Friday, February 24, 2012

Overread at Booth One: Letter to a Christian Nation, Note to the Reader

The first paragraph of the preface "Note to the Reader" from Sam Harris's book Letter to a Christian Nation reads:

Since the publication of my first book, The End of Faith, thousands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. The truth is that many who claim to transformed by Christ's love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, ti is clear that such hatred draws considerable support from the Bible. How do I know this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse.

I photocopied that from the book, because it is a very important paragraph, and in it contains all that we need to remind ourselves as Christians about how we need to evangelize. We can never call someone to Christ with hateful speech, ire, and especially not with murderous threats, or personal attacks, no matter how well-intentioned.

Look at how the people who attacked his book made Christ look. The God of Love, the God of Creation, who ripped into our time just so he could grow up and get murdered for us? And we make Him out to be the murderer! The One who was killed by lies, and we as Christians have made Him a liar.

Mr. Harris believes that Jesus Christ is a hate-monger who will send all of us to Hell (and send us there Himself) at the slightest provocation, if we dare question Him. And Mr Harris is right to believe that way, because as Christ lives in us, the only true example anybody will ever have of Him is how we present Him through our words, our actions, and our selves.

I keep this paragraph to remind me of how poorly we represent Him, and to use it as an injunction to do better. And in that way, I can say without irony that God has actually used Mr. Harris's anti-Christian message to prompt me to be a better Christian.

Now, how sweet is that?!

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