Day 7 Christmas Special

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 10:47 AM

Matthew C Jones:

I will just never understand the "logic" of the atheists. If I did't believe in God I sure would not waste my time evangelizing against Him. It's like boxing the air.

I think it's because they are in the minority and feel oppressed by the cultural support of belief in God. I don't believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and Pastafarianism is a fringe religion which doesn't get in my face at all, so I don't bother evangelizing against it. But if 80% of the people around me believed in him and were trying to get me to support prayers to him in school and such, I might get a bit more ruffled about it. Just trying to empathize.

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 11:05 AM

Matthew C Jones:
If I did't believe in God I sure would not waste my time evangelizing against Him.

Just imagine the reality of atheist evangelism: 

Atheist: Good news!  Everything is completely meaningless including your life!  Yippee, isn't that great?!

Um.  No.

 

Hmm Sarcasm is my love language. Obviously I love you. 

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 11:30 AM

Thomas Black:

Just imagine the reality of atheist evangelism: 

Atheist: Good news!  Everything is completely meaningless including your life!  Yippee, isn't that great?!

Um.  No.

I don't think making fun of them or caricaturing them is very winsome (not that any of them are likely to be reading this forum; but we do need to be careful to practice the attitude we should have when conversing with them even when they are not watching). I think most atheists are truly honest in their quest for making sense of the universe and life as they see it. They find meaning in other ways (through the enjoyment of friends and family and sports and self-improvement, or volunteeering for projects to try make the world a better place). We might find all of that empty and pointless without God, but they don't. As for the ones who really think everything is meaningless, they do struggle with angst about that. They're not excited about meaninglessness, just sober and intellectually honest. Or if they are intellectually dishonest (in denial about reality), it's a moral struggle for them. Either they don't want to believe in God because of the implications of it for their own lives -- they think they'd have to give up something they love. Or else (and this is what should concern is), it's because they've known Christians who have been obnoxious or bad role models to them of what it means to follow Christ. Now I'm not an atheist myself, but I can understand how one might find it the most sensible approach to the puzzling things about the world and the surest defense against insanity. So I don't think it's fair to caricature the atheist as you have.

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Alex Scott | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 11:33 AM

... and I don't understand why some get so upset about these kinds of adds.  Why don't we just ask for equal time and post our own adds, like "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'" and post them along side.

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Shawn Drewett | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 11:40 AM

The FOOL has said in his heart, there is no God. I think scripture is "making fun" here.

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 12:19 PM

Shawn Drewett:

The FOOL has said in his heart, there is no God. I think scripture is "making fun" here.

Do you think it's any wonder that atheists don't want to become Christians when they see us as being snarky, smug, and self-righteous? Jesus looks at them and weeps over them, loves them, sees them as being redeemable and longs for them to come to him. Why do we have to go around finding Bible verses to bash them with? Sure, there are plenty that could be used that way. But it's bad for our own souls let alone those of prospective disciples we might win to Christ if we go around gloating over those who don't know God (yet). Even if we believe that some are predestined to eternal damnation, we don't have the privilege of knowing who those are in advance. We must approach all atheists as if they were possibly destined for the kingdom, and help them enter in rather than keeping them away. Yes, I know, if you believe the ones predestined to find Christ will find him anyway regardless of how we behave towards them, then I suppose it doesn't matter; but we might as well not make their way more difficult than it needs to be.  Remember: there but for the grace of God go we.  We must act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8.) Let us not take away the key to knowledge or hinder others from entering the kingdom. (Luke 11:52)

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 12:24 PM

Rosie Perera:
I don't think making fun of them or caricaturing them is very winsome (not that any of them are likely to be reading this forum; but we do need to be careful to practice the attitude we should have when conversing with them even when they are not watching).
Point taken Rosie.

 

Hmm Sarcasm is my love language. Obviously I love you. 

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Shawn Drewett | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 2:04 PM

Sorry I over reacted Rosie. I think this verse sums it up for both of us.

 Eph. 4:14

but 1speaking the truth ain love, 2we are to bgrow up in all aspects into Him who is the chead, even Christ,

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Friedrich | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 2:32 PM

Shawn Drewett:

Sorry I over reacted Rosie. I think this verse sums it up for both of us.

 Eph. 4:14

but 1speaking the truth ain love, 2we are to bgrow up in all aspects into Him who is the chead, even Christ,

 

Another that has come across my eyes is this:

24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

Kind of sobering.  And I do agree with Rosie's overall approach to this.  There is a lot in our culture as well as our Christian subculture that eggs us on to be a bit dismissive and reactionary, I just don't see Jesus acting that way . . . unless it is with the Religious Leaders . . .

Much I have yet to learn---errr, put into practice.

 

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 2:35 PM

Rosie Perera:
I don't think making fun of them or caricaturing them is very winsome

I don't make fun of them that is not my place. It is rather sobering to see God laughing at them.

   "He who sits in the heavens laughs;

the Lord holds them in derision.  -  Psalm 2:4

 

 

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 2:50 PM

Shawn Drewett:

Sorry I over reacted Rosie. I think this verse sums it up for both of us.

 Eph. 4:14

but 1speaking the truth ain love, 2we are to bgrow up in all aspects into Him who is the chead, even Christ,  

No worries. I can get pretty passionate about this subject at times, perhaps overly so.

Dan DeVilder:

There is a lot in our culture as well as our Christian subculture that eggs us on to be a bit dismissive and reactionary, I just don't see Jesus acting that way . . . unless it is with the Religious Leaders . . .

Well said.

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John Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 3:14 PM

Rosie Perera:

“…I can understand how one might find it the most sensible approach to the puzzling things about the world and the surest defense against insanity.”

I can’t.  Atheism is intellectually bankrupt and any meaning they get out of their poor worldview is simply by the grace of God who “[does] good by giving [us] rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying [our] hearts with food and gladness” and “richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (Acts 14:17; 1 Tim. 6:17).

Rosie Perera:

So I don't think it's fair to caricature the atheist as you have.

I would maintain that the only reason it is a caricature is because atheists are inconsistent. So, in a sense, it’s not really a caricature at all.

Rosie Perera:

Do you think it's any wonder that atheists don't want to become Christians when they see us as being snarky, smug, and self-righteous?

Actually, Scripture tells us why atheists don’t want to become Christians: because they hate the light of Christ which exposes their works (John 3:16-21). Look, I’m not saying that we should be self-righteous etc. and I agree that those things are a real turn off. But to quote the Bible where it calls them fools is not being self-righteous, smug, or snarky. The fact is, they are.

Rosie Perera:

 Why do we have to go around finding Bible verses to bash them with?

LOL, seriously? That’s like saying that if I tell someone they are a sinner deserving hell (believe I’ve talked to a lot of atheists and Buddhists, etc. and they find the very idea to be an insult) that I’m bashing them… Sorry, but I do find your remark, within the context, to be a bit ridiculous.

Rosie Perera:

But it's bad for our own souls let alone those of prospective disciples we might win to Christ if we go around gloating over those who don't know God (yet).

Honestly, who are you speaking to? I wouldn’t categorize anything that has been said in this forum as “gloating” over the lost.

But if you would like an example of where that might be found, try 1 Kings 18:27: “And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, ‘Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.’” So your rebukes would better be sent to Elijah than anything I’ve seen in this thread.  

Rosie Perera:

 Yes, I know, if you believe the ones predestined to find Christ will find him anyway regardless of how we behave towards them, then I suppose it doesn't matter…

This looks like a roundabout lazy man fallacy.

Rosie Perera:

Remember: there but for the grace of God go we.  We must act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8.) Let us not take away the key to knowledge or hinder others from entering the kingdom. (Luke 11:52)

Of course I don’t disagree with any of that. But apparently, if you think that anything that was said in this forum was an offense to that, we interpret what that will look like in very different ways.

 

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Alan Charles Gielczyk | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 3:14 PM

If 80% of the people around me believed something I did not it might be time to reevaluate my beliefs.

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Sharon | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 4:02 PM

Hi,

 

You know, as I have watched these forums this last week (my first time) I am touched by how quickly each one of you back off from one another when you feel that an offense has been taken.  I just saw it in action once again with Rosie.  Thank you.  You honor your Lord by doing so.

As far as atheists go, the Word of God speaks for Itself.

Romans 1 (which I'm sure you all know very well).  He says He (personally) has made that which is known about God evident to man - evident  and clearly seen-  they know that He is God and deserves to be honored and thanked as God and they know about His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and His divine nature.  Yet they have suppressed the truth about God, they have exchanged the Truth about God (that God made them clearly understand) for a lie

If they exchange the light God has given them for darkness, they continue down a spiral to final depravity of mind - they can no longer understand.  Those who call themselves atheists are either

a.) those who know God (what God has revealed to them) but lie and say they don't know what God says they know,

b.) those who are suppressing the truth God has given them and are on their way down the spiral staircase to final depravity,

c.) those who have reached the bottom of the spiral and now, finally, are what could possibly be considered atheists because they no longer have the capacity to understand.

When it comes to atheists, I don't believe them. :-) I believe God.  It doesn't take long in witnessing to discover where someone is on God's downward slope.  And then I can adjust what I need to say to them from His Word - if they reject God, then I must accept that and move on.

Just a thought...

Sharon

 

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Friedrich | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 4:44 PM

Sharon Jensen:

When it comes to atheists, I don't believe them. :-) I believe God.  It doesn't take long in witnessing to discover where someone is on God's downward slope.  And then I can adjust what I need to say to them from His Word - if they reject God, then I must accept that and move on.

Just a thought...

Sharon

 

 

In general, I would agree, as far as "adjusting what I need to say" is concerned.  And there are times, I believe, when the hard word needs to be said.  My problem is that some are too quick to pull that trigger.  And it is used proudly and often.  And much bloodshed is left in their wake.  (metaphorically speaking).   Again, i look to how Jesus deals with outsiders and sinners.  He will confront them--often (and he is probably better at that then most of us), but he still communicates love.  (Think, Rich Young Ruler, prostitute, etc). 

Many who use the 'FOOL' type approach slam the door of communication before it gets a chance to be opened--and I am implicating none on this thread, I just use the "fool" image as "shorthand" for the abrupt way atheists or others are described and/or dealt with.  Quoting prophetic language that is strong may be "from the Bible" but it may not be the way God would deal with individuals or groups right away.  Again, i look to the model of Jesus.

I remember a Chicago "Southsider" friend of mine (italian, rough neighborhood, etc) who moved downstate, whose landlord was openly gay.  This friend of mine used to have a hostile attitude, but he had matured enough to take a different approach, inviting the man and his partner to dinner with his own wife, etc.  Long story short, the gay landlord commented (this happend 10 or 15 years ago, I forget the exact words) that this was the first time he'd been treated more "normal' or with "friendship" by a christian that he could remember.  I don't know if he ever converted, but that approach opened doors of conversation.  They (gay couple) knew the stance of my friend and his wife--they didn't compromise their view--but he also perceived they respect/loved him as a human with value, one that God sent his Son (out of love) to die for. 

Let's err on that side. . .

 

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John Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 5:18 PM

As a caveat, I will state upfront that I'm not necessarily saying that anything here is wrong. Mainly, I'm just trying to give a balancing perspective.

Dan DeVilder:

And there are times, I believe, when the hard word needs to be said.  My problem is that some are too quick to pull that trigger.  And it is used proudly and often.  And much bloodshed is left in their wake.  (metaphorically speaking).   Again, i look to how Jesus deals with outsiders and sinners.  He will confront them--often (and he is probably better at that then most of us), but he still communicates love.  (Think, Rich Young Ruler, prostitute, etc). 

The problem I have with these types of conversations is that they are usually very two dimensional. Did Jesus communicate love? Yes. Should we communicate love? Yes. But what does that look like? Is that all there is to it? "Love" is like what the philosopher Jamie Whyte calls "Hooray words" because they are used ambiguously. They can mean anything to anyone. Are you for justice? Who isn't... Mussolini, Gandhi, Machiavelli... Look, we're all for peace, love, and justice. We just disagree about what those things look like. 

Assuming most people here will agree that the Bible condemns homosexuality, you should recognize that the culture will think you and the Bible are UNLOVING because you condemn it (why can't you just let two people love each other in peace?!). What about when Jesus chased the money changers out with a whip... show that to an unbeliever and ask him if that fits his concept of love. What about when Jesus called religious leaders a brood of vipers, etc. Show that to an unbeliever and ask them if such name calling is loving. Of course, we think we have easy ways of shrugging such things off. Like, for instance, we say "yeah but that was the *religious leaders*" Well, so what? A smart atheist will just say, "So what? So it's okay to discriminate and start name calling and abusing religious people?" 

Dan DeVilder:
Quoting prophetic language that is strong may be "from the Bible" but it may not be the way God would deal with individuals or groups right away.  Again, i look to the model of Jesus.

And what was "the" model of Jesus? One minute he asks someone for a drink of water, the next minute he implicitly refers to someone as a dog. I think Jesus' approach was more dynamic and not always what we would expect in our sensitive (Christian) culture.  

Dan DeVilder:

Let's err on that side. . .

This I actually agree wholeheartedly with. For instance, there is nothing wrong with anger per se, but I'm not sure I know the proper limits and expressions of it. So it's better for me to just wait till I'm cooled down instead of trying to "use my anger productively". But I think we need to be careful between refraining from a thing because we aren't sure we can handle it properly and coming to view the thing as inherently evil.

I mean, heaven forbid an atheist should happen to randomly open the Bible to Psalm 14:1 or Titus 1:12 or Matthew 15:26 or ... and have his poor sensibilities hurt. Maybe we should have two different Bible version: one that we give to unbelievers with all the "love" and "hug" verses and then one we give to them after their conversion with all the "Get over it" verses. Maybe God didn't think about the fact that an unbeliever, like Dan Barker (part of the Freedom from Religion Foundation), might happen upon those passages by himself and get offended or else he would have nixed them.

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Friedrich | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 5:42 PM

John,

there is plenty of "offensive language" in the Bible (my goodness, take a look at a specific passage in Ezekiel about a donkey).  And I agree we Xians sometimes get all "soft" and need an edge. 

The point being, however, that we are too quick to pull out the guns. And often those pulling out the guns really don't give a crap about those they are yelling and picketing against.  (extreme example: that one church that travels to funerals of soldiers with signs using vulgar terms denouncing homosexuals, etc)

The image that we (conservative Xians/evangelicals) have cultivated is frequently a combative or flaky one.  That image is not always correct (I know many who are only semi-flaky, lol) but it is formed in part because that is our M.O: draw the line in the sand, publicly denounce, shun, send alarmist letters to supporters . . . without being balanced with personal, neighborly, behind-the-scenes love for people who are lost and need (perhaps) a friend to show them the way.

There are times and places for boldness and frank talk.  But we are also called to reach out to a lost humanity with words and actions that are gentle and offering life.  And really, to leave vengeance to the Lord in his timing.

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Friedrich | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 5:43 PM

Dan DeVilder:
there is plenty of "offensive language" in the Bible (my goodness, take a look at a specific passage in Ezekiel about a donkey).

 

. . . maybe it's a horse.  I just have never memorized that passage.  Zip it!

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 6:00 PM

John Bowling:
I would maintain that the only reason it is a caricature is because atheists are inconsistent.

It is my observation that most atheists have a very strong definition of "God". Most of the time, I can tell them with complete honesty that if that was my definition of God, I would be atheist or agnostic. To be fair, many Christians have a definition of "God" I find equally unsatisfactory - and I often find them as difficult to deal with.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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John Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 16 2009 6:03 PM

Dan DeVilder:
The point being, however, that we are too quick to pull out the guns.

The problem is is that I find your "we" to be too ambiguous. I specifically know of some people that I think would fall into this category, but I also can think of specific persons who fall into the opposite category, the "wuv" category. They preach Jesus wuvs you  and we should all just wuv each other and whatnot... the problem is that they have defined "love" in a way that isn't any closer to the biblical picture than those in the "pull out the guns" category. And if I were to take say from my own experience which is more prolific in todays society, it is the wuvers.  

Dan DeVilder:
(extreme example: that one church that travels to funerals of soldiers with signs using vulgar terms denouncing homosexuals, etc)

That's a cult and as I recall his "church" is really just about a dozen of his family members... not really a good example of the Church...

Dan DeVilder:
The image that we (conservative Xians/evangelicals) have cultivated is frequently a combative or flaky one.  That image is not always correct (I know many who are only semi-flaky, lol) but it is formed in part because that is our M.O: draw the line in the sand, publicly denounce, shun, send alarmist letters to supporters . . . without being balanced with personal, neighborly, behind-the-scenes love for people who are lost and need (perhaps) a friend to show them the way.

We need to ask whether that is that the image we are projecting or simply the image the lost are perceiving. In the former case, it's our problem and we need to fix it. In the latter case, it's simply because the gospel is foolishness and a stumbling block. We can't really do anything about that. There will always be unbelievers who view Christians as narrow minded, hateful, flaky, and combative simply because that's their view of the truth.

Dan DeVilder:
There are times and places for boldness and frank talk.  But we are also called to reach out to a lost humanity with words and actions that are gentle and offering life

That's sort of the point I was trying to make. However I'm also stressing the fact that there was more to Jesus (and the other Bible writers) than the "gentle" wuviness (cf. my examples below). Lets be imitators rather than cherry pickers (with my previous caveats).

Dan DeVilder:
And really, to leave vengeance to the Lord in his timing.

Huh? When did we get onto the topic of vengeance?

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