Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thoughts on Rethinking Reason

Rethinking Reason is gradually finding its way into the hands of readers. By the time of its initial public release, the book had sold out at every on line Book Seller. Since I'm a new author, I'm guessing that the distributor carried a small quantity of the books and as 'word spread', my few friends bought up the available copies! Only a guess on my part.

Interestingly, the book has not yet been as controversial as I would have expected-probably because the current readers are mostly friends. The only 'hint' of criticism came from a friend who disagrees with the premise of the book all together. He sincerely believes that his doctrine is 'correct' and the discussion should stop there. He believes his 'job' is to save those who don't share his beliefs. I believe he would say something along these lines: "Peoples' eternal destiny is at stake and the Bible is very clear about what is required to be saved. Although loving others is important, saving their souls is infinitely MORE important. So that should be where we all focus."

My own view is that I have spent the better part of my life defending my faith and a much smaller part of my life truly loving my neighbor. If God were judging, (and I believe He will) I think my love will be much more important to Him than my efforts at saving souls. But then that's just me.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are touching on some issues here that are quite relevant to me right now, Craig.

I have some extended relatives who have grown up in the Church of Christ denomination, and have been in senior church leadership all their lives. They are senior citizens now, and are bright, happy, gregarious folks.

"Christians", right?

Well, turns out they refuse to attend any church service that is not Church of Christ, even when visiting us. To this day, they have set foot in their daughter's Christian evangelical church one time, for their granddaughter's baptism.

They won't even attend a Christmas service this weekend with us. They will literally sit at home while their children go to church, essentially and literally sitting in judgment on us.

They smile and tell us they are happy to see us, but secretly they believe we are all going to hell (literally) because we are not Church of Christ. Because THEY don't believe Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth, they won't participate in ANYTHING that DOES believe or promote that...even to the point of alienating and offending their own Christian family. What about their actions would make anyone want to be a Christian? What about their "beliefs" causes them to openly and willingly offend their own Christian children and grandchildren, who believe in Christ and follow him daily?

I am convinced that, today, the organized church would treat Jesus the same way it treated him 2000 years ago. Someone who hangs out with all the wrong people, says all the wrong things, doesn't "respect" or "appreciate" the traditions of "the church," and is fundamentally dangerous to the future of "the truth."

The Bible says they will know we are Christians NOT by our knowledge of the Word, or by our ability to defend the truth. They will know we love God by how we show love to others.

Words are important, no doubt. But actions are a direct extension of what others assume you believe to be true. Words and actions, together. That is what the Gospel teaches us all. There are in fact more important things than being right.

Craig said...

I could not agree with you more!

It is so easy to sit in judgement of others while so very difficult to love your neighbor. In this case, one's own family.

I now have begun to receive private letters of criticism from those who would say they hold 'a very high view of scripture'. I would say that as well, but it doesn't disuade me.

Peace,

rcs

Dan said...

Hi Craig,

I live in the Memphis area and know several people who go to your church. I have a lot of respect for what y'all are doing in the community.

I haven't read your book, but intend to after I complete the books that I am currently working through.

I do have a question if you don't mind explaining something that may be in your book.

You say that you think your "love will be much more important to Him than [your] efforts at saving souls". I'd like a bit of clarification here.

If I have someone of a different faith entirely (such as Muslim, Jewish, Hindu) over at my house for dinner, what is your opinion on how I should approach that person from a salvation standpoint? Clearly by my having them over for dinner, I am showing that I love them. Or if they have a need that I am able to meet, I am again showing that I love them. But does it end there?

We are called by Christ to spread the gospel throughout the nations. He has said that He is the only way. Therefore in order to truly love these people of different faiths, we should be trying to bring them to Christ. Which will mean pointing out to them at some point that their viewpoint is simply wrong.

This is not to say we should do it in a harsh or inconsiderate way. Gentleness and respect are key parts of helping someone come to Christ. But they are still wrong and we cannot love them unless we are trying to show them that.

I was reading about the "Tear Down the Walls" concert that y'all are having soon. In it, there is a quote from a Rabbi who says, "'Why not emphasize what unites us rather than what divides us? Have we not all one Father?" He also mentions that you regularly have dinner with him and other pastors of different faiths. There is one big problem in his belief - we do not believe in the same God. He states it as "Father", but I think he is clearly trying to say we don't hold any substantive differences in our faiths. I assume you do not agree with that.

So I must ask - when you have dinner with him, do you share Christ with him? If not, do you approach all people of different faiths (not just ministers) in this way? - Is this because you assume that they have made up their mind about their faith so it is best to treat them lovingly instead of introduce potential conflict?

I can definitely agree with you that Christians sometimes are unloving in their approach to people of different faiths. But unless your definition of "loving them" also means sharing Christ with them, I can't agree with you there. You cannot love them and watch them continue on a path to eternal separation from God in the process.

Thanks for providing this forum to chat with you about your project. I look forward to hearing back from you.


Dan

Craig said...

Dan,

I'm sorry I'm just now seeing your post. I have been looking at the comments from a previous post.

To answer your question about my dinner conversation with my Rabbi friend, no I don't particularly share Christ with him. He already knows who I believe Christ to be. I think that the evangelical Christian community often lives with the illusion that others don't know about Christ which is why we feel compelled to 'share'. I try to show who Christ is in my life by my actions with my friend. He sometimes asks questions and I sometimes ask him questions about his faith. But the truth is that most evangelicals know very little about what others believe. We're not really interested in what they believe. We only want them to share our beliefs.

The question is, "When we see that others don't share our beliefs, do we still have an obligation to love them? Deeply? And what would that sort of love look like?" But if we're only interested in another 'notch' in our evangelism gun handle, we'll never deeply connect with others.

I'm not afraid to talk to my friend about Christ. Nor am I afraid to love with actions that I hope speak louder than words.

Thanks for the genuiness of your dialogue. It's refreshing.

r3tard said...

Craig,

I agree with everything Dan said.

I am a Christian with a few Muslim friends. I go to lunch with them, I show them gentle, true love.

I also have had some Jewish friends.

For me to assume they know the gospel, just because they know me...well, I can say my Muslim friends had no idea what the gospel was about until I lovingly told them, a few times.

Sure they can see Christ through me and through my actions. I pray He will use me for that.

But when it comes down to it, I can love them here on earth all I want, but that doesn't mean I'll be able to love them in Heaven. And I'll have to give an account for my actions or in-actions with the message of the gospel before Christ someday.

If we follow Christ's example, we can both love people AND share the gospel openly at the same time. It doesn't have to be one or the other.

I am amazed at how receptive people are when I turn the conversation to things of the Lord.

Steven