Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Failure To Engage

Here's a funny thing. Back in my days as an evangelical I was frequently taught how to "spread the good news of Jesus." This tutoring took many forms, be it an Alpha course, a study group, a church service, or perhaps a weekend retreat. These were times of reflection and prayer, and times of deep communion with my fellow believers. And they were happy days, contented days, and I do miss the warmth of the friendships.
You're waiting for the "but" aren't you? You knew it was coming. Well, as I reflect now I can identify a common thread that linked us all, and one that, at the time we were surely unaware of.
It was the lack of awareness of our own ignorance. Our feeble grasp of history. Our blindness, perhaps wilful blindness towards things that might challenge our faith. What I suffered from, and what many of my dear friends continue to suffer from is a simple failure to engage.
Engage with honest reflection, impartial reflection, impassioned reflection.
The odd thing is, the goal of a Christian is to spread the gospel truth, but just try spreading a little truth in the other direction and I can predict the response you'll get with unerring precision. Most believers disengage very quickly if their core beliefs are challenged. They retreat, go quiet, or come up with some pithy comment about agreeing to disagree. 
As my knowledge grows, it becomes ever more of a challenge to respect Christianity. I don't mean this with any hostility, but rather as a proposition it seems feeble on so many levels.
Take for instance the Bible. Many of the books contained are subject to Pseudepigrapha, which is to say known forgeries, deliberately written by authors claiming to be someone else. And what of the Exodus? The famous story about the Israelites flight from Egypt? It has all but been abandoned as historical by scholars and archeologists alike. I mean, if you take the Bible as accurate for long years over one million souls wandered the desert, yet managed to leave not a trace of their existence? Not a pot, not a cup, not an inscription. And what of the famous King David? He was meant to have reigned over a mighty empire, yet many of the settlements alleged to have come under his rule never actually existed until after his death. The same goes for his son Solomon. It just goes on and on and on. And let's not forget about all the failed prophecy. Jesus explicitly stated that he would return before his generation passed away. It reaches a point where continuing to maintain the credibility of the Bible is an exercise in futility. The game is up, you've been duped and you're living a lie. 
Right now I can image my Christian readers shaking their heads. Once upon a time I would have done the same. But here's my challenge to you; instead of scrambling for the nearest book on apologetics why not try doing some honest research? If your faith is that robust surely it can cope?
Only you're not going to do that, are you? Because if you do then you end up like me, having either to lie to yourself and pretend that you can still believe it, or walking away from everything you've built your life upon.
Not an easy choice, is it? Honesty or comfort? Truth or Placebo? 
Actually, there is a 3rd way. And that's to do what many believers do and become so liberal that they cease to be recognisable as Christians at all. These are the cherry pickers I've dragged over the coals before, and they deserve, as far as I can tell only scorn. They lack the guts to be genuine believers, and they actually do so much more harm than good. They live a watered down faith, a middle class, Waitrose kind of faith. It's ugly and dishonest and an affront to the many believers who genuinely try to live out their beliefs. I expect when Jesus spoke of the lukewarm he had these types of Christians in mind.

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