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"I Find Your Lack Of Faith Comforting"

As a devout agnostic, I have to say that one of the most annoying types of devout peoples are the evangelicals. Their confidence -- some might say arrogance -- in the absolute rightness of their beliefs chafes at me, especially when they are so absolutely in-your-face about it as they try to convince you that theirs is the One True Way.

I've gotten through life with a laissez-faire attitude towards religion. I don't ascribe to any system of belief, but I have no trouble with those that do. The only time I am openly hostile to them is when they make a point of trying to proselytize to me, to preach to me. That's when I show that my agnosticism is not based on ignorance; I have a sizable arsenal of very uncomfortable truths and facts about most religions that I normally keep to myself. But that courtesy goes right out the window when push comes to shove.

That's why I found this article about the Archbishop of Canterbury -- the head of the Anglican Church -- quite comforting. He is reaching out to Muslims by acknowledging that large portions of Christian doctrine is offensive to Muslims, and is trying to downplay them. He's also trying to minimize his church's political influence, as well as apologizing for past transgressions.

Now that's the kind of religious leader I like: he has his beliefs, but if I don't like them, that's OK with him. In fact, if I don't like them, he'll go to great lengths to keep me from even being exposed to his beliefs, just on the off chance that I might be offended.

OK, all sarcasm aside, I have a question for Archbishop Williams: if you don't believe that your Church is the best way for Man to come closer to God, then why the hell are you a member of it, let alone its head?

I've said before that I have major problems with the Catholic Church. Its history has a healthy portion of shameful deeds and disgraceful behavior. I have major problems with much of its present doctrine. And I thought that its conduct during the pedophile priest scandal should have led to some RICO investigations and indictments.

But all that aside, I have a gread deal of respect for the current Pope. He has never shown anything but respect for other faiths, but his core beliefs -- that his Church is the One True Faith, at least equal to all others -- are reflected in his deeds. He practices tolerance, in the truest sense of the word, but there is never any question that he believes that his faith is at least equal and most likely superior to all others, and he makes no compromises with its tenets.

And that is how it should be. If anyone should expected to be a bit of a zealot, a religious supremacist, a fearless advocate of a religion, it should be the head of that church. How can you expect a rank-and-file member of a faith to be stronger in their beliefs than the guy in charge?

What Archbishop Williams is exemplifying is not tolerance. It is not love. It is not faith.

It is cowardice. Cowardice disguised as courage, gussied up as "respect."

And precisely the last thing a Church needs in its chief Defender Of The Faith.


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Comments (17)

As an Episcopalian agonizin... (Below threshold)

As an Episcopalian agonizing over the future of both the national and her own parish church, you had me very worried at first.

A church has a doctrine to follow, If a person can't accept that, he or she should go elsewhere. In the case of TEC, those people became bishops and are destroying the meaning of our liturgy from within.

It is sad what is happening... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

It is sad what is happening to many churches. Called to be apart from the world, they ape it instead. Rather than hold firm to eternal truths, they subject themselves to the changing winds and whims of culture. You are right Jay. Actions such as the Archbishop's will only garner contempt from those he is supposedly trying to reach.

Incidentally, the Archbishop strikes me as the John McCain of his denomination. Is there no conservative ideal for which McCain will fail to apologize?

Just to clarify, Jay, you'v... (Below threshold)
Boyd Author Profile Page:

Just to clarify, Jay, you've got a problem with the good evangelicals, the ones who fulfill their calling to bring as many souls to God as possible.

The lazy ones like me? We don't bother you so much.

Jay,As a devout An... (Below threshold)


As a devout Anglican, and hence ex-Episcopal, I share your disappointment with +++Rowan Williams. Wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I had a couple of those truly obnoxious folks call at my house last Sunday. I can say that even as a believer, if the early Christians were anything like them, you can sympathize with the Roman desire to crucify them.


Hey folks, here's a questio... (Below threshold)

Hey folks, here's a question:

Who would you rather come knocking at your door, a fanatic Fundamentalist Christian or fanatic Fundamentalist Muslim?

[All those who keep loaded firearms at their door need not answer and skew results].

President Bush has had his ... (Below threshold)

President Bush has had his confidence labeled as arrogance many times... apparently he now has that in common with the evangelicals. I've found that those with the weakest arguments, and unsure of their own position (agnostics, moderates), tend to reject confidence and call it arrogance.

The overwhelming majority of evangelical christians will leave you alone the very minute you say... "leave me alone".

"I've gotten through life w... (Below threshold)
Alan Orfi:

"I've gotten through life with a laissez-faire attitude towards religion."

There's probably a higher reason for your existence here than just "getting through" it. Perhaps your scriptural illiteracy has precluded your discovery of that purpose.

"I have to say that one of the most annoying types of devout peoples are the evangelicals."

I would think the head-choppers would get on your nerves too if you lived in their part of the world.

"The overwhelming majori... (Below threshold)

"The overwhelming majority of evangelical christians will leave you alone the very minute you say... "leave me alone"."

This is true, but I hate having to get rude like I would with a pushy salesman to be left alone. Pushy salesmen are easy to get rude with, but it's a little harder when the product is salvation because I admire their strong faith.

I try to stay away from dis... (Below threshold)

I try to stay away from discussions about religions. I am a firm believer and am a Christian. I do not attend "buildings" because I am the church as all believers are. JT feels the way he does because church buildings have too much power and becomes a business. That old say: "I could stay in my garage for twenty years and it still won't make me a car" holds true to religions.

I do agree with one commenter. JT, I believe you are mistaking confidence and assurance as arrogance. It happens a lot. ww

What Archbishop Williams is... (Below threshold)

What Archbishop Williams is mouthing is the hope he will be at the end of the line at the beheading match. The UK is toast.

Archie Billie is just exten... (Below threshold)
John Anderson Author Profile Page:

Archie Billie is just extending the Rowan tradition established by Rowan & Martin and Rowan Atkinson for comedic turns.

In my scant few years since... (Below threshold)

In my scant few years since becoming a Catholic, I've come to believe that the Church is but a conduit to God and, like some of its leaders, is utterly fallible and capable of sin because it is run by humans. I don't accept this blindly or pass off transgressions blithely, but it helps me when I encounter people like the A of C who are present in the Church. They don't test my faith to a great extent because ultimately my faith is in God, not in the Church.

Considering the A of C's post, his Thomas-like lack of faith is disturbing and the willfulness he displays against the God to which he has professed to follow (and to lead others), and how it may (or may not) adversely influence his and other parishes, is even more disturbing. What to do about it, other than pray? I have no real solution.

But I agree when JT writes, "It is not love. It is not faith." True, true.

I just politely disagree that the man is a "coward" as I believe it's more accurate to say that he has strayed from the flock; and only with the guidance of God and his own heart will he find his way back.

The only reasoning that's u... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

The only reasoning that's useful in proselytizing is to demonstrate that reason is powerless to discern the truth about God. Why? Because, according to the Apostle Paul, that's the way God wants it. What test or what experiment will a man devise that God can't frustrate?

That's when I show that my agnosticism is not based on ignorance; I have a sizable arsenal of very uncomfortable truths and facts about most religions that I normally keep to myself.

But of course you've now got people curious. I wonder if they are anything I've not heard before. Many the "uncomfortable truths and facts" I've seen before turn out to be acts not supported by the Bible or involve circular logic. Best keep them to yourself. Otherwise, you might find they offer you no comfort.

"The only reasoning that's ... (Below threshold)

"The only reasoning that's useful in proselytizing is to demonstrate that reason is powerless to discern the truth about God."-ML

First, God says "let us reason together" and presented the Messiah who himself cited the prophesies of his coming (Moses, Isaiah, Enoch, etc. etc.) including his crucifixion and resurrection capped with conversions worldwide within the time frame of the "10 days" (10 Caesars of the Pax Romana; the "making the paths straight" as John the Baptist prophesied.

Christianity is not a mystery religion. The two place where "mystery" is written, it is also explained. Which hasn't prevented confusion, but that is due more to the spirit of the hearer (As explained in the "sower" parable).

To end in some agreement, "proselytizing" is very often misfired or abused due to the incompetence or ignorance (which God says the Bible is for to cure) of the proselytizer.

The Bible itself works.
I recommend The Gospel According to Luke and it's companion piece, Acts of the Apostles (because of their narrative flow) with special attention paid to Stephen's superb synopsis of God's master plan in "Acts".

It's the best beginner assignment.

First, God says "l... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
First, God says "let us reason together" and presented the Messiah who himself cited the prophesies of his coming

And of course the Messiah's authenticity was demonstrated by fulfilled prophesy and by the working of miracles, which were also prophesized. That's well beyond "reasoning" with an unbeliever in this our times, which is the context of my statement.

I recommend careful reading of 1 Corinthians 18-31. You'll find that it's Gods purpose to not be known by the world through it's wisdom (science, reason) and why. Yes, let us believers reason together, but salvation comes by the foolishness of the message preached.

Yanno, I'm just an obtuse h... (Below threshold)
Gary Gulrud:

Yanno, I'm just an obtuse hick but whenever I read opinion on religion by an 'agnostic' I fall fast asleep before then end. Then waking up, forgetting where I left off I try again...

Wow. I thought I was the on... (Below threshold)

Wow. I thought I was the only one thinking "RICO" after about the 3rd year of pedopriest scandals...Clearly, great minds think alike.






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