Sunday, January 31, 2010

No Room For Middle Ground . . .

Josh McDowell’s book More Than a Carpenter makes the case that Jesus was either Lord, liar, or lunatic. There is no middle ground for calling Him a “good man” or a “good teacher.” His claims about Himself were to extreme. Either He told the truth about who He was—God—or He was a liar or a lunatic, and we wouldn’t call a liar a “good teacher” or a “good man.” In fact, a man who knowingly lied would not be a good man and we’d be fools to call him such.

This morning I taught on why we can trust that the Bible is the literal Word of God, and I made a similar statement about the Bible. It doesn’t give us a middle ground to just call it a “good book.” It claims that the commandments upon which it is written and based were written in stone by the literal finger of God, and it claims very clearly that it is the inspired, breathed Word of God, directly from God through men, profitable for instruction and Godliness. A mistake-laden book would not be a book profitable for instruction! Either the Bible is what it claims to be—the literal Word of God—or it is a book that lies, which would not make it a good book at all. There is, again, no middle ground. Either embrace it as the foundational revelation of God and build your life upon it, or get rid of it.

It is amazing that even atheists sometimes get the line in the sand claims of our faith better than many “Christians” do. So many Christians try and water it down, and meet in the middle, and blend the secular teaching with God to arrive at some lukewarm mesh that allows them to feel good remaining right where they are, but is actually a mockery to both sides. This is made so “case in point” clear by an interview of atheist Christopher Hitchens by Unitarian minister Marilyn Sewell in the Portland Monthly Magazine. (I have not read the entire interview, but if you want to you can read it by clicking here.)

In this interview Marilyn asks: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

In an amazing example of how atheists get the defining, distinctive core of our religion better than even some people professing our religion, Christopher replies: I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.

A little farther in to the interview Marilyn says: . . . I still consider myself a Christian and a person of faith.

Christopher, again with keen insight, says: Do you mind if I ask you a question? Faith in what? Faith in the resurrection?

Marilyn answers: The way I believe in the resurrection is I believe that one can go from a death in this life, in the sense of being dead to the world and dead to other people, and can be resurrected to new life. When I preach about Easter and the resurrection, it’s in a metaphorical sense.

Wow! I’d say that while Christopher openly rejects our Christian faith, he truly gets the “fall on your sword” defining tenets of it better than Marilyn does, who claims to be of it. Boy, are things upside down, or what?

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