Saying the things polite Christians don't.

Posts tagged ‘Witness’

Atheist – Smile

As a Christian internet user who visits the occasional public forum, watches videos on Utube and contributes to the comments section, I encounter a lot of people who don’t share my spiritual views. This is to be expected but it hasn’t always been the case. It wasn’t so long ago that I wouldn’t have heard from these folk unless I was actively evangelising.

Put it this way. The internet has not only given Christians a new platform from which to spread the word, it has also given voice to a generation of people who might previously have kept quiet.
Naturally there will be objection from some quarters if you are street preaching – the hecklers will always speak up – or one-on-one witnessing. But those who would normally keep their thoughts to themselves now have an anonymous megaphone.

At certain times this can ignite lively and thought provoking conversation. This is the public forum at its best. At other times I have found myself the object of ridicule by mean spirited people with virtually zero knowledge of the scriptures they are rubbishing.

A favourite topic of these folk is the supposed contradictions in the scriptures. A popular one is the account of Judas Iscariot:
Matthew 27:5 tells us that Judas threw the money into the Temple and went off and hanged himself.

Acts 1:18 says he bought a field with the money. There, he fell headlong and burst open, his intestines spilling out.

Theologians have written tomes about these two accounts. They have been studied for years, pulled apart and dissected. Men and women with advanced degrees, people that for whom if they had studied medicine for instance, would be specialists.

Now some tosser with no understanding of scripture whatsoever wants to establish an understanding that the Bible is fake based on his or her great find. Whoopi-doo. These are the same folk who cling to the premise that the great singularity –

er, gotta pause here . . .

Don’t you love that word, ‘Singularity, What it means is “I don’t have an explanation or sound reasoning for my theory, any reasonable application of the English language would fail like army boots with a wedding dress.” Here’s a trick, let’s make a new word.”‘

– you know, when nothing spun around really really fast until finally, with a great big bang, gave us the universe and everything in it! We shall call this momentous event, a Singularity.

Now I expect mocking and a guffaw or two over that one. That’s the wrong application of the word. I’m an idiot who doesn’t understand the subject. Well here’s one that effectively shuts all the nuclear traps:

Creation, therefore, Creator.

Now, let’s go back to the smelly old corpse of Judas Iscariot.

Any two Newspapers, from the same town, with reporters at the same event, witnessing the same thing, and then aided by sophisticated computer editing software, digital cameras and professional photographers, will give different accounts.

Two cars crash, a Ford and a Toyota. Three people are injured, one seriously.

That very night three newspapers, two TV networks and a radio station report the story. Interestingly enough, there are some variations in the story. One reporter said there would be a recall on one of the vehicles because of a possible fault in the brakes. The other media sources didn’t even mention this although it is the single item that could send a relatively small story into a front page scoop. Then it turned out that the recall vehicle wasn’t involved in the crash.

What is the story? Two cars crashed, three people were injured, one of those seriously. That is the nitty gritty of the tale.

Jesus was betrayed by Judas. He was subsequently crucified to death, now if that’s not enough, sealed in an airless tomb for three days, then he rose from the dead.

In the meantime, Judas, feeling guilty, or terrified because he had indeed had a hand in murdering the Son of God, topped himself.

That’s the story. It’s all there.

Another favourite of the savvy biblical illiterate is to quote the non biblical as if it were.

“God helps those who help themselves.”

Really? Where did you dig that up? It isn’t in the Bible. As a matter of fact the Bible is full of, and most Christians can attest to, incidences when God helps the helpless. In fact if people want to live their lives helping themselves, without God, He frequently leaves them to it.

Or my personal favourite: “The problem with you Christians is you go on and on claiming yours is the only way.”

You really can tell who has done their homework: Islam claims the same – except its practitioners will kill you if you don’t believe. All the world’s major religions claim to be the sole path to salvation. (With the exception, of course, of those who don’t believe salvation is necessary, and yet these too, believe they have the only way).

The Bahá’í believe that all the major religions come from the same place as long as it is Bahá’í.

The internet has opened this doorway. Loaded with good and bad information the internet confirms and validates every opinion. This is the post modern mind. Everyone is right.

Except Christians it seems.

In a matter of seconds a person can have at their hands the fruits of what only a short time ago required hours of exhaustive research. You get the answer but not the education.

The internet is the University of Bits n’ Pieces.

We really need to watch it, folks. They’re coming at us dumber and louder.

Arm yourself with The Word. Know the Truth. And the next time an atheist fixes you with a cheesy grin and asserts that the universe and everything in it was once squeezed into something the size of a pinhead, you can look at them and say, “That’s nice.”

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Should We Witness to Catholics?

I think most Christians would agree that we ought to be witnessing to anyone who isn’t a Christian. That’s practically a given. So then, our first task must be to qualify our audience. Are Catholics Christian?

They look like Christians. They have a Bible on the lectern, a crucifix on the wall. But sadly, that’s where the similarity ends.

Christians don’t pray to Mary. Nor do they pray to the saints. We hold Mary in high esteem, she is mother of our Lord Jesus, but that’s where it ends. Catholics turn to Mary in prayer, hold her in adoration. Catholics call this idolatry veneration, but the practise goes far beyond this. Statues of Mary adorn Catholic churches and there are prayer cards in the millions printed to the Blessed Virgin.

Among the names given to Mary perhaps the most damning are The Queen of Heaven and Mary as Co-Redemptrix.

Co-Redemptrix! Just pause here and think about that. Mary, as co-equal with our Lord Jesus as the Author of Our Salvation. Now, when you have swallowed that, ask yourself if Catholics are Christians.

A Christian depends on Christ for his or her salvation. Christ alone. Even if Mary could influence her Son (she can’t), Christians would not turn to her because Christians depend on Jesus alone for salvation.

Mary can do nothing. She cannot hear prayers, she cannot answer prayers, the Bible is quite clear on that. Ecclesiastes 9:5. All Catholics succeed in doing when they pray to Mary is breaking the 2nd Commandment.

Then we have prayers to the Saints. I remember a tv news segment about the Australian woman, Mary MacKillop, who was canonised in 2010. The interviewer was talking to a teenager in hospital. The teenager was delighted that Mary, formerly a nurse, was sainted. She (the teen), believed that her prayers to Mary MacKillop would make her well. This really tore at my heart. Inside I was shouting, ‘Pray to Jesus!’ And I was wishing the interviewer would say something. But of course, she didn’t.

Prayers to saints are like prayers to the Virgin Mary; useless and a breaking of the 2nd commandment. A person might as well pray to an old bed-sock. Yet the Catholic prayers to dead saints must far outweigh their prayers to Our Father, who, ironically, is the one who can answer prayers.

The next damning practise of Catholics is the teaching and belief of purgatory.

The idea of purgatory was kicked around as early as the 5th century but it wasn’t until the 11th century that it began to take shape as we know it today. Finally in 1254 at the Council of Lyon it was given its definition as a place where those without mortal sin may be cleansed after death.

Purgatory has been a real money spinner for the Catholic Church as they sell indulgences and hold Masses, for a price, for the dead. Who wouldn’t pay a few bucks to have the blowtorch removed from their loved one’s feet? But even this is not the real evil of Purgatory.

You see the concept of Purgatory assumes that when a person dies they still have unresolved sin. They go to Purgatory to be punished for this sin. The time they are in Purgatory can be shortened by purchasing indulgences or having a mass said for them. There are rules about who goes to purgatory but the short version is that it is just about everyone.

The real evil is the assumption that what Jesus did on the cross was not enough. When a person dies they still have sin to be dealt with. This is about as Unchristian as it gets. If any one thing disqualifies a Catholic from Christianity it is the belief in Purgatory.

As every Christian knows, that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Rom 10:9

We are rendered lily white when we become Christians. JESUS DID IT ALL. There is nothing remaining to be punished for in this man made Purgatory. Jesus forgives us every single infinitesimal sin. He leaves nothing. And if you believe otherwise, well, you are probably not a Christian. You see, believing in Jesus, which means more than simply believing He walked among us, but means believing in who He is and what He does. It just doesn’t add up that a person can believe that Christ doesn’t completely forgive, that He leaves something for purgatory, and still be a Christian.

Okay, so what if I’m a Catholic who doesn’t believe in Purgatory? Suppose I have a priest who has never spoken about it.

You don’t call this guy, Father, do you? Matthew 23:9 has something to say about that. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

Have you heard of the concept of Papal infallibility? This is a dogma that says that the Pope is free from the possibility of error. He can’t be wrong. Forgive my ignorance but I thought there was only One to whom perfection could be attributed.

What about transubstantiation? This is the concept that the bread and wine used to represent the Blood and Body of Jesus in the Holy Communion actually becomes His Flesh and Blood. Read that again. It’s a very weird belief.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I am nitpicking.

Naturally all we can do is look at the behaviour and practises of Catholics. Only God can see the heart. I’m sure there are some Catholics that for whom Jesus is first, front and centre, every time. Unfortunately these are few and far between.

Should we witness to Catholics? Yes. There are just too many points of difference between a Christian and a Catholic. I have by no means made an exhaustive account of them.

I would mention that we ought to be gentle in our approach to Catholics; most are sincere in their faith, and practising Catholics are, for the better part, fairly decent people. Catholics breed Catholics. There is often a long family history with the church and we shouldn’t start our witnessing with the artillery. This can only cause resentment.

As always proceed with prayer. Lifelong held beliefs are tough to break and you will be rejected. But nothing is impossible with God.