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Can You Pass God's Test? (Take it now)

This is real. It was found at a church in Georgia.

My favorite part is the “If HELL is your choice please discard” line (subtext being You, not the card, are about to self-destruct.)



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JamesW

posted February 9, 2011 at 9:00 pm


I think the word we’re all looking for is:

Wow.



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Sierra

posted February 9, 2011 at 9:00 pm


There’s a guy who leaves these (and other really terribleawesome tracts) in the laundromat near my college in Georgia. I wonder if this is from him.



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Greg M. Johnson

posted February 9, 2011 at 9:10 pm


Hell without a conviction of sin. It makes evangelization merely a call to join the team of a capricious god. I’m further saddened when such approaches to evangelization go hand in hand with snarkiness about the Fall having had any effect at all on business, society, etc.



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Andie Redwine

posted February 9, 2011 at 9:56 pm


Aaaaaand it’s printed in black and white…how appropriate.



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LRA

posted February 9, 2011 at 10:18 pm


I like you. If you like me check the yes box:

[ ] yes

[ ] no



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    VorJack

    posted February 10, 2011 at 6:13 am


    Signed by Jesus.

    He’s a little insecure. It’s that age, you know?



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    Teresa

    posted February 10, 2011 at 9:11 am


    I always added a third box. Maybe it was a sign in 3rd grade that I didn’t handle rejection well.

    [1] Yes
    [2] No
    [3] Need to think about it



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      VorJack

      posted February 10, 2011 at 9:34 am


      Reminds me of the Moravians and how they would answer important decisions by drawing lots. One piece of paper answered “yes,” a second answered “no,” and a third was blank in case God didn’t like the question.



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        LRA

        posted February 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm


        Did the Moravians really do that? That is so funny! It reminds me of OuijaBible.

        :D



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Brad S

posted February 9, 2011 at 10:29 pm


A continuing source of frustration for me is that many in the Church continue to consolidate evangelism into a singular question, do you want to go to Heaven or Hell? First, it is a stupid question. No one in their right mind would choose Hell. It only serves to alienate people and turn evangelism into a caricature. Second, Jesus never asked people if they wanted to go to Heaven or Hell, instead he asked “do you want to be made well?” John 5:6 Superficially, this also sounds like a stupid question, but this question encompasses not only soteriological aspects, but also a holistic means of evangelism. This means of evangelism does not become “fire insurance” or a “get out of Hell free” card, but instead it begins where the person is here and now and allows for true spiritual growth instead of just a quick prayer and a notch on the Christians Bible. Once again we see that the Gospel cannot be summarized on a card or tract.



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    LRA

    posted February 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm


    And what do you do with people like me who spent years in the church to ultimately reject it all? I mean really, “do I want to be made well?” Either God made me well or he didn’t. I don’t have control over that! What I do have control over is whether or not I will accept silly arguments for some “faith” position that is indistinguishable from other “faith” positions in other (unacceptable according to you) religions.

    I’m a secular humanist now after years in the church. What have you to say for that?



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      LRA

      posted February 9, 2011 at 10:44 pm


      I’m sorry. I made a mistake in that paragraph… I said “according to you” and I should have said “according to many/ most (?) Christians”. Please forgive me for making quick assumptions against a person I don’t know. Honestly.



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      Brad S

      posted February 9, 2011 at 11:05 pm


      “And what do you do with people like me who spent years in the church to ultimately reject it all?” If you were someone I knew in person, I would continue to love and respect you as a person. I would try in some way to show you that maybe that you’re not as together as you think, because from my own expereince I am not as together as I sometimes think. And I would pray for you, you might think that is a stupid waste of time, but I don’t.

      “I’m a secular humanist now after years in the church. What have you to say for that?” Yes I know, after reading a lot of your posts on this blog I would say that you wear that title as a badge of honor and that’s fine. I would guess that somewhere along the way someone in the Church hurt you deeply and although I could never take away that hurt or cover it up I would try to show you that there are those of us who are people of faith that do care about you. And would not try to go tit for tat with you, I’ve learned long ago that does not work.

      I realize that I have taken some liberties in this response to you, especially since I do not know you from Jack. If my assumptions are wrong then I apologize. But I do think you have made some assumptions about me that might not be as accurate as your realize.



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        Brad S

        posted February 9, 2011 at 11:06 pm


        Please disregard my last statement, it was in response to your statement that you retracted.



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          LRA

          posted February 9, 2011 at 11:42 pm


          Bah! I’m still learning to interact with Christians again. Of course, I have prejudices. I’m trying to unlearn them. Even so, I still have tough and pointed questions. Arrgh! I get frustrated with my own lack of “gracefulness” if you will.

          :(



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          Larry Shallenberger

          posted February 10, 2011 at 6:19 am


          You’re good people, just saying. Enjoy your transparency.



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          LRA

          posted February 10, 2011 at 8:36 am


          Thanks! :D



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          LRA

          posted February 10, 2011 at 1:18 pm


          ps Larry, I did download that book that you linked to the other day… 445 whopping pages! Haha! It may take me some time to digest it, but I did get it. Thanks again.

          :D



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          Justin

          posted February 10, 2011 at 10:11 am


          “Even so, I still have tough and pointed questions.”

          I agree with Larry. I’d rather you ask tough questions than shallow ones. :)



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          LRA

          posted February 10, 2011 at 10:38 am


          LOL! Careful what you wish for! Hahaha!! :D



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          Justin

          posted February 10, 2011 at 1:12 pm

        LRA

        posted February 10, 2011 at 8:47 am


        I think what I’m trying to get at here, is the whole “made well” issue.

        I think there are two ways to interpret this… made (created) well and made well (not sick). Again, I don’t think it’s fair to blame people for not being created perfect… neither do I think, on average, that people are sick. This is why I object to the whole “sin” notion. I think it “blames the victim” if you will.

        If “God” wanted me to be made (created) well, then he ought to have done that! For him to be dissatisfied with his own creation seems rather silly to me. How can a perfect God be dissatisfied with what he created and brought into existence.

        Moreover, if the average person is seen as “sick” on the Christian view, then I say this is a very cynical view of people and I reject it. The term “sick” should be reserved for people who are actually sick! For instance, sociopaths have a neurological deficit that prevents them from feeling normal compassion for others. Here, these people are properly called “sick” and should be treated as such. In the future, neurologists might be able to restore their sense of compassion by genetically correcting/ replacing cells in their limbic system so as to restore normal emotive functioning. This is the proper way to deal with a sick person… healing, not punishment! If the Christian wants to argue that all people need healing, then I ask again, what has made us sick and are we really to blame for it? It goes back to being made (created) well, doesn’t it?



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          Brad S

          posted February 10, 2011 at 10:04 am


          My reference to the question of “do you want to be made well?” in John 5:6 was in contrast to the question on the the card of “Do you wish to spend eternity in heaven or hell?” I think that as Christians we need to spend more time working with each other in our brokenness and I do see the world as broken and I do see that brokenness caused by Sin, not in the sense of actions that break the rules, but Sin in the sense of our own self-centeredness. You do bring up some great questions. They are great questions because they are not readily answered. But I am ok with that. I continue to search and I continue to learn, but I am also ok with not knowing every answer to every question.

          I do see evangelism as a healing process. We work with each other in our own healing. When Jesus, and subsequently we, asked the question “do you want to be made well?” I believe that we are asking ourselves do we want to take that first step, which, as it turns out, is a giant leap of faith? Some people do not want to be made well, as incredible as it seems. They want to remain in their own selfish world, where the sun and moon revolve around them. I see evangelism as starting with that question.



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          LRA

          posted February 10, 2011 at 10:26 am


          “When Jesus, and subsequently we, asked the question “do you want to be made well?” I believe that we are asking ourselves do we want to take that first step, which, as it turns out, is a giant leap of faith? Some people do not want to be made well, as incredible as it seems. They want to remain in their own selfish world, where the sun and moon revolve around them. I see evangelism as starting with that question.”

          Yes, I see what you are saying there. I question that! Just because I don’t want to take a leap of faith, does not mean that I want to remain in my own selfish world! This is where the problem is, I think.

          The question (do you want to be made well?) is poorly constructed because it assumes “sickness” or “brokenness”. I am not broken! I don’t need to be “fixed”! The fact that I don’t want to be “made well” is not incredible. Why would I want to be “made well” if I am not sick or broken?

          Then, comes the moral blame problem. You presume that selfishness is a bad thing. It depends. Sometimes we need to take care of ourselves in order to keep from getting sick. Sometimes we need to mentally take care of ourselves so that we can be at full functioning so that we have the energy and ability to help others when the need actually arises.

          Further, I have only my experiences to fall back on and synthesize with my reality, and so, as the center of my conscious world, the sun and moon do literally revolve around me as my perspective is the only one I have. Of course, I can talk to people about their perspectives, but I’ll never know what it is exactly like to be someone else. Lucky for me, I have mirror neurons and a functioning emotive system so that I may feel compassion. My sense of compassion works… it is not broken and doesn’t need to be fixed! (I am not a sociopath, and if I were, I would deserve compassion and healing, not torture!)

          So the question seems moot. Or perhaps a false dichotomy? It just doesn’t seem like a good question. If a person wanted to evangelize to me (or others), this person would need to establish the “sin nature” or “brokenness” or “sickness” of the person he or she was talking to.

          What does one doe if the person won’t buy into “brokenness”? Give up and conclude that the person is a selfish jerk?



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          LRA

          posted February 10, 2011 at 10:49 am


          Yes, now that I think on this a bit further, I think the first leap of faith that Christians may be asking someone like me to make is to have faith in my brokenness. Well, I’m not going to do that. The evidence to the contrary to just too overwhelming.

          Plus, I am a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionism is actually on the psychologist’s list of maladaptive behavior. So, there’s that, too.



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          Derrick

          posted February 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm


          This is a fascinating conversation; LRA I find your position interesting.

          I think perhaps some common ground we might find is that as humans, we aren’t perfect. While terms such as brokenness or sick might be words that denote a strong sense of disfunction (which might be applicable for some people), I think what Brad (and many others) might be trying to convey is the sense that as humans, we all have shortcomings. I feel that as humans, we also has some sense of a composite view (pieced together from the strengths of those around us) of what is good, whole, perfect, and righteous. I feel Christianity originates from an assumption that this composite is the nature of God and that God created humans in God’s image.

          Through our own individual shortcomings and exercise of free will, we separate ourselves from that composite nature and seek to re-achieve it. The traditional idea of salvation is the Christian means of trying to get there.

          I see the story of the first humans in the garden of Eden as an attempt toward an explanation for why we are the way we are. It causes our free will to be the reason that we have shortcomings. I also don’t believe this story as a literal account.

          I do see that as humans, we do have moral shortcomings in comparison to the composite nature of goodness we have created and been handed by our ancestors.

          I’ve made a choice to follow Christianity because it functions as an avenue to become a better person. To become more like that composite nature (that I do believe is part of the essence of God…yet not the whole).

          I do think that the particular articulation of my views are probably (unfortunately?) in the minority among Christians in the US. Christianity in the US has become so convoluted and dogmatic that it doesn’t function in the way I believe it should.



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          The Armadillo

          posted February 10, 2011 at 2:10 pm


          I wanted to kind of insert myself into this conversation because I had a thought about one of your points. Based on what I’ve read of your comments here, one of your hangups with Christianity is why God would create an imperfect world and imperfect people. Here’s my take on it.

          God could have created perfection, and I believe that God did initially create a perfect world, and perfect people. But he also created those people with the ability to either choose or reject this perfection. People chose to reject that, and thereby separated themselves from God, resulting in an imperfect and broken world. Anyone who claims the world is not broken needs only to watch the news for five minutes to see their claim challenged.

          I believe that every person that has lived or will live in this world has that same choice: to either accept or reject God’s perfection. If we choose to accept it, we will ultimately be reunited with God and perfection will be restored-not in this world, but in the next. If you reject it, you will be eternally separated from God. That is, in a nutshell, the essence of Christianity.

          But I believe our ability to have a choice is key. God could have created us as automatons, mindlessly following his every whim, and our faith would be meaningless. I believe that God wanted followers who willfully chose him and want to follow him. I don’t know if you’ve had this discussion before or if that perspective offers anything to you, but that’s my worldview in short form.

          And, as others have said, thank you for your honesty and your genuine truth-seeking. It’s refreshing.



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          LRA

          posted February 10, 2011 at 3:49 pm


          Derrick and Armadillo–

          How is it free will if the choice is God’s way or punishment? That is coercion. Free will is actually a true and free choice. If I choose to reject God’s way and choose my way, then nothing happens to me. That is free will.

          If a gunman puts a gun to your head and says, “Your money or your life!” is that a free choice?

          If God says to me “My way or hell!” is that a free choice?

          No, it is not.

          Therefore, the free will argument is negated.

          Further, you hint that God did create a perfect world… where? when? Modern science knows a LOT about the history of the world and mankind… where was this perfect world? When was it? Can you give me a location and a date?



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          Derrick

          posted February 11, 2011 at 3:42 am


          Lots of loaded questions…

          The coercion issue is one of the reasons I don’t fully buy into the traditional “Christian” concept of hell. I think that God created humans as relational beings out of an abundance of love. I think that just as a parent loves their child, that God loves us unconditionally. My parents disagree with me on many issues (being very conservative fundamentalist Pentecostals) but even as I live my life in a different way than they’d prefer, they still love and support me. They aren’t going to ostracize me because I do something they don’t like, and I don’t think God will either. That being said, I now have tremendous respect for my parents and as part and parcel to my relationship with them, I want to respond to their love by honoring them in my actions. For me, it’s the same with God.

          Do I think God created a perfect world? Not in 6 24 hour days approximately 6000 years ago. I firmly believe in evolution and recognize that the Bible is not (nor claims to be) a science textbook. I simply trust that God exists, the world exists, I exist, and my neighbor exists and that all four are deeply connected.



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          Brad S

          posted February 10, 2011 at 11:10 am


          I am getting the feeling that you are taking some of my words and running away with them and perhaps that is because I am not being as clear as I could be and that’s on me. I use the word selfishness as a general condition, not in any specific way towards you or anyone else. I don’t see self-preservation or survival as selfishness. However, I do see selfishness in the world and I do see that as a symptom of our brokenness. I do think we are all broken in some way. We all need healing in some way. Did God create us that way? No. How did we get that way? My first reaction would be to say Sin, but the answer is more complex than that and it would be something I would have to think about more and even then I don’t know if I would have a satisfactory answer. I don’t even have satisfactory answers to my own questions, but I continue to wrestle and struggle with them.

          There are some things I do believe in. I believe that God not only loves us, but God’s very essence is love. I believe that the greatest demonstration of that love was on a Roman cross on a hill outside of Jerusalem. I believe that we are called to that same kind of selfless, sacrificial love.

          But no, I would not give on you or anyone else. I would continue to have conversations with you and I would continue to pray for you. And I will and I hope you are not offended by that, I don’t think you would be.



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          Brad S

          posted February 10, 2011 at 11:14 am


          And I appreciate your challenges. We all need to be challenged on a regular basis.



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          LRA

          posted February 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm


          I find that a nice side effect of skepticism is that I don’t have to struggle with cognitive dissonance anymore. If something doesn’t make sense to me, I can remain in a position of doubt until I understand it better. I can also remain undecided until I have better information or better understanding. It relieves me of the pressure of saying to myself, “Well, this just HAS to be true! It just HAS to work!”

          I have the freedom to explore and grow without bounds, and I like that!



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          Brad S

          posted February 10, 2011 at 4:24 pm


          I would close out our conversation in this way. If you are waiting for all the piece to fall together and all the question to be answered then you are probably never going to be satisfied in that way. But I have enjoyed this discussion and like I said before I respect and appreciate your challenges.



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          LRA

          posted February 10, 2011 at 4:56 pm


          If I study calculus long enough, I will understand it (and I do!)

          If I study physics long enough, I will understand it (and now I do, with the help of calculus).

          If I study chemistry long enough, I will understand it (with the help of physics).

          But I could study the Bible my whole life and never have it make sense?

          And you don’t see anything wrong with that picture?

          I guess that question will have to be rhetorical, darn it! Thanks for talking to me.

          :D



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          Green Eggs and Ham

          posted February 10, 2011 at 6:10 pm


          Yes, skepticism is a virtue. I didn’t want to deconvert, but the cognitive dissonance for me was horrific.



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          Brad S

          posted February 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm


          I might be crazy, but I relish in the mystery. I like delving into questions that perhaps don’t have answers in this world. Maybe that’s just the way my brain works. Am I deluding myself? Could be. I hold on to the idea that faith is the evidence of things unseen.



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          LRA

          posted February 11, 2011 at 1:25 am


          I get a very profound sense of satisfaction out of learning new things. The universe is more complex and strange and fascinating than I could have ever imagined on my own! I am in awe of how tiny we are in the scheme of things in the observable universe, I find beauty in the elegance of calculus, the periodic table, and even the properties of sub-subatomic particles, I can’t hardly believe how old the universe is and how short my life is in comparison, and I feel a profound sense of connection to the rest of the life on planet because we all share the same DNA, just in different arrangements. I get joy from reading the works of Mark Strand, Heraclitus, Zora Neale Hurston, Shakespeare, TC Boyle, Murakami Haruki, Plato, and Voltaire (among others!). I am proud of the fact that I completed my matster’s thesis in the lab of Eric Kandel, who won a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2000– and neuroscience has given me as much understanding of the human condition as any philosophy or literature. I am a more compassionate person today because I understand the human brain and mind better. Learning has been the greatest endeavor of my life. I could not be the person I am today without it.

          Religion tells the same (unconvincing) story over and over, but the sciences and humanities tell a new story every day! We, as a society, wouldn’t be where we are without these stories. These are the stories of human progress. I think the deserve much more respect than they get.



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          Brad S

          posted February 11, 2011 at 9:06 am


          I hope you are not insinuating that people of faith cannot do those things as well. I might be wrong, but it is the way you came off in your last post. I too enjoy learning new things. I too have a Master’s degree. I too have studied under some of the great minds in the world. I too have read some of the great literary works of the world. Just because I have faith in something that cannot be proven empirically does not mean that I do not appreciate scientific exploration and understanding. Again, I am sorry if I am taking this the wrong way.



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bob...

posted February 9, 2011 at 11:22 pm


Am I the only one who wants to see the back of this card? Post that for us MPT.



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    jay adams

    posted February 9, 2011 at 11:31 pm


    I vividly remember visiting the restroom at my uncle’s funeral. That’s a weird sentence to start with. Anyway, he died suddenly and quite young of a freak heart attack, leaving behind an orphaned son who had just lost his mother to cancer as well. In the restroom, propped up on the urinal, was a tract titled “You’re always one heartbeat away…”

    Classy.

    Guess who flushed it?

    If creepy urinal-tract-guy is reading this: dude. Stop. Please. You’re killing us.



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      Green Eggs and Ham

      posted February 10, 2011 at 6:07 pm


      It’s also passive-aggressive.



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    dafydd

    posted February 10, 2011 at 1:11 am


    No. You’re not the only one.



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Jeremy Statton

posted February 10, 2011 at 9:12 am


When Jesus walked with the disciples after his resurrection and summed up his coming as told by the Old Testament, I bet this is exactly what he said.



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Teresa

posted February 10, 2011 at 9:13 am


He is probably the guy wearing the “Heaven or Hell, Turn or Burn” tee shirt.



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Heather Joy

posted February 10, 2011 at 10:12 am


I’m sure Jesus would be proud…. O.o



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joel k

posted February 10, 2011 at 3:21 pm


Hey, at least it acknowledges that if heaven is a place full of people who think that that is a good way to evangelize, some of us might prefer to take our chances in hell. Just sayin’.



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