BEDA 9 – Street Evangelism


Outside of the Eaton Centre, across from Yonge-Dundas Square, there is a permanent fixture of evangelists. Some are Muslim, but many are Christian.

I’d like to preface this by saying that I am not saying these people shouldn’t be Christian. I’m not saying that they should change their beliefs, or that their beliefs are in any way bad. I’ve tried to make that clear on my blog before.

It’s just that these people are so aggressive. They tell me that I’m wrong. That I’m going to hell for not believing in their God. That one of my best friends is going to hell because he likes boys. That I am wrong, and sinful, and weak. That I should resist the temptation to have fun.

That is not okay. First of all, it bothers me that my beliefs are being called into question, when if I was to challenge theirs, I’d be labeled as a crazy atheist trying to convert the world. But evangelism is a part of their religion. It’s expected. (As a side note, I usually don’t mind evangelism all that much? I understand that it’s from a place of wanting to save me. But in this case, they don’t want to save me. They want to get into God’s good books.) But it’s more than just that they’re calling my beliefs into question.

Who are they to tell me that I’m going to hell? Who are they to interpret God’s word? What gives them the right?

Shouldn’t judgement be saved for Judgement Day? Shouldn’t they let Peter deal with me when my time comes? Why do they insist that I am wrong and going to hell? That is not their decision to make.

And that isn’t even to mention Matthew 6:5-6*, which says not to worship in public. (It mentions street corners specifically!) It says that religion is a private thing. That it’s personal. That it shouldn’t be flaunted so that people see how fucking devout you are. How fucking holy. Yes, you could say that they aren’t praying. That they’re preaching. But watch them. Watch as they speak to God. Watch as they pray that they will influence me. That they will change me. That they will save me. They don’t even know me.

 

*As I’ve realized in defending my points to Wayne, this argument isn’t really valid, according to my other philosophies. It shouldn’t have been included, because I’m saying that the Bible is up for interpretation, whether we like it or not, but this point enforces my own interpretation of the Bible. Sorry for being a hypocrite. (Sorry, that was a bad pun.)

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18 responses to “BEDA 9 – Street Evangelism

  1. So, does God’s Word say you are going to hell?

    Wayne

    • As I interpret the Bible, yes. But that’s not my point. My point is that they can only interpret the Bible for themselves. They shouldn’t be applying their interpretation to me, because that isn’t their job.

  2. You wrote that they interpreted God’s Word correctly as it applied to you. Yet, when you interpreted Matthew, you changed God’s Word from praying in private to worship in private. Which of you is being faithful to the original?

    Why would you say that they cannot interpret God’s Word for others?

    How do you judge that they are not called by God to profess His Word?

    Wayne

    • Well, first of all, I’m an atheist, and have been for a few years. That’s why it doesn’t bother me that my interpretation of the Bible says I’m going to Hell. And if I’m wrong, if your God is the true God, it’s important to note that I’m not saying I’m going to Hell. I’m saying that the Bible as I interpret it says I’m going to Hell. I think that especially in Christianity, where we the people cannot be judges, that distinction is crucial.

      And that is what bothers me. Not that they believe I’m going to Hell, that they’ve decided I’m going to Hell. They’ve put their own interpretations onto me. They’ve also taken God’s role as Judge. I take issue with that, regardless of whether or not what we’re saying is similar. (The key difference being, remember, that I don’t say I’m going to Hell. I say my interpretation of the Bible puts me in Hell).

      I’d like to point out why I’m so adamant about the word “interpretation”. See, Christians, as with all religious people, choose what of their Holy books they believe. Some people choose to ignore parts of the Bible. Really, all people choose to ignore parts of the Bible, because there are contradictions in the Bible.

      Also, in the post, I tried to make clear that alongside their preaching, they pray. They pray to change me. They pray to alter who I am. The preaching, I’m okay with that. But when they pray, they make it clear that they aren’t doing this for me, for us. They’re doing it for themselves. They’re showing their devotion, which Matthew tells us not to.

      In writing this, though, I realize that that’s a flaw in my argument. I shouldn’t, I suppose, have included that, because they could be interpreting the Bible differently. Instead of ignoring Leviticus 19:19, they might be ignoring Matthew 6:5. I’ll add a footnote saying that this is debunked.

  3. Well, I am not ignoring Leviticus 19: 19 ….

    I do not think they are ignoring Matthew 6: 5. I think you were mis-interpreting it. A slightly different thing.

    Wayne

    • Leviticus 19:19 talks about not wearing two different fabrics at once. Look at your picture there! Looks to me like a cotton-poli blend.

      • Wow. You are one to take things out of context. Further, Everything, I wear is 100% cotton, or polyester.

        Oh well, why do you take the Word out of context? Do you have a problem with God? Or, just with his truth?

        Wayne

      • I don’t believe in God. I can’t have a problem with him, because I don’t believe he is real. I don’t believe his word is truth. I thought you would have understood that because I’ve repeatedly said that I’m an atheist. That means that I don’t believe in God.

      • Well. I would. But, you began the conversation.

        I blog on Evolution all the time. I do not believe in Evolution. But, I hope I do not come across as confused about what I do believe.

        Wayne

  4. So, you judge yourself according to the Word of God. And you judge others by your interpretation of God’s Word, which seems to be a little weak.

    So, if they cannot judge, you can judge? And if you can judge according to God’s Word, and you find yourself separated from God, how do you see yourself moving forward?

    Will you seek God and his forgiveness?

    Wayne

    • I wasn’t judging myself by God’s word, I was putting myself in a Christian framework.

      If I was someone who believed the Bible, that is how I would see myself. But I don’t believe in God, and for that reason, that’s not how I judge myself. I don’t see myself going to Hell, because I don’t believe in God. But from the Christian perspective that I would have, I would be going to Hell.

      And I’ve already had God’s forgiveness. I was 11, I think, when I was born-again. And then, I don’t know, I was un-born again. Dead-again? Undead-again? Regardless.

      • That really sounds confused. You believe you are going to hell, then you don’t ….

      • I don’t believe in hell. Therefore I don’t believe I’m going there.

        BUT if I did believe in God, or in hell, then I would believe that this real, atheistic version of me is going to Hell.

        As a summary, so that you understand:

        I don’t believe in God. In a world where I did believe in a Christian God, I would see someone with my current set of beliefs and practices and think they were going to Hell.

        Do you understand now?

      • I think I understood all along.

  5. While I am a Christian, I am not going to address the theological side of this. I think Wayne has done this well.

    I wonder if I would like to live in a world were everyone said “Ah believe what you want, and Ill believe what I want, and we’ll all be happy.”

    That seems to be what is desired by most in today’s society. Now sure enough this would mean that I could turn on the TV without having my being a Christian mocked on the Simpsons, or Family Guy, or Bill Maher, etc. We wouldn’t have Richard Dawkins writing about how evil I am for believing, or giving death stares to Christians who Dare laugh at him on Q and A. Sure enough that might be an easier world.

    But what if I were wrong. (Though I have experienced enough to know I am not). Maybe I should look at it this way. What if I were driving down the road and I came to a t intersection. There was a man forcefully yelling at me to turn right, turn right, or die. Now would my first reaction be to call him closed minded and arrogant for telling me what to do? or would I listen to him? If I continued left I would find that a road ending in a thousand foot cliff, but right would lead me down a safe path.

    So would I have a problem with the guy yelling at me, absolutelly not.

    People passionatly believing what they believe, and warning those who do not believe, are mere markers or signs. Some are true and some are not, but all help us think, and thinking helps us keep on the path of truth.

    So I thank God for loud, passionate, and self assured voices!!! I thank God that I have been offended over and over again, so that I might stop and reconsider over and over again.

    • So I’m driving down a road, and I get to a t-intersection. A man is yelling at me, forcefully. “Turn right! Turn right or die!” But he looks a bit crazy, standing on his crate, shouting like mad. But I turn left anyways, because I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. And I make it to my date on time, and I continue down my path.

      But if I had turned right? I would have encountered the gas station I didn’t realize he owned, stopped for gas, and left him with my money. And after getting gas, I would continue right.

      But, as it turns out, it doesn’t matter whether or I turned right or left, because the two paths meet again. It’s a two-way turnabout, and we keep driving, keep driving til we die. We end up the same, just as we started the same.

  6. I’m reading into your analogy a few accusations. Let me first pick them out to see if I am correct.

    The gas station analogy I take to mean that you believe Christianity is a ploy for money.

    I also see you are saying we all end up dead anyways so what does it matter which direction you go.

    Let’s start with the second of your statements. I would hope that you, as an Atheist, would believe that. Some atheists seem to be very upset that they wont go to heaven. Which has always confused me a bit, but you seem to not be phased by that as you don’t believe in heaven. Is that correct?

    I think what I was saying in the rest of my comment was that I hope that when people believe what they believe that they would believe it enough to shout it out loud. Especially when it involves what the speaker perceives as life and death.

    Now it stands that sometimes voices are going to offend, but offending voices have existed throughout time and for the benefit of society. Rev. MLK, Gahndi, etc, were all offending voices. If we shut offending voices we miss hearing something worth while. To say that some speech should not happen (which I understand you did not go so far as to say) would be to risk hearing something important. That is why evangelists, whether Christian or Muslim or any religion, or even loud mouthed Atheists should all be able to say what they want, as loudly as they want (Just as much as you should be able to disagree loudly). We should celebrate it!!!

    Now, back to your supposition that Christians are money grubbers. Prove it! If it is true, if that is indeed what you were saying with the gas station thing, then you should be able to prove that Christians in general (the majority) would simply evangelize for financial gain. So please prove it. Perhaps a point for a future posting.

    Thanks

    • The gas station analogy isn’t about money. It’s about having something demanded of you. Demanding sacrifice, or faith, what have you. Obviously Catholics demand tithes, but really, that wasn’t the point I was making. I don’t think Christians are money-grubbers. I’m not against Christians, or Christianity. I like to avoid judging people by their beliefs. One is not defined by what they believe.

      And honestly, I don’t take issue with people voicing their opinions. I take issue with people telling me that their opinions must be my opinions. Even when they’re doing so with the best intentions.

      As an aside, of course I’m not disappointed that I’m not going to heaven! If I was so upset, I’d change my beliefs. I’d convince myself that there is a God. I am, however, disappointed that my loved ones won’t live on. That once their lives have ended, the people I love are no more. That all that’s left of them is memories and dusty photographs. That’s what I’m disappointed about.

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