I have a friend, Manny, who started a church whose goal was to rescue people from traditional Christianity. And I think he has enough reason to do so.
He sees inconsistencies in the Bible, and harmful things in traditional Christian theology, and his family has been extremely hurt by Christianity. If I understand right, his brother jumped off of a bridge, leaving a note that said, “Ultimate Knowledge comes at the ultimate price. It is well with my soul.” They interpreted this to mean in order to figure out if God loved or hated him he had to seek death. The issues he was dealing with were complicated but I hate that Christianity had anything to do with that. I’m so sorry that happened, Manny.
I understand the frustrations with seeing apparent inconsistencies in the Bible and theology and with the church; a lot of the time that I read the Bible I end up feeling so disappointed and mad. “C’mon God; I’m trying to overcome my skepticism by reading and what I find there just makes it harder to believe.” And sometimes I sit in church and think, “this seems fake. I don’t feel anything right now.”
I definitely feel Manny’s position pulling strongly on me. And I haven’t lost a brother because of Christianity. So I can’t speak to that part of his situation.
But I still choose to believe because, despite all this, I think it is the best choice.
And in my humble opinion, it does come down to a choice. There is enough information to conclude that Christianity is plausible, so this is the ultimate permission of free will. It’s like Jesus is saying, ‘I will give you a way out if you don’t want to be with me. But if you want me, please come.’
And I really do want Him.
Despite my doubting days, from what I’ve seen and heard, I think it’s very possibly true. People all over the world have found something in it worth living for, and dying for, for 2000 years. We can choose to believe in nothing, or put our cards into the game on something. So because it is so feasible, and because I do desire it, despite its warts, I choose this one.
Here are a couple more reasons, intellectually, I think it’s feasible.
First, I recorded 200 pages of miracles when I was in Ethiopia for my book Signs of a New Kingdom. And when I came back I interviewed more people who told enough miracles in America to fill another book. Miracles done in the name of Jesus. It’s interesting that miracles in America don’t seem as prevalent, but there are certain pockets in which they abound. This makes me wonder if the spiritual world has motivation to hide when in ‘scientific’ nations like ours.
And this is another reason I think it could be true. I wonder if our culture puts too much stock in the cold sciences. What if it is true that, like Jesus says, the deeper wisdom is kept from those who think they are wise. Maybe, by trusting foremost in science, we are missing the poetry and the reason for which science was created.
Abraham trusted God, despite his worldly logic when God asked him to kill his son. God still saved his son, and this proved Abraham’s faithfulness to God. But because of Abraham’s trust in heavenly wisdom, God gave Jesus through Abraham’s lineage to be sacrificed and save the world. That is what may be at stake when listening to earthly logic instead of heavenly wisdom. The possibility to participate in something far bigger than myself.
When I apply my worldly wisdom to the Bible, that’s often when it makes me mad. It seems to contradict and say things that don’t seem true. But then I remember that many scientific findings that seem to contradict earlier ones can bring a far deeper meaning to the original. On the surface, the laws of relativity seem to defy Newton’s old laws of motion. But when you look deeper, we find how they work perfectly together, and Einstein’s laws give deeper meaning and application to Newton’s, even outside of dimensions Newton knew of. What if our science and logic can only take us to the beginning of the deeper. What if God’s wisdom, that at first seems to contradict in our human logic, can actually be harmonious if seen at the right height, and through that perspective give new dimensions of depth and purpose to the mysterious spiritual world we live in.
Plus, you know, I think we see that a lot of science contradicts itself. Archaeological conclusions change, depending on who, when, and where they’re doing the digging. Milk is good for you then it isn’t. Theories of physics change all the time. It seems that people with agendas can almost prove anything. Not all science is as subjective, but I think maybe sometimes we assume we should swallow it whole, all being truth, and that no truth exists outside of what we can put under a microscope.
But it’s funny how things can change when I surrender my skepticism, and ask God for a deeper meaning. Then, quite often, not only do things stop contradicting but they gain more than logic. They gather meaning.
And this is part of why I WANT to believe.
The desire to believe
If there is no legend of meaning that is true beyond a purely scientific earth, then someday the Earth will die and then what would be the point of all of these fading acts of beauty?
Christianity says that we are part of an eternal relationship with a creator that loves us so much that he became one of his created to take the punishment of his own rules to woo us and give us a way to live forever with him in a place that is only foreshadowed on earth.
Not to mention that from a literary standpoint, some of the stories in the Bible, with their symbolism, foreshadowing, and poignancy, are so beautiful and reach my heart more often and more powerfully than any other book I’ve ever read. If I had to pick one book to be true, I think this would be the Bible. And it claims that it is.
This religion offers us the keys to ancient halls of time, communion with wiser creatures of a different age, a love that wraps around dimensions beyond ones we know. And we’ve only seen the beginning of it. It says we have yet to be born into the real world.
So, I think much of it comes down to this. Do we think we are the wisest creatures in the universe? I think it is very likely that there is a wiser one than me, and that he has tried his best to speak to us through the story and tradition we call Christianity, while still giving us a free will to choose him.
I have struggled in this religion, perhaps in ways like a good marriage would ask of me. But perhaps my friend has endured more. So I cannot, and dare not judge the story between he and God. I just know that I feel fear when I see him objecting so resolutely to the God I have objected to tremulously. I feel you, my friend. I think that I really do, feel the pull. But again, I see the options before me, and I choose there is a wisdom above my own.
You may laugh at what I am about to say, but you are on my prayer list that I try to get to every day, if prayer ever does anything. It may not, and some days I feel like I am just wasting my time throwing words at the sky. But I think of the alternative.
And I realize I have a choice.
And I choose to endure and hope.
(My friend Manny okayed this blog, and even asked me to use his name. He also asked if he could write a response, so I will post that link here when it is done! I highly encourage you to read it! Thank you, Manny!)
Raw Spoon, 1-26-16