If you’re still with me, God bless your patience. I’ve been trying to unpack why Christianity makes sense, at least to me. In Part 1, I said that atheism doesn’t hold water. In Part 2, I argued that multiple religions can’t coexist, not without bowing to some order that judges them all, thereby negating the point of multiple religions.
So now we’ve come to part three. If religion trumps atheism and only one religion can be right, then which religion is the right one? Why do I say that Christianity is better/truer than the others?
Once again, I have to begin with a few caveats.
First off, I can only offer my experience. It’s the only one I’ve ever lived. I don’t mean to devalue anyone else’s. I know many have had…difficulties…with Christianity, to say the least. I’m not trying to invalidate that pain.
Second, I’m not saying Christians always get it right and other religious people always get it wrong. As I said in Part 1, reality is an ugly shade of gray. Once again, I’m tackling concepts, not people.
Well…not MOST people.
Down With the Dumb
“How do you know your religion is the right one? Have you tried them all?”
“No, and neither have you.”
This argument is a brainless red herring. No one has tried every religion and nobody can. Not only do you have to scour the world for every religion, but every religion involves an aspect of belief, not just action. You’d have to actually change what you believe in every time you experiment, and good luck with that!
What’s more, you’re saying that someone can’t get religion right the first time. Why not? This assumption comes from the idea that no one religion holds all truth, and as I argued in my last post, why not?
So no, I have not taste-tested every religion like some kind of Salad Bar of Truth, and anyone who actually believes any religion knows there are Brussels sprouts in that salad bar. I THINK that metaphor works. Either way, you’ll have to convince me this one is wrong before I’ll sample another.
Of course, this means that all I have are my experiences, which are subjective. So as a concession, I’ll start with a few plain facts about Christian uniqueness.
1. A God Who Controls the Chaos
Many religions depict a supernatural good vs. a supernatural evil, but how many say that it’s not an actual battle? For Christianity, God is always in charge. Good and evil clash, but only as much as God allows. God has no equal and opposite. In Job 1, God actually has to grant Satan permission to do evil.
Does that chafe you? I understand. How can a good God create Satan? Why does he allow evil? It’s a hard question to unpack so I’ll refer you to my previous post: The Problem With The Problem of Pain, but let me just give the good news here: evil is under good control. And since God is good, we can trust that he’ll only allow pain because, through Him, it will bring you to someplace better than if he’d left you alone and comfortable.
The point is this: the Christian God is not struggling against evil. Every battle is already won.
2. A Personal God
One of the most sacrilegious things to other religions is a God who A) has a unique, individual personality (as opposed to a cosmic force) and B) who would dare make himself into a human. But that’s my God.
And yes, Jesus was God. He claimed to be “I AM” in John 8:58, and claimed to have come from the Father multiple times. If he didn’t, then you can’t say he was a good teacher because good teachers don’t lie for half their ministry.
But he was really human, too. He ate, slept, bled, and died. He subjected himself to pain, hunger, fear, loss, betrayal, and mortality no god should ever know.
What does this mean? It means that the great big God of the sky knows what it’s like down here. He understands us like no other god does. It means nothing’s too dirty that he can’t weed through it. We’re never too broken, corrupt, or lost to be rescued. And since he’s still God, that means he’s big enough to handle every single one of us, down to the last detail without ever taking from somebody else’s time.
And best of all? The God who Controls Everything said, “Someone needs to pay for all this evil. Since I’m the only one who can, I’ll do it myself.” He may be a God, but he’s not a far-off, disinterested force. Disinterested forces don’t subject themselves to death.
3. Renewal, not Escape
A tenant of many religions, which sadly made its way into Christianity, is this sense of escape. This world is evil, but one day we’ll get away and be pure.
Nope, not for Christians. We’re not getting away, we’re starting over. We don’t go from Earth to Heaven because both are gone. Read Revelation 21:1, both Heaven and Earth are new. We leave Earth yes, but not the material world. Jesus proved this when he came back in a body, not just a spirit at the end of each gospel.
But this time, it’s different. No devil, no sin, no curse from The Fall. This time, God’s right there with nothing in the way. This doesn’t just mean a lack of death and evil, it means the world functions as it should. This time, everything just works.
So while it’s fine to say we want to get away from this world of sin, as many Christian songs do, the truth of Christianity is the End of Days is merely a big Refresh button.
Many religions say, “Let’s get away from this evil.” Christianity says, “Let’s overcome it.”
A God who’s always in charge so evil can never conquer him, yet submits himself to our level without losing his divinity, and because of both things, he rejuvenates the world, rather than giving up on everything and smiting us all. Yes, I’d say that’s pretty darn appealing.
From the Inside
“But why do you think all this is true?” That’s the big roadblock, isn’t it? I can tell you what the Bible says, but how can I say it’s objectively true? And the problem is that I can’t empirically prove God, the beginning of time, the end of time, or any such thing because they’re empirically impossible to prove.
So why do I say it’s true? Because I’ve walked it. Christianity isn’t something you can truly experience from the outside. All you really see are rules, rites, and traditions. But God is not a distant, disinterested force, so Christianity claims. That means you have to get in and see it for yourself. This is why the common theme of the Bible is “come and see.”
And I have. I’ve seen the goodness that God promised. I’ve seen my parents survive when planet-size wrenches fly into their plans. Heck, I’m only alive because flat-out miracles saved my mother’s life more than once. I married the woman God pointed out and obeyed him in how we should work out our marriage, and guess what, our marriage works. I’ve been poor, but needs are always met.
But I’ve also seen the bad things Jesus promised. I’ve had people mock and hate me. I’ve had to suffer loss, failure, frustration, and all forms of weakness. I’ve had my patience tested and limits stretched. Life has only really worked when I got out of my comfort zone. Jesus said, “You will have trouble in this life,” in John 16:33, and it’s been true. That’s one thing not a lot religions offer: an honest look at the world.
I don’t believe in Jesus because life has been “good” or “easy.” God promised both good and bad in this life, but that he was ultimately in charge of both. I’ve seen the good, I’ve seen the bad, I’ve seen the world run exactly as the Bible says it will.
I’ve read, I’ve studied, I’ve listened to the stories of others, I’ve succeeded, I’ve screwed up, I’ve wrestled, I’ve rested, I’ve walked, I’ve experimented, I’ve observed, I’ve researched, I’ve twisted and turned this Rubik’s Cube of faith every way I’ve been challenged, and no matter how many things fly at it, it has never failed me yet.
Thirty years I’ve been at this and I have yet to see a clear and present failure on God’s part to do what he promised. In fact, most of the “proof” people have given me about God failing is him merely not doing what they want, not going back on a promise.
C.S. Lewis said it best: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
Put It All Together
This is why I’m a Christian. Because atheism offers nothing. Because the idea that no one religion can be true has yet to be proven. And because I’ve been there, I’ve done it, and there is no way you can come to me with anything that undoes what my eyes have seen, what my ears have done, what my hands have felt. I’ve known too much to believe anything else.
No trouble in this world prove God isn’t in charge or doesn’t have a plan. No human logic is so perfect that it can disprove God. No other god offers the perfect combination of holiness and worldly understanding that mine does. No other form of justice is so comprehensive, pure, and unstoppable.
I’m a Christian because it works. It’s not comfortable, it’s not always fun, it doesn’t guarantee health, wealth, status, or fairness in this world. It only offers God. And that’s why it works. Christianity trust something bigger and better than anything we have here.
Because God is real. Because he is good, the only thing that’s good. Because everything he offers if far better and far more lasting than this world’s gifts.
And because he’s waiting right now for you. He’s not tired of you, he’s not grossed out, he’s not unaware of your evil so that he’ll be surprised, and he knows your goodness better than you do. He’s ready to wipe out your darkness and take your gifts to places you never saw coming. All he wants is your love and your trust.
Why Christianity? Because why the hell not?!