It’s one thing for like minded people to share your ideas, but when you have detractors sharing your ideas (no matter how deluded they believe you to be), it is something that can truly be appreciated.
I really don’t expect you to understand. You want to elevate yourself to God’s perspective. We are His creation, not His equal. If you were a potter and you shattered a pot you made, would you be an evil murderer? cateritforward
Isn’t it odd that in the midst of explaining how loving and wonderful their invisible god is, some Christians will tell you that they expect that their benevolent creator has every right to treat them as malevolently as it pleases? I’ve come across this on a number occasions, and it concerns me on a number of levels:
Do they think it reasonable to compare sentient beings with inanimate objects?
If they think the stronger, more intelligent being can do what it wants without reproach, how do they treat children or animals? Seriously, what kind of attitude is revealed in a comment like this?
The past couple of days have been harrowing as my bones and joints hurt. I don’t know if this is a side effect from my Humira injection Tuesday, or if this is just a novel approach my body is taking to share the joys that are chronic pain. Nevertheless, there are more important things in life than my discomfort. I have spent a lot of time thinking about friendships that I have, or at least perceive I have, and it appears that there are essentially two types of friends. There are those that are genuinely concerned about others (including you and your well-being) and then there are those that are wrapped up in their own little worlds that they cannot be bothered with anything other than their pity party. (I have not forgotten that I have my fair share of pity parties due to my chronic pain. I even had a perpetual pity party once.)
There are no hard and fast rules, but generally speaking, my Christian friends take the time to ask how I’m feeling. They have genuine concern for my health and show concern for others. Most of the time I don’t feel like talking about my ailments as I already have to endure them. I don’t care to suffer them again by discussing them. These are the friends I prefer to surround myself with, though. Who wants to surround themselves with a narcissistic man-child who is financially secure, yet cries himself to sleep because he cannot have his way. (I’m not trying to sound mean, I just have a tendency to be more blunt than usual when I’m in excruciating pain).
This particular friend has no foundational concept of right and wrong as I explored earlier. It’s more of a lack of conviction because he cannot take a stand on any point either out of fear of being wrong or out of hurting someone’s feelings. I also wrote about him in the Fallacy Factory because I was amused by the sheer number fallacies he invoked to support his reasons for discounting Christianity. Everyone has a right to reject Jesus Christ, just reject Him with a well-thought reason instead of rehashed fallacies you read on some half-baked atheist website.
I’m interested in his change in demeanor as I changed from a profane heathen to a Christian. We’ve probably been friends a dozen years or so, and in the years of my binge drinking and erratic behavior as a disc jockey, we got along pretty well. He even attended my wedding in some perfunctory capacity. I’ve always known him as one of the biggest God haters I ever met as he went out of his way to be offensive to anyone with any Christian sensibilities. At that point in my life, I think I just laughed. The subject matter isn’t what was funny, it was the reaction. He could blaspheme God with as much enthusiasm as he could stomp around like a five year old after a pimple-faced teenager forgot to super size his order at the drive thru.
These past five years since my conversion, I have seen a conversion of sorts in him as well. There was the time he “tried” Christianity. I don’t even know what that means. You repent of your sins, you put your trust in Jesus, and the Holy Spirit “will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 ESV) This is not something that you put on like a pair of skinny jeans. Since Christianity was unsuccessful, he has embraced post-modernism wholeheartedly, and all paths lead you to the Supreme Being (a very impersonal name which seems to assail the very personal nature of God). Let me rephrase, “All paths lead to the same place, but not YHWH, or the God of the Bible, because I have read a couple of chapters and found some discrepancies that I refuse to investigate further to see if these are just apparent inconsistencies, or they are actual proof that the Bible is errant.” In short, he has come full circle. He still rejects the one true God.
I think what bothers me is that I poured my life into him and another friend for three years so that hopefully they would come to know the truth of Jesus Christ. This friend spent every opportunity heaping abuse, and even threatened to murder my pastor because I offered to set up a meeting so he could have some of his questions answered. Looking back, it’s quite comical as he was ashamed of his behavior, but he always phrased his apologies as non-apologies.
He would say things like, “Well, things got out of hand and I said things that I shouldn’t have.” Never a simple, “I’m sorry.” It is always a rationalization, and the instant you think you might get to the moment where the friendship can heal, the conversation is deflected. I wonder how my wife would react if I told her some rationalization. When I’m wrong, there is only one thing that can be said: “I’m sorry.”
My other friend that I have spent a lot of time with is moving cross country today. I’m glad for him that he found a new job that pays better. That was the reason I was given. Normally, he would wax poetically about how this new job would help him express himself better, or how he will not have to sell out his convictions, or maybe the perks are better. This time, the pay is better. I have seen him traverse the country in pursuit of more money, more freedom, just more of something. Through my chronic pain, I have been trying to demonstrate that there is more to life than money, or fame, or [insert idol here]. He never even said he was moving for happiness. Only money. We’ve been friends for almost seventeen years and he didn’t have time for a quick lunch before he left. Packing the U-Haul wasn’t something that thrust itself upon him, either. He accepted the job two weeks ago.
I have a number of close friends, but God has burdened my heart with these two jokers. I have changed so much, I don’t think they even like me anymore. Nor do I care. My job isn’t to affirm their lifestyles or faulty belief systems, or to tell them how awesome they are when they do things that are an affront to God. My job is to be salt and light. John MacArthur said, “The world may hate us and persecute us, but the world is absolutely dependent on us being the influence and the verbal manifestation of the Gospel of God.”
I’m reminded of Luke 6:22, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” Maybe their feelings aren’t so caustic. Well, maybe one has destructive feelings with the whole pastor-murder thing. In any event, God still has not lifted my burden of unending physical pain, and He may not free me from these burdens, either. After all, “Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6 ESV) That includes me.
Before I wrote this piece, I spent a lot of time in contemplation and prayer. My intention is not to impugn my friend’s character or beliefs. I have genuine concern for him and hope my words are not misconstrued. This is simply an attempt to understand him better, and at the same time, it has been a great opportunity to consider my own views and the fallacies I cling to. This is an important matter but my arguments are often met with silence. All I can do is assume that my argument is completely valid until I’m shown otherwise.
Have you ever felt like you are wasting your time? I’m not denouncing the integrity of Candy Crush, either. We all know that is not a silly diversion, but is an important application that we use to hone our skills to effectively crush candy. Even burning ants with a magnifying glass carries more import than some discussions into which you may ensnangle yourself. (As far as I know, ensnangle has not found itself into the English lexicon until this moment. You’re welcome.) I’m reminded of something Jesus said that illustrates my quandary. He confesses, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” (Matthew 13:57 ESV) The fruitlessness of sharing the Gospel with people that know you well is apparent.
I have a number of unbelieving friends, but there is one in particular that makes me want to set my hair on fire. There was a time when he was an angry atheist who raged against anyone who exhibited any belief in God. I’m specifically discussing the Judeo-Christian God because I don’t recall any moments where he became unglued at the mention of Brahma, Dagon, Zeus, or any other false deity. He has since completely changed positions since he read some of the Bible. Now, instead of his entertaining conniption fits, discussions are loaded with fallacy upon fallacy. That’s fine, but the moment I call shenanigans the discussion is immediately terminated. (I know that some know me as Captain Fallacy, so before you pick apart my argument, I already know it is probably fallacious. I believe that statement alone is known as the Fallacy Fallacy.)
In a previous post, I explored his argument that people are basically good. You can always find someone more evil than you that makes you look virtuous. It’s an association fallacy known as reductio ad Hitlerum, or the Hitler Fallacy. Nobody thinks the idea of going to hell is very appealing, but if we rationalize our comparative goodness against Hitler’s badness, we might conclude that only Hitler deserves to go to hell. Jesus’ own words dismantle this argument when He said, “No one is good but God alone.” (Luke 18:19 ESV)
In the same discussion, my friend pelted me with the Genetic Fallacy. His belief is that the matter of faith is merely based on geography and the parents’ faith. Essentially, I am a Christian because I was raised by Christians in America (when Christianity began about 2000 years ago after the resurrection of Jesus Christ in Judea.) If we follow this logic, should I not be in Israel or should I hold a belief native to North America? It is true that faith is influenced by geography and family, but that isn’t the point of the Genetic Fallacy. The argument is to subvert any validity of any one faith over another. Instead of boldly rejecting John 14:6, the unbeliever can rely on an error in logic.
He also tells me about his new philosophy of not judging peoples’ beliefs. As you may have guessed, this includes his refusal to “impose” his ideology on others. Is this an act of respect or nescience regarding his own convictions? Perhaps he thinks that truth is relative. If truth is relative, then it doesn’t matter what you believe, so why bother discussing belief systems, right? The Relativist Fallacy is quite popular as people seem to be so unsure about their own beliefs that everyone else’s must be just as valid. In my estimation, nihilism is preferable to the postmodern nonsense in which we are subjected. Let’s reject all principles if our beliefs are so squishy they are not even worth sharing. Additionally, how do we know that judging (or discernment) is inherently wrong? The sheer fact of stating you don’t judge someone’s beliefs is a judgment statement in itself.
Finally, my friend paraded the tour de force of fallacies: he will not submit to God because of the threat of hell. (This is the argumentum ad baculum or the Threat of Force fallacy.) He actually said, “If it results in him facing everlasting damnation, then so be it.” Really? That is a ridiculous conclusion, but Christians have to shoulder some of the blame for perpetuating this argument. He should be afraid of hell as the Bible is clear as to who will go there. John, the author of Revelation, states, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8 ESV) Though true, the eternal damnation argument for those who choose unbelief is not likely to win any beauty contests. We should want to submit to Christ because of His mercy and love for His creation. We should turn to Him out of gratitude, not fear.
What is interesting is that this argument unveils logical inconsistencies. Why is submission to God so loathsome? Submission is not foreign to us. We submit to parents, teachers, the police, the government, etc., but we don’t want to submit to God. Certainly it’s not because He is unworthy as the people we submit to are definitely flawed, and in some cases, may not even deserve submission, but we do so anyway.
If we choose defiance over compliance to basic demands such as following the speed limit, are there repercussions? We are threatened with consequences, and most of us choose compliance. I, however, choose to reject authority and am inclined drive 55 mph in a school zone. Will there be consequences? I’ll have to pay a hefty fine. Again, I am determined to defy The Man and I refuse to pay the ticket. That won’t work because the police will track me down and throw me in the hoosegow. My rejection of authority did not nullify the consequences.
The same is true with God. We have sinned against Him and we have a fine to pay. We can allow Jesus Christ to pay our fine for us, or we can pay the fine ourselves by going to hell. Unbelief in God is a sin that condemns an individual to hell, but even if we set that one sin aside, we still have to answer for a lifetime of sin. Yet we still insist that we are good when, in fact, we are utterly depraved. Paul said it best in his letter to Corinth, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV)
Life is much easier when you can pick up your toys and go home. I can be defiant by withholding the Gospel. It saves me grief. I can shorten my prayer list. Besides, my friend is intelligent. He might figure it out. He might embrace the cross. He might not. Even Penn Jillette, an atheist, believes it is exceedingly unloving for a believer to withhold the Gospel. He states, “How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” Jillette’s appeal to emotion may be fallacious, but that doesn’t abrogate our responsibility to share the Gospel.