Dear Agnostic Friend,
Before I even begin I want you to know that I respect your right to believe as you choose and my intent here is not to convert you. You are adamant about your choice and I am by no means criticizing it.
However, I saw your posting to whomever the person was that sent you a copy of this book in the mail anonymously. I was somewhat surprised at your vehement response toward receiving the book, though it seemed from some things you said that perhaps this wasn’t the first you’ve received.
I don’t know who sent it to you so I can only assume their intentions. And it’s based on that assumption that I’m writing to you now. I hope that perhaps I can lend a different perspective from the one you may have formed about this person.
You see, there isn’t just one kind of Christian. From your reaction to receiving the book I guess when you think of “Christian” you think of someone with a holier-than-thou attitude who really isn’t interested in “saving your soul” as much as they are in telling you all the reasons why you deserve to go to hell. Well, there are those out there for sure. They really aren’t the majority, as you’ve been told or come to believe. I think, more often than not, that’s the image projected on us from media and anecdotal portrayals. I’m sure you’ve run into some of them in real life, but most of us really aren’t like that.
In reality, sadly, most Christians really don’t care enough about you to worry about where you’re going to spend eternity. More often than not we tend to worry more about whether you think we’re “uncool” or “moronic” if we even let on that we’re believers. The acceptance of the rest of the world — our co-workers, the friends we hang with on Friday night, the neighbor next door, our college professors — is really more important to us than where you spend your after-life. Oh, we might pray for you every now and then — that someone ELSE would come along and bring you the Gospel. But if that never happens it’s really no skin off our backs. We have that “I’ve got mine, you get your own” kind of attitude, though we don’t mean to. It’s just that no one likes rejection so it’s just more comfortable for most of us to let you “make your own bed and lie in it”.
A great many of are really just “Chino”s — CHristians In Name Only. Yeah, if we’re asked on a survey we’ll put down that we’re Christian. But to most of us that only means we believe there’s a God (sort of) and we know the top 10 Bible Stories (David and Goliath, that guy in the lion’s den, the Christmas story, Charlton Heston was Moses). We show up for church on Christmas and Easter…unless we don’t; but we meant to. We live just like the rest of the world does. We party on the weekends, we gossip at work, we went to see “Fifty Shades of Gray” with our girlfriends, and we flip off the guy that cuts us off in traffic. When we get in trouble we do a LOT of praying, but it’s for ourselves, definitely not for you.
We got dragged to church as kids, but we really think that if you don’t do anything REALLY bad — like murder someone (unless they deserve it) or steal money from senior citizens — that God is going to let you in heaven. So we don’t really worry about whether you are a Christian or not because, well, you’re a good person and God’s gonna let you in. There probably isn’t really a hell and if there is then only people like Hitler and Jeffrey Dalmer will be there. A loving God just wouldn’t send people to hell just because they don’t believe. They’ll believe when they get there and it’ll all be good. At least, that’s what makes us comfortable believing and it REALLY lets us off the hook from having to say anything to you and that’s what we care more about.
But then there are those of use who really do care. Yes, we are afraid of your rejection. We’re afraid of the ridicule and the attempts at shaming us and being called names like “narrow-minded” and “oppressive”. We’re afraid that you think we’re trying to “force you” to believe what we do because we have some sort of superiority complex, not because we want to share our reason for the hope we’ve found. More and more we’re being accused of being hateful if we are open about our beliefs. We’re accused of being phobic about this and judgemental about that; we’ve heard it all before. We often can’t articulate why we sincerely believe that there is a God, that He created the heavens and the earth, that He sent His Son to die for our sins, that all of us are sinners in need of a Savior, and that accepting Jesus as one’s personal Lord and Savior is the only way to receive forgiveness and Eternal life. We know the tooth fairy is only a myth and Santa Claus doesn’t really come down the chimney at Christmas so you kind of have to give us some credit that we’re not gullible enough to just believe anything old thing we’re told. There has to be some basis for our faith.
Some of us actually do care enough about those around us that we try to figure out some way to maybe help someone understand why we believe what we do. One of those people sent you a book. Others will write a letter. Some others post scripture on Facebook, in hopes that something they post rings true to you and others. Some may have you on their daily prayer list. Some are even bold enough to risk your scorn and try to share their faith with you; not because they think they’re better than you, but because they ACTUALLY do care enough about you to take that risk.
Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps instead of accusing that person of “harassing” you for trying to share their faith you could simply say, “I am thankful that you care enough to worry about where I spend eternity. I am an avowed agnostic and I’m comfortable with that. But I do appreciate your concern. I will donate your book to the library or the Goodwill and perhaps someone else will appreciate it more than I would. But I do thank you for thinking of me.”
Maybe I’m the only one, but it seems to me that if you call yourself “agnostic” that’s something totally different from calling yourself an atheist. In my mind, someone who is a TRUE agnostic is a person who is open to the idea of there may actually be a Supreme Being and thoughtfully exploring who that may be. While they may look at a variety of religions and beliefs, they are open to whatever evidence there may be to substantiate a belief system. It would seem to me that if there were perhaps empirical, as well as logical, historical, and scientific evidence to prove the existence of a god that an agnostic would want to explore that evidence.
The term “agnostic” is translated as “not” (a-) “knowing” (gnostic). While agnostics claim that nothing is known or can be known about the existence of God, to me that seems rather “narrow-minded” or even “oppressive” because it shuts out the possibility of ever considering any evidence that may be available. Wouldn’t that be “antagonistic”, not “agnostic”?
But, again, I’m not here to convince you of the truth of Christianity. I just wanted you to consider that whoever sent you book probably wouldn’t spend their hard-earned money to buy the book, much less take the time to get online and find it on Amazon or CBD.com or go to a book store, and pay to ship it to you if they didn’t care. Don’t we all complain about how little so many care about each other? Isn’t it kind of nice to know that someone does?
So maybe simply saying “thank you, but I will pass this on to someone else” is a better way to respond to this “unwanted gift”, than being offended. And if you get another book I would be happy to pay for you to ship it to me. I know a few people who are open-minded enough to want to know if there is the possibility of proof for the existence and nature of a god and anything beyond material phenomena.