I posted a news story on Facebook the other day that had a Scientology angle to it. It wasn’t too long before we (yes, myself included) were making judgmental, snide comments about Scientology and the implications of believing something so stupid.
Then I had one of those rare moments of clarity—well, rare for me anyway. Who am I to treat the beliefs of others with disdain?
I believe some pretty silly things
Humor me a second, while I lead you through a little exercise. If you’re a Christian, I want you to try and look at your beliefs objectively for a moment. Just observe them from an outsider’s perspective.
Depending on your denominational or theological background, you may believe any number of the following things:
- All the horrors of the world—including death—can be traced back to the first man and woman eating fruit.
- Whether benevolent or malevolent, the world is influenced by typically invisible, spiritual beings.
- God flooded the world but saved eight people and all the animals on ship.
- God freed the nation he created from slavery by—among other things—killing an entire country’s firstborn children (and firstborn animals).
- God overthrew a city by having people march around it multiple times followed by horn blowing and yelling.
- Part of God’s plan required genocide.
- God entered into humanity, becoming fully man, through the womb of a teenage virgin.
- Through the crucifixion of this sinless God-Man, we’re forgiven our sins before God.
- This God-Man’s sacrifice is only applied if you accept it. If you don’t accept it you may be destroyed—or worse.
- This God-Man rose from the dead, had some meetings, ate some fish, and then flew up to heaven.
- In his place, this God-Man sent a spirit (also God, but yet distinctly different) to live inside people.
- Having this spirit inside of you may enable you to speak other languages, heal people, or be filled with arcane knowledge about the future or other people.
- God responds to prayer.
- Everything we need to know about God is found in a book written by a bunch of different authors (influenced by God, of course) over a span of around 1500 years.
- At any moment, all the people who believe in this God-Man might just disappear, or at least the God-Man will descend from the clouds.
You probably don’t believe all these things, but it’s likely quite a few of them are part of your worldview. And this is only a smattering of the outlandish stuff in found in Scripture.
Can we admit that Christianity is kind of crazytown?
Because many of us are raised in the church and weened on the gospel, we lose sight of just how crazy all this sounds. When you factor in a steady diet of apologetic books by authors like Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel, it’s easy for us to think, “it’s only irrational people who don’t believe.”
That’s simply not the case.
The Gospel for dummies
Paul suggests that God intentionally revealed his story in such a way that the “foolish things in world would shame the wise.”(1 Cor. 1:7) It isn’t the most intelligent and learned among us that think our way into belief, it’s the simplest. In fact, in God’s economy intelligence might put you at a deficit when it comes to seeing gospel truth.
Even as I write this, I’m reading it through the eyes of an atheist. I can hear the scorn in their response, “so you’re actually coming out and saying that the Gospel is for stupid people? Finally. Thanks for finally being intellectually honest.”
Quite frankly, it embarrasses me, but yeah, I guess I’m saying that. No one’s going to be able to boast about how they’re a Christian because they’re so smart. (1 Cor. 1:29) When push comes to shove, belief is a grace that’s received as much as it’s discovered.
This shames those of us who are always working hard to prove to everyone else how smart we are. The true Gospel will always humble us—even in the manner in which it’s accepted.
My point here is that, despite what we want to believe, we’re probably not Christians because the Bible makes so much rational sense. Many of us believe in spite of the fact that there’s a lot in Christianity that just seems . . . well . . . foolish.
This should make us more humble
You’d think that we’d have an awareness of this foolishness. You’d think that it would make us more humble. You’d think we’d be more generous and understanding of the world’s various beliefs—but we don’t seem to be.
We Christians look at the philosophies and beliefs of others and we scoff, condescend, and make fun. As if a completely impartial person with no Spirit influence would look at Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism and say, “well, it’s obvious that Christianity is true because it’s just so logical.”
Paul called the gospel “foolishness to the Gentiles.” (1 Cor. 1:23) The Gentiles that Paul was thinking of weren’t idiots. They were the Greek philosophers that every Hellenized Jew knew well. In Paul’s eyes, these people, raised under the influence of thinkers like Xenocrates, Plutarch, Aristotle, and Lucretius, would have viewed the Gospel with bemused skepticism. It was just too unsophisticated to be taken seriously.
That’s not to say that there isn’t anything intelligent in Christianity. It’s where we find Christ, and it is Christ “who has become for us wisdom from God.” (1 Cor. 1:30) When, through our behavior, we embody Christ, we personify the very wisdom of God that is found in the Scripture.
When we mock, chide, and scornfully dismiss the beliefs of others, it must be because we’ve forgotten that we weren’t convinced by sensible information, but, rather, we were won over by an irrational incarnation.