Evangelizing, as a Hypothetical Christian

I think Christians generally do an inadequate job of evangelizing. I did poorly when I was an evangelical. That’s partly because Christian mythology is incoherent and confusing. If I believed in the Christian god now, and were trying to win over the unsaved, here’s what I would tell the potential convert:

There is no hell. God is not bent on punishing people. Our version of the story of the Fall and expulsion from the Garden is badly composed. It is not meant to be about capital punishment for breaking a rule, it is a story about coming of age as humans, of learning the difference between good and evil. You do not need to be saved; you need to grow.

The crucifixion was not a blood sacrifice for our disobedience. Jesus was executed for speaking truth that threatened to destabilize the establishment. He expected us to take on the same kind of risk.

God cannot prevent all evil from happening. He is good, but he’s not perfect, and he is not infinitely powerful. He is not spying on your activities. He is a god you can relate to.

Evangelizing with joy
The Laughing Christ, Ellen Wallace Douglas

Jesus was not concerned with following the rules, nor with blind faith; he was about being genuine. He was about being connected with the holy, the good.

The Bible is not God. You cannot use it as a replacement for common sense and morality. Take what is beautiful and meaningful from it, and understand that the rest is literature that describes an ancient culture.

I must repeat that I am not a Christian. These are my thoughts on what I would do differently now that I know better, not a criticism of religious people or evangelicals in particular.

 Title image credit: The Naked Pastor.



8 thoughts on “Evangelizing, as a Hypothetical Christian

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  1. Better than your average preacher. I might comment that I think God is all powerful in the only meaningful sense of the word. God’s power isn’t over us, but through us. I also don’t believe in evil. But other than that good job. Maybe you could put a package together and sell it to Christians on the internet to help them preach 🙂

  2. Thanks Tyler. I’d be willing to work on that package, but I have a feeling that the Christians wouldn’t buy it. 😕

    I don’t believe that good and evil are defined by a god, but I have experienced enough of each to be sure they exist. Morality may be relative, but it is not merely subjective. I think I need to write a post on that. Stay tuned.

    1. I’m unclear on how it could be relative without being subjective?

      In certain terms I believe both exist, but I do not believe in objectively bad things.

    2. Look at it this way: morality is relatively objective. Reasonable, well-informed people can agree on the rightness or wrongness of many things. That makes it objectively true. You will never get everyone in the world to agree, even on just one thing, so it’s not absolutely objectively true. There is no reason to believe that there are any absolutes, or is there were, that we could have certain knowledge of them. So morality is relative, not absolute, and it is also more objective than subjective.

      1. Ah, very good article, Chiefy.

        On your “relative objectivity,” This may be splitting hairs, but I would say that the morals/ethics followed by most of society is still subjective, but collectively so–collective subjectivity, very much like religion. Billions of people believe in god(s). But that belief is a product of 1. teaching from tothood, and/or 2. a deep seated but natural feeling of insecurity. Life, when you really think about it, is quite spooky. We need to believe we are not alone in an indifferent universe.

        Suppose there were a global conflagration where all human conventions were wiped away. All that would remain is a drive for survival (pure self-interest). It would be the philosopher’s “man in a state of nature.”

        Briefly, I think, there would exist a Hobbesian war of all against all as the survivors vie for food, shelter, and women–in that order. Conventions of right and wrong would vanish into a fog of self interest and xenophobia as trust evaporates. Each human’s right to life necessities and ownership would extend only to one’s physical or mental power to take and keep it.

        Obviously, this period would be brief, as humans begin to agree on alliances of mutual interests, protection still being the greatest interest, but the pleadings of our gregarious nature would certainly be a factor.

        Tribes and organized religion would form, then city states, then nations. At each step there would be by agreements on ethics and values, usually laid down by the more powerful or resourceful, e.g., the unwashed masses (collectively the strongest), would be controlled by the relatively weaker, wealthy few (the more resourceful). Sound familiar?

        I think this conversation could easily evolve into Egalitarianism, v capitalism. I favor the former, but it is by far the most difficult, if not impossible to obtain in our society

      2. Thanks, Max.
        On objectivity, it isn’t enough to conduct a test and report the results as objective truth. There has to be some kind of consensus that the test was properly done and correctly interpreted. Religious people would say that it isn’t objective unless it is endorsed by God. Perhaps so, but you still need a consensus of some sort that acknowledges that the endorsement came from God. For human beings, the designation of “objective” is always going to come from people.

        It is an interesting idea that we may need to believe in something or someone other than humanity, perhaps worthy of a post of its own.

        As far as hypothetical mass destruction scenarios, I prefer not to speculate too much. If we wait fifty years or so, events may eliminate the need for speculation. Interesting times we live in.

  3. I frequently find myself disillusioned by Christians when it’s painfully obvious they’ve had the Bible read at them and never bothered to read it themselves. This has many things in it I’ve been trying to say (But not as well) to them. I’m glad I read this, Thanx.

    1. I am speaking as an outsider, not a Christian, so it doesn’t bother me if believers disagree with me. And, of course, they are not bound by anything I say. If my thoughts can give people ideas on how to be better Christians, that would please me. I’m not very confident of that happening.

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