As we know, on Monday the results from the American Religious Identification Survey 2008 were released. I was curious about Dr. Albert Mohler’s impression; however on the same day President Obama lifted the ban on embryonic stem cell research and that took precedence.
Dr. Mohler did deal with the topic on Tuesday. One caller asked how he felt about the results, and in his perpetually long-winded way, he indicated he was both encouraged and discouraged by the results. Discouraged by the decline of main-line Protestants, of course, but encouraged by those who self-identified as non-believers. Why? Because they know they are lost. He finds non-believers to be easier to evangelize to, rather than nominal or liberal Christians who have a wishy-washy view of God.
Clearly there is a wide range of how “easy” it is to evangelize to non-believers. I would think Dr. Mohler would find deconverts, as a generalization, extremely difficult to convince. And perhaps some who had never considered Christianity in any way would be very open to trying out a new thing.
Obviously the easiest people to sell a product are to those who need the product to survive. You don’t have to work hard to convince a person dying of a disease to take medicine. Or a drowning person to grab the life preserver.
The problem with selling Christianity, is that one first has to convince the person they need it to survive. As the euphemism goes--Christianity must first create the disease [sin]; in order to justify the cure [Jesus.] If the person is not convinced they are dying, you can’t convince them to take the medicine.
This works, of course. Otherwise Campus Crusade would have abandoned the Four Spiritual Laws long ago. First convince them they sin. (“Have you ever broken one of the Ten Commandments? Blah blah blah.”) Then convince them they need the cure.
The problem with this is that it creates those very nominal Christians Dr. Mohler feels become harder to convince. They might “get Jesus” but…gasp!...get the wrong one! Now they’ve said their prayer, they can sin guiltlessly. Like getting afterlife insurance.
The second easiest person to sell something, is if they already want it. How hard is it to convince a child to go to McDonald’s? In my house the barest hint of a suggestion within a whisper is MORE than sufficient encouragement to have an instant carfull of kids, eagerly telling me what they want. Tell an employee they can have the rest of the day off…paid. Do they reply, “Mmmm…you’re gonna have to convince me.” Nope, the door is already swinging closed by the time you have finished the sentence.
Again, this is a difficulty with selling Christianity. How many people are eagerly looking to become a Christian and just…can’t…find…a…way to do it? Perhaps we can find anecdotal evidence in a drug addict who wants a way out, and relies upon Jesus, or a person looking for a friend, and finding it in the Church. But how many non-believers are there, with this huge “want” and desperate seeking for Christianity?
How easy are we? What type of person does a Christian think is the easiest to evangelize to?
Then I started to think about it on the flip side—who would I, as an atheist, think is the easiest to deconvert from the Christian camp? And I realized almost as soon as I completed the thought—I don’t care. I don’t gauge people by who is “easy” or “hard” to convince. If they want to discuss theism—great! If they don’t—equally great. I see atheism as neither a “need” nor a “want.” I don’t see it as my obligation to “save” someone from Christianity.
Much of this comes from reading numerous deconversion stories. I have yet to read one (and if you know of it—link me up) where a deconvert says they were a Christian until an atheist came knocking on their door one day… Or until they read some sign and thought, “Maybe I will look into atheism”… Or by being surrounded by atheistic friends.
Invariably, deconversion stories follow the lines of something happening. What that “something” is, varies between people. But whatever it is, it causes the deconvert to take a momentary step back and say, “Wait a minute. I would like to look at this a bit further.” Of course, dozens of books, hundreds of hours and thousands of tears later, they find they no longer believer.
There is no room, in there, for me as an atheistic missionary. To “sell” them on something they neither want, nor need. If they would like my position on theism, I am happy to share. If they want some thoughts or questions, and some sources (both pro and con)—I am happy to provide. But I am not here to “sell” anything.
I wonder what gauge or barometer the Christian uses to determine who is an easy or hard sell? Why do I think I would be considered more on the “hard” end of the scale? *grin*