It may be that Thomas Edison is responsible for much of the trouble in the world. “How so?” you ask. Edison, among others, invented and popularized motion pictures. By the 1930s, films made in the United States glamorized life in America, partially to distract Americans out of work and down on their luck. Those films were also shown in foreign theatres and millions of people wanted what was shown in those films: cars, clothes, parties, romance, kitchens, beds, food on the table and homes with a roof.
Christianity can also be blamed for its role in spreading trouble in the world. Christian missionaries went to the far places of the world and told the people living perfectly good lives that they were doing it all wrong.
I have just finished listening to Sarah Vowell’s “Unfamiliar Fishes”, a book about the missionary activities in Hawaii during the last two centuries. She clearly shows how the missionaries nearly destroyed the people they claimed to be saving. You can read a review of her book here.
In the November 23, 2011 Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Billy Graham is asked why it is necessary to intrude on others to convert them. Billy’s reader says, “I don’t believe in talking with others about religion. They have their own beliefs, and anyway, my life is enough of a witness to my faith. I don’t think we should intrude on other people’s privacy by trying to convert them to our beliefs.” You can read Billy’s answer here.
Billy’s response is what one would expect. Billy is an evangelical preacher; it would be surprising if he admitted that evangelism is not a great thing to do. Billy considers evangelism to be golden and for him, it has been the fabled goose laying piles of greenbacks instead of gold.
To make his point, Billy compares evangelism with the discovery of a cure for cancer. He says the discovery of such a cure would not be kept quiet because of the numerous people who would benefit from such a cure.
Billy then says that sin is a disease far more serious than cancer and the cure is evangelism.
A cure for cancer could extend the lives and reduce the suffering of millions of people. When Billy says cancer is not as serious as ‘sin’, he is not honest. People suffer and die from cancer in this life and this life may be all there is. Billy and others believe sin sends people to hell where they suffer after death, but we all know sinners who are pain free. In addition, there is no proof for the existence of hell. I have discussed this idea before.
Billy says the Gospel is the best news anyone will ever hear. Muslims say the same of the Qur’an. Even within Christianity, there are many different views of the Gospels and contradictory missionary programs.
Even if we allow Billy the opportunity to protect his own wealth and empire, there is a much deeper question to ask.
If Jesus/God really wanted everyone in the world to become a Christian, why did He/They use such an inefficient method of spreading the word? Jesus died and less than six weeks later went to heaven, leaving the job of spreading the good news to a bunch of rag-tag humans. There was no way that the word could get to the Americas, Australia, the Pacific islands, much of Africa, much of Asia, and much of Europe until hundreds or thousands of years later. God let those beloved humans wither on the vine by not getting the word to them in a timely manner.
Billy frequently says, “God so loved the world that He sent His only son to die for our sins.” That just isn’t true. “God so loved that portion of the world that you could easily walk to…”
Did it have to be that way? I am sure that Billy would say that it was God’s plan. If God really loved the world, He could have arranged to have seashells make the sound, “This is God. Believe in me,” instead of echoing blood rushing. Instead of an occasional resemblance, He could have arranged to have every piece of burnt toast look like a photo of Jesus. Instead of making the tribes of Papua New Guinea wait until the 1960s, He could have had Jesus visit them in CE 33, as the Mormons believe He visited the Native Americans.
God did not do anything like that. He expected humans to carry the word and allowed those humans to interpret the word so that there are hundreds of forms of Christianity, each shrilly proclaiming correctness and attempting to evangelize the world. God may be all-powerful but He is not much of a planner or an evangelizer. If Billy wants to follow in Jesus/God’s footsteps, he should give his Bible to homeless person and hope for the best.
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