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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. Future prophets

    Anyone!!! have you ever thought of writing a book of good moral, magic, mystical men/women, a savior of the human race. If not then think of writing one. Maybe in about 300-500 years a new religion may take hold in the world and your new book may be the next Bible, Koran, Bhagwat Geeta. I am pretty sure there is going to be a new religion of Harry Potter.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  2. SavySurfer

    Trying to "convert" people or having someone attempt to convert you feels so uncomfortable because it is so wrong on so many levels.
    I have come to the conculsion that when the final judgement is pronounced, God will say. All religions are right and true, the real test was "Live peacefully in harmony with one another without consideration or race creed or religion". The decision to leave my prosetylizing religon behind freed me to understand the human experience on a more spiritual level.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Meat Puupet

      Excellent – if only they would listen

      July 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  3. doogsidoG

    1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
    2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
    3 They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
    4 Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Magic

      As rhapsodic, romantic, poetic imagery - very pretty.
      As fact - quite absent.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  4. Laughing

    I'm very impressed just how many comments this article as already accrued. You have everyone who usually posting on these comment boards here, but a lot of newbies, mostly evangelicals themselves, who are writing about how this post is wrong. I find it fascinating that when a man writes an article asking his fellows to take off their crazy christian lens and live and let live, you more often than not find the crazies calling this guy the worst things.

    Please, for most of you chrisitans out there (Actually, believers of all faiths), please stop your delusions, but if you still won't, at least listen to what this guy has to say and keep your stupid beliefs in your homes or in your churches.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  5. Ken

    I am making an open comment to those who suggest there is no God, etc...and that believers act out of ignorance...
    Lets begin with what you believe. Is it that all things evolved into their present state, a big explosion got us here. The moon and stars...tell me...how do you think they got here...was there no beginning. Has everything just always been here? If there was a designer...was he/she/it intelligent or ignorant, etc. What is your take on it all. Do you have a better explanation of it all

    July 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Laughing

      Ken,

      You think we have the answers? No, we've found some empiracle proof to show that evolution, big bang, ect.... is at the top of the list as being most likely in how our world and universe are shaped today. However, how can you presume that your answers are anymore correct, especially since you're getting your answers from over 2,000 years ago. Doesn't that seem a little outdated to you?

      July 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Just Sayin

      "...especially since you're getting your answers from over 2,000 years ago. Doesn't that seem a little outdated to you?"

      Age has nothing to do with truth. 2+2 is as old as they come, but that doesn't make it wrong.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Justsayin

      Very true, and yet the world is round and the sun orbiting the earth seems little.....wrong, Then again, 2,000 years ago how could they have known? They came up with what they had that made sense at the time, so what's your excuse?

      July 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Laughing

      Sorry, that last reply was supposed to say "the world is flat and the sun orbiting the earth seems wrong to me"

      July 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Just Sayin

      While you may think the world is round, it is actually closer to spherical. That being said, there is no trump card on either side of the equation. Both sides of the debate have very valid points, however, if there were 'proof' there would be no debate. While you have every reason to believe what you do, so do those who believe differently.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Justsayin

      You were closer with your 2+2 comment, and sure the earth is eliptical and not a perfect sphere.....how did we figure that out again, did god tell us that? Oh wait, it was us who found that out with out technolgy.

      "That being said, there is no trump card on either side of the equation. Both sides of the debate have very valid points, however, if there were 'proof' there would be no debate. While you have every reason to believe what you do, so do those who believe differently."

      Sorry, but what "proof" is there on your side of the equation? Really, I would be fascinated to know. Scientific proof comes from archeology, astronomy, looking into deep space at distant galaxies and looking back billions of years. archeology lets us piece together old fossils and examine what life was like more than 10,000 years ago. We have old trees that can give us an idea of climate change. That's a lot of proof in my book. It doesn't make evolution or the big bang theory a fact, but it sure as hell contributes to it. Now, on your side of the equation.... Talking serpent? Nope, still looking for one of those. Being able to live inside a giant fish? Don't think that's possible either, but hey, prove me wrong, find a gigantic fish to live inside of for a couple of days and tell me how it goes. Every animal on earth deriving from only 2 that lived on a big boat for 40 days? Aside from that not really being physcially possible, I think it's safe to say, that probably didn't happen either (I see no "proof" on your end it did, but I can't find a giant boat either so, so far the odds are, it didn't exist). Need I go on?

      Please provide this proof on your end that makes both sides invalid for some reason

      July 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  6. ChicagoTim

    1) Atheism is not a Religion, it's the absence of proof in god(s) and enough rational thought to believe there is no god(s).

    2) Your bible is violent, contradictory, and anti-science. Look at evilbible.com and see actual bible quotes confirming this.

    3) Replace your god with any other god(s), and you see the same result and the same proof. (ex) "Zeus created the universe, else how else was it created?" There is the same proof for ANY god(s). The bible is not proof, it's a book; just like all the other religious books out there.

    4) It's not my job to prove your god(s) does not exist. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Can you prove my invisible unicorn living in my pocket is not real? Gaps in science does not prove a god (god of the gaps), it just means we don't know something.

    5) Why believe in fairy tales, when the natural world is wonderful enough.

    6) If you tell me what religion you are, I will tell you I'm an Atheist.
    If you tell me about your religion/god(s), I will tell you about Atheism/Rationalism/Humanism.
    If you try to convert me, I will show you what a poor book the bible is, and why religion/god(s) are a social and political tool.

    7) Adults don't need imaginary friends.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Craig

      Thank you for stating the obvious! To ALL so-called believers out there, one word describes why you believe in the tooth fairy: FEAR.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • James

      Craig –

      Do you lock your doors? Buy insurance? Wear a seatbelt? Put on sunscreen? One could argue you do all of these out of fear.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Chris

      Craig,

      Thanks for your thoughts and I respect them. But please don't label us all under the same notion. You may think it's fear, and that may be the case of many. But the reason I do it is so much greater than fear. It's peace and love. Thanks.

      Chris

      July 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • ChicagoTim

      I put on Sunscreen because I can get a sunburn, this is a proven fact. Testable, repeatable FACT.

      Gods are not. Pray and see what happens, nothing? Something? You get the same results as if you did not pray. There are news reports all the time about a church bus filled with kids that crashes or a church that burns down. Religious people have the same rate of good or bad luck as atheists.

      Why do churches have lightening rods on the roof, or buy insurance? Because they know their god does not protect them. Because there is no such thing. You have the same chance of good/bad luck as me, regardless of how much you pray or donate to church or go to church.

      Religious people want to beleive in a god, because it makes life easier to understand. They feel safer, less scarry beleiving there is some daddy figure watching over them.

      A sick patient that gets better when doctors who think the person will die, was not cured by god. There are natural reasons for everything, regardless if the doctor can explain it. In 1 or 5 or 10 years the doctor may eventually be able to explain it with enough research. Then the 'god gap' gets smaller and smaller.

      Look into Humanisn. You can be good without god.

      July 26, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  7. Barry

    When you have information that is that is so important, you cannot and should not keep such information to yourself.
    Jesus is the son of God, he took on human form and was crucified for everyone’s sins, in order that anyone who believes in him may have forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

    How can anyone keep that to themselves and not share this with everyone?

    When non-believers stand before God on the Day of Judgment, surely they will say: No one told me that your son Jesus was crucified for our sins, or surely I would have believed in him.

    Now you have been told and you have this marvelous opportunity.

    Now you cannot say: Lord we didn’t know. No one told me!

    July 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  8. Tim Hurst

    Sorry, don't trust you. As soon as I get close, you will beat me up, drag me behind (if your in Texas) a truck and kill me.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Silly..But Saved!

      Are you kidding me? Im tired of 'Texans getting a bad wrap because of some isolated incident. I'm sure if you researched your state we would find even worse incidents. All of Texas is not radicalized conservative right wing nuts! And yes, I believe that and I know you can be Christian and not rabid.. I AM.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  9. csb

    If you consider yourself a Christian, your witness to others seems to be more destructive than if they had never heard of Jesus. Simply persuading someone to live like Jesus is not the key to salvation, since works alone does not get you into heaven, any more than a religious label does. If you believe in one God, how can you rejoice in someone’s act of “living like Jesus” as they continue to worship other gods in their culture? From your article it seems that you share just enough to give someone a false expectation.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • jts

      I agree with you csb

      July 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Barry

      Christians don’t believe that they can do enough good works to go to heaven. We believe the blood of Jesus washes away our sins and cleanses us from all sin and unrighteousness. We believe that only the blood of the son of God can do this.

      We don’t trust in our ability to save ourselves. We do, however, believe that Jesus’ example and teachings are the right way and the best way to live, even if we are weak and sinful. We also believe that life is better for everyone, if we follow his divine example.

      The different between we who believe and those who don’t is we acknowledge that we are sinful and need a savior. Jesus is the son of God and is our savior.

      Remember it was Jesus who told us to love one another, to forgive one another, and to love and pray for our enemies.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  10. Andy

    This article is basically semantics.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Thad

      THANK YOU!

      July 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  11. Bruce

    If you want to get a person to follow Jesus such that they can come to the Father by Jesus (John 14:6), the LAST thing you want to do is to convert them to Christianity.

    Following Jesus is hard enough without religion getting in the way. Why carry so much baggage up that mountain? Do you think all that doctrine and belief-without-proof of things you cannot possibly know or properly judge is your cross to bear? After the Centurion's faith was praised by Jesus, did HE convert to Christianity? No, he didn't.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      But he did have faith in Jesus.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Bruce

      Yes, the Centurion had faith that Jesus would do what Jesus said he would do, and moreover he had the insight (another term for "faith" in this specific context) to see that Jesus could do it remotely rather than needing to do it locally (heal his servant).

      The Centurion did NOT, however, believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose on the third day. He managed to have faith in Jesus without being in possession of that particular opinion.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • JD

      A lot of assumption about the Centurion there, because it doesn't actually say what happened after that.

      Seems you've forgotten the definition of a Christian: a follower of Christ (or "little Christ" as early Christians were called by their detractors). To follow Christ IS to what the Christian religion is all about. If you say you follow Christ but don't associate with Christians or Christianity, then you will find that you deny much of Christ's teachings.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Ken

      After the Centurion's faith was praised by Jesus, did HE convert to Christianity? No, he didn't....just wondering...how do you know that he did not convert

      July 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Bruce

      JD, I don't need to know what happened after that. Jesus praised the faith that the Centurion demonstrated right then and there on that very day, and that Centurion's faith had nothing whatsoever to do with believing that Jesus died on a cross and rose on the third day.

      Try to be a Christian today and not believe that Jesus died on a cross and rose on the third day. Will your "faith" be praised?

      July 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • JD

      At that time, Jesus hadn't even died on the cross yet, so of course the centurion didn't believe that. Jesus was asking people to believe He was the Messiah, the promised Son of God. The centurion believed that Jesus had God's power to do miracles, and called him "Lord." Then Jesus implies that the centurion would be in Heaven while many Jews who denied Him would not.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Bruce

      Exactly, JD. The Centurion recognized something about Jesus that had nothing to do with religious doctrine. It was this recognition, and the understanding of Who and What Jesus was and is, that was praised as faith.

      The religion of Christianity piles on top of any sort of recognition one might come to regarding Jesus a whole bunch of theological doctrine baggage that just gets in the way. The Centurion didn't need Christian theology. The Centurion didn't need Jewish Messianic theology. His recognition came without religion.

      The Christian with all of his treasures in baggage is like the rich man and the camel and the eye of the needle. An atheist is like a poor man without any of this baggage. He is "the poor in spirit" and his is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3).

      Now it's probably not impossible for a rich-in-spirit Christian to make it into the Kingdom of Heaven, because "nothing is impossible" with God. But first God will humble him and make him drop his baggage.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • JD

      If you say you have faith in Jesus, of course it wouldn't be praised if you don't believe His very own words that he would (and did) die on a cross and rise from the dead three days later.

      In John 20:24-30, Jesus appears physically to the disciples after rising from the dead, and has Thomas put his hands in his wounds to prove it was him who had been crucified and now was alive again.

      Matthew 8:31
      "And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."

      John 2:18-22
      '...the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.'

      The kind of faith you speak of is not the kind of faith Jesus spoke of. To believe Jesus is who he said he was and did the things he said he did necessitates belief in His death and resurrection according to the scriptures.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • JD

      Bruce, I'm not saying that you have to understand deep theological doctrines to place simple faith in Jesus as the centurion did. But certainly he wasn't denying Jesus' teaching either. Atheists, if they even believe Jesus existed, unabashedly deny his teaching.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Bruce

      JD, we have the examples of the Centurion and the Magi who recognized Jesus without religion, without theology.

      We have the example of Thomas (who refused to believe without some specific proof), of Peter (who denied he even knew Jesus three times on the day he died), and of Paul (who actually killed believers until he had his conversion experience). Where is the example of the apostle who listened to Jesus and was completely unsurprised by the resurrection? Who said, "well OF COURSE it happened that way, just like you said!"? Nobody said that.

      Religion is baggage. It is not only unnecessary, it is counterproductive.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • JD

      You're right Bruce – we have those three examples of people who denied or refused to believe Christ at first. But they all later believed Him, and we know that Peter, Paul and Thomas believed and proclaimed (evangelized) His resurrection and God's command for all men everywhere to repent and be saved by faith in Jesus.

      You would do well to read what Paul had to say about the faith in Jesus and His resurrection:

      "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.
      For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas [Peter], then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep [died]. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

      For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am...

      ...And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.

      ...And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

      ...If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable."

      As for religion and doctrine, Acts 2:38-47 describes Peter's take on it:
      'Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...

      'And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

      *** 'And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. ***

      Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.

      And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.'

      July 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  12. ProperVillain

    This is the most refreshing thing I have heard come out of Christandom in a very long time. Amen brother...

    July 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Danny

      So you are easily amused by double-speak?

      July 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  13. Letsbereasonable

    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”-Stephen Roberts

    July 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  14. Dustin

    Preach the gospel at all times – If necessary, use words.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • xtianchild

      Amen. I am finding it difficult to agree with every statement in this article, however, the above quote seems to sum up the author's intentions very nicely. "Preaching the Gospel" is not a cut-and-dried method. It is only until sinners see the power of Jesus Christ in the simple, yet Holy Spirit-filled lives of ordinary people, that they will come to repentance.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  15. steve

    Mothergoose,

    Have you sought the truth? That "Fairytale" you refer to stood the test of time and it is still here and billions still beleive. I KNOW you are wrong but the question is: How do you know you are right? Living by the rules too tough for you?
    What did you do?

    July 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Letsbereasonable

      I know I have read the Bible. That is why I am an atheist. I don't believe in a god just as I don't believe in fairies, unicorns, and Medussa. If you make the assertion that a god exists, you have to prove it and the evidence is not there at all.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Dam

      Stood the test of time. hahaha Bible is being proven wrong all the time. Just bcoz Islam has 1.5 billion beilevers or Hindus have 1.2 billion believers or Buddhists have 700 million does it mean there is truth to all the ignorant rambing in those religions also. The world has many foolish people like u, that does not mean ur mumbo jumbo is true.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Jakabus

      You throw around the word "truth" like you have any understanding of what it is. Then you say you "know" that someone else is wrong. Any and everything you say is now suspect and it is impossible to have a logical debate with you. This is what religion does to people–makes them think that what they believe is "the truth" and that they have to be right because if they are wrong they have no foundational basis for their own lives.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Ricl

      Letsbereasonable –

      Technically, Christians live by faith, not proof, so the burden of proof isn't on them. However, they might respond with a similar charge to you; If God isn't real, someone had to make Him up. Prove that God was fabricated.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  16. sbk

    "Following Jesus"

    What does that even mean nowadays? Follow word-for-word what the new testament says? Pick and choose all the "good things" Jesus preached while ignoring the socially archaic notions of being a "Good Christian"?

    One reason why I hate religion is the hypocrisy. They invoke the Bible/Koran/Tora at every turn, and yet ignore the parts and ideas from the books that are inconvenient or simply scandalous for contemporary settings. Either God's words are timeless and should be followed without question for all time, or they are relevant only during the period in history when it was written (by man, not divine power).

    July 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Barry

      Jesus hated hypocrisy more than you do.

      This is clear from the Gospels.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  17. Chris

    Jesus was the Savior, not a uniter. He united us with God through His saving act of the cross. So like a said, he doesn't unite humans together, he unites humans with God, that is why He should be looked at as not a uniter, but rather the Savior. Peace be with you.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • sbk

      How is Jesus' death on the cross any more selfless or noble or sacred than the millions of other human beings throughout history that gave their lives for a cause?

      July 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Rebekah

      Jews had to kill Jesus in order for the narrative to work. If he was supposed to die for us, then the Jews aided in the plan.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Magic

      Chris,

      What kind of "God" has its hurt feelings appeased by torture and death?

      July 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Chris

      sbk,

      Thanks for the response. It is through my faith in Jesus that His act differs from any other act act of humans as He was not only fully human, but fully God. This single fact is the dividing line here. Now I understand you may not see it as that, but that is the foundation of the Christian religion, and unfortunately what a lot of "Christians" fail to grasp: the incredible act of God, coming to us, to die for us, so that we can be in a loving relationship with Him. It is truly amazing and liberating to know His love. A majority of Sunday Christians claim this, but don't live it, so I feel they don't have a grasp on this concept. How could they be so complacent in their belief if they did?

      So again, we will most likely differ as to our belief on who Jesus was/is. To me, He is more than a man, He is my Savior, and to so many more if they truly study His life and believe what the gospel says. Thanks for hearing me out.

      Rebekah,

      You are correct on both statements. He did have to do for (God's) narrative to work. And since he was supposed to die for us, the Jews most definitely aided in "the plan". If we look throughout the Old Testament, we see foretelling of Jesus, and what will happen when He is on earth. The Jews have a history of harming and killing those whom God sends. Just look at any of the prophets, many were beaten/tortured/killed by Jews, yet modern day Jews now recognize those they harmed/killed as prophets sent by God. There is so much more to the Bible than the watered down fairy tale stories that permeate our culture, there is so much in there. Dig into it, check it out, it's awesome!

      Thanks for your reply, and for hearing my response. Hopefully I was able to explain my beliefs a little. Have a great day.

      Chris

      July 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Chris

      Magic,

      This would take more than a comment board space to explain! 😉 If you're willing, I would love to try and explain/interact over email. And I promise to not convert you! That's not my job anyway, it's God's. Seriously, if you want to discuss this over email, that would be great, it is an amazing explanation. Take care!

      Chris

      July 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Chris

      I'm still having a really hard to understanding this and I have yet to get a real answer. Why is it that god had to come down and die for everyone exactly? And why wouldn't he just go by god instead of Jesus Christ (the anointed one) – doesn't that imply that they are separate?

      Also, your comment about the jews – idiotic to the extreme. Sorry, but it's true. True prophets to the jews were revered (see Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Elijah ect...). To think that jews had a hand in killing jesus because that was part of "the plan" only furthers the anti-semitic agenda of the church. Just thought I'd give you a little lesson in that, do with it what you will.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • i wonder

      If "God" has another son, and if he were to come to Earth today, part of his physical and mental torture would be listening to evangelicals.

      July 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  18. The Jackdaw

    The world ends in October, YAY JESUS!

    Religion needs to go the way of the Dodo. It is time for humanity to step it up and stop expecting invisable dieties to save us.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      You forget that "Humanity" has a poor history too, when it comes to saving itself.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  19. Tim Barnes

    Well spoken and thank you for your article. I also agree with your philosophy of talking about Jesus. One of the most important things he said was if the people we are talking to do not want to listen then turn away. Even then Jesus realized that not everyone will believe. All we were sent to do was spread the word and show Jesus's love. Unless I am mistaken there is nothing else biblical we are asked to do when dealing with others.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Serita

      Talk to the Christians running the faith-based initiatives. Tell those Christians about Jesus. These Christians can legally discriminate against gay people applying for these faith-based positions. Our government has given them full permission to accept taxpayer funded monies while openly discriminating against the gay community. Christians know less about Christianity than non-Christians.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Chris

      Where's Scripture to back up this? What I believe you are referring to was when Jesus sent his disciples out in Luke 9. Jesus, however, said a little more than to just turn away. Let's look at Luke 9:1-5 to get the entire context:

      (1) And he (Jesus) called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, (2) and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. (3) And he said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. (4) And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. (5) And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them." (6) And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

      So when we look at the entire context of that passage, Jesus instructed His disciples to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. Let's focus on that, to "proclaim" the kingdom of God and to heal. And His instruction to them if the town did not receive them, well it was to "leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them." A little more harsh than to simply turn away.

      Then what did the disciples do? They went, "preaching the gospel and healing everywhere." Yes, the preached the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.

      I'm not arguing with you here, I'm just hoping you understand it was a little more than turning away if people wouldn't listen. I am a follower of Jesus, and try my absolute best to live by His example, and I hurt when I see Christians do acts that bring disgrace to Jesus. It's the fault of any "religion". I can see where the author's intentions lay, but unfortunately I feel they have been tainted with humanism. I believe in the Great Commission, and I try to accomplish that by loving everyone I encounter, regardless of their faith/beliefs, and I love to talk with them about Jesus. But my heart is to try to get them to see that a loving relationship with Him is the way not only to heaven, but to find ultimate peace while here on earth. Thanks for the post, and for listening to my response. Peace be with you.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  20. Nevada Willis

    Medearas has a simple and profound take on this issue. It's one thing to be proud of and teach the tenants of one's religion. But perhaps it's not true to the "source" to insist that others convert to our views. The major religions are basically peaceful if distilled down to their original teachings. And who is to say that God doesn't appear to different cultures in different ways that relate to those particular cultures? If we don't work to replace fanaticism with "I'm OK, you're OK" our choice is to continue on the path of polarization and reading reports of more people dying. The latter is counterintuitive.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
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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.