I’ve seen two common tendencies in these types of thread: Phantom anger, and imagined proselytization.
The first, phantom anger, is common in the political threads as well, but is on vivid display here.
”I am probably going to ruffle some tail feathers here, but what is new?”
“I will shut up now before you all hate me.”
“I'm pulling for you to get the ‘most-hated-member’ award.”
“Now I get to start pissing off people I haven't met.”
“I have fear to write less the righteous should vilify me some more and heap more scorn upon me . . . there is an ugly undertone here that I find disturbing – a sort of let's get these bastards that don't agree with us.”
Curiosity compels me to ask, where is the hate? Who is pissed off? Who is heaping scorn? I am afraid it is all in your imagination, as usual.
This thread has been a remarkable read. It began with an invitation to the board to share our thoughts about God, religion, and the nature of “faith based thinking.” Quicker than you can say, “Fish on!” it became a study in Christian apologetics – aggressive attempts to discredit and invalidate the Bible and any “fool” who believes in it, countered by Christians defending their faith, and employing astonishing emotional restraint in the process. And this somehow led to the inexplicable conclusion that the hateful Christians are at it again. Or, at the very least, that we are all angry at each other. Huh?
The second tendency, imagined proselytization, is equally bewildering.
Leave me alone. I don't need your morality. I have my own. I just need you to stay out of my business.
Q: How do you tell the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian on wff.com?
A: The non-Christians are the ones talking about religion all the time.
I am reminded of the episode of Seinfeld where Elaine learns her boyfriend is a Christian (remember Puddy?). At first, she’s hostile to the idea (even stole his Jesus fish!). But by the end of the episode, she’s mad that he has never tried to convert her. The dialogue is priceless:
Elaine: Oh. So, you're pretty religious? Puddy: That's right. Elaine: So is it a problem that I'm not really religious? Puddy: Not for me. Elaine: Why not? Puddy: I'm not the one going to hell. Later Elaine: David, I'm going to hell! The worst place in the world! With devils and those caves and the ragged clothing! And the heat! My god, the heat! I mean, what do you think about all that? Puddy: Gonna be rough. Elaine: You should be trying to save me! Puddy: Don't boss me! This is why you're going to hell.
Indeed, the evangelical proclivities of nine out of ten Christians I know resemble those of David Puddy far more than that of the fictive evangelist some of you have conjured up in your mind. The overwhelming majority of Christians believe you are in grave danger, believe they know the way for you to avoid that danger, yet are choosing not to warn you. You may be grateful for the silence, not having to listen to fanciful “fairy tales.” But that doesn’t change the fact that your friend believes you’re in deep trouble and by all outward appearances doesn’t give a damn. Like Elaine, I should think that might bother some of you at least as much as the occasional guy who demonstrates actual concern for your soul.
My point, is that I see so many instances where a non-believer claims they are tired of Christians trying to “cram their beliefs down my throat” when in reality the Christian usually hasn’t said a word. My personal view: it is not the evangelism that sticks in your craw; it is the fact that we hold the belief at all. The ultra-sensitivity of some non-believers (one or two on this site, in particular), seemingly rubbed raw by phantom proselytizing, really has me scratching my head and wondering if the reason for the sensitivity is not spiritual in nature. Just a thought.
I've been watching this thread since it started, and I have to admit it is one of the most interesting discussions I've seen in a long time. Just to get this out of the way you can call me a Christian. I've been called worse, so I really don't mind.
I like some of the analogies being tossed around here. And I have to admit this is the first time I've heard the "are you going to heaven or hell" compared to fishing with flies or bait.
I would like to bring up something that the pastor at the church I attend likes to talk about. Quite a few (I don't like this term but I don't have the time to make a complete list) religions and myths begin with "while I was out by myself I had a vision," or "long ago and far away." This is where following Jesus differs. There are plenty of records showing that a man by the name of Jesus, for the town of Nazareth, did a lot of neat stuff, and pissed off just about every reigning official around him. So much so, that the Jewish authority turned him over to the Roman government to be beaten and put to death. I have yet to hear from a respectable historian that this didn't happen.
So I have to ask the question, why didn't anyone cry foul when the body disappeared? When the people that hung out with Jesus started proclaiming what happened (the resurrection) why didn't anyone stand up and say "no, they body is over there."
My goal here is to raise a question. These people began spreading the teaching of Jesus when the people that opposed Him were still alive. Thousands of people witnessed what happened, and days later they were unable to stop Jesus' friends from spreading a story that He had risen from the dead. Why?
There are two historical points of interest on my favorite steelhead river. Both are within a few miles of each other. There are road side pull outs explaining the folktale:
Coyote's Fishnet and Ant and Yellowjacket. According to the text given, the Nez Perce stories basically say Coyote Spirit cast a fishnet on the south hillside and a black bear on the north. More or less due to mis-behaving. He then turned them both to stone. Same story for Ant and Yellowjacket. They were turned into a stone arch because they would not stop fighting.
The Fish Net is very visable. The Bear is not so easy to find from the road side pull out. However if you are on the other side of the river it is plain as day. Ant and Yellowjacket's stone arch is also very visible and easy to make out.
If one takes the text for face value this legend must be true. But common sense tells us it is nothing more than a fairy tale. All powerful Coyote Spirit does not exist. And he certainly didn't turn these characters to stone.
My question to you, why is the resurrection of Christ anymore believable than a misbehaving bear being turned to stone?
I am not saying Christ did not get resurrected. Since I wasn't there 5,000+ years ago to witness the bear being tossed on the hillside by a Coyote or 2000 years ago with Christ I have to go by the stories and written word. Words that we have to take in good faith for their accuracy.
North American man has waged an all out war against this medium sized wild dog. Millions upon millions upon MILLIONS have been trapped, shot, poisoned, you name it. Yet the species reproduces faster and faster as the pressure is applied. There are more yotes now than before white man took control of this nation. Is this what is meant by 'all powerful'?
Unfortunately I fall into the category of a science based foundation of beliefs. I was brought up in a non Christian, non religous, household. Yet I attended Catholic School, taught by Nuns, and services from age 5-9. 30 years later I VIVIDLY remember many of the lessons. The gist of what I remember basically comes down to being a good person and you are forever saved. Be a bad person, and well, that's not good. In fact little school children that is REAL bad. Only REALLY bad people end up there. I remember feeling really bad for just being human. Never good enough.
I also firmly believe in Karma. You the individual set your positive energy through your attitude. Simple cause and effect. What goes around comes around. Learn from your mistakes.
I do not believe in an afterlife. I am completely comfortable with my mortality. What we end up with is all we are going to get. Live life to it's fullest. Have no regrets.
I fully respect the right for people to exercise free agency. I also ask that my soul be spared from the worry of Christians. It's not your problem. IF, and this is the BIGGEST IF in the history of mankind, my beliefs are wrong then so be it. As with everything else in my life I will own up to my mistakes and deal with the consequences of my choices.
I like the Seinfield analogy, one thought though- How religious is Puddy? Him and Elaine were sleeping together with no real commitment. I didn't know there were christian religions that thought causal sex was OK.
Also, it amazes me that the christians think they are just trying to defend their ways and that they are not being evey bit as preachy and on the offense as the non-christians. I am fully willing to admit that the non-christians are pretty brash in the fact that they do not believe in God. But to deny that the christians are, and that the non-christians are just being sensitive goes to prove what the non-christians are saying.
Indeed, the evangelical proclivities of nine out of ten Christians I know resemble those of David Puddy far more than that of the fictive evangelist some of you have conjured up in your mind. The overwhelming majority of Christians believe you are in grave danger, believe they know the way for you to avoid that danger, yet are choosing not to warn you. You may be grateful for the silence, not having to listen to fanciful “fairy tales.” But that doesn’t change the fact that your friend believes you’re in deep trouble and by all outward appearances doesn’t give a damn.
The "overwhelming majority of christians" don't know who I am, so why should they give a damn? I won't hold it against them. If they come into my life, then I might care for them as one person to another. But the world is an awfully big place to be making such a broad and sweeping statment. But I may be misunderstanding you.
My personal view: it is not the evangelism that sticks in your craw; it is the fact that we hold the belief at all. The ultra-sensitivity of some non-believers (one or two on this site, in particular), seemingly rubbed raw by phantom proselytizing, really has me scratching my head and wondering if the reason for the sensitivity is not spiritual in nature.[/QUOT
Are you playing dumb BR or do you really not understand? Just because you are intrigued or even touched by God does not mean that everyone else has. Some people have a different threshhold for seeing the light. Some people have even been abused by the church you so ably defend. Yet you apparently judge them without knowing their story. Yes, their sensitivity might be spiritual in nature, but it also might be understandable.
Your arguments would be much greater if you perhaps acknowledged, like some others have, that christian history and actions are what they are. Instead you arrogantly slap them aside with claims of phantom proselytizing.
I can't convince you to believe in the resurrection, just like you will never be able to convince me that a coyote spirit turned a bear into stone. No matter how strong my faith is, it is still just faith. One of the dictionary definations of faith is "belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence." My background, as a follower of Christ, is a short one. I came to believe in Him during college. At that time I was double majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. Both subjects are completely based on logic, so yes I looked for every logical reason as to why I should believe in Christ. It took me a couple of months to come up to the conclusion that there are none. I still have problems trying to logicaly explain why I belive what I believe.
One of my lessons early in school, was righting out the definations of words. The biggest rule at that time was you cannot use the word, or any form of that word, to define itself. My previous arguement was only trying to show what happened around the time a man named Jesus was crucified from a different perspective.
If you look at this from the Roman point of view, they would have executed anyone they thought would have stolen the body. After all their interest in Jerusalem was to keep the peace. This new group of people were trying to overthrow the established religious authority of the region. It wasn't until many years later that Christians were thrown to the lions.
From the Jewish point of view, the religious leaders stood to lose everything if Jesus really did come back from the dead. So they did try to wipe out these Christians. One of the authorities leading this attack was Saul. He had these people killed for what they believed. You can call the next part whatever you want, but during all of this he changed sides. He changed his name to Paul, and became one of the biggest advocates for following Christ.
Like I said at the start of this post, I can't convince anyone that Jesus is the God. But because of my beliefs I do have to tell you about him. In dealing with people around me, all Jesus asks is that I spread the message of his love. I have enough sins of my own to deal with, to bother with anyone else's. Sometimes I do need to step back from a situation and remind myself of one thing Jesus said, "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. " This is from the first part of Chapter 7 in the book of Matthew. Jesus is criticizing people who claim to be following God.
I understand. My mother-in-law wishes I would quit using my cell phone. She thinks it will give me a brain tumor. I think she’s nuts – the cell phone cancer fairy tail was debunked long ago. But she’s a believer, and she won’t stop trying to convert me. She’s driving me crazy. If I thought she was getting some personal benefit from pestering me, I’d tell her to piss off. But I don’t, because she doesn’t. She loves me, and she’s worried that my phone will kill me. She’s wrong about that, of course, and I politely tell her so. She’s not “judging me”, and she certainly doesn’t “hate me.” As much as her concern for my well being irritates me, I do appreciate the underlying motivation, and I respond accordingly.
The "overwhelming majority of christians" don't know who I am, so why should they give a damn? I won't hold it against them. . . . Are you playing dumb BR or do you really not understand? Some people have even been abused by the church you so ably defend. Yet you apparently judge them without knowing their story.
I’m not playing anything. I really, really, do not understand. Perhaps I am dumb, or perhaps it hasn’t been properly explained. Maybe you can help me.
I was writing specifically about the attitudes and mindsets in this on-line community. One statement in particular, from earlier in this thread, is so confusing to me that my head spun when I read it: “I have fear to write less the righteous should vilify me some more and heap more scorn upon me . . . there is an ugly undertone here that I find disturbing – a sort of let's get these bastards that don't agree with us.” I searched each post for any comment that could possibly justify such a statement. Except for a single comment which was obviously in jest (obvious because it was followed by the words “Just Kidding”), I came up empty handed. Now, perhaps you are correct about my “judgment” – perhaps this person’s attitude is a result of some deep seeded abuse he received at the hands of the clergy years ago. So am I supposed to let patently ridiculous statements pass by unchecked because it’s possible that the speaker has a very good, but undisclosed, reason to be pissed off? You know that’s not my style.
But even looking beyond this message board to the wider world, I submit that non-believers have dramatically overstated the inclination of Christians to proselytize, and greatly exaggerated the impact on themselves. Who exactly is it that is pestering you so relentlessly? Pat Robertson? Turn the channel. Is it your neighbors? John Ashcroft? Fox News? I know, it’s pwoens. God bless him, I wish I was more like him. Or is it the missionaries who feed and clothe the homeless, and have the unmitigated gall to tell the beneficiaries who it is that sent them?
I’ll let you in on a little inside Christian info. We don’t get anything for sharing Christ with people. No bonus points. No extra jewels in our crown. Not a bigger mansion in heaven. Not a better seat in church. No seventy virgins. There are only two reasons a believer shares the gospel with anybody: (1) Jesus commanded it; and (2) they are terrified at what the consequences to you will be if they don’t.
Unless you are a recluse, I guarantee you there are people all around you who are Christians and who have never said word one to you about Christ. The cashier at the grocery store; the parent that sits next to you at the ball game; your niece that sends you Christmas cards each year; the lady who cuts your hair . . . You probably don’t even know they are Christians, so great has been their silence. And yet each of them, at one time or another, has lost sleep over the thought that on judgment day, they may hear you ask, “Why? Why didn’t you tell me, before it was too late? Yes, I know I said I didn’t want to hear. That’s because I didn’t understand. Why didn’t you insist? You knew! If only I had known.”
Thankfully, there are a few Christians who really live what they believe. They obey what Jesus commanded them, and they act on their concern for your soul, even though they know you don’t want them to – so great is their faith and their concern. But they are few. Most, and I am one them, leave you alone. You could spend an entire day on the river with them, and you’d never know the first thing about what they believe concerning their eternity or yours. Shame on them. And shame on me.
Christian's "give a damn" because they are taught too by their faith and they sincerely want the best for everyone. Although some may approach you in a clumsy manner, they are not judging you, condemning you or attempting to insult you. They do so because they care about you even if they don't know you, just as I'm sure you care about the tsunami victims even though you don't know them.
What I don't understand is why some people find it so offensive. Christians just want to tell you about something that has brought great joy to their lives. If your not interested, just say no thanks! They won't "hold it against you".
Would you be equally offended if someone walked up to you on your favorite stream and told you about this great new fly that was catching lots of fish for them and offered you one? Somehow I doubt it.