I just want to put up a quick post to compliment one of the people who has commented relatively frequently on this blog. His screen name is dagoods and he is an atheist. No, I'm not trying to get anything out of him, and there are no ulterior motives to this compliment. Well, maybe just one. I want to use his behavior to make a point that is central to Ten Minas Ministries.
You may have noticed that one of the mottos of this ministry is from 1 Peter 3:15, and it involves giving an answer for the Christian faith "with gentleness and respect." For any of you who are "old pros" at the internet blog/debate scene, you surely know that these terms are often foreign to many a debate. Far too often people become disagreeable simply because they disagree. This is not limited to the theism vs. atheism debate. Go onto any debate blog and you will certainly see an uglier side to people. It seems that when we can hide behind our keyboards and our screen names, our inhibitions drop and we let our inner Lex Luthor shine through.
Dagoods and I have engaged in debates before, both on this blog and on others, and he has always been polite and respectful. But what inspired me to write this little entry was a recent exchange we had on the nature of Hell. In the course of that discussion we got into some topics that very easily could have caused offense. Topics were broached on both sides that could have sent the other party into a frenzy of insults, personal attacks, and to quote a line from "Star Trek IV", "colorful metaphors." But he didn't go there. Don't get me wrong. He did not compromise his position, and he said what he felt he had to say (as, I hope, did I). But he did so without taking personal offense at what I said and without trying to cause personal offense to me.
Dagoods is an atheist (although he does have a Christian background and is probably familiar with 1 Peter 3:15). All too often, though, I see Christians on other blogs becoming insulting and hostile in their comments. This is not what we as Christians are called to do. Defend your faith. Do it passionately. But do it gently and respectfully. Remember that the person you are talking to is one of God's creations as well. He or she is made in God's image just like you. So treat him or her with the respect they deserve. This is one time when many of the internet theists could learn a thing or two from one intelligent, passionate, and yet respectful atheist.