June 12, 2006
My Christian friends have a love and concern for non-believers. It is deep, sincere, and passionate. My atheist friends have their own concerns. Those concerns have to do with respect for their dignity and right to choose their own destinies and beliefs.
I first posted this in 2006. I think it still needs to be read. We can be faithful to truth and respectful of people:
There is a dialogue I happened upon by two of my friends, Henry Neufeld and Carol Roper. Henry is a Christian and Carol is an atheist.
Henry calls his article, "Witness without Being a Pest." Read it all. Then read Carol's entry in Philosoraptor to which Henry is responding, "Sick and Tired of God Stuff - an Open Letter to Thesists."
We can learn much by reading each blog and considering the comments as well.
You, my Evangelical friends, will not get this opportunity often. Carol is an utterly honest person. I've known her for many years. She is not an atheist for lack of hearing the message of Christianity. She simply does not believe it. I don't know if she ever will or not. What I do know is that it can't be beaten into her. When she tells you how it feels to be her, she is telling the truth and we can learn from that.
Henry is an extremely effective witness who does not feel compelled to alienate non-believers as a way of validating his fidelity to truth. He senses no burning call to be "mean for Jesus." Yet, he is a faithful witness with enough integrity to be who he is, believe what he believes, love those who disagree, and let God be God.
Carol clarifies her message even more in the comments to Henry's offering.
Henry draws an extremely insightful conclusion with this excerpt:
"Think about it this way. You might be a pest, rather than a witness if:
- You knock on doors belonging to people you don’t know, but can’t name your own next door neighbors
- You know all the details of soteriology*, but don’t know where to get help for a homeless person
- You think salvation is equivalent to joining your church congregation
- You talk to people you despise so you can “save” them, and yet continue to despise them
- You’re sure your relationship with Jesus makes you more special than everybody else
- The only language you know how to speak is “church-ese”
- You set a mental timer counting down until you will break off a friendship if the stubborn jerk doesn’t accept Jesus
- You can’t carry on any conversation that isn’t about your religion
- You try to befriend someone only because you think you can get him to attend church"
(c) 2006, Henry E. Neufeld. All Rights Reserved.
I post Henry's words here because I want to make sure I don't forget them ... ever!