They weren’t lacking in faith, they were lacking in kindness

Sep 26, 2013

I saw a bit this morning on a pastor who dressed as a homeless man to attend the church where he was about to be introduced as the new pastor.  The attendees of the church mistreated him and he used it as an opportunity to make a point about being good Christians.


Upon being revealed as the pastor he took the mic and said:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

All good ideas.  All don't require Christianity.  Indeed, his church was filled with top tier believers.  Most religious people can't even be bothered to attend church on Sunday – these are the ones who really believe, and they were uncaring.  Perhaps this will change some of them, but it's only because the congregants will be reminded that human beings, with whom they must interact, are watching.  They already believed that Jesus was always watching, but they already knew he'd forgive them.  But when people judge you, when forgiveness must be earned, that's when things change.

So kudos to you, pastor.  Your opinion matters more than Jesus'.

After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame.

He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?”

Oh horseshit.  Compassion isn't the exclusive property of "disciples" of your religion.  Plenty of atheists would've treated the homeless man well.  Like I said, these people are the top of the list in terms of strength of faith, and they showed less empathy than a lot of people who stayed home that day.

Compassion is what's important, not faith – and faith is a great way to feel like atonement is free, not earned.  In this sense faith is by no means a cultivator of kindness, and far less so that what regular ol' humans can achieve in our fellow humans.  That should've been the lesson that the pastor learned.  The people in his pews were not lacking in faith, they were lacking in kindness.

A bunch of true, true believers were much like Abraham: they failed to have enough empathy.  Afterward a pastor conflated Christianity with kindness, even in the face of that failure.  I don't see how this piece, which was written to boost the image of Christianity, does anything but achieve the opposite effect.

 

Read more by JT here.

Written By: JT Eberhard
continue to source article at patheos.com

34 comments on “They weren’t lacking in faith, they were lacking in kindness

  • 2
    aaron.marshall3 says:

    Perhaps it would be a good time to invite this pastor to repeat his little experiment, but this time at an atheist gathering.



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  • 3
    ANTIcarrot says:

    In reply to #2 by aaron.marshall3:

    Perhaps it would be a good time to invite this pastor to repeat his little experiment, but this time at an atheist gathering.

    You mean like the conventions that take place in hotels and cost $100 just to get in? I think I spot a flaw in your reasoning. Most atheist gatherings take place in private venues that we don’t own, which aren’t marked ‘all are welcome at no cost’ and whose staff would intercept such an individual as bad for business.



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  • 4
    Christiana Magdalene Moodley says:

    Enjoyed reading that. What a bunch of hypocrites!Wondering though,about the new pastor’s future in the church.The self righteous don’t like to be shown up for what they are really like and quite a few snooty noses must have been put out of joint.

    Got to congratulate the pastor though.Gutsy move.And proved what we already know.Christians are not necessarily kinder or more empathetic than anyone else.



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  • 5
    SaganTheCat says:

    “Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame.”

    speaks volumes

    the correct thing to do when confronted with someone in need is acknowledge them at least.

    the correct thing to do when caught out is take it on the chin and try to do better next time. in this case we have people being caught out in public. they should be releaved that the tramp turned out to be someone not in need but what really matters is they got busted in front of their peers.

    they already knew the rules of christianity. presumibly they believed god was watching anyway but as this wonderful humanist experiment showed, it’s the judgement of the peer group that carries most weight. god isn’t such a problem, he’s easy to fool, they no doubt have their speech ready for st peter, to point out that they can’t be expected to worry about every homeless man they see consisdering they’ve demonstribly been model “christians”.

    maybe the outing in public made them think that judgement day won’t be such a breeze, that simply handing over a list of people who are worse will not gain them entry?

    either way, it’s good to remind religious apes (it’s usually the religious apes that need it) that what worked for your parents doesn’t cut it in real life. “acting” good is not the same as being good.

    the only sad part is no doubt they soon realised they get forgiven so it’s all forgotten



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  • 6
    Cairsley says:

    In reply to #2 by aaron.marshall3:

    Perhaps it would be a good time to invite this pastor to repeat his little experiment, but this time at an atheist gathering.

    Finding an atheist gathering comparable to a regular Christian congregation would be very difficult.



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  • 8
    TenderHooligan says:

    I think an atheist gathering is pretty much anywhere where people congregate, but not in the name of any faith. It could be a sporting occasion, a political rally….any gathering of people really.
    The idea of people gathering together in the name of atheism is not really comparable to regular church gatherings. We don’t need to congregate to share our rationality
    In reply to #3 by ANTIcarrot:

    In reply to #2 by aaron.marshall3:

    Perhaps it would be a good time to invite this pastor to repeat his little experiment, but this time at an atheist gathering.

    You mean like the conventions that take place in hotels and cost $100 just to get in? I think I spot a flaw in your reasoning. Most athei…



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  • 9
    QuestioningKat says:

    The pastor should do another experiment. He should tell everyone he is an atheist, not say anything else, and see how people react.



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  • 10
    old-toy-boy says:

    In reply to #9 by QuestioningKat:

    The pastor should do another experiment. He should tell everyone he is an atheist, not say anything else, and see how people react.

    Done that, It scares them.



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  • 11
    El Rico says:

    In reply to #1 by Alternative Carpark:

    “Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame.”

    Was there also much gnashing of teeth?

    And tearing of garments ? – Don’t forget the tearing of garments.



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  • 13
    QuestioningKat says:

    In reply to #11 by El Rico:

    In reply to #1 by Alternative Carpark:

    “Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame.”

    Was there also much gnashing of teeth?

    And tearing of garments ? – Don’t forget the tearing of garments.

    Yes, they get really quiet, don’t they?



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  • Oh horseshit. Where does this pastor say anything about Christians only having the capacity to show compassion. In fact, he was imploring his flock to live out the Christian faith as it was meant to be lived out. He never said it is the “exclusive property of ‘disciples’ ” of the Christian faith. Eberhard has created a straw man for the convenience his argument that the current social paradigm apparently denies atheists having compassion. There is some truth to the argument, but that’s no excuse to put thoughts, words or intent into the pastor’s heart and mouth to make a point.

    As for Christians being hypocritical as this one case shows, he is right on the mark. We have the capacity to be hypocrites, which is rooted in selfishness, fear, lack of complete faith, not wanting to follow Christ’s teachings every moment,etc. Come join us. There’s always room for more.



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  • 15
    PERSON says:

    In reply to #14 by rodan:

    Ah, the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. They weren’t True Christians, or they would have behaved like this or that (depending on your politics). Hah. Look, I’ve known and worked with a lot of Christians. Like many here, I’ve been one. A few are “called by God”. All this means is that they are already inclined to help people, and feel this is the right thing to do when introspecting, consciously or unconsciously– the latter occasionally manifesting as a still small voice or whatever, depending on their personality. Most are just ordinarily unconcerned, even if they have developed a veneer of socially correct behaviour based on the previously mentioned group. Insofar as there are Christians and there is Christianity, the latter group– the majority– make it what it is. The kind people don’t need the odd beliefs to be kind. A few people are better for imposed morality, but that is a technology. It is refined and developed by consideration and discussion, by lives lived and remembered, not derived via ritual from the in-group favoured essential-magical (oh, excuse me– “holy”) source or divination based on arbitrary interpretations of vague, barbarian-breathed texts.



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  • In reply to #4 by Christiana Magdalene Moodley:
    !Wondering though,about the new pastor’s future in the church.

    Reminds me of a pastor in an American church who claimed that Hell did not exist and got promptly fired.



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  • 17
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame.

    How many of these people were ashamed of their behavior because they genuinely understood the lesson in compassion? How many of those people were ashamed because they thought that Jesus was watching them as they were “sinning” ?

    How many of them were crying because they felt genuine guilt for being insensitive towards a fellow human being in need? How many of them were crying because they thought they committed a “sin against Jesus” ?

    The inevitable problem with “religious morality” is this intrinsic “celestial carrot – hellish stick” equation. It is the single biggest obstacle to genuine moral behavior which consists of doing the right thing for its own sake. That’s why the motivations of a “true believer” to behave morally can neither be fully fathomed nor entirely trusted.



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  • 18
    quarecuss says:

    In reply to #1 by Alternative Carpark:

    Was there also much gnashing of teeth?

    Dave Allen had a routine in which he mimiced Rev Ian Paisley’s in loud Belfast fire-and-brimstone:

    “‘…there will be a wailing and a great gnashing of teeth!’ And a little old lady in the front row says, ‘But I don’t have any teeth!’ And Paisley roars, ‘Teeth will be supplied!’”

    Sorry no video of that but here he is on relgion (Irish) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxo81Ok9Urk



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  • 19
    4as4is4 says:

    “That should’ve been the lesson that the pastor learned. The people in his pews were not lacking in faith, they were lacking in kindness”

    It seemed to come to many of his congregation that these (faith and kindness) were two different things. Which is silly, because they most certainly are.



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  • Indeed – and they are also big on veils being rent in twain , if my memory serves me well.

    Yup, if you’ve got a veil, get a-rentin’ !

    In reply to #11 by El Rico:

    In reply to #1 by Alternative Carpark:”Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame.”Was there also much gnashing of teeth?And tearing of garments ? – Don’t forget the tearing of garments.



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  • 22
    Graham1 says:

    The elders were in on it! What a dirty trick! So they are the true Christians sitting there smug at the front with stones in their hands just waiting to lob them at the members of their wicked and selfish congregation. Hypocrites.



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  • Reply to Person #15

    Apparently, you misread what I wrote. Never said they weren’t “true Christians”. Fact is, I don’t know how many were true Christians. I can’t judge that. If they were, in this case, they were being hypocritical. If you were a Christian once( as you state), you know that the point the Christian faith is that we will fall short of the mark many times but are still deemed righteous by God due our acceptance of the the death and resurrection of the Messiah. It has nothing to do with us; we can’t brag about anything. I know, myself, that I’m probably inclined to be rebellious as anyone else. As for the “True Scotsman” fallacy, don’t think it applies to my remarks. Thank you for your reply.



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  • You just did it again. You say you cant judge that, but then you write your subjective opinion of what the point of christianity is. There is no objective answer and that is the real reason you are not able to judge their commitment. If there was such an objective answer, there would not be about 10 000 different christian sects.

    *In reply to #23 by rodan:

    Reply to Person #15

    Apparently, you misread what I wrote. Never said they weren’t “true Christians”. Fact is, I don’t know how many were true Christians. I can’t judge that. If they were, in this case, they were being hypocritical. If you were a Christian once( as you state), you know that…



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  • 25
    Zanzare says:

    Many religious people, in my experience, equate being good with flowing religious stricture, for example, attending church on Sunday. This is one of the most pernicious aspects of religious observance: the confusion of good deeds with “following the rules”.



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  • 26
    bluebird says:

    In reply to #25 by Zanzare:

    Many religious people, in my experience, equate being good with flowing religious stricture, for example, attending church on Sunday. This is one of the most pernicious aspects of religious observance: the confusion of good deeds with “following the rules”.

    A few years ago, an atheist and mother wrote a newspaper column summing up her thoughts / experiences from teaching her daughter values. It was entitled ‘you can be moral without the bible’. Dang it was good – succinct and not preachy. Always wished it could’ve been read world wide.



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  • Set aside whether god is. From the standpoint of how cruel the church is! What do you think god would judge you for? I ask this question because, the hatred that the church contributes to this world is far worse than any good they have done. talking to a person who has their beliefs and leaves it at that, is a person I understand-Death is scary to some! What I am against is the illness that the church has become. The church is the virus and must be wiped from the simulation. It’s scary that we find accept-ion for these horrible people. And since I have been proven wrong before, Christians may have gotten lucky and are correct. So I ask again should the judgement be as harsh for the ones who judge?



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  • 28
    kenny77 says:

    It also depends on what is meant with ‘treating badly’ . Most people I know ( religious and non-religious) would just ignore him.

    One reason for that is that we don’t really know how to help : if you give him money he might just buy booze, or he might get hurt due to jealousy of other homeless.

    Another is that it reminds us that we have it very good, while others have much less. We’d rather pretend there is no such thing as poverty, so we don’t have to feel bad about it.

    But I don’t know anyone who would actively treat him badly. Was that the case here ?

    It would be an interesting experiment to perform in a public place ( like a train-station ).

    In reply to #2 by aaron.marshall3:

    Perhaps it would be a good time to invite this pastor to repeat his little experiment, but this time at an atheist gathering.



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  • 31
    black wolf says:

    When I went to the first lecture event of the atheist group I joined later, I asked if they had a reduced fee for the unemployed. They said, “sorry bout that, go on in, no pay”.



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  • 32
    Dublin-atheist says:

    I spoke to an elderly gent some years ago who was very religious his entire life untill he witnessed a horrible incident where a homeless in dublin had been struck by a car and was bleeding to death on the roadside, as he sat with the dying man he noticed a priest briskly walking towards them he stood up and asked the priest if he could give the homeless man his last rights, the priest without breaking his stride briefly did the sign of the cross and walked on. Had the homeless man been wealthy the church would of been all over him.



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  • 33
    QuickAg says:

    Compassion, as well as any other positive or negative human trait, are innate within each of us. We need not assign them to a single religion or faith. This story, while most likely untrue, is a story about human behavior that could have easily been written about another situation. Since, however it was written about a Christian church, the purpose of it seems clearly meant to shame a “person of faith” into behaving a certain way. “What would you have done?” seems to be begged by the story. Applying that theme to a different gathering, say an atheist one, the outcome could be written to be the same. An atheist could easily be shamed in the same manor. This presupposes that both groups believe aid to those less fortunate is good. When we show indifference to suffering of our fellow human beings (I could include a long list of other scenarios, but I’ll stick to the example), we show a part of ourselves, but doing so, and then proclaiming oneself to be “good” based on attendance at a religious gathering at which the teaching of charity and kindness are supposedly preached is, on the face of it, hypocritical. Atheists do not believe in absolution and if they see themselves as “good” it is usually because they take measure of the benefit of their actions to humanity and the world (at least, we can all hope). Again, compassion as well as indifference are traits the capacity for which we all carry. They cannot be generally equated with one religion, group, or subset of the human species.



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