Why Bible tracts are extraordinarily offensive and insulting to Christians part 2

I promise, I was planning on completing this final part of this blog tomorrow. But the combination of too many thoughts running through my mind and my husband snoring like the world will end any moment now, is not conducive to a good night sleep at the moment. I can usually sleep through his snoring, if I’m nearly passed out when he starts. Tonight, no so much.

Anyways, I wanted to focus on why Bible tracts fail to make much of an impact, based on their contents.

Now, I understand that most versions of tracts want to remain simple. This cuts down on paper, someone is more likely to read a smaller pamphlet, and you don’t really have to be super smart to understand the bullet points. However, the pamphlet I found today, made the attempt to use reason and logic as to why one should accept Jesus as their Savior. They failed miserably.

I know that I am not always the majority, but I do believe there are many people out there who will say that if you want to argue a point, at least attempt to come up with intelligent and nearly sound arguments. Otherwise, I simply don’t even want to bother trying to figure out what you mean and how it could possibly make sense in your head. It is not that I’m trying to judge you, but I have over time developed a strong passion for debates. Civil ones, but debates nonetheless. I am willing to listen to and hear out your different opinions if you are willing to not personally attack me and sound like a complete moron who does not know how to logically come up with conclusive arguments for your side. Even if those two things don’t happen, I’m cool enough I’ll probably listen anyways, and then when I get home just bash my head against the wall and wonder where you learned to argue.

Back on track here.

I am lucky enough to have taken a philosophy of religions class that really got my gears going regarding formulating arguments. I had a good idea, but with religion it can be difficult to decipher where to begin sometimes because everything is cyclical reasoning to an extent. I attempted to give this pamphlet the benefit that for the convenience of space, time, and understanding of their audience that they wanted to make their reasoning simple. And while I get that, I beg to differ that they succeeded in attracting an audience dying to finish reading if they even started in the first place.

This is the tract I picked up from work today

The three witnesses they try to claim prove the existence of a God are:

  1. the universe and life itself
  2. the word of God–written and living
  3. conscience and moral law

The first two points are sort of valid.

I do think there might be a case for creation of man indicating that there is a God. However, science has fought with this for centuries, and maybe if you are trying to convince me that there is God, this point should not be put in there for length and common sense. I say this because evolution could have been used by God (in my opinion), but we’ll never know. Trying to convince someone who is a non-believer to have faith does not begin with attempting to make them believe the world they live in was made by someone. Though this could be argued for. So, while this argument is more sound (a little more waterproof) than the last one, it is not an amazing one.

The second point is a little more logical than the first. If the statistics are true, it is difficult to think that a book that has no supernatural abilities throughout human life could have had so many prophetic signs come true. I will let this one slide, even though again I find it tough to convince someone stout in their beliefs that a man rose from the dead. We debated stuff like this in my philosophy class this semester and I’m pretty sure some people there were making fun of me behind my back because they felt the Christian viewpoint held no water whatsoever. Whatever, I can choose what to believe.

The third argument the tract tried to explain is pathetic at best, to be honest. It states at the top of this section that. “Every man knows in his heart that it is wrong to murder, it is wrong to steal, it’s wrong to lie, and it’s wrong to have another man’s wife.” Wait, really? Do they? EVERY man? It goes on to attempt to claim that because every man knows this God exists. So basically, because I don’t murder someone there is a Supreme Being. It holds no water. If maybe they had attempted to use some sort of logic to word that statement better I would not have laughed myself all the way home today after reading that. The paragraph after that quote states that God is the ultimate judge and He will judge you for your sins. Yep, nice try but you’ve now shut down at least half of your audience because they don’t want to follow someone who smacks them every time they make a mistake. Most people are aware that if there is a God, he is a judge. They know that if there is one, they will probably be punished for their poor actions. Therefore, there is no need to include in a tract that is attempting to save someone’s soul the fact that we should accept God because of moral reasoning and our sins. That’s called promoting fire insurance, and it does not promote a true and genuine relationship with God. When people attempt to convince others to believe in God solely on the fact of their sins, they might begin to believe they are not worthy of His love (and while we really aren’t, we are in a sense, because even if only one person existed in this world, He would have still died for us).

I guess all I’m trying to say in this post is, that if you decide you must write or pass out tracts, make sure it is one that’s contents speak volumes logically.

The last thing I wanted to comment on is the last page of the tract that started listing quotes from other faiths and why they were invalid. I found that offensive. I know why they did it, and what the intention was, but you will not turn a crowd to listen if you are slamming their faith. I know this opinion is not going to be the popular vote here, but I am very much a person who believes in coexisting with others. We wonder why there are religious wars all over the place, yet we are not even willing to get along with others unless they are converts of our faith. I will save my entire rant on this for another post another time, as I do intend to write a post about why religion is such a scary war force.

Just please, consider the way we argue, and how we word things to those we know do not believe. Love them instead. Let God work to speak in their lives, and leave the convincing to Him.

Advertisements

Why Bible tracts are extraordinarily offensive and insulting to Christians part 1

This afternoon at work I found that someone had placed and unsolicited Bible tract near my computer work station. I’m not sure if it was one of the guests who had given it to a fellow waiter, but I suspect it was. Every once in a while, when I worked at my old job, little old ladies would hand me a tract with their little noses in the air, press their cold hands on mine, and look into my eyes like my soul needed some kind of desperate saving. Yep, I’m a Christian and nothing more turns me off to my own religion than people who don’t understand the very foundation of the faith they claim to follow.

I’ll explain.

It’s not that I don’t realize that some people have good intentions when attempting to share their belief system with others in this fashion. I’m aware that, in some strange way, they believe they are effectively going to convert a non-believer to their side of the argument. I guess I just haven’t figured out yet how they think that process would work exactly.

First of all, I find that Bible tracts are an offensive way to try to communicate the gospel to a person because it is downright pretentious. To me, it feels as though you assume that somehow, through the small window of actions you have had the privilege of seeing me perform, indicates that I am some wretched heathen that needs some immediate help on the soul-search. When I have been given them in the past, I just wished I had a moment to say something like: “Thank you for the thoughtful gesture, but what made you think I needed saving? You and I are on the same team, friend.” Just so that I could understand their reasoning. As a follower of Jesus, if I am this turned off by someone of my own faith’s attempt to convert someone, I cannot imagine the automatic turn off someone who has a different belief system as I instantly feels.

And that ties into my second reason. Most of the first-world reasonably knows the major belief systems. And at my age, someone who is in their twenties, they have probably or will probably soon, make a definitive decision about what path they would like to take. It is not as though one must hand out tracts in fear that someone in America might not have heard what the Bible is or who Jesus is and stands for. I just can’t even stress how ineffective it is. If someone has already made up their mind to not believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, a tiny booklet giving them illogical reasons as to why they should is not going to allow them the chance to open up their hearts.

When I took Social Psychology, we discussed that the resistance of someone who thinks they are right is strong. People do not want to experience the uncomfortable feelings that come when their inner self schema is challenged. So they mentally try to defend that belief. If we are abrasive in our attempts, we are just making them shut down instead of opening up. And we are now losing the battle we had hoped to win. It is kind of like when politics come around. You pick a side, or not, but either way you have made up your mind and your opinion about the election. When someone suddenly comes at you and tells you that your way is wrong in every way, how likely are you going to be to jump at the opportunity to listen? Yeah, I thought so. Now imagine how someone feels when you leave a tract instead of a tip, or slide it into their hand and look at them desperately like you will be praying for their soul. It doesn’t sound attractive.

Here’s my take. Jesus came to this earth and showed the world what love looked like. Raw, unadulterated, pure love. He didn’t chose certain friends based on his righteousness, after all he was very good friends with a prostitute. He did go around preaching the gospel, but He was preparing a path, and those who listened had ready hearts. This is why I refuse to force explain what I believe to others. Instead I choose to live a life that tries its best to love like He did. I know my love cannot be perfect like His was, but I can try and with His help I can shine His light. I strongly and firmly believe that by loving like he did, others will wonder how, in this crazy, insensitive world I have managed to keep my head up. And I don’t even have to say a single word. I feel that is how it should be. I don’t need to be offensive with my words to make up for my lack of understanding. We just need to take the time to be there for others. And pray, with all our might. If we are to be the tool used to bring someone to the light, God will use us. No questions asked.

So stop trying to take someone else’s fate in your own hands. If we are truly in tune with the Holy Spirit, and what the Father has in store for us, we don’t need to hand out Bible tracts that are poorly written, we can live our lives in such as way as to be a continuous and living testament to the beauty he brings through restoration. We don’t need to tell someone within five seconds of meeting them to shove it.

Tomorrow, I will attempt to write my thoughts about the contents of the tract. I read through nearly the whole thing, but my thoughts are too much for one post. Until tomorrow, folks. Stay strong.