That wild young street preacher was out in the Compass plaza again toda, surrounded by a much larger crowd than yesterdays, who were themselves far more hostile. The man was out there preaching a pretty harsh word, how the only way to get to heaven was to stop sinning entirely, maintaining he was himself not a sinner, and also, Catholics are going to hell. Nice to know.
But what always gets me is the crowds, and not the street preacher. This group of people, most of whom are there to mock and belittle and insult the man, very few of whom are presenting real alternative ideas instead of just trying to shout him down, are, as far as I can tell, largely atheist. Judging by the behavior of the crowd, I’ve got to assume that the Christians who don’t want to be associated with this fellow are just passing on by, uttering a small prayer for the people involved under their breath. This means that the majority of the people in the crowd don’t believe in hell or God. So I have to wonder: what on earth do they care if this guy is saying they’re going there? Isn’t it irrelevant what he believes? Does it have any bearing on how they live?
It occured to me, though. They do believe in hell, and they don’t want to think they’re going there.
If this preacher had been saying that, because you play have an Xbox rather than a Wii, alien space bats were going to chew off your face, you wouldn’t bat an eye. You’d ignore him, because the idea is clearly ridiculous. And, if you don’t believe in sin and hell, the idea that your sins will send you to hell should be equally ridiculous. You should shrug and move on, not caring one whit either way. But these kids hang around, harrass this man for saying they’re going somewhere they don’t believe exist. He might as well be saying that they’re going to Candyland, logically speaking, but for all their protests, it’s clear to me he’s struck a very raw nerve, a part of themselves they don’t like to admit exists: the part that knows about sin and death and hell and God and lives in fierce denial of those things. Not disbelief, but denial and rebellion, and try to impute their guilt on the preacher, one girl shouting that the preacher engages in particular…practices.
The Christian atheist is just that: a Christian atheist. They don’t argue down Thor or Vishnu; they criticize Jesus.