Monday, December 30, 2013

Witness to a cousin?

A reader asks Billy Graham why a cousin has 'fallen away from God.' As usual, Graham makes absurd assumptions that expose his ignorance...
Don't turn from Ceiling Cat! Those that turn from
Him just want to hate cats or simply haven't
sought Him.

Be a witness to cousin who's fallen away from God 
DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I really thought my cousin had decided to change his life and start following Jesus, and he did for a while. But now he’s back in his old ways of living, and doesn’t have any interest in God or church. What happened? — E.C.

DEAR E.C.: God alone knows why your cousin decided to go back to his old ways. He isn’t unique, however; many of Jesus’ followers abandoned him because they weren’t willing to give up their old ways of living. The Bible says, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66).

I can only guess why this might have happened to your cousin. Perhaps his decision to follow Jesus wasn’t really sincere, or perhaps no one encouraged him or helped him grow spiritually.

Jesus once told a parable about a farmer who scattered seed in his field. (You can read it in Luke 8.) Some of the seed fell on the hard path, some fell among rocks, some fell among thorns — and they produced nothing that lasted. But other seeds fell on fertile soil, and produced a bountiful crop. This, Jesus said, is like God’s word when it is preached, for not everyone welcomes it.

Whatever the reason, I hope you won’t stop praying for your cousin. God still loves him, and Christ gave his life for him, and that will never change. God is still able to break through the hardness of his heart, convicting him of his sin and convincing him of the truth of the Gospel.

In addition, ask God to help you be a witness to him by the life you live. Do others see Christ in you — his love, his peace, his patience, his purity? People may ignore our words, but they can’t ignore our lives.

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 The first question I have is, what does EC mean when he says his cousin is back to his old ways? What are these old ways? Does he simply not display any interest in God or religion, or does he have some bad habits they are worried about? If it's the latter, God isn't some magic answer since the majority of US inmates are Christians. If it's the former, why is it a problem at all?

Praise be upon Ceiling Cat, who will die nine times for our
sins, and save us from Basement Cat.
Graham's initial response is that many turn from Christ because thy aren't willing to change their ways. An odd opinion since many Christians seem to twist and mold God and Christ to match their ways and opinions. But as an atheist, I can't say that I've ever met anyone that turned from belief because they didn't want to change their ways, or as many believers say, 'liked sin too much.' But I have seen plenty of people who don't change their ways, and carry on as believers anyway.

Not wanting to change one's ways is not the path to disbelief that Graham wants to make it sound like. He wants to make it sound like we're selfish and full of ourselves. But that's not the case. The main reason that former believers turn from the faith, is that we aren't convinced that the claims made are true. I used to be a Christian, and after an honest look at my beliefs, I realized that there was no compelling reason to believe any of it was the truth. 

RT mentions that his cousin had decided to start following Jesus, but eventually overturned that decision. Graham assumes that RT's cousin's decision to follow Christ wasn't sincere. In Billy's little world, that's the only reason one could decide to follow Jesus, and then decide not to. But reality is a lot more interesting and complex that Graham's game of pretend.

It could very well be that this cousin's decision was sincere. But when he actually read the Bible and learned more about this supposed 'religion of love', he learned that all is not as is seems and also learned that there is no good reason to follow the Bible, let alone any other holy book. I did similar. I sought God, learned of the Bible's dirty laundry, realized there's no logical reason to assume the Bible is true, and found myself no longer a believer. but even then, I never 'changed my ways'... I just stopped believing.

Furthermore, Billy offers a parable in order to suggest that people turn from the 'word of God' because they don't welcome it. But that's not the case, I and many who have left the church didn't do so for the reasons Graham suggests. I not only welcomed 'God's word', but sought it wholeheartedly. But all the want I could muster was enough to keep me believing once I saw my beliefs for what they really were... no more than wishful thinking.

Finally, why the assumption that those that don't believe have a 'hardened heart'? I don't believe, but am full of love and compassion. More so than believers I know. But why concern ourselves with facts and honesty, right Bill? Just build a straw-man and try and knock that down instead...

-Brain Hulk

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