With all respect to my fellow blogger, Stak’s “Christian Car Bomb” post strayed close to setting up a straw man to knock down. He introduced the Christian Car Bomb as “[a] popular argument taught to fundamentalist college students,” and then included these specific allegations:
a good loving Christian must do anything and everything (moral or immoral) to believe and worship Jesus. The ends justify the means and anything goes. All options are on the table because the fate of someone’s eternal soul rests in the balance.
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The second problem is what I pointed to earlier that this argument teaches Christians that any and all actions (including immoral actions) are justified if it will save someone’s eternal soul. Christians are free to lie, cheat, steal, and even use physical force to save their friend’s eternal soul. After all, who cares if you hurt your friend’s physical body if you can save his spiritual life, right? Even Jesus said this when he talked about cutting off a thieving hand and plucking out a lustful eye. Con your friend, bribe him or her to come to a meeting, use fear, and even your sexuality to win his or her soul for Jesus. Like I said, anything is permissible. Don’t worry about sinning yourself, because Jesus died for your sins already and God will understand. The ends justify the means. Incidentally enough, this was the same reasoning used during the Spanish Inquisition for the torture on non-Christians. It doesn’t matter how much the physical body is tortured as long as you can save their eternal soul.
Taken to its logical end, the Christian Car Bomb argument certainly could be used to justify virtually any behavior. After all, there is no consequence of any earthly action that could be as dangerous as eternal damnation. In application, however, my experience has been that Christians generally don’t go to the extremes Stak’s posits. And I have serious doubts that many of the ideas proposed are actively taught as a matter of doctrine.
For one thing, lying, cheating, physically abusing someone or misusing your sexuality (given Christian’s morbid fear of sex, that’s probably the most fantastic accusation to me) are themselves considered sins. Committing those actions would place the believer’s own soul at risk of hell. Sure, one can ask forgiveness, but most Christians think your remorse must be sincere in order to be forgiven. If you think your actions were justified to diffuse the Car Bomb,you wouldn’t actually feel remorse, and you’ve placed yourself in a spiritual catch-22.
I’ve also just never heard it taught — in church, Sunday school, youth groups, church camp, revival meetings, anywhere — that anything goes when it comes to evangelizing. I’m curious to know Stak’s sources on this. I imagine isolated examples of these teachings could be located; after all, it’s a big country full of much religious wackaloonery. The mainstream of even conservative, evangelical Christianity teaches that lots of tools must be used to reach the “lost,” but these generally fall into what I’ll call the Saddleback Toolbox — catchy music (even *gasp* rock music), feel-good sermons, jumbotrons, latte bars, etc. The “pluck out your eye, cut off your hand” verses are Jesus’s advice to followers regarding what they should do to themselves to avoid hell, not other people. Regardless of what they taught in the Inquisition, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone now (in the US, at least) ready to wield a machete for the faith. And, again this just struck me as the most out-there claim, I have never heard a discussion of using one’s sexuality to prosthelytize. Is there a “Nymphos for Jesus” movement I somehow missed out on back in my fundie days?
No doubt, there are plenty of “Liars for Jesus” who twist, misrepresent, and mislead, especially on scientific matters, in an attempt to win converts. Whether they are actively trying to lie, or are simply willing to be intellectually dishonest but don’t believe they are really lying (think of someone taking quotes from Einstein out of context), it must be stated plainly and often that they are spreading falsehoods. Let’s identify the dirty tricks and deceptive practices at every turn. But let’s maintain credibility by not accusing the religious of all the crazy things they could do, and focus on the crazy things they actually do.