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Current time: April 16, 2024, 7:49 pm

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Our role(s) as Christians on Atheist Forums
RE: Our role(s) as Christians on Atheist Forums
Had a busy day myself so today's post will be short. I hope to to get into things in more detail during the week when I have more time.

Neo, I think I can agree with you that being on this forum doesn't "glorify God". But I don't think it offends God, either. I think it is simply a hobby/neutral activity like any other. And while I've had my share of drama here, I wouldn't refer to my overall experience here as "exposing myself to abuse." That's just speaking for myself personally of course. But if you feel like that is accurate of your own experience here, I can't say you have a justifiable reason to stay. (Though of course I would selfishly like you to).

On a side note, I will have to disagree that there's anything wrong in associating with atheists, and I wouldn't compare them to dirt. They are still people, and every person (well, most people at least), has something to offer and something we can learn from. I don't agree with dismissing people simply because they are atheist.

Anyway, I feel like I kinda jumped around a bit up there, but that's because I'm short on time right now and just kind of responded to a couple of isolated points you made. I'll come back with a more collected response hopefully tomorrow.
"Of course, everyone will claim they respect someone who tries to speak the truth, but in reality, this is a rare quality. Most respect those who speak truths they agree with, and their respect for the speaking only extends as far as their realm of personal agreement. It is less common, almost to the point of becoming a saintly virtue, that someone truly respects and loves the truth seeker, even when their conclusions differ wildly." 

RE: Our role(s) as Christians on Atheist Forums
Ok, next day here and I think I have a little bit of time. Let me respond better to Neo's post.

Neo, you said this: "By asking about the role of Christians on AF, I’m not concerned about our personal motives, such as finding community, verbally joisting, or playing games. I question, in general, if there are any justifications for Christians, as Christians, to participate on AF and if so what such reasons could be."

I think there are 2 and I talk about each of them bellow.

Reason #1: I would say a Christian role on AF would be to set forth a good example of Christianity and to dispel some of the misconceptions both about Christianity as a religion and about Christians as people. To what end? In hopes of opening some hearts and planting a seed, either for a member here or a lurker. Though as I said on my first post, I don't think this is realistic and isn't the reason why I'm here personally, but I can see it being a "Christian thing" to strive for.

Reason #2: Another Christian role here would be to be challenged in our faith, and in being challenged, to explore it more, seek more answers, and in the end... grow in faith and become better and stronger Christians for it. I believe Alpha talked about this as well, and like he said, there are certainly other ways of going about doing this that don't involve participating on AF. But participating here is, nonetheless, A way.

So my conclusion is that yes, Christians do have roles here. But if the only reason you're here is to fulfill a Christian role and you otherwise don't enjoy your time here, are those 2 reasons worth it? Are you wasting your time? .....Probably not, and probably. Because #1 is a long shot, and #2 you could gain some other way.

Neo, you said this: "you suggest that exposing yourself to the opinions and ideas on AF provides insight into the thoughts and feeling of other atheists with whom you interact elsewhere online or in real life. You also write about a desire to “engage with people of differing views”. But merely gaining insight has only personal value unless it in some way brings glory to God or builds the Kingdom. I see knowledge as a means to an end, not an end unto itself. As such, if you have no ambitions beyond educating yourself, such as overcoming objections of non-believers so they may come to Christ or strengthening your faith to be more effective in other missions?"

I fully admit I am only here for personal reasons. As a hobby. A pass time. A distraction/escape. My presence here doesn't glorify God, but I don't think it offends God, either. Neither does eating brownies, I suppose, but I enjoy that too. I'm not of the opinion that everything we do in life needs to be geared towards some higher purpose. There are acts that are neutral, that we simply do because we enjoy them, and I don't see a moral problem with that. Thoughts?
"Of course, everyone will claim they respect someone who tries to speak the truth, but in reality, this is a rare quality. Most respect those who speak truths they agree with, and their respect for the speaking only extends as far as their realm of personal agreement. It is less common, almost to the point of becoming a saintly virtue, that someone truly respects and loves the truth seeker, even when their conclusions differ wildly." 

RE: Our role(s) as Christians on Atheist Forums
@ GC, Drich, and AM. I believe I would be thanking God today for a door He has opened. You guys mentioned various things in your responses about why you joined an atheist forum. One of the things mentioned was that each of you wanted to share the Gospel and to somehow plant a seed only to be told that your efforts were fruitless and that you were basically wasting your time with the atheist members on this forum and that the ground was too hard to receive the sower's seed. There was a bit of truth in that response but not altogether if you know what to look for. There's a parallel thread where members are commenting and offering their opinions on what they saw of our responses on this thread. If you haven't read through that thread already there's a few atheist members who have expressed some respect for your honesty in opening up about yourselves and some have said that they have a better insight of you all and that they basically harbor no ill feelings toward you. Of course not all felt that way, but still, you'd be surprised who all said they respected your honesty. Not glowing appraisals, but decent...and that's at least something. On another note, Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the Gospel and told them that He was sending them out as sheep among the wolves. He said that they would be persecuted, delivered up to magistrates to be judged. Some would be falsely accused, beaten, imprisoned, and put to death, and hated of all nations for His name's sake. Jesus Himself was falsely accused, tried and beaten, and then crucified. Stephen was stoned to death for his preaching of Jesus. The Apostle Paul, according to accounts, was beheaded. Peter, according to accounts, was crucified upside down, not to mention how he and Paul and other disciples were imprisoned and persecuted throughout the Book Of Acts. Jesus said to rejoice and be exceeding glad for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you. So why are we complaining about the name calling here on the forum? How is that anything to compare with the real persecutions that Christians before us had to endure? If Christians today can't take a little name calling how will they stand when the real trials come? In another place God said to be strong and to be of good courage, have I not commanded you? Keep in mind, we're on an atheist forum. Was any of us actually expecting that this was going to be smooth sailing without getting a bloody nose along the way? You don't need me to tell you that these things are to be expected....and the name calling from some, no big deal.

@Neo...why are you here? What did you expect your role to be? What did you expect to accomplish here since you said the ground was too hard to receive the Sower's seed? Just out of curiosity. It's not an attack.
"Inside every Liberal there's a Totalitarian screaming to get out"

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Quote: JohnDG...
Quote:It was an awful mistake to characterize based upon religion. I should not judge any theist that way, I must remember what I said in order to change.
RE: Our role(s) as Christians on Atheist Forums

The change in audience doesn't justify staying here. In 20 years, I've seen two forum atheists convert to Christianity. One I don't even count - he was young, had switched from Christianity to atheism, then started dating a Christian and went back. I doubt it had anything to do with what he saw in the forums. The other couldn't say why he converted. He just did. I talked to him afterward and it didn't have anything to do with arguments he saw on the forums. When people make it to a forum like this, they've usually made up their ming one way or the other, and aren't going to change. I've also considered the lurker argument, but I haven't seen evidence of that either. It's rationalization.

I don't think participation here is merely a neutral activity. God warned Israel not to intermarry with its neighbors, or it would adopt their Gods. Israel ignored God, and did indeed end up worshiping false Gods. While the relationships here aren't as strong as marriage, the principle remains. Paul also makes it more general than marriage - "bad company corrupts good character." You disagree that there's anything wrong in associating with atheists. Do you have a Biblical basis for that, or do you just want to believe it because you enjoy hanging out here? The Bible verses we've seen are IMO pretty clear. Here's another:

Romans 1
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

I think it's pretty clear that the atheists here suppress the truth in unrigteousness. So, God has declared his wrath on them - and we're here goofing around with them in threads about poop and sex. It's fun and it passes the time, but I don't think God is pleased with it.

Further, if it is a neutral activity, aren't there much better things you could be doing with your time? You could join a Christian forum and do the same things you do here. You could visit people in your church and make RL friends. You could read the Bible and pray. You could go for a walk. You note yourself that this place is a time killer and escape for you. Something productive would be better than that, even if you can support that it's just neutral. For me, I do 95% of my posting at work. I also use it to pass time and escape. If I hadn't, I could be further along in my career now. So, even if it's neutral, you still need to consider the opportunity cost.

@Neo: Nice to see I'm not alone in my thoughts. I suspected I'd be a voice crying in the wilderness on this one. Only difference I have is that my reasons for leaving really don't have anything to do with being subjected to abuse. Also thanks for starting this debate. Some of these thoughts have been kicking around for some time now, but this made me sit down ad really think it through.

@GC and Drich: really not much to say. I've always considered you guys to be marching to a different beat than I am. It takes all kinds of parts to make the body, so that's a good thing.

@ A Theist. Insults don't bother me. The point is that it's wasted time. None of the Biblical figures you mention made a habit of hanging out with people after they had heard the message and strongly rejected it. Yes, Paul was imprisoned and beaten, and then he usually moved on to the next town, and he usually went to the synagogue there to begin preaching.
RE: Our role(s) as Christians on Atheist Forums
Well I've read the posts after mine and I would say if you Neo and alpha male are not seeing yourselves as useful in God's work by being here then why are you still here and CL I understand this is a diversion for you from a past event, but doing the work God has for you in the church body would do the same thing and be productive in the Kingdom's work. I'm not advocating any of you leave, I would miss you it seems we've become a small family here, in a loose sense. I think the three of you need to re-evaluate and figure out where your time is best spent for God, this is suppose to be our life's mission. I see myself and I believe that Drich feels the same, we are here because God has His reasons for it. A little note as to why I believe this, when I started a a new church many years ago I had never served in a responsible role. Well within a year I was elected to a role, one that had me doing maintenance work for the church, then came a request to be the youth leader and six months later was asked to be considered to become a deacon. The first one was okay with me because it did not really have to do with working with people in a spiritual sense, the second I agreed to in a temporary role and the third I did not want to do at all, but could not disqualify myself for a biblical reason and agreed. I can tell you this, the two later ones meant everything to me in the end, they are exactly why I grew into the Christian I am now and would not trade those experiences for the world. Also being under the pastor I was guided me into deep Bible study and prayer on a level I could have not imagined before joining this church. 

Now why have I given this info to you, because by the time I  was serving my second term as a deacon the church considered me as an evangelist because of my influence outside the church and the people who came to our church because I was being what God wanted me to be. I worked in construction and if you do not know the people in the trades are rougher and more crude than anyone you will meet here. Did they express their disdain for my Christian walk no, but they gave no leeway either. I worked in the grounds that you guys would consider fruitless yet fruit came from it. If it had been only one then God was glorified and if that were all the fruit that came through God's work in me that would have been enough, why, because if every Christian had the same result the church would double in one generation. Please I ask no one to see me in the light of GC is bragging, everything that has been done spiritually in my life has been God's work, only my willingness to have God working through me might be contributed to me. I'm also not saying that any Christian here has had less accomplished through them, I suspect that I'm the least here among us.

Here is what I'm trying to say, the non-fertile ground surrounds every individual at some point in our lives, to say that an entire community as AF is non-fertile is to judge without knowing every individual. We were not called to judge the people of the world, we were called to give all the hope of not having to face God in an eternal judgement of damnation, for He is the only judge of the heart. I know I've said that I believe there's little hope for the regular atheist members here, but that is a belief and not a certainty. Jonah was certain that the people of Nineveh were not worth wasting his time over, however God showed him and us that we are not to judge whom God sends us to or why. Then of coarse there's Abraham who though that the people of the plains were worth saving and God showed him different and us. We should take from these two men that it isn't what the human mind reasons but the will of God that is correct and important. 

I'm here for the as CL calls them the lurkers, they may be atheist or Christians, but both have questions or they wouldn't be looking, they would either join or leave and if only one of them is reachable because of what God does through me then that is great and God not me is glorified. CL I put you in with the other two because you seem to think of this place as more of a fun house than the serious work of God and if I'm wrong I apologize. My whole point is this, if you are not here allowing God to work through you then you might need to ask Him where best can I serve. A Theist you state that you are full of questions and I hope you can receive the answers you need and I will be glad to be a part of that process, if that's what God desires. As for what I need to look for I try and allow God to show me, but if I never know the results of my time here that's fine because God knows what He will accomplish in/from this place and if that means someone will be dancing on God's great dance floor how is it that I could think my time as wasted. I've actually been told my time here is of value and that has come from an atheist and I believe it was God's work. To all the Christians here we need to value what God has given us and share it, if we don't then what value do those things we were blessed with have. Could say this is related to the talents given to the servants and what the results were from the one who was bold and stepped out front to the one who was afraid and accomplished nothing. Do what you know in your hearts you are to be doing for God and leave the results to Him, whether it's here or some other place. God bless each of you.

God loves those who believe and those who do not and the same goes for me, you have no choice in this matter. That puts the matter of total free will to rest.
RE: Our role(s) as Christians on Atheist Forums

I explained why I'm still here: bad habit. If someone can convince me that there's more to it than that, I'll consider staying. Otherwise, I'm leaving when this thread concludes. 

A feeling that God's will has a person in a particular situation is fine, unless that feeling contradicts Scripture. If it does, it's the person's desire, not God's will, which is at work. In this case, I've given clear Biblical instructions on the situation. If someone can refute those with other Scripture, I'm all ears - I'd like to stay. Bad habits are habits because they're comfortable. Breaking them takes you out of your comfort zone.

In a general sense, yes, we were called to give hope to all. But as noted, we're specifically told not to waste our time on people who will not hear our words. That instruction was given regarding cities. Do you think every single person came out to hear, and then rejected? I doubt it. Yet, they're not told to search out each and every person in that city. They were told to shake the dust off their feet and move on. 

I agree that the will of God should trump human reason. You say that, yet you reason away the clear Scriptures I've given. 

I've said the same thing about lurkers in the past. I haven't seen any evidence of them. And, Jesus didn't say continue casting your pearls before swine for the benefit of third parties who may overhear you. 
RE: Our role(s) as Christians on Atheist Forums
While each of us Christians may have incidental personal reasons for joining and remaining, those reasons are separate and distinct from reasons a Christian, as a Christian, may have for joining and remaining. My question is if there are differences between AF as an ordinary pastime, as a mission field, and as a learning crucible.


A common theme, expressed, by C/L and A Theist, is that we participate to “set a good example” thereby tacitly presenting the Gospel. To this I say, it is already a given that we should represent Christ in all our everyday activities (1 Cor 10:31, Colossians 3:17). As such, there is nothing wrong with a Christian wanting to play games, chat about politics with, and enjoy debating theology with atheists. While I don’t care much for Mafia or Off-Topic areas, I enjoy the verbal joisting and some trash-talking with a select few of the atheist members. But are these activities truly opportunities to incidentally present our testimony, i.e. to “preach the Gospel without word?”

Personally, I find this to be a nice theory but not possible to implement on an open forum. In real life we can tailor our approach to the circumstances. In courser rowdy crowds, the role of a Christian may be to show that we aren’t kill-joy prudes by joining the fun as it were. In a townhall meeting, the role of the Christian may require one to meet harsh criticism with a forceful defense of the faith. Or addressing a insulting remark by a co-worker about the Church with a gentle and respectful rebuke. Because anyone can comment on anything at any time, no one (Christian or otherwise) can know that his or her post will be interpreted in the intended way. Even when carefully qualifying comments about a group with “some” or “many” or “a majority” or a “few” there is always someone ready to say “How dare you!”

For example, I respect a select few AF members for their extensive knowledge of philosophy (I also respect other AF members for different reasons, BTW.) When they call me nasty things, I usually do not take it personally, because I’ve always considered this just goading, playful trash-talk. Except, now I’m seeing more and more that the respect only went one-way. It’s very disappointing to hear people I liked speculate about my mental health. I’ve reached out personally by PM to members with whom I argued and attempted to make peace, revealing more about myself personal experiences, etc., only to have him tell me he didn’t care because he didn’t know me from a can of paint.

Overall, I would not leave a place simply because I could not endure a few insults (stick and stones, after all) but rather because having my words twisted and motives maligned indicates that my effects are probably misdirected even among those I thought I could converse with on a more abstract level. To those who ask, why then are you, Neo, here? I admit that I no longer know. It seems like whatever I thought had here, like playful sparing partners, has turned out to be an illusion.

The above approach, “being and example” is different from doing, say, hospice work or prison ministry. We do these things precisely because we are Christians, serving as the Body of Christ.


@Drich, GodsCreated – I apologize for not reading your posts more carefully. As I said, this thread came at the wrong time for me leaving me a bit unfocused. Reviewing, I see the theme of correcting common misconceptions about doctrine. This, as opposed to straight out proselytizing. We all know that it is only the Holy Spirit, and He alone that turns hearts, and that our job is merely to show up and remove barriers. I think you both do an excellent job despite some minor differences between us about doctrine. In some ways, I see this as one of the few valid roles for a Christian on AF. I found value in challenging atheist T-shirt memes such as the inane “lack of belief” stance, the category error of comparing a transcendent God with limited beings such as tooth fairies, and providing the proper context for the 5W to dispel straw man arguments about them. For some reason, perhaps because the New Atheists popularized them, some younger, more naive, atheists might think they are profound. So, my thinking, maybe, just maybe, was that at least demonstrating that there was a legitimate debate at a more academic level would encourage such atheists to delve deeper. I’m thinking of one very intelligent young lady, who I always thought could be steered towards a more subtle conversation, but I was sadly mistaken. My challenges only made her, and similar others, dig in more and now she hates me which would be tolerable except that it taints how she might perceive Christians in general. That is something I cannot abide. Don't you ever wonder if, despite your best efforts to witness, you instead find yourself being used as a negative example?

At this point, I’m not bitter, just tired. Like Alpha, participating seems like simply a bad habit. I truly believe that the forum needs more Christians who model themselves after Alva Plantinga and David Bentley Hart. Christians that have graduated from C. S. Lewis (a great mind in his own right, just a different focus) to Kant and Sartre. But I’m not sure if that’s me.
RE: Our role(s) as Christians on Atheist Forums
To A-T and CL

Both of you seem to be concerned around the idea that I am not here to save. At seems to attribute it having broad cast seeds and it had landed on infertile ground, and CL seems to believe it is an internal decision of mine.

In fact what I believe is different than what you believe. I believe at no time in this life that any of us are ever 'saved.' Because if you look to the bible even after jesus "salvation" is always point to in the future event. as in do abc and you will be save or do a and b and you shall be saved. The only time the bible says "you have been saved is in eph 2:8 when Paul is speaking from a post judgement perspective. if you read the bible carefully no one in this life claims salvation. that's a 'church'/denominational teaching designed to get members. I say I am not here to 'save anyone' is because I do not have this power or authority. I can only scatter seed and care for them. God is responsible for providing the increase. Remember No man comes through the Father except through Christ. This does not mean through a ritual Christ performed or a church Christ sponcers or repeating words Christ said. the passage means what it says. We are Save Only by Christ at our judgement. That is what is meant being saved by Christ. not us. not out efforts not our deed lets no man shall boast. it is Christ who makes the determination of who is and who is not a Christian.

That is why it is mission critical to correct theology for those who claim to be atheist/not so much Christians, as even if you just have 'faith' you can manage salvation with Christ. But if an atheist theology is wrong they will not even be able to manifest the min faith needed.

As far as leading people to chirst I'd say 8 solid people baptized 1 of the 8, and maybe 20 who have made the pledge to (change/ASK) no long consider themselves atheist. who knows though for all I know they could change their names and come back are a person with a huge grudge...

We need not think in terms of 'saving people.' Because only Christ can do that. we can only show people the path. Then their judgement will be by Christ based on the ability and opportunity.

When I spent my time in Hell my greatest lament was I did not know the truth, I felt like if I had known the truth and choose not to respond, then I could completely accept my fate. upon my return i vowed to learn the truth and to share it.
RE: Our role(s) as Christians on Atheist Forums
Neo, you are probably correct that "setting a good example" most likely won't do anything on a forum as far as planting a seed goes. While I listed that as a possible reason for a Christian to be here, I also conceded that it is an unrealistic expectation and probably not worth it for someone who's only reason to be here is to plant seeds. So I agree with you there. I also stated that it is not my personal reason for being here. As I said, my reasons are pass time, not mission.

...Which brings me to respond to Alpha and GC. "Why not do something else as a passtime," you ask? Well, I do. Someone mentioned going on walks, which was coincidental because I meet with a couple of friends nearly every day for a 2 mile jog or speed walk lol. This isn't the only hobby I have or the only thing I do. It is true that I don't currently have a job outside being a homemaker, and that I'm not nearly as social as I would like to be and used to be a couple of years ago. Some difficult life circumstances which I'd rather not talk about have put me in a position that has caused me to really isolate myself, and this is just where I'm at right now. We will be moving to our next assignment come July, and I plan on taking that as an opportunity to get a part time job again and break back out into the world a little more. Sure, I could join a Christian forum instead, and I have in the past. But I think when it was suggested that I join a Christian forum instead, it was overlooked that the reason I enjoy this place it specifically because I like to have discussions with people who have very different views. I find it much more interesting, and I feel I grow from that. I won't get that by joining a Christian forum, and it isn't as interesting to me.

Anyway, I didn't mean to go on a little personal tangent there^, but figured I'd clarify where I'm coming from since there was quite a bit of talk surrounding what CL does with her time lol. Now, with that being said, I don't think it is detrimental for a Christian to use AF as a passtime, which seems to be a topic of concern here. Bible verses are being brought up talking about how we shouldn't be in the company of swine (or some other negative term). Thing is, I don't think it is good to dismiss people as swine simply for their religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Do you guys think atheists in general are bad company, or just the ones here? Because apart from having made some online friends here, I have a couple of good friends in real life too, who are atheist, and perfectly nice and decent people. We just don't talk about religion. Should I stay away from them as well because they are atheist?

Another point that keeps getting brought up: Does everything we do need to glorify God? Can't we enjoy neutral activities, such as going out with friends, eating brownies, or watching The Bachelor? In my opinion, those are perfectly fine, neutral activities that neither glorify nor offend God. And so is conversing with/debating with atheists online.

Now, with all that being said, if this site isn't something you are enjoying, if you feel you are being misrepresented and mistreated, I can't justify you staying. I agree with Neo and Alpha that planting seeds here is unrealistic. If your only reason for being here is in hopes of planting seeds, you are wasting your time, IMHO. (As much as I would like you both to stay because the diversity makes this site more interesting.) Neo, I remember you telling me once about a particular poster here you really respected and enjoyed debating with, and I remember shortly thereafter seeing that same person just spewing some horrible, vile things to you. She seemed like she really hated you. I remember feeling bad because she was someone you genuinely liked. So I know exactly what you are talking about, because I've seen it. I would love for you to stay, but if this isn't healthy or good for you, please don't.
"Of course, everyone will claim they respect someone who tries to speak the truth, but in reality, this is a rare quality. Most respect those who speak truths they agree with, and their respect for the speaking only extends as far as their realm of personal agreement. It is less common, almost to the point of becoming a saintly virtue, that someone truly respects and loves the truth seeker, even when their conclusions differ wildly." 

RE: Our role(s) as Christians on Atheist Forums

Roadrunner has decided to withdraw from the debate.


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