trying to reach an nonbeliever in Christ


#1

I have a friend who is 101 yrs old. she has been a lifelong mainline protestant churchgoer but it was a social thing. she keeps saying things like “I wish my spiritual life was better” but when I suggested gently that she simply invite Christ into her life, she said, “I cannot accept that only Christians are saved if anyone is.” I wrote the following to her in an email. I would welcome criticisms and suggestions as I have never really tried to reach across this gap before. my own father was an atheist and I never found a way to reach him. anyway here is what I wrote:

what about those folks on a desert island? or in remote part of Africa? or good, sincere people of non-Christian religions, or belief systems such as humanism? surely it’s not fair for them to be left out.

nope, but eternity is a long time. long enough for everyone eventually, whether in this world or the next or some transitional stage, to learn about Christ’s message and make a choice. God is merciful and will make sure that sometime, somewhere, everyone will be given a chance. only those who have had an authentic opportunity to get to know Christ and deliberately choose to reject Christ will be permanently lost. and they will be, no matter how many good deeds they did or seemed to do.

someone as good and merciful and kind and loving and forgiving as we know from all historical sources that Christ was, would not say that he held the only keys to the kingdom… unless he really did and he knew it was really important that he make that clear. so he did.

so if you accept Christ’s ethical teachings but reject that he was what he consistently said he was, you are left wondering how someone who had it so together in every other way, could be so either deliberately deceptive or wildly delusional about the most important thing of all. or, looking at that in reverse, how could someone who was either a deliberate fraud or a raving madman, both articulate and exemplify such a beautiful way of life?

to the best of my recollection, all but one of the apostles was eventually killed, usually in a horrible way, for stubbornly insisting that Jesus was divine and had proven it by rising from the dead. the apostles too gave no evidence in their lives, their writings, their interactions with their fellow men and women, that they were either crazy or fraudulent. they were the ones who had been with Christ day and night. they were among the ones who either did or did not see him return from the grave. you have to be very sure of something to be willing to die a horrible death rather than deny it. to a man, they chose martyrdom


#2

Patricia: I think your words are beautiful and poignant. But, at 101 years old, she is probably set in her ways and beliefs. I’m not suggesting that you give up, but just be realistic. I learned a long time ago that sometimes we just have to leave those precious souls in God’s Hands. You can talk and talk and talk and talk until you collapse from exhaustion, but at some point, you have to just place them in His hands. He is the only One who can turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. And, sometimes, the more we say the more the person will shut our words out and turn away from Christ even more.

I have a dear friend whom I have known for over 25 years. She has been a faithful Catholic all of her life. She has taken care of both of her parents until their deaths and she worries about her older brother who is minimally a Catholic in name only. She actually began to alienate her brother from herself because she would constantly bring it up to him about going to Church, etc. He would just shut her out like he was turning off the radio. She just worried and worried about him and if he was going to get to Heaven. I finally told her that her brother’s salvation was out of her hands now, that she had to leave her it in God’s Hands. I told her also that we don’t know what happens at the split second between this life and the next, and that God very well could intervene with her brother at the moment of death. That brought her a lot of comfort. And, I told her that now her job was to pray for her brother. And that is all she can do. Although she doesn’t fuss as much about her brother as she once did, she still will bring it up from time to time and I have to remind her that God is in charge. (I have to remind myself of that same fact quite frequently!)

So, I would recommend that you love your friend, pray for her, and leave her salvation in God’s hands. Sometimes, too, our actions speak louder than our words. I will keep your friend in my prayers. Let us know how she’s doing.


#3

You do touch upon one of the most troubling aspects of Christianity for me. Christ’s ethical teachings are the core reason I admire Him. Those teachings mark a revolution in ethical philosophy, and if one manages to live one’s life in accordance with such teachings, he will be a good and moral man, and a credit to his community.

Now it just so happens that I also accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God. But why must one be compelled to “make a choice”? Why should I believe that the God of Abraham will save me only if I also accept Christ, but not if I am a Jew or a Muslim who believes in that very same God but by means of an entirely different faith tradition? Why is it unreasonable (and I have been condemned by some here in the vilest of terms) for me to believe that each of these faith traditions are acceptable in the sight of God, especially since each evolved at a time when communications and human mobility essentially prevented most from experiencing anything other than the faith tradition of the community they were born into?

Why do so many Christians threaten the followers of these other faith traditions with damnation unless and until they “accept Jesus”, no matter how well they have lived their lives? Why the insistence on conversion? This idea of a jealous God saving the Christians and condemning the Muslims and the Jews just strikes me as, well, un-Christ-like.


#4

Maybe you should enjoy this person’s presence while they are still alive.

My mother goes into must-convert-them mode too like this. Whenever she finds out one of her friends or family has terminal cancer or something she bombards them with efforts to accept Jesus until they die. Her dying brother (diehard Roman Catholic) basically won’t speak to her, because she believes he’s headed to hell and thus she keeps sending him information about Jesus… (lol?)


#5

Jazzhead

Now it just so happens that I also accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
Then you should believe entirely in what He says.

But why must one be compelled to “make a choice”?

It is all about choice. God gave us Free Will, to choose our own path. We are commanded, By Christ, to choose to believe, or not. The Scriptures state, that the only way to Salvation, is belief in the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Why should I believe that the God of Abraham will save me only if I also accept Christ, but not if I am a Jew or a Muslim with belief in that very same God but by means of an entirely different faith tradition?
Because, even if your delusion that the Christian God, Jehovah(Yahweh) is the same as the moon god, Allah, were true, the God of Abraham stipulated that Salvation depends on the belief in His Son, Jesus Christ. You cannot be the Messiah, if someone else has the ability to save souls.

Why is it unreasonable (and I have been condemned by some here in the vilest of terms) for me to believe that each of these faith traditions are acceptable in the sight of God, especially since each evolved at a time when communications and human mobility essentially prevented most from experiencing anything other than the faith tradition of the community they were born into?
Because God gave the criteria for being saved and Jesus is that key. Muslims do not believe He was the Messiah, and the Jews rejected Jesus. Pretty elementary, if you seek to do God’s Will, but pretty complicated if you are looking for some reason to reject Christ. You either believe, or you don’t. The Bible is very clear about “lukewarm” Christians who won’t commit to God’s Plan of Salvation.

Why do so many Christians threaten the followers of these other faith traditions with damnation unless and until they “accept Jesus”, no matter how well they have lived their lives? Why the insistence on conversion? This idea of a jealous God saving the Christians and condemning the Muslims and the Jews just strikes me as, well, un-Christ-like.
We threaten no one. God, the Almighty Creator and Sovereign King of the Universe, formed the Plan. We just choose to follow that plan.
So, now you sit in Judgement of the Lord God? He Commanded us in the Scriptures to follow Jesus and told us that the ONLY way to Salvation is Christ Jesus. You, in all your misguided wisdom, choose to oppose the Scriptures, the True Word of the Most High God, so, yes, you’ll be castigated for that, by true believers who see your position as hypocritical and foolish. I only want to fulfill my obligation to my God, to bring the Gospel to those who need it, and to edify those who profess belief in Jesus. It is said in the Bible that it is better if you were never born, than to be one who KNOWS the message, and refuses it. THAT and that alone is why I try so hard to show you the error in your thinking.


#6

So you’re calling me a “lukewarm” Christian who will be condemned to hell? Even though I accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God? Just because I refuse to seek to castigate and convert my Jewish and Muslim neighbors for believing in the same God by means of a different faith tradition?

Religious tribalism has been the root of most of mankind’s conflicts. Billions of folks worship the same God, but salvation is a matter of the particular dogma you subscribe to? Sorry, Tiny, I cannot accept that.

I’d urge you to to keep your nose clean, worship as your conscience dictates and lead a good and moral life. And mind your own flippin’ business concerning whether other people - just as good as you - choose to follow other faith traditions.


#7

From Tiny’s quote:

[QUOTE=Jazzhead]Why should I believe that the God of Abraham will save me only if I also accept Christ, but not if I am a Jew or a Muslim with belief in that very same God but by means of an entirely different faith tradition?[/QUOTE]
Aside from the OBVIOUS fact that Yahweh and Allah are not one and the same (“Tashlan!”), BECAUSE JESUS SAID SO. Duh.

[QUOTE=John 14:6]Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.[/QUOTE]
The whistling sound everyone is hearing is from the above response going in one ear and out the other without loss of velocity.


#8

Jazzhead

So you’re calling me a “lukewarm” Christian who will be condemned to hell? Even though I accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God? Just because I refuse to seek to castigate and convert my Jewish and Muslim neighbors for believing in the same God by means of a different faith tradition?
I never presume whom God will punish. All I am saying, is that you are missing the most important tenet of Christianity. Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the one and only path to Salvation, is the very foundation of Christianity. It is not negotiable. It is a mandated directive from our Heavenly Father, who wishes none to be condemned, but KNOWS that many will be. I just don’t want you, or anyone for that matter, to lose their reward because they refused to believe what the Bible says.
If you had any inkling what the Bible tells us, you’d be aware that the personalities, values and commandments of allah and Yahweh, are polar opposites. The Bible warns you against believing people who say false gods are our Heavenly Father.


** “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah (Christ)!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false Prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders (miracles) so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.” “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” **(Matthew 24:23-27)


Religious tribalism has been the root of most of mankind’s conflicts. Billions of folks worship the same God, but salvation is a matter of the particular dogma you subscribe to? Sorry, Tiny, I cannot accept that.
Then you are rejecting Christ. The billions who believe in Jesus’ Ransom Sacrifice, are the two billion Christians, who truly believe Jesus is the Messiah. Sorry, Jazzhead, you cannot alter God’s Will, to suit your definition of who God really is. He, and He alone, makes the rules. If you cannot believe what He says in the Bible, you either do not believe in Jesus, or you do not want to be part of God’s Kingdom. You cannot have it both ways.

I’d urge you to to keep your nose clean, worship as your conscience dictates and lead a good and moral life. And mind your own flippin’ business concerning whether other people - just as good as you - choose to follow other faith traditions.
This shows your ignorance of Scripture. “Nasal hygiene” will not get you into the Kingdom. I worship, as the Bible tells me to worship. But, once again, ignorance of your professed faith rears it ugly head. I have been directed by God to spread the Gospel, and to edify my brethren. Since you claim to believe, it is incumbent on me to impart that which I know to be true. Faith and acceptance in the Lord Jesus Christ is paramount for your Salvation. Kinda hard to form a relationship with God, when you do not believe what He says.


#9

good grief! I am not, and never have been, in must-convert-them mode. (cant even convince my own bro that obama is, as i consider blindingly obvious, incompetent at everything except raising money, getting votes, and covering up corruption.) anyway, I have known this particular individual, for instance, for over fifty years and never made any effort to convert her to anything. it is only because during the last few mos she kept dropping remarks like, “I wish my spiritual life was more developed” or “I just came from church, it didn’t seem like a worship service at all” that I kept getting the feeling she was spiritually hungry and also facing her mortality with some trepidation. so I made the gentle, one-time-only suggestion that she just try praying from her heart to Jesus, and that’s when she replied as she did.

I think in part she was testing me. she may be 101 but has an extremely sharp and acerbic mind. so I wrote what I did partly to explain my own beliefs to myself (ever find yourself doing that?) but yes I did send it to her. I am not overly concerned that she is likely to be "driven away’ by it, either from Christianity or from me. for one thing, we’ve known each other for too long. for another, it will either roll off her back like water off a duck’s back, or she will think about it. which of those two things happens, I am well aware I do not control and cannot control. I’ve been pretty beaten up by life and no one knows better than I how little one can sometimes control.

I also am pretty good if I do say so at taking people as they are and enjoying them as they are. btw (yeah I know this sounds like "some of my best friends are…) but my truly closest friends include a number of atheists, a number of agnostics, two muslims, several Mormons, a Jehovah’s witness, the president of the local jewish temple, a boatload of Baptists, a whole bunch of assorted mainliners, and an Apostolic. oh yeah and quite a few catholics. i’m sure I’ve forgotten somebody.


#10

I have not rejected Christ, Tiny. To the contrary. What I do not accept is your dogmatic certitude that good people of different faith traditions are condemned to hell, even as they worship the same God as you and I do. You are saying that unless I accept YOUR dogma with respect to the spiritual health of OTHERS, and do not try as you do to convert the heathen, then I’m going to hell.

This is root of wars, folks. Religious tribalism is what causes good people to turn away from God.


#11

I spent most of my life thinking jus as you do. To exclude totally decent people, many of them even believing in God, from salvation is on the face of it wildly unjust. how could a just god be wildly unjust? it troubles you, it troubles me, it troubles anyone who lets themselves think about it.

just for the record, I have never in my life “threatened anyone with damnation!” altho a few people have said to me, “d— you.” hmmm. did they really mean it? oh well. enough about that!

the problem is–at least for some of us it’s a problem–that Christ himself said that he was the way, the truth, and the life, and many other phrases to that effect, and he wasn’t asking his disciples and others just to believe in God, which they already did, or in him as a great teacher, which they already did. he asked, no demanded, that they believe he was the son of God, that he was divine, and that salvation comes through him.

this was a problem for me. especially since, to take one close to home example, I loved my father very much and with all the faults he did have, he was nevertheless a very good man in most ways, a good father, and made a number of contributions to his local community and to his state and country, of which I am proud. over time I found comfort in thinking about the eternity of eternity, and that it gives God (and us) a lot of time to work things out. as a catholic, for instance, I find the concept of purgatory not frightening but calming. (whew! thank goodness it’s not instant pass or fail! I can do an extra project and get credit for it!) I perhaps should not joke about purgatory but I think we need to lighten up a little here. had no idea when I went to bed in the wee hrs that a miniature firestorm would erupt. anyway, that’s how I have tried to reconcile Christ’s own clear call to follow him, with continuing to respect and live comfortably alongside those of other faiths in the present. which is not even an eye blink in the context of eternity.


#12

We must make a choice because that is the way God made us. He wants us to come to Him willingly, and on His terms, not be a puppet forced to serve Him, nor yet be able to come the way we want to. He made us for fellowship with Himself. It isn’t true fellowship if there is no choice.


#13

I don’t think Tiny is condemning anyone. When a person “recognizes” the truth about something, let’s say, the truth that gasoline will run their vehicle, they stick with gasoline. They don’t try putting water or milk in their gas tank. Why? Because water and milk will not run their car. That is a fact. If you recognize that Jesus IS the Son of God, that means that in your heart, you recognize not just His God-head, but His Truth. Belief in Jesus as the Son of God requires a commitment. It’s not just good enough to say that you believe that He is the Son of God. You have to be like the Roman commander who went to Jesus to cure his servant. He said to Jesus (these are not the exact words) “Lord, it is enough that you should say the words. I know that my servant will be healed.” That, Jazz, is an ACT OF FAITH. The Roman soldier KNEW in his heart that Jesus was more than just a man. He knew the Truth about Jesus. He didn’t go wandering over to the Roman temples and give thanks to Zeus. He KNEW Who Jesus was and that there was no other besides Him.

You seem to be using a new terminology “religious tribalism” with negative connotations. I could easily attach that same word to other groups because tribalism, as a mentality, is very common. It doesn’t necessarily mean something negative.

Jazz, we’ve been down this road before…not just you and I, but with other members. There’s no sense in rehashing the same old arguments because we all know the lyrics, melody, chorus and refrain.


#14

Jazzhead

I have not rejected Christ, Tiny.
Then, you MUST believe this:

“Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:** no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.**” John 14:6.

Well, do ya’, Jazzhead?

To the contrary. What I do not accept is your dogmatic certitude that good people of different faith traditions are condemned to hell, even as they worship the same God as you and I do.
What you do not accept, is God’s Word, the Holy Bible. You seem to think that you know better than God, what is needed for Salvation. You keep asserting that the god that tells Muslims that he is the Great Deceiver, is the same God who says it is impossible for God to lie. You claim that allah is Yahweh/Jehovah, when Our Heavenly Father requires totally different directions on how to gain Eternal Life. To allah, it is through sacrificing your sons to him, while God sent His Son to die for us.

But Christianity differs from all other religions of the world in one other vitally important concept – the idea that God reached out to man to save him because** man was helpless to save himself.
**
Every other religion in the world is based on man’s efforts to reach God, through means not given us in the Bible. These world religions teach that man must somehow do righteous deeds or perform religious ritual in order to become “good enough” for salvation. In order to be saved a person must pray a certain number of times, in a certain manner, facing a certain direction. Or he must wear a particular type of religious garment. Or he must visit a certain religious shrine or temple.
So, you see, if you believe God and allah are the same, and that all good people are saved, through their good works, and that all religions lead to God, your Christianity becomes suspect.

You are saying that unless I accept YOUR dogma with respect to the spiritual health of OTHERS, and do not try as you do to convert the heathen, then I’m going to hell.

Nope. Once again, you miss the point.
GOD is telling you how to be saved, you just aren’t listening or you refuse to believe. Which is it, Jazzhead?

This is root of wars, folks. Religious tribalism is what causes good people to turn away from God.
Belief in God, and in the Sacrifice, Resurrection and Second Coming of Jesus Christ, is not tribalism. It is Obedience to God. How about letting know God what you think, by answering the following, in private to Him.

Luke 6:46
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?


#15

Never stop trying to reach someone. Sometimes your trying will be without words, just living the Christ-like life. And if someone really needs to understand that God gives everyone an opportunity to repent, show her John 1:9 -

(John 1:9) That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Scripture, the “Light” refers to Jesus.


#16

I like the way you phrased that up there. Cool. :smile:

… lol … You forgot the Snake Handlers … stay with this video … you’ll be amazed

… and you forgot the Holy Laughers … again stay with this vide … you’ll be amazed.

Unusual stuff those videos.
As I have said so many times, the human race in still in the kindergarten stage and
the Christian Church is in about the Second Grade, and both have a very long way to
go before they reach the higher level of maturity and wisdom.

… so what’s not nutty about the politicians in D.C.? …

… and what’s not nutty about those secular textbook’s intellectualized bovine dooky
passed off [subtly] as settled science? … lol …
*

What these people are doing in these two videos are not any more nutty than what
the ultra-serious white-collar politicians do in Washington D.C. each and every week …

… or what the Philosophical Intellectual Academic Talking Heads present in their silly textbooks
as they attempt to pass off their own subjective opinions, whims, biases, and prejudices as
pretty much “settled science” with their constant repetitive sly use of words/phrases like
"this suggests" and “but” and “if” and “maybe” plus many other subtle [and not so subtle] …

… words and phrases that admit that the conclusions are UNCERTAIN which leaves them "an out"
when they get cornered, yet at the same time they write their slop in such a way that convinces the
average college freshmen and sophomore that “god hath spoken” and that they’re reading "settled science"
when they read Ph.D holder Professor FlapDoodle’s bovine excrement textbook.

If you took a pair of scissors and cut out “this suggests” and “but” and “if” and “maybe” plus
many other subtle [and not so subtle] words and phrases that admit that the conclusions are UNCERTAIN
or based upon FAITH, from all those secular Biology textbooks and secular Psychology textbooks and most
other secular textbooks, you’d have very little SUBSTANCE left …
*
… all this is merely a different kind of nuttiness than is handling snakes and laughing in Church! …

… but a rose by another name is still a rose… *

♫ ♪ ♫ ♪


#17

Susanna, lets not forget who the original witnesses of the empty tomb and the first witnesses to the risen Christ were: THE WOMEN.
This testimony of women in 1st century Jerusalem was worth less then. They weren’t even allowed to testify in court. For the apostles to write that the women were the ones to first see the empty tomb and see the risen Christ tells us they weren’t afraid to speak the truth no matter how bad it made them look. If they were lying they never would have said the women found the tomb empty and saw the resurrected Christ first.

This is called the criterion of embarrassment . Even atheist New Testament scholars admit to this but won’t go further because their worldview simply doesn’t allow for miracles or the supernatural.

CS Lewis had a great article on Christ

Is Jesus Christ – Lord, Liar, or a Lunatic? by *C.S. Lewis | LifeCoach4God

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” – C.S. Lewis


#18

Jazz either Jesus was a liar or he was telling the whole truth. He did say that no one get to the father except through the son. That doesn’t necessarily mean that people of other religions are automatically going to hell though.

I think u would really like the teaching if inclusivism, which teaches that Jesus is the only way to the father but also recognizes that a person can’t be judges harshly for what they genuinely don’t know.

As I said before CS Lewis was an inclusivist

Here is a good link for you to check out. I really think this will help you find closure on this issue

An Evangelical Inclusivist Defends Evangelical Inclusivism

I started to ask the same questions about 6 years ago when I was at a retreat with nuns.
She saw that something was troubling me . I then told her that I believed that Christ is the only way to the father, but what about the millions of people that never had a chance to hear the gospel or hear it properly.

She then told me about a nightmare she had when she was a child and she woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and screaming . Her mom woke her and said "said what is wrong child ?

She told her "mom we got it all wrong and the seventh day adventist got it right , we are all going to hell"
Her mom laughed and told her "child do you really believe that our loving , merciful God is like this?

Which got me to start looking more into it and that’s how I started to research inclusivism.

But remember this jazz. Once you know deep inside your heart what the fullness if Christ’s truth is and you reject it, you will be held responsible for this decision . Inclusivism doesn’t teach that every religion is a path to the father (that is called universalism ).

I believe that inclusivism speaks volumes towards God’s infinite mercy and infinite understanding.

But Susannes friend is right to keep trying to bring that old lady to Christ, as she is genuinely concerned about the state of her soul. She is doing this out if love for her. Would Christ do any less himself?


#19

Your mom sounds like my mom Gov lol


#20

Oh ok. So you’re not interested in her accepting Christ before she dies?