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Why is it so important for those of you who are religious to convert others?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Wormie2, Jan 16, 2002.

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  1. TreeCave

    TreeCave Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 28, 2001
    Double post, I think. Sorry. Blasted weird server!
  2. TreeCave

    TreeCave Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 28, 2001
    Okay, now it's not showing my post at all, so if it's a double post, sorry, blame the weird server.

    BithySith, that's a frighteningly good point.

    Nice post, Snowdog - only problem is, you make me want to type up a bunch of lines from "Devil's Advocate" just to raise some hair. LOL! Seriously, though, that movie kind of sums up my objections to the modern Christian take on what God is, what Satan is, and where man fits in (or fails to).

    Ah, heck.... I'm going to type this up and get it out of my system, because it so captures the big question: Why would an omniscient, loving God bother to make creatures who can fail to choose him? As a test to see how much he's really loved? Or is he perhaps not t the paradoxical entity presented by Christianity? Is God perhaps ALSO learning and evolving, and suffering just as we are?

    Here are the lines, edited:

    MILTON (Satan): "Who are you carrying all those bricks for? God? Let me give you a little inside information about God. He's a prankster. He gives man instincts. He gives you this extraordinary gift - and then what does he do? For his own amusement, his own private cosmic gag reel - he sets the rules in opposition! Look, but don't touch. Touch, but don't taste. Taste, but don't swallow. And while you're jumping from one foot to the other, he's laughing. He's a sadist. He's an absentee landlord. Worship that? Never!"

    KEVIN: "Better to reign in heaven than to serve in hell? Is that it?"

    MILTON: "Why not? I'm here on the ground with my nose in it since the whole thing began. I've nurtured every sensation man has been inspired to have. I cared about what he wanted, and I never judged him. Why? Because I never rejected him! In spite of all his imperfections, I'm a fan of man... I'm a humanist. Maybe the last humanist."

    Ah. I feel better now.
  3. Coolguy4522

    Coolguy4522 Jedi Youngling star 4

    Dec 21, 2000
    The way you guys are using the word "Christian" makes me glad that everyone thinks I am not one. ;) I guess Mormonism isn't "Christian" because most of what you are saying really can't be applied to it.
  4. Doright

    Doright Jedi Knight star 5

    Jun 10, 1999
    "There is an element to Christianity that makes it open to corruption"

    Yea the group is made up of humans..

    Sorry that sounds sarcastic but think about it. All things are open to corruption. There are those in this world that are out for their own good and will use what ever tool is available. The problem here is people to often focus on the Corruption that is seen in this world. You never notice the good things, only the bad. More things in this world have people corrupting it than just Christianity.
  5. Darth_SnowDog

    Darth_SnowDog Jedi Padawan star 4

    Sep 10, 2001
    Doright: Very true. But I think that you and JM_201 might have slightly missed Bithy's actual point.

    She's asking what characteristics of the "orthodox" Christian faith are imbued within it that make it so much more susceptible to corruption than say... Buddhism.

    I think it comes down to... what the core message is. Christ's original intentions have long since been forgotten by even the most devout of Christians... why is that? It is largely because of the fact that much of what remains of Christianity to his day had initially been filtered entirely through the hands of the Holy Roman Empire.

    When the Roman Empire adopted Christianity... they didn't do so because Christianity made them "See the light." They knew that Christ was a radical thinker, and his ideas a threat to their power structure... one way or another. It had less to do with the actual belief structure than it did the power structure.

    So, then what happened? Well, the emergence of the Holy Roman Empire. The Romans decided that if they couldn't stifle Christianity, they would use it to their advantage. The key element of Rome that separated it from all other conquering states was this:

    Instead of trying to change cultural beliefs, traditions and lifestyles, it assimilated all the cultures in its path... allowing them to have their respective gods, festivals, etc. Why? Because, as Abraham Lincoln so deftly pointed out over 100 years ago, "The surest way to destroy your enemy is to make them your friend."

    The Romans knew if they tried to oblitterate cultures, those people would not have as great a motivation to contribute their resources to the power of Rome. Converting to the Christian beliefs as a last resort was the surest way to fool Christians into thinking Rome was on their side. The Holy Roman Empire did the same with the Mithrians, a Persian-Greek religious cult that posed the largest threat to the extistence of the empire.

    Since that time, no one really knows what the hell Christ stood for... The Gospels and the Pentateuch themselves were authored/edited well after Moses, John, Mark, Matthew and Luke passed away. The Holy Roman Empire controlled reading and writing such that very few people of Rome even knew the actual contents of the Bible without priests there to "distill" it for them.

    This corruption of belief has introduced such dogmatic garbage as "dominion" eventually gave the British Empire the idea that it was their god-given right to rape the earth of its diversity, its cultures, its ideas and beliefs. Where Britain failed massively became most evident with India. When the empire found that it could not by force convert the whole of India into another England, after 200 years of rule, Lord Mountbatten and company withdrew... all because of the efforts of one man, "over-rated" in JM_201's opinion... Gandhi.

    Bithy's question is essentially asking... if anyone followed Buddha or Gandhi... even devoutly... there's not much written of their teachings that can be used for corrupt purposes. On the other hand... something inherent in the very message of Christianity (not Christ, but Christianity...) has created the opportunity for abuse and corruption of power. Both Bithy and myself are asking people in this thread to think about what it says when:

    a) A religion has inherent qualities that make it so easily susceptible to corruption.

    b) That religion has to resort to tricks of mass-marketing just to retain its popularity.

    What does it say about Christianity when Christians can't let it spread by the merits of Christ's teachings... but they have to preach it, as if they were Amway salesmen trying to get you hooked. Why is the medium the message, as Marshall McLuhan once put it? Because there's no message in the message... the message is to spread the message... what is the message being spread? To spread the message. In other words, there is no actual substance to the message... only presentation.

    This reminds me of that joke we use
  6. Jedi_Master201

    Jedi_Master201 Jedi Knight star 5

    May 5, 2001
    Mock Him if you will.

    As for Christianity, there is substance to it. But you have to have faith. The ones who truly have faith never turn away, because once you open your eyes to it, it will reveal itself to you.

    "If the belief, as it is preached by fundamentalists today, really were divine in origin, I'm sure that god could have prevented his message from being corrupted... Oh, wait, that's right... he's a testy old fool who likes messing with the minds of his creations like some demented sort of puppet master... having given birth to this world only for the purpose of self-love. How benevolent of him!"

    Wrong. Byu corruption, I'm guessing you mean Roman Catholicism. General Christianity is not corrupted, but I agree, there was a time when it was. And it's not because God wanted to "test" us. Every single thing is leading down towards the end of time. I have a very good feeling that Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism are going to play an important part in the end. The Church had to be corrupted for something bigger to come about.

    Anyway, because of Christianity's position in history, it was corrupted. If some other religion had been the state religion though, it would seem just as corrupt. But as you said, SnowDog, the people in charge weren't followers of Christ. They were pagans that traded one religion for the other in order to keep the people happy. Don't judge Christianity by the acts of corrupted politicians. Because it would be the same with any religion, given the chance.

  7. Darth_SnowDog

    Darth_SnowDog Jedi Padawan star 4

    Sep 10, 2001
    JM_201: When did the Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Protestant, Baptist, or other "orthodox" denominations manage to translate the Bible from Hebrew to English outside the control of the Vatican?

    This is a trick question... because, as any scholar will tell you, until now, even the Vatican has not had a look at the original Hebrew manuscripts... but only secondhand Coptic/Greek translations which, themselves, could have been modified from the original.

    Unless I'm mistaken, all modern versions of the Bible that are in print were descendant of the Coptic/Greek scripts, either indirectly or directly...

    But most of all, you completely missed my point. The Catholic Church gave birth to all modern translations of the Bible because the sources from which all these translations sprang were within their control and doctored over time. There is little chance that any denomination has a Bible that isn't tainted with mistranslation... even if it's translated directly from the Coptic scripts which, today, are known to contain gross mistranslations.

    Of course... I'm just talking to a brick wall here... because while I have at least tried to research and gain some working knowledge of Christianity and its denominations, there's no supporting argument you can tell or have told me outside the verse and chapter of one book out of so many scriptures that have been "divinely inspired" throughout history. Oh yeah, I forgot... they're all false becaue JM, I mean the Bible, says so. Yet JM has already acknowledged he can't prove his assertions without assuming his assertions are already true before they're proven.

    Again, your "No, it wasn't us, it was them" sidestepping is just another episode of escapist crap that has been thrown out by the fundamentalist Christians who like to imagine that the Roman Catholic Church's several hundred years of exclusive control of the knowledge and texts of Christianity have had no effect whatsoever on their beliefs... as if Christ himself somehow has shown up in their respective Churches and hand-edited the existing, corrupted versions of the Bible before the congregations' very eyes.

    Of course, I don't blame you... your preachers haven't really encouraged you to challenge these notions by researching elsewhere... (one wonders why they would put blinders on you, except for possible loopholes in their dogma so huge you could throw a televangelist through them) but only by burying your nose so deep in one book that even Christ himself would be utterly annoyed with your version of brown-nosing.

    It's impossible, unfathomable to you that god actually exists in ways even your precious "Handbook to Instant Heaven (Just add "Jesus")" couldn't have documented... As if God himself is bound by what man wrote... which is as stupid an assertion as I've ever heard... except perhaps the one about Pop Rocks...

    P.S. Way to go insulting Islam and Judaism and even other Christians in the process of defending your selfish version of Christianity. "Oh, and I'm sure the entire rest of the world, Muslims, Jews, other Christians, included, will be responsible for the end of the world... but only me and my brown-noser Bible-thumper friends will be saved!" This piece of festering crap is even more ignorant than I expected of you.
  8. Cailina

    Cailina Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 1999
    "But as you said, SnowDog, the people in charge weren't followers of Christ. They were pagans that traded one religion for the other in order to keep the people happy."

    I was kind of under the impression that Constantine converted to Christianity because he believed in Christ. ALthough I suppose he could have just been faking it.

  9. TreeCave

    TreeCave Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 28, 2001
    Hey, did my response to BithySith's question ever show up? It posted, then it unposted, I reposted, then I unreposted... server was having major issues, and now I don't see it.

    JM, for what it's worth, I don't think Snowdog is mocking God - he's mocking the modern Christian depiction of God. A lot of people DO paint him to be a sort of semi-abusive, aloof father figure. That's not who God is - you and I will both agree on that - but it's a popular misconception, and that's what I think Snowdog is mocking.

    The ones who truly have faith never turn away, because once you open your eyes to it, it will reveal itself to you.

    Well, I have a ton of faith, and I have a direct personal relationship with the whole trinity (to use the Christian terms) and what I get in my gut is that the Church is really mixed up, and the overall message of the Bible has been nearly lost. Strangely, I get a feeling it'll be revealed in a few decades - perhaps things like the gospel of Thomas will bring more to light.

    Snowdog, "Unless I'm mistaken, all modern versions of the Bible that are in print were descendant of the Coptic/Greek scripts, either indirectly or directly... "

    Not quite. The Oxford Revised version was compiled by a bunch of English Protestant scholars (at Oxford, obviously) who worked from SOME original scrolls and the oldest or most likely to be correct copies available. I'm not saying there isn't stuff the Vatican kept from them, but this particular Bible, for example does NOT use the term "virgin" for Mary, as it's not the best translation. It's a very good one - the only one worth studying, in my opinion, and I've studied it thoroughly.

    Cailina, and like the pagans of yesterday who converted out of either lack of good choice or convenience (i.e., not from sincere belief), it's insincere Christians who are today screwing up that religion. Those "pagans" are no different from people who hawk religion for money, or only join churches out of fear of going to hell.
  10. quietlunatic

    quietlunatic Jedi Youngling star 3

    Oct 13, 2001
    Allright...does anyone know a Philosophy student? Good. Ask them about Pascal's Wager.

    They're at class? Ok:


    -----If I believe, and...-----
    GOD EXISTS: Eternal Reward.
    GOD DOES NOT EXIST: No reward, but perhaps we are better people.

    -----If I do not believe, and...-----
    GOD EXISTS: Eternal "dangnation".
    GOD DOES NOT EXIST: No reward, no punishment.

    In response to Wormie2's question - I'm not trying to convert people; everyone is capable of making their own decisions, and most people respect that.

    As for you, Darth_SnowDog, yeek. Looks like we've started to run out of small children and billy goats to scare.

  11. TreeCave

    TreeCave Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 28, 2001
    Quite Lunatic, only problem is, Pascal's wager only applies to the Christian God.

    Folks, could we start being clearer on that point? If you say "God" you mean the alleged creator, believed to have many different sets of traits and types of relationships to her/his people, depending on who you're talking to. If you mean the Christian God, then say so.

    I realize some of you have never been exposed to other religions, so now I'm letting you know - the Christians are not the only ones who worship "one true God", and they are not the only ones who may or may not have the right idea about exactly who and what he/she/it is and how we relate to him/her/it.
  12. cydonia

    cydonia Jedi Knight star 5

    Jun 6, 2001
    That's annoyed me a little too. "You don't love jesus, why don't you love God?"

    God is a general term everyone, used by just about everyone on the planet to refer to the intelligence that may or may not have created the universe. The word is not in anyway "owned" by the Bible religions.
  13. Bithysith

    Bithysith Jedi Knight star 5

    Oct 6, 2000
    An alternative - The Atheist's Wager (This seems to be much more reasonable, both for atheists and theists):

    "It is better to live your life as if there are no Gods, and try to make the world a better place for your being in it. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will be remembered fondly by those you left behind. If there is a benevolent God, (s)he will judge you on your merits and not just on whether or not you believed in her/him."
  14. Wylding

    Wylding Jedi Master star 5

    Aug 13, 2000
    I've been reading through some of the responses here and it seems that there is one consistent misapplication of logic. That is, if you look to people as representative of any religion, one will always find fault. This is due to the simple fact that people are imperfect and flawed. Being a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Wiccan, etc. does not instantly make you perfect. If anything, I view God as an advocate for personal growth and see various religions as vehicles for that growth.

    As for Wormie's original question, I believe it's been answered...
  15. Lisse

    Lisse Jedi Youngling star 3

    Jan 6, 2001
    *looks around* I've never tried to convert anyone...

    I consider myself a Christian, but I don't go around trying to convert people. Quite frankly, I don't understand the point. One of the basic principles of Christianity is that God is a loving God and that anyone is welcome to worship Him. I have interpreted that to mean that there is no one "right" way -- ie. one right religion -- that must be adhered to. Each person must find God in their own way. Maybe that way is to become a Christian. Maybe it's to become a Jew or a Muslim or a Wicca or what have you. I think what matters is that each person is decent, tolerent, and kind to their fellow human beings and to the world around them. God would not ostracize the majority of the world just because they don't happen to follow one particular religion. I cannot and will not accept that.

    Sorry. Rant done now.
  16. LordIsurus

    LordIsurus Jedi Master star 3

    Jun 24, 1999
    How's this for a reason.

    Misery loves company! ;-)


  17. TreeCave

    TreeCave Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 28, 2001
    Lisse, I'm glad to hear someone else say that. That was what I was actually taught in church, and I have no idea what churches are teaching that all non-Christians go to hell. I was, quite frankly, taught that only very ignorant fundamentalists believed that non-Christians are damned. I realize now it's become a more popular belief than that, and that really alarms me.

    I know I said this before, but I think it's important. I was taught (meaning, this is not just something I made up to fit my own views) that when Jesus said he was the only way to salvation, what he meant was that ALL methods of salvation - Buddhist enlightenment, random epiphanies, ascension to the rank of High Magician, or whatever you can imagine - end up channeling you through Jesus in the end, whether you realize it or not.

    It's actually a very INCLUSIVE idea, not an EXCLUSIVE one. Instead of saying, "If you don't specifically worship Jesus, you don't get in" what it's really saying is: "If you reach salvation, you will find you were relating to Jesus all along, whether you realized it or not."
  18. Darth_SnowDog

    Darth_SnowDog Jedi Padawan star 4

    Sep 10, 2001
    TreeCave... Good point, and funny you should mention it... in the Bhagavad Gita, the last part of the Mahabharata (The Hindu equivalent of the Bible), Krishna says the exact same thing you just described. Funny it should be him, since he's essentially the Hindu "Christ" figure, representing God as his avatar on earth.

  19. TreeCave

    TreeCave Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 28, 2001
    I'm not convinced the topic question has been completely answered. Basically, unless I'm mistaken, two answers have essentially been proposed:

    1) The Bible says to "go forth and spread the word among the peoples". That answer is fine - while people can debate exactly what method of "spreading the word" Jesus would best like (sharing with friends, hard-core proseletyzing of total strangers, or something in-between), it's a clear-cut command to at least mention it or something.

    2) If something gave you great joy, wouldn't you feel you should offer others the opportunity to share that joy?

    Now, #2 is the answer I feel is shaky, unless you're just talking about sharing among friends, or people who've expressed interest (and that wasn't clear to me). I think most folks who give option 2 as their reason for telling complete strangers on the street about salvation and so on would be offended if someone grabbed them on the street and told them how much joy lesbianism or pot-smoking had brought them, or how a well-timed abortion had saved them from a terrible fate.

    Secret Option 3, which no one will likely admit to, is "I desperately need a group who joins in my activities with me, so I know for sure I'm being cool". Christians, like any group of more than 3-4 people, are plagued with wannabes, and everyone who isn't a wannabe knows one when they see them.

    I don't dismiss all proseletyzers as neurotics. When I was in college, some very nice, happy kids would occasionally stand around and hand out invitations to their churches. They might try to engage you in conversation, but as soon as you told them you weren't interested, they wished you well and left you alone. (The one time I saw someone actually bothering people, the cops came pretty quickly.) I think these people were committed enough to what they were doing AND to following the rules of the campus that if you'd cussed at them, they would have wished you well and left you alone. I doubt wannabes would have the guts to put up with any abuse like that, so I figured these kids were at least sincere (and goodness knows college is a time people need an anchor to reality, and if religion provides that, good for them).

    But when I lived in the South, I had really stupid things happen like the following. I was working at a retail shop in the mall on Sunday and had the following conversation:

    Customer: "Don't you know it's against the 10 Commandments to be working on Sunday?"

    Me: "We're all required to work on Sunday here, ma'am - part of the hiring requirements."

    Customer: "That's terrible!"

    Me: "Here's the 1-800 number if you'd like to complain. But may I point out that if you all weren't out here buying things on Sunday, they'd stop being open on Sundays faster than you can say 'not making a profit'?"

    Customer: "Oh, my goodness. You're right. I'm going to stop shopping here on Sunday and call the 1-800 number."

    I mean, she was nice enough, but it was mildly offensive in the sense of being so hypocritical - AND in not taking the Sabbath of Jews or Seventh Day Adventists into account. No, apparently, the Sabbath which 90% of Christians celebrate is the only one that counts. Customers almost completely control stores, in the form of controlling profits.

    Speaking of Jewish Sabbath, I had a Jewish friend in high school (we had maybe 12 Jewish kids out of 1400 students) who was sick for an exam. The teacher insisted she come in and make it up on Saturday, to which her parents objected (it being the Jewish Sabbath). The girl offered not one alternative, but six: to come one week evening, or on Sunday, and the teacher refused. The girl's mother had to call the principal AND threaten to call the ACLU before they gave in and chose one of the other times.
  20. Doright

    Doright Jedi Knight star 5

    Jun 10, 1999
    I would pick number 1 of your choices for the answer to this topic Treecave The problem comes from how it is done. I have never read in the bible where is says you must push it on others. I do remember one of Paul?s letters. (can't remember which of the top of my head) I remember him saying we should spread the word by setting an Example, Not to be rude etc. I will have to try and look that up when I get home. I think Christians should be ready to answer questions, or to help find answers when asked. They should set an example. Never should you push it on people. Far to often people pass judgement on others, Forgetting that the Bible explicitly says we should not judge others.

    Jesus was perfectly clear on this point...
    Jesus said "let he among you with out sin be the first to cast his stone" Well Christians need to stop tossing stones at non Christians.

  21. TreeCave

    TreeCave Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 28, 2001
    DoRight, well said, and as I stated before, I think that's a valid reason.

    Jesus also said that a person could only TRULY come to him on his or her own. Meaning, if someone claims to accept Jesus as savior because they've been manipulated or coerced into it (or even just nagged into it), they're not really saved. It also seems to me that if you coerce or manipulate someone into claiming to accept Jesus when they don't, you would bear some judgment for their lack of salvation, as you made yourself an obstacle on their path.

    The "being an example" thing Paul talks about is right on the money - if you're happy and people around you want to be as happy as you are, they will definitely try to find out your secret.
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