Friday, January 6, 2012

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY ATHEIST FRIEND

I want to thank you for your “Merry Christmas” on my blog post.  I also thank you for your graciousness as we have interacted – even when we have disagreed, as we do frequently.

What is interesting and eye-opening to me is how often you and I have agreed.  You have seen the negatives of Christianity as have I.  In fact, if you will scan through my many posts, you will find that I say many of the same things that you do.  My criticisms come from within my faith while yours come from the outside.  One possible reason for this agreement may be that I often look at my faith, my church, my religion from the outside.  Perhaps this is because as a young person I was often an outsider and still am today among many evangelical Christians (after all, I’m a Democrat).  Or perhaps this is some special (God-given?) ability I have.

Anyway, I am seriously troubled by what I see happening among Christians today – the political pronouncements, the legalism, the rudeness at and intolerance of, those whose behavior or religious or political convictions differ, etc.  All of these, I believe, are symptoms of our failure to genuinely follow Jesus.  I want you to know that they are more of a concern to me than to you.  You can just put them down as evidence of the invalidity of religion.  I have to live with them.

However, please don’t take these comments as an indication that I’m crossing over to your side.  I sincerely doubt if I will do this.  As a matter of fact, the misbehavior I see among Christians actually drives me to a desire to follow Jesus more closely than before.

Nor do I suspect that the things I say will bring you over to my side.  I suppose that you are as committed to the rightness of your cause as I am to mine.  However, I confess that I do pray for your conversion, not to a philosophy or opinion, but to genuine faith in Christ, because that’s what Jesus told us to do.  :^)

A more immediate goal is to simply convince you that the stereotype presented by many “Christian” public figures is not what Christianity is.  There are many of us who do not subscribe to this caricature.

But even more than this, I desire to keep up the dialogue and to build a genuine friendship.  You have already contributed to my understanding and I hope that I have to yours.

Looking forward to further conversation,
Bill

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

well said to your athiest friend.as there are many out there now searching,i would only caution that in the process of searching for truth they don't settle for religion instead of knowing the only true god. religion is the greatest enemy for former athiest.it becomes another stronger foundation than the former.

a former athiest. you are correct about it being matthew 5 instead of 6. thank you,

Margie said...

I happened upon your blog by accident and read only the most recent post, but I'd like to say that I agree with your comment to your athiest friend. As the song says, "I can wish you....but I wish you Jesus more than anything." Religion is well and good, but it's that true and certain relationship with God that will bring someone true peace. Anonymous is right that folks have chosen religion in place of that relationship, and many get the two confused alltogether. I will pray for you, and for those who are touched by your blog and thoughts. I appreciated your post.

Canadian Atheist said...

Hi Bill! Was this blog post about me?

I do find value in the message that Jesus brings, just as I've found value in other religious philosophies. However, I must go where the evidence leads and like you, when I talk to many Christians, a good many of them use the Bible to justify their own prejudices and hatred. Of course, there are good Christians out there and I have met many of them as well.

Great post and whether it was aimed at me or not, I too hope we can build a relationship. I think we'll both grow stronger from the interaction.

Peace to you and yours, Bill.

Bill Ball said...

CA: Yes it was addressed to you.

And peace to you and yours.

Sherry said...

I am really behind on blog reading so I just got to this one. Very well said Dad. As you know, I have the same issues as you with the way Cbhristianity is presented by its so-called leaders. In addition, I have other issues with how God does/doesn't function in this world today.
Becuz of these issues I can relate to the views of my agnostic & athirst friends in a way others may not. Mutual respect and open dialogue are so important. Thank providing that here on your blog.