Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Crutch

As a Bible believing Christian, whom some would call fundamentalist, others, evangelical, I have become used to two main replies in any conversation bordering on religion. "I'm all set," and "The Bible is full of contradictions."

Well, after nearly fifty years of life with a marriage and three kids and a midlife career change I can tell you that I am not 'all set.' For those who say that religion is a crutch I easily reply that yes, I am lame. If you are not lame in some part of your life then more power to you. You will need it.

I have been on this chosen road of faith for twenty years. As Jacob said to Pharaoh, "My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers." [1] I have nothing to brag about, or to complain about either. In all that time of reading and studying the Bible, I have not found it to be self-contradictory (only contradictory of many of my choices and actions). The trope, "the Bible is full of contradictions," has always struck me as received 'knowledge' handed down from cynical adult to cynical child and never investigated.

The most often cited example of a contradiction I have heard is the wars of Israelites and the loving nature of God. Considering that the Israelites are repeatedly described as the chosen children of God, and that God foretold Abraham that his descendants would return to Canaan (from Egypt) after many years of slavery "...for the sin of the Amorites has not reached its full measure." [2]
So, even though God knew that the Amorites would do evil, he still gave them many years to choose to repent and do what is right. Then he gives the Israelites the right to defend themselves against evil as they claim their homeland.

How many times have you heard, "How could a loving God have let this happen?" when some great evil has goes on in the world? Well, he didn't want to let any evil of the Amorites or surrounding peoples happen to the Israelites. It seems to me that the contradictions involved here is in the minds of people who would rather not believe (and thus be challenged in their lives and character) than in the Bible itself.

There are other 'examples' but they all play out much the same way.

Still, the devoutly secular repeat with great conviction that the Bible is full of contradictions.

So tell me, where are these devout declarations in the face of Islamic Fascism and Muslim expansionism?

We are told "Today humanity passionately craves commitment to the truth, devotion to God, quest for justice, and respect for the dignity of human beings. Rejection of domination and aggression, defense of the oppressed, and longing for peace constitute the legitimate demand of the peoples of the world..." by the President of Iran. The highest Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia (in response to Benedict XVI commenting on violence and forced conversion in Islam) tells us that "The prophet (Muhammad), peace be upon him, came as a mercy to the world." Yet nuns are shot in the back, honor killings are common and the primary victims of Islamic violence are Muslims.

Islam itself claims Jesus as one of its prophets but not the Messiah, yet Jesus called himself the Son of God [3], and based upon his teachings the apostle John described him in Revelation as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end [4]. If Jesus is not the Son of God and Messiah, then he is a liar and can not be a prophet of God and a teacher of the truth, as his claim to sonship is central to his teaching. So here is a verifiable contradiction in Islamic belief.

Where are all the proud secular voices, the speakers of reason? Where are those who, proud in their own self-sufficiency declare the contradictions of religion? Where are those who decry the fettering of the mind, the opiating of the masses?

Why do these strong willed, free-minded people not declare the obvious fallacies of the branch of Islam inhabited by nihilistic, murder-threatening, head-chopping fanatics?


[1] Genesis 46:9 b (NIV)
[2] Genesis 15:16 b (NIV)
[3] Luke 22:69, 70
[4] Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13

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Blogger Kobayashi Maru said...

Nice piece, Matt!
A couple of thoughts:

The forces of secular reason (an oxymoron, as the Pope recently pointed out) are unable to separate the true (read: divinely sparked) part of that reason from that un-reasoning "reason" which is actually self-referential. E.g., the oft-heard plaint that a loving God would not let [fill-in-the-blank] happen presuposes that one is seeing and judging [fill-in-the-blank] with the breadth and depth and timelessness of God's perspective on the matter... which of course is impossible, not to mention arrogant. Yes in one sense, someone dying of cancer at a young age (for example) is "unreasonable" but not in the larger sense--which we can only intuit and take on faith.

That same supposition of man-on-top aka 'God is dead' leads many to the point you raise in the first half of your piece, namely that a life devoted to Christ is one of great comfort, easy answers and the luxury of dispensing with rational thought. And yet it is exactly that kind of life that leads to being constantly at odds with the culture and the world in general. (The "in it but not of it" idea, once realized, gives me the sense I've often had when connecting, bleary-eyed through foreign airports... present in the moment but not at home by any means.)

Which all comes around to your main point that I totally agree with: that the forces that think they stand for secularism and reason in fact stand with an unreasoning Islam... and therefore they do not see (or at least do not care to see) the gross contradictions in holding one to their standards and the other to... no particular standards at all. (The treatment of women is a shining example we ought to use over and over and over again.)

The scary part is that--because their 'reason' is self-referential rather than divinely and thus permanently rooted--they are unable to see how it is not reasoning at all, but highly emotional and animalistic. (Which of course they project onto us Christians because it makes them feel better.)

As I've noted in recent posts, there really are only two sides to this and the secularists are unwitting tools of the other one. Again, nicely done, Matt.

11:47 AM  

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