Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Apologize for What?

I recently learned that there were people called "apologists." These are defenders of the Christian faith. My first reaction after hearing the term was "what are they apologizing for?" Yes, I know that the root term is meant to call them defenders but I just found the term to be a sad excuse for the shortcomings of a perfect text.

Why does the word of God need defending? Why are the inspired words of God not enough by themselves?

In my opinion, the word of God should transcend time. By this I mean that no matter how old the words they should hold strong against changes in culture and, most importantly, discoveries of science.

If we were indeed made in God's image then that should remain constant in us throughout the ages. The words written directly by him or inspired directly by him should hold the same meaning today as they did they day they were written. That connection we have to him should allow that message to pass easily into our conscience and we should understand it unambiguously as soon as we read it. When we read the bible we want to make a connection with God. We either want insight into his plan or assurance of his existence. But it seems EVERY bible of EVERY religion is written with the limitations of the writer's imagination. How many times have you read a great novel and been so sucked in by it that you felt you were there and you were experiencing the love, the hate, the passion, the envy that the author was trying to convey? Do you get that when you read your bible? Or are you just confused?

If you had never read the Christian bible before in your life and you had never heard of Christianity and you picked it up and read it would you immediately believe in God? Would God speak to you through those words or would you just be reading a translation of a translation of stories that were passed by word of mouth and modified here and there throughout the ages?

Is that what they apologize for? Because they were born and raised with all those words drilled into their head and told to be the word of God but there exist people who just don't get it? There exist people who don't understand what all the fuss is about over a God who is loving and angry and jealous. A God who gave us these wonderful brains but asks his followers to strike down those who doubt him? A God who was perfectly fine with slavery, even when he was in his kind and gentle form of Jesus?

Did people 2500+ years ago not have any sense of logic? Was Aristotle REALLY the only one who figured out logic? If there existed a tree of knowledge of good and evil one would assume that Adam an Eve had no knowledge of good and evil. And here it is and God says don't you eat from it but he puts a serpent in there with them who tells them to go ahead and do it how were they supposed to know that it was bad for them to disobey God if they had no knowledge of good and evil at first? If this was meant to be taken literally then I have to call a foul on God for being the one who tricked us. But if it is meant to be a metaphor then I have to say that was some bad writing because when you break it down it doesn't make sense.

Is that what they apologize for? If I had never read the bible before and I picked it up and started reading from page 1 I would stop after that part because if the first story is a logical fallacy then the rest of the story cannot follow. One cannot take an entire book that is the word of God and pull out the parts that are logical fallacies. Government checks used to say "DO NOT BEND, FOLD, OR MUTILATE" well I would say that you MUST take the bible as a whole, no bending, folding, or mutilating. And if the words of God are logical fallacies then I have to assume that the God who inspired that book must not exist. This one story is part of the foundation of three religions. When you pull out that foundation then all three must fall.

Since God does not walk among us and make himself known to us then all we have is his word. His word should need no apology. His word should need no defense. But here we are, apologizing and defending. Ignoring the evolution debates and the big bang theory for now, we are a logical creature. At an early age we somehow know what things make sense and when they don't. If A==B and B==C then A==C. Aristotle figured that out over 2000 years ago...so why didn't God?

1 comment:

pursuitofmeaning said...

I don't say I have all the answers to your questions but here are a few thoughts:

1. I have experienced the Word of God (the Bible) to be alive. What I mean by that is that on occasion the text has "quickened" me by the simple act of me reading it. On another occasion when I read the book "Walking from East to West" a single verse convinced me that it is worthwhile to continue with my life because Christ is alive. Did it convince me with a long logical argument - no it convinced me in its simplicity. There was life behind the words.

2. There are countless occasions of people who were given a Bible in their own language that came to Christ simply through the power of the Words.

3. To get stuck in the mire of the questions that books like Genesis or Revelation creates will prevent the bigger message to come across. I have had many theories about Genesis throughout my life - but I don't let that trip me up. A book like "Mere Christianity" by Lewis has helped me understand the real message better.

4. On many occasions we see God do stuff like Jesus not saying anything about slavery. I suppose it was because he had a bigger purpose and message about salvation that he brought to us that he chose not to say anything about it. But he did criticize other aspects of society - specifically "death by law" that the Pharisees were practicing.

I don't have all the answers but I know that he is alive. When a Hindu friend of mine came to Christ - I asked him how he came to the realization that Christ is real. His answer was not some long argument or even a convincing verse - it was just: "I just know in my heart that Christ is real". Often after many exhaustive pursuits and journeys of doubt people find God in the stillness of their heart.

I must say (as you know from my blog postings) - if anybody finds Christ amidst the orchestrated chaos and financial exploitation that is going on in the modern day church - that in itself is a miracle.

Psalm 46:10 says:
"Be still and know that I am God". That does not mean you check your brain at the door and become a lemming - it simply means that in the stillness of the heart - the Holy Spirit can bring answers that a frenetic academic search might not bring.