Wednesday, February 11, 2015

No One Is Ever Converted by Rubbishing Their Religion

    x 35 And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? [6] 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you seek anything further, [7] it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly. (Acts 19:35-41 (ESV)
The town clerk sends everyone home. Rioting was a dangerous thing for a city in Paul’s day. It was considered treason, or rebellion against Rome. And for it Roman armies would be sent to destroy a city. This was something the no one wanted.
At least the town clerk did not find the men guilty of sacrilege or blasphemy. This wasn’t something Paul would engage in. He would preach his faith, and he might challenge a person one on one in a discussion to think deeper about their own faith. But he didn’t trash the faith of others, no matter how ridiculous he thought their faith was.

Recently I heard Dr. Kleinig saying that “no one is ever converted by rubbishing their religion.”  Therefore there is no need to. Even if at times we have found ourselves doing it. It usually just gets their defenses up. Tends to shut down conversation. There are just better ways. 


Anonymous said...

Actually, Paul trashes the religion of the Judaizers in Galatians. He outright condemns it AND the ones preaching it. Religions that come in the name of Christ are a whole different matter than foreign ones.

John Flanagan said...

Criticism of Mohammed, even in the most gentle and passive of speech, will result in the separation of your head from the rest of your body in some areas of the world. Did Our Savior not say that faith in Him would separate fathers from sons, daughters from mothers, siblings from siblings? The content of one's speech is not dependent on a mere gentle delivery.

Bror Erickson said...

So I find it odd that this post gets the comments.
So Paul can be polemical at times. Yet even when he is "trashing" the religion of the Judaizers the context suggests that he is doing so not to convert the Judaizers, but to strengthen the resolve of the believers. If polemics has a use it is that. At the same time, when he is trying to convert Jews he takes a completely different tack, he circumcises Timothy, and he even takes on a Nazarene vow for himself. He goes out of his way not of offend, becoming a Jew to the Jew etc.
Finally, this is not about trying to save your own skin, Paul was manifestly not worried about that and would have confronted Muslims. It isn't that you can't speak out against other religions, but the manner in which you do so. What is your goal? is it one upsmanship or is it conversion? This is something I have had to struggle with quite a bit in my own life.