Respect for the Process
Christians and Moslems make strong claims about their respective faiths. They both believe that people who do not subscribe to their particular brand of Christianity or Islam will suffer eternally. They do not hesitate to share this belief with people outside of their faith.
With a love for humanity in their hearts, and I do not say this sarcastically, the missionaries of Islam and Christianity attempt to save as many people as possible from the fires of hell. If the fear of hellfire will motivate a prospective convert to join the community of believers, then why should this fear not be harnessed for the cause?
Let us shift our focus to the prospective convert. We are obviously talking about an individual who has not believed in the religion of the missionary and is now listening to the arguments presented on behalf of this belief that is new to him or her. This individual had a worldview that did not include the theology of the new religion. And this worldview is being challenged.
Let us consider that challenge.
Both Christianity and Islam claim that the truths of their respective religions are very clear. According to the Moslem, the “truth” of the Koran is self-evident. And according to the Christian, the Messianic claims of Jesus are “confirmed” by the prophets of the Jewish Scriptures. Both religions claim that those who cannot see the respective truths of their religions after having considered the “necessary evidence” must have a proclivity for evil. Why else would one resist the “obvious” truth in all of its glory?
This is the challenging thought process of the confused individual. Here I have “evidence” to a faith that I never believed in. I may see some merit to the argument, I may even see much merit to the argument, but I am not ready to make a conclusive decision. Does this mean that I am evil? According to my new-found friend, that is exactly what my indecision means. He may not spell it out in so many words, but that is the underlying message.
This is where the hellfire enters the scene. The missionary “helpfully” reminds the prospective convert that no one is guaranteed another day of life. Who knows what can happen tomorrow? Where do you want to go for eternity?
This is the “one two” punch of Christian and Islamic missionaries. “One” is the insinuation that if you don’t see the “truth” of their argument than you have just demonstrated your inclination for evil. And “two” is the fear of hell.
The employment of this strategy is a demonstration of disrespect for the human sensitivity for truth. If these missionaries would truly believe that an honest quest for truth would lead to their religion then they would encourage just that; an honest quest for truth. An honest quest for truth is not pressured for time and an honest quest for truth needs to avoid the emotions of fear and guilt. An honest quest for truth will patiently amass as much evidence until an honest decision can be calmly made.
The God of Truth does not fear questions, and the God of Truth will not condemn people for being honest. While you search and as you ask honest questions you can be assured of the love of the God of Truth.
Those who try to get you to make a decision on the basis of guilt or fear do not respect the honest process of questioning and searching. You may well wonder how it is that they arrived at the conclusions that they claim to believe in. After all, if they do not respect your right to ask honest questions why would you think that they respect their own right to ask such questions? And if they are using fear and guilt to earn converts you may rightly suspect that they are not employed by the God of Truth.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal