Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Ruler Once Came to Jesus by Night

when i was a child, i was taught that each person must have a direct encounter with God, a conversion experience, that would result in an abrupt change in the way one lived.  this "born-again" experience was to be the result of accepting certain beliefs as fact, not by any reasonable proof, but by faith.  in this system, all christians surrender control of their lives to God and accept jesus as the savior of the world and as "personal savior" without question or reservation.

for many years, i struggled with this sort of teaching, and, once i reached adulthood, i abandoned this kind of christianity completely.  this idea of accepting any teaching blindly leads to a closed off approach to the world, to a kind of narrowness that ignores the discoveries of science and the possibilities of a truth that is broader than any "faith-based" view of reality.  if one accepts a belief that cannot be proved, then many other beliefs follow, none of them reasonable or provable.  soon one lives in a world of fantasies, and the concept of what is true and untrue loses any meaning.

we see this in the willingness of evangelical christians to accept the wildest conspiracy theories as being possible.  already we are hearing suggestions that the tragedies in boston were the work of our own government, that the government is downplaying the possibility of a larger conspiracy because of the influence of the muslim brotherhood within our own government, or that what happened in boston is part of a larger plan by the government to stockpile ammunition for the coming declaration of martial law so that our citizens' guns can be seized and the christian religion suppressed.  it is no conincidence that those who can accept such ideas as being in the realm of possibility are the same who accept religious "truths" that can only be reached by blind faith.

we have minds.  let us use them!  a religion that teaches its followers to refuse to question, to deny the need for proof, and to accept beliefs that are unreasonable cannot be a true religion.  understanding comes gradually, not in a sudden conversion experience.  it takes patience and effort to gain true understanding, and the surrender of one's inteliigence in order to be "saved" is dangerous for oneself and all of society.

my prayer today is that each of us will use the mind we have to seek truth, that none of us will accept anything as truth that is unreasonable or unprovable, and that we will question more than we answer.  shalom.

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