Questions for non-Christians #5
As misguided as Jehovah’s Witnesses are, you gotta’ give ‘em credit for their commitment. This is my thought virtually every time I close the front door on them. As I watch them turn and walk back to the car not having achieved their goal of witnessing, as they probably do dozens of times a day, I marvel at their willingness to endure repeated rejection for the sake of promoting their faith.
Now, I recognize that they’re likely more concerned with gaining the eternal benefits their religion promises will be theirs when they faithfully go door-to-door, than they are with my eternal destiny. But this exercise in rejection is nevertheless founded on a belief that what they profess is true and that those who don’t believe as they do will suffer somehow.
JWs and Mormons are well-known for their enthusiastic missionary activities because they have specific requirements to engage in them. Christianity, of course, is also very missionaly-oriented but going door-to-door or traveling overseas to gain converts is neither required nor expected of all Christians. Still, if the Gospel is…well…gospel, then it seems to me we have a moral duty to share this truth with those who don’t know it. Because the truth of the Gospel entails eternal consequences.
Hence, this little blog of mine. I’m gonna’ let it shine. It’s my personal missionary activity, and I can tell you I’ve had a few “virtual” doors slammed in my face. But that has not deterred me from going to the next one because I believe that the faith I profess is more than what feels right. It is right. And not just right for me…none of that ridiculous, relativistic, subjectivist nonsense like, “You have your truth; I have mine.” All truth is objective.
Which leads to my fifth question for the non-Christian:
If you consider your beliefs to be objectively true, are you concerned at all that everyone believe them?
As I’ve said in previous posts, there are true believers and there are untrue believers…those who commit to a faith system because they believe it’s true, and those who do for various other reasons. If one’s “faith” is more pragmatic and personally beneficial than it is evidentially-based, one might be compelled to share it with others who might also subjectively benefit. But if it doesn’t work for them there’s no good reason to pursue persuasion. If, however, your faith commitment is reality-based, at least in your own estimation, you are more likely to be concerned with convincing others to be persuaded as you have been.
Atheism has its apologists actively promoting their belief system. Though I’m convinced most atheists who promote and defend atheism online do it primarily to gain affirmation and encouragement for themselves, some do feel a compulsion to rid the unenlightened of our blindness or deception for our own good. Because truth is freeing, after all. Jesus said so.
Atheism, however, with its disbelief in an immaterial soul that lives on after the death of the body, entails no eternal consequences beyond nonexistence for those who deny it. This significantly reduces the motivation to convert others. But other faiths like Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism which do incorporate a supernatural realm, if true do bear on every individual. If Allah is God he is God of all and will judge each of us according to our works. If reincarnation is a reality, all of us will experience it and the essence of our reincarnated self is determined by the actions of our current self. If the self is merely an illusion, none of us is any more than that and we would be wise to know it.
If one never tries to persuade another to believe as he does, that is neither proof that his faith is false nor that he is not fully committed to it. But it does suggest that his reasons for believing may be more subjective than objective, as I discussed previously. Of course, having great evangelistic fervor is not proof that one’s faith is objectively true. But it does indicate that they believe it is. And I think it is more honorable and admirable to ascribe to a false faith because you’re convinced it’s true, and be willing to have a few doors slammed in your face for it, than it is to profess faith in something merely because it works for you.
Gotta’ give the JWs their due.