A different point of view from my Baptist friend

Hi! I registered on this forum to ask a pretty specific question that has just come up, and this seemed like a wonderful place to do so! Here goes:

My Baptist friend and I watched a show on recovering drug addicts, who had done awful things, but who were trying really hard to straighten out their lives. (I think I should point out that religion, in whatever form, was not a part of the show.) Their struggles moved me deeply, especially considering the heartbreaking stories of abuse and hardship in their childhood. I’m not sure that if I had been in their shoes, I would have ended up differently. When I discussed my feelings with my friend after the show ended, he said he couldn’t relate to the people at all because they we’re “bad people” and that he felt nothing, period.

I’m not at all familiar with Baptist beliefs, so I don’t even know if such a condemning nature is common among Baptists or simply due to an individual lack of empathy, but I would like to know. I just found it shocking that a claimed literal believer in the Bible would disregard teachings on loving your fellow man, not judging others and so on.

Note: for those of you wondering why I don’t discuss this with him, we’ve had arguments about our beliefs in the past and I don’t want to jeopardize our friendship. We never discuss religious matters anymore and I don’t know any other Baptists with whom I could discuss this. Thank you.

Its hard for some people who haven’t experienced such things to relate to people who are experiencing such things.

Talking to an 11 year old meth addict really put things into perspective for me.

As far as a baptist church goes, I think you will find such people in all denominations. Its a human failing because of sin. All baptist congregations I have visited have been very warm, and especially interested in someone’s testimony of Christ and a changed life.

I think that’s more of an individual lack of empathy. I know plenty of people like that of many denominations. How if the person makes a mistake, then they’re bad, Hell bound, and don’t deserve anyone to feel sorry for them. A friend of mine from school and church, made a mistake and people started tormenting him…posting about him online everywhere…saying things I cannot repeat, and ended up killing himself…and all another friend from church could say is “Well, he’s an idiot, and it was all his fault, and I really don’t understand why people are saying RIP, because he’s in Hell…” and that was a Catholic. I personally don’t understand that mindset at all…God forgives everyone’s mistakes, and we should too, but I know quite a few people like that…just don’t really have any empathy…

Hi Vegetables - I see this is your first post so I checked your profile. I usually do that with new posters to get a feel for the posters background. You provided zero information. So, I encourage you to fill out your profile. Once you do I think you will find that people here will be willing to spend more time responding to your questions and comments.

People on these forums are very diligent and often spend lots of time responding to posts only to find out the poster never returns.

Now to your question. I was a fallen away Catholic and joined the Baptist Church (since returned to the Catholic Church). I can assure you your friend’s response to the program has nothing to do with the Baptist church or their beliefs. Your friend’s lack of emotion, empathy, concern, etc. comes from somewhere else. Baptists are involved in many faith based rehabilitation programs. They want to help the sinner repent and find God.

I know of which I speak. I am also a member of AL-ANON.

I am very blunt. I feel this way, that is not a Christ-like attitude. Yes, it was quite condemning But, also for some, if they have not experience things then they do not understand. As Christians our hearts should rejoice when another who is suffering or living in sin, overcomes. I know it is shocking, but just pray that your friends heart opens up a little more to love and not judge so much…to see more as Christ would.

I don’t think this is representative of Baptists at all. Your friend sounds like he just has a lack of perspective on substance abuse and drug addiction.

I think it is also a condition that arises out of the Baptist understanding of salvation.

Consider that the Baptist church as a matter of doctrine flatly denies any means of grace to its congregants in any form whatsoever. To cover for this obvious deficiency they also teach once saved always saved. Or perhaps believing OSAS they deny the means of grace… I’m not sure it matters which way.

For this reason the Baptist M.O. of salvation is to answer an altar call and “give your heart to Jesus” or some such thing and having done so you are then to believe that having said the “sinner’s prayer” you are saved forever; the end. Of course the obvious problem is that this does nothing to alleviate guilt and also does nothing to bring relief to a person who knows good and well that their sinful flesh can/does/will make shipwreck of their soul, and since they categorically deny that there is even any such thing as absolution/restitution they have nowhere to go except to be re-baptized and perhaps switch churches and see if it will take.

I mean this. I live in Texas and I see this pattern again and again in my Baptist friends and speak to them and they tell me they are tortured by their sins and their inability to be freed from guilt/guilt feelings. So please do not think this is a hack job on the Baptists, I actually feel very, very sorry for them (especially since I used to be one of them).

And so what does a preacher do with a congregation that is tormented by sin and he knows he has no means to assuage their guilt before a Lord who says, “If you love me keep my commandments.”?

The first thing is that they blur the words of Christ and sow doubt about what the commands to right living mean in the New Testament and while they will admonish their congregations to do right on one hand they will with the other hand assure them there is no need to do right. Those commandments are really to bring the unsaved to salvation. And thus every sermon ends with an altar call to get people to come down and accept Jesus and see if this time it takes for real, for real.

I’m completely serious… come to Texas and turn on “Christian” talk radio and hear it for yourself.

The second thing they do is they point out some really serious sins that in all likelihood few if any in their congregation will struggle with. Sins like drug abuse, alcoholism (because even drinking alcohol is forbidden in the Baptist thinking), gambling, sex sin (but focusing on homosexuality with an occasional mention of pornography), etc, etc.

The result is that people who feel tormented by their sins develop an attitude of, “Well I’m not as bad as that person so maybe I’m kind of ok… better answer the next altar call.”

So your friend who feels nothing for the drug addict I strongly suspect, even if he does not know he is doing it and would deny it if asked, is comparing himself to the addict. In fact I know he is because he characterizes them as “bad people” thereby implying that he and his ilk must be to some degree “good people”, and this makes me very sad for your friend. Because I know for a certainty that when I used to be your friend what I needed more than anything else to confess my sins before God and man and be absolved, and hearing those words “I forgive you” released me from years of pent up anger and frustration and showed me the love of Christ in a way I had never known it before.

Pray for your friend. He needs it much more than he knows would be my guess.

God Bless

Notwithstanding all the other posters’ stories about how wonderful Baptists are, my experiences have been different. I know a man (fairly well) who is a Baptist minister. He makes rude, crude jokes about Catholics. He ridicules retarded people. He even said that churches (!) have NO business “helping people”!!! They should not “help people”. They should only preach to them. This guy has his own church!

Speaking of Baptists, my mother, in the past, has been invited to Baptist services several times by different acquaintances. She went twice and both times the preacher spent the better part of his sermon ripping on Catholics. I think there is an unsympathetic tendency in the Baptist culture, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Westboro Baptist Church is, you know, Baptist.

I am sure it is your friend I have lots of baptist friends and they are very empathetic to people’s challenges

There’s an old joke out there (that I heard in a Non-denominational-but-kind-of-baptist church) that Judaism doesn’t recognize Jesus, Protestantism doesn’t recognize the Pope, and Baptists don’t recognize each other in the grocery store…

The point of the joke, of course is that Baptists vary pretty widely in their attitudes and beliefs. You really can’t paint all of them with one brush. Some are vehemently anti-Catholic, some are unsympathetic toward drug addicts. Others are friendly to Catholics (even if they don’t understand us) and I’ve met many who are very sympathetic to addicts. The Westboro people are definitely on the fringes of that spectrum. I’ve met plenty of Baptists, and while I think some were a little off their rockers, none hold a candle to that.

To be fair, you may even run across people and even whole congregations in any denomination that are unsympathetic toward addiction. It’s a human thing. We are all sinners, which is much the same as saying that, on some level, we are all jerks.

“Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.”
–G.K. Chesterton

Muslims do not recognise the divinity of Christ
Catholics do not recognise Mohammed as a prophet
And Baptists do not recognise each other in a liquor store.

There is another one that says you should never invite one Baptist, but always two, on a fishing trip. If you invite only one, he will drink all your beer.

Do you realize that Baptist churches are anti-hierarchical? This means that anyone (namely Fred Phelps) can call themselves a “Baptist” preacher and gather around themselves followers with which to organize a “Baptist” congregation. Westboro Baptist is no where near representative of Baptist culture, and to suggest such a thing is uncharitable to Baptist churches, which aren’t perfect but in general are no worse or better than other Christian denominations in responding to human suffering.

Related to this, Westboro Baptist is unaffiliated with any other Baptist churches. This means that it only speaks and represents itself; no other Baptist churches should be made to answer for the actions of a church with which they have absolutely no connection or authority over.

Thank you all for your responses, it has really helped me gain some perspective!

I have a friend who is baptist. I used to think what a role modek of a christian she wss until I wad going through a financial hardship. She was very unchristianlike and seemed to relish the fact that I was struggling and suffering financially as though it were my fault. I had an accident and broke my leg in 3 places. I am divorced and after being released from the doctor had to return to work to catch up on bills. She seemed to want to make me feel shame. I was so hurt. She is financially comfortable and brags about it.
Needless to say I was disappointed in her behavior. There was no empathy - no encouragement. 3 years later I have celebrated 2 years at my job anf have caught up on all my debts but one. It has not been easy but the saddest lesson I learned was that this baptist friend was not the person I thought she was. I found her ve ry judgmental.

I would say it’s an individual thing. I had a friend years ago that was Baptist and she was very caring and did not lack empathy. I went to her church a couple of times and their Preacher was anti-Catholic, but caring. My grandfather was a Baptist Preacher and so my dad grew up in the Baptist Church. My dad is loving,caring and has empathy. One of my sisters is Baptist and married a Baptist Preacher, they too have empathy for people.

It is in times of difficulty that you know who your true friends are.

I definitely have learned that lesson. Unfortunately I learned that I couldn’t count on family either. But they don’t even profess to be christian.
My baptist friend is a comitted christian for her whole life.

I meant to write that my sister married a Baptist Preachers son.

His theology certainly could influence his thinking. But it is difficult to know what that theology is. There is much diversity in thought within the Baptist church, and it is true of every church that a man’s beliefs might be at odds with his church’s teachings. Having said that I think the flaw is in the friend believing that there are ‘bad’ people. This is a easy and common way to speak, but false. All people are actually good. However we can make good or bad decisions or engage in good or bad acts. Your friend might need to think on that truth a bit. They might well accept the idea of habit and virtue. But to not at least feel some sorrow for the choices people made to lead them to such terrible spots does seem to me to be falling short of our call.

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