Upon Further Review

My son plays on two club basketball teams. By chance, a few weeks ago these two teams met in a tournament. Let’s call them Team A and Team B. Forced to make a decision, my son chose to play on Team B, his school based club team. With friends on both sides, it was an interesting game to watch. I cheered positive plays for both teams and it was a good game, but our side (Team B) prevailed with a score of 68-65.

While watching the game, something occurred to me. When you are watching a team that you are cheering for, rarely do you see things objectively. You want all of the close calls to go your way and should a controversy arise, you are always biased on what is right and fair.

I discovered that while I passionately cheer for Team A when my son is playing for them, this passion waned when he switched to Team B. Not only was I less passionate, but I wanted all calls to be in favor of Team B. Even if Team A had a bad call against them, I could care less. If it was in Team B’s best interest, to me, that was all that mattered.

I think Christian church people are like this. We aren’t interested in Truth, we are interested in our version of the Truth. As long as the calls favor our team, we are fine. But when a controversy arises we want our Truth to prevail, even if the replay shows otherwise.

No place does our bias rear its ugly head than in the realm of apologetics. Most Christian apologists start out to defend Biblical claims by doing what – quoting the Bible.

In my opinion, the only honest way for Christians to view their faith is from an outsiders perspective. They must become skeptics of themselves if the goal is Truth, rather than which team they wish to win.

16 thoughts on “Upon Further Review”

  1. steve,thanks for your response. If during my many ramblings I’ve never clearly expressed my deep rooted skepticism of all things Christian and church, please let me do so now. As an MK, they don’t come more jaded than myself.As to my religiosity, I will concede that I might live out a religious life style (in that I go to a church, and believe in a deity greater than I), however I am not bound by religion. I am bound by my choice to believe in the God of the bible. Of course there are going to be varied interpretations of scripture, but I do believe that the major foundational truths tend to be universal (at least amongst most of the Christian church…what they do with it is another matter intirely!!).Regarding self-love, what I was getting at is this idea that we sometimes act as though we are supreme in our ability to control our own envrionment/lives. There’s nothing wrong with loving oneself in measure, but I see this global trend that has come on the heals of this amazing technological age we now live in. Our ability to explain much of the natural world around and within, has left many with this idea that a God seems silly and unnecessary. Rob Bell does a great job illuminating this in “The God’s Aren’t Angry” where he talks about how our forefathers worshipped and tirelessly tried to appease theri gods/deities because they couldn’t otherwise explain these external forces on their lives. However we now have simply replaced the worship of those gods with others: success, money, acceptance, pride…etc.You say that you KNOW that Jesus didn’t teach about a personal relationship…well I don’t want to get into a Bible-thon with you, because I will sureley loose (not being sarcastic, my bible knowledge pretty much sucks), but I have read about many men throughout the OT who where described to have had very close relationships with God, and as far as I can tell Jesus himself nutured very real relationships while He was here on earth. It’s my understanding that His very life is a blueprint for how we should live ours, so I’m not quite sure where you are drawing your conclusions. If anything, the idea of a relationship is what sets us appart from bowing down to idols or false prophets. A healthy realtionship is tested, stretched, it grows and is always dynamic. I don’t know any other religion that shares those same qualities.

  2. I think the biggest issue in regards to a creator is when people think they know what it is. Jesus, Allah, Yahweh…..and the list goes on. As soon as you name it automatically makes everyone else who doesnt call it that the “other team”. And who wants the other team to win? The world will heal when we all see we’re on the same team, and I think the best term for its teamates would be “Human”

  3. Your point is an interesting one. I see what you are saying. As an example – the belief that all Scripture is inspired by God comes directly from the Scriptures themselves. Because the Bible says something about itself, does that make it true? I think most believers have decided that the Bible is true and whatever it says is true. This is a matter of faith. But, the trouble is that words are up for interpretation. Some passages are straightforward, while other concepts are harder to grasp. Some men do their best to study and form a theology, others just follow the leader, and still others carve out their own path.In your opinion, they must look at the evidence around them and count that in the equation if they want an honest view of their faith.I agree. I think I do that. But I also know that most experience just tweak my beliefs, but they do not fundamentally change them.Ironically, it would take a scientific proof, I think, to shatter my faith. Like aliens actually showing up and abducting me or something. This is funny to think about.

  4. <> Personal relationship – <> This is a phrase that, while I understand it on an instinctive level, also makes me wonder how it’s possible to have a relationship with someone you’re not 100% sure is there. I can embrace it, because it’s something that has helped and blessed me during some very trying times, but I also wonder about it. Specifically, am I making this up? While I don’t think I am, I cannot exclude the possibility. It makes me feel guilty even saying this – I feel ungrateful for doubting God. Especially today, where I give thanks for having had my butt bailed out time and time again.Steve, I know you’re asking us to take a step beyond where I am at. I have in the past, and I have never felt so alone. Maybe I’m just an addict. Maybe one day my faith and doubt shall be turned to sight. Maybe I’ll end up in eternal torment for doubting too much, or maybe I’ll just end up as compost wrapped in a cheap suit in a coffin.

  5. short answer to my certainty regarding eternity: I know for almost-certain, that my wife won’t break our vows and run off with another man (or woman…), because her promises are backed up by daily confirmations of her love for me and underscored by a proven track record that has built up strong trust and faith. But, since she is human and flawed, I can not be 100% certain.If God is only a fraction of what He claims, and has only delivered on half of His promises, He is already far more trust worthy and reliable than my wife. The bible, for me, is a reassuring historical account of others who have chosen to walk–in faith–with God.That’s what makes me certain.

  6. Lowend – Let me suggest that you already make up your own truth. We all do (especially relating to the supernatural). And this is fashioned by where we were born, how we were raised, what our parents taught us to believe, our life experiences (positive and negative), and so on. You’ve described it perfectly. Christians have their “heads in the sand” AND their “heads in the clouds”. Most people base their spirituality (this includes all religions) on exactly what you describe… feelings, conjecture and other people’s opinions. I venture you do as well.To answer your question: Noone or nothing is the authority on the supernatural. It cannot be known (even if it exists at all). That last sentence has given me peace. It used to frighten me to think that I couldn’t know for certain about eternity or God or Jesus… but not any longer.

  7. Mr. Krabbs – I am sorry you feel in so much conflict. I have been there with you (and at times am with you there still). There are many others out there who experience the same thing. It would be so nice to just turn the “doubt switch” off and stop thinking or reflecting on the faith I have had for so long.If I am being honest I have always doubted, as long as I can remember. When I say that now, some Christians have responded “Well maybe you never really believed?” And that is simply not true.Two things – First, you said you “feel guilty” for doubting God. Let me encourage you – if God exists he’s cool with your questions and will forgive you. If God doesn’t exist then what does it matter. Guilt is going to be something that robs you of so much along the way – mainly your personal sanity.Second, feeling alone is something I have felt on this journey as well. These feelings do not prove God, and although we know that, the comfort of our conditioning is hard to resist. Above all, be honest with yourself.You can always email me at steve@stupdchurchpeople.com if you want to take this offline, but I appreciate the candor of your journey.

  8. steve, maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but are you putting Christians and the bible on the same level? I go to the bible not to defend Christians, but to find the truth which is my faith.I would agree with you that there are those who have lost sight of their own brokeness and foundational truths, and have elevated their human leaders, causing them to vigorously defend them and the things they say.But not all places are like this. There are some who make it a point to recognize the collective flaws of their fellowship, and choose to go to the scriptures first, instead of letting feelings, emotions, and biased set the agenda.I had an interesting weekend I would like to share if you’ll indulge me. We had some friends from Germany in town who are a part of some Christian fellowships over there. They wanted to see how ‘American’s’ do church. So on Saturday night we went to Saddleback, Sunday morning to Mosaic, and Sunday night Christian Assembly in Eagle Rock. Three very different churches. And after all the processing, criticizing and over-analyzing, we came to the simply conclusion, that each church has its own people who go there for whatever draws them. And it’s all good. And it’s all flawed.American’s have become shockingly lazy when it comes to taking responsibility for our own actions (or lack thereof). This is not just in the church. We turn on CNN, or flip through our favorite blogs, and take those few sound bytes and images as sufficient information to go vote…or whatever. We can not, nor should we ever depend on church, school, government to feed us everything we need to know to make the informed and wise choices that will lead us through life.I believe that God is looking for those who are willing to dig deeper than a 20 minute sermon. That doesn’t make the sermon bad or useless, it just means that there’s more. This idea that church should be the alpha and omega of our Christian lives is simply false. It is a vital ingreedient, but by no means will it complete our spiritual diet.BTW, as rough as Saddleback was for me to stomach, I simply realized, that the demographic (meaning mostly rich baby boomers) that flocks there may not be reached by what I or others might deam relavent or whatever… If Rick Warren is leading broken rich people to the feet of Jesus, who are we to judge (and I am usually the first to do so!)?thanks

  9. “In my opinion, the only honest way for Christians to view their faith is from an outsider’s perspective. They must become skeptics of themselves if the goal is Truth, rather than which team they wish to win” (Steve)Bravo! Bravo! Truer words have not been said (in some time). I think the key aspect of the Christian faith is to seek the truth – on whatever question it is we are developing in our minds and lives. I believe this requires we look at as many angles as possible to get the most well rounded view-point. I had a chance to watch a show called ‘in the shadow of the messiah’ last night about Christians living in Israel for one year. I was quite appalled to hear these ‘missionaries’ speak about the adherents to Judaism as ‘lost and their religion meaning nothing’. I actually got mad at the tv for a second. That’s just religio-centrism. These missionaries have no clue about Judaism and yet they felt the need to cast judgments without well rounded support. It actually sickened me to see that. I feel your point is true based on many experiences I have had – but mainly because knowing one side of a story leaves one without something to weigh against or compare to.

  10. “Most Christian apologists start out to defend Biblical claims by doing what – quoting the Bible.”Indeed. And yet, most can’t see how illogical that is. To turn that around somewhat, how do most Christians react when Muslims defend the divine status of the Qur’an by quoting the Qur’an? The logic is the same. As you say, we tend to favour the interpretation that best fits our own beliefs, rather than objective truth.My thoughts on the matter are < HREF="http://honestfaith.blogspot.com/2007/11/there-is-no-god.html" REL="nofollow">here<>.

  11. It used to frighten me to think that I couldn’t know for certain about eternity or God or Jesus… but not any longer.(steve)You know its pretty funny, but I became more frightened about my eternal end when I tried to name it. I am so much more at peace when I trust my intuition about being ok in the grand scheme of things. Youre right about lowend, Im sure he bases his view of Jesus on what he feels. Doesnt it seem everyone does.

  12. Lowend – thanks as always for the dialogue…You, however, are religious regardless of the spin you want to put on it. I won’t bore you with the definition here, but if you look it up I think you will closely identify. <>If cynicism and self-love are higher priorities for you (general you)…then have at it, and good luck. – lowend<>I’m not advocating cynicism regarding Christianity (or any other religion). I’m encouraging a healthy dose of skepticism. This would be viewing Christianity from an outsiders perspective and I don’t think that’s a bad thing really.However in your claims you are making up your own truth. There are plenty of Christians that interpret the Bible differently than you on the points you mention. Salvation, predestination, universalism… these are all things that Bible believing Christians can’t even agree on and they all read the same exact Bible. This is why I say skepticism in these matters is the only honest and intellectual position.As for self-love – I would respond “what’s wrong with that”. Jesus advocated that we love him as we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. A healthy self-love is important foundation to all other relationships.Lastly – I honestly and sincerely don’t get the “personal relationship” line. I’ve never understood why it’s important for people to claim it and I KNOW that Jesus didn’t teach it. He said believe and follow….that’s all. I personally think it’s completely based on a “feeling” not reality and it is often used by some Christians to make those that don’t “feel” like they have a personal relationship with Jesus as inferior Christians. Not saying that’s your purpose, but just an overall opinion.

  13. I rarely agree with you when you’re talking about Truth versus versions of the Truth, but I think you’re onto something here. I’m probably reading it differently than the way you intended, but as a Lutheran, I noticed something recently:When Martin Luther was writing and preaching, he had no vested interest in proving that any church was right, since he’d already been excommunicated from the only church body that existed at the time. I guess he wanted to prove himself right, but who doesn’t want to be right? Today’s Lutherans, however, have a whole edifice of Lutheranism to justify. Even when they’re saying the same thing as Luther, the motivation and therefore the tone is often so different that it’s striking.

  14. My views of Jesus are shaped and formed much like every other relationship in my life: part feelings, part trust, part learning, and part experience, but this trust must also be mutually won. The one major difference between my belief in Jesus and EVERY other religion, is that it begins and ends with a one-on-one relationship.As I look to the things around me that are tangibly understandable to me, I see hard fast choices, not wishy-wasy maybe’s. Nature hangs in perfect balance because it runs by a very strict and ridged set of foundational guidelines. I beleive we must take a strong stance on things that are much bigger than ourselves. IOW, this idea of sitting on the sidelines and rooting for all/some/none is weak. We are not supreme beings, and to think that we are somehow smarter than the forces behind all this is ludacris. I choose to put faith in the One who stands out above all others in that He reached out to interact with us (Bible, Jesus, etc). We, who are a step above ants in comparison, are the ones He has expressed love for and wants to be in relation with. This however requires action on our part. Like every healthly relationship, both partners must be engaged. And to those who say that they’ve tried that and found God to be silent/absent, I would say: a)are you in relation with your church/pastor/belief system or with Jesus? b) Don’t bother if you’re not REALLY interrested, God wants to be in relation with those who truly seek Him (which is to say He would love it be all, but simply knows it won’t). If cynicism and self-love are higher priorities for you (general you)…then have at it, and good luck. No other religion even comes close. Which is why I can proudly say that I am not religious.

  15. Sooooo…taking the “outsiders perspective” sounds really cool and non-churchy, but what does that really look like? IOW, on what are you (the collective you) basing your findings? Feelings, conjecture, other peoples opinions? Just as science is the key to unlocking some of the mysteries of our natural world, what or who is the authority on the supernatural? Do we all just get to make up our own truth? If the bible is little more than a handy reference manual…I see order and balance in God’s creation. Surely he would provide the same for our spiritual journeys as well? Of course I’m not saying that if it’s not the litteral word, then it is not valid. In fact, one of most prfound things I’ve heard on this topic is: “It doesn’t have to be in the bible to be biblical.” Meaning, God encourages us to explore, question, and never endingly seek, but surely there must be a foundation. A check and balance to all of our boundless searching?Maybe I’m completely misreading the subtext here, and if so…PLEASE correct me, but much of this is starting to sound a lot like: “Look Ma…no hands!!” There are those who burry their head so deep in scripture that they loose their relationship to God, but just as dangerous is it to venture out to far.Perhaps this discussion is focusing on the ‘head in the sand’ aspect of Christianity. I just wanted to illuminate the equal danger of to much ‘head in the clouds’ syndrom as well.

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