There is a new television series airing in the United Kingdom this month that aims to challenge non-believers to become Christians through a number of Bible studies and mentoring from an ecumenical team of church leaders. Thirteen people in all will volunteer to give up their normal lives and attempt to live like Christians.
The “Make Me a Christian” cast includes an atheist, an unmarried couple with a child on the way, a lap-dancing manager, middle-class parents who are so busy that they have hardly any time for their children, a man in his 20s who goes out every week drinking and womanizing, a Christian-turned-Muslim, and a lesbian.
The series documents the changes that occur within each of the participants as their perspective of Christianity and the meaning of life are challenged by the lessons that emerge from the Bible studies. By the series’ end, some participants even make a commitment to pursue Christianity further.
The Rev. George Hargreaves, leader of the Christian Party, and his team of mentors think Britain is in a state of moral decline and aim to show that a return to a more Christian way of life would stop the rot, according to Channel Four. Other mentors on the show include Church of England Curate the Rev. Joanna Jepson, Catholic Fr. John Flynn, and Kensington Temple’s Pastor Wale Babatunde.
While Christian instruction is great, transforming these people’s lives is going to take an encounter with the living God. From the series web site, it seems as if the team of mentors is using “Christian instructions and moral teachings” in an attempt to change behavior. However, what they should be doing is to introduce these people to Jesus Christ so that their lives change from the inside out.
If anything, the world is “rotting” due to Christianity. I’d be interested to see what happens in this show, but it would be even more interesting to see it the other way around (i.e. having a group of Christians from various parts of the world and have them learn about Atheism and science).
Just a thought.
@Nathan – You said, “If anything, the world is ‘rotting’ due to Christianity.”
Also, that would be very interesting to see a reversal type of show where Atheists try to convert Christians.
Science – we are already very well aware of. Science is not necessarily anti-Christian or anti-God and therefore really cannot be combined with atheism.
This really annoys me. As someone who would be labeled an “unbeliever” yet struggling to believe, I find the whole concept of the program offensive.
For 30 some years it’s been crap like that that has repelled me from even wanting to believe. If believing in Christ means force feeding instructions and moral teaching – I want off the ride.
David, even what you’ve mentioned as a preferred method would have me jumping ship just as fast.
It all makes me very sad. I want to believe. Why? Because I’ve been fortunate to witness with my own eyes (vs having been witnessed too) the life of someone who does believe, and I admire and respect this person for who they are. I recognize that everything they are and do is shaped by their belief.
And I want that. And then along comes a program like this to repel me and hold me back. I don’t what Christianity force fed down my throat. I’m so glad I don’t watch TV, even though this program would be in the UK. Each of the ‘participants’ in the ‘challenge’ are stereo-type cast people with bad morals.
I can just see the “Christians” viewing and judging these people for their moral judgment and choices in life. Leave the judging up to God and keep junk like this off the television. The effect it has on ‘unbelievers’ is going to be negative. It adds fuel to the fires of Christian hating.
I want to believe – and I want other ‘unbelievers’ and believers alike to just leave me alone and let me find my way. I ask questions when I have them, and God answers. Don’t shove crap down my throat.
I think my comment is as long as the post. And I find it really interesting how strong my negative reaction to this post is. Something to think on and figure out why.
@Di – You may have missed the last paragraph where I said:
“While Christian instruction is great, transforming these people’s lives is going to take an encounter with the living God. From the series web site, it seems as if the team of mentors is using “Christian instructions and moral teachings” in an attempt to change behavior. However, what they should be doing is to introduce these people to Jesus Christ so that their lives change from the inside out.”
While the first 4 paragraphs of the post are simple reporting, the last is my opinion which in essence is – you cannot change people by setting down rules or taking things away from them. Only God can change and transform a person’s life.
The example you provided, Di, of the believer you admire and respect simply living out the Christian life is the best witness anyone can provide.
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
@David – It’s not necessarily Christianity that is “rotting the world” but the majority of the people that follow it. Obviously not everyone is doing this (i.e my Mother for example) but it’s the people that cram “the word of the Lord” down peoples throats and use religion as a crutch that are.
I also don’t believe that these people having Christianity as a religion is going to make them a good/better person. How is believing in God going to make these people any better off then they are now? And for the Atheist in the group, well apparently he’s already going to Hell since he denounced God already (so what’s the point in him becoming Christian?)
Oh, and I had a better version of this typed up, but I forgot to fill out the freaking “human checker ‘What is the sum of…’ thing”…ugh.
@David – sorry for the multiple comments – delete the above at will…
I still need to get some of this cleared up. I had read your paragraph about what they should be doing is to introduce these people to Jesus Christ so that their lives change from the inside out.
It was that comment in particular I was referring too when I had said “even what you’ve mentioned as a preferred method would have me jumping ship just as fast”.
We unbelievers are an odd lot I suppose. But I agree with @Nathan also, when he says It’s not necessarily Christianity that is “rotting the world” but the majority of the people that follow it. Obviously not everyone is doing this (i.e my Mother for example) but it’s the people that cram “the word of the Lord” down peoples throats and use religion as a crutch that are.
Which is why I am grateful for the Christian example I’ve witnessed, without that, I would not be this far on my journey.
Nathan’s question How is believing in God going to make these people any better off then they are now?and And for the Atheist in the group, well apparently he’s already going to Hell since he denounced God already (so what’s the point in him becoming Christian?) are pretty in line with how I’ve drilled my Christian friend.
The answers that I got, and accepted were something like this:
And for the Atheist in the group, well apparently he’s already going to Hell since he denounced God already (so what’s the point in him becoming Christian?) The atheist is not condemned to Hell, should he choose to believe in Christ, that Christ died for his (and all of our) sins, he would no longer be an atheist nor denounce God. God forgives and accepts us. That’s what ‘dying for your sins’ is all about in the first place. God Forgives.
I have an answer for the first question too, but it’s too complicated for me to get words around. But I know the answer. It has to do with living a life pleasing to God. I think I have spent my life in ways that are pleasing to God, but good acts are not what it takes. It’s believing Christ died for your sins. Accepting the offer of Gods gift of eternity.
I get it. I understand. But I haven’t found myself quite ready to give my life to God. To God yes, I’m there, but I haven’t found myself quite ready to accept “Jesus Christ” as the gift.
It’s part of my journey. Which brings me to reading blogs such as this. And this is the first time I’ve really engaged in any commenting. I’ve been lurking.
@Di – Thanks for the suggestion regarding the math sum. That does make better sense. It has now been moved above the submit button.
Regarding the show, I would suppose you would not even be part of such a thing. I wouldn’t either when I was an unbeliever (I wasn’t always a Christian). 😉
For these people that did choose to be a part of the show, I am merely suggesting that the “mentors” as they are called would have more chance of success if they introduced the person of Jesus rather than try to alter these folks lives by rules and regulations, which can never change the inside of a person – only a true encounter with God through Jesus Christ can.
That is how my life changed after I became a Christian. It was Jesus or rather the Holy Spirit living inside of me and a realization of how much God loved me that changed my behavior, which I might add was pretty bad prior to my conversion.
@Di – The atheist is not condemned to Hell, should he choose to believe in Christ, that Christ died for his (and all of our) sins, he would no longer be an atheist nor denounce God. God forgives and accepts us. That’s what ‘dying for your sins’ is all about in the first place. God Forgives.
Mark 3:29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin. Not starting a flame war, but it says it right there in the Bible. Trust me, I’ve tried to believe in God all these years (was a “blind Christian” for 20 years), but I just can’t do it, I’ve already denounced God. My mom likes to bring up that same argument that all sins are forgiven, but it’s just not true.
My word of advice to you Di (who is on the edge of not believing/believing), do whatever makes you happy. If you feel you need to confide in God, by all means go for it. But if you feel that all you ever do is a sin and you feel guilty about everything that you do, stop with the stress and just block out that whole “God thing”. Life becomes so much less complicated without God. Trust me, I was in your spot a few years ago. Not saying you need to become some godless freak without morals or a sense of being, but just listen to who you are and “go with the flow” per se.
@Nathan – The verse you quote in Mark where Jesus makes reference to “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” occurs directly after the Pharisees (religious leader of that day) called the works of the Holy Spirit evil.
A few verses prior to that, Mark 3:22 reads:
The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”
They said this in reference to Jesus healing people.
So when Jesus said in vs 29 “but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin,” you have to look at the context in what He was saying this in and that is essentially this:
If you are going to regard the works of God as evil, it is impossible for you to be forgiven due to the fact that you think God’s work of forgiveness, healing and restoration through Jesus Christ is evil.
We have the same scenario in Matthew 12:22-32:
So what is this blasphemy Jesus is referring to? If is calling the works of the Holy Spirit evil or of the Devil, just as the Pharisees did.
This is not the same as someone simply “denouncing” God or not believing in His existence.
As far as your advice to Di and anyone else regarding “do whatever makes you happy” and “listen to who you are and go with the flow” I’d remind you that in Jeremiah 17:9 it says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (NIV)
In other words, if you follow your heart, it often deceives you. We see this when people “fall in love” but later say “they are not the same person I fell in love with” when they are in divorce court. Did the person change or did “love” blind the couple to all the warning signs, character flaws, etc.?
How about Hitler’s extinction of millions of Jews during Word War II? I’m sure he felt “in his heart” that he was doing the right thing.
What about the Ku Klux Klan lynching African Americans in the 20th century? They were very likely following their heart as well, believing they were doing the right thing.
I could go on but I think I’ve made my point.
Finally, as far as life becoming less complicated without God – I beg to differ. My life as well as scores of people I know had many more complications prior to becoming a Christian. Not saying that being a Christian is all peaches and cream. However when you know your Creator is in charge of your life and you are fulfilling the purpose by which He designed us for, everything becomes so much less complicated than trying to navigate life on our own. 😉
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” So what can you trust then? If you believe in all your heart that God exists, then how is that not exactly the same as those other extreme examples?
And yes, I suppose my quotation earlier was a little out of context, but it sill proves my point, that not every sin is forgiven. I also don’t understand how people quote the Bible selectively either (well..I just did it…so I guess I understand). If you followed the Bible 100%, you would be killing people with stones and doing other insane things that the Bible tells people to do.
I love debating with people, and I’m glad you aren’t one of the Christian sites that seems to delete any post that has the infamous “A” word in it. I know I’m not going to convince you of anything, and I’m sure you don’t plan on convincing me of anything either. It’s just that I’ve become a lot less complicated since I’ve given up that God exists and that he’s watching our little speck of a planet in this MASSIVE universe.
I still don’t know what created the universe and until I see valid proof on either side (science or religion) I have no side. I just don’t feel right in just blindly following God and not truly feeling “in my heart” that he exists and that he even cares about me. I understand that you’ve had a hard life before God, and that all of a sudden you’ve turned your life around 180 degrees. You could look at it as the work of God [b]or[/b] as you simply changing your actions. This is where we split our differences. You chose one path, and I’ve chosen the other. I completely respect your choice that you’ve made, and I hope all goes well and you continue on your path instead of leading down a bad one.
So I’ve suppose I’ve got one last question. Do you believe that someone who doesn’t believe in God (not necessarily denouncing him), who behaves “technically” in God will (i.e. just doing overall good things) will still go to Hell?
I am quite enjoying this conversation, and appreciate both sides of it.
Wow, @David, thank you for clearing that up for me. Nathan is right, I am on the edge, but I do know which side of the edge I stand. As I have said, I want to believe but it is other unbelievers, or non believers, (and I understand now the use of those terms) who hold me back. I don’t know what the bible says, I haven’t read it. Not all of it. I did read Mark though, that book was recommended as the first New Testament book I read. But I don’t study it, or haven’t (although, I am currently reading Acts, and do feel more like I’m studying, paying attention and finding questions about parts of what I read. But I digress….)
Being ignorant to what the Bible says, knowing what I know from hearsay, or from my youth (having grown up with some Christian exposure, church and church camp – I was even a preschool sunday school ‘teacher’ in Jr. High. That whole experience is what put the dirty taste in my mouth over Christianity in the first place. Yet again, I digress….) Being ignorant to what the Bible says, I am very skeptical when someone tells me it says ‘this or that’ most specifically if they are making negative connocations about what it says. When someone (like your comment Nathan) tells me something negative, I don’t want to believe it, I don’t want to trust it. So often I ask my friend. My study of Acts, and any other reading notes I’ve taken, I find myself asking “explain this to me” – I feel like I am searching for the ‘believer’ to explain what it really means. I don’t want to believe the negative stuff.
@Nathan, you’d said But if you feel that all you ever do is a sin and you feel guilty about everything that you do, stop with the stress and just block out that whole “God thing”. This does not describe me. I’m pretty satisfied with the way I live my life. Sure there are things I’ve done that would be considered sin, but I have the hope that God understands and forgives me for my mistakes. BUT I understand where you’re coming from with that statement. In a previous comment you said something about the people who cram it down your throat. Those are the Christians that shape the image of what Christianity is about. I’ve learned to accept that “those” people are not the ones I need to pay any attention too. In fact, it is “those” people that I will continue to avoid. I don’t want them polluting what I find welcoming about believing.
You’d also referred to the topic @David addressed regarding “do what makes you happy” and “listen to who you are.” I understand what you’re saying here, and @David, I have a harder time with your negating the suggestion. I am listening to who I am, and who I am is changing. I have an open heart, and an open mind. I am who I am, take it or leave it. And I like believing that God takes me just as I am.
Ack. Another novel length comment (written in notepad, just in case… 😉 ) I’m gonna leave it at this, although I have more to say. I look forward to more exchange with both you, Nathan, and David. And David? Thank you for providing this means of my learning, on my journey.
Maybe I’ll get these Bold tags and italics working correctly this time 🙂
Being ignorant to what the Bible says, knowing what I know from hearsay, or from my youth (having grown up with some Christian exposure, church and church camp – I was even a preschool sunday school ‘teacher’ in Jr. High. That whole experience is what put the dirty taste in my mouth over Christianity in the first place. Yet again, I digress….) Being ignorant to what the Bible says, I am very skeptical when someone tells me it says ‘this or that’ most specifically if they are making negative connocations about what it says.
I feel almost exactly the same way Di. I suppose I can’t argue against the Bible entirely since I’ve only had hearsay and read various childrens Bibles. I too was in Sunday School and did attend many church camps. I never really felt like I fit in though when they did Bible study. I don’t really have a defining moment on when I “clicked” into Atheism, but I do have a feeling it had to do with me actually realizing how small and insignificant we are compared to the other planets. I also think it had something to do with dinosaurs and carbon dating. I’ll let you decide your own fate Di. Just make sure you’re happy with your choice and that you have no regrets choosing it.
When someone (like your comment Nathan) tells me something negative, I don’t want to believe it, I don’t want to trust it. So often I ask my friend. My study of Acts, and any other reading notes I’ve taken, I find myself asking “explain this to me” – I feel like I am searching for the ‘believer’ to explain what it really means. I don’t want to believe the negative stuff.
See and that’s exactly what it comes down to. I’m not sure what to believe in (although I tend to lean heavily towards Atheism). All I know is to trust myself and make sure that I can be the best person I can be. I believe that the Bible and Christianity can teach great morals, but at the same time, I really don’t believe we need God in the equation to get such morals.
Oh, and as for the “do what makes you happy” and “listen to who you are”. I meant it as simply not being bogged down by religion. I don’t want everyone to go out and have all the premarital sex they want, and start killing people. I just want you to enjoy life for what it’s worth and not feel like you’ve committed a sin that hopefully God will forgive you. I used to feel bad about masturbating. Someone (well several people) said it was a sin. I would feel guilty after the act and pray that God would forgive me afterwards. I was also told by numerous people that it’s completely natural and it’s something that is done by boys my age…but due to my religion, I felt it was still a sin and felt bad after the act. I knew after a while, that wasn’t the life I wanted to live.
I had more in my head, but I lost it. If I think of it again, I’ll be sure to post more. I’m having fun with this conversation. Very enlightening.
@Nathan – ah, thanks for letting me decide my fate for myself … 😉 I think it’s pretty much up to me anyway, since God gave me free will, but thanks for permission all the same. 😛 I say that with humor, as I know the ‘tone’ of a post sometimes doesn’t get read properly.
You mentioned something about the bible and Christianity teaching great morals … I said the same thing 20 some years ago when I had my first kid. I told myself, and anyone who cared to inquire, that I was quite capable of teaching my kids how to live ‘right’ without the church or God to say so. And I’m sorry that you had the guilt pressure imposed upon you for ‘sinning.’ So I’ve come full circle, or in route to completing the circle cause I’m not dead yet. I was where you are, and now I am where I am. My raising my kids without God has come back to kick me in the butt though, because neither of them (age 21 and 17) are the least bit happy with where my journey has taken me. Neither is my husband for that matter.
But your comment about having no regrets is relevant. I have no regrets. It’s been just about a year now since I have accepted that I believe in God, and when my family had a problem with it, I knew that there wasn’t any way that I was going to be able to say “Oh, that God thing? nah, just kidding.” I am on this path, and will ride it to the end. My husband has threatened divorce, my kids have said they can’t trust me if I believe in such ridiculous notions. But here is where I am, firmly on my journey. They’ll come around. I trust God with that.
If they are seriously want to convert English folks into Christians, they must ask the English to get rid of pork in their daily life. This what the Bible says about pigs:-
And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
Leviticus 11:6-8 (in Context) Leviticus 11 (Whole Chapter)
And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.
Deuteronomy 14:7-9 (in Context) Deuteronomy 14 (Whole Chapter)
I wonder how these priests are going to do this???
@Joe – You are referencing the Law of the Old Testament, which we are no longer under. Now that Jesus Christ has died for the sins of many, we who call ourselves Christians are under Grace.
Therefore many of the laws of the Old testament have been done away with. For example, we do not still sacrifice animals for sins do we?
You will also take note of Acts Chapter 10 and specifically Peter’s vision which I have recounter below.
Peter went on to visit the house of Cornelius’s, who I might add was a Gentile, and in the midst of him proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, Peter witnessed the Holy Spirit fall on Gentile people.
Two things that we can learn from this: 1.) Unlike the Old Testament, salvation is no longer restricted to Jews only, and 2.) Pork is no longer a forbidden meat.
Pork may not be the healthiest choices of meat but eating pork is not going to hinder someone becoming a Christian.
Religion does not save or change a non-believer. Is through Jesus Christ that we are saved: The grace of God that comes down. No rules or regulation will make a person good. None of us are good. Jesus Christ did everything on the Cross. All you have to believe is, do you know that Jesus died for our sins? And do you confess it? That’s all you have to do. and you shall be saved. Ones you believe that, God will change you from the inside out. Is not through all these teachings of man-made believe. Is through the grace of God and the holy spirit reveals God to others. You have to have a relationship with the Lord. Again, is not about religion but a relationship with Jesus Christ. Ones you have that, he lives in your heart and you will know it, you will sense him, and you will be guided by the holy spirit. Just believe in Christ and he will show you the way.