Thursday, July 06, 2006

Take no hostages?


That's when it hit me- Christianity is a confrontational faith/religion. If people find it offensive, that's the way it's suppose to be. This is the reason why many Christian apologists, be it Jonathan Sarfati from Answers in Genesis, James P Holding/Robert Turkel of Tekton Apologetics, Jason Engwer of "Steve'N'Pals"...erm..."Triablouge" are confrontational in their tone. To be polite, friendly, and kind to the opposition is weak and looked down on as "whimpy". This is because Christianity is offensive. It's designed to be this way. Christianity is supposed to be offensive and confrontational to the world and is supposed to offend the world and its "sin". Christian apologists like Sarfati, Holding, and Engwer are confrontational and offensive for a good reason- their faith requires them to be. They won't be nice about it. Contrarily- their approach is a in-your-face, offensive approach that demands an answer from you and condemns you when you fail to give the answer that apologists want-which is conversion. Jason doens't care if I don't like Christianity- he's only interested in seeing me convert-which I cheerfully promise him will never happen. If he doesn't like it, I am not sure of how to tell him politely that I don't give a damn and that he can go to hell for all I care.

Christianity is offensive and confrontational and its intentionally suppose to be this way. If I recall correctly, I believe that my dad once delivered a sermon which he said something to the effect of "If the gospel doesn't make you feel uncomfortable, then you don't really belong in Church". He's right! That's because the gospel is confrontational and should make people feel uncomfortable. One's "comfort zone" is born out of compromise with the world. In my dad's opinion, if you are not running into the devil, it's because you're running in the same direction as him! It's the take-no-hostages, in-your-face, confrontational style of Christians like Engwer that is truly Christian.

Coming to this realization has made me aware of some really disturbing truths. First of all, I cannot be diplomatic with Christianity. How can you be diplomatic with something that's designed to offend and confront you, and, if you allow it to, bully you into confessing it's true and converting you? I learned this the hard way. There's no diplomacy. It's destroy or be destroyed. Secondly, this realization has made me painfully aware of an inconsistency that I have been evading for some time now that I can evade no longer because I am tired of being a whimp about it. Christians live by a double-standard. Christians think it's wonderful for a Christian to convert an atheist to being a Christian but think it's horrible for an atheist to convert a Christian to being an atheist. If Christians are allowed to convert non-Christians, then shouldn't non-Christians be allowed to convert Christians?

Third, many many Christians seem to think that they can be as rude, self-righteous, as spiteful as they want to disbelievers such as atheists, yet atheists have to go out of their way to be as polite, friendly, and kind to Christians, to the point of almost tip-toeing around egg-shells or else Christians scream "Persecution!" Atheists have to be as sweet as pie to Christians but many Christians think they can treat atheists as dirt poor as they like. Fourth, many Christians have no qualms whatsoever about imposing their beliefs on others through personal evangelism, filling the airwaves and television channels with their creeds, yet seem utterly indignant when atheists might do the same. Many Christians have no care in the world that what they say may offend or insult others.


It’s often striking to observe the disconnect between how people view themselves and how they’re viewed by others.

1.I think Jason is suffering from guilt-by-association. Matthew is projecting on to Jason what he resents in me or his own dad or some other blogger.

Jason is never rude or spiteful. Jason has an irenic style. Jason never tries to bully his opponent, but to reason with his opponent. The only forcible method he ever employs is the force of reason.

2.Bloggers, being human, reflect a range of character types. There are also differences of national character.

3.Christian bloggers also vary in their theology when it comes to dealing with unbelievers.

Unbelief is culpable, but there are degrees of culpability.

When a man loses his faith, that’s a tragedy. But if a man who loses his faith endeavors to destroy the faith of others, then that invites a very different response.

4. The idea that unbelievers generally bend over backwards to be nice and polite to Christians is a claim which a few clicks of the mouse would bury under an avalanche of counter-evidence.

5.Matthew is assuming that this is all about him. But blogging is a public medium. The target audience is far larger than one’s immediate opponent.

6.Emotive talk about “imposing” our faith through personal evangelism and televangelism says less about the believer than it does about the unbeliever’s personal insecurities.

7.The charge of a double standard is incoherent: “Christians think it's wonderful for a Christian to convert an atheist to being a Christian but think it's horrible for an atheist to convert a Christian to being an atheist.”

How is that a double standard?

Is Frank Walton guilty of a double standard if he thinks it’s wonderful for a Neo-Nazi to convert to Christianity, but horrible for a Christian to convert to Neonazism?

That’s not a double standard, but a single standard. One is good, and the other is bad.

8.Are non-Christians not allowed to convert Christians?

Matthew is bent out of shape, not because he isn’t free to speak his mind, but because freedom of speech is a two-way street.

9.Matthew is acting as if we had a personal investment in Christian epologetics. “Destroy or be destroyed!” “Take no hostages!”

Speaking for myself, I don’t have anything at stake. Nothing to gain and nothing to lose. I feel like a poker player who’s gambling with someone else’s money.

I’m like a homeless drunk whom the good Lord plucked up off the pavement, dried out, dressed up in a tux, and stuck in a high stakes poker game.

Those are not my C-bills on the line. He staked me to whipsaw the opponents—because one cheater deserves another!


  1. "Double standard" applies to the methods used: eg, that it's okay for side X to use some particular tactic, but wrong for Side Y or Z to do the same. So it's hypocritical for Fred Phelps and for ACT-UP to criticise each other for disrupting church services. Once you open the door to "it's okay for Side X to use Tactic A because Side X are the good guys", you break down the social compact and end up back in the war of all against all. Because, as John Locke noted, each sect is orthodox in its own eyes: no one says publicly "We're the bad guys, so we're not allowed to use Tactic A".

    But obviously, no sane person is neutral as between goals.

  2. ... Having said that, I agree that, at *some* times, *some* Triabloggers over-indulge in ad hominems when they could be using their bytes rebutting arguments instead. I'm not interested in the personal failings and flaws of John Loftus or Dagood. Prove Loftus or Dagood to be a fool and an incompetent, yet a thousand other atheists will fill his place. Rebut atheism as a position, and it becomes as intellectually intenable as - say - Marxism has in the past 40 years (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...!).

  3. It seems to me that there's a deeper problem here. Is atheism a religion? If so, then atheist evangelism makes sense.

    But it also has to accept the disadvantages that accrue to religion in the Public Square.

    If it is not, then atheist evangelism is at best self-indulgent, and at worst spiteful. From what I've read here about the Debunking Christianity wallahs, most of them seem to have had serious problems with their churches. Can it be that they are trying to 'save' people from problems that do not exist in every church?

    Still, this should be a warning that charity towards the confused is necessary. But not, I'm afraid, towards the Devil's propagandists.

  4. Oh, and apologetics tends to attract confrontational fellows. That's why I'm not an apologist. I'm too much of a gentleman.

    We should not answer a railing accusation, but when the railer starts to jump up and down yelling 'yah, cowards!' it is awfully hard not to punch them in the nose.