Originally Posted by terjw
- what I meant to say about hell being a problem is that logically if you think your friends are going to hell because they don't believe - that should drive you to try to convert them. And evangelists who try to do that to me are a real turn off. So if you want to be friends with others - you don't try to convert them. But ... You see where I'm coming from here. It's not really me with the problem. We are friends because we are friends - nothing else. But I just think that must be a conflict in their minds not to try to convert me if they really believe the gospel which the bible states (unless you interpret it as a Universalist).
Well,I can explain that to you from a doctrinal standpoint: The premise is that you've either been deceived,allured by some worldly doctrine,or never really had deep roots of faith in the first place.I can't speak for doctrines on this specific topic in other religions,only what Catholicism and Christianity teach.
In the RCC,they might be able to 'save' you by praying for you even after you're dead,having a certain(quite frankly,arbitrarily-chosen)number of masses on your behalf---so you're not hopelessly 'lost'.Also,according to some priests,you can make it to heaven if you merely suffer enough in the course of death,but I'm not sure if atheists are included in that 'grace'.Perhaps it depends on just how much of an atheist you are....To digress,I personally feel that "pure atheists" are in a small minority(maybe 5% of those who profess);from my personal observation,the majority had a negative--in many cases,abusive--experience in organized religion and were pushed away by THAT,or they feel that,in general,it's intellectually inferior to belong to a religion;i.e.,deep down,they're not wholly convinced that no God exists,and I've noticed that they will internally 'explore',to some extent,with people of faith when some crisis or the finality of death approaches in their lives.
Back on track,biblical Christianity,indeed,teaches that you are hopelessly lost at the moment,but that you may have hardened your heart,so to speak.If that were the case,it would be futile to preach to you no matter how eloquent the speaker were(because the Lord will not use His omnipotent power to turn you into a robot who obeys/believes without free will).It's not quoted much,but there's a scriptural verse that deals with that;i.e.,not vainly babbling about the message of salvation to those who have clearly rejected it.Therefore,it's possible that your friends are watching and waiting for some sort of indication from you that you ARE 'seeking' before they waste their breath trying to evangelize you.
To answer your earlier question,I've found that Americans are more arrogant than others when it comes to taking offense largely because they have such a shallow,valueless culture that's based mostly on amassing financial wealth.Those who aren't totally 'hardened',though,still retain some sort of conscience...and that makes them feel very insecure whenever anyone,even indirectly,forces them to put a moral magnifying glass on their lives....a lot of them do what you referred to above;they join some sort of Universalist or other highly liberal church-or maybe they become Zen Buddhists or Scientologists-so that they can have a sprinkle of religion to soothe their guilty consciences,yet not so much that they'd have to change their lifestyles.Personally,I've found that evolutionists get every bit as offended when you challenge their beliefs,sometimes even MORE,than traditional religious types do.I'm probably in the minority in that I never get angry no matter how insistent someone is: I always find an answer that turns them away quickly.I once asked a young Mormon 'elder' if he wanted me to reply candidly to his invitation.He consented IF I could respond respectfully(not sure if I accomplished that
),so I told him of my certainty that Joseph Smith was a false,self-appointed 'prophet' who openly expressed his hatred for darker-skinned peoples(like most Latinos),and that I would absolutely never put my trust in him....the young fellow politely excused himself