home
RSS
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. Willie 12345

    Yea, error, because yea know not the scriptures.

    August 8, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  2. Aaron

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

    And here is the problem: It's the same thing! Trying to separate doctrine from following Jesus just doesn't work. They are symbioticly tied to one another- you can't rank one over the other. When you do, you devalue the doctrine and you leave no way for one to actually understand who Jesus is much less how to follow Him.

    August 8, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • rj

      I think Carl's intent is to state that one does experience a living Jesus and receive the blessings of such a relationship without having to affirm a list of doctrinal statements or "say the sinner's prayer". I perceive many evangelistic tactics as static because they're bounded by doctrinal hoops to jump through. Another example is the myopic tendency towards "Bible study" as "knowing God", rather than speaking of Jesus as a living being who responds, interacts, leads, and helps people in a dynamic way.

      August 9, 2011 at 1:31 am |
  3. Jose R

    I believe that the passage quoted by the writer is also referred to as "the great commission" (Matt 28:18-20) and it tells us that in addition to making disciples, we should teach what Jesus commanded us to follow and to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. There is clear evidence Jesus had more in mind than just talking about him or thinking of him as a great prophet. Men needs to see Jesus as the redeemer, as the way, the truth and the life. The essential problem of humankind is our enmity with God, e.i. sin. Only Jesus can reconcile man to his maker.

    Having said that, I believe the best way to teach and make disciples is to be rooted in the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God so that we may then have a transforming relationship with Jesus, being reconciled with God and exhibit a Christ-like character, living a life of obedience that will attract, not force others to seek Jesus and accept him as their personal savior.

    August 5, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  4. Buddy R

    Carl, your take is not Biblical. Jesus preached. Jesus sent out his apostles to preach during his own earthly ministry. After his resurrection he again commanded his church to preach.

    Act 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

    1Co 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

    There are not multiple ways of salvation. Jesus said he alone is the way of salvation.

    Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    August 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • OnLooker

      What he is saying that people should stop talking about their Christian denomination and start talking about the faith's central figure, Jesus Christ. Talking about his love and sheer awesomeness

      August 5, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  5. Muneef

    Islam had it's share of False Prophets During Muhammad's saws time, so God only knows how many were there after his death and result of those at present times...!?
     
    -01) Al-Aswad al-Ansi.
    Aswad Ansi (Arabic : الاسود العنس), better known as Abhala son of Kaab, was a prophet who claimed prophethood in Yemen towards the end of the prophet Muhammad's lifetime, around 630 AD. He claimed to receive divine inspiration in the form of words and is recorded to have recited them to his people.
    He was known to be a soothsayer and a sorcerer who had a passion for consumption of alcohol. He had an ability to dazzle a crowd with tricks, according to traditional accounts he had a donkey whom he had trained to kneel before him, he would tell the donkey, in front of a large crowd "Kneel before your lord" and it would kneel, and then he would say to it "Bow before your lord" and it would bow. He eventually managed to convince the people of Yemen that he was a prophet.

    -2) Musaylama The Liar
    “ "From Muhammad, the Messenger of God, to Musaylimah, the arch-liar. Peace be upon him who follows (God's) guidance. Now then, surely the earth belongs to God, who bequeaths it to whom He will amongst his servants. The ultimate issue is to the God-fearing."[4] ”

    -3) Tulayha
    Tulayha ibn Khuwaylid ibn Nawfal al-Asadi[1] belonged to the Bani Assad tribe. He was a wealthy chief and a great warrior.[1] In 625 he was defeated in the Expedition of Qatan (against the Muslims). He also took part in the Battle of the Trench in 627.
    In 630 he submitted to Muhammad. However, he rebelled against Muhammad in 631 when he claimed to be a prophet and the recipient of divine revelation.[1] Thus, Tulayha became the third person to claim prophethood among the Arabs against Muhammad.[2] Many tribes acknowledged him as a prophet, which made him sufficiently strong and powerful to lead a confederacy of numerous tribes against the Muslims.[1].

    August 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Muneef

      False Prophets reveal them selves time after time all through generations;

      August 4, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Muneef

      Those today are refered to as politicians....

      August 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  6. Disciple Mikey

    The bottom line is this...... Jesus followers were given authority to preach to people of all nations. One noteworthy example would be the spreading of the word in Samaria. These ones were baptized, therefore converting to be followers of Christ. God is not prejudiced but one must think like God and accept ALL of his standards and ways to be accepted by him. Never once do we see disciples or Christ himself "sugarcoating" the Word to make it more acceptable to people. Yes, tact is required to win over people but in the final analysis people must accept the truth as it is. Stephen, when on trial in front of the Sanhedrin, was very tactful in appealing to their respect of men such Moses and Joseph. But only to prove his point that Jesus was denied by the jews, just as Moses was rejected and murmured against time after time and Joseph was sold by his own brothers. By the end of his explanation he had'nt diluted the truth at all and was severely punished. This idea of accepting people as they are is new one that was adopted by man, and not from God.

    August 4, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  7. William

    Carl, you state that "Jesus the uniter of humanity, not Jesus the divider. How might that change the way we look at others?' Jesus said "“Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law” Matthew 10:34-35

    As Christians, If we are going to follow Jesus and have Him truly be our Lord then there will be times when people who do not follow Him will not understand us. There will be times when they will angry with us, hurt by us, argue with us. We must realize that when we follow Jesus we become citizens of His Kingdom. We become exiles in our own communities. We just don’t exactly fit anymore. That misfit will divide us from others. But it need not make us people who lash out against those who are different from us. Paul tells us in Romans 12:18 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men”. By it’s very nature our following of Jesus puts us at odds. But in spite of that reality, we are to do all that we possibly can to bridge the gap and be reconciled in Christ. – Dan Lacich

    We don't always need to evangelize openly but we do need to "go and make disciples" which requires some form of evangelism. How you live your life by the power of the Holy Spirit can sometimes be the envangelism that is needed. Evangelism does not have a 1-formula fits all solution. Even so, we still can learn to live peaceably with those of other faiths.

    August 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  8. Muteea

    I think the real issue is not Evangelical Christias, it is Insiders like Carl who try to dilute the Gospel message and decieve Muslim seekers by allowing a Muslim person to become a follower of "Isa al Masseh" whatever that means [since we know nothing about Isa in the Bible – we know about Jesus who is the savior of the World]. I would respect Carl more if he would share openly the approach he takes to eleminate mention of the "Son of God" to Muslims because Insiders beieve it is offensive to Muslims [as if Jesus did not come to offend those who rejected Him].

    I wish that Carl would be transparent rather than use cryptic words that are meaningless and not forthcoming, but yet again, what shall we expect from an Insider!

    I find it funny that those who promote an Insider Movement approachare think highly of themselves as if they are God's gift to man kind, to bring the Good news, and to heal the afflicted, and open the eyes of the blind. It is almost like God waited 2,000 years to finally unlock the truth behind what Christ meant when He said: Go and Make disciples of ALL Nations. We now know that what He meant is that to use the Insider Movement approach to become successful in bringing seekesr to Christ (I meant to Isa al-Masseh).

    I have one question to ask: Why do Insiders like Carl focus their mission on Muslims ONLY and not people of other religions? And if Carl is telling us the truth about sharing Christ with non-Muslims, then we need to see the proof of that. The chances are, he never focus on any other peoples group other than Muslims!!!

    August 2, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Steve S

      Isa al Masseh means Jesus the Messiah.

      August 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • rj

      If you are not interested in knowing more about Jesus, then ok. There are Muslims who have read about Jesus and want to know more, but they don't have to stop praying 5 times a day or eating Halal food, they don't have to become pro-American or watch American moves. Jesus does not ask Muslims to stop being Muslim, Jesus helps Muslims to "submit to the will of God".

      August 9, 2011 at 1:51 am |
  9. Richard S Kaiser

    Luke 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.

    Ever notice that this “script” of the states rather peculiarly the “Son of man” NOT the Son of GOD or even any other of the Gods who are all Sons of HIS?

    I'm not much on par with the Muslim Doctrine so; "Can anybody tell me a wee bit about such Muslim Scripture to make me a Muslim Follower?

    August 2, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Dagabit, dropped a whole Word this Time. It should read, "Ever notice that this “script” of the Gospels states rather peculiarly,,,,,

      August 2, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Dropped yet another letter,,,,,,,, Should be DagNabit,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 🙂

      August 2, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • frank

      Does "Son of Man" indicate that Mary was a trans-sexual?

      August 2, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • Jose R

      Son of Man is an expression that makes reference to how the old testament prophets referred to the coming Messiah (Daniel, Isaiah, etc..) Jesus is indeed both the Son of God (one equal with God), and the Son of Man (took the human form).

      August 6, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  10. Mike Peralta

    Jesus said that He was the way, the truth, and the life, and that NO ONE can get to the Father except through Him.
    Of course, everyone has a free will and can choose to ignore what Jesus so clearly said - but the consequence is still going to be what Jesus said. Without Jesus as your Lord, then you ain't seeing the Father in Heaven either.

    And there are only two destinations - Heaven or Hell. But you get to choose – but only according to what Jesus said and in no other way. Narrow minded you say. Maybe so. But sometimes truth is narrow. For example, laws of physics like gravity are narrow also. If you choose to disobey, you will fall like a rock.

    You get to choose, but you don't get to determine the outcome of your choice. Just the choice itself.

    But getting to know Jesus is about gettting to know your Divine Creator who loves you and wants to be your friend and also wants to be with you forever. But the relationship must be on His terms. Since His terms are based on absolute truth and love. My website is at: hell3.weebly.com

    August 2, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      @ Mike Peralta

      MP stated; “Jesus said that He was the way, the truth, and the life, and that NO ONE can get to the Father except through Him.”

      I respond writing; Christ Jesus said; “This world is NOT of MY KINGDOM!”

      MP goes on; “Of course, everyone has a free will and can choose to ignore what Jesus so clearly said – but the consequence is still going to be what Jesus said. Without Jesus as your Lord, then you ain't seeing the Father in Heaven either.

      I rebuke by writing; “Our Parents who are dead; Their kingdom is no within the heavens of Heaven’s Domains.”

      MP rambles on saying; “And there are only two destinations – Heaven or Hell. But you get to choose – but only according to what Jesus said and in no other way. Narrow minded you say. Maybe so. But sometimes truth is narrow. For example, laws of physics like gravity are narrow also. If you choose to disobey, you will fall like a rock.”

      I write to MPtheBSer; “Of Many heavens are of earth’s Heaven and Christ Jesus came to Save those lost from/thru our wickedness ways in which the undiffused people have fallen thru the proverbial cracks of Socialisms’ cultured menageries!” Christ has ’prepared’ many a mansion for those who do live life ever so meekly and do not harm anyone physically or emotionally thru vile and wicked agendas.”

      MPP states “You get to choose, but you don't get to determine the outcome of your choice. Just the choice itself. But getting to know Jesus is about gettting to know your Divine Creator who loves you and wants to be your friend and also wants to be with you forever. But the relationship must be on His terms. Since His terms are based on absolute truth and love. My website is at,,,,,,,,,,,”

      “What a flakey way of promoting your reprobate and conniving Mind!”

      August 2, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      OOOPS I dropped a letter ,,,, should be written, "Their kingdom is noW within the heavens of Heaven’s Domains.”

      August 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • tallulah13

      When I die, I will be dead. The end.

      August 3, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • Rick

      Mike: Expecting that people can fear retaliation from beings in which they do not believe is absurd. Preaching it is a fool's errand

      August 3, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Mike Peralta

      Jesus loves you very much. He paid a very terrible price to save you.
      If you die without Christ and go to hell, then you will have no one
      to blame except yourself. You have been warned multiple times.

      It says in the bible that God takes "no pleasure in the death of the wicked".
      God does not want you to go to hell. He sent His Son so that you wouldn't.

      Come to Jesus and surrender you life completely to Him. He wants to bless
      you with His salvation and His friendship. Their is no better friend than Jesus.

      – Mike Peralta hell3.weebly.com

      August 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • TheyNotHim

      Hey Mike. Please man, help me out. I just need ONE SHRED OF PROOF that anything you are saying is true. That's it, it's that simple for me to believe. Otherwise, I'm gonna sit out this little charade.

      Still waiting...

      August 4, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  11. Muneef

    Rather I think what is Carl saying is that we should be like Jesus and to remind of his return to earth...and that it is more about Jesus than the Church...! I find that very good because I think some how he is saying that " Rather have "Quality than Qunt-i-ty" of followers...
    I support the same voting that Christians deserves a better treatment with the wealth they have rather than it going for converting others overseas rather than it going as pure charity for the sake of Jesus only with out any hidden motives...!

    August 1, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  12. DJ

    Hmm...A few issues I have to take with your stance. First off, you seem to be against Christians trying to convert other to Christianity while posting a picture of yourself standing proudly next to a leader of a group that has a goal of killing Jews and Christians, and who kill any of their own who attempt to leave Islam. This seems a bit two-faced.

    Secondly- Yes, Jesus did say to go and make disciples. Yet I am not sure how you expect people from other religions would become a disciple without converting to Christianity in the process. Judaism doesn't acknowledge his claims, and Islam only sees him as a prophet. No major religion aside from Christianity accepts following Jesus as part of their belief system.

    Also, while your stance seems comfortably inclusive, Jesus also stated that He was the only way to Heaven, which tells me that Muhammad, pantheism (Hindu), worshipping ancestors, and the old sacrificial system of the Jews won't cut it. Necessarily, to accept His claims would require giving up previously held religious beliefs.

    Perhaps your issue is with our modern American Church? I wholeheartedly agree- our churches today are a mess and in some cases have strayed far from the truth. You stated that "Just because I believe that evangelicals should stop evangelizing doesn’t mean that they should to stop speaking of Jesus". Perhaps you think they should call it something else than evangelizing then? In the Bible, to evangelize WAS to spread the good news of Jesus. If people accepted that good news, they became disciples, and essentially converted from their previous belief system. One cannot truly accept all that Chris is and was and still maintain another religion- ie, if you are His disciple, you have no need to bow to Mecca, pray to ancestral spirits, or sacrifice a goat to whatever god u formerly worshipped. It becomes all about Jesus, and to be focused on Him is to be truly Christian.

    August 1, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Roshan Mandal

      Please have your facts straight before posting. Hindusim is not a pantheistic religion. It is "Advaita," (non-dual), which is similar to monism.

      August 1, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Muneef

      In short you are saying that they are like Monists who are Monotheists believing on one supreme being...! Then isn't that similar to "submission" worshiping one supreme being...!! While pluralistics are more like the Greek mythology...

      August 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • DJ

      Rosh- While I can appreciate that some Hindus see their religion as monotheistic, the greater majority adhere to a belief in either Brahman as the Supreme Reality (pantheism) or worship Vishnu, Shiva, etc, which leans more toward a polytheistic way of thinking. Yet since many explain these as different forms of Brahman, this still brings it back to the Supreme Reality where the belief is that we are one with- or aspire to be one with Brahman; ie Pantheism.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • eric calderone

      RE: DJ. A christian, all christians, are expected to evangelize (send the Good News) by their example. However, it is not the teaching of historical Christianity that only through conversion to Christianity can one be saved. One who lives a righteous life, even if that person does not know of Jesus, may be saved by Jesus' merits. Both Islam and Judaism are kin faiths of Abraham. While neither, in a christian's perspective, offers the fulness of truth, they both share important precepts with christianity.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Derek

      Yeah, eric, they should share that good news, like how their loving, personal god keeps bringing on tsunamis, tornados, and diseases to kill and maim innocent people. And don't forget his requests to burn some animals because he likes the smell.

      Your god doesn't exist. Stop trying to sell the world on your god fraud.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Muneef

      Pantheism then as well no different from Monotheisem ??!

      About natural disasters think mankind should stop corrupting on Earth causing all this but about fires guess tell your folks not to through citggrates out of cars... Carlessness is the enemy not God...

      August 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • DJ

      Eric- I would have to disagree somewhat. Yes there are similarities between the Abrahamic faiths, but the key difference is, as I said before, Jesus. The sweetest, nicest religious person in the world will not get to heaven simply by being nice- and that includes people that claim to be Christians. Jesus is the key here, according to the Bible and according to Jesus himself. The key is not just living like him, but having a relationship with him. He also said that if we deny Him he will deny us. If your faith doesn't acknowledge his deity (Islam), isn't that a denial of Him?

      Derek- A valid philosophical position, but one without proof. It is simply your opinion, and one that I and many others feel lacks enough evidence. Either way, if you want to debate that is fine, but bashing others for disagreeing with you is pointless. Incidentally...you say blame natural disasters on God yet say he doesn't exist. He can only be responsible IF he exists. Placing blame on something you say isn't there is contradictory and makes no sense. Also- why does He only get blame for the bad stuff? When is the last time God got blamed for the perfect weather on a day at the beach? Why is the bad stuff His fault and the good stuff just coincidence or luck?

      August 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • eric calderone

      RE: Derek. It is always a pleasure to find someone with a blind faith in atheism. God does not bring on disasters; geological, meteorological, factors do. Sometimes mankind does, as is the case with pollution and global warming. Sometimes atheists do: witness Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin. God is not associated with disease; He does not spread germs. Mankind, more than any other factor, is responsible for disease. You really seem intent on projecting humanity's defects onto God, but I guess that goes with a blind faith in atheism.

      BTW, I doubt that God enjoys the sacrifice of animals; I suspect man is at fault here too.

      August 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • eric calderone

      RE: DJ. I respect your difference of opinion, but I agree with the position taken by the oldest Churches: the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. They teach while Jesus is at the root of all Salvation, it is not necessary that someone know and assent to Him. IWhile it is normative that one cooperates with God's grace through knowing, obeying and loving God, to avail oneself of the opportunity for salvation, GOD is not bound by any rules, laws or procedures. God can bestow eternal life on someone based on that person's life record.

      August 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Real Deal

      DJ,

      What if someone told you that he has a 'relationship' with his 5,000 year old African ancestor, Ubu, who tells him where to place the pins on the voodoo doll?

      Sorry, this 'relationship' is one-sided only, and all in your imagination.

      -and-

      People question why *you* do not blame *your* purported "God" for the ills of the world. It is not because they believe that this "God" exists.

      August 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • eric calderone

      RE: Real Deal. Do you exist? Are you only in your imagination, and not physically present? How do you know? You know, of course, by external evidence. If you kick a stone, it hurts. You feel. Do you believe the world exists, the galaxy, the universe? Or, are they all in your imagination? We believe God exists because the evidence is overwhelming. No one can make matter but God.

      Tell you what, you postulate a cause other than God which is more convincing.

      I'll make it even simpler for you: postulate an alternative to God the Creator, which is, if not more convincing, as convincing. Bet you can't.

      August 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Real Deal

      eric,

      I realize that it is very difficult and quite unsatisfying to say, "We don't know... yet (if ever)"

      It's interesting that you mentioned geological and meteorological factors in relation to Earth's disasters. A couple of thousand years ago those were most definitely attributed to various imaginary supernatural beings. Somehow you are now able to believe in naturally caused events to explain certain things, but not others. You have dismissed Zeus's responsibility for lightning and Pele's for volcanic activity... what other natural wonders are we still to discover?

      August 2, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • DJ

      Eric- It seems we start out at the same all important place but come to different conclusions as to how it plays out. I am ok with that as it seems the Main Thing remains the Main Thing.

      Real- In regards to the guy hanging out with his ancestor: I would first ask for evidence he existed. In the case of Jesus, the evidence is plentiful. Secondly I'd ask for evidence that this ancestor is still busy today. One man's claim means little. In the case of Jesus, too many millions claim the same change for it to be coincidence that they all have the same kind of change in them. If this is not sufficient enough evidence for you to at least investigate the claims for yourself, then I am sorry for you. And I don't mean investigate all that is WRONG with the people that claim Christianity. I mean investigate Jesus himself.
      As far as the question about natural disasters- I was addressing the fact that so many atheists seem to be very angry at the God they don't believe in. I have heard very few ask that kind of question without placing obvious blame on God in the process. I know they don't believe in him, but that doesn't stop alot of people from acting very upset at him anyway. But my question to them is: if you find this so unjust, where did you get the concept of injustice? If God doesn't exist, to what overarching sense of right vs wrong are you appealing when you say God is bad?
      Do I blame God for the bad things? No. Do I sometimes wonder why he allowed them? Of course. But I have no problem with the concept that if God exists then he, as a supreme being, is far beyond my comprehension and I should not be surprised that I don't understand everything, being only human after all.
      I just don't find sufficient evidence that he DOESN'T exist. But we digress far from the original topic here...

      August 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Real Deal

      DJ,

      - I was a believer (a pretty devout one too) for over 40 years. I discovered that I was talking to myself.

      - I assume that you don't believe in the Hindu god, Ganesh - if you were to talk to one of it's believers, you would reference that god by name. You might say, "Why does Ganesh do such and such?" or "Why does Ganesh not do such and such?" does that mean that you believe in Ganesh?

      August 2, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • DJ

      Real- I suspect that if you were a believer for that long and dropped it, you probably never learned what it was really about to begin with. I don't say that in an attempt to be rude. I simply suspect that like many in America, you had all the religion, all of the church, and all of the man-made rules that come with it, but not the real deal. And if that is the case, I don't blame you for leaving that behind. I heard there was a poll done that found the most miserable people were the religious ones- those that adhered to a set of rules to get ahead spiritually, but didn't have the relationship I keep talking about. I can't say I'd disagree with that finding.

      I suspect you are comparing a hypothetical question "Did Ganesh do such and such?" to Derek's question about God causing natural disasters. Perhaps I jumped the gun and assumed Derek was on the same tirade I have seen before. If I did assume more than was intended to be said, I apologize. Yet I stand by the statement that by and large, the atheists I have heard argue against God usually do so with a lot of anger directed toward God. Now if I were to ask a Hindu about Ganesh it would be without attacking either the Hindu or the god he says he believes in. I may question his beliefs, and I may ask for proof, but without the common atheist rhetoric of "Your god does horrible things and doesn't exist". A being either exists and could do horrible things, or doesn't exist and is capable of nothing. If atheists are upset with those that claim to follow Christ, so be it. But my point is that they need to keep the argument coherent.

      One more thing: I don't intend to lump all atheists together. I am speaking strictly of the ones that use the faulty logic stated above.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Real Deal

      DJ, "the atheists I have heard argue against God usually do so with a lot of anger directed toward God. "

      If you pay closer attention you will see that they are referring to the "God" which *you* purport to be true. It is shorthand, instead of typing out the whole thing each time. Maybe we should come up with an acronym to take it's place - like "YAG" = "Your Alleged God", or some such, so that you believers don't get so confused.

      I know that your fantasy gives you peace and happiness - you are welcome to it; but declaring it as fact is just not valid.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • fred

      Real Deal
      How about Yahweh? He's not in Yahweh so why the fuss

      August 2, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • rj

      Maybe Carl is comfortable with terrorists because Jesus asked Simon the Zealot (a terrorist) to follow Him. Maybe Carl is confident that this same Jesus is alive and his presence goes with him wherever and whoever he meets. Maybe Carl is confident that if he can give people an opportunity to get close enough to Jesus that they will experience Jesus in the same way Simon did.

      August 9, 2011 at 2:11 am |
  13. Shane

    I usually don't write in to stuff like this but man you are misguided. Having done missionary work myself and knowing first hand what it looks like, I don't see how you could come to this conclusion, aside from Jesus calling us to action and every event that happens to Jesus he takes as an opportunity to share Gods love, I'm sure if you were a devout Christian staying in the word and praying daily the holy spirit would show you your theological flaws. I have travelled across Canada into hundreds of school and told my testimony to tens of thousands of students. In the presentation I was not able to talk about God ( being public schools) but was able to share what God has done in my life. I have had thousands of students change there lives because of what I was able to share with them. I have also travelled to the DR and built schools, houses and community centers for families and shared Gods love with them. To not talk about Jesus is to deny the purpose of why Jesus died for us. Never forget what he did for us that day.

    August 1, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • abdullah

      Shane-
      You totally missed what Carl said. He, by the way, is an amazing man of God who loves Jesus deeply and talks about him everywhere he goes. Not sure how you missed that important point? The idea is that "Christians" are too busy trying to make people "Christians" which the Bible never even talk about. Rather, (Carl's point) is that true followers of Jesus should be talking about Jesus... not Christianity. Jesus never said to convert to anything... much less Constantinian-now Westernized "Christianity". Jesus said "Follow me". That's what we all should be doing... following the example of Jesus. What Carl is saying so beautifully, is what Christians need to start doing... that is... living like Jesus rather than trying to win people from the other religious team onto their religious team. The guys who did that during the time of Jesus were called Pharisees, and he ripped into those guys the worst.

      August 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • sainbainuu

      wow, you are very proud of yourself...

      August 2, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • TheyNotHim

      Quit brainwashing kids you hoser!

      August 4, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  14. OnLooker

    Saying that Christians believe that Muslims are violent heretics is an amazing generalization for a man with such experience in the field of world religion. I'm a devout Christian and have a profound love and respect for the Islamic community. Bridges must be built between the monotheistic religions. Pope John Paul II did a lot for Christians and Jews, but we need to pick up where he left off and connect with our Muslim brothers and sisters who ultimately believe in the God of Abraham, just as we do.

    July 31, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • TheyNotHim

      On the other hand, what would be better is if organized religion was just plain eliminated from our cultural heritage, replaced by a belief that we are all in this together and we better get it right, now, because man there just ain't anything out there waiting for us, good or bad, after we die. Then, I don't know, there would be peace maybe instead of constant conflict about who is right...

      August 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • OnLooker

      That sounds beautiful, but get it right for what purpose? Why should we care about anything if God doesn't exist and our existence is simply random?

      August 5, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  15. Muneef

    Islam or Christianity by Birth are Not Religions but rather a political Nationality & National Ident-i-ty !!

    Religion is not by Birth, Religion it is by Faith,therefore they are not as Equal or Alike.
     Kindly refer to following Quran verses ;

    --–
    "The blind and the seeing are not alike; (19) Nor are the depths of Darkness and the Light; (20) Nor are the (chilly) shade and the (genial) heat of the sun: (21) Nor are alike those that are living and those that are dead. Allah can make any that He wills to hear; but thou canst not make those to hear who are (buried) in graves. (22)".
    -----
    "These two kinds (of men) may be compared to the blind and deaf, and those who can see and hear well. Are they equal when compared? Will ye not then take heed? (24)".
    ----
    "Say: "Are the blind equal with those who see? Or the depths of darkness equal with Light?" (16)".
    ---–
    "Is one who worships devoutly during the hours of the night prostrating himself or standing (in adoration), who takes heed of the Hereafter, and who places his hope in the Mercy of his Lord― (like one who does not)? Say: "Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition." (9)".
    ---
    "Not equal are the blind and those who (clearly) see: nor are (equal) those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and those who do evil. Little do ye learn by admonition! (58)".
    --–

    Example; Late Amy Winhouse was Nationally known to be of family of Jew but she personally was not a Religious Practising Jew.... 
    Have came across termbe been used here to refer to people such as ;
    – He was A Christian Atheist....or was A Jew Atheist... 
    Or other way of identifying some one they say;
    – He was American White Christian Atheist.
    – He was American White Christian Muslim.

    Notice the use of nationalities given here;
    – The Country's Nationality.
    – The Race Color Nationality.
    – The by birth Community Religion Nationality..
    – The Actual or Converted to belief Nationality.

    There are other Nationality terms such as the Religious Sectarians and the Regional family  Area.
    -----

    From every Religion you will find those who are committed (A) and those who are counted on the Religion but are not religious nor they believe (B);
    Now we ought to find out who is generating the trouble ? Are they Group (A)or (B) from each By Birth Religion...!?

    July 31, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • TheyNotHim

      Dude, seriously. Your posts give me a headache.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • Muneef

      Dude,
      .
      Sure it would because we are in the strangest and most dangerous times of all where evil is every where shredding communities ...

      August 6, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    The thoughts below are my own, and if you disagree with what I say, that is fine. Your views are your own and you are welcome to them.

    This guy doesn't know what he is talking about. You want proof? look at the photo. If he is able to get a photo with the second in command of the militant Muslim, Anti-Christian/Anti-Jew Hezbollah, he is obviously biased and cannot be trusted

    July 31, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Muneef

      Hmm.

      Some body has to play the role of Middle Man/ Negotiator whether you trust or not ! Some body has be there with contacts when strings are to be pulled...they are even gain as brokers in deals...!The right contact and the building of public relations locally or internationally is an important issue for finalizing any political or business deals therefore you have to build your relation and extend it to whom you like or don't like for any means, after all you never know when you will be needed to resolve problems between people through your contacts...! That is life "We need each other whether we like each other or not" and that how things are concluded rather than closing our selves into shells... Any business man within imports/exports/transportations services has to have and build contacts globally to run a business otherwise by being choosey as to whom you like or do not like....guess there will be no business....?! "Discrimination/Racisem are a poisonous elements of Hate" Muslims started from Southern Yemen who have traded all the Indian and Pacific oceans with people of all beliefs or disbeliefs...they have integrated among all coastal lands populations...therefore you will find big family roots in South East Asia extended to China Sea that are Originally from Yemeni,Hadramy descendants...!!
      This happening today is some thing new restarted with WWars...

      July 31, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  17. Muneef

    Islam or Christianity by Birth are Not Religions but rather a Political Nationality & National Ident-i-ty !!

    July 31, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  18. rick

    Carl, lete tell you that Christ was a divider and your to concerned with your status to truly do anything about it. Your a pathetic man apologising for being a Christian and doing what Christ commanded Christians to do. There is a hell sir and if you don't get out of the way and stop speaking in public about your misguided theology you will most definately find yourself in the worst fire it has to offer. Jesus died for the sins of all but clearly states that they can only escape hell through him. Get out of he ministry man, get a real job and approach your salvation with fear and trembling man.

    July 31, 2011 at 4:39 am |
    • Doug

      Of course you're right. Because Jesus spoke A LOT about hellfire and brimstone and NOT MUCH about things like forgiveness and compassion. You can add it all up yourself from reading the parts of the bible that deal with Jesus' life.

      July 31, 2011 at 5:03 am |
    • Roshan Mandal

      This is exactly what religious brainwashing does to a person...

      August 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • OnLooker

      Christ, ultimately, is about compassion and love. You can pinpoint any part of his bible, but he was all about redemption, compassion, and love. He loved fellow human-beings only like God could.

      August 5, 2011 at 1:36 am |
  19. Muneef

    Peace and Ramadan Kareem to all Muslim Brothers and Sisters...Inshallah fasting from Monday Dawn to SunSet...
    Just wonder in Christians or non Religious have tried fasting as Muslims do...am sure with time they will adopt it as a system for the health benefits it holds health and body...it is told it helps the body to discharge and burn out the poisonous chemicals from our bodies other than controlling weights... Some say they can not because of smoking other for water or food...but other than that is controlling anger or bad mood of the empty stomach, controlling one's tongue from hurting any one,to control eyes from staring at desire... Above all those to a Muslim he is to Maintain Prayers and Quran Reciting which of course beside it being a spiritual matter it is meant the body exercise by the up's and down's of prayers....as well as training of tongue & lungs by the Quran Recitation...these beside Tasbih "Praise of Glorify" helps to control one's breathing..

    So you see it is all good and challenging since only by those means can you gain control your desires... 
    -–

    Control of Desire Quran verses same Verse in Arabic but in English check translation and God knows how many are other more...such as these things case confusion among non Arab Muslims and non Muslims..although all end to mean same thing but in different ways that caused it be misunderstood...then the fact of being translated in many languages in the same way...! This was just a standing example of the Quran although still alive existing and in one copy !?
    Then imagine what could have had happened to the Torah and or Gospel having passed through three dead languages,one after the other then from a classic language into modern language, in many different copies then into many languages.

    Read and Judge; 
    ----
    [79:40] As for the one who reverenced the majesty of his Lord, and enjoined the self from sinful lusts.
    [79:41] Paradise will be the abode.
    ---–
    But as for him who feared to stand before his Lord and restrained his soul from lust, (40) Lo! the Garden will be his home. (41)
    --–
    And as for him who dreaded standing before his Lord, and restrained his soul from lust, (40) Verily the Garden! -that shall be his resort. (41)
    ---
    And for such as had entertained the fear of standing before their Lord's (tribunal) and had restrained (their) soul from lower Desires, (40) Their Abode will be the Garden. (41).
    ----
    But as for him who feared standing before his Lord, and restrained himself from impure evil desires, and lusts. (40) Verily, Paradise will be his abode. (41).
    ----
    Whereas for the one who feared to stand before his Lord, and restrained his self from the (evil) desire, (40) The Paradise will be the abode. (41).
    ----

    July 30, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
  20. Sam

    The thoughts below are my own, and if you disagree with what I say, that is fine. Your views are your own and you are welcome to them.

    I'm not so sure about some of this. I definitely agree that evangelism/missionary work can be very much in your face (honestly I've never been a big fan of the approach).Even so, I do know lives who have been touched by it and who have come to know Christ thanks fundamentally to God but in part by missionaries.

    Doctrines, creeds, and other propositional statements are, admittedly, not what people fundamentally trust in when following Christ. Even so, I do believe that they help characterize who it is that believers trust in. If what we believed about Christ wasn't important, why would scholars be having debates over the historical Jesus? It is the difference between believing in, say, Jesus the Cynic Sage and Jesus the living Son of God.

    All the same I respect Carl's right to have a different interpretation of matters. While I disagree with him, I still love him as my neighbor. This article still brings up interesting topics and viewpoints.

    July 30, 2011 at 3:10 am |
    • Doug

      "If what we believed about Christ wasn't important, why would scholars be having debates over the historical Jesus?"

      If the naturally experienced effect of gravity wasn't important, why would scholars be having long debates about the theory of gravity?

      Generalized Tentative Answer: both the current experience of things AND the theoretic understanding of things are important to the continuing understanding of human experience.

      July 31, 2011 at 4:24 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75
Advertisement
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.