Do We Care About Christianity?

Is Christianity really a driving passion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A couple of nights ago, my wife and I talked about this topic and it is one that leads to soul-searching. I am a Christian apologist. My whole life is built around Christianity. Everything I do (Or at least I hope everything I do) is informed by my Christian worldview, yet do I really care that much about the Christian worldview?

Some might think an apologist would, but remember C.S. Lewis warned years ago about some people who were so eager to show that God exists that they didn’t have anything better for Him to do than exist. Sometimes we could be so intent on proving Jesus rose that we do nothing more with that than show Christianity is true. It’s like something I’ve said about the Trinity. It’s often this nice little doctrine we keep to the side and we pull it out whenever we have to beat up visiting Jehovah’s Witnesses.

What I want to ask myself regularly and I do ask myself is if I really have a passion for Christianity. Do I get excited? Now to be fair, different things will reach different people. When I hear sermons that are just largely application with no historical foundation or anything like that, then yeah, I find it easy to zone out quickly. When I’m at a church service, I often wish we could rush through the music part because many times the songs are often just so shallow and self-focused. I also think that sometimes when they’re not if we paid attention to the words we say, we’d find that we’re really lying. We talk about how much we are in love with Jesus and how much joy He brings and then go home and find joy in everything else but Jesus.

I’d like to tell you I’m a great prayer warrior and someone who read plenty of the Bible every day. I’m not. I read a chapter of the Old Testament and of the New Testament every morning and a verse at night before I go to bed to give me something to think about as well as the reading of a few verses with the Mrs. If I told you that every day of reading the Bible is exciting and I learn something, I’d be lying. For prayer, I have a mentor to help me with this, but it can still be a struggle.

Years ago I remember in preparing to marry Allie, I remember someone telling me that they saw me as a great lover of God when I spoke. It wasn’t just an intellectual thing for me. It was something real. When I hear that, I get amazed. I am the last one who would describe myself as a great lover of God.

The odd thing is, it’s so easy to get excited about nearly everything else. It’s easy to get excited about a new episode of a TV show coming out that we enjoy. It’s easy to be looking forward to that movie. It’s easy to look forward to a time of romance with my wife. I’m not saying we shouldn’t look forward to these things. God gave us plenty of good things for us to enjoy. (1 Tim. 6:17.) Many of you will have your own interests.

You can say you find it hard to really learn the things of God, but how many of you know the statistics of your favorite sports team by heart? How many of you could practically write the strategy guide to your favorite video game? How many of you know all the intricacies of your favorite TV show? It’s honestly not that it’s hard, it’s just that we’re not interested.

I think one reason for this is we’ve grown up so much with Christianity that it’s become familiar. We can often wonder how skeptics don’t see the truth of Christianity, but there is something that they do see that we could bear to see. They see that it’s a radical difference from the main view of the world. We actually believe in a God who works and does miracles and that the second person of the Trinity lived among us, died, and rose again.

Let’s be honest. A lot of stuff we believe is indeed bizarre to think about. We definitely do need good evidence and while I do think we have it, let’s not lose sight of how incredible it is.

There are an endless number of truths that could get us excited every day and reveal the grace of God in our lives. We could think about the wonders of the universe and how God made this grand cosmos so we could have one planet to live on. We could go inward and think about the wonder of our own bodies and how even a tiny cell in our bodies is a living factory. We could also turn and look at our neighbor and realize that our fellow man is always a fascinating story. I have said before that a good producer could take the life story of any living human being and turn it into a highly popular major motion picture. Why? Because people are interesting.

Wonder is just something that we’ve lost. We’ve lost it because we take everything for granted. It’s become a truism for us that Christianity is true and we don’t often look at just how radical it is that Christianity is true. Do we really consider what that means?

Let’s also talk about forgiveness. Think about it. You will never face eternal judgment for all the things you’ve done wrong and you rightly deserve that eternal judgment. God is not going to give you what you deserve. Instead, more often than not, we’re whining because God doesn’t give us something that we want. It has been a great help in my life to realize that God doesn’t owe me a thing unless He’s promised it to me. That makes me more prone to view everything I have as a gift.

When I spoke about Bible reading, we take it for granted. How many of us have Bibles just sitting on our shelves? Do we not realize how many people in persecuted countries would love to have a Bible? If they have just a page of the Bible, they study that constantly hanging on to every word. We treat it like it’s a book just like any other book. We don’t realize what a privilege we have that we can read the Bible.

It is a privilege that you can go to church freely and worship. We in the West often whine about persecution. We really don’t have a clue what real persecution is like. The day that your life is in danger because you go to church because someone wants to kill you for that, I will say you know what persecution is.

I just have to pause and ask myself why is it that I don’t really take the time to appreciate and celebrate the good things that I have. As an apologist, am I more interested in showing Christianity is true than also learning what a difference it makes? I need both. Some of us have strived to be so sure that our doctrine is right that we haven’t bothered to see if our Christian walk is right.

I also don’t want to be legalistic in this. My wife and I still joke about hearing a Christian conspiracy theorist talk about the Pokemon Go game and saying that while some of you are out there playing that, you could be doing evangelism. Of course, that can lead to any number of bizarre ideas. You could take your wife out on a date which is really helpful to your marriage, but you could be doing evangelism. You could go to sleep, but you could be doing evangelism. You could go to church and worship, but you could be doing evangelism. I am not at all saying we are to be machines doing evangelism and nothing else at all.

I am just saying that I want to watch myself and I suspect a lot of you want to watch yourself. I am honestly hopeful that some of you are reading this and saying “I hear you. I could bear to get some joy over Christianity.” I want it to be that when people look at my life, they know that Christ is a passion for me.

If anything else seems like a greater passion, the goal is not to love that less. Not at all. C.S. Lewis said it’s always the goal to love Christ more. What sense does it make to say “I’m going to love X less so that it gets below my love for Christ.”? Why not raise your love for Christ?

I do think apologetics is greatly important for this. It shows us that Christianity is true and not just an idea. Once we know it is true, the onus is on us. What are we going to be doing with that? If we do not let it change the way we live our lives, do we really believe it? Maybe we do, but has it really sunk in?

Our lives are gifts, and God gave us many things that we can enjoy. There are many other gods vying for our attention. Sex, money, food, pleasure, popularity, etc. None of these are evils in themselves. All of them we can enjoy when we do so rightly, but let us never look at any of these as our ultimate. None of them can deliver for all time like Christ did. They are fine when enjoyed as Christ would have us enjoy them, but not when they become gods themselves.

Do I plan on improving myself? Yes. As an apologist it is something I have to do. There are many times our actions speak so loudly our words can’t be heard. How can I convey the importance Christ has in my life if people look at my life and don’t see that importance? (This is in fact one reason I am so pro-marriage. We Christians should be living marriage out the best so that the world will know the fake interpretation of it and think that Christians have the best marriages of all.)

I hope you’ll join me on this quest.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Why There Is No God. Part 3.

Is there any chance we’ll find something good in Navabi’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re moving on to part three of Navabi’s book Why There Is No God. Today, we’re going to deal with arguments 11-15.

Argument #11. If there is no God, where did everything come from? Without God, there is no explanation.

This is a real argument and it is one many of us, including myself, use. Therefore, when we come across a real argument, we know what an atheist fundamentalist will do with it. Put up a straw man and not deal with any of the real authorities in the field.

Much of what was said about the “Who created God?” argument was said in part one on the first argument. It’s interesting that the skeptics always ask who created and not what created. Something to be added this time is that Navabi tells us that cosmological arguments tell us nothing about the nature of the God who created.

On the contrary, (As Aquinas would say) they tell us plenty. If you follow the Aristotelian-Thomistic arguments to their conclusion you get a being who is eternal, immaterial, omnipotent, omniscient, good, immutable, etc. Now maybe those are tiny details to Navabi, but not to real authorities in the field, and of course he cites none.

Argument #12. My religion/God has helped me so much. How could it not be real?

Yes. I know we’ve all seen all those academic works that talk about this argument. How many times have we seen Bill Craig go out to defend theism and present this argument? Oh, wait. That’s right. Never. Still, never deny the ability of atheists to go after the most serious arguments that there are.

There’s not much I need to say about this one, although Navabi does have something on what about the people God doesn’t save? Yes. What about them? Sometimes people suffer through their own means or just because we don’t live in a perfect world nor are we promised one.

Since this is not a serious argument, I have no need to treat the reply seriously.

Argument #13. God is love; God is energy.

This could be a popular argument in New Age circles, but I would agree with Navabi that it’s often a redefinition of terms. When I speak about God, I am specific about what I mean. One would think Navabi is as well since he usually has a Western concept in mind. Again, since this is not really a serious argument, I do not plan on taking it seriously.

Argument #14. The Laws of Logic prove the existence of God.

Finally, Navabi is taking on someone in the apologetics world. For this, his choice is Matt Slick of CARM. I don’t entirely use the TAG argument as it’s known as is, but I would like to consider how it would work with a more Thomistic approach. The argument is pretty much that laws of logic are absolute and immaterial and unchanging and eternal and they need to be in a mind that is like that. That mind is the mind of God.

Navabi is right that these laws are descriptive and not prescriptive, but that doesn’t get him off the hook. Where I’d disagree is with any sort of idea that these laws are something like Platonic forms just floating out there. Of course, many supporters of TAG wouldn’t think that, but the way the argument is described can get one to think that way. Instead, I would see them as naturally the way that being itself behaves. If anything is, we can tell that it is what it is, it does not contradict itself in its nature, and it is either B or non-B but nowhere in between.

What I want someone like Navabi to explain to me is being itself. Where did it come from? It couldn’t come from nothing, because nothing has no power to bring about anything. (Someone please notify Lawrence Krauss of this basic fact.) It would have to come then from something, but then we have the problem of the infinite regress. As far as I’m concerned, the Thomistic arguments answer this. (Those interested in more are encouraged to read Edward Feser’s Aquinas or The Last Superstition.)

Argument #15. Believing in God provides meaning and purpose; without it, life would be meaningless.

The argument from meaning is one that does make sense. Why is everything the way that it is? Are we just an accident, or are we here for a reason? This is a huge question and how you answer it will alter much of how you experience reality.

Of course, Navabi goes with the idea that we can create our own meaning. Sure. The problem is, who is to say one meaning is right and one isn’t? Suppose I think the meaning of life is to have as much sex as possible. Does that mean I can rape if I think I can get away with it? Why or why not? What if I think power is the meaning of life? Can I strive to eliminate anyone who gets in my way? Why or why not? What if I think money is? Can I exploit anyone that I want to on the path of riches? Why or why not?

Now I do agree with Navabi that it’s better to believe an uncomfortable truth than a comfortable lie, but that doesn’t matter really. After all, we don’t ascertain what a truth is by looking at if it’s comfortable or not. I do believe my Christian theism because I’m convinced it’s true. My personal comfort has nothing to do with it. In fact, many of us who are devout Christian theists would say many times our religion is quite uncomfortable for us.

When we return to this book, we’ll conclude it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

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