"Do Evangelicals Love and Accept People as They Are?"

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"Do Evangelicals Love and Accept People as They Are?"

Postby bn2bnude » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:04 am

The following article was posted on a friends Facebook page. I thought I'd throw it out here for others to comment. Also, to the moderators... If this is better moved to a different heading, please feel free to move it.

It's written by a former pastor who is now an atheist. It is food for thought.

http://brucegerencser.net/2016/03/evangelicals-love-accept-people
Evangelicals sincerely believe that they love and accept people as they are. Some will even say that they love everyone unconditionally. (Please see Does God Love Us Unconditionally?) With pious smiles on their faces, Evangelicals say, We love everyone, just like Jesus did. Jesus died on the cross for everyone, praise his holy name! Of course, Calvinists and Arminians have been fighting for hundreds of years over whether Jesus loves everyone. While I love poking holes in both warring parties’ arguments, I will leave the Calvinism vs. Arminianism atonement debate for another day. I am far more interested in dealing with the idea that Evangelicals, in general, love and accept people just as they are.

Evangelicals believe that everyone is marred and broken by sin. The solution to this brokenness is Jesus. When Evangelicals say they love and accept people as they are, what they mean is that they, for a time, will do so, but only if sinners eventually come around to their way of thinking. The goal is to bring marred, broken people to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Called by Christ to evangelize the world, Evangelicals desire to convert every boy, girl, man, and woman. Evangelicals accepting people as they are is but a means to an end — the salvation of sinners. So, when Evangelicals say they love drunks, drug addicts, prostitutes, adulterers, Catholics, Muslims, and atheists, their love is based on an ulterior motive — winning the lost to Jesus.

What happens if people do not want what Evangelicals are peddling — deliverance from sin and eternal life through Jesus Christ? Will Evangelicals still unconditionally love and accept these intransigent people as they are? Most Evangelicals will turn to prayer, hoping that God will give sinners eyes to see and ears to hear the glorious gospel of amazing grace. Their love and acceptance is ALWAYS based on changing people from who and what they are. Since Evangelicals believe they are the purveyors of the true Christian gospel, the end goal is to turn lost sinners into saved Evangelicals.

This is why I have long believed that Evangelicals do not love or accept people as they are. They can’t. As long as they are part of an exclusionary sect that divides the entire human race into two categories — saved and lost, Evangelicals will never accept, as they are, people who are different from them.

Evangelicals are taught to not associate with the world. This is why there is a sprawling Evangelical subculture that now offers separate Evangelicals Jesusfied versions of the goods and entertainments found in the world — the domain of the prince and power of the air, Satan. Things such as Christian rock music, Christian radio, Christian TV, Christian clothing, Christian dating services, Christian schools,Christian auto repair, Christian, home improvements, and Christian (fill in the blank) _________ are all meant to provide Evangelicals with things similar to what the world has to offer.

Evangelicals are commanded by God to come out from the world and be separate. Not wanting to be like the Amish or other separatist groups, Evangelicals diligently work to transform the world into the Kingdom of God. Once everyone — well almost everyone except those vile, heathen atheists — has bowed a knee to Jesus and joined Club Evangelical™ all will be well and Evangelicals can then truly love and accept people as they are — born again Christians. Woo Hoo! Everyone is playing for the same team now! Praise Jesus!

Evangelicals forget that people such as myself — Evangelicals-turned-atheists — know the truth. Evangelicals not only don’t love and accept non-Evangelicals as they are, they also don’t accept fellow Evangelicals as they are. I monitor and read over 200 Evangelical blogs. Every day, this or that Evangelical is upset over what some other Evangelical preacher, church, or sect said or did. In particular, Evangelical discernment blogs — also known as keepers of the Book of Life — rail against other Evangelicals who have different beliefs, use the wrong Bible version, sing the wrong style of music, support the wrong ministries, or do anything else contrary to their narrowly defined version of the one true faith. Everywhere I look, I see Evangelicals fussing with each other. Acting like toddlers fighting over toys, Evangelicals seem oblivious to Jesus’ commands concerning love and unity.

I left the Christian church in 2008. Since my departure, countless Evangelicals have attempted to “love and accept me as I am.” When I point out to them that they do not really accept me as I am, these loving Evangelicals often get upset over me insinuating that their motives are not pure. It is not an insinuation, it is a fact. When Evangelicals want to befriend me, I immediately know that they have an ulterior motive. How could it be otherwise? What do I have in common with Evangelicals? This blog is a repudiation of everything Evangelicals hold dear. If Jesus is their friend, lover, and Savior, how could Evangelicals possibly be friends with someone who challenges their beliefs about Jesus? I am the ex-wife, the woman formerly married to the Evangelical bride’s new husband. I highly doubt the new wife is going to friend the ex-wife on Facebook or follow her on Pinterest.

The Bible is clear, I am an enemy of God. I am an apostate who tramples under the blood of Jesus. I spit in the face of God, wanting nothing to do with him. According to Hebrews 6:4-6 (edited for emphasis):

For it is impossible for Bruce who was once enlightened, and has tasted of the heavenly gift, and was made a partaker of the Holy Ghost, And has tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If Bruce shall fall away, to renew him again unto repentance; seeing that he crucifies to himself the Son of God afresh, and puts him to an open shame.


Hebrews 10:26,29 states:

For if Bruce sins wilfully after he has received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for his sins…Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall Bruce be thought worthy, he who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?


To my fellow atheists and non-Evangelicals, I suggest that the next time Evangelicals come bearing gifts of love and acceptance you ask them, what do you REALLY want? Lurking behind every friendship request is the desire to see you saved and made a part of Club Evangelical™. But, Bruce, says an Evangelical, I really, really, really want to be friends with you. Why? Be honest. Why do you want to be my friend? Please tell me what we have in common? Are you willing to meet me at the Pub and fellowship over a few beers or shots of whiskey? Are you willing to skip church so you can attend a baseball game with me? Are you willing to never mention the name of Jesus or Christianity in my presence? Are your ears tough enough to weather my cursing and risqué jokes? Be honest. Isn’t the real objective to win me to Jesus; to recover me from the pit of sin?

I have two Evangelical friends (husband and wife) — members of the Church of the Nazarene. Our friendship dates back to the 1960s when the husband and I lived near each other and walked to elementary school together. Our friendship has gone through many phases over the years. I was, for a time, their pastor. When I deconverted in 2008, I wondered if our friendship would survive. It has, and here is how. We don’t talk about religion or atheism unless one of us asks a question. We focus on the things we have in common: family, children, marriage, chronic illness, chronic pain, love of off-road travel, and eating food at out-of-the-way places. My friends are willing to let me go to hell and I am willing to let them go to heaven. Each of us knows that the other has made an informed decision about God, Jesus, Christianity, and the Bible.

I have invested 50 years in this friendship and I don’t want to argue or debate it away. I deeply love my friends and would do anything for them. Well ALMOST anything — accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior excepted. I am sure my writing, at times, causes them pain. I am sure they wish I were still a Christian. But I am not, so there is no need to dwell on that which will never happen. Will our friendship last until the end — when death proves the reality of that which we believe to be true? I don’t know. I hope so. Members of their family have told them not to be my friend. I am a tool of Satan, one family member said, and Christians should never be friends with people such as myself.

I hope Evangelicals will ponder what I have written in this post. Enough of the warm, fuzzy, syrupy pronouncements of love and acceptance. Atheists and non-Christians see through Evangelical offers of unconditional love. Surely there are enough people to befriend at church. Why troll for friends who will never share your beliefs? Why seek friendships with people whose lives are diametrically opposed to all you hold dear. I can hear the wheels turning in Evangelical minds. Come on, spit it out. Be honest. You really don’t love and accept people as they are. Your motive — no matter how hard you try to hide it — is to save broken sinners such as Bruce. And it is for this reason, we can never be friends.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1 NLT)



If I speak with the tongues of men and angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Cor 13:1)
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Re: "Do Evangelicals Love and Accept People as They Are?"

Postby JimShedd112 » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:25 am

Wow!! But, look at the truth of what the author is saying. I can remember my own parents' consternation over the fact my wife was/is Bhuddist and wonder whether or not she was/is fully accepted. As I've written numerous times here and on Naturist Christians I'm not a Christian nor atheist. I believe most religions, except Satanism, actually represent the same God (god) but use different terms/interpretations to describe the deity.

Jim
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Re: "Do Evangelicals Love and Accept People as They Are?"

Postby jjsledge » Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:18 am

The same attitude he is writing about prevails over at Naturists Christians. After over 10 years of being a member there I gave up Friday and tried to delete my profile to no avail. It is stated on their website that members that do not have their location in their profile will be deleted, so I deleted my location. Hope it works. I am not the only one to leave recently.

The evangelical attitude is why I left institutional church and house church. I now meet with a couple of guys (1 atheist, 1 christian) at the Flying Saucer beer emporium to have a religion over beer discussion.
Those who judge the motives of othere are simply revealing what's in their own hearts. Frank Viola "Revise Us Again" p.89
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Re: "Do Evangelicals Love and Accept People as They Are?"

Postby Ramblinman » Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:24 pm

bn2bnude wrote: (quoting the pastor in part for sake of brevity)
Evangelicals believe that everyone is marred and broken by sin. The solution to this brokenness is Jesus. When Evangelicals say they love and accept people as they are, what they mean is that they, for a time, will do so, but only if sinners eventually come around to their way of thinking. The goal is to bring marred, broken people to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Called by Christ to evangelize the world, Evangelicals desire to convert every boy, girl, man, and woman. Evangelicals accepting people as they are is but a means to an end — the salvation of sinners. So, when Evangelicals say they love drunks, drug addicts, prostitutes, adulterers, Catholics, Muslims, and atheists, their love is based on an ulterior motive — winning the lost to Jesus.

This Atheist pastor doesn't seem to have thought through his argument very carefully.
If he doesn't read minds, then his comment that Evangelicals have ulterior motives in showing kindness is conjecture on his part. Does anyone know what others think just by guessing?

Secondly, he hasn't really defined the term "acceptance". Does it mean agreeing with someone who holds a contradictory opinion to one's own?
Believing in two mutually exclusive propositions is a form of insanity! :lol:

In addition, what is unloving about wanting a joyous peaceful existence both here and in the hereafter for those who lack it? :dizzy:
Knowing from the Bible the kindly nature of Jesus, I can't imagine a happier way to exist than enjoying his friendship through the ages.
Some people might not believe and of course they are free to make their own choice, but we still wish them well, but the love and friendship of Jesus is life's greatest joy.
If you had a friend who lived in a hole in the ground, ate bugs and drank stagnant water, wouldn't you at least offer him the use of your ladder?
I am sure that if he was afraid to come out of his hole, he might worry that his life would be worse on the surface of the Earth, so you'd do your best to tell him what life here in the sunshine is like, hoping he will be convinced.
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Re: "Do Evangelicals Love and Accept People as They Are?"

Postby nakedpreacher » Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:35 pm

Jay,
I hope that I was not a reason that you left. I really did not mean to ignite the firestorm that ensued. I only tried to point out that meaningless negativity has no place, while honest disagreement with reason behind it is acceptable when we are trying to debate and discuss. I fear that I brought about the very thing that I was trying to prevent.
As to the OP here, as a pastor I fought tooth and nail against my church's religiosity. St. Augustine is reported to have said," the church is a whore, but she is my mother". It is a problem not just with evangelicals but all of the church through every age (St Augustine was born in 325A.D. if my memory serves me correctly). The church gets caught up in religion instead of doing as we were told by Christ, "Follow Me.". If we follow a church or a movement or even a preacher, we are not following Christ. If the Church follows him together as individuals we will all end up in the same place but to follow a church is not the same as following Christ. I hope that you will eventually find a group that is following Him so that you may "build one another up" but always remember, we follow Christ.
Naked Preacher
If, when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil; we should look for evil where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own hearts. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
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Re: "Do Evangelicals Love and Accept People as They Are?"

Postby Petros » Mon Mar 21, 2016 3:17 pm

In my friendly agnostic youth [I was never one of the passionate antitheits - that is my brother] I met a few Christian types, most of whom would answer to Evangelical, who stood out as shining lights from the rest of humanity. Who were friendly without ulterior motive, not making a project of me [I had THAT from one not very interested Christian and a few non-Christians]. None ever muttered an evangelistic syllable. I had THAT from a few non-Christians.

Speaking strictly for myself [Arminian, liturgical inclined, Nicene but pretty much libertarian Christian] and not at all for any other individual or group:

If I interact with you I do so as positively as possible. I do not guarantee to love you or even like you - those come extra - but I will respect you and look for and react to your strengths.

Even when I like or love you, I will see things I think you would be better off changing. Quit tobacco, stop reading that trash, stop dragging your feet and finish a project, take a long look at that relationship. And in some cases, yes, come to Christ or stop listening to that preacher.

Who among us does not need some fixing? And what sort of friend would not like to see both himself and his friend positively adjusted?

I won't take up with you just cause I need a project. I will not dump you if you are not perfect. And so far as in me lies I will be interested in improving myself.
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: "Do Evangelicals Love and Accept People as They Are?"

Postby Ramblinman » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:59 pm

nakedpreacher wrote:Jay,
I hope that I was not a reason that you left. I really did not mean to ignite the firestorm that ensued. I only tried to point out that meaningless negativity has no place, while honest disagreement with reason behind it is acceptable when we are trying to debate and discuss. I fear that I brought about the very thing that I was trying to prevent.
As to the OP here, as a pastor I fought tooth and nail against my church's religiosity. St. Augustine is reported to have said," the church is a whore, but she is my mother". It is a problem not just with evangelicals but all of the church through every age (St Augustine was born in 325A.D. if my memory serves me correctly). The church gets caught up in religion instead of doing as we were told by Christ, "Follow Me.". If we follow a church or a movement or even a preacher, we are not following Christ. If the Church follows him together as individuals we will all end up in the same place but to follow a church is not the same as following Christ. I hope that you will eventually find a group that is following Him so that you may "build one another up" but always remember, we follow Christ.
Naked Preacher


While all truth comes from God, I am not one of those who claim that the Church is the sole agent of that truth.
Bear with me while I recite some history we both know well, but others may benefit from hearing:
The Church once had a good working theology of the body that resulted in First Century Christians engaged in nude recreation in Roman baths with pagan neighbors throughout the empire.
The Apostles and early bishops had plenty of opportunity to rebuke it and at most, the early Church Fathers only issued a cautionary note regarding deportment at the baths, but not against the nudity itself.
The Early Church practiced nude adult baptisms in full view of men, women and children. Nudity was mandatory to drive home the point of new birth and abandoning one's old life.
Nudity for fishermen and farm workers was also standard practice in many quarters during the long hot summers and nudity was a virtual necessity because of the price of clothing and the low wages of manual laborers.

So, these many centuries later, a secular movement in Europe rediscovers a principle that the Church once knew intimately.
Should we reject a given truth because we didn't receive it from the hands of a forgetful church? No!

Likewise, in my studies of ecology, I came to common ground with some Earth-religions.
With many of these old nature religions we certainly part ways on the divinity of Nature and the existence of a Creator beyond the natural realm.
But I have come to see the Biosphere as a super-organism whose constituent organisms (us included) interact much like a colonial organism, in a general sort of way like the Portuguese Man-O-War.
In hindsight, many Christians come to see that the Bible teaches a stewardship rather than destructive exploitation, a crude perversion of God's original intent for us.
Seeing our role as one organism among many composing the Biosphere does not conflict with the true gospel, but does conflict with a rather common misperception of it.
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Re: "Do Evangelicals Love and Accept People as They Are?"

Postby jochanaan » Tue Mar 22, 2016 3:03 pm

Many of us, reading articles like this, react immediately with denial. "Of course we love non-Christians!" But Jesus calls us to look at ourselves before asserting such things. Do we in fact love our enemies? Do we judge while saying we don't? The Sermon on the Mount both affirms our being His agents and challenges us to act as He acted toward many who "had no interest" or had been burned by the religious authorities of His day.

If our love is conditioned on whether one believes as we do, it is not unconditional.
You can live your life in fear--or you can live your life.
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Re: "Do Evangelicals Love and Accept People as They Are?"

Postby natman » Tue Mar 22, 2016 4:29 pm

I think that we may need to revisit what God's "unconditional" love looks like.

I believe that God "loves" all of His creations, including people, including those who love Him back and those who do not. We are told that "God so loved the world ... " (John 3:16), and that "God is not willing that any should perish..." (2 Pet 3:9), which sort of implies that He loves EVERYONE. However, the "manifestations" of His love are not the same for everyone and are not "unconditional".

Scripturally, we are broken down into two classes of people; those who are "saved" and those who are "not saved". It seems plain to see that those who are "saved" are well loved by God for, according to Scripture, they shall spend eternity without want, need or tear in His glorious presence. But what about the "un-saved". Does God not love them?

I think that the bottom line is that God loves us each enough to give us the desires of our hearts, for all eternity. In order to be "saved", we have to obey the two most basic commandments; to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind and strength; and to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we love the Lord with all of our heart, it will be our greatest desire to be near Him for all eternity. However, for those who do not love the Lord, to be in His presence for all eternity would be its own eternal "Hell". I compare it to loving or hating garlic. I happen to love the smell and flavor of garlic. To be in a room full of the fragrance of cooking garlic sends me into anticipatory joy. However, I have friends who can't STAND the smell of garlic in any way, shape or fashion. To be in the same room, they would be scratching to get out, wretching their stomachs ever second until they are in fresh air once again.

As to evangelism, I consider myself "evangelical". I do not know what goes through the minds of other "evangelicals", but I try to show EVERYONE the love of Christ, whether they claim to be Christian or not, whether they claim to be an atheist, even if they claim to be my "enemy". Regardless of how they respond to MY effort to help them see Jesus in me, I try to treat them the same. I believe that even the greatest sinner may turn to Christ at some point down the line, perhaps even on his or her deathbed. All we can do is love them to the end. Sometimes they may walk away from me, which is okay. I can wait as long as it takes. If they come back, great! If they do not, then that was not God's plan for them nor me. However, I will never walk away from them, unless God provides a clear sign that I am to dust off my sandals. So far, I have never gotten that sign.

The bottom line is that I believe that God loves us no matter where we are. If we are His, then He does not expect us to remain where we are but to gradually come toward Him (the process of sanctification). If we are to love our neighbors in the same way, we will love them no matter where they are, but if they are far from God, we will hope that through our love, they will not desire to remain where they are but will move toward God as well. It might not be today. It might not be tomorrow. It might not be in our lifetime. But hopefully, it will be sometime. And if it is never, then we have not lost anything by showing love. I think that love is one of those things that the more you give it away, the more you have.
SON-cerely,
Nathan Powers

Get exposed to the sun, and get exposed to the Son.
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