It seems today that when it comes to religion, many people confront an unfortunate dichotomy. The choice is between intellectual honesty and Jesus. Many believe there is no way to reconcile the two.
The purpose of me writing this post is not for me to say why my interpretation is superior, but instead to present an alternate view that often goes unnoticed… too often different views can be silenced by the surprisingly large fundie presence online (i.e. the blog-o-sphere).
If you were in a room of 100 Christians, and asked, “how many of you knew someone that grew up in a religious environment and then walked away from their faith upon leaving for college?” then you would see 100 hands raised in the air.
Let me suggest why I believe this happens.
Imagine what happens when a young woman is raised in a Christian environment and when she turns 18, she goes off to study at university (let’s say, one that is not affiliated with any denomination of faith). While studying, she becomes exposed to all kinds of different disciplines. She takes anthropology, psychology, sociology, biology, calculus, astronomy, and so on. She meets professors who are very intelligent and have dedicated their lives to their subject. Is it possible that during lectures, this young woman’s professors say things that are true?
The answer, of course, is “yes”. This makes sense since truth is available to everyone.
But now let’s say that the professors aren’t Christian, yet the young woman grew up being told that Christianity is the only thing that is true. What if she has been taught that no truth exists outside of the Bible? This now poses a dilemma: believe the truth she is learning at school or the Christian faith she grew up with.
This scenario is common place. Individuals in their late teens and young twenties growing up with Christianity can go through much stress during this time (I should know, I’m still not completely done with this stage of my life). Essentially, these individuals are experiencing truth outside of their religion, and therefore decide to drop their faith altogether (under the misconception that it is a choice).
In other words, their “box” is being blown apart. Their faith they have been handed can’t contain what they are learning.
At this point you are probably saying, “wait, go back…misconception that it is a choice!? How so?”
It isn’t a choice because Jesus has said (in John), “I am the way, the truth, the life”. This is essentially saying that if you come across truth in any form, it is not outside one’s faith as a Christian. Instead, faith has just gotten larger. Being a Christian is to claim truth whenever you find it. Jesus and truth are not on opposite sides of the spectrum as if they are two different entities. No, they are the same, Jesus is “the truth”.
If Jesus is God, and God is truth (and all truth is God’s truth), then Jesus brings us into it. Christians must believe in a “big Jesus”…not just a Jesus who was put onto the earth to solve a problem. Although that is a major part of Jesus, it isn’t the only one (as many denominations forget).
John tells Christians that Jesus was there before creation (calling Jesus the “word”). In Greek, “word” is translated as logos, and here we get our word “logic”. Logic, intelligence, and design…the blueprint of creation. Note though, that Jesus is the arrangement, Jesus is the logic, Jesus is the intelligence.
Christians should remember that Jesus’ teachings should not be followed just because they are a good moral way of living. No, they should be followed because they are our best insight to how the world (meaning humanity) really works. His teachings teach us how things are.
As one source puts it:
I don’t follow Jesus because I think Christianity is the best religion. I follow Jesus because he leads me into ultimate reality. He teaches me to live in tune with how reality is. When Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me”, he was saying that his way, his words, his life is our connection to how things truly are at the deepest levels of existence. For Jesus then, the point of religion is to help us connect with the ultimate reality, God.
Many people “drop” their faith because their religious “box” is too small, and have confined their Jesus to a limited worldview.
I understand that my stance on this matter will not be shared by everyone. I am also aware that my experiences have an effect on how I interpret the Bible and faith. Again, this post was meant to offer a different, perhaps not thought of (perhaps overlooked), theological viewpoint.
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