1.05.2014

dawkins' discernment

I have heard it said many times that the greatest argument against Christianity is Christians. I have to agree.

This week, I finished reading “The God Delusion,” by Richard Dawkins. The book is a 370 page analysis of why God almost certainly does not exist, written by arguably the most prominent atheist and evolutionary scientist of our day. The chapters ranged in topic from biology to history to morality as Dawkins explained why he believes it is most rational to live in a world without religion.

Dawkins made many, many arguments that sounded reasonable at first, but usually had a rather large logic flaw somewhere in the thought process. Most often, Dawkins would take a radical example of someone doing something ridiculous in the name of religion, and use it to demonstrate that religion itself is ridiculous. This logic doesn’t actually prove the intended goal, but his example after example of violent, hateful, vicious, or just dumb Christians made my heart heavy.

People have sent Richard Dawkins letter after letter, email after email, and comment after comment. I’m sure there have been many kind and simple “I’m praying for you” messages, but the kind that leave an impression and the kind that Dawkins writes about are people who I am ashamed to be categorized with. People have written saying that they look forward to seeing him burn in Hell, that homosexuals are all evil and should be killed, or that shooting abortion doctors is serving Jesus.

Dawkins pointed out examples of people who condemned entire cities for passing bad legislation, saying that if a natural disaster came on their town, they shouldn’t expect any compassion from God. He quoted many, many Christians who hate Jews because they are “Christ-killers.” He told the true tale of a Jewish infant who was taken away from his family by Catholic priests because his nanny had secretly baptized him, and it was therefore “wrong” that a Catholic boy should be raised by Jewish parents. He quoted emails he had received from men and women whose families had deserted them when they decided not to believe in God. And this is just a sampling. 

No wonder Richard Dawkins finds religion such a miserable prospect that he has dedicated most of his life trying to prove it unnecessary. While yes, he seems to conveniently ignore the countless examples of Christians who have changed the world for love and peace, he has found far too many instances of religious-inspired stupidity and hatred. This is nothing like Jesus intended. 

Has anyone who looks forward to seeing someone “burn in hell” realized that he was saved from that wrath by grace alone? Does anyone who wants to kill homosexuals realize that he has committed countless sins as well? Do those who want to shoot abortion doctors truly value life, and have they heard of Jesus’ command to love your enemies? Do people who hate "Christ-killers" remember that their sins nailed Him to the cross?

What did Jesus say? In Luke 10:27, Jesus confirms what the essence of all the law is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” And when asked “Who is my neighbor?” He tells them a story that leads them to realize that everyone is our neighbor. Love everyone as yourself.
 
I was heartbroken this week by the terrible things people have done in the name of Jesus that Jesus never, ever asked them to do, and never even hinted toward. If someone is looking for proof that Christianity is false, seeing people who hate and accuse and attack is an ideal way for them to blow off Christ as fake and ineffective. I ask you, and urge you if you are a follower of Jesus, to consider these few things:

-       - Remember that everyone needs love. God made and God loves everyone, even if they reject Him.

-       - Before you negatively comment on anything regarding a person, nation, people group, etc., pray for them. And then ask yourself, what would Jesus write? How can you demonstrate truth in love?

-       - Realize that you are messed up too. If you claim to be a Christian, you are acknowledging that the death of Jesus Himself was required to pay your debt. You are no more worthy of God’s love than anyone else, but it has been given to you as freely as it is given to anyone else. 

-       - “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

These are just a few things I want to remind us as Christians to do. We have dragged the name of Jesus through the mud, and while we’ll never be perfect, we have to remember what Jesus really asked. 

But most of all, much of the world’s (and these very mistaken Christian’s) misconception of Christianity comes from making this a “religion” around a bunch of statutes that we debate and create unnecessarily. But that's not it. Christianity is just the family of Christians, and “Christian” means “little Christ.” This entire “religion” is centered solely around the person of Jesus. When you know Him, you are changed. You suddenly see the world differently; fuller and streaming with purpose and vision and passion. It’s like adding a whole new dimension, a whole new set of colors that have never been seen before. And ultimately, it makes you love people so much that you will do anything to introduce them to your Best Friend, the one who has given you life now and forever. People who hate, who judge, who condemn and reject make me wonder if they have truly met Jesus, or if they think they have become such a great “rule-follower” of made-up rules that they can look down on others. 

As Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ all the time. It’s ridiculous that God would allow us to represent Him when we do it so badly. But let’s start doing what we can to show the world who Jesus really is; you never know when the person reading your comment is someone about to commit suicide, someone seeking truth, or someone writing a best-selling book on the non-existence of God. 

I’m praying for Richard Dawkins. Not that he roasts well in hell, but that he is loved to the point of seeing the Truth and living. I’m praying Christians will step up to show him that his soul is of more value than our pride. Even if his opinion never changes on homosexuality or abortion or evolution or whatever, I am praying his opinion changes on the One who made him, loves him, died for him, and rose for him, if he would just believe it. Just believe it. 

Help me love everyone in this entire world, starting right where you are.

2 comments:

  1. This is a well-done post, Shelby! It really is depressing how often we as Christians don't act like Christ. I was just discussing this with someone the other day. And I think you're right. We're the ones who need to change our attitudes first. Thanks for posting!

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  2. Us humans are sometimes better than our religions demand us to be. Other times, we are far worse than the tenets of our creed would suggest. Some atheists, who do not need to believe in anything can be far better than a Christian who has entire lists of dos and don'ts that suggest peace to the world. The common denominator - humans. We have the proclivity to turn any belief system towards our own ends. Should a belief system be judged by the behavior of its supposed followers? Perhaps in some ways, but in all? As my favorite author G.K. Chesterton wrote, "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried."

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thoughts so far