Archive for April, 2012

What If all Christians aren’t Deluded?

Posted: April 25, 2012 by Nathan in What If...
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Marx stated that religion is the opiate of the masses. The implication here being that it is OK for the non thinking working man but not for anyone with a working brain. Many people still see Christianity as a crutch for the weak and gullible. So how true is this view?

I heard some once say that the reason that he decided to look into Christianity in the first instance was that he decided that all these millions of Christians around the world couldn’t all be totally mad! What he found changed his life forever. It is easy to think that Christianity is OK for those that need it. For those that need an opiate or a crutch. Let’s also be honest that, discounting it’s truth or lack of it, Christianity does good for many many people. God in the lives of millions of people is seen by those people as a good and beneficial thing. However, surely all these millions don’t all need Christianity as a crutch? Would they all fall apart without it? Is it just for the week and the vulnerable? Are the followers of Christianity all mad or could it be that they have discovered a truth in what they believe?

It is easy to look at the history of Christianity and believe that it’s followers are deluded. If you look at the crusades it is hard to believe that theses followers of a, so called, religion of love could be anything but deluded. When we look at the wars that have been waged in the name of Christianity over the years, again, it is easy to conclude that these are mad people who have just gotten it all wrong. And so it may be. I believe there is little of no justification for these acts. However, I do believe that there is an explanation. People’s beliefs, when held strongly cause passion to rise and reason to fall. It is why people blow themselves and others up in the name of their beliefs. It is why wars have been fought for years in the name of religion. Not only do they have a passion they have a justification and a, so called, calling. They have people behind them and a perceived enemy and threat to their belief in front of them. As far as Christianity is concerned I believe it is not a religion but a relationship. A relationship formed in love. If you take the love aspect away from Christianity you get religion. Here we find the problem with the crusades. They had the passion without the love to restrain and guide it. The same is true of wars in which Christians have been involved. They have the passion to fight the good fight but not the love to show them who the real enemy is. The Bible clearly teaches us that our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the powers and principalities of this world. So it is easy to look at history and conclude that Christians have got it very wrong, that they are in some ways deluded or mad. However, can what they believe in be discounted because of their actions? Is God less real because of what people believe about him. The answer has to be no! God does not exist because I believe in him nor does he not exist because others disbelieve his existence. If I chose to believe the sun is made of chocolate and therefore wear no sun tan lotion because of my belief doesn’t mean the sun isn’t made of gases and also doesn’t mean I WON’T get burnt.

So God can’t be judged by those that follow him. Becoming a Christian doesn’t make you perfect, far from it. Becoming a Christian gives you forgiveness, mercy and grace but definitely not perfection. It gives you a reason to seek after doing good and getting things right but Christians are still very human. There is no mistaking that Christians over the centuries have made huge mistakes. There is no mistaking that some Christians are on the crazier side of sane. There is also no mistake that Christians, myself included, continue to make mistakes and are far from perfect. However, have we all really got it so wrong. Are we all really that deluded. Or is it possible that there is something that is worth looking into? Is there possibly something that can begin to make sense of the life that we’ve been given? Don’t get me wrong belief in God won’t give you all the answers, in fact in the short term it could raise more than it answers. However, Christianity will provide you with a firm foundation on which to build. The Bible describes Jesus as being our Rock on which to build our lives.

So what about today? Is it just the weak and the dumb that believe? In a world where science is touted as king are there intelligent people out there that have weighed up the evidence and have faith that the God of the Bible exists? Well the simple answer is a resounding YES!! There are millions of educated, intelligent, perfectly sane people that put their trust in God. Not a blind faith but a faith born out of research, thought and a weighing up of the evidence. So are all Christians deluded? Perhaps it may be worth finding out!

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Imagine, if you will, a trip to the Grand Canyon. You arrive and spend a week exploring one of the greatest sites on the planet. You see it from the air as you arrive, you walk down into it and spend the night at the bottom. You visit the North, South and West rims. You visit the gift shops and buy your souvenirs. You see the canyon at sunrise and sunset and every time in between. Finally you head for home. When you arrive home you’re told that the Grand Canyon doesn’t exist. Imagine how you would feel. Imagine your unbelief of what you are being told. You’ve been there, experienced it and now you’re being told that all of that was untrue.

I guess this is a little of what I feel when I try to imagine Christianity not being true. I’ve believed it, I’ve stepped out in faith, I’ve experienced it, I’ve found it to be true. I’ve tested it and evaluated it. I have seen God at work in my life and in the lives of others. I have felt His presence and seen answers to my prayers. This is all to say that trying to imagine that Christianity is just a Myth is an extremely difficult things for me to do. I know you can discount the experiences of others but when you’ve experienced something it is hard to discount it.

Having said that lets have a look at the bottom line. Belief in God is a leap of faith. However, let’s not confuse that with blind faith. Belief in God is not blind faith. Belief in God is about looking at the available information that you have, evaluating it and then coming to a decision. So belief in God does take faith and therefore isn’t something you can prove. You have to trust that you have based your decisions on correct information, made wise judgements and trusted in something that not only intellectually viable but is also true! So, at the end of the day what if you based your decision on a myth?

Now, I know that this whole subject might just seem like a exercise in covering one’s back but what I’m wanting to convey is that a step of faith isn’t such a major thing. It’s not about diving headlong into a gaping chasm, it’s about taking small steps, carefully exploring and finding out wonderful things along the way. If at the end of the day you decide it’s not true you will have lost nothing, even if you live your whole life as a Christian only to discover it was a myth you will have lost nothing. If Christianity is not true, when you die that is it, no judgement, no hell, just nothing!! Your body, mind, spirit, soul is no more. Whatever you believed makes no difference. We will all find ourselves in the same boat.

But will you look back with huge regrets? Regrets of living your life for something that’s not true? If I were to get to the end of my life and discover somehow that Christianity were not true I would be gutted, but not because of a life wasted. I believe that so much of the teaching of the Bible is the best way to live. Even if you were to take away the bed-rock of the truth of the Bible, if you were to say that God didn’t exist I would argue that much of the teaching of the Bible, even being man created, gave us the best way to live. Even disregarding the Bible altogether I believe that it is…

  • better to love than to hate
  • better to pursue peace than war
  • better to give than receive
  • better to put others first than yourself
  • better to faithful than unfaithful or faithless
  • better to be sincere than insincere
  • better to be truthful than to lie
  • better to be selfless rather than be self-seeking
  • better to be polite rather than be rude
  • better to be satisfied rather than be dis-satisfied
  • better to be focussed rather than be aimless
  • better to see the good in people rather than the bad
  • better to be trusting rather than sceptical
  • better to hate injustice rather than embrace it
  • better to work for the good rather than evil
  • better to help rather than to hinder
  • better to build up rather than to destroy
  • better to see people as equal rather than superior or inferior
  • better to provide rather than withhold
  • better to respect rather than disrespect
  • better to persevere rather than give up
  • better to live in unity rather than in discord
  • better to forgive than to hold grudges
  • better to seek forgiveness rather than revenge

I’m sure the list could go on. Surely a life lived by these principles won’t hold too many regrets. If God does not exist a life lived as if he does exist will not be wasted or full of regrets – it will be a life lived along great principles, for others, with passion and with hope. But hey, I truly believe that you’d have an easier task convincing me that the Grand Canyon didn’t exist than convincing me that God didn’t.