Ray Comfort

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Ray Comfort
Ray Comfort.JPG
October 2010
Born Ray Comfort[1]
(1949-12-05) December 5, 1949 (age 64)
New Zealand
Ethnicity Jewish (mother)[2]
Occupation Christian Evangelist, author, television host
Known for The Way of the Master, Living Waters Publications, Christian Evangelism
Religion Evangelical Christianity
Spouse(s) Sue Comfort (1972-present)
Children Rachel, Jacob, Daniel[3]
Website
Living Waters

Ray Comfort (born December 5, 1949) is a New Zealand-born Christian minister and evangelist. Comfort started Living Waters Publications and The Way of the Master in Bellflower, California and has written a number of books.

Early life[edit]

Comfort was born December 5, 1949 in New Zealand[3] to a Jewish mother and a father whom he has described as "a Gentile [who] was open to the things of God". According to Comfort's autobiography, his parents put "Methodist" on his birth certificate because his mother feared the possibility of "another Hitler", but he was given no religious instruction as a child.[3][4] Comfort identifies himself as Jewish.[2] According to Comfort, he was in the top class of his high school in Christchurch, where he attained a School Certificate (equivalent to a high school diploma in the US). He did not pursue higher education.[5]

Career[edit]

Comfort worked in a bank after finishing high school, and later started a business at age 20. Ray Comfort converted to Christianity on 25 April 1972, when he was 22. He then began seven years training at a local church, after which he was ordained as a full-time pastor. Comfort then spent three and a half years as a pastor in Christchurch, New Zealand, and 12 years preaching open-air in the city's Speaker's Corner. He has no formal training nor theological degree. In his mid-20s, he began receiving invitations to speak internationally. In 1989, he accepted an invitation to join the pastoral staff at the non-denominational Calvary Chapel in Southern California.[5]

The Way of the Master ministry[edit]

Ray Comfort with collaborator Kirk Cameron in 2008

In the mid-1990s Comfort persuaded Kirk Cameron, star of the cancelled hit sitcom Growing Pains, to become an evangelist. The pair formed an organization called The Way of the Master, with the intention of teaching the church to more effectively preach the message of evangelical Christianity.[6]

Comfort says that evangelism is the main reason the Christian Church exists and that many of the evangelistic methods used over the last century have produced false conversions to Christianity. Comfort often uses the Ten Commandments to speak about sin before presenting the gospel of Jesus. In the mid-1980s he formulated two sermons entitled "Hell's Best Kept Secret"[7] and "True and False Conversions."[8]

Comfort speaks professionally at churches and evangelism seminars, and preaches in Huntington Beach, California. As well as co-hosting the former The Way of the Master Radio with Kirk Cameron, he is co-host of The Way of the Master Television Show.

Debates[edit]

Comfort, seated behind Kirk Cameron, at a debate on the existence of God at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan, 5 May 2007

On 13 April 2001, Comfort appeared at the 27th National Convention of American Atheists in Orlando, Florida, where he debated Ron Barrier, the National Spokesperson for American Atheists.[9] Comfort later stated that "they laughed at my humor, and although there was unified mockery at some of the things that I said, I was able to go through the Ten Commandments, the fact of Judgment Day, the reality of Hell, the Cross, and the necessity of repentance, and no one stopped me."[9]

On 5 May 2007, Comfort and Cameron participated in a televised debate with Brian Sapient and Kelly O'Connor of the Rational Response Squad, at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan. The debate focused on the existence of God, which Comfort claimed he could prove scientifically without relying on faith or the Bible. Nightline correspondent Martin Bashir moderated the event.[10] During the debate, Cameron and Comfort repeatedly referenced the Ten Commandments and denied the theory of evolution.[10]

In February 2009, Comfort challenged Richard Dawkins to a debate, offering to donate $10,000 to him.[11] Dawkins, who had previously stated a general policy not to debate with creationists,[11] said he would agree to do it if Comfort made a $100,000 donation to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science non-profit organization. Comfort raised his offer to $20,000, which according to PZ Myers was "not enough."[12]

Publications[edit]

Tracts[edit]

Gospel tracts produced by Ray Comfort's ministry, Living Waters

According to Comfort, he has designed dozens of gospel tracts since the 1970s, and sells millions of Living Waters tracts each year.[13] Some of his tracts are designed to resemble paper money, including fake $100, $1000 and $1 million bills. Others employ novelties intended to amuse, such as a "ticket to heaven" that invites the reader to tear it if they do not need it; the ticket is printed on a polymer substrate, making it extremely durable.[14] The tracts typically attempt to persuade the reader that on judgment day, they will certainly be found guilty of breaking one or more of the Ten Commandments, and therefore will be sent to hell, unless they say a prayer to acknowledge Christ's substitutionary atonement.

In June 2006, agents of the US Secret Service confiscated thousands of Ray Comfort's "Million Dollar Bill" gospel tracts from Darrel Rundus, president of Great News Network. A federal district court judge ruled that the tracts, which were marked as "not legal tender", did not violate federal law and ordered their return.[15]

In October 2010, The New Zealand Herald reported that elderly people received "appointment cards" by Comfort's California-based publishing company, Living Waters, asking them to fill out information regarding the date and time of their deaths, and advising them to contact evangelists in order to avoid hell. Recipients of these cards expressed anger and horror over receiving them, and contacted police over the matter, with one of them commenting, "It's disgusting. It was quite spooky. I just couldn't comprehend why anyone would ask you to predict the date of your death." The New Zealand Herald summarized a statement from Living Waters spokesperson Lisa Law as saying that "the cards were a way of raising awareness of human mortality in order to spark discussion about Jesus", and that Law "did not know who sent [the tracts]".[16]

Books[edit]

Ray Comfort has authored or compiled more than 70 books and tracts.[17][18] His 2009 book You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think, ranked #1 in Amazon.com's atheism and apologetics categories when it debuted in February 2009.[19][20][21]

Controversy over abridged version of On the Origin of Species[edit]

Cover art of Ray Comfort's edition of The Origin of Species, with subtitle "Special introduction by Ray Comfort"

In November 2009, Comfort released an edited and abridged version of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, with a 50-page foreword detailing creationist arguments against the theory of evolution.[22] Stan Guffey, a biologist at the University of Tennessee, has alleged that most of Comfort's section on Darwin's life was plagiarised from his work.[23][24] The book was given away for free at selected schools around the United States.[25]

According to Comfort's website, "nothing has been removed from Darwin's original work",[26] but Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, noted that Comfort deleted four chapters by Darwin that described the evidence for evolution, adding that two of the omitted chapters, Chapters 11 and 12, showcased biogeography, some of Darwin's strongest evidence for evolution.[27] She wrote that Comfort's foreword is "a hopeless mess of long-ago-refuted creationist arguments, teeming with misinformation about the science of evolution, populated by legions of strawmen, and exhibiting what can be charitably described as muddled thinking".

On his website, Comfort said that the four chapters were chosen at random to be omitted in order to make the book small enough to be affordable as a giveaway, with the absent chapters available for download, and that the missing chapters were included in the second edition, which had a smaller text size that made printing the entire book as a giveaway affordable. The second edition still lacks Darwin's preface and glossary of terms.[28][29] The National Center for Science Education arranged a campaign at colleges across the US to distribute an analysis of the Comfort introduction, a one page flier,[22] and "the NCSE Safety Bookmark" in the shape of a banana, a reference to Comfort's presentation of the banana as an argument for the existence of God.[30][31]

List of notable books published[edit]

Film[edit]

Ray Comfort open-air preaching at a Great News Network evangelism boot camp in 2004

In 2011, Comfort wrote and produced a 33-minute documentary film called 180: Changing the Heart of a Nation. The film was criticized by The Huffington Post for its comparison of abortion to the Holocaust.[39]

Filmography[edit]

  • The Secrets of Nostradamus Exposed (1995): Writer, producer
  • True Fiction (1999): Writer
  • The Way of the Master series (2003–14): Self - Host, writer, producer
  • 180: Changing the Heart of a Nation (2011): Self, writer, producer
  • Genius (2012): Self, writer, director
  • Evolution vs. God: Shaking the Foundations of Faith (2013): Self, director
  • Hellbound? (2013): Self
  • Noah and the Last Days (2014): Director, producer, writer, self, runner, sound

References[edit]

  1. ^ Comfort, Ray (1986). In Search of New Jawbones. Living Waters Publications. ISBN 0908751001, ISBN 9780908751006. Google Books. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b Ray Comfort (1 September 2009). Nothing Created Everything: The Scientific Impossibility of Atheistic Evolution. Jesus was Jewish. All the disciples were Jewish. The first eight thousand Christians were Jewish. I am Jewish. Christianity came from the home of the Jews. ISBN 978-1-935071-23-5. 
  3. ^ a b c "About Ray Comfort". RayComfortBooks.com. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  4. ^ Comfort, Ray (2003). Out of the Comfort Zone: The Authorized Autobiography. Bridge-Logos Publishers. pp. 123, 202. ISBN 978-0-88270-943-7. 
  5. ^ a b Comfort, Ray (3 March 2011). "Atheists Question my Education". Bully Pulpit. 
  6. ^ Bashir, Martin (17 March 2006). "Kirk Cameron, From Sitcom Star to Evangelist". Nightline. p. 3. Retrieved 17 May 2007. 
  7. ^ Comfort, Ray. Hell's Best Kept Secret. WVCY-TV 30. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  8. ^ Comfort, Ray (3 Mar 2012). True & False Conversions. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Ireland, Michael (16 April 2001). "Atheists National Spokesman Debates Christian Author on Good Friday at National Convention". AssistNews.net. Retrieved 23 February 2009. 
  10. ^ a b Bashir, Martin (7 May 2007). "The Nightline Face-Off". ABC News. Retrieved 22 January 2009. 
  11. ^ a b Dawkins, Richard (14 May 2006). "Why I Won't Debate Creationists". RichardDawkins.net. Archived from the original on 13 Aug 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2009. 
  12. ^ Myers, PZ (24 Feb 2009). "Got $100,000?". Pharyngula. ScienceBlogs. 
  13. ^ Comfort, Ray (May 2004). Out of the Comfort Zone: The Authorized Autobiography. Bridge-Logos Publishers. p. 21. ISBN 0-88270-943-7. 
  14. ^ "Ticket to Heaven". Living Waters Publications. 
  15. ^ "Million Dollar Bill Gospel Tracts are Legal, Judge Rules". Christian Post. April 2, 2010. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  16. ^ Carroll, Joanne (31 October 2010). "'Appointment with death' cards shocking for elderly". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  17. ^ "Ray Comfort". Living Waters Publications. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  18. ^ "Books by Ray Comfort". Amazon.com. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  19. ^ a b Thompson, Dorothy (16 February 2009). "An Interview with Ray Comfort, Author of You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think". Blogcritics. Retrieved 17 February 2009. 
  20. ^ "Book appeals to atheists, Christians alike". OneNewsNow. 18 February 2009. Retrieved 3 March 2009. 
  21. ^ Phan, Katherine T. (14 February 2009). "Christian Evangelist's Book Ranked Bestselling 'Atheist' Item". The Christian Post. Retrieved 3 March 2009. 
  22. ^ a b "The Don't Diss Darwin Institute". Analysis and synopsis. National Center for Science Education. 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2009. 
  23. ^ Miller, Laura (23 November 2009). "Creationism vs. atheism: It's on!". Salon.com. 
  24. ^ Hall, Rikki (2 December 2009). "[University of Tennessee] Professor Considers Legal Action Over Use of Charles Darwin Bio". Metro Pulse (Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group). Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  25. ^ Gilgoff, Dan; Comfort, Ray (29 October 2009). "Exclusive: Ray Comfort Defends His Creationist Edition of 'On the Origin of Species'". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  26. ^ "Origin Into Schools". Living Waters. 2009. Archived from the original on 9 November 2009. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  27. ^ Scott, Eugenie (30 October 2009). "How Creationist 'Origin' Distorts Darwin". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  28. ^ "Press Kit: Origin into Schools". Living Waters. 2009. Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  29. ^ Darwin, Charles (September 2009). Comfort, Ray, ed. The Origin of Species (150th Anniversary ed.). Bridge Logos Publishers. ISBN 978-0882709192. 
  30. ^ "Got Comfort? Get protection! | NCSE". 9 November 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2009. 
  31. ^ Comfort, Ray (26 Apr 2006). Atheist Nightmare (Video). YouTube. 
  32. ^ "Hell's Best Kept Secret by Ray Comfort (Book Review)". South View Chapel. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  33. ^ a b Lieberman, Tucker (2009). "God Doesn’t Believe in Creationists: A Response to the Books of Ray Comfort". Positive Atheism Magazine. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  34. ^ Speed, John (4 February 2008). "Review: "The Way of the Master" by Ray Comfort & Kirk Cameron". The Informed Evangelist. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  35. ^ "Evolution is a Fairy Tale for Grownups, says Man Who Believes in Crocoduck". The Friendly Atheist. Patheos. 17 April 2008. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  36. ^ "Book Review: "World Religions in a Nutshell: A Compact Guide to Reaching Those of Other Faiths"". The Godless Wolf. February 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  37. ^ Kirshenbaum, Sheril (19 November 2009). "On Comfort's "Origin of Species"". Discover Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  38. ^ Keysor, Joseph (23 April 2012). "Hitler, God, and the Bible (Book Review)". Credo Magazine. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  39. ^ "'180' Documentary Compares Abortion To Holocaust, Goes Viral Among Pro-Life Groups". The Huffington Post. October 12, 2011. "The film, which shows a series of graphic images, is gaining attention not only because of its controversial comparison, but because it highlights 14 people who do not know who Adolf Hitler was" 

External links[edit]