Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Foolishness of the Gospel

I'm currently reading The End of Faith by Sam Harris, in addition to several others. I wouldn't recommend it to the faint of heart, or easily wrangled, since it is written by a semi-militant atheist. The premise of his book is that all religious belief must be subjected to his definition of scientific rationality. He tries to prove the irrationality of faith. He does this because he believes that most systematic violence in the world is perpetrated because of religious belief. If religious people would be held accountable for the beliefs that they tuck away from rational challenge, then we could curb the violence before some religious extremist blows us all up with a nuclear bomb.

I don't find his arguments compelling, and not just because I'm a Christian. I find him breaking the rules of logic himself, even while accusing religious people of doing the same thing. He dreams up speculative scenarios and "what if" situations, and then interacts with those imaginary worlds, instead of the one we live in. He also has a fundamental misunderstanding of things he claims to be an expert in. He takes his strongest arguments, and puts them up against the most foolish claims of religious extremists, and tries to make all religious people look like idiots on that basis. In other words, he's a typical atheist.

Why am I posting this on a blog "dedicated to all things marriage from a Christian Hedonist and Gospel-centered perspective"? Because as I read Harris, I realize how relevant the Scripture is to common people trying to interact with their friends and neighbors.

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18).

"But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

There are those in this world who devote their lives to trying to prove the natural defensibility of the Gospel. The entire field of apologetics seems devoted to chiseling the stumbling block into a speed bump; the folly of God into natural wisdom requiring no supernatural work to overcome. So often I fear this task flows from a selfish desire rather than a godly one. No one likes to be thought of as stupid and backwoods and "hickish" and unrefined and uneducated.

So we try to prove we're not really fools for believing that the Creator of everything came to earth as a Galilean peasant, miraculously born of a virgin, never doing anything wrong, performing all kinds of miracles, dying on a cross to appease the just wrath of the Creator against other people's sins, rising from the dead three days later, ascending into the heavens in front of many witnesses, hearing our prayers and ruling everything on earth in such a way that he looks like he's losing the war to his enemies, until his eventual return where he'll throw all the people who didn't follow him into an eternal hell, and all those who did follow him into an eternal heaven. We try to prove we're not really fools for believing all this because a random collection of letters and scrolls written by many different authors, spanning many centuries, tells us this is all true.

My friends, this is Christianity in a nutshell, and if you don't think all that sounds at least strange to people toting cell phones, computers and ipods in their pockets, you are foolish. Stop trying to make it seem wise. Dead people do not understand the things of life. They must be given life as a gift. Just proclaim the Gospel. Don't prove its wisdom. God never told you to do that. If you want to, it's probably your desire to not look so stupid as to believe what appears to be a fairy tale. But part of dying to yourself is accepting the label "fool" for Christ's sake. Don't be proud.

Housewife - just proclaim the gospel, in all its fullness to your children, or the ladies in your neighborhood, or your hostile family members, or the children your kids hang out with. Husbands - just proclaim it to those at the office, or on the golf course, or on the assembly line, or across the fence in the back yard. Many will think you're a fool, if not publicly, then secretly. And others will want to hear more later. And some, if God so chooses, will see, and believe, and be eternally blessed because you chose to be a fool for the God who made himself look like a fool for you.

2 comments:

Antonio Romano said...

Everyone who by falling on Him thinks they will crush Him...will be broken. Awesome post, Darby. Thank you.

Darby Livingston said...

you're very welcome.