Obnoxious Evangelical Christians in Public Places

I was at Barnes & Noble last week in the Religion Section when I had to rescue a Roman Catholic woman who had been cornered by a zealous “Reformed Christian” of unspecified etiology. He was in the process of explaining to her just what was wrong with the Roman Catholic Church when I came around the corner. I decided to do the only decent thing and distract him long enough for her to escape, so when he started in about a literal Bible, I challenged him with Psalm 75:3 – which he was unfamiliar with. She looked at me gratefully and escaped. Unfortunately, I was then the recipient of his nonsense. Honestly, that was the last thing I wanted to spend my Friday night doing – I just wanted to be left alone – but it was worth it to save this poor woman who had unwittingly become the recipient of his boorish approach to Christianity.

He told me he had “known the Lord for the last five or six years.” That has always been a strange statement to me, “known the Lord.” I wonder if the people who use this kind of language run into Jesus at a cocktail party or some other social gathering. Who introduces these people? Most of the people I know have been introduced to me by someone else. Does Jesus have meet and greet events that I haven’t heard about? Is Jesus on Match.com or eHarmony? It all seems very odd to me.

Then another curious thing happened. He started telling me how the early Church Fathers and the early ecumenical councils interested him greatly. Those were the people who really knew the scriptures and the Church, he said. They were serious about their faith. They had everything right. Then about five minutes later, he said he didn’t go for that Catholic Bible. You see, the so-called Catholic Bible includes some books and parts of books in the Old Testament that appear only in the Greek versions of the Hebrew Scriptures commonly called the Septuagint but not in the original Hebrew versions of the Hebrew Scriptures. What this newly minted friend of Jesus was overlooking was that the same Church fathers he was so very fond of (and I am fond of them as well) used the Septuagint. Greek was the language of commerce. When St. Jerome translated the Bible into Latin he translated it from the Septuagint as well. So, my self proclaimed seminary student new friend of Jesus managed to contradict himself in a very big way without being aware of it.

This is the problem with trying to argue or cajole someone into belief or faith. It doesn’t work. I don’t believe it was ever meant to be used as a tool to introduce people to faith. You see, real faith comes by living, through experiencing God present and active in our lives. All the argumentation in the world doesn’t equate with faith. When you add to that the truth that every analogy limps and every argument has holes in it, you realize that the standard evangelical approach is impotent.

So please, if you must argue confine your arguments to other evangelicals and don’t chase people out of bookstores with your boorishness. You would do far better to spend the time in prayer so that you might come to actually experience Jesus instead of just cogitating about him.

Of course, that would call you to some real change in your life. It’s probably much easier to be obnoxious.

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