view so I am better equipped to interact.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Taxpayers don't pay taxes in the form of labor, material, and transportation! They pay taxes in the form of money, and what does the mint produce? Money. The mint pays for its own production just fine. In essence, for every so many dollars produced, a dollar of it goes to pay for the production cost. Whatever taxpayer money was invested in the first place (that is, none, as it actually would have been financed through government debt, but then theoretically, the taxpayers *are* liable for that in the end) to buy the initial raw materials is instantly recouped many times over once the press is run, with plenty to spare to invest in the next batch of raw material. So "I'm not sure why you would think otherwise." You're right that it harms someone, but I'm not sure you're able to understand that (as abstraction appears to seem mystically opaque to you).

  • DonP

    “there is are certain things that are always wrong no matter what your religion because religion has nothing to do with actual wrong and right.”:

    Really? By whose reckoning do you judge right or wrong? In my opinion without religion there is no absolute agreed upon by mankind. History proves it. We always revert to the beast in us. Wrong, as I judge it, always wins.

    Normally I would excuse my intrusion. But, dear sir, you are way, way wrong. ……..”No matter what your religion.”

  • I cannot read more of your walls of text, because I have already made the point I want to make. I do not wish to play anymore word games or talk in anymore circles with you.

    I did not read this because it is simply too long and I don't really care about it anymore, having said all I meant to say.

    But as to the first part, you are right that I find "Kingdom" interchangeable with zero. They have equal value to me. I bow to no king so I am not part of any "Kingdom", real or fake.

    Good day to you, I have a party to go to.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    If you say that something means nothing to you, you must be saying either that it can be substituted for the word “nothing” or that it has no meaning associated with it in your mind. If you associate no meaning with a term, how can you possibly understand it? So, it seemed reasonable to suppose that you do not in fact understand it, since I don’t suppose you think it’s synonymous with “nothing” (in which case, you would in fact understand it, but would likely ask what I meant about seeking nothing or whatever, rather than informing me that this word means “nothing”).

    I never meant to imply you were a communist or a pacifist, and I was being sarcastic saying you were a vegetarian, betting on the fact that it was untrue so that it would support my point instead of being just a smart-assed thing to say. (I’m not sure why I have to make everything so explicit for you.) So anyway, what exactly constitutes a human? and what makes it so much worse to harm one of them than whatever else? (Or, relating to your conversation with Don on murder, what makes a person’s life matter, and not an animal’s? And as you say to Don, one can see suffering their actions cause: Ever watched an insect die?)

    You started off saying, “Why not just accept that your way of thinking might not work for others?” And when I try to explain about differences in people’s “way of thinking”, and how trivial those differences often are, you all of sudden change your mind and start insisting that there could be no other legitimate ways of thinking on morality. Do you see how hypocritical that seems? Then I’m trying to talk truth, and you’re flip-flopping from my left, to my right, then to my left, and back to my right!

    But I’m glad that you’re a person who tries to care about the wellbeing of other people as best he can! And I think we can all agree on the essential point that morality is independent of a person’s perception of the issue, and so we are rightly questioning of one another’s views, presuming their basis to be just as likely to be wrong as anyone else’s, whatever their religion might be—or not be.

  • Same here. I stumbled across this blog via way of an article in the Huffington Post. Now I spend way too much time playing catch up on the topics.

    I do appreciate the thought provoking articles, the feedback and such. It's wonderful! and ridiculously time wasting.

  • Just out of curiosity Craig, how do you respond if those homeless guys do not wish to hear about your gospel? Do you push or let it go?

    Also, don't assume that because Christianity offends someone, that they don't know about it or understand it. There is nothing to back that assumption up.

  • Hi Christy.

    Thanks for your explanation.

    I believe that words are needed. But they have to be followed by or preceeded by works. As Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel, if need be use words”

    I do believe that Jesus is the narrow way to God the Father and that can offend people. The Gospel is offense to those who don’t want to know.

    I’m a chaplain working in the homeless sector. The guys tell each other not to worry that I’m going to try and convert them… they open up to me, I listen to them, engage with them, treat them with dignity and respect and at times they give me permission to talk about the gospel with them, pray with them etc.

    If they ask me why I do what I do i reply. I do what I do because I love and like you guys and I love and l like you guys its because God has enabled me to do so through the same love he has for me.

  • Jason

    "Today, Christians can rejoice in the fact that the Great Commission has been fulfilled. It’s done! It’s over! Yayeth! Christianity is, and has long been, firmly entrenched virtually everywhere in America."

    I have not found this to be true at all. We live in a pagan nation that worships itself under a civic religion called 'christianity.' How Jesus treated people and lived with them is radically different from how the average American behaves. The command to love God and one another has not yet been fulfilled.

    "And so the Christian, wanting only to save the non-Christian from the damnation of eternal hell, persists in “witnessing” to the non-Christian. (Forgetting, of course, that a witness is only supposed to ask questions when asked)."

    A witness is someone who has encountered or had been apart of an experience that is in question. If one has encountered or experienced God, if they dare say have an actual relationship with Him, wouldn't it be obvious to count that as a part of their life? I wouldn't feel awkward when someone asked me about my mother, how my sister's children are doing or if I said good morning to my wife today.

    If someone asks me about God – or if I want to tell them about Him – I will. Because I know Him and know what He wants, He wants every person I come across to know Him too. I really don't care what these people do (right, wrong or otherwise) as long as they know for sure who they have been dealing with in a relationship with me: myself and almighty God.

  • Diana

    "We live in a pagan nation that worships itself under a civic religion called ‘Christianity.’ How Jesus treated people and lived with them is radically different from how the average American behaves. The command to love God and one another has not yet been fulfilled."–I agree with this.

    "If one has encountered or experienced God, if they dare say have an actual relationship with Him, wouldn’t it be obvious to count that as a part of their life? I wouldn’t feel awkward when someone asked me about my mother, how my sister’s children are doing or if I said good morning to my wife today."–I agree with this, too.

    "If someone asks me about God – or if I want to tell them about Him – I will. Because I know Him and know what He wants,….I really don’t care what these people do (right, wrong or otherwise) as long as they know for sure who they have been dealing with in a relationship with me: myself and almighty God."–This part comes across as arrogant, which is the place wherein us Christians get into trouble. When Non-Christians hear this type of thing, they immediately feel compelled to jam their fingers into their ears and start singing "La, la, la," really loud. Yes, it's true that God wants all people to know him. The question is, how is that best accomplished? Too often, us Christians approach other people in ways that make God look and sound like The Evil One, thus succeeding in repelling others from God rather than drawing them closer. It's gotten to the point that many Non-Christians get antsy at the mere mention of Christianity.

  • Fred Wachtman

    *Having read volumns of responses to this blog I find that the entire purpose of witnessing for Christ publicly is missed by most. I will try to clarify the issue. First the great commision to "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15 Or, as worded in Matthew 28: 19, 20 "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them …teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you." The basic underlying reason is that all are lost because everyone is a sinner = yes even you and me= but God loves us and dearly wants to forgive and save us so we can live after death with Him in a perfect pure Heaven. I could give many Scriptures to back this up, but will just give one : "The Lord … is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9 Nobody should be angry to be given such good news, but greatful. The witnesser is doing you a favor. It is something like somebody warning that your house is on fire to save your life. Not only that but also because the Christian life is the happiest, most fulfilling life possible as I can testify from 73 years of serving Christ.

  • Diana

    "Nobody should be angry to be given such good news, but grateful." Yes, well, nobody should be ramming airplanes into buildings either, but guess what–somebody (several somebodies, actually) went and did it anyway. We need to deal with people as they are, not as we wish they were.

    "The witness is doing you a favor. It is something like somebody warning that your house is on fire to save your life. Not only that but also because the Christian life is the happiest, most fulfilling life possible as I can testify from 73 years of serving Christ." Yes, I've heard this perspective before. The problem I have with it is that the danger isn't immediately apparent to most people. If I tell someone that his/her house is on fire, that person can probably see how that might be a problem and will probably take appropriate action. On the other hand, if I tell somebody that they need to follow Jesus if they want to be saved, they may question that. Especially with people who believe that this life is the only life to worry about as there is no life after this one, the notion that they'll end up spending eternity in Hell if they don't follow Jesus will likely induce laughter, rather than a serious consideration of following Jesus.

    I'm not saying that Christians should remain silent on the subject of Jesus, God, eternity, etc. I believe people have the right to tell the truth about what they think and feel. But one must be realistically prepared for the response of those who are in disagreement with one's viewpoints–and if one is not so prepared, it might be better to remain silent than to say something that only confirms the other person's viewpoint.

  • "Too often, us Christians approach other people in ways that make God look and sound like The Evil One, thus succeeding in repelling others from God rather than drawing them closer. It’s gotten to the point that many Non-Christians get antsy at the mere mention of Christianity."

    The #1 reason I am not a Christian is the bible.

    The #2 reason I am not a Christian is Christians.

    Sounds mean, but it is not. Waaay too many Christians have turned me completely off from their faith and themselves due their actions. Not all Christians mind you, but way too many simply have taught me to just stay away from them in general. At least in conversations or activities regarding anything spiritual.

    My #1 reason for this is that they dont hear us. They dont want to . They dont want to have a conversation with us or share in activities when it comes to anything spiritual for they have already pre-judged us. (Prejudice) They dont think we know anything thus have nothing of value to add to any conversation. After all, they have God and we dont, yes?

    So, sadly, when I discover someone is a Christian I back away until I discern just what kind of Christian they are. Most unfortunatly are the non-hearing type.

    No, the message is not loving and it does me no favor. Who wants to listen to someone who doesnt want to listen to you…?

  • Well said Julia!

  • @Julia: Yes, Julia, it's a shame that we Christians can't be open-minded, that we let our self-righteous, irrational anger blind us to anything but judgmental, one-dimensional, self-serving stereotypes.

  • John, I recall last year when you made me the topic of a couple of your posts where you labeled me a 'new ager' and declared my faith about as deep and fullfilling as a 'chocolate chip cookie.'

    BIG stereotype, dont you think? One you seem determinded to keep me in. (How long will my post remain up before deleted and I'm monitored, again…??)

    C'mon, John.

    I am reminded of a church sign I pass every day going to/from work: 'All Are Welcomed.' I find it curious that non-Christians are invited to church and expected to partake of the Christian religion and learn of thier god, but not the other way around. I've yet to personally see a Christian come to any of our non-Christian gatherings/functions/ceremonies in the spirit of sharing, to partake of our faiths and learn of our deities. Oh, I've see many a Christian come with tracks in hand with the intent to proselytize, but not to share. One did come to our weekly gathering for about a month, but once she realized we were not going to convert she never returned.

    I am NOT saying all Christians are like this. Heavens no. But, they do seem rare and few between.

    John, you once asked what non-Christians want Christians to hear. Well, I am one of those non-Christians who is telling you: Just listen to us.

    REALLY listen. Drop the labels and stereotypes. Drop the 'we have god and they dont.' Let go of the cookie. LISTEN TO US.

    Let us out of the box. How can we share if there is no intent to actualy listen?

    It is only fair and right, yes?

    I'm just sayin'…

  • Julia: I've gone back and changed all references to you in the piece you keep complaining about–the piece I wrote you about ahead of time, and asked (and got) your permission to refer to you and your comments on a previous blog; the one in which I made sure to prominently link to your blog. All that's gone now, so you can rest easy.

    As to my not listening to the spiritual experiences of others: I belong to an interfaith association that meets once a month to learn about all religions and faith systems, and works to promote harmony among them. Last month I attended a 90-minute presentation on the history and beliefs of New Thought presented by three of San Diego's leading practitioners of that movement.

    This month we're hearing a presentation on Islam.

    Is that listening enough for you?

    I'll block you at the same time I block anyone: when you become insufferably rude. And then I'll unblock you when you've left enough comments to show me you've stopped being that way. That's … how I do it. (Right now there are virtually no names in my "moderate" list.)

  • Thank you John.

    For many things. 🙂

  • Okay,I wanted to share this on this post for I think it's a good place for it. I'm not sure how to make a link other than just posting the url, but this is something that I think needs to be shared. Oh, some may want to get your kleenex, it'll make you cry, in a good way. 🙂

  • Fred Wachtman

    It's me again. Thank you Dianna for your comments. Some of you understand. I don't expect everyone to. Yet I continue a bjt more to explain and hopefully help some who are open minded.

    I have befriended a poor homeless lady. She is somewhat open to spiritual truths. But she clings to some poor practical matters. She jay-walks to cross our busy street. Twice she has been tickited, yet she continues. She can't afford the penalty but still iakes the chance. Worse than the penalty is the chance she might get hit and maybe killed. Now I certainly don't want that. So I try to help her understand that she would be wise to go half a block and wait for the green light to cross. (Let that represent witnessing.) It is in consideration that I urge her. Certainly she can respond in indignation, or in gratitude. She can argue and resent it just as some of you do when we witness to you. But understand we don't want to iritate you. We want to save you from terrible trouble that we are aware of even if you are not. It is important that you realize there is a judgement day comming In love we try to get through to you how to be forgiven and saved (like from the burning house). We, most of us, try to witness lovingly. We often emphasise the great satisfaction of the good life and great happiness that we Christians know. All of these blessings are available free because God loves you and wants to save you. You have a choice to make. Remember God is not willing that anyone should perish. Please wise up.

  • Thanks, William. 🙂

  • Hi William.

    As a Chaplain I don't push anything on them. They know I will listen to them and engage in their life story. If the situation warrants I will ask them permission to pray with them, or give them a tract etc.

    I came out of an extremely abusive marriage, become homeless because of the abuse and lived in my car for 6 weeks. You can read more of my story on my blog

    Most of the time the guys I speak to respond well to me because I have walked in their shoes of being homeless…. Don't think for one moment homelessness is only for people suffering mental illness's and addictions…it can strike many and any at any time.

    If I share the Gospel with them, I do it in a way that involves how it works in my life as they ask how I coped with my own experiences.

  • ManimalX

    THis is my first visit to the blog, and as such I don't know who "John Shore" is. John, you may be a very sincere and devout Christian who practices a very biblical faith, but all I know of you is what I have read in this entry. Based off of this entry, you appear nothing more than another person hiding behind the title of "Christian" and then using it as an excuse to completely redefine Christianity in a manner that tickles your own relative fancies.

    Color me underwhelmed. Talk about a "huge can of wrong," this entry is it!

    "I'm a Christian, so believe me when I say that the Bible is wrong and that you should actually NOT do the things that Jesus did and asked you to also do…"

    "Oh, and by the way, Christians should practice their faith in the way that UNBELIEVERS tell them to!"

    As my friends in Texas would say, "Dubya Tee Eff, y'all?"

    If you have problem with the concept of Hell, then either adjust your thinking or find another religion. If you have a problem with the commandments of Christ, then either adjust your thinking or find another religion. Christianity isn't a spiritual buffet, where you get to decide which doctrines and commands you like and which you reject because they don't make you feel warm and fuzzy enough.

    The truth of the matter is this: if a person is not reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, they are NOT good enough! Not "not good enough for ME," but "not good enough for GOD!" There is absolutely nothing wrong with stating, "Dude… your sin separates you from God, and if you DIE without that sin being paid for by Jesus Christ, you WILL face an eternity of Hell because God will utterly reject you as worthless." It is the message that was a large part of the teachings of Jesus, the message that has echoed throughout thousands of years of history, and the message that has successfully driven countless millions into the arms of their Savior.

    Yeah, that kind of statement challenges the pride. Of COURSE the person hearing it is not going to like it much. That doesn't make the statement false, nor does it mean the person making that statement is "hateful."

    Guess what? These words you used: "I don’t respect you. I don’t respect the choices you’ve made, the opinions you hold, or the values you’ve chosen for yourself,” those are the VERY WORDS unbelievers will hear FROM GOD when they die apart from Jesus Christ and stand before the judgment seat! Pardon my French, but I'll be damned if I let people die without having a chance to face the realities of their sin. That isn't hate, it is the essence of love. The message doesn't need to be delivered haughtily or offensively or pridefully (after all, nobody who is saved became so by their own power), but the message DOES need to be delivered.

  • DonP

    Your faith is noble your beliefs may be sound. But, brother your delivery leaves much to be desired. That is the issue here and you have exemplified the very thing that most "reformed fundamentalists" abhor. I would encourage you to read all of 1st Timothy 5 and meditate on it much before you open your mouth to criticize another Christian again. But most of all remember this my friend 1 Timothy 5:22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure. It is the first part of that verse that you have ignored. You and only you can be the judge, in this realm, about the second part of that verse.

    The law is the law, ManimalX . It does not change. How you outwardly live it and how you express God's love for mankind makes all the difference.

  • "Guess what? These words you used: “I don’t respect you. I don’t respect the choices you’ve made, the opinions you hold, or the values you’ve chosen for yourself,” those are the VERY WORDS unbelievers will hear FROM GOD when they die apart from Jesus Christ and stand before the judgment seat! "

    I've deleted many comments in regards to Manimal's post. Nothing seems to say what I want to in how wrong I see his post.

    Each time I read his comment I think of my gay step-daughter who growing up with her Grandparents, Mother and Aunt's negative views on gays. She has Turner's Syndrome, she knew she was gay from the get-go,and would never have children of her own. She confided in me how she seriously considered suicide at 12 for she was so depressed by the callous hatred form her relatives who did not know she was gay. Thankfully she never bought into the God hates gays bullcrap, she knew better she told me. She believes as I do that God hates your guts is not something God would ever say. If she ever did she would be dead. She's one tough cookie for her age, 18 and headed to study law at college (watch out world!)

    Yet, Manimal's words anger me, sadden me. I feel for all the families of gay children who did believe this crap and committed suicide. No hateful words as God hates you could cut deeper.

    Sorry, Manimal, but your words and sentiment is exactly why I could never be Christian.

  • Julia: How do you not see that your "That is why I could never be a Christian" is just as intolerant, dogmatic, close-minded, and self-righteously judgmental as anything said by the person you're angry with? If what he says about Christianity is enough to keep you from it, why isn't the things I say about it enough to move you towards it? I know you, so I know I'm completely wasting my time by even typing this, but it drives me crazy how often I hear this exact same nonsense from people just like you, who want to act like they're nothing but open and tolerant, when in fact what they're consistently looking for is nothing more than a fight with Christians.

    Why does the Christianity this guy presents become for you all of Christianity, while the Christianity I present … what? Doesn't count?

    If you really want to be open-minded, then be open-minded. Quit insisting that what you condemn in Christianity represents the whole of Christianity. And quit doing that nonsense you do at the end of all of your statements, which is say how you'll never be a Christian. It's a cheap bait.

  • Diana

    Hi John!

    I think the problem is that the Christianity in which you and I and a surprising number of other people believe is not nearly as well-known as the Christianity spread by people like Manimal and friends. What Julia is saying is nothing more than what other "outsiders" (David and Gabe's term) said in the book "UnChristian" by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. Moreover, even Christians who show an awareness of how Christianity comes across to "outsiders" have trouble giving up their strict theology on the grounds that God will be displeased with them. I still find myself haunted by fundamentalist fears and have to pray constantly (pour my heart out before God) to have those fears relieved.

  • Yeah, but she knows all about the "other" Christianity. She's been reading me for years.

  • Wow, very thoughtful comment there. I often have a hard time remembering that not everyone who calls themselves a Christian really is one in the classic sense. I feel I need to put more effort into trying to grasp that concept. It is very easy to lump you folks all together, especially after several face to face confrontations with the ugly, hateful side of the religion.

    Usually the whole "not every Christian is like that" stuff just sounds like a dishonest cop-out by people who refuse to publicly admit what they really believe. But for some reason your comment has the ring of truth to it. Maybe that is because recently I have been having a lot of private conversations with several different religious people who seem to share similar views on the subject. I find myself changing my mind set on the whole issue.

    I also feel for you, because no one should live in fear.

  • William: Who's living in fear? I must have missed something? If you meant that I personally live "in fear," um…I really, really don't. (I mean, not more than anyone else. I fear physical pain, and all that sort of thing.)

  • Diana

    "Yeah, but she knows all about the “other” Christianity. She’s been reading me for years."

    Knowing something with your head and knowing something with your heart are two different things. She knows there are Christians out there like you and me but she probably runs into a lot more of the fundamentalist brand. Moreover, they tend to be louder.

    I'm currently taking a class at my church based on Adam Hamilton's "Seeing Gray in a Black and White World." Last week, we talked about the fact that those of us who try to reside in the middle ground (within the shades of gray) tend to get our teeth kicked in by both sides. Ah the joy of the Middle Way!

  • I was referring to Diana's post. She mentioned constant fear.

    I have been talking to Elizabeth a lot lately and she has been opening my eyes a bit. I am not here to fight today.

  • John, after I posted I realized you'de probably be the first to take it that way. (Why isnt there an edit option for replies??) Sigh. John , it wasnt a bait as much as just the way I feel about the bible. You see, there are several things goind on here:

    I have a great difficulty believing the bible is the word of God. How can I? Deaths galore, rapes, murders, threats of death and hell, etc, etc. Yet I am told God is Love and Just and Compassionate who Forgives and comes to save you, etc, etc.

    Well, which is it?

    IF it is the supposed word of God, well, God sure has some 'splaining to do.

    For if I it take the bible as litteral then Manimal is correct and god hates your guts if you dont tow the line just the right way and hell is the only place for you. But…

    Yet, if I take the bible as metaphorical then all the attrocities in the bible are fables and myths with some truths in it somewhere to be gleened with much work. Which makes it no more 'of God' than any other tribal legends and myths.

    I also see how the bible can produce Christians who span the spectrum in their different approaches and views of the bible. On hand you get folks like Manimal, while on the other hand you get folks like you. Christians seem to be all over the map when it comes to the bible and God. Which leaves me to rely on God to sort it all out for me.

    Well, I did. And I've come to view the bible as not much more than fables with a smattering of history sprinkled with a few universal truths just like many stories carry some truths in it. That's it.

    Is that hatefull?

    Is it hatefull or baiting when I say folks like Manimal and the view he represents will never convince me to be a Christian?

    Is it hateful when I say John, your view is nice but it still will not get me believe in the bible?

    I can take the good stuff out of the bible, sure. I do that with any book I read, 'holy' or otherwise. Is that hatefull?

    Manimal's words touched a sore spot with me. When you have your child come up to you and reveal to you that they had at one point wanted to die, to kill themselves and the words Manimal spouted were one of the reasons why, well, you cant help but want nothing to do with the source of those words came from and the book they say supports those words. Is that hatefull?

    Is that hatefull for me to say that?

    If it is, well guess I am guilty as charged.

    I am not a Christian for I do not view the bible as the word of God. If that is a hatefull statement, well, then you and I and just about any Christian out there will probably never see eye to eye without one of us trying to poke one of our eyes out.

    Dont know what you want me to say John. Or mabe that's the solution; just dont say anything at all? I can do that if you want. It'll be easier that way, yes?

    Just say so.

  • Diana: "Ah the joy of the Middle Way!" I know you know I know all about them "joys."

    About Julia: I think knowing with her head that there is a whole other WORLD of Christians out there who aren't represented by this guy IS enough for her to stop outright condemning all Christians (and, most importantly, of course, to stop condemning Christianity, which is where my hackles get raised). Right is right; it's not that hard to grasp. Sometimes you just act polite because you know it's the right thing to do, not because you necessarily feel it in your heart. She KNOWS people like you and I are out here, fighting the good fight. And she KNOWS we're Christians. That should be enough for her to stop … well, being rude here, basically.

  • There are a million ways to read, interpret, and understand the Bible, Julia.

    As you know.

    But, of course, you continue to insist that the way the people whose interpretation you loathe represent all Christians.

    I really MUST stop wasting my time this way. Later, gator. Good luck.

  • I wasn't fighting; I really was just asking for clarification; I really thought I might have missed something. These comment threads get a little confusing sometimes.

  • Diana

    BTW: Thank you, William, for your thoughtful response to my previous comment.

    I may have exaggerated my fears a bit. I tend to go through phases in which I am haunted by the fear that the fundamentalist Christians are actually right and us moderates are wrong. Then, I pray constantly to have those fears relieved. Other times, I am more solid in my belief in "The Inescapable Love of God" (phrase borrowed from Thomas Talbott's book of the same title–a book I highly recommend) and then I pray about other things.

    Anyway, thanks again for your kind words.

  • Actually, John, I've been only reading your for less than a year…

  • Yes, this WordPress theme is maddening. It leads to misunderstandings and confusion. I don't think it was designed with serious conversations in mind.

    I have been rather unfair at times against religious people but I am considering a more "live and let live" approach. I get tired of talking about religion. I am more focused on business these days and find religion to be a total waste of my efforts. There are other, more pressing and relevant battles to be fought. Hopefully I can just steer clear of most of the crazies.

  • Diana

    Okay, I guess I see your point. I don't interpret her words as rude, but since you do, I can see why you're telling her to knock it off.

  • Diana

    Tell me about it!

  • It's rude in the exact same way it's rude to say to a lawyer that all lawyers are immoral, money-grubbing opportunists.

  • I don't think that's true; I think I have comments from you dating much further back than that. But … whatever.

  • "She KNOWS people like you and I are out here, fighting the good fight. And she KNOWS we’re Christians."

    I do. And I appreicate y'all. Really, I do. 🙂


    I'll buy the coffee and Krispy Kremes even…., k?

  • William: About your, "Hopefully I can just steer clear of most of the crazies" above. What I always want to say to people who point to the "crazies" within the Christian fold is that crazy people are EVERYWHERE. Of course there are a lot of crazy Christians, but only because there are so many crazy people in the world.

    There is the same percentage of intolerant, angry, dysfunctional dickweeds amongst Christians as there are amongst any other group. No more; no less. Exactly the same.

    I'm with you: I just want to avoid those people (which of course is impossible). Period.

  • Julia,

    question? Do you read the Bible? either the whole thing ever or continue to read it?

    I might be dense but my experience of the entire thing is the story of God's loving pursuit and relationship with humans. All the drama (death, rape, pillage, cruelties etc.) is what people do and struggle with. How is that a reflection on the nature of God, that He doesn't love us?

    I'm always confused when people draw that conclusion. Can you explain?



  • Yes, you are right of course. Crazies are everywhere. I have recently come to the conclusion that the religious crazies in this country are much less harmful than other crazies (like proponents of Big Government for example, they do real damage, not just cause annoyance)

    So I am going to pick battles that have real impact instead of picking on silly ideas. As long as those ideas are not being used to influence public policy of course, that's a separate issue however.

  • berkshire

    As an aside, I commend you on a most excellent use of "dickweed", especially with the added bonus of alliteration. I find it an under-appreciated term of disdain, quite satisfying to say.

  • @Beth. Hiya!

    Gotta dash right now, errands and stuff, but will be back later today and try to answer. Promise! 🙂


  • Fred Wachtman

    Once more, but probably last entry for me. Having reread your original statement, I realize I really didn't answer what you asked, nor did hardly anyone. You wanted to know how to witness without offending the ones approached. Of course there are always some who will be offended even at the mention of Jesus But I have found some acceptible ways. A friendly smile can be an ice breaker. A compliment certainly helps. Sometimes you can notice somthing of interest such as words on a T-shirt or perhaps a book they are carrying, or even the weather. I seldom jump right into a direct witness. Even if I do it is something like "Hasn't God bMlessed us with such nice weather?" When it seems convenient I ask if I may tell something happening to me that shows how good God is to me. I might carefully ask something like "have you experienced His blessings too?" Of course many times such approaches are not possible. Many times I have asked someone if I could share a remarkable experience I had recently. I've had many miracles in my life that are interesting to most people. Sharing them , if I keep it short makes a great opening. We do not have to approach in an offensive manner. Even if I don't make a personal appeal I get them to think about how good, happy, satisfying the Christian life is and perhaps consider,"Why not for me too?" Does that help John?"

  • DonP

    Julia, you said: “I have a great difficulty believing the bible is the word of God. How can I? Deaths galore, rapes, murders, threats of death and hell, etc, etc. Yet I am told God is Love and Just and Compassionate who Forgives and comes to save you, etc, etc. “

    I have suffered much anger and questioning and crying over the very things that you have expressed above. I wrote a very long story about the traverse across the great expanse of my own spiritual journey only to have it boil down to just a couple of lines below. I suspect you can work out the rest in your own experience.

    I accept that He is because only if there is a God does my existence make any real sense to me. I accept that He knows more than me and did it the way He did it because; He can do it better than me. Why He did it this way I can only guess. And, that only with the logic of a fairly slow man intellectually. (Slow especially compared to a Creator) I believe He knew before He said "let there be" anything what kind evil would result. I believe that He paid the penalty for all the evil that has ensued.

    Julia, I look forward to the next world. I have reason to hope that it will be better than this one. But, now I can also live in this one knowing that someone greater than and more importantly smarter than me has it all under control.

  • Okay, back now. @Beth.

    Hi Beth! I have read it, yes. And I was appalled when I did. The short and long of it: The god of the bible is NOT the God I’ve known since before my first breath. For me all the deaths God supposedly committed and ordered are musings of men, the stories of tribal legends and myths. I do not see a loving pursuit to know God in the deaths the bible declares God is responsible for, deaths somewhere estimated upwards of 33 million, btw.

    The God I know killed, condemned, damned no one. Ever. He never kicked us out of Paradise, nor set aside a hell for souls that don’t pass muster. There is no hell. No separation from God. We’ve only forgotten is all.

    God does not ‘seek’ us, God is already with us. Always has been. We just need to be still long enough to feel it, know it. Remember it. But doing that can take a lifetime to accomplish. 😉

    So when I hear or read about how God will kick you in the patootie for failure to worship him just the right way or, how some preach an angry, wrathful and vengeful God that would rather see you in hell than allow you into heaven my heart breaks. How in all that is Holy, Sacred and Divine does that reflect the Love and Compassion of God?? How can you love out of fear? A God that kills or lets you go to hell is so far from the God I know. And to think others have taken their lives believing they could never be good enough for God infuriates and saddens me. Nothing could be further from the truth what God is, imho. I know I let it get to me, and I really shouldn’t, and I know I say things that rub that rub some the wrong way, and I am sorry for that.

    But what do I know; I’m not a believer in the bible. :-/

    That’s the short of it, hope it helps, Beth. If you want you can email me and I can explain further. 🙂


    @ Don,

    Hiya, Don!

    My journey is a bit different. I had no need find God since I’ve always known God. No searching to find a god or goddess, faith or religion to fit the God I knew. Yes, God knew me before the Beginning and I remember that. It’s hard to explain.

    My path is not so much about knowing God as walking life in reflection of the Love and Compassion God Is. Does that make sense? I know God, always have. No need to ‘seek’ God. I more sought out way to make that communication work. Even that is simple: be still and Know. I sought out a path that would both honor God and Life. It is just not a Christian path I walk since I do not believe in the bible.

    I, too, look forward to the next world and going back Home. Yet, like Manimal says, if the God of the bible is the one I go back to then I will be both disappointed and sad, and turn away to willingly go to hell. For I simply cannot and will not worship a bloodthirsty god as the one portrayed in the bible.

    Yeah, I know. That’s not very clear and probably way too new-agey for some. It is my Path however, and this is the best I can do explain it with this pathetically limited human language.

    Thanks to you and Beth both for your queries. And thank you John for letting me share. I do appreciate it.

    I promise to not bug your blog too much. Really.



  • This nesting is a pain– so to Julia again:

    Curious how the God you knew before reading the Bible is contradicted by anything in it?

    Can you be specific?

    For me, reading about how the Creator of the Universe planned at the inception of all things seen and unseen for a way to bring us into intimate fellowship with himself is a better romance than I might ever even try to imagine. When I read the Bible, including everything in the Old Testament, I'm in awe on multiple levels regarding God's goodness.

    I think fundamentally perhaps this is because I believe there is a God and I am not It, which places me in a relationship comfortable worshipping Him. I don't find him HARD to please. I'm overawed by His goodness, a theme underscored by my reading of his interactions with humankind for centuries found in the Bible.

    Is it the your fundamental belief in the inherent goodness of people- the god IN people, that makes it hard or less palatable to consider a God who is not like me, not me, and in me only because I surrender my own will to Him?

    Is this the fundamental difference between how we believe?

    I'm really interested in understanding the difference looking at the same text with such vastly different response.

  • Matthew, William, and DonP:

    Thank you for the really interesting eavesdropping.

    I am quite surprised actually that not one of you seemed to disagree with the assertion that murder=wrong

    nor that theft=wrong.

    Also interesting that while i MIGHT agree, I do so because of the Ten Commandments which is for me personally and was for us Constitutionally an informing document–

    and then I revise circumstances wherein killing is not wrong– as in protecting one's child from harm or torture

    or taking what someone claims belongs to them in order to return it to its "rightful" order or owner. No one mentioned Robin Hood. And although he is not real, William, he is considered by most, a hero.

    Very very very interesting. I like this.

    Also, I have to say, I am really liking your gentler approach to communicating here, William, even when you are annoyed. It's nice. And that, I would say, is my subjective summation of you demonstrating your goodness. 🙂

  • I want the coffee, maybe donuts from huntington beach instead. 🙂

    But I couldn't find a better place to nest this.

    IF I believe God created me, (and I do) why should I think I have a right to decide how He should use me? or what should happen to me next or ultimately, llater?

    Now, sometimes I do begin to think I should tell Him how my life should go. In fact, I've multiplied my own suffering and spent scads of time whining. But really, what IS the point? If I believe He also LOVES me ultimately, (and I do) then I can trust Him.

    I don't get to demand He be as I wish, or run things as I wish, or be NICE in the ways nice makes sense to me. Was I with Him when He laid the foundations of the world? Did I breathe life into my own self? Did I come to know Him of my own will? I don't think so.

    And that is why I am okay with God being God. And me being His.

    I have seen humankind do heinous things to one another. Historically and up-close and personal. If God chose to send a flood to wipe most of His creation out, well then, that is His prerogative.

    I'm okay with that because I didn't make myself and I didn't make the world I'm in. I did nothing to deserve the blessings I've been given… oh, and also, I do LOVE HIM, I don't just think of Him as loving me, though I am overwhelmed that He even does at all.

    The beauty for me is that He is God, not of my own making but a wonder I can know more and more. Also, when I was my worst self, guilty of some of that heinous affront against others, even against people I purported to love, He came for me.

    Even when I believed he should hate me. Even when I deserved it. He did it. I can't take credit even for seeking Him much less finding Him.

    It's not an argument; it's an explanation, tiny bit, of how my faith goes. I think this is why my reading of the Bible is so vastly different from yours. I think…

  • ManimalX

    Thank you for the reply.

    You wrote: "That is the issue here and you have exemplified the very thing that most “reformed fundamentalists” abhor."

    Yeah, I know. Lots of people "abhor" being told that they aren't the masters of their own universe and that they are ultimately answerable to a higher power. The Gospel message, the message that you are NOT good enough, NOT smart enough, and that gosh darnit God will NOT eternally like you if you die in your sin apart from Jesus Christ…. well, that message rankles the pride and is not generally well received. I mean, heck, some dude named Jesus and all of his closest followers save one DIED for spreading such a message.

    I'm not trying to be flippant, I'm just trying to cut through this sissy zeitgeist that says it is "hateful" to tell the truth, or more specifically The Truth.

    "I would encourage you to read all of 1st Timothy 5 and meditate on it much before you open your mouth to criticize another Christian again."

    I appreciate the encouragement to turn to Scripture. 1 Timothy 5 is a favorite passage of mine, but your cherry picking of it does it severe violence. NOTHING I have written violates one letter of 1 Timothy 5.

    You wrote, "But most of all remember this my friend 1 Timothy 5:22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. It is the first part of that verse that you have ignored. You and only you can be the judge, in this realm, about the second part of that verse."

    Like I said, cherry picking. And not only that, but severe mishandling of the word of truth, trying to make it mean something it doesn't mean. How about if we focus on 1 Tim 5 in context? Parts you conveniently left out that deal specifically with calling people to account for their sins:

    vv 20 and 21: "Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism."

    vv 24, 25: "the sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden."

    And, here is the kicker! This entire passage is not even about addressing UNBELIEVERS! The letters Paul wrote to Timothy aren't identified as "pastoral" letters for no reason! Paul is instructing Timothy on how elder believers are to be treated and in turn how they are to treat other believers! The "laying on of hands" is a reference to the ordination process, not some open teaching on how to deal with unbelievers.

    Ironically, the pastoral letters deal with how to deal with false teachers and their false teachings, which is exactly what I am did when I addressed Mr. Shore's false teaching in this specific blog entry…

    If anything, you should be accusing me of violating 2 Timothy 2:25, because you COULD argue that I am not "correcting my opponents with gentleness" so that God may lead them to the truth. However, that accusation really wouldn't stand, either, because "being gentle" doesn't mean "appeasing," "using warm soapy words," or "telling only part of the truth." I'm not being mean, I'm not being rude, I'm simply telling the truth in love.

    You wrote, "The law is the law, ManimalX . It does not change. How you outwardly live it and how you express God’s love for mankind makes all the difference."

    I express God's love for mankind by communicating the very truths God WANTS communicated and making sure mankind is not hoodwinked by false teaching and feel-good moral relativism.

  • ManimalX

    Thank you for the reply, Julia.

    Quite frankly, you are so wrapped up in your emotions and sentiment over your pet issue (homosexuality) that you didn't even comprehend what I wrote. My words "anger and sadden" you because you projected your own preconceptions into what I was writing instead of reading the words I actually wrote.

    I never wrote "God hates gays." I never wrote "God hates your guts." I never wrote "God hates you."

    What I DID write was that God will not suffer sin in His eternal presence. What I DID write was that a person's sin HAS TO BE covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ if that person expects to see the right side of eternity.

    There is a HUGE difference between, "Hey God hates you, and you should die right now" and "Hey, God hates your sin and your eternal destiny is at stake." A HUGE difference.

    So, instead of putting words in my mouth (or on my screen, as it were), how about addressing some of the hang ups you seem to have? Why is homosexuality such a botique sin for you? Why are you so worried about homosexuals and not about murderers or thieves or liars or drunkards or… well, I'll just let 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 speak for me: "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

    Would you tell a murderer to stop murdering? Would you tell a thief to stop thieving? Would you tell an idolator to stop worshipping false gods? Would you tell a drunk to stop abusing alcohol? Would you tell a liar to start telling the truth? Would you tell an adulterer to stop porking women that aren't his wife? OF COURSE YOU WOULD! Then why is it that you won't tell the homosexual to stop being sexually immoral?

    I'll tell you why: because homosexuality has become the most conspicuous botique sin of our day. It is the sin that the ungodly world has for whatever reasons elevated to the status of "untouchable," so that addressing it is politically incorrect and off limits.

    Homosexuality is sexual immorality. That is an undeniable biblical fact (though lots of liberal skeptics and revisionists try to brush away the plain passages of Scripture that say so…). Is it more hateful for me to tell the homosexual, "Hey, you are practicing sexual immorality, which is sin, and thus separating yourself from God" or for you to tell the homosexual, "Hey, do whatever feels good! God doesn't care! Sin isn't a big deal!" and then have them wake up before the judgment seat dressed in the filthy rags stained by their sin?

    Sorry, but sin is sin, and though God suffers its existence for a short time, He will not do so eternally.

    You say that MY words are why you could never be a Christian? All I have done is tell you the truth. No, you will never be a Christian because of your pride. Pride (the worship of self over all else) is the original sin, and is still THE reason that folks reject their Creator. When God breaks through your pride, then you will be my sister in Christ.

  • DonP

    Like I said, and it will be my last with you on the matter: "The law is the law, ManimalX . It does not change. How you outwardly live it and how you express God’s love for mankind makes all the difference."

  • DonP

    ManimalX ,maybe this will be my last word with you on the matter instead of my other last word: When I read Scripture I try to look past the words and find the spirit. Jesus identified himself with the everyday man on the street, the "Joe Sixpack" of His time. His spiritual and political fight was with the leaders of, what would to be to "Joe", the church of His time. They had a penchant for the letter of the law. Which, when lacking the Spirit, it is observed and enforced, is nothing more than a slave master. I will end this with you by once again saying as I began: "Your faith is noble your beliefs may be sound. But, brother your delivery leaves much to be desired."

    You have forgotten the Spirit of the law.

  • Robin Hood is only a hero in the feudal system. In today's world, he is simply a thief. Self defense is not murder so that is not what was under discussion.

  • And thank you for your compliments.

  • How can being born a certain way be a "sin". You are a bigot. What gives you the qualifications to say such things about the lifestyle of another? You don't know the truth anymore than the rest of us. You are guessing and putting faith into an idea that may or may not be true.

    Stop being so hateful. If your god really exists and loves people, then why would he condemn them for how they were born? The gay gene automatically condemns a person to hell? That would make your version of god a complete monster.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Glad to find someone who just somehow knows "the very truths God WANTS communicated".

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Amen, DonP.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    "The gay gene"??

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Really I don't think saying to a murderer, "stop murdering," is the wisest thing at all. And with any of the other examples, the same: it's unproductive and alienates people from future attempts at what could in fact be more productive. Unless someone has asked you for personal advice, do you think telling them they should stop their drinking habit (or whatever else) is really going to change anything? General human psychology and common sense tell me that it's unlikely. Rather, it's most likely just going to damage any relationship that existed or could have existed there making it much less likely that someone ever would confide in you and seek your advice (and certainly not on the given matter, as you've already made your perspective on it pretty clear).

    You must bear in mind that human beings have by virtue of their creation certian inalienable rights. Inalienable means not that they shouldn't be violated but that they cannot, in fact, be removed from a person; no matter what we do or say, any effort to do this is in vain, as in the nature of his/her creation and by the Powers that gave rise to it, it is endowed–not by convention among men or the blood of patriots even. And amoung these rights is the right to the pursuit of happiness. If your words aren't to make people happy, people are not going to seek out your words. They'll just shut their ears, or rather their minds. So as such an approach isn't very nice–doesn't make others happy–in most circumstances, how can you say, "OF COURSE YOU WOULD!"?

    We find in the Bible that Christ doesn't go around just telling people to "be holy". It doesn't work that way! So are you a part of His body or not?

    Now, if homosexual practice automatically implies sexual immorality, why is it listed seperately in the list you quote from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10?

    Anyway, perhaps the real untouchable sin around us today is idolatry, and perhaps you're just worshiping an idol you and and your people have fashioned for yourselves. As DonP wrote, the law is the law. Learn what it means: Build a fence around your roof, avoid wearing clothes of mixed fibers, and stop the idolatrous practices found in your manner of parsing such commands, remembering in all things, God is greater, and the LORD is One.

  • I believe Mr. Manimal came to my blog from a forum for Young Earth Christians. I'm pretty sure he's YEC.

  • I was referring to the genetic feature that makes a person gay. That is not a technical term of course, lol.

  • berkshire

    Yeah, I found that pretty remarkable, too.

  • berkshire

    I wrote the above in response to Matthew's remark about "the very truth god wants communicated". Somehow it ended up beneath John's comment.

  • DR

    Hi there,

    I'm glad you posted, only to provide an illustration of a type of approach to the Bible and to Jesus that's (thankfully) dying.

    Let me start by saying I believe in hell, so none of what you've written here is threatening to me personally. But I think blogs like this one are scary for those of you who have this interpretation, it gets pretty threatening.

    I know that is hard for you to see, but all your beliefs boil down to is simply an *interpretation*. You're no different than the rest of us who are also operating within our interpretation of the Bible. The only difference between us – I'll speak for myself, I don't speak for anyone else – is that I'm pretty open to believe I'm wrong. I'm a Christian, and what I believe might be wrong. Oddly, that doesn't make me any less committed or passionate.

    This kind of thinking though – at least in my experience – represents someone who is absolutely terrified of being wrong. Even considering, "Wow – John Shore might not be wrong. *I* might be wrong! Is terrifying, to terrifying to consider. So there's generally no real discussion (which is what this blog seems to be fore, for people like you who demand we all see the Bible on your own terms are far more interested in staying in control, rather than bringing others to the Liberation experienced through Jesus.

    It doesn't really make me angry anymore, because people are learning and they are moving away from this kind of thing. I know you will believe that as being a lesser form of truth, you might call it "emergent" or something else. And that's fine. But I'm sad for you, that you'd come onto a blog and immediately identify what's wrong with everyone's faith. That's not the gift of discernment – that's fear.

  • DR

    The exception to the rule generally proves the rule. I'm certainly glad to hear it did in your case! Sadly, it has the opposite impact a lot of the time, not due to the intent of the person, but due to style and tone and a lack of emotional intelligence and sensitivity while delivering the message.

  • DR


    I'm going to say something difficult and I'm doing so knowing I don't know you. Sorry. But you have jumped in to the dialogue so I hope it's OK that I respond.

    I'm constantly faced with this kind of response from a few friends of mine who have actually seen me as dumb and dangerous due to my faith. It was devastating, what they'd offer generally. When I finally got the courage to say "Listen – that's not me. I'm not like that. That's not my experience, you know my experience. You know other people like me. Do we fit within your generalities?" And they were quick to say "No No, not YOU DR. Not you!" but someone told me, "Well yeah – you, because you sit with those people in church, you believe the same things they do."

    I actually appreciated that because he was honest and the others really weren't. I'm not here to convert you, what you believe serves you.

    But it's also feels important to remind you that who you believe – who you allow to tell you what Jesus thinks about you, what God thinks about you – is also your choice. There are a million people like John who give you a different choice. And if you want to dismiss him, you can. But I'm getting a little tired of those who are not Christian who use generalities when it comes to my faith.

    You have enough evidence here to parce out the realities that there are Fundamentalists who are going to say that. Your mind doesn't have to change, but consider the impact you have on those of us who are making a fairly huge effort to be a different kind of Christian and consistently get lumped in with the Fundamentalist view. Please consider stopping.

  • DR

    Yes, but we're called to do that, Iron sharpens iron.

  • DR

    P.S. Bri, reverse racism doesn't exist. And neither does this kind of behavior Christians display with non-Christians. We say we have a different kind of love, so it's not tit for tat.

  • DR

    This, a thousand times.

    Christians often approach others like they are stupid. People who are often 3x more educated and moral than they are. Not all evangelists do this, but enough do where it's warrants this kind of post.

    Christians, if you ever have anyone approach you telling you you're not as intellectually sophisticated or educated due to your "magical thinking", consider you are approaching others with a message that they are also lesser. Water seeks it's own level.

  • DR

    Matthew! I've missed you! Yay, Matthew's back!

    I think John is just presenting who he is and the facts as he sees them. *Where* he posts them is indicative of how people understand. I think it's easy to dismiss how much of what we read is based on the filters we have on our eyes and heart to begin with. Jesus said "Let those who have ears, hear" (or words to that effect). HuffPo is a place that draws a lot of people with some very pre-defined set of opinions about religions anyway. Ultimately, we all choose who our authority is, and who represents what is bad in the world and what we keep hating. It wouldn't matter if John wrote "Hello!" People will see what they see.

  • DR

    My other comment is that you share this kind of message at Huffington Post, Why would you think that “taking your fellow brothers and sisters to task” as is the purpose of your article– that it is wise or even biblical i to do so before unbelievers?>>>

    "Let your light shine on a hill". That's what he's doing.

    It's simple. If you or any other christian is being a jerk, or you're doing something to *actively* hurt others spiritually? Or just being a jerk? You better believe I'm going to call you out on it – I'll even do it in Spanish, and I can. We're all connected and the decision one person makes impacts everyone else. So it's essential, and so is accountability. We needlessly hurt and offend people who are not Christian by our often invasive, objectifying behavior. And it's important for some of us that those who are offended know that we're trying to clean up our own Christian tent. Because for some people, they only start listening when their pride gets shocked into a different posture.

    This whole thing isn't about you. I know you see it is, but it isn't. Loving Jesus isn't about you, it's not about you looking good. "Unbelievers" aren't the enemy on some other side of the hill. They are people we simply love, we respect, who are smart enough to seek what they want to find and decide the beliefs that serve them. They aren't the target of some "strategy", they are our neighbors, the scientists in our world who cure the cancer someone in your family might has. Who passes laws to make sure you have clean drinking water. Who is teaching your child how to write a proper sentence. They are an intimate part of your life, whether or not you choose to acknowledge that. They deserve some basic respect regarding what they hold sacred. And they shouldn't have to fight the Christians off. Christians should be doing that for them.

  • DR

    Perhaps the people who need to "get offline" are those who create fake profiles. Seriously.

  • DR


  • DR

    Julia ( I love the name Julia, I want to have a baby just to name her Julia. But I'm in my 40s so she'd have 27 eyeballs. Poor little Julia).


    The thing I'd ask you to consider is having the same expectation for yourself you do us. Perhaps just consider reframing how you talk about Christianity, then I'll really believe you. People say and type what they believe, what is in their gut. And so far on this blog, you seem pretty comfortable washing christianity and Christians with a very broad brush. I guess I'll believe it when I see it.

  • DR

    You are one of my favorite posters here. I've loved reading your comments in this thread. Thank you.

  • Diana

    Hey DR!

    I want to thank you for writing this. I think you expressed your viewpoint very well.

    "…but someone told me, “Well yeah – you, because you sit with those people in church, you believe the same things they do.”

    I actually appreciated that because he was honest…."

    Yes, I see this, too–and what's often not understood is that those of us who sit with the more fundamentalist elements (or, for that matter, the more liberal elements) in our church don't necessarily agree with them on everything–we just don't want to cede the Church Universal to these more radical elements. It's that whole baby/bathwater thing again.

  • Thanks for the kind words!

    I have struggled long and hard with anger against religion and have only very recently made the choice to let it go. People have the right to think, say and do as they please as long as they are not infringing on other people's right to do the same. The anger has simply consumed too many hours of my life with nothing to show for it in the end except the hurt feelings of others.

  • DR

    Hi my new virtual friend,

    I waffle like a…waffle on this. Some days I think I'm responsible for these people – culpable, almost – because I'm choosing to believe in a God they also seem to believe in that motivates them to do some really awful stuff in his name. On other days, I want to call people like my friend out and say "Enough. I'm not your symbol. Choose to believe that I represent Jesus or don't, but think critically enough and just be a decent enough guy to know what you're saying."

    For me, it's come down to the latter, more often than not. I used to think I had to be this person who would just absorb the hostility of atheists who hate Christianity, hopefully to provide a measure of peace. But I quickly realized that they don't want to change! Nor are they terribly interested in respecting me.

    So it's come down to the universal, basic, common courtesy that every human being possesses, which is to not shit one someone's belief system, whatever that is and regardless of how it's hurt me. Or at least, to not do that with impunity.

  • DR

    William, don't doubt your own influence here as well.

  • DR

    Did we even read the same post?

  • Diana

    "Water seeks its own level." So true, so true.

  • DR


    You misunderstand. You poor thing! Let me share the truth with you.

    As an Athiest, you're lesser. I know, I know, atheists are in those labs curing disease that save us Christians' lives. They are creating laws that ensure we have wonderful parks to visit and fund the public schools that us Christians who can't afford public school and won't home school go to. As a matter of fact, they are those teachers who get paid sh!& and teach our kids how to write a paragraph so they can get a job someday.

    I'm sorry – language! But you have to remember that I'm not perfect, I'm just forgiven. Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes.

    They are the artists who create the music that we love to listen to. They make our clothes, they clean our streets. They are the next door neighbor who quietly mows our lawn when we won't do it ourselves or they just do it because they are thoughtful. They are the ones taking care of their elderly parents. Who are adopting kids that no one else wants.

    What you need to understand is as a Christian, I know who you are. And what you don't have and what you need. It's not important that I know *you*, that actually….well, it makes me a little uncomfortable. What's important is that I tell you who you are and what you need.

    I'm really glad we could have this talk.

  • All I see is someone lying for Jesus. I'm not sure what's wrong with that, the ends justify the needs when you're in a spiritual battle. Or when you need anything period. I hope this helps.



  • *the ends justify the means" is what I meant to write. I'm sorry, I went to a public school where I was taught by an atheist teacher, so sometimes writing is difficult. But I forgive my parents, they know not what they did.



  • Julia,

    Stereotypes are a critical part of our living together in America. I use America, simply because it defines what the rest of the world should be. "Keeping people in their boxes" is important, if we didn't, people like you would be forced to actual *read* what's being offered! And honestly, who has time for that? No one.

    This blog is a bit challenging, lots of smart people with some very smart mouths. But you and I seem quite similar, it's nice to find a kindred spirit whom I can educate.

    You stay in your box. I'll stay in my box and we'll both keep trying to manipulate each other into our box. That way we can just stay in the box and there is more time for TV and

    I hope this helped.



  • Thank you for that! I laughed so hard that I almost spit wine all over my computer screen!

  • Julia has mastered the art of critical thinking that is missing from the majority of these comments. Let me break this down for everyone as to be clear:

    Julia simply *repeats* what she believes about the Bible and about Christians in order to justify her stereotypes. Julia – unlike some of you who are challenging her – understands that discussions have only three potential goals.

    1. To learn and change

    2. To stay exactly the same

    3. To change others

    This whole idea of entering dialogue with the goal of #1 isn't what people who possess the real truth (like Julia) do. We're more sophisticated than that. We know how damaging other perspectives are and we love others too much to allow them to change us. Our goal is to change them. But this takes years of cultivating a lot of anger, resentment and hostility to put filters on that determine what something like Christianity and the Bible are at their core.

    I hope this helps.



  • DR

    Well. who could blame you. If anyone looks critically at the history of religion and some of the present-day experiences (including how it's deeply mired in our political landscape right now which is creepy), it's something of which to be wary.

    That last part of regarding anger – whoa. I need to take a second look at that for myself. Thanks dude.

  • DR

    William? It's the morning.

  • It's Saturday

  • This nesting thing IS confusing! (and it dont take much to confuse me, lol)

    Anyhoo, I posted a reply basically to everyone and it went to a second page. Didnt know this thing did that. 0-o.

    I thank all for replying to me.


  • oh, crap. just now realized my email wasnt up. Fixed, I hope….

  • DR

    Out of all the responses Manimal’s is the one I will use to hopefully illustrate what I believe..

    Dear Julia,

    You got countered here. If people are offended, that's their issue. That being said? You've missed the point of most of these comments or perhaps you aren't deciding to listen. Out of all the people on this thread, you narrowed down the one individual to define what it is that you believe about Christians despite dozens of Christians here who believe differently, and you continue to extrapolate that into a generality about Christians in general. Which is your decision. It's certainly not in the same ball park as racism, but lumping anyone together based on the worst slice of behavior available ( which is what you are doing) is definitely on the same continuum.

    But I suspect you weren't really open to changing your mind about Christians anyway. When am I going to learn?

  • Hi DR.

    I wasnt my intention to lump with my above reply. I was merely trying point out where I come from by using his post as an example of sorts, a springboard. Obviously, it seems I blew that too.

    What I was trying to do was point outwthat I felt (incorrectly it seems) via his post is the belief that if you see someone doing something you feel is wrong you should tell them so. SInce everyone seemed to want to know where I was coming from I used that as the springboard. Singling him as his view represented everyones was not what I was trying to do. It wast my intent as much as an attempt of trying to answer everyone in one post instead of replying all over the place and making things more confusing. In hindsight, maybe I shouldve….

    All I can do is ask you to re-read my above response again to expain where I come from, and to reiterate that I apologize once agian for any lumping.

    Hope that helps…

  • Hi Julia:

    Let me first say thank you for the clarification of your beliefs. It is very helpful.

    I appreciate the time you took to do it and I see why you made the choice to do it as a sweep. I wouldn't say that ends up being a "bad" choice at all.

    From the perspective I presented (not trying to sum up anyone else's bits) I just want to point out that the God you describe with the "bible['s] largely…. inaccurate portrayal of God" as a "vengeful, bloodthirsty creature that demands perfection and worship" is NOT the God I find in scripture nor in my personal experience.

    I think I speak for many Christians when I say if that were the perception of God in our reading of scripture, or our experience of Him, we wouldn't worship him either.

    And I am a Christian. My tangible experience with God is long and rich. I don't deny you the legitimacy of your experience. I think MAYBE what DR and others allude to is the desire to at least be respected, as we respect you, for the legitimacy of OUR experiences, OUR choices, OUR beliefs which may not (obviously do not) fit into a preconceived notion you (and others) have about Christians.

    As for me personally, I'm interested in the nuances of difference in the beliefs of all the people in this blog community. And I think I find some like-mindedness, but the ways, the things, the responses, the opinions, and processes of those who claim a certain belief or response to God- this is of central interest to me. So I'm very grateful you've shared–

    Peace and love

    " "

  • Mornin’ y’all. Well, just after noon here in the Midwest. Coffee and tea are on the brew, fresh donuts and bagels, cream cheese and grapes on the counter. Table’s a mess as I got my ‘puter and stuff all over it and it’s bit toasty on the porch and patio but y’all are welcome to fill a plate and cuppa, grab a lawn chair and park thy buns. 🙂 Enjoy.

    Okay. Where to start.

    So many responded with so many queries coupled with the nesting thing I think it may be easier to respond to all with one post here. It is my hope to address everyone’s queries by stating my stance a bit more clearly. No promises, but let’s go….

    Out of all the responses Manimal’s is the one I will use to hopefully illustrate what I believe. Since many others have already addressed the gay issue I am going to focus on another part of his post:

    Manimal said: “Would you tell a murderer to stop murdering? Would you tell a thief to stop thieving? Would you tell an idolator to stop worshipping false gods? Would you tell a drunk to stop abusing alcohol? Would you tell a liar to start telling the truth? Would you tell an adulterer to stop porking women that aren’t his wife? OF COURSE YOU WOULD! ”

    I did tell you. Or, at least I tried.

    What I am trying to say is that the bible is an inaccurate portray of God.

    Many do not believe me. (No surprise there.)

    Let me explain hopefully in a non-bigoted way: In my heart of hearts I say the bible largely paints an inaccurate portrayal of God. This vengeful, bloodthirsty creature that demands perfection and worship is a fairytale that does not exist.

    So, there it is. I simply do not believe as many others do. I cannot do it.

    For in my heart of hearts I know God has killed no one. In my heart of hearts I know there is no hell, no fall, no separation from God. In my heart of hearts I know God loves all and heals all, no one is forsaken; no one is condemned or damned. Even the commandments of Jesus are slightly skewed: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

    It should be: “God loves you with all His heart. You shall love yourself and your neighbor with all your heart as God loves you.”

    Which makes it more of the One Simple Truth and the One Simple Commandment based on that One Simple Truth.

    There it is. That is what I believe. For me to state or believe otherwise would be, well, not what I believe to be true.

    In my heart of hearts I know this to be true. My whole life’s walk with God has been a confirmation of this simple Truth. It may not be what many believe, but it is what sings in my heart and I feel is the Truth of God.

    Yes, I know. Saying ‘I know’ is an awful big claim. Who am I to say I know what God is and thinks? Good point. It is big and proud of me, I suppose. But, is declaring a book is the one and only word of God any more big and proud?

    Yet, I must be true to what I feel to be true, what I feel to be the Truth of God. To be less, to do less is an insult to what I feel to be true, an insult to the God that has loved me since before my first breath.

    That is my message, my truth, the Truth that God has shown me: God loves all and everyone.

    Yet; ironically, if the bible is correct, then I will go to hell for believing in a God that loves all unconditionally.

    Ironic, yes? You gotta love it.

    But, all that doesn’t matter, I suppose. We are all free to believe and follow the path that sings to our hearts. Mine is not a Christian one. I simply do not believe in the bible. Many do. And we each have that right to believe. I just happen to think if what one believes and does causes pain to another (such as the whole gay issue) is probably not what God wants and, well, it should be reviewed and see why it causes harm.

    All that matters is that at the end of the day it is our consciousness and the responsibility of our actions and words that we have to go to sleep with. As Keith Richards once said: “It’s not about living forever, it’s about living with yourself forever.”

    I know what I have said offends and causes stress to many. I know I can say things kinder and I should. To which I apologize to all here now.

    But, it does pose the problem of trying to speak to what I feel is true. So, I feel the best way to keep the peace on John’s blog (sorry John) is to try and stay away. If anyone wants to converse with me just drop me an email and I’d be more than happy to chat.

    For now I think I’m going to give everyone a break and take a vacation from here.

    Sorry I offended anyone. My deepest apologies to each of you.

    Hope all enjoys their weekend! 😀

    Peace to all.


  • DR

    It's ok buddy, no worries. You've had a go of it here, but conflict isn't always a bad thing. Right? I enjoy sparring with people and frankly, appreciate it when people call me on what I don't see.

    I've made my point over and over again and am left with the reminder that people really do see what they choose to see. I am no different. Thanks for the reply.

  • DonP

    Julia, Whew! Did I have you wrong!

    I admire your strong conviction and I'm just "wishy washy" enough to see the merits of such a belief/faith. I might even like to trade my own coat of faith in on newer one like yours. But before I do; Maybe you can help me understand something. With this I will start by assuming your God is Creator of all and He/She knows everything. Are we good here on that one? If so then my big question and, I might just say for the record, the deal breaker, is as follows: You observed the world with these words: "Deaths galore, rapes, murders, threats of death and hell, etc, etc. ". So, if God knows everything then God knew that all that fan hitting crap was going to fly all over the place and He/She did it anyway.

    Ya' got some 'splainin' to do Lucy. Cause that version of God and your stated version of God do not add up.

  • That's the problem with most versions of God(s). If He/She/It/They is/are all knowing and powerful, then It cannot be good as well. It simply is not possible and does not add up. For the whole idea to work, God has to have limited powers or it is a malicious or indifferent being. I tend to go with indifferent.

    If their is a God, it is arrogant to think that our actions are capable of offending He/She/It/They. So either way, I feel safe with not worshiping.

  • Don: "You observed the world with these words: “Deaths galore, rapes, murders, threats of death and hell, etc, etc. “. So, if God knows everything then God knew that all that fan hitting crap was going to fly all over the place and He/She did it anyway."

    Hiya Don.

    The violence I am referring to are the myriad of claims in the bible that state God killed and ordered more killings. All those stories of deaths and smiting are just that, stories. God killed or had ordered killings simply did not happen. Like other tribal legends, they are just myths. God had never killed or demanded anyone killed, ever.

    "did it anyway.' Not clear on what you're saying here. Did what? Make the world? All knowing?

    Yes, God is the Creator and is all knowing. Did God know we would make a mess down here? Yes. And that mess isn’t God's fault. It is OUR fault. All the deaths, rapes murders are the results of our own thoughts, decisions and actions. We cannot blame God for our own actions and stupidity.

    Just like a parent letting their child leave home and experience life, our actions here on this Earth and the results of them are entirely ours. No God to blame.

    As a parent you know you have to let your child leave home and go out into the world to learn about and live life. You hope your child makes good choices and learns from their mistakes and becomes a better person because of it. As a parent you love each of your children deeply and hope they will grow into adults that are responsible, mature, wise and good.

    God does the same with us. We leave 'home' to come to the Earth to learn. The world is the place we learn to live and grow and make good choices. Life and how we live it is our responsibility. Not Gods. Ours. We took on that responsibility as soon as we chose to be born. Like a parent God is always with us in this walk, ever gently guiding, ever gently teaching. We live this life to learn, to grow and to understand life and God.

    What is the teaching of this walk? What do we learn in this life? I think the simple answer to that is Compassion. Forgiveness. Love. Understanding. Healing.

    Sounds simplistic and new-agey, yeah, I know. But it is what I feel to be true. It is not a shallow thing, but deep, one that takes a lifetime to comprehend.

    The God in the bible controls this world and our lives like some sadistic operator of an arcade ride where you're strapped in without hope of getting off. God makes it rain and shakes the ground to show who is boss and eradicate unbelievers, sometimes by the tens of thousands. All the while we are at the mercy of this angry, vengeful and wrathful creature with the only means of escape being we either bend a knee just the right way and hope we don’t face the consequences of pissing it off, where we are rewarded with eternal blind bliss beside this deity watching as it does the same to other powerless souls where failure means eternal damnation.,

    That is not God I know. That is not life. Not by a long shot.

    The Earth is self sustaining environment. We choose to life among it and learn from it and each other. That puts the responsibility squarely upon our shoulders, not God's. For some I suppose that is more frightening than a God that would rather let you burn in hell than let you sit beside it in your filthy human sin. Being responsible for all we do can be a bitch.

    God loves each and everyone unconditionally. We are precious, one of a kind. Yet it is our responsibility to take care of our life and how we live it. Some souls go through terrible lives, some better, some take an unhealthy course in their lives, some more healthy. Yet each is loved. Each will in time be healed. That is Love of God.

    That is a brief summary of my belief and what God has revealed. I'm still growing in my walk. Will be 'til my last breath. God has been with me the entire journey ever gently teaching, ever gently guiding. Sometimes I do rather well in my walk. Some days I trip and fall. Some days I really screw it up. But not once did I ever blame God for any of my stupid choices or painful experiences.

    That is life after all.

  • Diana

    Okay, I hope the nesting function works correctly this time but just in case…

    DonP: With this I will start by assuming your God is Creator of all and He/She knows everything. Are we good here on that one? If so then my big question and, I might just say for the record, the deal breaker, is as follows: You observed the world with these words: “Deaths galore, rapes, murders, threats of death and hell, etc, etc. “. So, if God knows everything then God knew that all that fan hitting crap was going to fly all over the place and He/She did it anyway.

    William Ely: That’s the problem with most versions of God(s). If He/She/It/They is/are all knowing and powerful, then It cannot be good as well. It simply is not possible and does not add up. For the whole idea to work, God has to have limited powers or it is a malicious or indifferent being. I tend to go with indifferent.

    Thomas Talbott actually addresses these issues in some detail in his book "The Inescapable Love of God." His explanation isn't exactly the same as Julia's, but still manages to uphold the two premises of: 1) God is all-good and 2) God is all-powerful. It's quite a good book and uses both scripture and logic to make its points. Fascinating reading.

  • I have to disagree with Mr. Talbot on this point. Even religion cannot escape the cold hard reality of logic. Like it or not, there is no way around it. Anything that exists is bound by both logic and physics. It is fine that you believe otherwise, but don't try to claim that it is supported by logic.

    Our rise above the animals was a monumental feat of survival and adaptation. It is insulting to us as a species to give the credit to a single creator. We did it, we deserve the credit for our own place. Let's give credit where credit is due and let's rise even higher still. We can do it and we don't need the supernatural to help us.

  • Diana

    So, you've read the book?

  • No, but you said he uses scripture, which automatically disqualifies his arguments. You cannot defend scripture by quoting scripture.

    That would be like a criminal defendant being an eyewitness at his own trial, it just does not hold any weight.

    Only outside, peer reviewed sources can be used for such a thing. Concerning this topic, those are nearly nonexistent.

  • Diana

    Um, okay, I don't think I said that he was using scripture to defend scripture. At least that was not my intention.


    Basically, the book is intended to argue that (Christian) Universalism is a plain and obvious teaching of the New Testament. It also explores some of the logical inconsistencies in competing theological systems (within Christianity–he doesn't really talk about those that exist outside of Christianity.) So he's using Scripture not to argue that Scripture is true but to argue with those who already regard Scripture as infallible (you would not be among those :-)) for a specific Christian doctrine, namely that of Christian Universalism. In addition, he also uses logic to support his points, including his main point, which is that 1) if it is God's redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore his will) to reconcile all sinners (humanity) to himself; and 2) if it is within God's power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world; then it is logically inconsistent to believe that some sinners (members of humanity) will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign them to a place of eternal punishment (aka: Hell), from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence altogether. So, he uses Scripture to speak to those who believe Scripture is infallible and uses logic for those of us who are bothered by the logical inconsistencies of Scripture–or at least traditional interpretations of Scripture. Is this a clearer explanation?

  • I see, it is a book preaching to the choir instead of an apologist piece. Not anything that is gonna bring in the heathens, just an internal conversation between believers.

    You mentioned the book to me like it should mean something to me is why I took it differently.

    When you folks calmly explain this religion, the things you say horrify me and I always wonder how you can subject yourself to it. Scary stuff. I guess to each his own.

  • DonP

    Hi Julia, thank you for your explanation. Tempting as it may be, I gotta' say no deal on the switch over for me. You see, for me, in my world, the deep down and dirty world that I am apart of, if a man does a thing and knows in advance that his actions are going to do harm to another…….then he's to blame. Now, I ain't no God, I can't make shit, when it comes to the world creating business, let alone right from wrong. But Julia, your God stinks.

  • Diana

    "You mentioned the book to me like it should mean something to me is why I took it differently."

    Yeah, I guess I did. You mentioned that if God is all-knowing and all-powerful that God cannot be good as well. Mr. Talbott actually addresses that point in his book. That's why I brought up the book.

    But yeah, maybe it is more of an internal conversation between believers.

  • Don: "You see, for me, in my world, the deep down and dirty world that I am apart of, if a man does a thing and knows in advance that his actions are going to do harm to another…….then he’s to blame."

    Um, that is what I was trying to say, Responsiblity for one's actions and all.

    "But Julia, your God stinks."

    No prob, Don. Whatever gets you through the night it's alright, it's alright.

  • Criminals are "witnesses" at their own (alleged) crime.

    Diana's not suggesting using scripture to prove scripture, but saying Talbot uses it to reveal or support an argument.

    And as such, it's more legitimate fodder as evidence than much of what's accepted in a debate officiated by human judges and even a legal US courtroom. That is to say, it is ancient, corroborative, and is generally accepted as text which, in fact, does make claims about the nature of God.

    So do other sacred texts… which also might be considered were one conducting a thorough, inter-faith researched argument.

    Dang, I hope this thing nests where Imean for it to go…

  • DonP

    Julia: OK. It is clear to me now who and what you believe God to be. It is real nice that you have found a comfortable little corner of faith to live in. I have, for now, found my own corner. It is not at all as comfortable as yours appears to be. I am constantly questioning, wandering and as well as wondering. Of this much I am sure: none of us has it all, truth that is. I try to always have an open mind lest I miss some thing that He has brought my way to increase my knowledge of Him. While some Christians would question the notion that you have latched on to the "real" God; it would seem to me, that you have at leached latched on. I trust that if you keep your heart and mind open to what he brings your way as well. Like I said I'm just "wishy washy" enough to hope that you have latched on to the real God.

    I still think a God who creates a mess is to blame for the mess though. I raised two children. When they messed their pants, got themselves dirty or, spilled the milk, I cleaned it up. They grew up and now they do it for themselves. I don't think people grow up spiritually until sometime after this life.

  • Hiya Beth! Sorry, I meant to reply, but was sidetracked; crazy weekend.

    Thank you for your kind words, I do appreciate them. 🙂

    Like most I like to share, too. There is a joy in it, when you are sharing something that sings in your heart, a mutual joy in the sharing.

    I think that what baffles me sometimes; and I think you understand what I mean; is when you hit the occasional resistance from another when you share. Sometimes what we share is not what another sees or even wants to see or hear. I sometimes forget who I am sharing with and how they may feel. I've learned to keep my sharing to myself unless asked or when in the company of likeminded folks. And this is not a stereotype or lumping, but unfortunately the folks in my experience that give the biggest resistance have all been Christian. As I was sharing with my brother yesteday at lunch, and he is Catholic, I can share about spirituality and God with just about anyone and we would all be mostly on the same page. That level of sharing hits snags when it comes to sharing with Christians (not all, just some.) It just saddens me.

    Ah, well, I better stop before I get accused of lumping again…

    Thank you and everyone for taking the time to share with me. I do appreicate it. 🙂


  • okay, I see no one’s talking to me. Guess I’ll go eat worms…. even though I am really interested in what y’all are saying to eachother…. but why is that? AM I a big dork and don’t really know it?

  • Yeah, I get that Beth, but one thing that often gets overlooked is that scripture does not mean anything at all to the nonreligious. To me, it is just a cultural piece of literature, like the Iliad. It cannot be taken too seriously.

  • Diana

    "…one thing that often gets overlooked is that scripture does not mean anything at all to the nonreligious."

    I see your point, William. Fair enough.

  • so you're saying I am a big dork. I get it! 🙂

  • "scripture does not mean anything at all to the nonreligious. To me, it is just a cultural piece of literature, like the Iliad."

    True enough.

    That being said, let me also say I definitely tell my students in order to support their arguments, they must consider audience, and if that audience is not like-minded, then they have more work to do and they have different sources to consider. This includes both my Christian and non-Christian students. It works both ways. Always.

    Call me crazy, but the Iliad is a great piece of literature to use as a discovery about how people relate to God (there, gods.) The Odyssey is even better since it's one man's response to being thwarted by the gods in his quest for what he wants most.

    Odysseus is a"great" man but he is flawed, and ultimately only human. His discovery of this puts him in right relationship, finally, with the gods. (And they are crazier and more vengeful than any portrayal I've ever seen in the Bible. hope you're reading-in, Julia…)

    My point is whether one is religious or not, there are certain texts, the Bible among them, which are generally regarded as commentary on humankind's interaction with the Divine. (not the only one and certainly no the only one worth study.)

    And it can lead people to a discovery, (culturally, religiously, personally, materially, historically) of how others have come to know and or experience God. It seems you are interested in this discussion (how and what people believe about God) so it wouldn't seem a realllll stretch to say it's fair to examine the Bible, even study it.

    BUT, I HEAR you saying, for you, you think it's a waste of time.

    And thanks, big time, for responding to me. I was starting to feel invisible. 😉

  • I was not ignoring you, I was out on a date.

    I would have an easier time enjoying the cultural and historical aspects of the Bible if so many other people people did not take it so seriously. I simply do not agree with much of what it contains and it scares me that a good majority of people in this country claim to base their moral lives on it. I don't find many moral lessons in it and the ones I do find can be summed up in a sentence without all the mumbo jumbo.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Hey DR,

    Not quite back yet. That I posted a while ago, before I went away on the trip (visiting in-laws & friends, + doing some sightseeing, in Ukraine, Turkey & Russia) that's currently greatly reducing the amount of time I spend on John Shore's blog from what it was in May and June.

  • Bri

    Oh wow, I just took a look at my post from a while ago and I have a response! I am afraid that I do not quite understand your two posts here, DR. What are we called to do? In your post-script, I do not know what you mean other than that I think you disagree with me.

    Furthermore, I did submit a complete response back in June when this discussion was underway. However, Mr. Shore has apparently censored it. That is the initial reason why I returned here.

  • Bri

    Oh! I do still have my post if the blog owner decides he wants another copy. Sorry for the double post.

  • “there is no greater gift than the free gift of salvation”? It’s not free. What we non-Christians are asked to give up is our other belief system, our way of thinking, our way of acting…basically our entire way of BEING. We are asked to give up everything we are for your “version” of salvation. I wouldn’t call that free. Would you?

  • You nailed it there Nathan. Well spoken.