Thursday, July 21, 2011

If the [Christian] faith is true...

I was halfway through what was going to be a monster of a post when, purely by accident, I found my thesis for the post: if you are a Christian and are ok with Christianity being taught as merely one of many options, or neglected altogether, than you have not thought sufficiently about it. Either that, or you do not really believe the Christian faith to be really objectively true.

John Henry Newman talks about a University being a place of universal knowledge, and by knowledge he means "absolute and objective truth." He theorizes about a University which specifically excludes theology from its field of studies, and he has this to say of the founders of such a University:  "Did they in their hearts believe that their private views of religion, whatever they are, were absolutely and objectively true, is is inconceivable that they would so insult them as to consent to their omission in an Institution" which, by definition, teaches universal knowledge. Later on, Newman states his thesis in the clearest terms possible: "If the Catholic Faith is true, a University cannot exist externally to the Catholic pale [enclosure], for it cannot teach Universal Knowledge if it does not teach Catholic theology." While I do not agree with the specific statement about Catholicism, I do agree with the statement he is making about objective truth and how we should react to such objective truth.

If you believe, really believe, that Christianity really is absolutely and objectively true, you should not be content with it being left out of the curriculum.  Nor should you be content with it being taught merely as one of many options, each of which are equally valid. Because Christianity is not merely one of many options: it is the only option. And its competitors are not equally valid: they are not valid at all. If you believe that Christianity is true, than you must believe that all other religions, philosophies, and worldviews are at best horribly incomplete and insufficient. If you teach someone that atheism and Christianity are equally viable worldviews, you are telling them a lie. It is no less a lie than telling a small child that 2 + 2 = 5: it is worse, for the lie about math does not concern the child's eternal destiny.

Finally, some will say that we should not force our beliefs on others, or that we should let them choose: they say that even though we believe one of the choices to be better than the other, we should let each person decide for himself or herself. Hopefully, after the last few paragraphs, you see that neither of these objections make sense. A teacher telling a child that 2 + 2 = 4 is, indeed, forcing his or her belief on that child: it is right for the teacher to do so, because the teacher's belief is right, and all other beliefs concerning the outcome of 2 + 2 are wrong. Jesus forced his beliefs on others: he did not offer alternate interpretations. Jesus did not say "I believe this is right, but why don't you choose whatever you like best." Jesus said, "I am the way... no one comes to the Father except through me." Paul was the same way. "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed." One path. One right answer. No other options. If you really believe Christianity to be absolutely, objectively true, you must proclaim all other beliefs to be false. Any other action you take has the potential to lead others away from the truth you yourself claim to believe... and you should read Luke 17:2 to see what Jesus thinks about that.

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