This is Part Four of the ongoing series “Maps and Territories.”
We must prove Christianity not only through logic, but also through action.
These past few weeks, we have been discussing how to discover what is true and what is not, and how to do so in a very confusing and uncertain world. Last week we decided that faith was the best way to do this. What we have yet to deal with is how to figure out what we should have faith in. Why are we Christian?
I think it is impossible for anyone, by looking at the universe around them today, to be able to say “It is objectively obvious that Christianity is true.” I have faith in Christ, but I cannot say that anyone who comes to a different conclusion is thinking wrongly. There is inconclusive evidence for Christianity. In future weeks, I believe we will find it is indeed a rational view of the world; but I do not think we will find it is the only such view.
So before we think about whether or not Christianity is logical at all, we must first ask two very troubling questions: Why are we Christian? And why should anyone else be convinced?
For me, there was a very long time between saying “Yes, Christianity is a rational belief system” and declaring “I am a Christian.” During that pause, I felt the presence of God. It was this which eventually convinced me that He existed and was the God of Christianity.
But not everyone has these experiences. How can a loving God ask people to believe in Him and then not provide everyone with the necessary evidence?
To answer this question, we can turn to St. Paul. If there was a man who could reason his way to Christianity without any help, it was the scholarly Paul, but that’s not how his conversion story went. Instead, the resurrected Christ had to appear before him and strike him blind to convince him of the truth of the Gospel. This was no rational proof of Christianity. This was divine intervention, brutal and beautiful.
But notice what Christ says immediately after appearing to Paul. “I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26).
In other words, Christ grabbed Paul by the lapels, whacked him upside the head with his existence, and told him to go and do likewise.
Paul immediately went and did exactly that, and it is undeniable that quite a bit of talking and reasoning was involved in his ministry. But, when writing to the Thessalonians, he makes sure to remind them that “our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake” (1 Thessalonians 1). He didn’t convince them of Christianity. He showed them it.
We asked how a loving God could refuse to give evidence of His existence, and here is our answer: He hasn’t. We’re the evidence.
When Christ came, people flocked to him. Not because of his miracles or his incredible reasoning powers, but because he was so obviously holy that everyone knew that he was special.
So when the Bible calls Christians the “Body of Christ”, this is what it means. We are supposed to be something so obviously different from everyone else that it becomes irrational to be anything but Christian, because Christianity’s power is obvious every time you run into one of us.
It is partially our fault that so many rational people aren’t Christian. We aren’t being the evidence they need. And as long as that evidence – namely, our obvious holiness – doesn’t exist, we can try to prove Christianity all we want, but we won’t have a leg to stand on. We can show that it could be true, maybe even that it is probably true, but the proof is always in the pudding.
This is all well and good for Christians, of course; but if atheism fits all the evidence, does it make sense to be anything else? Are apologetics an exercise in futility?