high stakes dialogs

I think religious conversations can be very pleasant with anyone other than conservative Christians and militant atheists. A cocktail party full of Buddhists, Hindus, Daoists, liberal Christians, even unorthodox christian splinter group members, Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons, and perhaps Jews and Muslims, could all discuss religion dispassionately, but adding a conservative Christian to the mix is like tossing a grenade into the crowd.


Because everyone else has room in their theology for everyone else in the afterlife, or the non-afterlife. A conservative Christian takes Jesus' words conservatively, that no one comes to the Father [which means not just sitting on God's lap but all the heavenly afterlife stuff] except through the Son, JC himself, see John 14:1-7. The flip side for this is that those who reject Jesus go to hell, described by Jesus several times, with plenty more detail in John's Apocalypse, see Rev. 20:11-15. Every other belief system either lets everyone enjoy an afterlife, or do not have an afterlife to speak of, or, if you are Muslim, can't guarantee anyone except Jihadist martyrs an afterlife. The militant atheists are a sub-category that believe people are oppressed if they believe in an afterlife and do not partake in all the pleasures this life have to offer. So religion talk at the cocktail party could set them off on an evangelistic tangent as easily as a conservative Christian. Both believe in definite consequences for how one perceives the purpose of this life, preparation for the next or not.

So when I write about other religions, I'm not disrespecting them by asking them to reconsider their theologies. I am trying to treat them the way I want to be treated, the golden rule that Jesus includes in his definition of love. If I wrongly believe that I can walk across a busy highway blindfolded without bodily consequence, a person who loves me, will seek to engage me to reconsider my philosophy. A famous atheist published a video a few years ago of his appreciation to someone who gave him a Bible after one of his shows. He didn't convert, but he understood the giver was acting out of concern for him. The video by Penn the magician is at the bottom of this post.

I share critiques of religions (including my own) at this blog and at my facebook page out of concern for my neighbors. I want you to be in heaven with me. I don't want you to go to hell. I'm sorry this offends you, but I'd rather offend you now, than have you offended at me in hell for not telling you what Jesus offers.


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