I got a facebook message that’s been on my mind today. It was from someone very close to me who is still part of the church of Christ — the sect of Christianity of which I was a member. As I’ve said before, my immediate family no longer associates with me or my wife because we left the church. But there’s something in their position that I find really interesting and puzzling.
When I left the church, I was very open about why I was leaving, and I was more than willing to talk to anyone who wanted to convince me I was wrong. I even wrote out my issues with the church, the Bible, and Christianity (almost 60 typed pages) so there could be no question about my reasons. But I was surprised at how many people declined to talk to me. You have to understand that these people think they are the only true version of Christianity. They believe that almost everyone else (even those in denominations who profess to be Christians) are Hell-bound. So to be that certain of their position, they should have some startlingly good reasons for their beliefs — reasons that they should be able to share with others. Not only that, but in Jesus’ Great Commission, Christians are told to spread the word. Shouldn’t they have been pursuing me for a discussion, instead of it being the other way around?
The message I received contained this line:
I’ve read some of the things you’ve written, and even gone to some of the websites you’ve linked in your blog, and I just don’t see enough evidence to ever make me feel comfortable with renouncing my faith.
Normally, that would be fine. I have many Christian friends, and I have no problem with any who feel that way. But when this comes from someone in the church of Christ, it shows that they’re missing the point. They take the position that they are so right, they can’t even associate with me anymore. This isn’t a “live and let live” position. This is saying, “I’m right and you’re wrong, but I’m not going to bother explaining why.” That completely blows my mind. I mean, let’s just roll through that real quick:
- They believe they are the one true example of Christianity in the world.
- They believe everyone else is going to Hell.
- They believe God has told them to teach the lost.
- They believe God does not show favoritism.
- They believe the Bible is the inerrantly inspired Word of God.
- Yet when they’re presented with evidence that questions their position, instead of finding an answer to those questions, they just say they’re not bothered by the issues.
How does that help anyone? They already believe. So if they’re right — if they really do hold ultimate truth — then their response should be to try to convince the skeptic, not just say that they’re not bothered by him.
I used to be in the church of Christ, and I believed (like they do) that baptism was a necessary step in the salvation process. When I studied with friends in denominations, if I had shown them a passage that seems to speak about the necessity of baptism and they had answered with “well, that just doesn’t bother me,” I would have been flabbergasted! It’s not really a question about what bothers you or not, it’s a question of what’s true. If the Bible really does teach that baptism is necessary, then the response of one who values the Bible should be, “I need to study this more closely!” Likewise, if someone claims that the Bible is inerrant and they’re shown evidence that calls that into question, the correct response is “I need to study this more closely!” To simply say “I’m not bothered by it” is a defeatist response that (to me) indicates they already have severe doubts about those issues but are too afraid to examine them.
I know they aren’t arrogant. But to me, it seems like arrogance to say that you know the mind of God to the point that you’re willing to sever relationships over it, yet you won’t try to explain why the other person is wrong.
Look, if God’s standards are really as strict as the CoC believes, then there should be some really solid evidence so that well-meaning people aren’t lost because of ignorance. But if they can’t answer the problems I’ve raised, then something’s not right with the CoC. Either Christianity is true, but many many more people fit into the “saved” category than they believed, or the whole thing is just as wrong as every other religion. It can only be one of those two options, if God is a decent fellow who wants everyone to be saved. So either the answers to my issues should be fairly evident, or their beliefs are wrong. It doesn’t really matter how much they’re bothered by it.