Are there ANY Christians that I like?

No. Seriously though, I was thinking last night while building a brass doll bed for my daughter, “If I’m so upset with so many Christians, are there any Christians that I do not despise? If so, who and why?” I think that the first that comes to mind would be Mother Teresa. I admittedly do not know a whole lot about her. Perhaps in that is how I’m so fascinated with her. She dedicated her life to serving those who few others would even consider. She associated herself with outcasts, and in the process, didn’t expend energy trying to tell others about her “good deeds”. I heard Gov. Sam Brownback speak one time about Mother Teresa. He said the single most important thing that she said to him was when she was in the car leaving from where ever they had met. She rolled down the window and exclaimed to him “All for Jesus. All for Jesus. All for Jesus.” The car then pulled away. She believed that that as James stated “faith without works is dead”. And no, I just don’t believe that she was attempting to “earn” her salvation or her way out of Purgatory. That simply does not seem to coincide with someone of her nature.

Another Christian I hold in high regard has also passed. The late Rich Mullins also dedicated his life to serving others, in particular the American Indians. He gave them, at times, literally, the shoes off of his feet. Rich was another Christian whom so many knew in spite of the fact that he didn’t try to draw attention to himself. Fan of his music or not, read the lyrics. There is content to what he wrote. Not just random rambling “praising Jesus”. His accountant asked him how to manage Rich’s money income from music sales. Rich told him to find out what the average income of the U.S. was including everyone and give the rest to the reservations with which Rich worked. It turned out that, as I recall, in 1996, the average income was about 24,000 dollars/year. Rich lived in a trailer house in Arizona, yet by net sales was a millionaire. I wonder how many other Christians artists live in trailer houses.

A third Christian that I admire is Brennan Manning. Again, I’m in awe of his humility, yet he holds a notable position in Christian circles. One particular quote of his comes to mind, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today, is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and turn around and deny him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” This could very well be this blogs motto.

Then, last, but certainly not least, I have to admire Ravi Zacharias. He is a Christian apologist, author, and speaker who has had a great influence on my life. If humility is the theme, Ravi could not be left out. He is a very educated man, yet is very respectable of those who would love to kill him for his beliefs. I’ve had the pleasure of reading two of his books, Jesus Among Other Gods, and Can Man Live Without God?. He uses legitimate reasoning both from the scriptures and from popular world view to discuss Jesus’ claim to be “the way the truth and the life”. It should be stated that Ravi is often asked to speak at venues that are anything but Christian from Ivy league schools such as Harvard, and Yale, to other religions institutions including Islamic and on to cult conventions such as the Mormons. He is so polite and respectful of their beliefs, yet holds the Bible as being the final authority over man. My words do not do the man justice.

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6 Responses to “Are there ANY Christians that I like?”

  1. I found your blog with a Technorati search for “Ravi Zacharias”– my mom’s enthralled with the man’s work, so I’ve been trying to find out more about him, and I have to say, from what I’ve seen, I think you might want to reconsider his position on this list (though I certainly wouldn’t want to kill him for his beliefs). Zacharias often takes the words of non-Christians out of context and willfully misrepresents them in his work, which is less than honest and does more harm than good to his arguments. He relies heavily on the impressiveness factor of “Ivy League Schools,” etc., which, in my mind, is contrary to the humilty and poverty that Christ preached. I think if you look closely at his arguments, you’ll find that they’re usually not using “legitimate reasoning,” either. I’m not a Christian myself, but I’m certainly not anti-Christian, so, if you’re looking for more likeable Christians for your list, I’d be happy to nominate lots of people, from my wonderful (if misguided in her respect for Zacharias) mother to many of the pastors in my hometown.

  2. “Zacharias often takes the words of non-Christians out of context and willfully misrepresents them in his work, which is less than honest and does more harm than good to his arguments.”
    -Perhaps you could give the original quotes/passages and in what speech/book and then give Zacharias’ misrepresentation and from what speech/book of his. We’ll go from there.

    “He relies heavily on the impressiveness factor of “Ivy League Schools,” etc., which, in my mind, is contrary to the humilty and poverty that Christ preached.”
    -He’s an apologist, who has gone not just to the Ivy League but literally around the world to some of the poorest of society to give the message. Who else should he go to?

    “I think if you look closely at his arguments, you’ll find that they’re usually not using “legitimate reasoning,” either.”
    -What then would you deem “legitimate reasoning”? And, could you answer as to why one who would not use legitimate reasoning would be invited back to speak at institutions where he could be easily defamed for misrepresenting another individual?

    “I’m not a Christian myself, but I’m certainly not anti-Christian, so, if you’re looking for more likeable Christians for your list, I’d be happy to nominate lots of people, from my wonderful (if misguided in her respect for Zacharias) mother to many of the pastors in my hometown.”
    -If you’re not a Christian,
    1. Could this be why you are opposed to Zacharias? (i.e. you may disagree with what he might say, but you cannot definitively state that he is wrong)
    2. Why would you know “many of the pastors in my hometown.”?

  3. Hi, sorry, I’d forgotton I’d left this comment, and it’s late, so my immediate response isn’t going to be as well reasoned and comprehensive as I’d like. Thanks for responding to the comment, though. Again, I only know a little bit about the guy, but here are my initial thoughts:

    1) I’ve listened to a couple of Zacharias podcasts (I think they were originally radio broadcasts), and in at least one, in discussing the “mystery of evil,” he quotes Ron Rosenbaum in what struck me as a shady way, describing his inability to comprehend Susan Smith, as though in the face of the problem of evil, Rosenbaum is completely undone and unable to understand what life means at all and thus unable to function. The quotations Zacharias uses are accurate, but if you look up anything about the guy, it’s clear that Rosenbaum has resolved (or is able to live happily and productively without the compete resolution of, which still seeking answers to) his own questions about the mysteries of life and of evil without Christianity. I’ve also looked through Sense and Sensuality, and he completely completely misrepresents Oscar Wilde; most basically, he presents Wilde as someone who had a coherent world-view, and Wilde’s shimmery paradoxes don’t really lend themselves to any kind of firm pronouncements. And in order to make his points against that half-picture of Wilde’s views more important, he claims that Wilde’s generally considered the greatest author of the last 200 years. I adore Wilde, but I don’t know of any serious literary scholar who’d rank him #1 in either the 19th or 20th century. In one of the podcasts, he takes an editorial calling for a “noble lie” to replace traditional religion as a source of morality utterly out of context, putting a pretty sinister spin on it, when it seems really likely that the “noble lie” idea was offered with sincerely good intentions. He claims something along the lines of “this is what passes for sophisitication” among academics, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. The idea of a “noble lie” stinks; it’s a terrible idea, but it’s hardly the evidence of a conspiracy against religion that Zacharias implies it it.

    2) No, I’m not saying he shouldn’t go to Ivy League schools, if that’s where his beliefs carry him. I’m saying that he uses that fact that the schools are “impressive” to promote himself. His inflation of Wilde’s reputation is an example of this. Next time you listen to him or read him, be aware of how often he uses words like “genius,” “world-renowned,” “prestigious,” “highly respected” when talking about the places he’s been or the people he’s discussing, and ask yourself why that’s relevant to his point. To me, it seems like it’s usually relevant only in that he thinks it reflects glory on himself by flimsy association.

    3) The example of questionable reasoning that I had in mind when I wrote that was his serious use of Pascal’s Wager as an argument in favor of Christianity. I’m not sure of where he does this, because I only know it second-hand; my mom explained his argument to me (not calling it Pascal’s Wager, just saying it was one of Zacharias’s arguments, so I don’t know if he attributes it to Pascal or not, but I recongnized it). It goes sort of like this: “Either a God who rewards your belief in him exists, or he doesn’t. If you believe in God, and he does exist, you go to heaven when you die. If you believe in God and he doesn’t exist, no skin off your back. If you don’t believe in God and he doesn’t exist, no skin off your back. If you don’t believe in God and he exists, sucks to be you.” So better to believe in God, whether or not he exists. This is a horrible, if old, argument for belief in God, as you can just as easily turn it exactly on its head (“Either a God who rewards your refusal to believe in him exists, or he doesn’t….”).

    4) a. Yes, the fact that I’m not a Christian probably does have something to do with why I was skeptical of Zacharias from the beginning– but I hope that even if I were a Christian, I wouldn’t want someone who grandstands and twists other people’s words in the ways that he does to represent me.

    b. I know many of the pastors (okay, I’ll knock it down to five that I know well enough to be confident of the sincerity of their beliefs and the un-self-interested-ness of their actions) in my hometown because my family was active in one of the local churches, and it’s a small town. It’s not been all that long since I was there, growing up, and while my personal beliefs have changed as I thought more seriously about what the Bible says and learned more about other points of view, my love and respect for the people I grew up around hasn’t changed.

    If I haven’t changed your mind about Zacharias (and I doubt I have), let me know, and I’ll borrow Sense and Sensuality from my mom and give it a thorough read, and afterward I’ll either send you an analysis of why I think it’s deliberately misleading and vain, or I’ll do a full about-face on Ravi.

  4. After reading your second post, I went back and looked through two other books of Zacharias’ “Can Man Live Without God” and “Jesus Among Other God’s”. Throughout both books, he will site an individual that stood or currently stands against Christianity or merely belief in God. He then will state his response to what they wrote, stated or lived. As you and I, he is entitled to his perspective and response whether or not he agrees or disagrees with them. What I find fascinating is that Frederick Nietzsche was one of the strongest opponents to theism, yet Zacharias shows a true admiration for the man. Sure, he gives regard to Nietzsche’s “genius”, but I struggle to see how Zacharias uses this in a self-serving manner. Does Zacharias refer to problems with Nietzsche’s philosophy? Yes. But during my reading and the multiple times I’ve heard one of Ravi’s speeches, I cannot find how he shows a genuine lack of respect. Respect for anyone for that matter. This is part of why I wrote this post in the first place. I too, may have minor disagreements on how Ravi may word something in regards to some particular matter, but I have not heard or read reason to state that he WILLFULLY attempts to mislead or misrepresent. I’m sure that Mother Teresa, Rich Mullins, and Brennan Manning also made statements concerning another person that I would have to disagree with knowing better, but I still have to look at who they are overall. If you were to use the same scrutiny for everyone, who would stand? I most certainly would not.

    I remember when I too was not a Christian. No Christian could do right and I found it quite easy to scrutinize what they did or said. Looking back, that was easy. I’ve found if much more difficult to find the good in another person, Christian or not. This is what Christ mastered so beautifully. Consistently, he encountered people who had serious issues, whether physical, mental, or spiritual/religious. Every time, he saw something in them that often they didn’t even see in themselves. Yet, with those who were looking out for themselves in the name of God, he scathed. I marvel at how he can look at me and see anything of worth. This point would be much more forceful if you personally had known me over the past fifteen years or so.

    Again, I have to step back and ask, who or what is Zacharias attempting to praise? He points the finger towards Jesus Christ. Is he still human? Yes, a flawed one at that, but he does his best at trying to help people find Jesus’ claims to be true. He will rub some the wrong way if for no other reason than that he stands for absolutes.

    Regardless of what I may personally think of Zacharias, I have a respect for you. Many people blindly follow others without question. Mortal men become idols. This is just one of many issues that angers me. Perhaps some time, your questioning will bring you the one I point my finger to. The only one.

  5. hey

    When jesus was walking blind bartimus (spelling) called out to him “Jesus son of David help me” The diciples tried to stop him. then jesus called him and the disciples brougth hem to jesus. It was the blind man who could see (who jesus was – Son of david) the the people who were his “disciples” were blind as bats. He was among tham and they still did not know him, or what he came to do. Just because we say we are known by him does not make it so.

    I think first john helps to bring into focus that which may be unclear.

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