Believe it or not, a Christian guy saw my videos about religion on You Tube and decided to email me with the hope of converting me! I will copy my last correspondence with him because I think it will be very interesting and insightful for those interested in this kind of debate. Recently I have debated Steve from his Atheist point of view. Now look at how I debate Phil from his Christian point of view.
(For anyone who may be offended to see Christianity challenged, please do not read this. This is only for those with an interest in comparative religious debating.)
I'll quote your lines and my answers will be without quotes.
"I can understand why you are irritated by Christians."
Not in general. It's anyone who tries to push his "truth" rather than learn from others.
"And I understand your point about Muslims, killing infidels, and everything else you mentioned. Ultimately, that is where love is factored in."
They believe they are operating from love too. You believe God wants you to do X and they believe God wants them to do Y. In both cases it is belief rather than knowledge that is causing the behavior. I argue in my book, Beyond Faith, that it is time for humanity to move beyond this type of irrational behavior no matter who is doing it and no matter how much "love" is involved. Love too is often irrational.
"The golden rule isn't, "Do unto others as you want done unto you" but "Love your neighbor as yourself" (twice in Leviticus and also spoken by Christ)."
What makes you think there is only one golden rule? When Rabbi Hillel was asked by a skeptic to distill the whole Bible into one sentence he said, "What is hateful to you, do it not to your friend." So that was his take. Maybe Jesus' take was "Love your neighbor...". Both are good rules to live by.
"They sound similar, but I think there is a difference there. Webster's definition for love is "an intense feeling of deep affection". In 1 Corinthians 13 (sorry to quote the NT but I believe this is a relative point to the discussion) says " 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails."
You confirmed my point, it is an "intense feeling", i.e. an emotional thing, not an intellectual thing. Christianity tends to make emotional pleas because there is not enough logic to counter the original revelation.
"I'll give you this, Christians have not been the ideal icon for this. Myself being the worst offender I know. Christ life and sacrifice was the epitome of this though."
That is your opinion, but many people disagree.
"Yes, Christians seek to do everything in love, we try. We fall short, as all do, but that's where Christ comes in. I sincerely do try though. I share the Gospel because it is the ultimate message of love."
I totally disagree with this. First of all, how do you know what is the "ultimate message of love"? Do you know more than Ghandi for instance on the true meaning of love? And what about the Torah, a book dictated letter by letter by God according to the Jewish tradition? Are you saying a book written by a bunch of men, the so called "New" Testament, is more authoritative than the book written by the creator of the universe? This is the hubris that I am talking about that I see in certain Christians. Now you know better than God Himself!
"It may seem rude and I'm sure many make it "self-seeking or prideful", but it is by no means those things if it is done in love. I could touch on this point for many paragraph's about the apparent loopholes that tie in between preaching Christ and loving your neighbor, but I think you understand my point. If not, I'll try to expand on it. I understand your point as well, which makes this a hard topic to adequately address. Thank you for pointing them out."
Well again, everyone thinks they are coming from love. Me too. But true love is giving the person what they want. If your wife wants flowers you shouldn't bring her an autographed baseball and try to explain why it is the "ultimate gift" because it comes from your deepest "love". Just give her the flowers! LOL!
"Concerning Muslims. Does killing infidels sound like love or hate to you? It does NOT sound patient, kind, unboastful, etc by any means. It doesn't sound like they have a deep affection for the person they are trying to get their message across to. And what is their motive in sharing their faith? Is it legalism or is it love?"
You should correspond with some Muslims. I met a few of the fundamentalist type in my day and they would say that that they love God and love humanity and they believe that those who do not submit to God's laws are causing God pain and creating all the evils we see in the world. So if one does not submit, by killing them they are doing a great service for God and man. What greater love can you show to God than to kill for Him, if this is His wish? Every group will justify their behavior from the evangelical Christian to the Jihadist Muslim.
"Again, you can say the same thing about Christians. But I tell you, sharing Christ makes my salvation no more legitimate than not sharing it and I'm speaking of Christ because He is God's gift and love manifested to us."
You really should add, "in my opinion". It is offensive to tell people of another religion that your belief is God's gift to the world. You have not proved a thing to me, you are just pouring out your heart. That would be fine if I asked to know what is in your heart. But don't you see that this doesn't solve anything. I could do the same to you. Would that make you convert to my beliefs?
"What is Muslim's motivation in converting others to Islam... self-righteousness? You might say, "Now Phil, you're being rude, that's not love." But speaking truth is not rude. If I've done it in a rude manner, forgive me. I've done my best to not do so, which is hard using email. So perhaps in the future, I'll make more of an effort to talk to people in person. But this conversation has been meaningful to me, so I'm glad it's happening."
It's always good to learn about what other people think. None of us should act as if we have all the answers and other people don't know as much as us. They say the wisest of men can even learn from fools.
"You said, "would you want say, a Muslim, emailing you about the good news about Mohammed? How would you like it if since you were a child time and time again Muslims tried to convert you to Islam?". Honestly, as a child I wouldn't have. As an unredeemed sinner, probably not. I wouldn't want to hear anything that opposed me living out my life exactly the way I wanted. But now, as a servant of Christ, I would welcome those emails and people knocking on my door. So which "love your neighbor as yourself" am I to live by. Other people's standards of love, my own standards of past or present, or God's standards? It's easy to say, "Well I would want others to tell me about Christ" when I am a believer of Christ. But I think answering that question for me has to come from an examining the Word. Christ and Paul command servants of Christ "to answer everyone of the hope that is within you with gentleness and respect" and to "speak the Gospel to all nations/people"."
If you really believe that, give me your personal email address and I will pass it on to some Muslim chat boards. I'm sure there are Muslims who would be happy to fulfill your desire to have them proselytize about Mohammed to you. Seriously, I'll be happy to pass your email address on.
"Keeping silent is not love. But neither is ramming the Gospel down someone's throat. Or any message for that matter. I think most (if not all) religions, Christianity included, have done a fair share of both."
Wrong. Jews do not proselytize. Jews say that God loves ALL of His children. That to me is the greatest message of all. (Sorry to sound as egotistical as you a few minutes ago.) But seriously, what greater message can you have than that God already loves you no matter what religion or nation you come from? He loves everyone. He demands righteousness. Jews would say that what God wants is not belief but being good to your fellow man. After all, that is what the belief should lead you to also!
"So in the end, the conclusion is that no one's perfect. We can do, do, do, or don't, don't, don't.... but in the end we are all hypocrites, slanderers, liars, the list goes on. Would you not agree Aaron?" Have you not been a hypocrite of the things you've said or written? Have you not felt guilty at one point or prideful at another. Me and everyone I know are guilty of those things. To not recognize that, is to deceive ourselves. No one needs a doctorate in religion, anthropology, ethics, etc to see these things. We live in a fallen world, where everyone is guilty of the things mentioned. If there is a God (which me and you would both agree there is)"
Do not make assumptions.
"on what basis can we come before Him when we die and say that we've been good enough. Why would a just/perfect God not punish wrong doing and rebellion wherever it is found? You may not necessarily agree with me on some of these points and I expect that. I'm willing to hear you out on these your opinions and consider what you have to say. Do you not see what I'm speaking of though? This is why no other religion or way of life makes sense to me, because they(other belief systems) can not lift that burden of sin without either tucking it under the rug and saying it doesn't exist or by trying to make up for it by their own deeds... which can never blot out the bad owns."
What you are saying is typical Christian theology. You have to learn to think for yourself. This whole idea that "we live in a fallen world" and that nothing but belief in Jesus can save you is not accepted by Jews. If anything, this idea is immoral in the sense that it provides a short cut past really doing what is right. Despite what you have been told, Judaism does not put this guilt trip on people that your type of Christianity does. Christianity puts on a guilt trip and then says the only way you can lift it is by doing what we say. Judaism says that we have a loving Father in heaven. Yes, we will be judged, and yes there is no short cut, but if you really try your best you have to believe that a good and loving Father will do what is right. As they say, Trust in the Lord, for His kindness is everlasting! How wonderful. What could be better?
"That's why I believe in the shed blood of Christ atoning for my sins. What do you think about that Aaron? Set aside physical facts and science for a minute and just look at that concept, and see if it makes sense. If it does and it's truth, then the evidence is there, regardless of what some people may say. I think sufficient evidence has already been discovered, but skeptics will always say otherwise. People who don't want to believe, will always find a way around the truth. I know you can say the same thing about me... but I'm not claiming any of this information for my own benefit. Admitting I suck and that I'm a sinner isn't something I find joy in doing, it's just the truth. Being honest with myself is what leads me to understanding."
Again, this is typical Christian-think. Try to move beyond it. Try to open your mind to other ideas. Why not? Are you scared you will end up in hell? What kind of sick evil god would do that to someone who sincerely searches for the truth. Move "Beyond Faith". I highly recommend you get my book.