So here’s what typically happens in my conversations with non-Christians. Perhaps your experience is different. Perhaps you aren’t Christian and I’m completely misrepresenting your position. I am, however, perplexed and concerned that we in our day have lost any ability to honestly and accurately engage others in discussion on matters of significance. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, and continue to believe, it’s almost as if those claiming truth are discredited before evaluating their statements. I’m reminded of a couple quotes regarding the nature of truth and its exclusivity/offensiveness.
“To give truth to him who loves it not is to only give him more multiplied reasons for misinterpretation.”
“Yes, if truth is not undergirded by love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the truth repulsive.”
It almost makes me want to write an entire post on the nature of “truth,” but I’ll leave that for another day. For the moment, I want to make the basic assumption that our lives are operating within a reality where truth applies, and that our decisions and actions naturally flow out of this reality. It distinctly applies when considering the claims of Christianity and on whom it is based.
Let me make this statement right out of the gate, lest anything I say beyond this point be an utter waste of time. Any description or display of Christianity that disregards, discredits, or disagrees with the scriptures (OR PERSON) upon which the entire faith hinges is NOT CHRISTIANITY. Call it a cult. Call it flat out wrong. Call it whatever you’d like, but you cannot establish your own interpretation of a faith utilizing the very doctrine with which you foundationally disagree. Even JESUS CHRIST held scriptures as Truth. How ludicrous that there are entire groups of professing “Christians” (yes, quotes) who fundamentally deviate from the beliefs of the Christ they follow. Even more ludicrous is the fact that (for the most part) we aren’t curious enough or Biblically literate enough to refute it. It’s not as simple as saying, “Well, this one group claims they are Christian, and harshly judges people… therefore, Christianity is false.” Additionally, a fair and intellectually honest reading of the scriptures must be the starting point. Otherwise, we are left with out of context arguments that reveal more about the skeptic than the actual documents. In light of this, and in validation of my previous statements, I’ll go to scripture.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (Paul)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
Matthew 5:17-18 (Jesus)
Let’s be careful enough to consider context and the literature itself when evaluating this issue. I’m continually saddened that both those who proclaim Christianity and those who do not accept it will readily engage secondary claims, hypocrisy, or misrepresented positions rather than tackle the very specific and primary claims. The silver lining to all of this is that we have the documents Christianity claims are Truth. And if that doesn’t give one enough cannon fodder to refute the actual claims of Christ… the actual writers of this material made statements like Paul did in one of his letters to the church in Corinth.
“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:12-14
For as much as I’d love to believe that the Biblical accounts are ONLY a moral guide for living, I’m afraid that would be contrary to nearly the entire collection of writings. It seems that Paul ran into the same issues in the first century that we do today. I would hope at this point we could all agree that the statements by Jesus and the Apostles regarding the tenants of the Christian faith were intended to be truthful and correspond to reality and personal experience. Otherwise, the entire thing is a sham… rubbish… futile. Maybe now, instead of considering only certain claims of Jesus and disregarding others, we can evaluate all of them in the context of a cumulative and cohesive appraisal of reality, which I hope to do in the next post.
What exactly do we do with the claims of Jesus?
Was he really just a good, moral teacher?
Can that reasonably be concluded given what the documents actually say?
Check out Part 2…