Evangelism Gone Wrong? Part 3: An Atheist’s Complaint


A frequent atheist contributor to this blog has taken exception to the way we evangelize in public, and is also disturbed at some of the places we do it. This atheist is thoughtful and reasonable, but does she make a valid point? I answer her concerns afterward. (Read original comments in context here. Start at part 1 of the series by clicking here.)

perdita wrote: “[T]he more I read here the more I’m convinced that your evangelizing is just a way for you to feel good about getting into people’s way, being rude, and creating conflict.”

Wrong places to preach, according to perdita, were outside beer gardens, inside elevators, the DMV. “When you do that,” she explained, “you’re just being a passive-aggressive bully. Yeah—and don’t preach to kids unless their parents are there and okay it.”

She did offer a list of appropriate places: “…your ‘corridor of conversion’, stop light evangelizing, or public places where people can stay or move if they want. Though, if your amp is loud enough that people can hear it in their apartments, it’s probably too loud.”

Then another atheist (believe it or not) jumped in to defend us , saying, “Presuming you weren’t in violation of anything, you have a right to blather on about anything so long as you aren’t inciting violence or causing panic.”

Perdita then said, I’m not saying he had no right to preach there…. However, that doesn’t mean what he was doing was ‘right’ in the larger sense of the word.”

I then explained that I just want our evangelists to respond in a gracious, tactful, gentle manner wherever we preach.

perdita would have none of it: “This seems to mean: ignore [them], unless [someone pulls a gun on you forcing you to stop.]

“Steve … states that the only reason to stop [preaching] is if there’s a gun. That’s one of the things I find appalling—that he thinks that the only legitimate reason to move on is personal safety. Not surprising, but appalling. His ‘audience’ aren’t real people to him, they’re merely a supporting cast in “The Adventures of Steve the Evangelist” and the sooner they learn to shut up, the better.”

I explained that it has nothing to do with “The Adventures of Steve the Evangelist,” but everything to do with getting the Word out. This is how she closed the discussion:

“I know you believe that. You think these people are drowning and the only valid reason to turn down the volume, shorten your spiel, or move on is mortal violence or the law.

“I don’t know if I can explain this well, but your belief that they are drowning is still unsubstantiated. I imagine it feels really real to you, but that feeling doesn’t make it true. And you seem so invested in this belief that it has become more important to you than the actual people you preach to—that’s why I call them a supporting cast.”

The best reason I can give to an unbeliever as to why we have to speak, regardless of the audience, is the urgency. I wrote an analogy sometime back called “The Drowning Woman” which likens the plight of the unsaved to a woman who doesn’t know she’s drowning. A former lifeguard attempts to rescue her anyway, though she fights and claws and protests. (Read it here.)

All unbelievers face a horrendous fate because of their sin against God: Hell.

The Moral Law, the 10 Commandments, stands in judgment of their actions, their consciences warning them. Because the Commandments are no longer thought of as valid in this post-Christian, anti-Christian culture, and since most people don’t know them, we consider it our sacred duty as evangelists to remind them of God’s standard: perfection.

If the unbeliever has broken one, just one Commandment, by lying, stealing, blaspheming, looking with lust, hating, or even dis-honoring their parents, they will be found guilty on the Day of Judgment of being lying thieves, blasphemers, adulterers-at-heart and murderers who do not honor their parents—and will end up  in Hell to pay for their sin. One sin, one broken Commandment, and the punishment eternal suffering.

Unbelievers hate that message and will do anything to stop it from being preached.

We don’t care.

We do care that people understand that they are not good enough to make it to Heaven.

Unbelievers will protest that there is no proof.

We don’t care.

We do care that the truth of what God has said is delivered. No evidence necessary.

Unbelievers will complain, though we are in a public area, that we are being disruptive, even though we try to be gracious and keep our messages to about five minutes.

We do care—that they hear.

We also want them to know that Jesus Christ was born, a Savior who took all the punishment they deserve for their sin upon Himself, dying for them, being buried for three days and rising again to give them the hope of eternal life should they repent and trust in Him.

We do care.

An unbeliever’s temporary discomfort—their disruption—pales in comparison to what they will experience should they disbelieve our message—or never hear it at all.

That’s why we will continue to speak.

Because we care.

Click here to read part 4: “The Man Who Hates Everyone.”


In the future another analogy: The Bridge is Out!


  1. perdita says:

    “Knowing what you aren’t defines precisely what you are.

    Glenn, I’m not a red-head. Please define precisely the color of my hair.”

    I wouldn’t even let him get away with that much. Ask Glenn to tell you the colour of your eyes, because that’s pretty much the correlation here.

  2. Thanks for the clarification, perdita. 🙂

  3. Boy, Glenn, you just make it too easy, you know that?

    You deny the Way. Therefore, you are lost.

    No, I’ve also studied Do – I love comparative religions. (Not that you’re going to get that reference…)

    You deny the Truth. Therefore, you have not the Truth.

    No, just have a different view of it than you. (You know, just because you capitalize something doesn’t make you any more right. I Can Capitalize Too.)

    You deny the Life. Therefore, you are Spiritually dead.

    Like Casper?

    You deny Jesus. Therefore, you affirm the doctrines of demons.

    Nope. Deny the exitence of demons, too. You really don’t understand the concept of “disbelief,” do you? (Oh, sorry. That should have been “Disbelief” – that first letter is important to you.)

    You do not worship God.

    You’ve almost got it…

    Therefore you worship idols

    Actually, I think that getting rid of Paula Abdul was the best thing they could have done, but I’m not sure that Steven Tyler was the right choice as a replacement.

    You are not humbled before God.

    That’s true. I am humbled before Clapton, though – amazing guitarist – and there are people who would have said it’s the same thing.

    Therefore, you are puffed up with pride.

    But I just joined a gym. I’m hoping to take care of that.

    Your problem is not lack of evidence.

    No, technically, that’s your problem. You just refuse to admit it.

    You are surrounded by millions of people who have seen what you see, yet they will enter Life while you wait for evidence.

    Wow. So you’re saying that God gave us a brain to think, but demands that we don’t use it? We have critical faculties, but must accept your view of His words uncritically? That’s messed up.

    (Incidentally, I’m also surrounded by millions of people who believe in astrology, too. The weight of a belief is not improved by the size of the crowd.)

    All I can do is pray that the God of the Harvest will open your eyes

    You mean Saturn? Wow, you’re all about mixing your mythos, aren’t you?

    and that you will see clearly before it’s too late.

    We have optometrists for that, thanks. (Oh, and check out Leviticus 21:20 on that subject. Kind of makes the whole point moot, doesn’t it?)

    See, Glenn, I can’t be impressed by you – I think it was our little chat over here that told me what kind of person you are. That’s kind of why I like Steve, despite our fundamental differences on a number of issues. He at least tries to walk the Walk, where you seem to be all Talk.

    (Golly, capitalization is fun, isn’t it?)

  4. Mind reading again Glenn?

  5. Glenn wrote:

    You deny the Way.

    No, I do not. I do not believe your version of “the Way”, just as I don’t believe in the Muslim’s version of “the Way”. Not believing is not the same as denying.

    Therefore, you are lost.

    No, I am not.

    You deny the Truth.

    No, I do not. I do not agree with you about what is “Truth”. I do not deny reality.

    Therefore, you have not the Truth.

    So you say. Glenn, you have not convinced me that you have “the Truth”. In fact, you’ve convinced me of the exact opposite of that.

    You deny the Life.

    No, I do not. I accept my life.

    Therefore, you are Spiritually dead.

    That statement is meaningless to me.

    You deny Jesus.

    No, I do not. I simply don’t believe that he had superpowers.

    Therefore, you affirm the doctrines of demons.

    Wait, what?? No, I do not. I don’t believe in demons. I don’t believe in “doctrines” of demons, and therefor it’s pretty difficult for me to “affirm” them.

    I repeat: I do not believe in demons, or Satan. I think those are made-up, just like the monster in the closet.

    You do not worship God.

    Here we can finally agree. Yes, you’re correct; I do not worship any gods, whether your God or Allah or otherwise.

    Therefore you worship idols, be they principalities and powers or yourself.

    Wait, what? No I don’t. Stop that mind-reading, Glenn; it ain’t working for ya.

    I don’t worship myself. That doesn’t make sense.

    I certainly don’t worship “powers”, whatever you mean by that.

    I definitely don’t worship “principalities”, whatever you mean by that. I’m one of the least nationalistic people you’ll ever meet.

    You are not humbled before God.

    Correct; I am not humbled before things I don’t believe in, such as God or demons or Satan or Flying Purple People Eaters.

    Therefore, you are puffed up with pride.

    How so? Where have I exhibited the traits of someone puffed up with pride? Projection on your part, maybe?

    Your problem is not lack of evidence.

    Ho-ho-hold it there, Glenn. That’s exactly what my “problem” is, although it would be more accurate (in my opinion) to say that that’s your problem.

    You’re suggesting a reality where demons exist, a Satan exists, a God exists, and magical superpowers exist… yet you have no evidence for these things.

    Can you present a demon? How do we detect demons? What do they look like? Do they have DNA?

    Evidence matters, Glenn. You use it every day.

    You are surrounded by millions of people who have seen what you see,

    Not sure what you mean by that. Would you please explain?

    yet they will enter Life while you wait for evidence.

    So you say. And Muslims say the opposite. Glenn, if a Muslim said to you, “Glenn, you are surrounded by millions of pious Muslims who have seen what you see, yet they will enter Paradise while you deny Allah’s commands.“, how seriously would you take that?

    Do you understand that you’re doing the same thing to me that the Muslim would be doing to you? If you wouldn’t be persuaded by the Muslim, why should I be?

    All I can do is pray that the God of the Harvest will open your eyes and that you will see clearly before it’s too late.

    Thank you for that, Glenn. I’ll take that as a “I wish you the best”, even though your mind-reading needs a LOT of work (like, it’s really badly done, Glenn).

    Be well.

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