Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to Stump an Evangelist

So here's a little thing I came up with  to best handle the occasional street evangelist who is trying to share the good news.

Before we start, I would like to point one thing out: most people I have come encountered that have tried to convert me to Christianity have done so in a very respectful manner. Furthermore, when you put yourself in their shoes for a moment and realise that they are deeply convinced that you are in eternal danger, understand that what they are doing is actually a very reasonable thing to do from their perspective; even humanitarian, in a sense. If I was absolutely convinced of such things, I would hope that I would care enough to act and help everyone who is in "danger" - I think it speaks well of their character. That being said, a certain amount of respectful confrontation is likely to be instructive.The reality of what they believe is something that they have to grapple with. After all nothing, especially not beliefs, religion or God is beyond criticism.

So without further adieu, I give you a fictional conversation between me and a Proselytizer:

Proselytizer: Excuse me sir, have you ever thought about what will happen after you die?

Me: A little bit, but I try not to get caught up in it too much.

Proselytizer: Well, let me ask you this. If you were to die today, do you know where you would go?

Me: Probably nowhere - is this really a reasonable way to start a conversation with a stranger?

Proselytizer: I'm so sorry, but we just wanted to tell you about a way that you can know where you are going. A way that you can be saved and go to heaven. 

Me: Look, I knew this was coming and I do appreciate the intention behind it, but it is just too late for me. I have sinned too much. 

Proselytizer: No, that's not possible. Why according to John 3:16, all you have to do is believe that Jesus died for your sins and you will gain eternal life. 

Me: Well, I know that - but you see a few years back I realised something. I was having a conversation about the bible a few years back, and I realised that according to Christian tradition it is the Holy spirit that both convicts us of our sins (John 15:8) and moves through us to minister to non-believers. After all it was the pouring out of the holy spirit over the apostles that led to the success of their ministry - you see Jesus saying that in Acts 1:5-8, also in Luke 1:15, you see John the Baptist possessing the Holy Spirit and because of that, many come to God. 

Proselytizer: That's true.

Me: Yea, so the point is that the Holy Spirit has some capability to bring about conversion, to give people the power to save. But at the same time he can convict us? How is that fair? He is capable of saving us, but then he condemns us once he fails to do so? Anyway, I couldn't get around that thought and yes, I think it is an immoral vile thing for an all powerful and omniscient being to do. 

Proselytizer: Umm... I don't think that is necessarily the best way to think of it.

Me: Perhaps, but that doesn't matter. Because in that conversation and many others since then I have made this point. I have argued that the Holy Spirit is either incapable or evil - I have spoken against the Holy Spirit often. 

Proselytizer: Well, maybe if you came to our church and we could have a talk with Pastor Brighton, we could sort all this out. I think you'll find that there are other ways to think about this. 

Me: But that's not the point, it doesn't matter. Let me see that bible for a second... Ok, here it is. Matthew 12:31 "Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men." See, it's too late for me. These words were unequivocally said by Jesus himself: I am unforgivable. So really, I do appreciate your time and concern - but there is just nothing to be done...

I find that most people are rather shocked when I take that angle. Especially the younger crowd. This is entirely based on limited personal experience, but it seems that older Christians are much more likely to hold fast to the more unpalatable aspects of Christianity. Younger people, not so much so. They are more inclined to believe that Christianity is nothing more than a collection of happy, beautiful and moral teachings and everyone has access to a very simple route to eternal bliss. Very few have truly confronted the notion that most of the people they encounter on the street are going to suffer in Hell for eternity. Very few have truly grasped the notion that according to their beliefs, countless foreign peoples not fortunate enough to be born to a Christian culture are doomed to Hell. 

I think that is something one should ponder, especially if they are trying to convert others into it. 

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