They’re all the same aren’t they; Fundamental Muslims, Evangelical Christians, and Anti-theists? Rather than doers of the word, they are adamant talkers of the word. They believe they are so right that it is their duty to forcefully change the minds of those around them to show them the errors of their thinking. All of these people frighten me. I’m afraid to have a conversation with them or engage them in any way. Not because I’m afraid I might be wrong or I could change my mind. No, I’m physically afraid to engage them because of how hatefully and forcefully they go about their argument.
Their form of convincing usually involves yelling, finger pointing, name calling, and a host of other unpleasantries that I’d just rather avoid altogether. I enjoy conversations with individuals who can allow the discussion to proceed without making it personal. While I understand that all beliefs and thoughts are personal in nature, if it takes belittling me as a person to get your point across maybe your thought isn’t as strong as you thought it would be?
Now, I understand that there are a lot of people who are stubborn, narrow-minded, and closed to criticism. However, isn’t it more intelligent thing to avoid them and talk to people who aren’t? Most people I’ve met who are stubborn will only get more entrenched in their thinking by being bullied. Isn’t that essentially what it is? We’re trying to bully someone into thinking and doing things the way we want them to? Why don’t we just hold their head in the toilet and give them swirlies until they “repent and be saved”?
At what point does forcefully engaging someone to belittle their thought process and belief system ever help? I heard an atheist comment once that he’s given up trying to reason with Christians and now he feels the only way to show people the error of their ways is to make fun of them. Isn’t that like saying the best way to teach you about good food is to eat at McDonalds three meals a day?
Every time I encounter people like this I want to ask how their beliefs are changing the world around them. It’s kind of a put up or shut up question. If your beliefs are so much better than mine, show me. Jesus spent three years on the road showing his disciples what His ministry was about. He didn’t start a seminary and invite pharisees to debate the kingdom of heaven. Mother Teresa spent her life in quiet service. In her poem “Anyway” she concludes with this:
“You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.”
I understand you may believe very strongly in what you believe, but how will you show it? And how will what you show convict others?