Last week, I posted on the progressive de-Christianisation of Australia. The article was published in several places and drew extensive comment in one of these. Responses were polite and well-considered, but centred on the idea that we are now a post-Christian nation and that Christian values are optional in what has become a secular and multi-cultural society. Of course, that assessment involves a choice. Christianity has not really been tried and found wanting, though, it has mostly been untried. Here’s why faith built on a relationship with God, and not the imperfect religious forms that contain it, is still thoroughly believable and essential today.
1. Christianity is provable beyond reasonable doubt.
Little is provable beyond all doubt, but doubts about Christianity are largely unsubstantiated. It has actually been supported on many fronts. Firstly, the Bible has been verified by extensive archaeology, which consistently and progressively reveals its historical details to be true and accurate.
Miracles still happen today, too, including people being healed of supposedly incurable diseases. This does not happen on command, but significantly more often than most wish to acknowledge, despite extensive personal testimony. Changed lives are built on more than sheer willpower and positive thinking and it is hard to write off people’s stories, just because they don’t sit well with some.
Science unreasonably attacks and ridicules the Bible for its statements of faith but it also undermines its own credibility when it builds itself upon faith. After all, the ‘If-God-made-us-then-who-made-God?’ question warrants asking who (or what) made the Big Bang? The origin of the physical laws of the universe cannot be explained, and neither can the assembly of mere chemicals into living organisms. Also, the absence of the sheer number of transitional fossils needed to explain evolution and its many missing links are often apparently smoothed over by sheer belligerence from atheists who simplistically scoff at any notion of supernatural creation and ordered design which the evidence best supports.
History, too, fails to overthrow Christianity. First century Jewish and Roman sources – hostile witnesses – attest to the Resurrection with no opposition. Even the bold biblical, first century claim of five hundred witnesses to this miraculous event are unable to be disproved by any evidence from writers of the time.
The sheer number of early Christian martyrs is an important factor, too, given that they would not die for a hoax. Famous Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis, therefore reasoned that if Jesus was not a lunatic, or a liar, then it leaves just one possibility; that He is indeed Lord just as He claims.
2. Christianity is all upside for those who accept it.
Many will reject faith on the basis of ethical concerns, but these are surely short-sighted. The most common two are how Christianity could stand up against child abuse by church leaders and how a good God could possibly allow suffering. As for the former, it is surely hard to fathom how Christianity can be so easily invalidated by perpetrators who represent it so poorly and whose evil actions are condemned by the Bible.
Regarding suffering, it is a regrettable and painful part of life in a world tainted by sin. God waits for us to invite Him to intervene in our lives where we can personally pray for a change to circumstances, but He won’t override the free will of others who sin against us. Without free will, we would all be unable to withhold love for God and would therefore resemble robots, unable to exercise a choice and therefore unable to enjoy a genuine relationship with Him. Suffering is therefore not fully eradicated on this side of the grave.
Those who see the Bible as being full of contradictions have usually given little consideration to the fact that these have all been heard before and have been clearly answered. When the book is read consistently, in the way of all orthodox and sincere Christians, then violence is not condoned and hatred has no place for the faithful. Rather than condemning particular sinners, the Bible regards us all as sinners without Jesus, and therefore invites us to enjoy the gift of redemption so that we might be reconciled to God.
When we do make a choice for God, we respond to the death and resurrection of Jesus. It potentially offers eternal life universally but this is sadly not universally received. We must accept it by repenting of our sin, the sum total of our choices to live life without a relationship with God.
When we acknowledge that God is perfect, we realise that He must perfectly judge sin. Ours, no matter how small, is based on living apart from Him. A just punishment would not allow sin in Heaven, and this therefore brings death, but a just escape from death is a substitutionary sacrifice. Jesus qualified to ransom our lives because He Himself was perfect and did not need to die for any sin. The fact that the Resurrection saw Him triumph over the judgment of the very sin He took upon His body means that our own sin is potentially paid for.
When we accept that His replacement death was made for us, personally, we then commit ourselves to dependence upon God for our own eternal life and thereby receive the gift of His salvation. Church attendance, good works, and avoiding wrongdoing all come naturally and necessarily to a changed heart, but they matter not one iota for being accepted by God in the first place. It’s all about coming to relationship with Him through Jesus and then continuing to enjoy that relationship; nothing more and nothing less.
That’s why this faith is really not a religion and why it is also known as Good News. Christianity is just as relevant to Australians as it ever was.
3. Christianity is the only faith that promotes true freedom
Accountability to divine authority within Christianity is often avoided because it is thought to cost our freedom. It actually promotes it. Religions are based on laws and rituals that constrain people, but Christianity offers a relationship with God who frees people.
Even the right to openly express a personal view in a nation like ours is built on a Christian heritage that celebrates our freedom and is not threatened by contrary opinions. Religious systems that control people, though, cannot abide such freedom. They also cannot contain it, though, any more than the wind can be grasped, the wind which was interestingly likened by Jesus to the very indomitable Spirit of the Christian faith, anyway.
We enjoy freedom of belief as a right, but all rights come with responsibility. Freedom from prison, for example, implies the responsibility to comply with certain laws to avoid re-incarceration. Freedom of faith is actually only possible in a Christian nation which is tolerant in accordance with a consistent worldview. Can you imagine countries founded on other world religions affording their citizens similar rights?
And what about the shifting sands of relativised values we see in atheism? Atheistic influences are increasingly inconsistent. They propose to define what beliefs rational and free-thinking Australians should be allowed to have while they then pretend to be grounded in tolerance, despite actually maintaining high intolerance toward any dissenters.
A choice for anyone to avoid an active Christian faith is actually a choice to pursue an alternative belief system. We all believe something, after all. It is one’s free right to make a belief choice insofar as this doesn’t impinge in the choices of others. However, the need for Christ remains universal, whether we end up choosing Him or not. None of us is good enough for Heaven on merit and we can do nothing to alter our destiny after death.
A composite of preferred beliefs, smokescreens of religious observance, or casual indifference toward God, will not replace the need for a personal relationship with Him through the atoning sacrifice of Christ come judgment day.
Rather than Christianity being defended with presumption or fear, though, it is pursued by many because it remains a believable and life-changing faith.
Ours is a choice that needs to be made not by default but by wilful surrender to Jesus. Just Jesus. None of us is ever unredeemable and all who call on Him, and then yield to Him, can still be saved.
The stakes are simply too high to let life just take its course and the consequences are eternal.