Sunday, June 17, 2007

Oh, God, not again!

When debating faith, it's very easy to gauge - within the first minute or so, in fact - whether or not the debate will be worthwhile. When defending their religion, most people are able to articulate at least somewhat of a rational case. You may still find yourself in disagreement and/or scratching your head, but you are satisfied that their reasons can be reconciled with daily life to some degree. With these people, a healthy conversation can be illuminating.

Others are so wrapped up in their dogma that they literally can't see beyond it - as if the only reason you aren't exactly like them is that you have yet to hear their beatific sales pitch. For all their talk about "skeptics," "blasphemers" and the ever-popular "hellbound," these types still see most people as clean slates. The embodiment of this is a Halloween-themed Chick tract I read once where the kid asks, "Who's Jesus?" After being fed a few Bible verses, the kid is on his knees asking Jesus Christ to come into his life, and man, does he feel better! Wow, that was easy!

This mentality peppers a recent letter to the Springfield News-Leader. It is in response to a past article in which someone alleged that up to 95 percent of the Holy Bible was cribbed from ancient Sumarian and Egyptian texts. That's a pretty serious allegation, one bound to rile up those who have spent years studying the Christian religion. Armed with several advanced degrees in theology and decades of church service, this writer is brimming with facts proving that the Bible is not plagiarized. How dare they even pose such an allegation in the first place? Let the beat-down commence!

I have to say that I have never heard or read anything that would support any of the claims mentioned by the writer.

Here's the honest truth: Christianity is alive and well and our future is bright! Under the banner of Christ, we are still building many new churches each year and sending out many new missionaries to more and more countries and seeing many new converts to Christianity around the world. We invite all to join us and receive the eternal benefits of salvation and eternal life! That's what true Christianity is all about — nothing more, nothing less!

Ooh! A striking blow for truth! With that kind of rebuttal, how can you ever argue again that the Bible may not be entirely original? Hey, they're building churches and everything! Duh!

Amid little shock, I noticed that the letter comes from the vice president of the Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary. Any wonder why people often have the wrong idea about the Bayou State?

It's as if I confronted Bill Gates about how he allegedly co-opted public-domain computer programs floating around in the 1970s and early '80s, slapped "Microsoft" labels on them and made billions, and this being his response:

"Microsoft is alive and well and our future is bright! Under the banner of Microsoft, we are still building many new products each year and seeing many new converts to Windows around the world. We invite all to join us at Comdex and receive the eternal benefits of brand loyalty! That's what Microsoft is all about - nothing less!"

Would you buy that kind of response? I wouldn't. And neither should you.

Three years ago, I received a message in a similar holy vein from a Lafayette blogger, who wasn't happy that I criticized him for saying that Satan was guiding anti-war celebrities. I asked him what was Christian about indiscriminate killing. His long, rambling response boiled down to this:

God saved me. Jesus died on the cross. Militant Islamics and liberal media types are tools of the devil. If you don't agree with me, you are an enemy of Christ. I no longer practice sin. Can I sit you down sometime and brainwash you?

Why, yes! How could you not with that power of persuasion?

As I've done before, I'll offer some advice to fervent evangelicals: if you want to persuade potential converts, don't assume that it'll be as easy as spouting a few Bible passages. We've all heard them before, and in many cases it's what drove us from the faith in the first place. It's a skeptical world out there, and today's folks need a little more reasoning and candor before they devote themselves to a cause of such magnitude. The next time you're tempted to convert a naive heathen, ask yourself if you aren't, in fact, the naive one.

What might help you are facts and an approachable outlook. That is, if you can muster them.


Donnie McDaniel said...

Preach it brother, preach it! You would just love the Jesus mails I get from the ex-wife. Funny to say the least.

Cajun Tiger said...

I completely agree. I get more upset with my fellow Christians who use "you just have to have faith" as the main foundation of their beliefs than I do those who don't believe at times.

I don't think you commented on my Resurrection debate back a few months ago...should meet your standards for a serious discussion if you are up for it.