Would You Sell Your Soul?

Just finished reading this most provocative book. Every Christian should read it.


Atheist Hemant Mehta (Indian heritage) gives us an honest and humble look at how unbelievers view Christianity. What's working and what's not? What are we doing that drives many away and what could we do to better represent ourselves and the God we serve?

Although unabashedly atheist, Hehta is not what many in the Christian community would assume he is: brash, arrogant, and out to disprove God. That's his point. We don't know him, or those like him, and it is that ignorance that keeps distance between us and the world God has called us to love.

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Published by Christian publisher WaterBrook, I Sold My Soul on Ebay, is actually a manual for effective church evangelism--as he intended it to be. Mehta came to his unbelief through a logical process, devoid of anger or passion, and openly admits that he may possibly convert if he ever saw an actual miracle (of Parting the Red Sea magnitude.)

Before deciding on a life dedicated to atheism, he gave religion a parting chance by auctioning himself on ebay: $10 would buy an hour of church attendance for him anywhere the buyer chose. What followed shocked him. Offers rolled in, all Christian, until a former pastor, Jim Henderson, "won" with a bid of $504.
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He chose to have Mehta attend a variety of Christian churches across America and write about his experiences on Henderson's blog http://www.off-the-map.org/.
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For the next year, Mehta (often accompanied by Henderson or various news reporters) attended church more than most committed Christians. He participated in everything from a tiny Catholic mass to Joel Osteen's mega-church and he writes about his thoughts and impressions in his book.

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I have to admit I felt twinges of relief as I mentally compared my church, Cedarpoint, with Mehta's critiques. We did pretty well!

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High on his list of what impressed nonbelievers the most was a church's commitment to helping the community (not just other Christians), welcoming doubters and those with questions, relevant and interesting services, and a sense of joy within the congregation.

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Now that I think about it, aren't those things pretty high on Jesus' list too?

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One aspect that Mehta overlooked is the fact that church services exist primarily to feed and equip believers to serve God the rest of the week--not to educated the atheist. So in those instances when he felt "out of place," it is because he was. Naturally, I disagreed with many of his conclusions, but respect the honesty with which he conveyed his thoughts.

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I was greatly relieved to learn that the overwhelming response from most Christians to his foray was positive. He expected angry ranting and rabid slogan-tossing, but received none. I was very glad to know that. Unfortunately, we, as the body of Christ, have often been our worst enemy.

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I recommend that every Christian read this book and ask yourself the hard questions:

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  • How does my church rank in meeting the needs of those outside my circle?
  • How does the outside world view me and my church?
  • Have I become so comfortable in my traditions that they have lost vibrancy?
  • Am I guilty of painting all atheists with the same brush rather than see each as a unique individual with a unique outlook?

We take so much for granted about that stranger seated down the row from us, but maybe we should take another look.

He or she could be another seeker ready to sell their soul if only someone would take them up on the offer.

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Footnote: For more on this subject, as well as a friendly dialogue on the same, click on the "athiest" link on the right column and continue reading. Then click on the comments section and feel free to join the discussion as long as you keep your comments kind and respectful.

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