Jump to content

Why don't Christians engage with backsliders?


Recommended Posts

I realise it's a pointless exercise but I'm intrigued. Firstly, I have Christian friends (almost all from the liberal end of Christianity, which is not my background) who remain good friends although nobody seems to want to question my reasons for giving up on god. I'm grateful that they 'accept me as I am' but it would be nice if we could talk about our differences; in effect this is a gap in our friendship.
Some of my fundamentalist 'friends' want to convert me and are praying for me (hasn't worked in fifteen years), and others only engage at a very superficial level and never challenge my beliefs. Some end their messages to me with things like "Yours in the Lord": perhaps I should challenge that, it is so ridiculous, although I think that would end friendships.
So why? What might be their reasons? Help me make a list of possible thoughts in their minds.
Here are some that I know apply to my friends:
 
They are embarrassed that one of their number has 'backslidden', has 'lost his faith' (I didn't, I gave it up).
They think that intellectual learning has turned my head and there's no point in talking about faith.
(Note: my father, also a minister, used to say "Fill the pulpit with degrees and by degrees you will empty the church"!)
They think that associating with liberal Christians has defiled me.
They are genuinely (but mistakenly, of course,) concerned about what they call my eternal salvation.
They don't understand and don't want to 'waste' time talking about it.
 
Perhaps the following apply?
They believe they have the truth so there's nothing to discuss.
They have doubts themselves and cannot face losing their comfort blanket.
They think that I am beyond the pale and it is more important for them to sow on good ground.
They believe that they will be defiled by having anything to do with an apostate (the Bible supports this).
 
Anyone got more reasons why Christians back off?
 
Thank you.
 
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderator

I think it’s all of the above, depending on the individual.  
 

Some are scared that what happened to us will happen for them.  

 

Some don’t want to acknowledge that some people’s lives get better when they leave Christianity. 

 

Some probably think that Satan is literally present in us.  
 

Some just think we’re irredeemable.  They’re right there, generally.  
 

Deep down, some don’t really believe that apostates go to hell, even if they won’t admit it, so they’re not worried about us. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, TABA said:

I think it’s all of the above, depending on the individual.  
 

Some are scared that what happened to us will happen for them.  

 

Some don’t want to acknowledge that some people’s lives get better when they leave Christianity. 

 

Some probably think that Satan is literally present in us.  
 

Some just think we’re irredeemable.  They’re right there, generally.  
 

Deep down, some don’t really believe that apostates go to hell, even if they won’t admit it, so they’re not worried about us. 

 

Yes, yet another 'fear' that they have to live with. One of the first steps on the slippery path away from faith is to associate with unbelievers.

Lives better without the fear of god hanging over us - yes, indeed. I rather provocatively included in my ex-testimony that I was 'surprised by joy' when I deconverted.

Satan in us: yes I think that many believe that, well supported by what they find in their Bibles.

Not sure about us being thought to be irredeemable - I think most would not want to 'give up' trying to convert us so, at the least, they say that they will pray for us. (Perhaps the 'Strict and Peculiar Baptists' and their ilk might think it!)

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, the only reason any of you were together to begin with was that common belief. When that is gone, you are back to normal human interactions. Unless you were really buddies with someone, you have become of no interest to them.

 

We were fairly close friends with a few Russian families, but our bond was Jesus. When we left the faith, there was no more common bond, only the shared experiences we had with them during those years. They have not forgotten those times and remember us with affection. A couple of them would still like us to come over for things like Easter or Christmas, but the others are in a despising "they're apostates, rejecting THELORDJESUSOURSAVIOR" mode. So that would be mighty awkward, and we just don't go. We do go to funerals when they tell us about them, but it is still an awkward time outside of the few that still like us. It is sad to see the fear and apprehension in the eyes of the others. That's what religion does to people when they feel like they have to mirror what their invisible friend feels. 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A lot of this rings true for me. I have a friend ('mine in the Lord') with whom I had much more than a link in faith. We had a common interest in athletics; we had a common interest in girls (often the same ones!); we had a common interest in the countryside; we had a common interest in music (him singing with me on piano); he introduced me to my partner (now of over 60 years happiness); he was a key figure at our wedding. I regret the loss of his friendship, now not much more than exchange of cards at Christmas although he always remembers my birthday and also that of my partner (I suspect there's something else there about his personality?). If I had to come face-to-face with him and with others like him, there would be huge embarrassment: I suspect that he would be the one to raise my lack of faith but it would probably be at a moment when there was no time to dialogue - perhaps I mis-judge him.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Super Moderator

I think sometimes there might also be some resentment involved.  I used to equally despise those who had fallen away.  I realized after my own deconversion experience that, despite whatever justifications I had for rejecting those backsliding apostates, it all really boiled down to subconsciously resenting them for giving themselves the freedom I wanted.  Not to mention resenting myself for being to cowardly to set my own self free.  This was all on the subconscious level as a christian, though, disguised as righteous indignation. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

     It's easier to punch down than it is to fight it out with someone that can hit at, or above, your ability.

 

     If that's unclear what I'm saying is it's easier to engage with, and convert, the lesser or uninformed.

 

          mwc

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, mwc said:

   If that's unclear what I'm saying is it's easier to engage with, and convert, the lesser or uninformed.

 

This is why getting children in the church is so critical.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Super Moderator

The youth group I grew up in had some kind of statistic about the chances of getting a person "saved" after age 19 were next to nil.  It made for some very aggressive evangelistic practices.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderator

Early critics of christianity were pointing this out from the beginning. They were targeting those who lacked in education at the time or who were easily manipulated. Critics called them out on it. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remain fascinated by the observations of Vittorio Lanternari in his book 'The religions of the oppressed'. Also by Peter Wagner's 'Look out the pentecostals are coming'. Both these books discuss the fact that Christianity is attractive to the poor and less educated. That, in my opinion, is a fundamental danger of Christianity - it takes advantage of people. It's not always the poor and less-well educated that get caught, of course: my own research into the new 'community churches' of the 1970's and 80's discovered high educational achievement amongst members; the growth here was due, in part, to the disillusionment with historic churches and also, that sort of Christianity served as an exciting diversion from lives stressed by modern expectations and demands (How else can I explain a highly qualified emergency doctor on a  helicopter? My own doctor is a pentecostalist, too.)(And how can I begin to understand why intelligent people roll around on the floor barking like a dog and crowing like a chicken?!)

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.........."They are embarrassed that one of their number has 'backslidden', has 'lost his faith' (I didn't, I gave it up).
They think that intellectual learning has turned my head and there's no point in talking about faith.
(Note: my father, also a minister, used to say "Fill the pulpit with degrees and by degrees you will empty the church"!)
They think that associating with liberal Christians has defiled me.
They are genuinely (but mistakenly, of course,) concerned about what they call my eternal salvation.
They don't understand and don't want to 'waste' time talking about it.
 
Perhaps the following apply?
They believe they have the truth so there's nothing to discuss.
They have doubts themselves and cannot face losing their comfort blanket.
They think that I am beyond the pale and it is more important for them to sow on good ground.
They believe that they will be defiled by having anything to do with an apostate (the Bible supports this).
 
Anyone got more reasons why Christians back off?"
 
 
All of your "perhapses" would have merit in some cases I would expect. I would think that your good friends that are true Christian, may not want to bring up any points of contention between you and them because they believe everyone has the right to their own beliefs and don't want to rock the boat of friendship.
 
As I'm sure you know, most Christians are not zealots -- therefore religion is one thing and friendship another. You may also rock the boat of friendship if you as a non-believer brought up the subject of religion with some of your fiends.
 
 
Link to comment
Share on other sites

pantheory: I would think that your good friends that are true Christian, may not want to bring up any points of contention between you and them because they believe everyone has the right to their own beliefs and don't want to rock the boat of friendship.

 

No, I am sure the 'true Christian' fundamentalist friends believe they are right and think that I am damned. Why else would they still be praying for me and writing 'Yours in Christ' at the end of their communications - yet not seriously engaging?

Those I believe to be true Christians are liberal in their beliefs and I'm guessing that they, indeed, respect my right to think differently - whilst possibly regretting that I no longer number myself amongst them.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

pantheory: I would think that your good friends that are true Christian, may not want to bring up any points of contention between you and them because they believe everyone has the right to their own beliefs and don't want to rock the boat of friendship.

 

No, I am sure the 'true Christian' fundamentalist friends believe they are right and think that I am damned. Why else would they still be praying for me and writing 'Yours in Christ' at the end of their communications - yet not seriously engaging?

Those I believe to be true Christians are liberal in their beliefs and I'm guessing that they, indeed, respect my right to think differently - whilst possibly regretting that I no longer number myself amongst them.

 

 

I guess your friends are truly religious. Nearly all of my friends have been Christians but don't bother me concerning religion. Once in awhile one might say that he will pray for me concerning my comments when the topic of fornication might come up,. Although I am a scientist, most know they don't want to discuss religion with me in that I usually I know a lot more about it than they do -- and probably believe that I am a totally lost cause concerning religious beliefs of any kind.

 

But also I have no friends that knew me as a Christian, as you have, since I dropped the faith as a teenager after studying Christianity and other religions at that time. I came to realize that they were all no better than Greek mythology. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.