Recently I began reading a book by Raymond Khoury called The Sign. The premise of the book is centered around a group of environmentally concerned scientists who create a device using smart dust, that when used, creates an object in the sky that confounds other scientists and is misinterpreted as a sign from God. Underneath the surface of this story is another story about corrupt politicians and theologians who know the sign is fake but continue to preach it as a sign from God. In addition, they manipulate a priest into believing the sign is real. The reason they do this is to create a leader that will be seen as a new messiah. After the priest has enough followers, the corrupted will expose the sign as a fabrication and millions of followers will be forced to believe that Christianity is a sham. As a side note, when the priest in the book learns that he has been set up, he goes public and states we are all gods and show it by what’s in our hearts
At the end of the book, the author chooses quotes from conservative leaders who believe that Jesus could possibly return in our lifetime. In mockery, the author states that Christians will follow anything blindly and that Christians will vote to elect anybody that mentions they are a believer.
Usually when a book comes out that has a very negative view of Christianity, I am able to look past it. I usually have a very different view of these books. I see them as a chance for people to discuss Christianity and to correct what is wrong. Lately, however, I’ve been noticing that the books are getting more and more insistent that Christianity is only mythical, and nothing else. I recently picked up another book by Steve Berry which posited that the Templars, a group of monks with military training that were formed in 1119 AD, guarded literature that proved that Jesus was not the Messiah. It became a race of good vs. evil to protect the information. Maybe these kind of books have always been around and I’ve just avoided them, but it seems to me that these books are becoming more intolerant of belief other than their own.
I don’t usually feel the need to come to the defense of God(He does alright without my help) but I think I need to come to the defense of His people. First, Raymond Khoury states that Christians are like sheep and will follow anything that has the word God stapled to it. I would hope this is not the case. And in fact, the Bible is very clear that Christians are supposed to put things to the test. If messages don’t coincide with what the Bible teaches, Christians are asked to ignore those messages or, at the very least, challenge them.
Next, many followers believe that Christ could come back in their lifetime. What makes that a stupid belief? Why are atheists so sure that Christ doesn’t exist? According to research, there may be anywhere between 2-3 billion Christians worldwide. There may be 1 billion atheists. It seems to me that if Christianity is a delusion then it must be a very powerful one that 3 billion people are sharing. The odds that 3 billion people can share in a delusion are astonishing. Even more astonishing than people sharing atheistic beliefs.
In order to be fair, this is the part of this blog that could be offensive to atheists. Atheism has always seemed a lazy religion to me. If atheism is true, then the atheist has nothing to lose. There is no danger of Hell and Heaven wouldn’t exist so there would be nothing to gain from it, either. However, if Christianity is not real, then Christians have everything to lose. Heaven would be a sham. Why would anyone in their right mind put all their hopes and dreams in to something that is a sham? It just seems unlikely and a huge gamble for 3 billion people to take. I wouldn’t have taken it if it was fake.
But, I have to admit, many secular authors are right, Christians have done many atrocious things in the name of God. Wars and blowing up abortion clinics just to name two. Donald Miller, in his book Blue Like Jazz, recalls a time when he was in college and he helped construct a confessional booth that was put out on campus. Prior to opening it up, Miller instructed his friends that they wouldn’t be accepting any confessions. Instead, they’d be giving them. They would apologize to the students for all the things that made it hard for them to believe in God. As a result of doing this, Donald and his friends were able to get students to come to Bible studies. Sometimes I think that might be a step in the right direction. Admitting when we do wrong.
I also have to say that there have been leaders in the church that don’t represent Jesus very well. As long as there are Pat Robertson’s and Oral Roberts’ in this world that say stupid things like 9/11/01 was God’s reaction to homosexuals, then Christianity will seem intolerant when, in fact, Jesus tolerates people by separating them from their actions. To use a modern saying “Hate the game, don’t hate the playa.”
I think part of the reason people are so intolerant of Christianity is they confuse it with religion. Religion is man made. In many ways, I think its our need to put structure to God. It helps us understand God. But, like all man made things, its fallible and can cause problems. I once heard someone say, I forgot who or where, that religion is designed by man to get to God while Christianity was designed by God to reach man.
Many people who are Christians share their beliefs and it is seen as proselytizing. Christians are demonized when sharing their faith. We are accused of shoving our beliefs down others’ throats but let me put it to you this way. Lets say for a moment you found a way of life that was life changing. That you are guaranteed Heaven for your belief and that by following God, you are sent to a place with no tears or pain and you are given a better body than the one you have. Wouldn’t you want to share that?
Secular society wants us to change the channel or ignore their lifestyles when we disagree with them. However, when they disagree with us, they want us to shut up. Why is that any less intolerant?
Just some food for thought.