The Christian Conversation Cycles

(c) iStock – georgemuresan

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones

Marcus Aurelius

I’ve had many good conversations with Christians. I normally enjoy them. I remember back to my old Christian self and imagine them praying for me while I’m talking or trying to remember another apologetic argument like it’s a fresh new truth.

There’s a rhythm to these conversations. It can be a frustration in some ways that the conversation goes in circles. The frustration is on both sides, of course.

Some Christians claim to know what’s going on in your heart because God is telling them. And, if you say that you tried prayer; you’ve read the Bible (more than them most probably!); that you used to be a Christian, well, you need to be more honest! You may have tried but you lacked … something. Some subtle thing that they, the Christian, luckily didn’t lack. And round we go.

The Christian will tell me that I’m too proud, while at the same time telling me that “God did xxx because yyy.” Really? You know the mind of God? “No. No human can know God’s purposes.” Really? So how did you know just now. “I just read the Bible.” But the Bible doesn’t say that exactly. You’re interpreting it. “The Spirit helps me to do so! You need to humble yourself and listen to me!” And round we go again.

Another favorite is the “you need to go and do some research on this.” When I say I’ve written a book about it, the response is essentially that I need to do better research until I come to the correct conclusion.

My guess is that rather than having a direct line to God, they are actually normal people who are guessing at what they think God would be like. I mean, if they were God then they’d be like that so that’s probably what God’s like. Makes sense.

I thought it would be interesting to try to sketch out these conversation cycles. At first, I thought I could do it with just one cycle but there are too many ways this conversation can go. So I’ve made six cycles so far

  1. The Interpretation-Humility Cycle
  2. The Experience-Evidence Cycle
  3. The Faith-Evidence Cycle
  4. The Not-God’s-Fault Cycle
  5. The Love-Hell Cycle
  6. The Is-Ought Cycle

Here they are:

What do you think? What are the nuances that I’ve missed? How do your conversations go?