by Pastor Art
That’s not really the title I wanted to use with this devotional. My REAL title was, “God Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It (and other specious phrases Christians us to avoid having to actually think")” But the “Squarespace” program wouldn’t allow me that many characters in the title space, so I settled for what you see above.
Specious: apparently good or right thought lacking real merit; pleasing to the eye but deceptive.
“God said it; I believe it; that settles it” is one of those bumper sticker phrases that sometimes qualifies. Why? because though it initially sounds inspiring, bringing some Believers to their feet with loud cheering, it can also sound quite different to the populations Christ calls his church to love and serve - sounding to them more like, “We’ve checked our brains at the door of the church” or “don’t confuse me with the facts.” Why? Because two of the three segments of that phrase are, to them at least, highly questionable. They may not be as convinced that God actually said it, nor are they willing to concede that anything is settled just because you might believe it.
Statements like that sound a lot better than they actually are. But perhaps the worst part of them is that they can make Christians sound like something we AREN’T. A more fair and appropriate statement (and one that would never fit on a bumper sticker) would be, “I’m convinced that God said it; I choose to see it as true; and I’m at peace with it, though I’m always learning and open to new discovery.” Not nearly as catchy, but not the least bit specious either.
Consider these excerpts from an article by David Denison, published in “Relevant” magazine a few years back. Argue with his points (he’s a Christian, btw). What are you feeling as you read each excerpt? How might you argue intellectually with each statement or observation?:
1. “The University of Rochester recently published a review of decades of research demonstrating that “religious people are less intelligent than non-believers.” A summation of 63 studies on the subject, the Rochester report cannot be dismissed by the religious community. We must recognize as an objective fact that people with higher IQs are turning to atheism.
Atheist author Richard Dawkins points out that, according to a survey of the National Academy of Scientists, only 7 percent of American scientists believe in a personal God.”
2. “I have experienced firsthand the judgmental glares of church ladies who didn’t take kindly to me polluting their potluck fellowships with tough theological questions. Once the conversation gets messier than the Sloppy Joes, it’s time to wrap it up with the catch-all “His ways are higher than our ways,” or “If we knew everything we wouldn’t need God now, would we?”
This has to stop.”
We must stop pretending that Christianity doesn’t make any claims beyond our personal experiences with God. The it’s-not-a-religion-it’s-a-relationship rhetoric sells short what Christianity is—a series of significant truth claims.
3. If what we believe about God is true, no genuine discovery can ever contradict it. If we are to bolster the perception of Christianity in an increasingly secular world, we must welcome the skeptics, and we must be willing to answer their questions. We can be confident that the same God whom skeptics are trying to disprove designed the minds that seek to disprove him.
4. A fact we must face with American atheists (since their growth has been primarily in the last two decades) is that most of them were raised in Christian, or at least theist homes. Thus, these disproportionately intelligent people are rejecting Christianity based on their experience within the Christian community.
What attitude do we have toward other Christians who question the fundamentals of the faith? Typically, we tend to view them as less solid in their walk or unconnected to God. This mindset is incredibly damaging.
5. Christ’s call to have a childlike faith has been bastardized to a point that encourages blind acceptance of whatever we happen to have been told. So let’s examine the reality of this calling. I believe the faith of children carries with it two significant qualities. The first is that kids are remarkably uncynical. The skepticism that plagues our generation is a learned trait, one that desperately needs unlearning.
Secondly, they are annoyingly inquisitive. An inquisitive mind asks why the sky is blue. It asks why the grass is green. It asks why Arrested Development got cancelled but George Lopez still has a successful career. There are some things we will never know, and that should drive us crazy.
BE A BLESSING
Most of us can recall at least one instance when we’ve “defended our faith” with someone in a way that either wounded them or emboldened them against Christianity altogether. Write (don’t type or text) them a card that somehow expresses your appreciation of them and, if appropriate and helpful, any regret you feel over how you might have come off.
Who is a Believer that you know and feel really comfortable with? Get together with him/her and chat about your best and worst moments in discussions about your belief system. Share also the doctrines and/or theological positions that are most difficult for you to hold on to these days … and maybe even why. Then pray The Lord’s Prayer together and reassure each other of how delighted God is with your honest questioning.