The bible demands Christians to be evangelical
I was often approached as a Christian and asked why I cared what someone else believed? Why be so evangelical? If someone else wants to believe differently, then why should that be my concern? While I fully understand people have different perspectives on life, my fundamental beliefs simply did not allow that position. Some of the same people who were critical of me being evangelical with my Christian faith, have since removed me from their life for not believing in god anymore. However, the irony in this is hard to miss. Charles Spurgeon has said, “Do you want to go to heaven alone? I fear you will never go there. Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.”, and the Christian bible declares, “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;” (Mat 9:37 ESV). You cannot talk about evangelizing the world without mentioning The Great Commission, which is outlined in several of the Gospels. In Matthew, Jesus said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mat 28:19-20 CSB).
“Do you want to go to heaven alone? I fear you will never go there. Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.” –Charles Spurgeon
The most common thing I heard as a Christian preacher amongst fellow Christians was that, as far as evangelizing goes, that was “not for them”. It simply did not fit their character. They were not “those kinds of people”. You know, to talk openly about their faith. While I, as a fellow human being, completely understand that, I am afraid scripture is a little less forgiving. The specific excuse of fear of speaking is addressed, and in Matthew scripture states, “But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you should speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.” (Mat 10:19-20 CSB). You may say, “Well, that’s not talking about sharing your faith, but being brought before the courts.”. While I do not disagree, I would suggest that we consider how this would end up happening? Being brought before the magistrates, that is. Luke tells us, “Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: but whoever denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” (Luk 12:8-9 CSB).
That verse, combined with The Great Commission, and I am afraid the way you end up in the courts is by sharing your faith. Most of the “Christians” today would not even be brought before the courts, for lack of evidence of them being a “Christian”. You may say, well who are you to judge. Let me share with you, that I am not the one doing the judging, but Christ is. For Jesus Christ said in Matthew 7:20, “So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.” (CSB). I can well remember as a Christian preacher making it clear that your lifestyle, by the scriptures own words, absolutely condemns you to hell. The reason for this being, scripture makes it clear, over and over again, that if you are producing any kind of evil fruit, then you need to check your salvation. For if you are truly saved then you, simply, will not do these things anymore. We do see struggles with this from people in the bible, take Paul for example, when in Romans 7:14-25 he talks about the war within himself between flesh and soul. This might make you think that it gives some leeway with our sinning as Christians, but read through the entirety of Romans 5-7 and tell me that you do not feel a sense of guilt for even one sin as a believer.
“…How can we who died to sin still live in it?” –Paul, AD 57 (Romans 6:2b, CSB)
In Romans 6:2, we read Paul declaring, “…How can we who died to sin still live in it?”. This is a powerful verse, and there are many more like it that make it perfectly clear that once you are genuinely saved you should be getting your act together and coming around to sanctification, and this whole sinning business will stop. Now, I certainly do not know everyone’s personal life, but I do know that amongst Christians a common phrase is “Sinners saved by grace”. While it is a beautiful phrase as a believer, it is most often used as a crutch to keep on sinning, despite the warnings against that in Romans 6 & 7. Once again, I want to go back to something I said earlier, as a human being, I completely understand. However, scripture is much less forgiving. It is also less forgiving then you apparently are about salvation. If you honestly believe that there is no need to share with someone who believes differently then you, and you claim yourself to be a “Christian”, I honestly would like to know what bible you are reading? Christianity does not allow for a different way. As a matter of fact, the bible states, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.'” (Joh 14:6 NAS). That seems pretty specific about how we gain heaven. This is not the only scripture, but perhaps the most specific one about Jesus being the only way. Unless you are going to tell me that you do not believe in a literal place called hell, and we all will be allowed salvation (which is against the Christian bible), then you really should care what other people believe. Let me put it this way, if you are a Christian and you do not care what other people believe, then you are either lying about being a Christian, or you are heartless. Christianity, unlike something such as humanism, is not simply a set of values and traditions, as many have claimed it to be, but instead, is a call to complete devotion that has everything to do with self-sacrifice and completely submitting to the will of god.
So, why do I care as an atheist what other people believe?
You may not be aware, but many atheist seem to not desire to share their beliefs with other people. Most seem to do this to avoid conflict. While I certainly have not met every atheist in the world, this has simply been my experience thus far. With my own experience, I can share that in the USA, saying you are an atheist, will most likely come with judgment, and conflict. So, I can empathize with those who choose to remain silent. Unlike Christianity, which demands sharing, I do not believe that you have to share your atheist views if it does not fit your character. This most certainly is not a call for atheist to convert their theist friends and family. However, the personal reason that I want to share is because I have personally seen the damaging side of religion, and I would venture to say that most of us saw the damaging side of religion on September 11th, 2001. It is not enough, for me, to simply allow the taboo of talking about religion in a negative way to continue. People should be allowed to be an atheist without fear of judgment and conflict. I know of people who have been fired from their jobs (secular jobs at that) for stating that they are an atheist publicly. Additionally, I feel personally, that their may be many theist who are simply that way to avoid judgment and criticism, and I believe that the more atheist who speak out, the more comfortable they will feel about at least admitting what their own beliefs are. I realize that September 11th is an extreme example of the damaging side of religion, and I know many Christians will scream that this is terrorism, and not Christianity. I wish that there was not a damaging side of Christianity, but there is. Look no further then a recent Dateline episode, The Prophets Daughter, where they discussed the Fundamental Latter-Day Saints cult that has “camps” located all over this country. The “prophet” Warren Jeffs, who is in prison, continues to hold an oppressive grip on this community of children, and other brainwashed individuals. At least two of these children, both of whom are now grown, have come forward with sexual assault allegations against Warren Jeffs. While that part of this crazed man is incapable of inflicting harm, he nevertheless is still breeding this sort of harm on innocent individuals. A 20/20 episode on ABC came out earlier this year about “Gay conversion therapy camps”, which are all across America using fundamental Christianity (Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, etc.) beliefs to send gay children off to “conversion” camps to make them heterosexual “again”. My own personal story is that I have an older half-brother (same dad, different mom) who was kicked out of my home when I was only between 5 and 7, (I barely remember this happening I was so young) because he is gay. I was told that he ran away from home, and it was not until about four years ago that my Mother told me the truth. This admission was only after she realized that my brother was on Facebook, and that he may find me. My Father still wants nothing to do with him. When I say nothing to do with him, let me be clear that he acts like he does not exist. I am, one of three sons, of my Dad (including my brother who is gay). Yet, when my Dad talks about his sons, he literally only ever mentions having two. I have been in contact with my brother, who is now living in California, and I am hoping that we get an opportunity to meet up soon. It honestly breaks my heart that I am now 30, and I have missed so much of my brothers life, and time that we could have spent together. Why have we missed this time? Because some 2,000 year old book told my parents that homosexuality is an abomination, and that light has no business with darkness (2 Co. 6:14). I believe that there are many broken families like this across the country. I could care less really if people want to believe there is a god in the sky, and that when we die we go to heaven, but literally everything else about religion needs to go away. It is hateful, and disgusting.
Let me put it this way, if you are a Christian and you do not care what other people believe, then you are either lying about being a Christian, or you are heartless.
We need to break this mold, and not allow Christians to think that they have the corner on morality to themselves, because atheist most certainly do not have the corner of immorality to themselves. It seems quite obvious that a persons belief, or lack of belief in a god has very little to do with whether or not a person is a good person. Besides that, I honestly would much rather someone be genuine about being a good person, instead of thinking it is something that they must be, in order to be a good Christian. As an atheist, you are a good person, because you should be one. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about being an atheist or agnostic, and I am hopeful that I can be a voice to clear up those misconceptions. I know that I am not going to change everyone’s views. However, if I can at least break those walls down that I know (because I was one) Christians have built against an atheist, or someone different, then I will feel as though I have accomplished my goal. This world has some 7.6 billion people in it, as of October 2017. We need to learn to coexist, and as long as fundamentalist thrive, this will be an ever increasing difficult task.
The godless Pastor,
Billy J. Crocker