Friday, 19 November 2010

Missing an open goal!

It was such a disappointment.  The conversation I was listening to took place on an American Christian radio show.  A caller phoned in to tell the host that he was investigating religion, and wanted to know, "Why should I consider Christianity?"  I think the host was so taken aback at such an opportunity that he really didn't know where to start.

He started on a long lecture about how science shows that there must be a personal first-cause to the universe, and then a further presentation on how scholars date the Gospels to within a generation of the time of Christ.  The caller's reaction was something like this, "Errr, OK, well you've given me a lot there!"  The confusion and disappointment in his voice was obvious. 

I'm not saying the host said anything wrong - of course the science points to God, and the historical investigation confirms the reliability of the Gospels.  The problem is, I think the caller went away with the impression that he has to be a scientist or historian before he can make a rational choice or take a reasonable step.

So what would I have said if I'd been asked why should one consider Christianity?  Well, I think I'd have started by pointing out that Christianity offers a righteous answer to a real problem.  This is one of the many things that sets it apart from every other worldview - how the Gospel deals with sin. 

Many of the worldviews (including atheism) deny the problem - they believe there is no such thing as sin because there is no personal, righteous God, and there is no objective moral law.  But to deny the reality of sin is to deny what we intuitively know to be true.  We recognise that there are things that are really wrong, and furthermore, we recognise that there have been things that we have done that are really wrong.

Some religions accept the reality of sin, but they don't offer a righteous answer.  The issue of sin is fudged or forgotten if people do enough good works.  But if there is such a thing as right and wrong then God must be the absolute standard of right, and must demand good works all the time.  The idea that good works will be weighed against bad is common in world religions, but is not righteous, and therefore can't be from God.  That is why we need a Saviour to rescue us from the danger we're in for the sins we've committed, and you'll only find a Saviour in the Christian Gospel.

The message of the Gospel is unique in this regard, it doesn't offer mercy at the expense of justice, but rather it offers mercy consistent with justice because of the death of Christ.  In His death the Lord Jesus paid the penalty for sin (evidenced by His resurrection), and those who turn to Him for salvation will have the value of His death credited to them, and thus their sins are paid for.  Therefore, the Gospel, in contrast to every other religion, doesn't set aside God's law, but establishes it - sin gets what it deserves (see Romans 3 v 31).

Another reason to consider Christianity is because it's the only belief that actually says you can have eternal life now.  Upon trusting Christ to save you from your danger, the Holy Spirit enters into your life in an undeniable way, giving you new desires.  Thus you can know the reality of the Gospel personally.

In short then, why consider Christianity?  Because only the Christian Gospel presents a righteous God who doesn't compromise on sin; only the Christian Gospel offers a risen Saviour who has paid the penalty for sin; only the Christian Gospel gives a regenerating Holy Spirit who gives deliverance from the power of sin.  There is nothing else like it!