Few people buy their faith as a total package. Sure, there are a some who say, “I am Baptist” and they mean it. They agree with whatever their pastor tells them about the bible and what it means. But most of my Christian friends say, “I am Christian but I don’t believe everything my church tells me I should”. I think most Christians are like this, even though they may not be able to admit it. But I understand why some Christians buy the whole fixed dinner: belonging with totally loyally to a clan does offer some measure of security. It is like eating a fixed hospital diet where you trust the doctor knows exactly the food you need to eat.
Most of my Christian friends, don’t feel I am going to hell. They think their Church may feel that way, but they don’t. I even have Evangelical friends who are Cafeteria Evangelicals — they are there for the culture but pick and choose what they eat. They are not on the fixed menu plan. Many of these Cafeteria Evangelicals feel I may not being going to Hell. Mind you, if I start quoting the bible and interrogating them on their theology, they will be soon in an uncomfortable situation when they will realize that they hold many hugely conflicting religious beliefs. But all of us hold conflicting beliefs, we just don’t realize it. So I usually I don’t interrogate and am just happy that my friend does not look at me as hell-bound — for what kind of friendship is that! Very few believers are theologians, they don’t get into the religion for its intellectual soteriological insights, for its ontological stances or for its meta-ethics. They get into their faith because it is a community of like-purposed individuals — or so they hope. Of course there are many other reasons for being religious, but I thought I’d mention one of the large non-theological reasons.
While many Atheists are encouraging each other to come out as Atheists. I think Atheists, should also be encouraging their religious friends to come out as Cafeteria Believers — it is one step closer to being in agreement with each other. For both Atheists and Cafeteria Believers feel that it is the individual’s responsibility to think and that buying into the whole package of someone else’s thoughts entails being a little less than human. So instead of trying to shatter the faith of your believer friend, just try and encourage them to be a better versions of themselves– encourage them to be a Cafeteria believer.