Note to Reader: All these posts are abbreviated works. I hope to publish a book I have been carefully researching and writing for many years. My goal is to provide a glimpse of what my book will look like.
The monumental task before us when it comes to convincing an Evangelical Christian his/her faith is not based on facts or logic is exactly that. They are taught repeatedly not to trust science or reason when it comes to all things Biblical. Science is great when it means finding a cure for disease or making a better iPhone, but the moment it intrudes into God’s domain or questions the Bible, it has overstepped its bounds.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul makes this point while writing to a church steeped in Greek philosophy. Paul’s argument is true wisdom comes from God alone and not man. Furthermore, unless you have God’s spirit within you, you cannot possibly understand the spiritual things Paul’s teaching. A convenient argument.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. c 14The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:10b-16)
The bigger issue is why don’t evangelicals rigorously scrutinize the Bible with the same zeal they painstakingly critique science and reason? The answer is simple. First, why challenge the truth when you already know it to be true. Second, and perhaps more importantly, why bite the spiritual hand that feeds you?
Christianity began on the assumption Jesus had risen from the dead. This was a foregone conclusion not open to debate. What was such a conviction based on? It was solely on the mystical encounters of his closest followers with who they thought was the risen Jesus. Remember, to the ancient Jewish mind, spirits were part of the “real” world as much as physical entities. Having an angelic or demonic encounter was common to Jesus followers. Jesus entire ministry focused on exorcism, so “seeing” an angel or Jesus in a spiritual state was not an ontological stretch of the imagination. This conviction both fueled and drove men like Paul, who had his own private encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus, to diligently search the Hebrew writings (Old Testament) for proof of what was already deemed incontrovertibly true.
Second, while the naiveté of these ancient people is understandable and forgivable, what is our excuse? How, two thousand years later, are we still duped into believing what is quite obviously superstition? We have literary tools available to us today which make excavating the Biblical text easy. Science has helped unlock the secrets of the universe. The telescope allowed us to see “God” for the first time, and a microscope gave us the ability to examine him. Yet evangelical Christians are unwilling to look!? What are they afraid of finding?
You seldom find what you’re not looking for; but you never find what you refuse to look for.
This is the crux of the matter when it comes to most religions but especially Christianity. There is little incentive and even less motivation to investigate a faith upon which so much rests especially hope. The combination of fear and hope provide the basis of faith. Fear of what awaits us in the afterlife. Hope in the promise of eternal bliss. Mankind’s most vexing questions are here answered. And all it takes is simple faith in a man who two thousand years ago was thought to have risen from the dead, just like the Bible says.
It all comes back to the authority of the Bible. Can we trust it as a reliable historical source? Does it satisfy the criteria to be considered divinely inspired and absolutely infallible when it comes to the resurrection account(s)? Herein lies the challenge which few Christians are willing to accept. Does an unbiased critical examination using reason and not faith to guide us, yield evidence to support or reject the claims of Christianity?
In conclusion, I fully appreciate the benefits of Christian faith. This world is cruel and merciless for most. Life offers many struggles and pain and suffering are never far away. For centuries belief in God has succored the poor, needy and desperate. It is unfathomable to ponder how many have taken their last breath with the assurance God awaited them on the other side. Everyday people get out of bed and lean on God for support and comfort. Prayer is a resource which helps allay worry and bring us into contact with the One who can look over those we care about. I get it. Who would want to give this up? But understand, faith is no longer a private affair. These same believers are using their faith to bludgeon those unsympathetic to their views. Evangelicalism has become vicious and insensitive to the needs of others. This issue will be addressed in the next post: “Inside the Mind of an Evangelical: The Cure for Spiritual Cancer”