Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Liars for Jesus

This morning started with me being told that I am an unreliable person and a liar because I profess no god belief. That’s, um, that’s really not the best start to the morning. It’s also damn impolite, considering that I was told this in the comments on my own blog by someone who hadn’t heard of me until last week, has never been in the same room as me and who had, in fact, been extremely disingenuous to me. It’s interesting, though, that I would be getting so worked up over being told that I am untrustworthy because I have no god belief. I, myself, am getting to the point where I don’t really trust Christians. However, that statement needs about a dozen qualifications, so I’m writing a blog post on the topic. Overall I don’t distrust “Christians.” I don’t think “Christian” tells me any more about the inherent trustworthiness of an individual than “atheist,” “left handed,” or “resident of Kansas City, MO.” I can, however, identify an internet troll, and even though I’m always a little disappointed when someone turns out to be a troll, I’m rarely completely surprised. You can’t really trust people on the internet. But you have to draw a line somewhere, offer some form of benefit of the doubt until it’s not worth it. The thing that surprises me, though, is when I find out that people I know in real life, people I’ve always assumed knew better, turn out to be little better than internet trolls. Honestly, that hurts just a little bit. Sometimes it hurts a lot. Leaving Christianity was not an easy decision. I’ve tried to cover that in various ways and come at it from various angles on this blog. A while ago I wrote a post on the moment I realized I had to be honest with everyone no matter the cost. I’d been covering up because I didn’t want to have to deal with the fallout. But one day I was talking to a guy who was, well, kind of an ass to begin with and he was going on about how some actor claimed to be a Christian but really wasn’t because of this, that, and the other. It pissed me off that this guy could have the arrogance to judge someone like that. Then I realized that I couldn’t say I was any better. There I was, still pretending to be an insider while silently judging someone. It’s never fun to see yourself in the mirror like that. It’s also really sad to find out that I’m not afforded the same consideration I try to give to others. See, it’s one thing if an internet troll shows up and says, “I just want to have a discussion,” then proceeds to not listen to a word you say and rams useless evangelical tactics down your throat. There’s a reason we call these people “trolls” and not “unicorns” or “friendly woodland nymphs.” A troll doesn’t care about me and I don’t care about the troll. However, on several occasions since I went public with my departure from Christianity I’ve heard from Christians I knew, in some cases for years and years, with the same exact troll tactics. “I’m not going to try to re-convert you,” they say. Then they do. And all of the sudden a friend has become an annoyance at best or an enemy at worst. This, of course, isn’t something that happens all the time. I’ve got this one particular ex who I would completely trust if she came to me and said, “I’m not going to try to re-convert you.” Hell, she did that not so long ago. The problem is that I couldn’t trust anything else she said to me. I guess that’s what happens when your main opinion of someone is, “She’s a manipulative control freak.” But that’s neither here nor there. During the year that most directly contributed to my decision to leave Christianity I was the Outreach Coordinator for an on-campus ministry at my university. That, I suppose, should count as a great deal of irony. I wasn’t a very good Outreach Coordinator. But not for the reasons you’d think. I’ve got nothing against evangelism. Over the course of the time I’ve maintained this blog I’ve evangelized for storytelling, Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, Local H, The Saw Doctors, Lucky Boys Confusion, HTC, Sharp Aquos TVs (or, at least, if I haven’t I should have. I love my 37” Aquos), Grand Theft Auto IV, Team Fortress 2, Maker’s Mark, baseball, Craig Ferguson, Creative Zen mp3 players, and probably dozens of other things. It’s a natural human tendency to want to share the things that make us happy with people who may or may not know about those things. Oh, speaking of: Glenlivet 18 year and Lagavulin 16 year. Great single-malt scotch right there. Yeah, it’s expensive, but the finer things usually are. Oh, and speaking of expensive alcohols, try to find Metropolitan Brewery, Two Brothers, and Lagunitas. I can’t recommend them enough. Where was I? Oh, right. Evangelism. One of those things that I realized at some point before I was an Outreach Coordinator was that no matter the number of times I was told that not evangelizing for Jesus was a sign that I was ashamed and I was running the risk of, um, making baby Jesus cry or something, I just didn’t want to do it. I don’t know that I was ashamed of the Gospel. What I realize now, and probably realized then, even if I didn’t want to admit it, was that I was never happy as a Christian. That should be the root of evangelism. If you truly believe something and if that something makes you happy, you shouldn’t have any trouble sharing it with people. There’s no place in the world I want to be more than a Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers show and, dammit, I want you to know that because I think that you should be able to share in that experience. But I always went to church because it was what I was supposed to do. I was going to go in to ministry because I thought it was what would make god happy. I gave no thought to what would make me happy, nor did I really believe that this thing I secretly hated would make anyone else happy. I remember sitting in church one day listening to some sermon I’d heard six times before in one variation or another and thinking, “Do I really have to do this for the rest of my life?” I was 23 or 24 at the time, so I was still gung-ho about going to seminary and becoming a pastor. But church bored me. Church didn’t offer me anything I hadn’t heard a thousand times before. This should have been a red flag. Especially when you consider that I’ve seen Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers seven or eight times since 2006 and I’ve honestly stopped keeping track of how many Local H shows I’ve been to. I do know that I saw them on the 21st and 23rd of May, though. Oh, and those shows were kind of bookended by RCPM shows on 5/15 and 5/28. That’s just how I roll. Either way, I would never dream of walking up to someone and saying, “I’m not going to talk to you about Roger Clyne.” It’s a stupid promise. I’ll talk about the things that make me happy. If you don’t want to hear about it I won’t bring it up. Yet I’ve been approached by Christians who tell me they won’t try to evangelize to me. The ones that say that are extremely likely to do exactly what they promised me they wouldn’t do. You know what that tells me? All those years I went to church with that particular person, all those conversations we had, all those things we did don’t actually mean a damn thing. I’m not a person. I’m just a name and a label. All they ever cared about was that we were on the same side. Being lied to sucks. I can’t think of anything that hurts worse than finding out that you’re not actually a person to someone else. I think it’s deceptively easy to figure out who is who, too. If I randomly hear from or run in to someone I haven’t heard in a while and they ask what I’ve been up to, I can generally figure they actually give a shit about me (well, except in the case of that one ex…). If I randomly hear from someone who tells me they’re not trying to get in touch with me to tell me about Jesus, I can generally assume that they’re planning on working an angle. Oh, and it seems that they think I’m really, really dumb. It sucks, though. I don’t want to think of my friends as insurance salesmen. All in all, though, I’m not often pleasantly surprised.

27 comments:

atimetorend said...

Thanks for posting this. I can totally relate to the evangelism thing. There's that, if it doesn't make you happy, how can you share it with others. For me, probably more primary was, if I don't really believe it, how can I share it with others. Evangelism brought things to a head for me, and it also makes it hard for some around me to understand my change. How could I have been involved with evangelism and now am not a Christian. Unless, they think, I was just a lying hypocrite as a Christian. Well, that's a convenient label to tag me with I guess. I have some friends who are more unicorns than trolls, but I think the need to cling to the doctrine can turn some of them into trolls, or bring out their inner troll, as they confront an apostate like me.

big a said...

Remember, too, that one of the key points drilled into fundamentalists is the need to "Tell people about Jesus."

Think about the wording on that for a second: the underlying statement is "you are smarter than the people you proselytize to."

You're not SHARING Jesus, you're not DISCUSSING Jesus, you're TELLING PEOPLE - it is this fundamentally arrogant position that dooms almost all evangelistic efforts, however well intentioned they may (or may not) be.

As you've already well-highlighted, people react with a great deal of hostility to being TOLD things they don't personally believe as absolute truths, it forces them on the defensive and what could have been a meaningful discussion becomes a battle.
Then, to exacerbate the point, the fundavangelist often whips out their Bible and uses it as a tool of condescension - since, after all, everything in the Bible is absolutely true(tm). Look, they say, I know my book better than you know my book - clearly you are stupid and should bow before my infinite knowledge.

Fuck 'em, each and every one of them.
If Heaven's full of those douchebags, you can't sign me up for Hell quickly enough.

jessa said...

I am very tempted now to tell you that I'm not going to try to convert you. Just to mess with you. Now you don't know if I'm just a patient troll or a silly non-troll. But, since you don't seem to be the type to do that whole "if we're not on the same side, you're not a real person" thing," I think that means you won't believe that I'm really a patient troll. Is "patient troll" an oxymoron?

I think part of evangelism is that people think being "saved" SHOULD make them happy so they pretend it does make them happy. Then, they think that the pretending is more authentic because faith says they should be happy but it is just those emotion things that say they aren't. These people are nuts.

I like the idea of evangelism as selling insurance. I like it a lot.

Geds said...

atimetorend:

but I think the need to cling to the doctrine can turn some of them into trolls, or bring out their inner troll

I think you hit an important point here. I tend to like Christopher Hitchens and rather enjoyed god is Not Great, but I thought he cherry-picked his data too much in defending his thesis that "religion poisons everything." There are some people in religion who would be assholes either way. There are some people who become assholes when confronted with the inherent cognitive dissonance of unsustainable dogma.

But there are some people who manage to figure out how to live in the middle. Fred Clark is one of them. I don't know how he does it, but I respect him because I know I couldn't.

That is why I share my experiences, though. I strongly suspect that I wasn't alone. I also suspect that, just as a lot of people were surprised when I switched, I would be surprised at the other people who are having doubts.

big a:

If Heaven's full of those douchebags, you can't sign me up for Hell quickly enough.

They really don't make Heaven attractive, do they? It's weird, too, because I'm pretty sure the times I tried to come up with an appealing vision of Heaven most of the people I went to church with weren't involved.

Also, I do think it's funny when I manage to run circles around my would-be evangelists with my knowledge of the Bible. It's why I've taken to referring to the Old Testament as "The Jewish Bible" on most occasions. No, the Old Testament isn't set up the same way as the Jewish Bible, but it's close enough. If you recall Ken, it certainly throws everything off...

jessa:

Now that you mention it, I do recall you telling me that you weren't going to try to evangelize to me right after you wandered across my blog. Of course, you also shared my aggravation and dissatisfaction with our shared church experience, and not in that, "Yeah, y'know, some Christians just don't get it," way that immediately tells me I'd better be on guard.

Like I say (um, maybe not in this particular post, but I say it a lot), it's all about context. And this is a key part in my general unhappiness at realizing I'm starting to distrust Christians. It's prejudice and I'm not a fan of prejudice.

PersonalFailure said...

I told an evangitroll once that atheism made me happy. His/her response was "what does that have to do with anything?"

Not a good tactic, guy.

Michael Mock said...

I guess I was lucky. I was raised Episcopalian - which is low on the You-MUST-Evangelize scale, and fairly low on guilt in general. (It also seems to be dying out, possibly as a result.)

Church never did much for me - it was just one of many social things that seemed very important to other people, and was mostly lost on me. After a while Christianity itself quit making sense to me, and when I left for college I quit going to church... and that was it. I'd always been enough of a loner that nobody from the old church tried to keep up with me; I'm not sure any of them even noticed I was gone.

Certainly nobody from my old congregation has felt compelled to come by and criticize my utter indifference to Christianity and/or religion in general.

If I'd been required to go out and sell the Good News, or recruit new warriors for God's Army, I'd have been gone a lot faster - and probably a lot more vehemently. As it is, I don't really have the antipathy towards Christianity that a lot of former Christians seem to carry; mostly, I just don't care.

PhillyChief said...

Someone who just rolls by and calls you a liar or something without knowing anything about you other than you're not a Christian isn't worth the time spent being angry, unless, of course, it makes for a good blog post or something. ;)

The scotch is worth evangelizing, or is it? Maybe it's best not to increase the demand. It's already expensive enough.

The Woeful Budgie said...

It’s a natural human tendency to want to share the things that make us happy with people who may or may not know about those things.

Sure. And that's why I think the guilt is so heavy with Christian evangelism. It's the major way of proving to everyone that Jesus really IS the super awesome magical boyfriend* that you sing about on Sunday. That Christianity really IS totally awesome and fulfilling, really really it is! It's salesmanship, and Jesus is a product. (Not that that's any new observation.)

Anyway, looking at your evangelism list, I can say you've made a convert of me a few times over. (Well. Except for Maker's Mark. I was already a believer.)

*Um, has anyone else ever thought of how creepy it is how Christians parallel their relationship to God to a romantic relationship, only to go out and try and convince people to hook up with Him too?

On a related note, do YOU have a personal relationship with Jesus? ^_^

Anonymous said...

You don't evangelize about baseball nearly enough. You never even made predictions this year. Douchebag.

jessa said...

I guess it's a catch-22 with coming up to someone and saying "I'm not here to evangelize." That is exactly what someone who IS going to evangelize would say, so it isn't very reassuring. But otherwise, how could I reassure you that I, as someone who used to go to church with you, was not going to evangelize to you? I guess the answer is that there isn't anything I could say in a short little sentence to convince you. Unless all of the Evangelical refugees come up with some kind of code like the fish in the sand thing supposedly was for Christians at some time. (I make no claim as to whether this is true or false, only that I am skeptical because there are a lot of convenient little stories like this in Christianity that aren't actually true.)

BTW: I am not the only refugee of our former church at the Quaker meeting I attend. And I have also met someone there, a daughter of a Quaker, who does still attend our former church even though she was very hurt by a certain former high school pastor.

Incidentally, I have considered writing to some of those people, things like that, looking back, I feel like they sort of took advantage of my emotional mess to claim a soul for Jesus. I dunno. Sometimes it seems like a good idea to say, "hey, I understand what you are trying to do, but sometimes you are really misguided about it," like I do with mental health care. Sometimes it seems like maybe they would respond in kind, sometimes it seems useless, like they will question my sincerity, get defensive, try to evangelize me all over. I dunno. What do you think? Have you tried to have any conversations like this directly, rather than being cornered into it by them or having them come here and troll?

Anonymous said...

Jessa- You can't have those conversations person to person, unless you're starting on equal footing. And until you've accepted Jesus into your heart (or re-accepted, as the case my be) there's no equal footing. Thus, they can't even pretend to talk to you as another human being. Like the post said.

Geds said...

Holy crap, people. Love the responses...

Michael Mock:

I totally get not caring anymore. I was expecting to be angry. Sad never really occurred to me as a possibility. But it really is sad to realize that I'm suddenly not a real person to people I used to consider close friends...

PhillyChief:

Stick around. Using things I don't really care about as intros to things I do is one of my favorite tactics...

Also, damn, you're right. I've only got about a quarter of my bottle of Glenlivet left. Or do I have to call it The Glenlivet? I haven't figured that out yet...

Budgie:

The guilt was strong. Every month or so there was a new, "Why are you so ashamed of the Gospel?" guilt trip in church. The funny thing is, I KNEW I was being manipulated at the time, but I put up with it.

When I was Outreach Coordinator my message was always, "Care about people, then worry about evangelizing." Oddly enough, I rarely worried about evangelizing...

Anonymous I:

Sorry. At this point in the season the only prediction I have is, "The White Sox won't make the playoffs." I just haven't had time to keep up with things.

jessa:

Dammit. Now you've got me all curious as to who that person is and how they were hurt. Chances are I'll forget about it by morning, though, so it's all good...

Also, I haven't really tried talking about it with people. I've found that the Christians I know generally break down in to two groups: people that think it matters and people who don't. With the people who don't think it matters it just doesn't come up much. I haven't completely withdrawn from Christians, just the ones who can't treat me as a human.

Anon II:

Exactly.

Michael Mock said...

Geds: "But it really is sad to realize that I'm suddenly not a real person to people I used to consider close friends..."

Yeah, that sucks. That sucks a lot. Again, I was lucky - I had a few close friends, but none of them were through the church. So my lack of zeal (and, later, lack of churchiness) made no difference to them at all; it was never part of the relationship in the first place.

And, again, Episcopalians aren't (in my experience) as much into that you're-not-a-real-person-if-you-aren't-my-kind-of-Christian mindset. That's not to say that they aren't status-conscious, just that it tends more to a secular/social kind of status. The mental association between being Christian and being a Good Person seems to be more of an Evangelical thing.

Like I said: I got lucky.

Jessa: "But otherwise, how could I reassure you that I, as someone who used to go to church with you, was not going to evangelize to you?"

Ooh! Ooh! I know this one! The answer is... don't evangelize.

That's not actually as snarky as it probably sounds. You reassure people that you're not going to evangelize (or troll, or whatever behavior you want to apply this to) most strongly by simply not engaging in that behavior.

Michael Mock

Geds said...

Michael:

You need just a bit of context.

jessa stumbled across my blog at the same time I was dealing with a total asshole of an evangelist named James who would not leave me alone. The last time we'd spoken to each other we were still attending the same church and going to weekly Bible studies together and whatnot. So when she contacted me it was more of a, "Hey, remember me? Don't worry, I'm not going to try to evangelize. I have a similar opinion to yours about that particular variety of Christianity even if I haven't gone quite as far from it as you have."

So I took the, "I'm not going to evangelize," part in context, especially because I'd never seen jessa as a really gung-ho, in your face evangelistic sort, anyway. In some cases, especially in situations where you know the person is on guard and you're just sending an email out of the blue, you kind of have to make those disclaimers. But, "Remember me? I'm here to commiserate," is different from, "Remember me? I really think you misunderstood and should give the whole church thing another try."

And, in fact, I'm starting to take a more nuanced view of the way people approach me. I'm not necessarily going to auto-reject the, "I'm not trying to evangelize," disclaimers. However, the, "I'm not going to evangelize," plus, "Some Christians just don't get it," (with the subtext of, "I'm not one of those") and, "Even though I'm not here to evangelize I really think it would be swell if you gave church another shot. No pressure, though," will not make me happy.

I suppose it helps that I'm still fluent in Christianese and know passive-aggressive behavior when I see it.

Also, I still maintain a healthy respect for most Episcopalians. They've definitely always seemed like one of those branches of the church where good people gather who just so happen to profess a particular set of beliefs instead of a group of people who think they're good because they happen to believe something.

jessa said...

Geds: I doubt you know this person who was hurt. She didn't seem to have gone to that church for very long and, being a middle-aged woman, probably wasn't in your social circles at church.

Michael Mock: I know that not-evangelizing is the strongest way to assure someone I'm not evangelizing, but I meant before that. If Geds is on edge and wary of old church people evangelizing him, how do I enter a conversation with a reassurance that I'm not going to be evangelizing later and that I'm not initiating the conversation purely for the sake of evangelizing? With Geds, it isn't so much of a problem, since he seems pretty laid back and like he's not going to write someone off for evangelizing him until they actually start evangelizing. But I can see how some people in Geds' situation would be so bitter and put off or hurt or whatever, that they would need that reassurance of no evangelization up front, but there isn't really any way to give it.

As far as going back and writing to those Evangelicals, I get what you're saying (anon, Geds, etc.). I guess I keep hoping that it is a bitter stereotype that none of those people will be able to treat me like a human being. Like how I push myself to remember that not all mental health care professionals are jerks and that they mostly do genuinely want to help their patients, I try to be similarly benevolent toward Evangelicals. I haven't really gone back and talked to them though, so I have no confirmation either way on this. Sigh, I'm still undecided.

atimetorend said...

"...until you've accepted Jesus into your heart (or re-accepted, as the case my be) there's no equal footing. Thus, they can't even pretend to talk to you as another human being."

I agree with this statement. Then, "I am not going to evangelize," means at best for that person, "I will listen, but not talk about what I think." Which isn't exactly a model for quality interaction either.

I really think Christian doctrine makes it hard for many to have real conversations with people who have left the faith. Or to the extent that they can, they are working against the pressures of the doctrine. If Jesus is the most (only?) important thing to them and all else is filthy rags, what choice do they have but to either evangelize or have conversations about superficialities? I don't think most Christians necessarily practice the doctrine to this extreme, but it is a constant factor at work.

Michael Mock said...

Geds, Jessa - my apologies. I see there was quite a bit of background and context that I was simply missing. My (general) answer was out of place for your specific circumstances.

Geds: "Also, I still maintain a healthy respect for most Episcopalians..."

Just to be clear, I don't particularly mean to hold the Episcopal branch of the church up as some sort of shining example; they're as human as everyone else. It's just that their emphasis on evangelism follows the "set a good example and share the Good News if anyone asks" model, rather than the "get out there and sell" model. I'm willing to give them some credit for that.

jessa said...

Michael Mock:

I'm not offended or anything. What you said was certainly true, it just didn't get to the heart of the catch-22 I was trying to expose.

Sniffnoy said...

There’s a reason we call these people “trolls” and not “unicorns” or “friendly woodland nymphs.”

Actually the term comes from trolling for responses... though I guess that makes it even more so? :P Now I'm trying to imagine a world where trolls were instead known as "fishers". Somehow I don't think that would have caught on nearly as well.

I told an evangitroll once that atheism made me happy. His/her response was "what does that have to do with anything?"

Not a good tactic, guy.


I don't get it; what does that have to do with anything? Unless his claim was something along the lines of "Christianity will make you happier", it seems totally irrelevant. Though I guess they often do claim that, don't they?

Da Bomb said...

"This morning started with me being told that I am an unreliable person and a liar because I profess no god belief."

"That’s, um, that’s really not the best start to the morning. It’s also damn impolite, considering that I was told this in the comments on my own blog by someone who hadn’t heard of me until last week, has never been in the same room as me and who had, in fact, been extremely disingenuous to me."

Sorry about that Geds. I suppose I was eacting to you calling me willfuly ignorant.
I didn't actually call you a liar? If I re-call correctly. It is a fact is it not that we generally accept views from people we agree with more readily? I said from memory that I didn't trust atheists in general. Especially because nothing tells them not to lie? For christians it is a sin...you know what I mean.

I dis-agree with you on the Hebrew God being different to the Chrsitian God, this gave rise in my questions about you integrity (although many say this). I believe they are the same. Just as you say I am in-accurate about geology likewise I say you are inaccurate about the God of the Bible.

I just wanted to clarify things. I won't be indirect...I hope and pray that you may know God again oneday. I have had the opposite experience. God has given me a purpose and a reason to live. He makes me happy!
(I'm not lying) :)

cheers!

DB

Michael Mock said...

Da Bomb: "I said from memory that I didn't trust atheists in general. Especially because nothing tells them not to lie? For christians it is a sin...you know what I mean."

...And for Atheists, Agnostics, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhist, neo-Pagans, and all the rest of the heathens - basically the entire rest of the world - it's still immoral. "Nothing tells them not to lie?" How about common decency? Or the Golden Rule? Or a conscience?

'Be honest' is about as close to a universal moral absolute as you can get.

If you truly think that Atheists are less trustworthy than Christians - or, conversely, if you really think that Christians are less likely to lie than anyone else - then all I can say this: you need to get out more.

PhillyChief said...

Question: Which do you think is worse, not having an authority which commands you not to lie, or having one which you'd do anything for, including lying?

Hmmm....

Geds said...

Also, I'd really like to know how, "Yeah, well, all atheists are liars," is an appropriate response to, "All of the evidence shows that you choose to remain ignorant of scientific fact..."

jessa said...

I remember a sermon, maybe Geds remembers the same one, which purported to explain why Christians are not universally better more moral people when you might expect that they would be. The answer was that all people become more moral people when they become Christians than they would have been otherwise, but not everyone starts out in the same place. So, crassly, God adds 10 units of honest to everyone, but if I start out with 100 units and you start out with 5 units, I will still be more honest sans God than you will be with God, but that doesn't negate that God makes a difference in one's honesty level.

Does that make sense? Yes. Do I think it is full of crap? Yes.

DB:

True, we accept the views of those we agree with more readily than we accept the views of others. However, I would argue you are barking up the wrong tree by bringing that into a discussion here because Geds has already shown a willingness to seriously consider views he doesn't agree with, i.e. atheism. That coupled with the fact that he didn't write me, someone with whom he used to attend church, off as someone who was immediately going to try to evangelize him should indicate to you what kind of person he is. He doesn't write people off as conforming to that icky Evangelical Christian stereotype until they demonstrate that they fit it.

I really don't understand the stereotype that atheists are less honest, and less moral generally, because nothing tells them not to lie. I never understood this, even when I was an Evangelical Christian. (Also, does this apply to all non-Christians, or just atheists specifically?) Do atheists only lie to you? Do they give you incorrect change, wrong directions, say grass is purple, etc? The world would be much more chaotic and unpredictable if this was true. At the very least, this concept of atheists as liars needs some serious qualification.

And on a more introspective level, is God the ONLY reason you don't lie? I doubt it is, but I also know that not everyone has enough insight to recognize that in spite of the dogma that says otherwise (and I don't necessarily mean you in particular, just people generally). What about other influences? Law, social acceptability, the fact that it is easier to tell the truth, situations where there is just no reason to lie, etc.

How does one's perception that the Hebrew God and the Christian God are different give rise to questioning one's integrity? That seems pretty incongruous.

atimetorend said...

"all people become more moral people when they become Christians than they would have been otherwise, but not everyone starts out in the same place."

Jessa, I heard/read the same argument from Tim Keller, maybe in his book "Reason for God." He uses this verse:
"It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17)

So the church is made up of sinners, likely worse sinners than the unbelieving populace, and then they are improved by degree, but that still leaves them as worse people than the unbelievers.

"Does that make sense? Yes. Do I think it is full of crap? Yes."

Exactly! And you can't have it both ways, Christians known by their better behavior and Christians being those with worse behavior. I heard a sermon that said, "Why do you think there are so many good people who are not believers? Because they don't see their need for God and things go well in their life." Ugh...

Geds said...

Sniffnoy:

Okay, I've been thinking about the really meaning of "troll" for a couple days now. It finally occurred to me why the idea is so fitting.

As I recall, Jesus was walking along the shore one day and found two fishermen cleaning their nets. He called to them and said, "Come, and I will make you fishers of men." So, uh, does that mean that Jesus called his followers to be trolls?

Also, a lot of the evangelical sales pitch is, "You'll be so much happier with Jesus." So, yeah, it's an appropriate response...

jessa:

Sorry, don't remember the sermon. But I do remember having that thought advanced a time or two, so it wouldn't surprise me that there was such a sermon.

Also, isn't it weird that there would be this tacit admission that some people just don't need Jesus? I mean, I'm sure this was then followed by the camel/eye of the needle analogy in, like, 100% of instances where this comes up, but that seems like a really bad bit of apologetics...

Also, I think I'm just going to copy/paste your response to Da Bomb the next time I'm accused of being narrow minded if you don't mind.

jessa said...

Geds: Feel free to use my response to DB in any way that it becomes non-quote-mining-ly useful.