O.K., I’d like to follow up on my post yesterday, Had the F-Bomb Dropped On Ya Lately, with a sample of how I witness via Twitter. I’ll admit, I don’t often do this with my @Kidologist account, I have a less “public” persona I usually do this with, (as I also do for getting political) as people sometimes get offended by politics or witnessing and I like to protect Kidology from “the man” behind Kidology sometimes! (Since some people have a hard time separating the two!)
Anyway – recently I got to witness to an atheist – and I get jazzed when I have a positive encounter. Now, that doesn’t mean I converted him, it means I had an encounter where I didn’t offend him! Because I believe many Christians do harm to Christ by be offensive in their witness. Granted, some will say, the Gospel is by nature offensive – I understand that, sinners are by definition in rebellion against God, but that doesn’t mean we need push them further away by being obnoxious!
Anyway, since this conversation happened on my well known Twitter account, @Kidologist, I thought I’d go ahead and preserve it here, and also break it down and explain what I’m trying to do int he process. Keep in mind, these are small bites – you are limited to 140 characters, and you know you only have a short time to engage the conversation isn’t going to last long, and your goal ISN’T conversion on Twitter – it is to change someone’s deep rooted impression of either God or Christians. And that is extremely difficult to do in 140 characters and a few tweets – but I believe we CAN do it. Both as Christians (and in the political arena as well.)
I love engaging in the arena of ideas.
So, here is a SAMPLE OF MY CONVERSATION WITH A VERY ANTI-GOD ATHEIST. I will not give his user name, out of respect, and so as not to draw attention to his site, or draw his wrath to mine, but to give you an idea of his passion against God, his icon is GOD with a circle around it and a slash through God’s name, and the motto on the site is: (repeated over and over on the background)
“Believing Bullpoop* Doesn’t Make it True” (*Obviously, I have changed a word here)
This prompted me to respond to him, in defense of my God, and open a dialogue. Here is our entire conversation, to give you an idea of how I engage non-believers. It ended positively:
NOTE: If you are not familiar with Twitter, @username means the comment is directed at the person, so @atheistuser means I was directing the comment at the atheist (though it was public) and @kidologist means he was replying publicly to me
(This is reverse order, since on Twitter, newest would be at the top)
@atheistuser* if “believing bullpoop doesn’t make it come true” – neither does denying or making fun of it make it not true. truth just is.
Here I am inviting conversation – yes, it is bait. I’m quite aware of it. But if someone were to say “Your wife is ugly” or “Your kids is stupid” would you not defend them? A few weeks ago I twittered a quote:
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This was my chance to act on that principle.
@kidologist “Truth just is” what? Religious dogma? Faith claims? Wishful thinking? The Holy Bible? Koran? Book of Mormon? Bullpoop?
Here the real dilemma of our age comes to light – pluralism. If we are honest, it is a valid concern.
@kidologist Bullpoop? Did you actually say bullpoop? As I’ve said before, all bullpoop talk, aka god talk, is cognitively meaningless.
This is a little ironic for him to say, that all “god talk is cognitively meaningless” when on his site, he demonstrates quite strong cognitive skill in talking about God! He quotes many famous people’s thoughts about God from modern times back to founding fathers (if they are negative) and points out many of the horrible atrocities of the Catholic Church that any Christian today would agree were terrible and that led to the Reformation and when what we would call “true Christians” had to go into hiding because the official church had become a political system and no longer God’s institution – though he probably isn’t interested in genuine church history at this point in his life. As I often tell people, 99% of the time, atheists are people who have been hurt by Christians. What they complain about are usually not their real beef so to argue about what they talk about is a waste of time. That’s not really what made them an atheist – though it’s keeping them there now.
@atheistuser* what I mean is, our opinion doesn’t change Truth. 2+2=4 regardless if we think it is 5 or 7 or 143. It is still 4. Good day.
Here I try to address the world view issue of absolute truth – I tried to define absolute truth in 140 characters. My “Good Day” was a hint that I would let it go, if he really didn’t want to engage with me. I’d drop it unless he wanted to continue. I gave him an out. If he doesn’t reply, we are done and can blame me, but if he keeps it going, it is by his own invitation. He will have tossed the ball to me, so he can’t be mad at me.
@atheistuser* Absolute Truth can be discovered. Unfortunately, not in 140 characters nor in thru debate. I hope in time you will discover it
Again, I give a hope that Truth can be discovered, but I say I don’t want to argue, I hint that the path to discover is elsewhere, and offer to close the conversation unless he reopens it, which he does.
@kidologist If your God lived in my town I would throw bricks through his windows. Try reading your Bible. You’ll understand.
He shows his hand, his issue is with the Bible, or how its been taught or applied in his life. His background is Christian. Probably Catholic. I got that in 140 characters. He isn’t a pure atheist. He is a hurt religious child, perhaps spiritually abused. Christian parents even. Minister’s kid maybe! So I aim for the wounded heart.
@atheistuser* I am sorry if your experience with some Christians has not been positive – i hope in time your experience with God can be.
I apologize. And I redirect from people to God. I try to draw a distinction between the people he is angry at and the God who he shouldn’t be. I want him to know that God didn’t do the things that have led him make a hateful anti-God website. That the God who He hates probably hates whatever he experienced as much as he does.
@atheistuser* All I can say is, there are answers, but they aren’t found through arguing or nitpicking your valid concerns.
He expected me to argue with him, like so many obnoxious Christians have in the past, and I want to be the one who doesn’t bother. No cosmological argument. No teleological. No ontological here. No Bible verses. No “God said it, that settles it” And the killer – I called his concerns “valid” – he may have reread that a few times.
@atheistuser* you obviously have a bone to pick for some reason – whatever it is, I am sorry for whatever caused it. sincerely sorry.
I was glad I had the characters to add the “sincerely sorry” because I really am sorry for whatever in his past has led him to hate God so much. I want to find the Christians who turned him off from God and show them what he has become – and energy he puts in to turning others away from God and show them what they did. I blame them. He will be held responsible for his own actions, but I blame them for not showing this man God’s real love.
@kidologist Just how do you define “Absolute Truth”? And how can you ever be sure you are right about it?
The venom is gone. Now he is just talking to me. And asking a legitimate question. It’s 1 Peter 3:15 time!
@atheistuser* I define “Absolute Truth” as that which is true regardless of whether we find it or not, admitting that I too could be wrong!
Some Christians won’t like me saying “I too could be wrong” – but from the perspective of the one I’m talking to, this is important honesty, and ultimately, of course, it is true! Of course, I don’t think I am wrong! And neither does he. But if I expect him to even consider the remotest possibility that he is wrong – I need to be willing to do the same. If I am stubborn and insist on me being 100% right, how hypocritical to judge him for thinking the same of himself!
@kidologist I was raised to be Roman Catholic. Fortunately, I survived that period of my life when I was not allowed to think for myself.
My suspicion confirmed. Not only the religion of his youth, but deeper, that he feels he wasn’t allowed to think for himself. He felt brainwashed. His questions were not answered. His objections were not explored. He doubts were not addressed. He was not allowed to wander so that he could come to God on his own terms when he was ready. So when he finally could break away he RAN and wants to free as many others as possible. I hardly blame him!
@atheistuser* those are fair questions with no easy answers. I’m sorry you were not allowed to think for yourself. I was.
Again, like “valid” I want him to know, those are “fair questions” – something he wasn’t told as a child. I’m not intimidated by tough questions. You can be a Christian and have tough unanswered questions. Some are never answered! That’s O.K.
Again, I apologize.
And I let him know, I was allowed to think for myself. I argued with my dad over theology. We still disagree on some things. Some issues, I still don’t know where he stands. Why? Because he wanted me to form my own opinions based on Scripture and my own ideas, and not chose a position based on what “dad thinks.” He had to write a theological position paper for a church position once and let me look through it, but wouldn’t let me have a copy for that very reason. (even though I wanted a copy!)
@atheistuser* can I ever be absolutely sure? For me, I have concluded that Christianity (not Catholicism) is the most reasonable explanation
This was a tough one. I didn’t want to say, “no.” So I answered this way, that Christianity is the most reasonable explanation for the questions of life. Am I absolutely sure? Whew. That’s a tough one. How would you answer that?
@atheistuser* Ultimately, I’d rather be wrong and die and be dust, than be like you and be wrong and stand before God. grace beats atheism 2me
I hope he thinks about this one. If I’m wrong I lose nothing. If he is wrong, he loses everything. I become dust. He goes to hell. There’s a big difference between the two.
@atheistuser* thanks for listening, i hope i have not offended. i have many friends who believe as you do, and we enjoy friendly discussions
This was my conclusion. My olive branch – the end of my mini-twitter sermon. I wondered how he would respond. The next day, I got my answer:
@kidologist No offense taken. Friendly discussions are best. Wish there was more of that today between people on matters of religion & gods.
Victory. Not sure if I provoked any deep thought – but I pray that his exchanges with me at least were a good experience and let him know that there are Christians who care. I may try to talk to him again in time. So I ReTweeted (RT) his final tweet and ended with “we agree on that”
RT @atheistuser* Friendly discussions are best. Wish there was more of that today between people on matters of religion // we agree on that!
How are you engaging non-believers? We can’t just witness to those who come into a church! We need to find ways to engage those who are farthest from the Cross. One of my ways is on Twitter with my missionary Twitter accounts you’ll never know that follow many people who will never have a #kidmin hashtage in their tweets, and that is by design!
*username has been changed