Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

The Shadow of the Cross


The following story was in my facebook newsfeed this morning.  It was posted by an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist pastor with whom I’ve been friends since before he was a pastor.
The Shadow of the Cross

A young man who had been raised as an atheist was training to be an Olympic diver. The only religious influence in his life came from his outspoken Christian friend. The young diver never really paid much attention to his friend’s sermons, but he heard them often.

One night the diver went to the indoor pool at the college he attended. The lights were all off, but as the pool had big skylights and the moon was bright, there was plenty of light to practice by. The young man climbed up to the highest diving board and as he turned his back to the pool on the edge of the board and extended his arms out, he saw his shadow on the wall. The shadow of his body in the shape of a cross. Instead of diving, he knelt down and asked God to come into his life. As the young man stood, a maintenance man walked in and turned the lights on. The pool had been drained for repairs.

This was his commentary on the story:

“We who are saved were all on the edge of that board with hell below and the devil keeping us in the dark.”

The story didn’t include the person’s name nor the name of the college he was attending.  So I went on a little search to verify the veracity of it because it seemed to be portrayed as a true story.  Snopes.com says it is unclassified.  I searched farther and found the story on a Christian website along with a picture of Greg Louganis.  That might lead one to believe the story is about him – a bit deceptive.  These are some of the comments that accompanied the story:

“Wow, impressive, you made up a story. I thought christians weren’t supposed to lie. The swimmer should do less praying and more getting the janitor guy fired for not putting up a warning sign, or locking the doors, or something.”  Atheist Agent

“What are atheists so afraid of? If they really understood the evolution theory holds absolutely no water, zilch, they would have to believe in a higher power, and they would have feel the conviction of their sins. Ouch! Even if THIS story was made up, I’ve heard others that are true and just as compelling.”   Ron

“It doesn’t matter if this is true, for I’ve seen things like this first hand that are true! Is it so hard to believe in a higher power than mans? I don’t believe the earth came about because of the big bang theory!”         Butch

So all in all I think I come up with a big zero on the verifiable truthfulness of this story. What puzzles me, though, is that the two Christians who responded to the atheist’s comment seemed to have no problem with passing around an unverifiable story as truth.  They have seen or heard of enough similar stories that ARE true to decide that it is inconsequential whether this particular one is or not.  My question is this:  Why, oh, why, then are Christians passing around a make-believe story when there are apparently so many verifiably true ones that could be told?  Tell a true one – that would be a whole lot better and make a much better case for Christianity than the false one.  Do the ends justify the means?  Is it alright to tell falsehoods to further the cause?

Beyond that it was puzzling to me that when called out on the truthfulness, the Christians chose to deflect.  What in the world does evolution or the big bang theory have to do with truthfulness of the story being told?  Can somebody help me out here?


10 thoughts on “The Shadow of the Cross

  1. DmA, Why don't Christians verify these stories? Because most are uncritical. They accept what they hear from the pulpit, or from their Christian friends on face value. End of Story.I am fully convinced that almost every personal anecdote dispensed from a pastor behind a pulpit is a lie. I hate to sound so cynical, but I really mean what I say. Every Single personal anecdote told from the pulpit is made up. Fabricated by somebody out of thin air. The pastor may have made it up, or he may have heard it from somewhere and continues to pass it on, unverified, to his flock. Facts are never checked when claims come from the lips of the pastor. The same stories pass from one pulpit to another in the continuing and revered rounds of "oral tradition". I have seen how the flock reacts to the words of their pastor, and I have seen how the Real World reacts to claims critically. There could not be two more opposed methods and ways of thinking. The answer to your question is that Evangelical Christians do not possess, or do not utilize, critical thinking skills.


  2. There is an interesting passage in Romans 3:7-8 where it almost seems like Paul is admitting to doing a little bit of lying to promote God, but that he doesn't want people to think that he lies all the time or that he is lying just to glorify God.It's funny and sad, but I think that Christians Ron and Butch simply regurgitated 2 of the 3 most common stereotypical views about atheists which are promoted by the church:1) They believe that there is no God so that they can wallow in sinful lives guilt free.2) They arrogantly believe that their wisdom (science) is more accurate than God's wisdom.The third one being:3) They are angry with God because of something that happened or didn't happen.That deflection is the only defense they have to prevent them from having to open their minds to consider that there may actually be rational reasons why someone chooses to leave the faith, or to never adopt a faith.


  3. This seems like a remarkably poignant follow-up to the comic you posted immediately below. Truth matters. If you don't care whether this story is true or not, why should I believe you when you tell me that the theory of evolution doesn't hold water? Especially since almost everyone that I've heard express that sort of sentiment has also displayed an almost complete failure to understand what the theory of evolution actually says.


  4. Yeah, I was thinking of writing a post about popular Christian urban legends. This will be a legend, not necessarily popular. Another one is the one I read on the book Angels by Billy Graham. You've probably hear it. The young woman was walking home from work, in a very dangerous neighbourhood, late at night. Unbeknowst to her, a man was following her to harm her. I forget the rest, but apparently the man was asked why he didn't do anything. He said that she was surrounded by bodyguards, but witnesses say they saw no-one. They were angels, of course 🙂


  5. HeIsSailing, I completely agree that most pew-sitters either don't have or don't use critical thinking skills. I must admit I haven't always. I think maybe these "lies" are an attempt to affirm the faith of those who already believe, sort of a spinach for Popeye, a boost for the spirit. As a witnessing tool, they absolutely wreak! And as I said in my post, if the TRUE stories are so plentiful, why bother to make something up? Wouldn't it be easier to tell a real story, with names and everything? That would be much more of a shot in the arm if you could actually speak to the person it happened to. Obviously these "true" stories aren't as plentiful as these believers would like to believe. Else instead of deflecting to evolution, they would have supplied their own true story.


  6. TWF,I think you're right in your assessment of Ron and Butch. But using critical thinking skills they would realize that:1) It is completely irrational to believe that people think if they plug their ears and close their eyes they can get away with anything with a father who has eyes…well…everywhere.2)If they spent any time around scientists at all they would realize that arrogant is the last word they would use to describe them. For the most part they are willing to admit mistakes and failures and learn from them. Unlike some other sources of information, say the Bible…hmmmmmmand last but not least3) Most unbelievers or de-converts are not angry with God because they really don't think he exists. Kinda dumb to be angry with a non-existent entity. Besides being angry does not negate reality. If he does exist, being mad at him doesn't change that fact.


  7. MM,You are quite a perceptive mad scientist. I did find that cartoon while I was trying to find out about this story. Truth does matter. Not only does truth matter, but our attitude toward truth equally matters. I found it particularly troubling when each of the believers had this to say:Even if THIS story was made up, I’ve heard others that are true and just as compelling." RonIt doesn’t matter if this is true, for I’ve seen things like this first hand that are true! ButchReally? I would have been more impressed if they had tried to say it was a parable of some sort, but let me share with you this TRUE story. Attitude is everything.


  8. Lorena,I think that would make a pretty interesting post. There are quite a few of those urban legends making the circuit.I have heard the one you mentioned. Just more feel good sermons for the choir.


  9. Rick Coram, a traveling evangelist, is using this story in his preaching and saying it was recent like 15 years ago he said. He even embellished it even more by telling a lot more information about the diver and how he had a new roommate for the year that was a Christian and had been witnessing to him all year. I simply looked it up as sports fan to see if I could find out who the diver was. It is unfortunate that Christians are resorting to making up stories for effect.


  10. Yes, yes it is. When someone is already questioning the credibility of Christianity, finding Christians who lie “for the greater good”, does not bode well for them


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