Arguing with Atheists…REALLY???

DSC08989

By Kenneth Justice

I became a Christian and I was so intense with my evangelism that it drove a wedge between my wife and I….we’ve never recovered our relationship” he said

 

~ A couple months ago I was sitting at coffee and an acquaintance of mine sat down at the table. Born and raised in the Middle East, he and his family came to the states in his early twenties where he followed the normal course of life that his Muslim family set out for him; he married young, had a few children, worked in the family business, and life was for the most part pretty good,

Eight years ago at the age of forty five I converted to Christianity. It was something I had been thinking about for a couple years and even though I had been talking to my wife and children about it; once I made the decision to leave Islam they were not supportive of me at all” he said

Perhaps things could have settled down between him and his family, but unfortunately, having embraced his new found faith the man began proselytizing his loved ones with a fever pitch, “Looking back I can see how awful I was; I told my wife things like, ‘you’re going to hell’ and ‘if you don’t believe in Jesus you’re just being blind to the truth’.” he said, “Essentially, I argued with her and my boys incessantly. I never let up. I drove them nuts with all my Jesus talk and by the end of the first year of me being a Christian my entire family resented my faith entirely

He and his wife somehow were able to keep their marriage together but they are not very close, “We rarely talk about anything serious and even though I never bring up religion or Christianity anymore, I feel like what I did in the beginning offended her so much that its always lurking in the background of our lives. I don’t know that she’s ever going to forgive me for trying to convert her to Christianity” he said

While my acquaintance no longer tries to proselytize his family, he has moved his endeavors toward full time evangelism in his community, “I am the lead evangelist at the church I attend and I spend most evenings out in the community arguing with atheists and non-Christians preaching to them the message of the Gospel” he said

Do you have much success?” I asked him

It’s not about the number of people that I actually lead to Jesus, it’s about planting seeds. If I can get an atheist to question their beliefs, than I’m being used by God in the process of them becoming a Christian” he said

Having been raised in an evangelical Christian environment I’m more than familiar with the culture of proselytization that permeates the culture. For many years all I heard from the pulpit on Sunday was our responsibility as Christians to convert the masses. The message was often so guilt ridden that I struggled with feeling like a terrible person if I wasn’t out trying to persuade atheists and non-Christians to put their faith in the God of the bible.

At Christian bookstores the shelves are lined with massive volumes on how to witness to the world. Covering every genre of philosophical beliefs, evangelicals have systematized their approach in arguing with every possible objection to the faith; tips on how to win debates against atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, and more are all available for $19.99.

A local Christian radio host in my community spends time every month teaching his audience how to debate evolutionists, atheists, and anyone else that might cross their path through the journey of life; arguing and debating the naysayers is a full time activity for Christians, so much so that many Evangelicals have made a living selling books, putting on seminars, and teaching at Evangelical colleges courses on how to argue their faith.

Yet in the midst of all this arguing I find myself asking a simple question; where is love in all this?

Whether we want to admit the truth or not, where you were born and the social climate of your culture has more to do with your beliefs than anything else;

—-) If you were born in certain parts of Asia you are likely to be a lifelong Buddhist

—-) If you were born in certain parts of the Middle East you are likely to be a lifelong Muslim

—-) If you were born in certain parts of Utah you are likely to be a Mormon

—-) If you were born in certain parts of the Bible Belt (the Southern United States) you are likely to be a lifelong Christian

—-) If you were born without a father, or without a father figure in your life, you are statistically more likely to be an Atheist

As much as we all might want to pretend that we are autonomous thinking individuals; the social structure of our environment has a lot to do with our belief systems. And while I’m not suggesting that the only reason you believe whatever it is that you believe is due to environment…..I am trying to point out that its strange to me that so many of us take an air of arrogance in thinking that we believe the “100% correct truths about life” and everyone else believes the wrong thing.

I used to be one of those Evangelical Christians who believed his mission in life was to argue with the masses. I talked and acted as I was taught by the church culture I grew up in; I believed that my theology and beliefs were the ‘right’ ones and if you didn’t share my perspective on god or life….well you were clearly wrong and it was my responsibility to prove to you how wrong you were.

And then one day I realized I was nothing more than a Christian A** hole. I was arrogant, I was rash, I was too quick to debate and argue…..and far too slow to love.

It was a verse from Isaiah that Jesus read in the temple which began to change my thinking,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me

because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor,

to bind the brokenhearted

to bring liberty to the captives,

and freedom to the prisoners”

I had read that my whole life and somehow only ever saw in it an admonishment to me to preach at people. Yet reading it one day about eight years ago I began to realize that Jesus’s whole mission in life had less to do with preaching at people, and more to do with reaching out and loving others…..especially the people at the bottom rung of society and the people in need; the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, and the prisoners.

After reading the Isiah text I began going back over the gospel of Mark and an entirely new Jesus leapt out of the scriptures at me; instead of the Jesus of my youth that was always preaching at people, I suddenly began to see a Jesus who was crying with those who had lost relatives, a Jesus who was hanging out with lepers and sick people that none of the rich people would hang out around, a Jesus who would feed the hungry, a Jesus that would go to parties with the people the religious people resented, and a Jesus who was constantly hanging out with the less fortunate.

Suddenly, my faith in Jesus which had previously been entirely built upon schemes designed to argue and debate with Atheists and non-Christians was transformed into a faith where I believed my mission in life was merely to love others; to reach out to homeless people and accept them as they are. The next thing I knew I was working at a local county jail and hanging out with the prisoners, I was working at a homeless shelter, I was working at a rehab clinic, and in the midst of all the conversations I was having with people; I was no longer concerned with arguing and debating and trying to tear down their belief systems.

I now believed my mission in life was to help the poor, cry with the brokenhearted, and to help the captives and prisoners. I now cared more about dialogue than debate…..and this was a huge change from who I used to be, and who I was becoming.

And where am I now? Well, I guess I’ll have to get back to you on that,

For now, I think I’ll finish my coffee,

Kenneth



Categories: Culture & Society

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

92 replies

  1. This is a beautiful piece. I find it so frustrating that people of faith don’t have the confidence in their own faith not to make it a group activity. It seems contradictory to me. I loved this passage from your entry: “And then one day I realized I was nothing more than a Christian A** hole. I was arrogant, I was rash, I was too quick to debate and argue…..and far too slow to love.” Amen!
    >

  2. Thanks Kenneth, love your honesty. I believe we should just gossip the gospel…. Being authentic , caring and loving speaks louder than words. Was St Francis of Assisi who said “preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words” ….

  3. Another fascinating post – you may (or may not) remember me as the non confrontational atheist I described myself as when asking if you’d mind me following you. I find it gratifying that you say, ‘my mission in life was merely to love others…’. Common ground is a fine thing as I agree with that sentence entirely. Great stuff.

  4. That was a great read. Secular humanism is the new atheism.

  5. This is lovely. I wish the Good Christian Woman across the street would go your way. I’ve gotten to the point where I’d like to try explaining to her that I like her very much and like sharing our garden produce with her family, but I’d love to have an exchange in each she didn’t say something judgmental about me/us/our children. I doubt she would hear it as anything but further evidence of my damnation.

  6. I do believe that there is a segment of non-believers, so to speak, that are very ready to argue right back. From time to time the religious and non-religious simply switch places (rarely at the same time, of course); it seems that the common element is confrontation and clinging to the extremities. Us vs. them, for and against– they view the world in dichotomies.

    • “they view the world in dichotomies”

      So true Jak.

    • As a “non-believer,” I don’t think that’s the case. At least not in my case and with most of the other atheists or agnostics I know. I never try to persuade anyone to be an atheist because I don’t care what religion anyone practices. It’s not any of my business. The only time I “get into it” with a Christian is when that Christian is trying to explain to me that I have no moral compass, that I am lost, and that I am condemned to eternal damnation if I do not embrace Jesus. That’s when I usually say something like, “You believe in hell, right?” And when the person answers affirmatively, I then say, “Good, then go there.”

    • I tire of Christians assuming that because I don’t witness (to them) I lack conviction or a belief system (not to mention a moral compass). I have studied many traditions and beliefs and find much more similarity than difference. Yet if I engage with (some)them, it’s not good enough to focus on how similar the message is between ancient texts. It has to be the messenger their messenger. So the greatest lesson is reduced to ownership of the message, and that just repels me.

    • Howdy. I consider myself a Christian, BUT, I have to preface that with saying some denominations refute that because of their doctrinal differences with my domination concerning the god of Abraham, and of Jesus. I have studied some Eastern paths and consider myself a philosophical Taoist. Right now I’m writing quite a bit about Joseph Campbell’s idea of the Monomyth, so I don’t really have a problem with similarities in texts and I was also reading about the possibility that Jesus and the Essenes were influenced by Buddhism that was present in Palestine at the time.

      I do have friends that are atheistic and agnostic to varying degrees, or rather, that describe their convictions in different ways. We have discussed that there are those that are pushy, including those that reject belief in the divine.

      I *do* get testy when others presume to dictate how my experience must be, i.e., that in the end, I’ll somehow see my belief is foolish, or that THEIR truth somehow dictates MY truth. I’m sure that you find that annoying when it’s pushed on you, so you understand why I’m annoyed when it’s pushed on me.

  7. The kingdom of God is within you.

    Stop saying “in Jesus name” – That says you’re superstitious and have no faith at all

    The purpose of the church is to become obsolete – It’s a stepping stone at best

    All you need is love – John Lennon was on to something….

    Look at the questionable people Jesus hung out with and loved

    My sister-in-law got so caught up in evangelists and evangelism she went as far as marrying Jesus at a revival meeting – rode a white horse in her wedding dress – she and my brother are now divorced. He’s remarried and his wife doesn’t size him up against Jesus. My sister-in-law is alone – in Jesus name.

    • Your last sentence is pretty intense, “my sister-in-law is alone – in Jesus name”

    • It was. She became chosen and he couldn’t measure up. God is love? Doesn’t sound like it.

      Somewhere in most people’s versions of the bible it says something about the false prophets claiming to be christ and their end result is tearing families apart.

      What do you think?

      It’s more appealing to be the arm and fist of Christ rather than be his humility and heart. Not much profit in that.

  8. Great post with interesting thoughts. Finding a way to proclaim the Gospel while not relying on argument and arrogance can be tricky. Some see offense as the most loving thing to do if it brings the other to Christ, problem is that usually it turns more away than it brings in. Be a light without catching everyone on fire.

  9. Nothing to add to such a great dialogue. Amen.
    spread the love give a smile and hand a hand to those in need.

  10. “The message was often so guilt ridden that I struggled with feeling like a terrible person if I wasn’t out trying to persuade atheists and non-Christians to put their faith in the God of the bible.” This sentence really stuck out to me because as a Christian I too used to feel guilty constantly because I didn’t evangelize like other Christians I knew. Great post, Kenneth. 🙂

  11. “If I can get an atheist to question his beliefs…” Hilarious! The lack of a belief is not itself a belief. Can I get you to question your belief that Santa Claus doesn’t exist?

  12. I am glad you are so open and honest with your mindset. I don’t think I consider myself a Christian anymore, because, like you said, I have noticed “most” of them are too busy being judgmental than being Loving and Christ-like. Christianity, in my opinion, became designed to scare folks (especially slaves) to “obey and stay in line”. That didn’t seem very Loving to me. Just like selling your daughter, beating your children, etc.
    I consider now myself a Spiritual person, and my Source is the Loving almost “hippie” like Jesus. I meditate, I believe in the energies in our body and our connection to them, and I meditate. I don’t think that makes me a Hindu or a Buddhist. There are certain practices in Islam I find beautiful and uplifting, but I am not a Muslim either. I believe in cherishing and Loving our environment, but I am not a Pagan.
    I think the problem is that ignorance divides and Love unites.
    I also think I just repeated everything you just said…lol. SO I’M gonna get some Lucky Charms and then possibly some coffee as well.
    Thanks for this post.

    • Yea, selling one’s daughter into slavery (something that occurred in biblical times) is definitely something that is hard to get one’s brain around for sure!

  13. This is another example of ‘if those other people would just listen to my message and change to my way of thinking, things would be better’.

    It happens in this case of religions, politics, parenting, … it is ubiquitous. Apparently, we don’t listen to each other enough.

  14. I love your honesty and the crucial insights you shared.

  15. I don’t have a religion, but I do believe In the power of kindness, and the importance of respect for others. I do a lot to help other people in small ways, and that’s what I believe in. Xx

  16. Thank you for another great post Kenny! You make some excellent points. As someone who also grew up in the church, I too remember feeling guilty, terribly so, for not getting out there and trying to convert everyone, or convince everyone. But I always came back to this song we used to sing, in the early days, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” When I got to my teenage years, I remember explaining my position on converting/proselytizing non-christians: my approach is to be a person of strong morals and integrity, to be gracious, loving, kind, forgiving, and welcoming to everyone, so if someone non-christian has a question for me, I’ll answer, but mostly I will live as an example, because people learn more by example, and arguing with people never changes their minds (aka you can catch more flies with sugar than vinegar). Debating doesn’t put anyone at ease nor does it endear them to the things you supposedly stand for as a Christian (love, kindness, forgiveness, etc). It just never made sense to me. My mom vehemently denied I had any valid points and tried to guilt me into thinking I was just ashamed of my faith. And though my life has gone through many ups and downs, and my faith in God is now my own (separate from “the church”), I still believe in not shoving anything I believe (religion, politics, or others) down anyone’s throat, as I wouldn’t appreciate them doing that to me. So glad you bring things like this up. 😉 Makes for some good dialogue.

  17. Reblogged this on The Pensive Poet and commented:
    From a great blogger, Kenneth. I admire him so much, as he always has great points to make, about a variety of things, all related to different aspects of life. I really enjoyed this post.

  18. I’m super surprised by the stat that boys without fathers tend to be Atheists! Maybe since he was born and lives in the Bible Belt, that will balance it all out! 🙂

  19. This post touches me deeply because this is exactly how I believe. Jesus didn’t judge…He is patient and kind and always reached out with hope and love not threats. Thank you for touching people in this way.

  20. The Christians that influenced me most were those who embodied their faith. As a matter of fact, one musician I know never mentioned his faith – he simply lived and behaved in such an amazing manner, that I asked him what was up with all this positivity. He humbly told me of his beliefs, and I tell you – that did more for me than anyone arguing with me (which is ridiculous) or trying to influence me.

    Act like a good person, and I am more likely to be influenced.

  21. Great post Kenneth! I love that you are able to just love people the way they are and not trying to change anyone. I am an atheist and also a libertarian. I totally believe in “live and let live”, I think that goes along just fine with real Christianity and most other religions too. I wish more people would just leave other people alone and let them live THEIR lives the way THEY think is best. The only rule should be that you can do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt somebody else. I think that goes along just fine with what Jesus taught as well as what our founding fathers meant for this country.

  22. The best, and I do mean, THE BEST, explanation of what it really means to be a Christian! Great post!

  23. Love this. It’s amazing what happens once a mind is opened. As far as continually changing, that happens to us all. I don’t think that’s always a bad thing though. As long as lessons are being taught to us, we are likely to make adjustments and to me, that’s how I know I’m still alive and kicking. I’m certainly in the midst of change lol just hoping it’s for the better. 🙂

    p.s. – Go USA!!! What about that goal by Brooks who wasn’t even supposed to be on the team? Dang. What to make of Portugal? Hmmm. Germany I think will be our toughest test but they’re like everyone else – beatable. We just have to do better than we did against Ghana ( in terms of possession and passing, etc.) I think the youngins got some good lessons and that’ll help. 😀 Just saying.

  24. Great post and you hit the nail on the head. I was raised in a Christian environment, but not evangelical. We were taught not to preach at someone, but to show your faith and your beliefs through your actions and your loving forgiving ways. I was taught not to hide my faith, but not shove it down someone’s throat. Live by example and engage in dialogue when questions are asked. Over the years, I am amazed at how many people have asked me about my faith because of my actions. That leads to dialogue.

  25. “Yet in the midst of all this arguing I find myself asking a simple question; where is love in all this?” Amen, brother Kenny. Testify… 🙂 Paul said if we don’t have love we’re just an annoyance, a “clanging cymbal.” (1 Cor.13:1-3). In the original Greek, it means we’re just being an “a**hole.” 🙂 Seriously, what’s sad is that people have to be taught to be annoying, argumentative and judgmental Christians. It gets drilled into our pointy evangelical heads. Because we usually come to Christ full of grace and loving everybody. That is, before “religion” sets in.

    The irony is, people aren’t actually rejecting Jesus at all; they haven’t met Him yet. They’re rejecting a religious construct invented by people who have made God in their own judgmental image. Their message is not about knowing a Person who loves them so shamelessly that He bankrupted heaven for them. It’s one primarily based in fear, hell and damnation. Can you imagine introducing one of your best friends to someone like this. “Hey, I want you to meet my friend, Bob…he really loves you…or else!” It would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetically sad and one of the main reasons why people are driven away from a God is called love.

  26. “Yet in the midst of all this arguing I find myself asking a simple question; where is the love in all this?” YES. I think this is why I enjoy your blog so much and keep coming back. I’m hoping it’s not just the herd mentality where I’m only reading people who seem to like me :). “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gal.” – Abraham Lincoln

  27. I´m an atheist, and respect the rights of others to believe in whatever they choose.

    To me there is little logic when belief doesn’t involve choice, but is imposed from birth due to an accident of geography, in most cases. That sounds more like brainwashing.

    But I gave up discussing religion with believers a long time ago, simply because, whereas I never tried to persuade them not to believe, they always tried to persuade me to believe what they believed. To my mind, they couldn’t all be right, which left only one possibility, either one was right, or none were right. That sort of choice isn’t the sort of choice I am prepared even to consider making.

    I far more admire someone like you, Kenneth, who sees his mission as helping those less fortunate than youself. If there is a God, then he will not thank the proselytisers, who arrogantly claim to act in his name, he will thank those who did his work without expecting thanks or favour for their efforts. A very good post.

    • “If there is a God, then he will not thank the proselytisers, who arrogantly claim to act in his name, he will thank those who did his work without expecting thanks or favour for their efforts.”

      Bryan – as a person who is a believer, I agree with you here. I cannot help but wonder how many people are hurt by folks screaming at them in order to fulfill their own needs of spiritual accountability.

  28. It’s ALL about Love! You’re so right. Discovering this was the beginning of my spiritual awakening. I was an Evangelical too, and now wonder at how anyone can believe the God who says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” can be the same Being who threatens to send even believers to hell if they don’t live in fear of breaking the rules!

  29. “The message was often so guilt ridden that I struggled with feeling like a terrible person if I wasn’t out trying to persuade atheists and non-Christians to put their faith in the God of the bible.”

    I see I’m not the first to like this sentence. For me, it struck true to how I feel about most people who get in others’ faces about faith. It isn’t about that other person; it’s about them and their needs. The person preaching is trying to fulfill a need within themselves, and the other person is just an outlet. What’s more frustrating about all that is how little good logic works on them. All one can do is walk away.

    True “witnessing” takes time and, Heaven forbid, dialogue. Do you really think Christ was doing nothing but talking while he was chilling with all those sinners? Probably not. I imagine he was doing a fair bit of listening, too. And this is the Christ I know and feel to be true. And it’s that one I try, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, to emulate.

  30. Ah, the words of wisdom arise again. Not being sarcastic, you have lived and learnt and can recognise what could have been done differently. Something a lot of people need to learn yet.
    All I wanted to say was that for those of us who don’t believe, having someone come and preach at us is going to push us further away, not make us question out beliefs, or think of things in other ways. Maybe this is as bad as the preachers, but many people are pretty stubborn and if you tell them they should do something, rather than ask and discuss you won’t get very far at all.
    Also, on that passage, it’s all about perception, after your explanation I can totally see how it can be taken in two ways – extreme preaching or loving.

  31. I do not have a faith other than trying to be a caring person. I do not have faith in Faith, which to me is ritualistic and man made. Kindness and humility is all.

  32. people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.

  33. One of my favorite books on religion is Great Religions By Which Men Lived. It approaches the general philosophy of each religions but also allows you to see the common thread between all religions. It allowed me to have a great understanding and acceptance of all religious viewpoints.

  34. This is fabulous, Kenneth. I have struggled with this myself–having a hard time finding the love in the modern American way we do ‘church’. I tend to get rather angry at other Christians for their arrogance, yet I suppose that simply highlights my own. As I get older, I am seeing that the church itself is in need of the love that Jesus exemplified. If we spent more time truly loving each other, the world would take note, don’t you think? How many more hearts would willingly run to Jesus if we could but put aside our pettiness and egos and simply love as He commanded?

  35. First of all, this is a great post! I really felt it.

    To be honest, I was one of those Old-fashioned Christians who really wanted to debate about faith (but didn’t have the courage to, so I didn’t). Then, I became renewed (that’s a long story). That’s when I realized that to further share our faith to nonbelievers or to those believers who are lost with all these, we should first look like LOVE, act like LOVE. Because Jesus is all about love and caring.

  36. I am neither…I’m an agnostic and I have many friends who are religious and many friends that are atheist. Sometimes I sit there and I don’t honestly know who is worse. It’s honestly really nice to read something where someone isn’t putting down the ‘beliefs’ of another =) One that makes sense.

  37. “Where is love in all this” is a question many churches cause me to ask more than I’d like to have to ask. I recently went to my first Evangelical service. I can’t really say I have a desire to go back. I didn’t feel the love. Sure, the people there seemed to love each other and to love Jesus, but their message was so black and white, cold to me, and I consider myself a Christian. The message was not one of love, but more an invitation to distrust those who held different views. Somewhere along the way, it seemed they forgot He called us to love others, no matter who they were. To criticize Catholics, which I identify as most, I think we can be a bit too guilty of holding onto rules and traditions just because we never questioned them enough or aren’t willing to contemplate their place in our society. I will never, ever forget how much it shook my faith when a priest refused to give communion to my brother, a left-handed person who had just received his first communion, and presented his hands right on left to receive the host. Where is the love? This ended up in a part of my life where I was somewhat numb spiritually. We are not called to condemn. Religion looks to understand something so huge it is not able to be fully comprehended by humans, I agree it’s ridiculous to argue another faith is 100% wrong. As a wise imam said, all that is good goes up. Great and thought provoking post!

  38. I truly enjoyed this. I have often felt pressure in the midst of my beliefs to reach outside what feels good to me as Christian which is to live my life and let that be the example of Christ and his love. When I was in need the arrogance of proselytizing really pushed me further away from God when I should have been drawing nearer to the warmth of His embrace. It’s why we alienate the people who need it the most-condemnation and judging. Well said Kenneth.

  39. Wonderful post! Oh, it so needed to be said and you said it well! Going to share this post.

  40. You are right, there is no way to “convert” anyone, that is by force, instead of showing another way, lovingly, heartistically, supportint and ancouraging the others to grow and recognizing if the time and space (and being mature, with that much foundation spiritually) are not present, humbly and lovingly let the pther person be.

    Certainly, no one should wait for others to ring their bell, because they are “so good and faithful”, and that is also true, God never needed religions in the Garden of Eden (aka the ideal state of humanity), it is only the path to get back to a recently unknown beauty of life.

    However, in the meantime, the tools became the purpose, and that leads self-repeating cycles in the middle of nowhere, far away True Love.

  41. The first step is to earn the trust of the person you are preaching to. If you preach without trust, you are doing more harm than good.

  42. Great article! Although a Christian, I’ve never been called to actively convert anyone to Christianity. I think that it may have a lot to do with your brand of Christianity. I grew up Catholic and it was not instilled in us.

    I am also intrigued about your statement that those without a
    father or father figure are more likely to be atheist. I didn’t know that. You learn something new every day.

    Blessings and thanks, Lydia

  43. Well Kenneth, I think for the first time in like, ever, I can say that you are the kind of Christian that could change my mind. Those are so hard to find . . . thanks for this wonderful post.

  44. Very well said!!! I am a Christian but I am so sad by the Christians who show NO love… Their arrogance and hate onto drive people away. They are serving no one by wounding themselves and everyone around them. Always enjoy your posts!

  45. I just wanted to say thank you for writing this! I wholeheartedly agree with you, and I, like yourself, have only changed that opinion after years of arguing and fighting with “unbelievers”. God calls us to love, he talks about it a lot, no matter what people are doing that you don’t agree with. I’ve been wanting to write a post like this but haven’t gotten the thoughts/words completely put together yet, but thank you for writing it so perfectly.

  46. What a really beautiful post. Sounds like you stepped out of religion into relationship 😉 Peace!

  47. Excellent! I am often saying the very same thing. I teach ESL to HS kids. I have all religions under one roof and they manage to get along very well. We have often discussed that it was raised Catholic because my family members were; they’re Muslim because they’ve been raised in a Muslim environment. It isn’t “right” or “wrong.” It just *is. I am often find of telling folks that I’m tolerant of everyone’s beliefs; we all think we’re right. The truth of the matter is we have no idea which version of this story is the “correct” one – and we won’t – until we are all dead and it’s too late to be nice to people you’ve offended. Best to be a good person to everyone NOW. I have a sneaky suspicion we’re all praying to the same God anyway.

  48. “At Christian bookstores the shelves are lined with massive volumes on how to witness to the world. Covering every genre of philosophical beliefs, evangelicals have systematized their approach in arguing with every possible objection to the faith; tips on how to win debates against atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, and more are all available for $19.99.

    A local Christian radio host in my community spends time every month teaching his audience how to debate evolutionists, atheists, and anyone else that might cross their path through the journey of life; arguing and debating the naysayers is a full time activity for Christians, so much so that many Evangelicals have made a living selling books, putting on seminars, and teaching at Evangelical colleges courses on how to argue their faith.

    Yet in the midst of all this arguing I find myself asking a simple question; where is love in all this?”

    People have indeed built businesses on selling books on how to convince people of their position. I noticed two things. First of all, none of the methods works or we would probably all be of the same mind on certain topics. Second, the time and money can be put to better use helping people.

  49. Where did you get this stat? “If you were born without a father, or without a father figure in your life, you are statistically more likely to be an Atheist”

  50. Terrific post! 1 Cor. 13: 13.

  51. I couldn’t agree more. Started out as a fanatical Catholic little girl who though I was supposed to “convert” Protestants. Pretty much the same realization as you when I was in college.

    I hope you are enjoying your year of coffee shops.

  52. Kenneth, a month or so ago I, well I need to go back further, about 2 years ago I stumble upon this group called: Scotland Scottish Secular. I didn’t have a clue what the group stood for but I joined. LOL’s. I know! Right! Well any way I got a noise bleed when I raised my head and professed to be Christian. So, a year later I commented on a post about a woman being stoned to death. OMG! The I hate God people swarmed all over me. They called me nasty names and such. And I began to verbally fight back! LOL’s. I read their profiles and read their characters from profile pictures. I was just as nasty as them when it came to comments concerning them. They were telling me to support my argument that the horrific crime was not a religious act called “honor killing.” There is no honor in killing. But I guess they wanted me to quote Bible verses but I would not give them Biblical verses to support my argument. I just knew what took place was wrong. It wasn’t a debate for me and my faith or my God. Because Jesus said or did he write, “He who is without sin let him cast the first stone.” But the God I serve and the God of many religion including Islam is a God of Peace. Now many would say different based upon a few right/left wing secs but I think many religions are serving the same God. So why would I have a need to sell them my faith. My faith walk is my faith walk and should anyone ask me about the God I serve I am willing to share. But these people thought I had deliberately sought them out to deliver them from their ways. I honestly stumble upon the group looking for my Scottish heritage. LOL’s. And if they’re happy being Atheist then I’m happy for them!

  53. This reminds me of an old story of ST Francis. A young monk accompanying him got frustrated because Francis kept “wasting time” talking to folks along the way, sympathizing and encouraging. Returning home from the market place the young monk finally confronted Francis.
    “But you said you were going to preach!”
    “My son,” replied Francis we have been preaching all the way.”
    I agree Christianity is not a doctrine but a way of life allowing Christ to love through you.

  54. I love this post, Kenneth. You express your thoughts so well. Having grown up a sincere practicing Catholic, I relate to the disenchantment with so-called Christian attitudes and behaviors that seem disconnected from the prime point of the Christian faith to love one another. My sincere prayers to find a path to becoming the most loving Christian I could be led me decidedly to the study and practice of Buddhism, which I love for what it brings out of me. That said, I can also relate to your acquaintenance’s zeal in his new religion. In my first few years as a Buddhist, I’m pretty sure I was obnoxious about it. 🙂

  55. beautiful post. Have a nice summer culture monk. ❤ ~y.

  56. I saw the title of this post and thought it was going to be another dismissive rant against religion in general and Christianity in particular. I was so pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t. Very thoughtful and well written. And I’m doubly pleased to see so many other readers appreciate it as well. Thank you for this!

Trackbacks

  1. wellness analogies- and 2 vids | priorhouse blog
%d bloggers like this: