During my trip to Massachusetts I found myself having to endure once again the ridicule and brickbats of so-called ‘well-meaning’ (at least I hope so) friends and co-workers who have felt the need to engage me in debating the fundamental beliefs of my Christian faith. Whether it has been directing me to certain Internet websites (how’s that for an authoritative source!), or discussing the relative merits of Dan Brown’s foolish piece of crap, The Da Vinci Code, or putting forth once more the tired (and, in my view) intellectually bankrupt argument that if science can’t prove Jesus existed, then He obviously couldn’t have, it’s just one of those things Christians often find themselves having to face in an increasingly secular and anti-Christian society. Along these very lines, a few thoughts come to mind:
1) I often wonder why so-called ‘non-believers’, be they athiests or agnostics, feel such a need to debate, ridicule, and/or criticize someone’s faith when that person’s belief does them or serves them no harm. I’ve never felt the need to criticize, debate, or condemn anyone who isn’t a believer; I wonder why they feel it necessary to do so with me? Perhaps I’m just approachable. Or unafraid to wear my faith on my sleeve.
Want to know what I think? I think deep down many who are so quick to ridicule, or feel the need to debate, Christianity are deep-down afraid – afraid that there might very well be such a figure as Jesus Christ, and Heaven and Hell, and Judgment, and a moral code of ethics that comes with the teachings of organized religion, and that the very prospect of such is so threatening to non-believers that they feel the need to somehow reassure themselves of the ‘rightness’ of their beliefs by seeking to debate the issue time and again with believers.
2) To use science as a basis for discounting anything and everything associated with Christianity is, on its face, both asinine and ignorant. Science only knows what science knows at any given point in history. During Columbus’ day, science taught that the world was flat. Until amazing discoveries in the field of biology and medicine, science’s conventional wisdom treated people with bleedings and leeches and amputations, because it didn’t know better. To say that if you can’t see it, you can’t prove it existed (as in, for example, Jesus’ existence and resurrection) is, in effect, to say that anything that never left any kind of a trace that can be quantified in some way could never have existed.
Such a stance is both laughable and absurd. How can you quantify or measure love? Or passion? Or empathy? Or hatred? You can measure symptoms or the by-products of those things, but they in and of themselves cannot be measured. The same holds true for those civilizations and people and kings and cultures that we know very little about; nevertheless their very existence is understood to have taken place, even by science. Both Jewish and Roman historians provide evidence of Jesus’ existence and the existence of the movement he founded; again, one wonders if the prospect of such a figure having existed might be frightening and intimdating to those who were not raised in the Christian tradition or did and have rejected it.
3) The whole argument that Christianity is some by-product of the figment of someone’s vivid imagination is, on it’s face, an indication of the ignorance people have when it comes to human history, culture, and communication – in Christianity’s case, in the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Those who try to imprint their understanding of Christianity from a 20th century perspective is like me trying to tell a nuclear physicist that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The fact is, unless you have a real understanding of the way the ancient Greeks and Romans communicated and passed history down from one generation to another, you’re speaking nonsense. If you hate Christians and Christianity for some basic and fundamental reason, that’s fine – but if you’re going to discount it from a real and historical perspective, at least understand where and how it came about so at least you’re not talking out of your ass.
4) In the end, one’s religion comes down to faith. You can’t rationalize or quantify it, but you can live it before God and in the presence of others. I have confidence in my faith. I believe I have been touched by the hand of God several times in my life, and I have also seen face to face the presence of Satan and all his lies, distortions, and temptations. Does it make me perfect? Of course not. Does it make me qualified to judge others? Absolutely not. But I do know from my experiences and the teachings of my faith that those who knowingly and willingly work against the Cross of Jesus Christ in their lives and in the lives of others live with their souls at risk and in a very present and real danger from the Evil One.
5) People love to criticize the Church, as if somehow just because people are Christians they’re supposed to somehow be immune to the trials and temptations of life. The Church has made a lot of mistakes over the millennia, and I’m not going to defend it in the many areas in which it has gone astray. All I wll say is that the Church has done a lot of good in the world, and that, when all is said and done, the world has been better off for it. Another thought: if the Church’s teachings are so abhorrent and their faithful so misguided, why do athiests and agnostics feel the need to compare the way they go about and live their lives against the teachings of the Church? To you athiests and agnostics out there, I say, go find yourselves your own moral code to live your lives by (more on that another time).
So here’s where I stand on all this – bottom line: I’m done debating my faith with friends and co-workers. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, pure and simple, unabashed and unashamed. You feel the need to argue Christianity with someone? Go find another patsy. But do yourself a favor – before you do, try attending church on a regular basis or do some reading – serious reading – on the Church and its history and beliefs ahead of time. To do otherwise deflates your whole position and makes you sound foolish, petty, and ignorant. Of couse, if an argument is what you want, an argument is what you’ll get. But it won’t be pretty, and it won’t be fought with one hand tied behind my back anymore. I’ve tried to be nice. I’ve tried to be understanding; but now you’re on your own. Good luck.