False Pretenses

VolitionNoun – a choice or decision made by the will.

Here’s the thing about volition.

If we are determined to live a certain way… or provided convenience by our circumstances… or even potentially inconvenienced by a specific bit of truth contrary to our current circumstances… we can CHOOSE to willfully continue on the same path and/or ignore the truth by our own VOLITION. We have that power.

Free will is a pre-requisite to personal volition. This is the profound and troubling paradox. The willful choice can only follow the ability to choose. We have the option to relent to reality, freely facing all of the implications that accompany it. Or we can choose to suppress it volitionally… sometimes with DISASTROUS results. At the very least, the latter is entirely unsustainable on a long-term basis. Reality has a funny way of circling back around… like the child who tells one white lie, and then a dozen others in attempts to calm the ripples of the first.

Through all of the masquerading we do behind smokescreens of intellectualism, dare I say that much of our lives are spent suppressing reality because the consequences of facing it are too personally overwhelming? Could it be that our reasons for believing/acting specific ways are not intellectual, but rather volitional free choices in response to anticipated consequences?

Herein lies the naked truth of the Christian message. It is not that we must suppress reality to accept it. On the contrary, we must suppress reality to DENY IT. It is easier to maintain a safe distance from genuinely engaging with Christianity because we honestly don’t want to be bothered by its perceived restrictions of our free will. And rather than just admit that fact, we opt for the more “virtuous” and publicly lauded notion that there are legitimate intellectual obstacles. (Maybe for you there are… but would you be so curious as to read on?)

I know that will float over like a lead balloon for many. But let’s not dismiss the entire point wholesale without examining it a little further. Maybe a question will help illuminate the idea.


 

Given 100% certainty the truth of Christianity… the existence of an eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, personal creator… the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus… the reality of salvation by Grace, through faith… if it were completely and undeniably true… would you accept Christ?


 

If the answer is “no,” then the issue is NOT intellectual, it is volitional. If you have a hesitation in your gut about what following Christ would mean for your practical daily life, and you choose to deny, then we are no longer dealing in logic and reason. No amount of evidence at this point would suffice. And THAT is the point. For those answering “no”, it was never about the evidence.

The above hypothetical highlights what many will gloss over as an evidential problem with Christianity… when it is truly one of submission and acceptance at the level of our free will. In this instance, there is no retreating to a lack of evidence. There is no staking claim to a moral high ground over the God of the Bible. If the above were shown to be true, with not a whiff of doubt, and were still denied… then reality is being suppressed at the expense of volition.

To be fair, one could easily reverse the question and pose it to a Christian like myself. If Christianity were shown to be completely and undeniably false… would I rescind my faith? My answer… ABSOLUTELY.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, and will reiterate in this one, the Apostles proclaimed that if these things were not true, consider the entire faith a sham and futile. I am quite honestly ready to follow the evidence where it leads. So was Paul…

For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:13-15

In light of this, would it really make sense for Christians to engage non-Christians (those ascribing to denial of Christ in light of 100% authenticity) in conversations regarding the intellectual truth of Theism? For those who care not to respond in acceptance of truth, would conversations regarding specific points of truth make a difference? The simple answer is “no.” This is vitally important because our society heralds the Christian as delusional and blind to reality. Many Christians have responded to this assertion by providing cogent and thoughtful intellectual reasons for their faith. But to a society where a vast majority would deny Christ even if He were proven to be genuine… the cries for more evidence are disingenuous. Can truth be debated when truth is volitionally ignored? Ironically, a good dose of intellectual honesty is necessary here.

“Yeah, but Josh, the point is that undeniable evidence to support Christianity does not exist.” This is true… for Christianity and EVERYTHING. IN. LIFE. The reality of our lives is that we do not wait for 100% certainty to act. In most cases, if one option is more plausibly true than the other, it’s enough for a decision. Understanding and engaging with Christianity is the same. What I attempt to show in my posts (this and others) is the probability that Christianity is more plausibly true than ANY other worldview. For those not interested in the evidence, though… these arguments make it no further than a preconceived inaccurate notion of Christianity and a volitional choice to reject it based on the notion. Might I plead with you reading this to lay down the guise of intellectualism to first deal with the volitional aspect of denial? Maybe then we can unpack the genuine concerns and intellectual arguments.

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

G.K. Chesterton

What would happen if you engaged with the thoughtful arguments in favor of Christianity? What if you took an intellectually honest look at the evidence? What if it were examined not through the lens of “what will this mean for me,” but through the objective context of its historicity and authenticity? I think you’d find the Christian faith to be a refreshing and profound reality that satisfies our intellectual concerns, while freeing us to use our volition for the sake of others’ lives.

And I will continue working toward that end. Because believe it or not, I am FOR YOU… and so is Jesus.

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3 thoughts on “False Pretenses

    1. Thanks for commenting! I would say that faith bridges the gap where our knowledge cannot extend (and is a response to the knowledge we have attained.) I wholly disagree with the notion that it is belief without evidence. I hesitate to pit “faith” against “reason” because I think that is a false juxtaposition made popular in our society today. Rather, I think both work best when they complement each other. A few passages come to mind…

      Acts 17:2-4
      “As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.” Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with many God-fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women.”

      1 Peter 3:15
      “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”

      Hebrews 11 (the entire chapter)

      When I look at scripture, I don’t see faith being implemented devoid or in place of evidence. It is action in confidence and trust based on what has already been revealed.

      I think it’s a worthy topic of study, and one the for sure warrants more discussion (and more personal research on my own part), but I don’t want to lose the main point of the post. If we do have all the knowledge needed with zero doubt about the truth of Christianity… would it still be denied on intellectual grounds? That is less a faith/reason debate, and more about the genuineness of the person refuting Christianity on “intellectual” terms.

      My hope is to reveal an inconsistency that may hopefully lead to more robust and authentic dialogue.

      Like

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