Saturday, March 9, 2013

Do Christians Deserve Respect--Part Two

In my last blog, I invited apologist Gary Zacharias to share the results of a question he Googled, "Has anyone met a Christian he/she actually respected?" Last week I focused on the negatives responses—those shortcoming we Christians need to be aware of when we dialogue with unbelievers. In this blog, Gary relates the (mostly) positive responses—what we’re doing right in our dialogue with non-Christians, which earn their respect.

“One of my roommates was studying to be a pastor and he has a degree in Theology. I respect him greatly. He is a great source of information. He is accepting of others, supporting gay marriage and respecting the separation of church and state. He doesn't spend his time judging or preaching.”  

“My best friend is also a Christian and she is also very accepting of others. She supports gay marriage. She knows and respects that I'm an atheist. She doesn't spend her time judging or preaching either. Being a Christian doesn't mean that someone isn't worthy of respect.”

[Note:  I don’t think these first two comments should be interpreted to mean the believers endorse gay marriage. The point is that the non-Christian did not hear condemnation.  In evangelism and apologetics, we don’t raise obstacles, we let the unbeliever do that—and then, of course, we respond in love accordingly.]

“One of my best friends is Christian, and he's pretty cool. We don't always agree, but he's always willing to have a friendly debate with me. Trick is, when we're done debating, we're DONE, and move on to another topic of conversation. He does drop the 'my God is totally awesome' hints every once in a while, but I understand that it's part of his religion to proselytize and that it kinda comes with the territory. I respect him a great deal for not only what he's been through in his life and how he's handled it, but how good of friend he's been to me and our other friends.. . .” (I put this person’s negative response in in the last blog.)

“How they treat others, their sense of personal responsibility and their values are things that I respect. I have met many Christians, many atheists and many fellow agnostics who possess these qualities. You don't need to be religious or non religious to be respectable. You just need to be a decent human being... maybe with a sense of humor!”

“One is a friend from high school. We graduated a year apart several years ago and were roommates a couple times. We can have discussions on everything from the origins of life to regular this and thats. We can always respectfully disagree without getting preachy or pissed off. And the other is a friend of mine from college that is probably the most compassionate Christian I've ever met. Tolerant and open minded every step of the way. As a matter of fact if she wasn't so religious I think we'd be a couple by now. I love that girl but her Jesus love is too much for me in that respect. So yes it's possible but most are close minded, backward thinking bigots as far as I'm concerned.”

“Not in person, but in this forum, I've encountered one or two [Christians]. The one I remember was extremely knowledgeable regarding his religion, used logic (!) to make his points, rather than emotion or irrelevant bible quotes, and just generally impressed me as a person who had arrived at his faith rationally, rather than by indoctrination.

“A persons religion doesn't matter that much to me. If they have a good attitude and good character (honest, sincere, positive) then they are a good person no matter what.”

“This is basically a circumstance about being open minded to other people's matter how outlandish they may seem. For me though, the ones I respect the most are the christians that respect their own values, while at the same time not pushing them on others...If you wanna be a "holy roller", thats fine, but don't push your religion on me.”

“The ones I've known, care for the poor, care about the youth, care to reach out to those whom the world looks down upon, long suffering, kind, patient, self controlled, the list goes on. True christians are very loving people.”

“Yes. D. W. He is such a respectful person, and he listens and responds to any doubts that I have about the existence of God, rather than just spouting out bible verses and judging me. He is the ONLY christian that I talk to about religion.”

Next week I’ll share Gary’s thoughts on both the positive and negative comments posted in this and last week’s blog. I believe there are some lessons we Christians can learn in terms of how we communicate with non-Christians, who are often totally ignorant of true Christianity and have stereotypical assumptions on what we believe, how we think, and how we behave. In particular, I hope you noticed how “postmodern” many of the responses were—Dan.

Gary Zacharias is a college English professor, married with two sons and two grandchildren, and is currently co-teaching a class on apologetics at Emmanuel Faith Community Church in Escondido, California. Check out Gary’s blog at He has other great insights to share.

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