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Monday, December 9, 2013

Dialogue with an Unbeliever

by Susan Fox

A friend of mine posted these questions online. I wrote my answers in red. I enjoyed our dialogue.

Anonymous: It's not that I don't think that I need a god, it's that there is no god that I am convinced exists. I used to. But my research shed a lot of light on the fallacy that is the Christian god.

Are you aware that the Christian religion is the only one in the world that teaches: love your enemies, do good to those who harm you, the first shall be last and the last shall be first? It’s the only religion where God expects you to forgive others before receiving His forgiveness.

Anonymous: I will never believe in him (the Christian god), though I will always be open to another. I have spoken to people who have claimed to have "felt" their own god, to have "seen" him, to have "spoken" to him and he spoke to them. The thing is, all of their gods were different.

Brother, yes, it can be very confusing when you have conflicting views of truth. However, there is only one God. God is the Father of ALL mankind. And regardless of what each person believes when they do experience God they are experiencing the same God that I do. However, their understanding may be different then mine.

For instance, I have a friend who is a Shinto. She believes in 886 gods. She gets upset if I kill a bug.  She loved my mother, and she came to my mother’s Catholic funeral. During the Mass, she badly wanted to receive Holy Communion (the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist) during the Mass. Our custom is to instruct a non-Catholic to fold their arms over their chest and then go to Communion.  The priest will bless them, but not give them Communion. However, when Yuriko got the blessing she still stood there because she wanted Communion. The priest didn’t know what to do, so he gave her Communion. Yuriko came back with tears streaming down her face. After Mass, I said, “Yuriko, what happened?” She said, “Susan, when I go to the Shinto Shrines in Japan, God comes down to meet me. That was what it was like to receive Holy Communion. God came down to meet me.” So you see, we had dramatically different understandings of God, but the God she met at the Shinto Shrine was the same as the One she received in the Catholic Church.

Muslims see their relationship with this god as Master and Slave. They understand God to be completely irrational, and the only guaranteed way to get their heaven (72 virgins) is to complete an act of martyr suicide, usually kill somebody else. Ideas have consequence so you got to be careful which view of God you adopt.

If you go to Bombay, you see lots of fat sleek well-fed cows, but the people are lying in the street literally starving to death. If you accidently hit a cow with your car, you might be killed by a mob. But you can run over a human being – no big deal, because Hindus believe that the cow is sacred. The human will have another chance to live through reincarnation, although I don’t know why anyone would want to come back to a life like that. The cow is a reincarnated human one step down from Nirvana, which means you become one with the universe, i.e. nothing. You are gone. Now my cousin Eric was very impressed with the Hindus he met in India because they were so well behaved. I said, “Eric, they are so impressive because they want to become a cow.” He was very surprised. Our family raised and ate cows.

Christians see their relationship with God as Father and child. Heaven is a relationship with Our Father. There is no laying around on a fluffy cloud and eating cheesecake. There are no 72 virgins. There is no owning your own planet with 50 wives. No, heaven is not a place, but a state of being in relationship with Our Loving Father. And on top of that we don’t lie around lazily after death. Jesus said, “My Father goes on working and so do I.”

If the Father is working, so will we. So unless you love, really love Our Father and want to work with Him, there is no reason to try and go there. There is no material reward in the next life. It doesn’t sound like a very big motive for living like we do now.

So what is my motive for being a Christian?

I fell totally in love with the Person of Jesus Christ when I was only four years old. Like Yuriko, I found myself in a terrible situation, and God mercifully came to meet me. He came to comfort me.   My beloved father was killed in a car accident. I was in the back seat. When they pulled me out, “I screamed Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” and promptly vomited. I never saw my father again.

Three days later, my mother and my grandmother took me to the Catholic chapel in the hospital and told me to pray for my father. I was angry. If I knew how to swear, I would have.  “You can’t make me pray to a God that took my Daddy!”  I thought. The chapel contained the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Remember God so loved the world He sent His Son? Well, Jesus ensured that He never left us. He established the sacrament of His Love, the Holy Eucharist, so He would be with us until the end of time.

At the age of four, I didn’t know that. But when I went into the chapel I met a Presence. He met an angry hurting child. He was patient. He was kind. And I have belonged to Him ever since. I know what you will say, “What a cruel God that he would take that little girl’s Daddy from her.” But Brother, as I have prayed deeply over that event I realized I received so much more in exchange. I really wouldn’t change anything at all.  God didn’t cause the accident. God didn’t make the choice to drive recklessly that day. Two teenagers did. God didn’t put a middle lane in that road that could be driven either way (It was 1957). God didn’t tell my father to look at my mother lovingly just before the accident. My father just did it. And I even looked up from the back seat and saw the car coming straight for us. But I was only four years old, and I didn’t know what that meant. So God had to accept our free will.

But when I screamed, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,” God my Father responded. God so loved the world He gave His Only Son. And at that moment in time, I was the world. I was the one who received Jesus Christ. He was my Gift.  And I have never been alone since. Literally I have never been alone for 56 years. I suffered the same as everyone else, but I always had Someone to bear it with me.

The same thing happened to people in the Scripture. They met the Person of Jesus. They dramatically turned their lives around. I feel especially close to St. Photina, who went on to evangelize and convert Domnina, the daughter of the Roman Emperor Nero, and her servants.

Photina or Photini  was the Samaritan woman at the well who met Jesus in the Gospel of John. Jesus begged water from her knowing He was going to give her something better, Living Water – the Person of the Holy Spirit. But while He was talking to her, knowing she had lived with several men, He asked her to go get her husband. She said, “I have no husband.” Jesus responded, "You have correctly said, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly." (John 4:17-18)

Was she embarrassed? Did she run home crying? Did Jesus order her stoned? He knew her sins! No, she met her Maker. She met the Person of God! “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.” That was her response. Then she became an evangelist like me. She went and told everyone in her village about Jesus, and they came out to see Him. We both became evangelists because what we received was so wonderful that we wanted to share it with others. “So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, "Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?" They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.” (John 4:29-30)

I walked out of that hospital chapel in 1957 into a hot New Orleans afternoon, and I have never been the same. It was a special gift. A lot of other people didn’t know Him until much later in life. St. Augustine was into multiple women and heresy, but when he finally came to Christ, he said, “Late have I loved thee, Lord.” And then, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” He was a fourth century bishop of the Catholic Church.

Anonymous: You talk about morals being non-existent without guidance from what is told to us by God. I have always been so incredibly irritated by this argument.

Actually, YOU SHOULD BE IRRITATED by that argument. It isn’t true. Our morals do exist without God’s guidance.  He wrote His law on our hearts. We have the natural law.

Anonymous: There are rules in the Bible that we now ignore as they are simply far too brutal and insane for modern society. Well, how do we know which rules to ignore if we are incapable of morality outside of the Bible? Where do THOSE moral judgments come from? We are told to stone a woman to death if she wears two types of fabric at the same time. Then why aren't we stoning women to death?

Some Muslims do still stone people to death. Christians do not. We don’t even think we should. We would regard such actions as a terrible crime.  The Old Testament is nonsense outside the prism of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

However, which rules do we follow if any?

The Ten Commandments are identical to the natural law written in our hearts, so they are kind of wired into our being. However, the Ten Commandments are ten negatives. The same law is contained in the Eight Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are written in the positive. The Beatitudes summarize and contain the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here they are:

   Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
   Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
   Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
   Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
   Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
   Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
   Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
   Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Do they sound too hard? If someone becomes Christian, do they have to obey these laws instantly? NO. It is a lifetime struggle. We may struggle with them until we die. But we will be happier as we work on them. If you master one, the rest are yours.

Anonymous: Then why aren't we stoning woman to death? Because we have empathy, Susan. Empathy and altruism. These two traits are not exclusive to humans. No, we see them in all types of animals. We are animals, Susan. Good, evil, and the purpose of life are a philosophy created by us. It does not exist in the universe outside of our own minds. It was born with us and it will die with us. And the universe will keep on spinning and not even know we were there.

I agree that we are animals with empathy, but we have the empathy from our Maker, Who is Love. We are made in the Image of God, and that’s why we see so much beauty in nature, science and other human beings, and in animals, who are not made that way because they cannot reason, cannot make a moral decision, and usually can’t speak intelligently although some dogs are pretty nifty. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (Matt.24:35) To last for eternity, cast your anchor onto God. He will not pass away.

Anonymous: Maybe evolution is the creation of God. Why not? Would you ever accept that theory - that God created the wonder that is evolution? I love that idea. It's harmonious.

I don’t really have a problem with the idea of evolution taking place in big steps, but always as part of God’s plan. God is a mathematician. He creates that way, logically. Actually when you admire science and nature you are admiring His work. I think you’d like Him, if you tried to know Him.

Anonymous: I do not like Mother Teresa in the slightest. She was an incredibly cruel woman. The many accounts I have read about her infuriate me. She was a horrible, greedy, hypocritical, and deluded woman who was knowingly responsible for the suffering of countless people.

Regarding Mother Teresa of Calcutta: We can’t judge other people. We can’t see what is inside their hearts. We can’t see what’s inside their heads. What is inside is a mystery unless they write something.  Then we can catch a glimpse. A great book for knowing Mother Teresa is “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta.”  It’s available at Amazon.com. Reading it would give you an opportunity to judge her words yourself, instead of relying on what someone else has said about her, which may or may not be true.

Anonymous: Also, I find that whenever presented with a question about God's actions, Christians rely heavily on the "god works in mysterious ways" reasoning. I've always found that to be a cop-out, and an easy way out of explaining anything. Whenever a Christian is cornered, they use this argument and the discussion ends. Easy.

I never have used that argument. Sounds like something someone’s mother said. Mothers don’t like to answer questions, when the kids ask them endlessly.

The Dialogue Continues at Are We Meat Puppets? 


  1. Susan,

    I like the questions and your answers. I am finding that I want to participate as much as I can in my parish but I can't accept all of the teachings of the Church. But what I am finding is that Catholicism is an all or nothing faith. You're either all in or all out. There is no in between. That being the case, I must choose to be all out.

  2. Nonsense. Bill. You can be all in, and still discovering and uncovering things. A lot of people joined the Catholic Church still holding reservations about the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Pope or something else. Probably three quarters of the cradle Catholics don't know and don't practice everything the Catholic Church teaches. But what we hope is that they are seeking to understand and know their faith, and in that process growing more in love with your invisible Jesus. Boy, I was sure glad to hear from you. I worried about your health when you weren't commenting. God bless you. Susan Fox

  3. one of the scariest parts of being a Catholic is actually one and the same teaching. don't want to Forgive your neighbhor or your enemy because they are usually one and the same person. extremely rich when you look at it from a comedy/Tragedy point of View, Extremely Rich. Did you know everything about how to read prior to learning to read? No, so you still had to learn in order to even be typing now. Good thing to learn is Socrates greatest Lesson he ever learned, "The Greatest thing I ever learned is I know nothing" this holds true For Catholicism and Christianity, It is possible to know God in both the Visible and the Invisible, Because he is the Source of Both. problem is the same, people tend to want to Form Christ to their own Point of View and then he Becomes not Christ but Anti Christ. Or place him where it is comfy and cozy, and make him into something he is not, again making him into Anti Christ. mostly because we listen with our Car keys Stuck in our Ears which accept only our own point of view and refuse anyone elses view which can be said to have just as much Validity as our own when you stop to think just how often have we failed to listen to good advice and done what we wanted to in the first place. We were told at one time, and did listen in childhood, "DON'T DO THIS" as we get old, we learned some of that advice was Good, others were Bad, so we have in fact regardless of how you try and shuffle the facts, know the Difference between Good and Evil. hmmmmmmmmmm, Where was that first heard?? oh yeah, IN THE BEGINING.

  4. Dan I loved the line about the car keys stuck in our ears. Lawrence just lost his, and I went and had a new set made. Larry said that the old set was too worn out to use any way. I guess, as a wife, I had the old car keys stuck in my ears because I didn't want to spend the money to get new ones made! So God arranged it so the old car keys would be lost. We have to pull the old car keys out of our ears so we can hear what the other person needs. God Bless you. Susan Fox