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My Take: Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing
Carl Medearis with Sheikh Nabil Qawouk Hezbollah’s number two leader.
July 24th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Take: Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing

Editor's Note: Carl Medearis is an international expert in Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations and is author of the book Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism.

By Carl Medearis, Special to CNN

Let’s do an exercise. I want you to fill in the blank on what you think you know about me based on what I’m about to tell you.

Here goes: Twenty years ago, I became a missionary. My wife and I left our home in Colorado Springs, Colorado to move to Beirut, Lebanon. Our job description was to plant churches and evangelize to Muslims.

Based on what I just said, Carl Medearis is a ______________ .

Depending on your background, the blank may look something like this:

Carl Medearis is a... hero of the Christian faith, a saintly super-man willing to sacrifice the comforts of home in order to share the love of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard the gospel.

Or this:

Carl Medearis is a... right-wing extremist who destroys cultures, tears apart families and paves the way for neo-colonialist crusaders to invade, occupy and plunder the resources of local populations.

Quite a range, isn’t it?

For one group of people, the words “evangelist” and “missionary” bring to mind pious heroes performing good deeds that are unattainable for the average Christian. For another group, those same words represent just about everything that’s wrong with the world.

I understand the confusion.

Based on my experiences of living and traveling around the world, I know that religion is often an identity marker that determines people’s access to jobs, resources, civil liberties and political power.

When I lived in Lebanon I saw firsthand how destructive an obsession with religious identity could be. Because of the sectarian nature of Lebanese politics, modern Lebanese history is rife with coups, invasions, civil wars and government shutdowns.

When I tell my Christian friends in America that some of the fiercest militias were (and are) Christian, most are shocked. It doesn’t fit the us-versus-them mentality that evangelism fosters, in which we are always the innocent victims and they are always the aggressors.

This us-versus-them thinking is odd, given that Jesus was constantly breaking down walls between Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, men and women, sinners and saints. That’s why we have the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Jews in Jesus’ day thought of the Samaritans as the violent heretics, much the same way that Christians think of Muslims today. The idea that a Samaritan could be good was scandalous to first century Jews.

Jesus was the master of challenging religious prejudice and breaking down sectarian walls. Why do so many Christians want to rebuild those walls?

Even the Apostle Paul insisted that it’s faith in Jesus that matters, not converting to a new religion or a new socio-religious identity.

What if evangelicals today, instead of focusing on “evangelizing” and “converting” people, were to begin to think of Jesus not as starting a new religion, but as the central figure of a movement that transcends religious distinctions and identities?

Jesus the uniter of humanity, not Jesus the divider. How might that change the way we look at others?

This is more than just a semantic difference.

When I used to think of myself as a missionary, I was obsessed with converting Muslims (or anybody for that matter) to what I thought of as “Christianity.” I had a set of doctrinal litmus tests that the potential convert had to pass before I would consider them “in” or one of “us.”

Funny thing is, Jesus never said, “Go into the world and convert people to Christianity.” What he said was, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

Encouraging anyone and everyone to become an apprentice of Jesus, without manipulation, is a more open, dynamic and relational way of helping people who want to become more like Jesus — regardless of their religious identity.

Just because I believe that evangelicals should stop evangelizing doesn’t mean that they should to stop speaking of Jesus.

I speak of Jesus everywhere I go and with everyone I meet.

As founder and president of a company called International Initiatives, my work is aimed at building relationships among Christian leaders in the West and among Muslim leaders in the Middle East.

It may come as a surprise to many Christians that Muslims are generally open to studying the life of Jesus as a model for leadership because they revere him as a prophet.

But now that I’m no longer obsessed with converting people to Christianity, I’ve found that talking about Jesus is much easier and far more compelling.

I believe that doctrine is important, but it’s not more important than following Jesus.

Jesus met people where they were. Instead of trying to figure out who’s “in” and who’s “out,” why don’t we simply invite people to follow Jesus — and let Jesus run his kingdom?

Inviting people to love, trust, and follow Jesus is something the world can live with. And since evangelicals like to say that it’s not about religion, but rather a personal relationship with Jesus, perhaps we should practice what we preach.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Carl Medearis.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Interfaith issues • Opinion

soundoff (3,792 Responses)
  1. dharmic

    As one who is neither a muslim nor a christan but one coming from and practising dharmic tradition, this whole discusssion is amusing to me. Those who convert, proslytise, or otherwise make coercive efforts to uproot someone from his/her faith have neither understood nor practised their own religion in a truer sense. One who has truly understood the message and teachigs of great masters of East or West accept all beings as they are and help them in their needs, whether material or spiritual, as they see it, and not impose one's views in a slightest way. So I am happy, in a way, to see the author of the article has seen some futility in evengilicalising others.

    July 24, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • myway

      That would presume the evangelical posters here have an ounce of care for others who don't agree with them. Disagreement is divisive by nature and they love to disagree with so called non-believers. They even invented the rapture to send all non-believers to hell. Why would they care about living non-believers if they're ready to send them to eternal damnation in death. Nice people. Conveniently, evangelicals have created the myth all the heathens are God's problem. I'm sure God appreciates that very much. I'm as tolerant as anyone but this kind of thinking is profoundly unchristian.

      July 24, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Jessy

      As a Gnostic, I agree. Believing in Jesus as you are is one thing. Being forced to become something you're not in order to believe in Jesus is another matter entirely.

      July 24, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Tikolo

      There is nothing amusing about this. Wait till Chirstians come to Nepal or whatever country you are from and turn your people against one another. DONT LET CHRISTIANS INTO YOUR COUNTRY. THEY WILL DESTROY YOU PEOPLE AND THEIR CULTURES. PLEASE LEARN FROM AFRICA.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:03 am |
    • CRISTIANITY - WRONG YET AGAIN

      Dharmic – thank you. You said it in a much kinder way than I would. However, don't be fooled. The author is just presenting a more sly method of converting that makes you think he is not converting. Christians have to come up with more and more underhanded ways of converting people in order to make the quota imposed by the Vatican.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • mary

      @myway
      I don't understand your post. Aren't Christians offering faith in God as a means to be free from destruction? I see the basic teaching of Christianity so much different that the posts here. It is about love, compassion, acceptance, new life, forgiveness, purpose and peace. How did Christianity become vile and evill?

      July 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  2. Ryan

    I see all you people commenting about Muslims doing this and Christians doing that but you all forget something.THERE IS NO GOD.So what you should really be complaining about is how all these people (anyone who believes in God) are insane and are infecting out society with their lunatic beliefs.It's easy to pick on the fundamentalists because they say and do the most crazy stuff but you are all still equally nuts to believe in something as ludicrous as God.

    July 24, 2011 at 7:19 am |
    • Chiniquy

      There is a G-D. You will discover this in this life or in the Hereafter.

      July 24, 2011 at 7:51 am |
    • maniacmudd

      @ chiniguy, your proof?

      July 24, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Jesus

      One who has a personal relationship with an invisible and imaginary guy in the sky evidences a mental impairment. If you've got a mental disorder, don't brag about it....keep it to yourself.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Levi

      Maniacmudd – Have you ever been in love? Prove to me that love exists. Believe what you want, but don't create a faulty argument. It makes you sound unoriginal and unintelligent.

      Jesus – I'm a psychology major who has done a lot of research on religious belief. You are a vast minority. Most people in the world believe in a higher power. There is even a section in your brain that is stimulated purely by religious stimuli. Read up on some of Dr. Ramachandran's work. And remember: you are the one who has underdeveloped brain sections. 🙂

      July 24, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Criss

      Prove God doesn't exist. If you say the non-existence of a god cannot with be proven with finality, then I agree. Why, does the atheist ask the theist to absolutely prove what the atheist knows cannot be absolutely disproved? You challenge theists to do the impossible and then use their failure as evidence that their beliefs are misplaced. How is this argument ethical?

      July 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Atheists are pathetic

      There is overwhelming proof of a Creator. Just because you are too arrogant to admit it means nothing. You are nothing more than a speck of dust on this planet that will be long forgotten after you die. The arrogance of atheists denying the God who created them is as stupid as an ant talking smack to a whale. The whale can EASILY destroy the ant but he has pity on it. Much like you. A pitiful little ant that will have zero impact on this world other than to be a laughingstock for being so incredibly stupid.

      July 24, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • MikeTheCat

      Gotta love those threats. Hollow though they are. We are not afraid of your imaginary friends.

      July 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Raul

      Most people would agree that Gods might exist. But the Gods we have created are not even worth paying attention to.
      What is worse is that we are still teaching the absurdities of our concept of God to the new generations.
      Gods, Demons, Angels, these believes can not get more stupid.

      July 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Kitty

      Ryan....Give me some proof that there is no God. I'll give YOU some proof that there IS a God.

      July 24, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • Jessy

      Ryan has every right to speak his mind in regards to God. As a Gnostic, I believe in God, but just like the Atheists I believe in the facts provided by science. Gnosticism (an early form of Christianity) is something I follow because it allows one to better understand God and the universe without having to be forced at all to go to Sunday church or adhere to ridiculous dogmas and stigmas.

      July 24, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Jessy

      @Atheists are pathetic – What gives you the right to condemn others like that? Unless you are God himself, no one can speak on behalf of God on what his intentions are. Your guess about his intentions are no better than mines. Therefore, I recommend you to refrain from making yourself looking like a fool.

      By the way, here is a thought. If God didn't want us to even challenge his own existence, why is it that God gave us all a brain that is more than capable of doing just that?

      July 24, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Ryan

      OK lets get something clear.You people are the ones that are saying God exists so the burden of proof lies on you.If I were a lawyer and I had to prove something in court, it would be my responsibility to present some sort of evidence to support my case.So far no one has showed anything that science cannot explain already.We know how the universe was formed and God had nothing to do with it.Now I'll humor you.I'll prove to you,by your own logic,that God does not exist.This is a typical statement made by people who believe in God: "I believe in God.However, I have no proof of his existence.But since you have no proof he DOESN'T exist, he must therefore exist." Now I will show you how that logic does not make any sense whatsoever. "I believe in Flying Pencil Monsters.However, I have no proof of his existence.But since you have no proof he DOESN'T exist,he must therefore exist." If that sounds crazy to you it is because it is. What you people fail to realize,for various reasons, is that there is no God.Now put on your big boy or big girl pants and deal with it.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:14 am |
    • sublime

      Ryan,

      There isn't any need for a Christian to prove the existence of God. True Christians exist based on faith. It saddens me that there are Christians out there that feel a need to prove anything. It makes me feel worse that there are Christians that think they can prove the existence of God through some muddled, pseudo-science. Christians need to stop worrying about all of the junk that people say about them and get moving in a positive direction. Instead of whining about what is right or wrong they need to get away from their TV's and go help someone. Get someone some food, mow the neighbor's yard, bring something positive to the world.

      If this would happen once in a while even the most radical atheist would only be able to say, "I don't believe what they believe but they sure do care about others".

      I have many atheist friends, we don't argue, fight or even tease. We respect each other by proving our worth through action and not tired, old arguments.

      Now stop reading and go make the neighbors some cookies or help a homeless person get a job and a place to live. If 10% of the people that want to change the world on here through rude, abusive behaviour would just do one, single good deed, the world would absolutely notice.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • mary

      It seems everyone posting here is a missionary – you all have a message to spread to the world and are using a CNN blog to do it.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • art7

      Can you prove that there is no God.? If you can, then I will also become an agnostic.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Charles

      Ryan,

      You say "So far no one has showed anything that science cannot explain already.We know how the universe was formed and God had nothing to do with it." Please prove this. Science has NOT removed God from the creation. Science offered alternative theories to the creation of the universe. The "Big Bang" actually tends to lead one to a conclusion that there is a super-intelligent being "God' behind the creation of the universe. All other theories, M-string, the holgram universe, the eternal inflationary universe to name a few, are VERY unproven and their founders admit they may well remain unproven.

      The other place God is always challenged is evolution. People who teach evolution leave out one key fact: amino acids cannot be formed outside an ALREADY living cell. The new fad is to argue we came on the back of some asteroid. To use your line Ryan, prove it. Even if we did, where did the original living organism originate?

      I can't prove God exist. This would defeat the entire purpose of faith. I can however destroy any theory that is presented the claims to prove God doesn't exist.

      July 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Ryan

      Once again not one of you have offered any proof or at least a valid theory as to how the universe was created.Typical religious people."I don't know how something works so God did it" YOU ARE JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS.Even if the big bang theory is proven wrong thats alright,science changes theory's all the time because they are actually looking for a reasonable explanation.Whereas religion and religious just say God did it.We might not know for sure how we existence started but one day we will.People used to think God was responsible for rain,snow,earthquakes,and a number of other natural occurrences.We have proven them all wrong with basic science.One day we will do the same in regards to the universe.The sad thing is, there will still be a bunch of religious fanatics (with no proof of course) that god did it.Enjoy living a lie.I'll be over here laughing at you.By the way, Faith is just wishful thinking because you don't have the guts to face the truth.Sheep.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Kevin

      Actually, until about three years ago i was sailing in your no-God boat. I totally bought the ape-to-man theory about how we got here. But i see things differently now. Man trying to disprove God reminds me of the ants in my house that fail to acknowledge me and take corrective action even when I am about to bust them. Their problem is not that they dont fear me...it's just that i am too big for them to notice.
      And I agree with you that a lot of dicontent in our world is rooted in religion. The problem is people equate God with religion, which, in fact, is man-made. The people who give Christianity a bad name are not the church – just as the church is not God. I now follow Christ... not the Church. And what Christ tells me is quite different from what many people supposedly speaking for Him say. We judge, we slander, we gossip, we are vengeful and quite unforgiving. It is true – "Christians" are quite unlike Christ.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:22 am |
  3. dm

    I find this very interesting and for the most part agree with all that the author says. Questions do come up, is it enough to follow Jesus example to Love, and heal people through the power of His Spirit and let His Spirit draw men to Him. Or do we do those things as belivers and followers of Christ and tell them that He is the only way to the Father as stated in the Bible. The basis of the Gospel is "God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life". Jesus was the sacrifice for the worlds sin, We through faith in that have everlasting life. I will not go into all the benifits that is provided for believers here on this earth too, just asking at what point if any do we as followers of Jesus commuicate that it is through Jesus and Him alone that we have forgiveness of sins and access to the Father. Do we live as Jesus and let His Holy Spirit reveal the truth of the Gospel to men or do we at some point say...it is through Jesus and Him alone that we have eternal life with God. Before everyone piles on, I know this is a view based on the Bible as the only source of truth for eternal salvation, that is the basis of being a folower of Jesus. I am not wanting that debate, I am asking the author of the article his opinion of at what point if any do you drop the "Jesus is the only way to the Father" question?

    July 24, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • Frogist

      @dm: The author gives you the answer. Never. You never draw that line in the sand where you say "My way or the highway" because it is divisive and proves only to push people away from the teachings you hold dear. His argument is live the life you think needs to be lived by whatever form of inspiration you find – bible, Qu'ran, homanity, society etc etc and leave the sorting out to God. The judgement of who is and isn't really a follower of Jesus is not up to you. It is only up to the one you call your God. Ultimatums like "if you don't declare your Christianity, you are evil" is exactly what the author is standing against.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  4. Reality

    An update: Christianity and Islam

    Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "angelic" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The global Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    July 24, 2011 at 7:11 am |
    • Criss

      NT gospel accounts were written within the lifetime of eyewitnesses. Why are there no written counter-claims? Why did these "myths" survive? There is more historic literary proof for the NT than for Homer's Odessy and Iliad.

      July 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Reality

      The NT was not written by eye witnesses.

      For an analysis of said NT authors see, Father Raymond Brown' s 878 page book, An Introduction to the New Testament.

      To wit:

      With respect to John's Gospel and John' epistles, from the references book, John's Gospel, Date- 80-110 CE, Traditional Attribution, (2nd Century), St. John, one of the Twelve,

      Author Detectable from the Contents, One who regards himself in the tradition of the disciple.

      First Epistle of John, Authenticity- Certainly by a writer in the Johannine tradition, probably NOT by the one responsible for most of the Gospel.

      From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

      "Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship
      "Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.[3][4] "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous,"[5] and date it to 90-100."

      "The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."

      See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/1john.html

      July 24, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  5. Say What

    No, they should keep on truckin'.

    July 24, 2011 at 7:11 am |
  6. cheese

    "Jews in Jesus’ day thought of the Samaritans as the violent heretics, much the same way that Christians think of Muslims today. The idea that a Samaritan could be good was scandalous to first century Jews."

    Incorrect comparison, Mr Medearis.

    Muslims have fired rockets and mortars at Israeli land, blown up Christian churches and have committed some of the worst atrocities in the history of mankind. Like the later Mongol invasions. The Armenian holocaust.

    Unless the Samaritans used boulder-hurling catapults and ballistae against Jewish cities, I very much doubt that this comparison holds true.

    Muslims have a significant tendency for violence. Simple statistics proves that. There is not a single day which passes for the last 3 decades where you do not wake up to hear another bombing, atrocity or massacre perpetrated by muslims somewhere around the globe.

    Samaritans on the other hand, hmm, what's for sure is that they didn't go around burning synagogues every other day.

    July 24, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • mike mcglynn

      Let me be the first to welcomb you the fishbowl.

      July 24, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • malik

      ...hmm...maybe no catapults. but, cheese, i implore you to read up on the history of the samaritans to understand that they had a very violent history, including a bloody, brutal civil war and plenty of violence and killing between them and the Jews. maybe no bombs, but plenty of swords and knives.

      July 24, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • dmag

      Statistically, you can easily prove that "Christians" also have a tendency toward violence; in fact, Americans probably have more of a tendency to violence than most other people, and certainly more than Muslims. Do you know any Muslims personally? Generalizing is not helpful to human relationships.

      July 24, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  7. Michael, Chapel Hill

    Jesus is the Lord. Anything else is heresy.

    July 24, 2011 at 7:00 am |
    • Jesus

      LOL.

      July 24, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • hahaha

      yawn

      July 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • WeAreBlessed

      Michael – You are so RIGHT!!

      Jesus is LORD!

      July 25, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Lothar

      Well, ya sold me.

      July 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Jesus

      OK, so send me money, lots of it. As your Lord, I command you to do so!!

      July 26, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  8. ART

    Mumbo Jumbo, unless Jesus is their Saviour, they shall surely die in their sins.....BTW, Jesus said that.

    Hence the cross. Yes, they will turn off if they figure out you are trying to get them saved. They have to figure out who he is. He is the Son of God, mre than a prohet.

    July 24, 2011 at 6:59 am |
    • Reality

      And for added thought, here is what Professor Crossan has to say about atonement theology: (from his book, "Who is Jesus" co-authored with Richard Watts)

      "Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us."

      "Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets." Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God."

      "In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life."

      July 24, 2011 at 7:08 am |
  9. Beatrice

    True Christians will never stop evangelizing others; it's what Christianity is all about – sharing the vital truth the mankind needs the most with everyone at all cost. The lifestyle evangelism (less explicit message) is a wisdom in restricted areas such as the Islamic land or communist countries.

    July 24, 2011 at 6:54 am |
    • Bill

      Then I will forever be throwing you off my front porch...

      July 24, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • Bill has no purpose

      Thats fine Bill. You can choose to live and die with your little miserable, empty and pathetic life for the short spark of time that you are here. I could really give a crap whether you accept or not. Many do and have better lives and a better future for it. But, go ahead and follow every empty thought that is spewed forth from your empty atheistic teachers who simply want to make a name for themselves but too go ahead and quietly wonder if they are right. I have educated many atheists and shown them the err of their ways. People can be wrong. Not everyone is right. Especially not pathetic little atheists.

      July 24, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • In the name of ...

      It's so NOT what Christianity is about ... have never done it, will never do, but I dare you to imply that I not Christian for it !! Just a weekly circus with clows in their Sunday clothes, fake faces and fake smiles ... real money thou !!!

      July 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Bill Has No Purpose: A helluva lot of vitriol for someone who says they don't care whether Bill gets to your "Lord" or not. Seems to me someone is lying. Isn't that a sin? Otherwise why get riled up over Bill saying if you persist in your "convert or die" ways, you will never reach him? If you really didn't care what Bill did with his life you wouldn't be evangelizing in the first place, would you?

      July 25, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Andrew

      @Bill has no purpose
      You are the epitome of arrogance and naivete to truly believe that your world view is the only one with any clout and that everyone who does not believe in your opinion will burn for it. The arrogance of the modern christian is absurd. You think that without religion it isn't possible for someone to life a happy, propserous and succeful life. And I find the atheist attacks highly amusing because it is likely that many of your mentors growing up are/were atheists and many of the great historical figures you look to are either atheists or nothing close to the religion you so fanatically believe in.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  10. Chris Coppenbarger

    I think Carl is hitting the nail on the head here. Too often, we think of an us-vs-them when it comes to the Middle East. We hear someone like Bridgette Gabriel who claims victim status when she grew up in Lebanon as a "Christian" when it was the Phalangists who committed some of the most horrific murderous acts in Lebanon, not as a point of self-preservation as some are claiming here. Muslims see Christians invading countries, taking down leaders, all without just cause and they ask, if this is the Jesus they want to know.

    The Jesus they need to know is the one of the Bible. The one who said to love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you. Not the one who says that the rights of one people group trump all rights of any other people. Not the one that says it's okay to ignore the plight of fellow Christians just because they're Arab.

    No, Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love others as yourself. That is the heart of the Gospel.

    July 24, 2011 at 6:47 am |
    • Jay Pop

      Hi Chris, thanks for your response. I just wanted to say that when defining (summarizing) "the heart of the gospel", it's not enough to take any quote from Jesus and say that's the essence to the gospel. Certainly loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is associated with the gospel message, but it's not the heart of the gospel. Rather, God loving us...and sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place for our sins and to rise again for our justification - this is the heart of the gospel. 1 John 4:10 - "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

      July 24, 2011 at 7:31 am |
  11. AvdBerg

    For a better understanding of the history of Christianity and Islam we invite you to read the articles “World History and Developments in the Middle East”, “Clash of Civilizations” and “Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You? listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Carl Medearis compassed sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, he made him twofold more the child of hell than himself (Matthew 23:15). For a better understanding what that means we invite you to read the article “False Apostles and False Christs” listed on our website. In summary he preaches a false Christ and an image of a false god (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15).

    All of the other pages and articles on the website explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12).

    July 24, 2011 at 6:42 am |
  12. matt

    Fantastic! This was a great way to start my day.

    July 24, 2011 at 5:22 am |
  13. mike

    Jesus as rabbi is a very worldly view, one rejected by the Gospel. Do you still say he is the Christ, the Son of God who died for our sins to make redemption possible? Do you still believe in the resurrection? You can go too far in accommodating non-Christians. I hope you have thought this through.

    On another note, tell us more about these fierce Christian militias in the middle east.

    July 24, 2011 at 5:09 am |
    • Beatrice

      It must be some counter-attack for self-preservation by Christians in a Muslim land as usual.

      July 24, 2011 at 6:19 am |
    • Liutgard

      Christian militias are primarily based in Lebanon, but there are some in Israel as well. Perhaps you should brush up on your geography as well as history.

      July 24, 2011 at 7:02 am |
    • dmag

      How about this, then:

      Acts 2:22 "Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know."

      or

      Acts 10:37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

      Saying one true thing about Jesus doesn't mean denying other things which are true about him.

      July 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  14. Beatrice

    Evangelism is a heartbeat of Christianity – clearly, emphatically and repeatedly commanded by Jesus Christ Himself, but Muslims can find the love of Jesus first from the life of Christians since they already know something about Him.

    July 24, 2011 at 5:02 am |
  15. Beatrice

    That was a very safe thing to say as a missionary in Lebanon. The most offending exclusive claim of Jesus Christ is inevitable in encountering Christianity sooner or later.

    July 24, 2011 at 4:57 am |
    • Beatrice

      Sooner or later, honest and sincere humans admit the utter impossiblity of human efforts to gain salvation on their own and come to trust fully in Jesus alone by the quickening of God's Spirit.

      July 24, 2011 at 5:05 am |
    • Alex

      I always feel like the jerk telling the little kid santa doesnt exist, but its important to know the truth.. god simply doesnt exist, its an imaginary idea created to help us understand and deal with the fact that we are mortal.. Its just a coping mechanism created by the brain.. Its a natural phenomena yes.. but its still a delusional one.. sorry to be the one to have to tell you this..:(

      July 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • In the name of ...

      You sound like a used car lot sales person ... how big is your comission for the lemon ??

      July 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  16. samuel

    The message of Christ is love. Love your fellow men. If the scribes and the pharisees only knew love, they would not have lorded it over their fellow men. They would have served them, guided them to God. But they love their authority more. They love money and power more. They love their fancy clothes more.

    By his life and suffering, Jesus showed men how to love their fellow men. By living a life filled with love, Jesus became a model for men. When he said come, pick up your cross and follow me, he meant for man to be an example to his fellow men. By living a life of love, like what Christ did, men can lead their fellow men to God.

    July 24, 2011 at 3:38 am |
    • AvdBerg

      But I know you have not the love of God in you (John 5:42). For a better understanding of God's love we invite you to read all the pages and articles of our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

      All of the other pages and articles on the website explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12).

      July 24, 2011 at 6:41 am |
    • Frogist

      @Samuel: That is a message that even non-believers can live with. We do truly wish the Christian elements in this country would adhere to such an admirable view of the world. I think you are absolutely correct. The evangelicals who care only about the superiority of their god and explaining to others that superiority are more concerned with their authority than love. There is an arrogance in them that is impossible to stomach.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • samuel

      1 Corinthians 13: 1 – 13

      "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

      "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

      "Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

      "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

      July 26, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  17. Bryan Thompson

    I do believe we can be like two armies in (1st World War) trenches sometimes ... lobbing stuff at each other from our pet (religious, denominational, political) theories. Is that the way we exchange with 'them'? Is that how Jesus interacted with people?

    Most of Jesus' interaction with people (enemies, friends, disciples) was through story, discussion & questions.

    As a "missionary" since 1977, I have been 'freed' SO MUCH by discovering the winsome way to talk about Jesus and with others through Bible story. I've stopped wondering whose camp (or trench) people are in and trying to manoeuvre people over to my side. I'm having fun seeing people from all backgrounds discover Jesus and fall in love with Him, and often, almost by accident!

    I think I've stopped evangelising too!

    July 24, 2011 at 3:24 am |
    • ja

      I've been studying the Bible story method this past year. Awesome way to share the Gospel.

      July 24, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  18. Bucky Ball

    "Here goes: Twenty years ago, I became a missionary. My wife and I left our home in Colorado Springs, Colorado to move to Beirut, Lebanon. Our job description was to plant churches and evangelize to Muslims.

    Based on what I just said, Carl Medearis is a ______n other person who is unable to write English correctly writing for CNN, who should have been given the help of an editor.
    "Evangelize" is a transitive verb, which means "to preach to", and he is saying

    July 24, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      (oops)......preach to to Muslims, as well as the other mistake at the beginning of the Here goes:

      July 24, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  19. Michael Gardner

    How can someone be both a follower of Islam and one who has placed his complete trust in Christ? It would seem that the world view of Islam is at odds with with world-view of Christ...

    July 24, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • Michael Gardner

      (This is with all due respect, of course.) I'm thinking about buying your book now! sheesh.

      July 24, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • Beatrice

      Michael, a good idea. These Christian missionaries usually have the most accurate picture.

      July 24, 2011 at 6:21 am |
    • dmag

      Might it be possible to be a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Hindu or Jewish or anything else, and receive life from Jesus, and become His follower?

      Where in the New Testament does it say that someone has to "become a 'Christian'" to be "saved"?

      July 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • WeAreBlessed

      @dmag

      A "Christian" is a follower of Christ. To be a Christian is to accept Christ into your heart.

      It does state in the New Testament: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

      So if you have accepted Jesus into your heart you are now saved and a "Christian".

      July 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  20. Hana

    Beautifully stated.

    July 24, 2011 at 1:08 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.