There is an anecdote Moody liked to share that I think is typical of the conservative Christian mentality. I was raised this way, as I've written about on my blog. If you want to keep a closed mind, here is how to do it:
If you stop to ask yourself why you don't believe in Christ, is there really any reason? People read infidel books and wonder why they are unbelievers, I ask why they read such books. They think they must read both sides. I say that book is a lie; how can it be one side when it is a lie? It is not one side at all. Suppose a man tells right down lies about my family, and I read them so as to hear both sides; it would not be long before some suspicion would creep into my mind. I said to a man once, "Have you got a wife?" "Yes, and a good one." I asked: "Now what if I should come to you and cast out insinuations against her?" And he said, "Well your life would not be safe long if you did." I told him just to treat the devil as he would treat a man who went around with such stories. We are not to blame for having doubts flitting through our minds, but for harboring them. Let us go out trusting the Lord with heart and soul to-day.
When I was a teenager I read Benjamin Franklin's autobiography. In it he wrote about how he had studied the anti-deistic writings of certain Christian scholars. What came about was that Franklin found the arguments of the Deists, which had been lengthily quoted in order to refute them, stronger than the refutations. I had the same experience with what Moody called "infidel books."
I had been warned about the wicked writings of "Tom" Paine and Col. Ingersoll. I had been led to believe these men were vile beasts. But my curiosity eventually got the better of me and I read Paine's Age of Reason and Ingersoll's lectures and found - to my astonishment - that these were good men, compassionate men, men of great learning. Their anti-Bible writings were geared toward freeing the human mind from the bondage of fear and superstition - their goal was to make better men and women out of their fellow humans.
Charles Darwin to this day is seen by certain religious folk as a Satan incarnate, who unleashed a theory that became the root of all modern evil. I have seen tree diagrams in Christian books that attempted to trace racism, eugenics, genocide, and all manner of sin, rebellion and debauchery back to Darwin's theory. I think such things are better linked to ignorance.
I mentioned Bart Ehrman at the beginning. Isn't it ironic that he once studied at Moody Bible Institute but finally abandoned Evangelical Christianity for agnosticism and now writes what Moody himself would have considered "infidel books"?
But as far as the pejoratives like infidel go, it is helpful to point out the early Christians were considered atheists by the pagan Romans and are considered infidels by modern Muslims. Hey, maybe, just maybe, I could be considered a Bible-thumper myself (just perhaps in reverse) because I sure talk about it and even quote it alot!
Labels aside, shouldn't we all seek to be honest and open-minded?