Friends: Recently I’ve been challenged by a former preacher-turned-atheist by the name of Bruce Gerencser. His article is entitled “Beware of Evangelicals Coming in the Name of ‘Friendship’” and you may read it here.
Bruce rightly criticizes Christians for what I call conditional, blackmail-type, temporary “friendships” in order to evangelize them. And when conversion doesn’t take place, these Christians drop their lost “friends” like a hot potato and move on to what Bruce calls another “mark.”
Here is what I wrote to Bruce:
I’ve thought quite a bit about how to respond to you and your post entitled “Beware of Evangelicals Coming in the Name of ‘Friendship.’” I believe you first mentioned me in your blog back a few years ago when you took issue with my position on premarital sex.
I posted a preliminary comment on your blog a couple of days ago asking you to read my book “Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World.” I think you’d be surprised at how much you and I agree with one another.
I don’t want to be like an “Amway or Herbalife peddler.” I’m deeply concerned with your very accurate statement that “many Evangelicals . . . are content to let us go to hell in peace.” I also don’t want to “irritate, bug and harass non-Christians.”
[Just a minor correction — I am now retired from my teaching position at CIU].
I agree with you that “most church members keep their faith to themselves.” I’m not at all interested in “fake friendships,” Bruce. [I’d be glad to send you the pdf of my book if you wish. You and I may disagree, but I’d like you to see that we’re attacking the same problem of insincere, conditional, blackmail-type, temporary friendships]. We all have a worldview that we want to “share” with others, right?
I don’t know Katy Morgan, but your attack on her article seems unfair. Is she really advocating fake friendships with the aged?
You write: “There are six Evangelical churches within five miles of our home. Want to know how many times the pastors of these churches have knocked on our door to introduce themselves, invite us to church, or share with us that wonderful salvation they prattle on and on about on Sundays? Zero.” I agree with you that that’s sad. But if they did visit you, would you criticize them for their “fake friendship”?
“Never content just to be decent, thoughtful, genuine human beings, Dixon, Morgan, and company scour the countryside looking for ‘opportunities’ to become fake friends with young and old alike.” Wow, Bruce. You don’t know me.
You “divorced” Jesus 12 years ago. I’m sorry you lost all your Evangelical friends. They are rightly criticized for abandoning you. Jesus is clear that those who turn from the faith (either morally or doctrinally) should be treated as tax collectors and pagans. How did Jesus treat tax collectors and pagans? He sought them out! He befriended them. But He told them the truth about forgiveness.
You speak of your friend of 50+ years and that he is one who is “willing to let me go to hell in peace.” I’m glad you have that friendship. Would you be angry with him if you found out that he prays for your re-conversion?
I appreciated your point about true friends, as you reminisced about A.V. Henderson’s sermon. I want to be an exception to your comment that “When they don’t get what they want from us — our salvation — they move on to other marks.”
You write: “I am quite happy to be left alone in my debauchery and apostasy. I just wish the purveyors of friendship evangelism would leave others alone too.” I agree with your attack on conditional friendships and I am with you in meeting the temporal needs of the elderly, etc. You write: “However, attempting to befriend people as a means to an end — salvation — is repugnant. None of us like being used, and that is exactly what Evangelicals do when they target people for evangelization.”
Again, Bruce, I think we have a lot in common. But if I’m a true follower of Jesus, I would not just want to meet your temporal needs, but deeply care about your eternal needs. Wouldn’t that be consistent Christianity?
Please feel free to leave a comment below if you wish!