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Triple_R
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Are Christians too soft?
Nov 25th, 2008 at 8:36pm
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This question may surprise some, as it's become "trendy" in our society, particularly amongst left-leaning non-Christians, to think of Christians has being very forceful, loud, and stern. However, I think that this image of Christians is largely a myth.

In almost a decade of internet posting, I have personally found the following...

1) Most Christians are soft-spoken. We may be firm in the way that former LNF poster Justice_For_All was indeed firm (i.e. state our beliefs in a straightforward, "matter-of-fact" way), but we don't really go for the jugular in debates - at least not debates involving religion. We don't really try to completely eviscerate the arguments of our opponents. I think that most of us prefer to first find common ground with our opponents, and try to build from there.

2) The atheists are, by and large, not like this. The atheists typically will go for the jugular, and will try to completely eviscerate pro-religion arguments.

3) Many Christians are quick to admit to the past wrong-doings of Christians, and to speak at length at what they consider to be the current weaknesses within the Christian church, or within the Christian community. We are sometimes our own worst critics. We frequently ignore, if not outright accept, criticisms made of us by non-Christians.

4) Again, the atheists are, by and large, not like this. Very rarely have I read an atheist say anything self-critical pertaining to his or her atheism, or to the past behavior of some current/historical atheists, or to atheists as a whole today - even when they are pressed to. They will try to cast as positive an image of themselves as they possibly can, and will fiercely defend themselves from criticism.


While the atheist approach that I've personally observed can come across as abrasive, arrogant, and elitist - I frankly find that they're rarely called on it. It doesn't seem to, at least, hurt them much. If anything, it seems to help them and empower them.

Which begs the question - are we, as Christians, going about presenting our faith in the wrong way? Should we try to cast as positive an image of ourselves and our faith as we possibly can? Should we fiercely defend ourselves from criticism, and stop being self-critical of ourselves?

Frankly, I don't see where we have benefited much from our softer approach - especially when we still hold the image of being forceful, loud, and stern in spite of it.

Honestly, and to be brutally frank - most Christians I've met on-line are usually scared to death of defending their faith. They're meek to the extreme - they make me wonder how the heck Christians continue to have this forceful/loud/stern image placed upon us. They will back down from an argument that gets the least bit heated.

The atheists that I've met on-line are much more aggressive here.

There used to be a LNF poster by the name of Rick. Perhaps he still posts here under a different handle - I don't know. There have been many times that I felt that what Christianity needed, at least here on the internet, was a Christian Rick - someone with the debate style and ferocity of Rick, but obviously with Christian beliefs. Rick could be a touch too abrasive at times, but there's no question that he spared no quarter in fighting for what he believed in.

Well, just some food for thought. I could be off here of course, as this is largely personal observations.


  
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Re: Are Christians too soft?
Reply #1 - Nov 25th, 2008 at 9:14pm
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Triple_R wrote on Nov 25th, 2008 at 8:36pm:
Honestly, and to be brutally frank - most Christians I've met on-line are usually scared to death of defending their faith. They're meek to the extreme - they make me wonder how the heck Christians continue to have this forceful/loud/stern image placed upon us. They will back down from an argument that gets the least bit heated.



Oh yeah?  tell that to Jasmine.  Grin
  

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Re: Are Christians too soft?
Reply #2 - Nov 25th, 2008 at 9:20pm
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Triple_R wrote on Nov 25th, 2008 at 8:36pm:
This question may surprise some, as it's become "trendy" in our society, particularly amongst left-leaning non-Christians, to think of Christians has being very forceful, loud, and stern. However, I think that this image of Christians is largely a myth.

In almost a decade of internet posting, I have personally found the following...

1) Most Christians are soft-spoken. We may be firm in the way that former LNF poster Justice_For_All was indeed firm (i.e. state our beliefs in a straightforward, "matter-of-fact" way), but we don't really go for the jugular in debates - at least not debates involving religion. We don't really try to completely eviscerate the arguments of our opponents. I think that most of us prefer to first find common ground with our opponents, and try to build from there.


I think I do go for the jugular in debates--to the crux of the issue.  I may not be nasty about it, but I'm not "soft."

Quote:
2) The atheists are, by and large, not like this. The atheists typically will go for the jugular, and will try to completely eviscerate pro-religion arguments.


No, some atheists do.  There are some well-spoken atheists on the board who will speak if pressed.  Consider Queshank, Freedomlover, and even Constitution_Voter who has only entered the discussion as an atheist recently but has seemed to be balanced and not nasty in his point of view.  Not always the best informed, but he doesn't claim to be.

Quote:
3) Many Christians are quick to admit to the past wrong-doings of Christians, and to speak at length at what they consider to be the current weaknesses within the Christian church, or within the Christian community. We are sometimes our own worst critics. We frequently ignore, if not outright accept, criticisms made of us by non-Christians.


I'd rather be self-critical than the reverse.  Consider that Christianity is probably the most self-critical of the major religions.  I'd rather that then threaten and kill the opposition, as in Islam.  When it's public, then abuse doesn't stick.  When somebody says, "What about Catholic priests that diddle little boys?" we can say, "Yes, I'm against that as well...in fact I've said so many times."  I think that's healthy.

Quote:
4) Again, the atheists are, by and large, not like this. Very rarely have I read an atheist say anything self-critical pertaining to his or her atheism, or to the past behavior of some current/historical atheists, or to atheists as a whole today - even when they are pressed to. They will try to cast as positive an image of themselves as they possibly can, and will fiercely defend themselves from criticism.


I've seen it, but seldom, yes. 

Quote:
While the atheist approach that I've personally observed can come across as abrasive, arrogant, and elitist - I frankly find that they're rarely called on it. It doesn't seem to, at least, hurt them much. If anything, it seems to help them and empower them.


I think "they" (by that I mean abrasive individuals) have been called on it on LNF.  Again, portraying "them atheists" as some kind of homogeneous collective is inaccurate and unproductive, just as "all Christians" are not uniform.

Quote:
Which begs the question - are we, as Christians, going about presenting our faith in the wrong way? Should we try to cast as positive an image of ourselves and our faith as we possibly can? Should we fiercely defend ourselves from criticism, and stop being self-critical of ourselves?


I cast a positive image of Christ and Christianity as much as I can.  When it comes to benevolent work in the world Christianity shines like none other.  I haven't hesitated to point it out.

Quote:
Frankly, I don't see where we have benefited much from our softer approach - especially when we still hold the image of being forceful, loud, and stern in spite of it.


Frankly, there are some Christians on this board that are forceful.  I'm not even sure they're in the minority of Christians.  And so you have your loud and forceful atheists and your loud and forceful Christians.

Quote:
Honestly, and to be brutally frank - most Christians I've met on-line are usually scared to death of defending their faith. They're meek to the extreme - they make me wonder how the heck Christians continue to have this forceful/loud/stern image placed upon us. They will back down from an argument that gets the least bit heated.


That's a shame.  You've experienced that here?

Quote:
The atheists that I've met on-line are much more aggressive here.

There used to be a LNF poster by the name of Rick. Perhaps he still posts here under a different handle - I don't know. There have been many times that I felt that what Christianity needed, at least here on the internet, was a Christian Rick - someone with the debate style and ferocity of Rick, but obviously with Christian beliefs. Rick could be a touch too abrasive at times, but there's no question that he spared no quarter in fighting for what he believed in.


My best arguments were always with Rick.  And I enjoyed them.  And I didn't back down.  And we still hold each other in mutual respect.
  

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Re: Are Christians too soft?
Reply #3 - Nov 25th, 2008 at 11:23pm
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Triple_R wrote on Nov 25th, 2008 at 8:36pm:
Honestly, and to be brutally frank - most Christians I've met on-line are usually scared to death of defending their faith. They're meek to the extreme - they make me wonder how the heck Christians continue to have this forceful/loud/stern image placed upon us. They will back down from an argument that gets the least bit heated.


check out the Religion board.  sometimes i think even i go overboard.

but there's a lot of chatter going on there and i think a fair bit of defense of Christianity (mostly because i think Christian theology is misunderstood and the person of Jesus is poignantly ignored).
  
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Triple_R
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Re: Are Christians too soft?
Reply #4 - Nov 26th, 2008 at 3:54am
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Actually, Mercy, I have noticed that you are a pretty stern debater on matters of religion sometimes - that's to your credit. Smiley  Jeff is like this as well. Jasmine is certainly very firm.

And I've also noticed that, right now at least, LNF's Religion board is actually more pro-religion than anti-religion. That's very nice to see.

LNF seems to be the exception to the internet as a whole from what I've seen though. But even on LNF, we are openly self-critical.

I'd actually like to think that the softer Christian approach is the better approach, but... I don't know. The loudest and proudest voices have a tendency to dominate, I find.
  
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Re: Are Christians too soft?
Reply #5 - Nov 26th, 2008 at 7:58am
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Triple_R wrote on Nov 26th, 2008 at 3:54am:
Actually, Mercy, I have noticed that you are a pretty stern debater on matters of religion sometimes - that's to your credit. Smiley  Jeff is like this as well. Jasmine is certainly very firm.

And I've also noticed that, right now at least, LNF's Religion board is actually more pro-religion than anti-religion. That's very nice to see.

LNF seems to be the exception to the internet as a whole from what I've seen though. But even on LNF, we are openly self-critical.

I'd actually like to think that the softer Christian approach is the better approach, but... I don't know. The loudest and proudest voices have a tendency to dominate, I find.


i agree that the church community needs to be self-critical.  we shouldn't be sending the message that we condone things done currently or historically.  ironically, many Christians think we shouldn't be while at the same time turn around and say that moderate Muslims agree by silent consent with what extreme Muslims are doing.

i don't think that active debate is not a soft approach.  i think we need to show that there is a reason for what we believe and that some of the myths that are perpetuated are patently false (i.e. fabricated to discredit the Gospel... for example, the Horus myth parallel which appears to be purposely and deceitfully presented as fact when clearly it is not.  this tale of parallels in mythology is so blindly believed by so many that i don't think it would be a credit to be soft and accept that everyone has their own beliefs).
  
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