Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Do you know Jesus?"

I never doubted that young "Jesus Freaks" were still out and failing to spread the good word by assaulting unassuming strangers with whatever they just learned from their apologetics crash course; but for the first time in a long while, I was approached by a stranger who asked if I "know Jesus" this week. Perhaps it's because I don't frequent malls or similar public places all that regularly... but it was like a flashback to the days when I was one of young, stupid kids people brushed off when asking the same question.

Having been in his shoes, and having been on the receiving end of Jesus-talks far too often in the past, I did what I always do in that situation: agree with Jesus, disagree with established religion.

This plan works fantastically because, unlike many people (both religious and otherwise), I have read the Bible cover to cover. I have studied Church history and their various theological belief systems. I have read other major religion's sacred texts. I have gotten balls-deep into pagan texts and philosophy. And, like many who pursue the noble goals of Philosophy and Theology, it was that very education that turned me from my beliefs and set me on my current path. Fortunately for me, the people who are approaching strangers about their views on Jesus, usually haven't done any of the above, so I quickly dominate the conversation and steer it towards a satisfactory, and hopefully quick, solution.

Yes, Jesus said some fantastic things. Of course I agree with his common sense which you believe is prophetic because you have none. But, no, I do not attend church because it has become the very thing he rebelled against, and died to bring to an end. Sure, you can pray for me if you want. Have a great day.
They leave thinking they did some good. I get to finish what I was doing without a whole ordeal taking place. Win win.

...Really, the worst thing you can do is play into their hands by disagreeing, and it's painful to see someone do just that. The evangelists eyes light up and they get more animated when someone disagrees than when someone agrees (which is so backwards, but I won't get into that now). They ask leading questions and then loop them into one of the textbook "thus Jesus" responses they've had drilled into their head at camp, church, and Bible "study." All of their evangelical and apologetics training deals with how to create logical fallacies to confuse people into thinking Jesus is the way, truth, light, and probably made of delicious candies. They have no idea how to deal with someone who agrees with their core values while living their life in a contradictory way.

That's why different denominations exist. When you get inducted to and brainwashed by a church, they isolate you within their environment. You are surrounded by like-minded people who become nothing but "yes men" and enablers in your intellectual decline. You begin to distance yourself from people who think even slightly different from you, leaving them to their own congregations and treating visits to other churches more like an ambassador than a visitor. Only once you are really in deep are you encouraged to evangelize. By then, its far too late for a stranger to turn them away from the beliefs and convictions they've been convinced are their own. But its never too late to sow some seeds of critical thought and inquiry.

Hopefully they will let it eat at them for a while before searching for answers. Hopefully they don't stop at whatever the church tells them. Hopefully they dig deeper and find something on their own. Hopefully they take some ownership over their life, beliefs, and actions. Hopefully they stop approaching strangers and asking them if they know Jesus.

Even with the best intentions, it is a horrible way to go about things.

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