Making Sense of the
Mystery of Christ

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Why Christianity?

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If you’re curious about the nature of my faith and the contents of my book, but don’t have a lot of time and patience for either – here is a brief synopsis to chew on. I’m recycling this from a Facebook conversation, so it may not be the most compelling or cogent. But for whatever it is worth, here it is…

First, let’s all admit that we all exercise faith in our various belief systems. It isn’t like I have faith and you have a corner on reason. That is not true. I start here simply b/c even the most die-hard atheist is a person of faith in some extraordinary ways. Faith is simply part of the way we know things. When a jury makes a verdict “beyond a reasonable doubt,” that is a negative formulation for faith. The collective evidence confirms the verdict despite the inability to witness something directly.

Second, belief systems are inherently exclusive despite claims to the contrary. So when a spiritual pluralist says that all religions are approximations of the same unknowable reality – that is an absolute claim that exclusively rules out systems that claim the contrary. And that is fine – but like #1, I want to point out that we’re all on a level playing field here – everyone is making some sort of absolute claim – even if it is in the negative – eg. “there CAN’T be one way to God.” Guess what? That is an absolute and exclusive claim. So what to do?

Religious choices:

*Atheism – Agnosticism* Atheism in a strict sense fails b/c it reaches beyond its own system of knowing. Agnosticism is more intellectually honest than atheism, but I believe there is sufficient evidence / reason to move off of this position.

*Nature mysticism* fails in my view b/c it ignores phenomenal / historical realities and reference points in favor of mere subjectivism. I don’t believe this kind of mere subjectivism is coherent with the “fleshly” life as we know it, so while I think there are mystical elements to life and this world, I find mysticism to be too reductionistic b/c of what it ignores.

*Generic spirituality* which affirms transcendence in some way(s), but eschews formal religion is attractive in many respects. And if it weren’t for the enduring strength and compelling revelation of the Old & New Testaments, that is where I would stand.

*Religious Adherents* believe that God – being spirit – has to engage in some form of self-revelation. The major religions have different views of how this works. But suffice it to say that one of the many ways God does this in Judaism/Christianity is through the prophetic / apostolic record called the Bible.

But why Christianity? The Bible is an incredibly unique book relative to other religious literature. It was written over a great span of time by multiple authors to a historic community of faith that exists to this day. I don’t see that as a minus, I see it as a plus. The message is grounded in the historical experience(s) of a community over hundreds of years. It wasn’t produced by the ephemeral musings-meditations of a single enlightened person. (Funny thing – you don’t have to have perfect people to deliver the message. I don’t know where that non sequitur comes from – but it is a favorite go-to criticism for many people.) The overall integrity of the preservation of the literature itself is almost a historical miracle. Islam cannot make these claims. Neither can Mormonism.

Beyond the unique characteristics of the Biblical literature in contrast to other religions we come to the message itself. Personally, I believe that the hard edges – the warts in the story – the ugly and even startling parts speak to its veracity. It isn’t white-washed – it isn’t putty in my hands. It is so consistent with our world – things are kind of messy and broken. Beautiful, yes. But a mess. And the sweep of the narrative – I find breath-taking, startling, unsettling – and yes, reasonable. Now at this point many people will simply throw their hands up and say, “to each his own.” And I get it. But my passion is to make sure they have a chance to really hear the message in its totality and coherence before they walk away from it as rubbish. Because sadly, I think it is very misunderstood. And the common theological difficulties and conflicts people point to as ridiculous – those are some of the most gratifying / satisfying pieces of the puzzle to put together.

But in the end it is about Jesus. Jesus isn’t another Buddha. That wasn’t His claim or His life. I find Him to be compelling – his teachings are crazy profound – especially His teaching on love. But more than what he taught about love – how He demonstrated that love in the ultimate act of self-giving. Self-giving to renew me and you – and humanity. That is good news to me and something I am thankful for. Something I feel compelled to share…

One response to “Why Christianity?”

  1. John L Kistler says:

    Finally got hear from you about what you are learning and writing. All I been getting is photos –BUT I LUV THEM!!

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