Episode 49: Attacks on Christianity, Part 3- 'Free' Thinking

Peace to Live By Episode 49: Attacks on Christianity, Part 3- 'Free' Thinking - Daniel Litton
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       We’ve spent the last couple of weeks talking about attacks on Christianity, and I want to finish up our discussion today with some final attacks that come to us under the blanket of so called ‘free’ thinking. A lot of people want to reject Christianity, or any religion, simply because they feel it places rules on people where there shouldn’t be rules. And some feel that all religions are simply the creations of mankind in order to seemingly provide an explanation of life—why life exists and sometimes why the universe exists. Religion, to them, is just make-believe to help people get through and cope with life.

       So, today I want to examine five arguments that are often presented by people who tend to ascribe to seemingly ‘free’ thinking. When I am talking about this ‘free’ thinking, I mean these people want to be ‘free’ from any restraint upon themselves, any restrictions on their behavior and thinking. The five arguments that I am going to consider are the following:

1) “I can believe what I want. Whatever I personally think, that’s ok for me.”
2) Everyone has a right to believe whatever he or she wants.
3) Every belief is confined to the person that professes the belief, and is therefore his or her own personal belief, but does not represent reality.
4) “You don’t need Christianity to believe in God. I can just believe in him independent of an inspired Word from God.”
5) People just believe in Christianity because they were brought up to believe it. It is what their society has taught them.

Let us go through these contentions one-by-one as we seek to understand people’s errors when it comes to these lines of thinking.

1) “I can believe what I want. Whatever I personally think, that’s ok for me.”

       This argument sounds good at first glance, and it is very tolerant of what other people may believe. But when examining the logic behind this type of thinking, it becomes clear, rather quickly, that this kind of thinking isn’t that logical. First, it is true that people can believe what they want to believe about certain things. I can say, “I like apples.” And another person can say, “I don’t like apples.” Both of these statements would be true for the people speaking them (considering each person is telling the truth). Things like the food we like to eat are a matter of personal preference. This personal preference exists because God has created and said that apples are okay to eat. Because they are a food provided from God, one can decide whether or not he or she likes apples. Now, if apples existed but God said it was a sin to eat an apple, people could still like to eat apples, and could in fact eat them. However, it would still be wrong to eat apples regardless of what a person liked.

       It doesn’t make sense, though, in matters of absolute truth or morality, for a person to say he or she can believe what he or she would like to. It’s not reasonable to say a person can believe what he or she personally ‘thinks’ is good. For instance, a person may believe that physically harming other people randomly is okay, whereas most others would say it is not okay. But if we ascribe to the logic that everyone can believe what is okay for them, then how can we correct the person who thinks that physically hurting others randomly is okay? Even if the majority thinks that physically hurting others is not okay, why does the majority’s view undercut the beliefs of the one who thinks it’s okay? We see here, pretty easily then, that this kind of thinking—this logic—isn’t really logical at all. It is not logical to say that whatever a person wants to believe, it is okay for him or her to believe it. This kind of thinking might appear to be wise on the surface, but really isn’t well-thought-out when it is broken down and analyzed.

       Now, if you believe there is no absolute truth, then why do you follow any rules? It’s every person for him or herself if no absolute truth exists in our world. People can just do whatever they want, no matter what, and should not expect, or face, any judgment for such actions if there is no absolute truth. But one might say that there needs to be order to society—that is why we have rules. But that doesn’t make sense. If there is no absolute truth, then order doesn’t exist. And if order doesn’t exist, then why, in turn, do we need order? Here again, we see that the very need for order suggests, or gives away the fact that absolute truth does indeed exist. Where there is order, there is design, right? Well, that makes good sense, though, some believe that order can just come about naturally. But the extreme order of things we see around us, with nature, the earth, and the universe, betrays the very notion that things could have come about naturally. That would be like winning the lottery trillions of times over. The Bible says about mankind: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:19, 20, ESV).

2) Everyone has a right to believe whatever he or she wants.

       Now, many people do believe that even if people don’t follow Christianity, that they have the ‘right’ to believe whatever they want to believe. Actually, though, this argument is not true. A person has the ‘ability’ to believe what he or she wants, but the person does not have the ‘right.’ A right is an entitlement that is good, right, and true—that which is endowed by God. If people have ‘rights’ to believe what they want, then God cannot judge them for believing what they want to believe. This is because, after all, they have the ‘right’ to believe it. However, if people do not have the right, yet have the ‘ability,’ God can and will judge people for incorrect beliefs. Jesus said, “And he [God] has given him [the Son] authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (John 5:27-29, ESV). So, every person who has ever existed will bow his or her knees to the real God, Jesus Christ, and give an account of his or her life to him.

       Let’s look at actions people do, for example. A person has the ability to have sexual relations with another person—the ability to commit fornication—considering both individuals are not married. A person also has the ability to commit adultery with another person. A person too has the ability to engage in homosexual behaviors with another person. But, none of these people have the ‘right’ to do these things. They just have the ability. As the Bible says, “We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things” (Romans 2:2, ESV). God, in his system, has allowed, or permitted for the ability to perform these behaviors which he has said not to do. Now, if people had the ‘right’ to do these things, then God has no ‘right’ to judge them for doing them. Again, a right is an entitlement that is good, right, and true, that which is approved by God. If people have the ‘right’ to do them, then they aren’t doing anything wrong. But, we as Christians know that no ‘real’ rights exist outside of what God has said is good, right, and true.

       Again, God will judge all people for their behaviors. The Apostle Paul noted the following in Romans 2: “He [God] will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:6-11, ESV). Notice how Paul said punishment is “for every human being who does evil.” This is not just for those who call themselves Christians who do evil, but for all humans who have ever existed, regardless of religion. God is not tolerant, and he does not ultimately put up with the evil things people think and do, nor the false religions they practice. God is shown to be right with what he has said to be true, at the end of time.

       Now, American society, or any other society in our world, may make people believe they have rights that they don’t really have, like gay rights. No one, in reality, has the ‘right’ to be gay—to engage in homosexual acts. People have the ability to practice homosexuality, but they do not have the ‘right.’ Neither should a Christian believe that it is good for people to have these rights. There is no area of life, including government, where God’s ways are not to be taken into account. If I were to say that I believe it’s good for people to have ‘gay’ rights within a governmental system, I would in fact be sinning against God and going against the Truth. Now, this doesn’t mean I stop people from practicing what they are going to practice, for God has told us it is his responsibility to judge unbelievers (see 1 Corinthians 5)—that is, to punish them for their incorrect behaviors (though we can and should say their behaviors are immoral and wrong). Just as God allows or permits it, it doesn’t mean either that I agree with their seeming ‘right’ to have gay ‘rights’ or any other immoral rights, like those pertaining to abortion. No, there are no gay rights or abortion rights, regardless of what any society may make people think. If there were, God could not judge people who practice homosexuality or who murder unborn children. People who believe they have these rights are in fact deceived, and God will judge them in the future if they do not accept Jesus. That’s why it’s so important we share the Gospel with people, so that more and more people can be saved.

3) Every belief is confined to the person that professes the belief, and is therefore his or her own personal belief, but does not represent reality.

       Again, this simply isn’t true. Under this type of thinking, if I were to die, then what I believe would die with me. That is, outside of my own mind, my beliefs aren’t true. But in reality, whether I am alive or not, Jesus Christ is God of the universe. The fact that Jesus is God is external from my own thinking. It is an absolute, physical truth of the universe. It is as true as the Sun in our solar system is real. It is as true as the earth is real, or as true as trees grow. A Christian has to think this way about things. To say what I believe is just personal to me is to dumb Christianity down and make it equal to all other beliefs in the world. But, of course, we as Christians know that is not true, and we demonstrate this by sharing the Gospel with people. The very fact that we share the Gospel shows that we believe Christianity is the only real, true way to God. All other ways are false and fictitious. The Apostle Peter filled with the Holy Spirit noted, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, ESV). There is no other real way to God. This is a truth of the universe, a ‘reality’ truth, a ‘real’ truth. This just isn’t what Christians believe.

       Look at it this way. Beliefs aren’t like people; people are individually created, crafted in God’s image, and are individually unique. No person is exactly like another person. Beliefs about God and the world are not to be individually created by us, as people, making them and shaping them however we want them. But, you see, that’s the problem. Some think that just as they can pick whatever they want to eat off of a restaurant menu, for instance, they believe that can just pick and choose what they want to believe about our world. And people think that each person has the ‘right’ to have these individual beliefs. Yes, a person has the ‘ability’ to develop whatever beliefs he or she wishes about religion or our world in general. But that does not mean that these beliefs represent reality, represents the truth. I understand this is a hard teaching, but it’s a teaching that we have to come to terms with as individuals.

       And it’s not that, we, as Christians, are just trying to force our views or opinions on others, but rather we are trying to get people to go to the same Book where we find the realities of life—the Bible. We want others to base their beliefs about the world in what the Bible says, on what God says about reality, and not what we are coming up with in our own minds, our own opinions. No, the Christian’s beliefs come from what God says alone. If people are trying to get you believe in what they have come up with in their minds as absolute truth, then you should not listen to them. Christians should be pointing you to the Bible. The goal of God’s people is to get those who don’t know God yet to deal with Him about the Truth, not with ourselves only. The Apostle Paul noted, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5, 6, ESV). The reason that we Christians believe in Christianity is because of what God has shown us to be true through is Word. We have our beliefs based in the words of Scripture.

4) “You don’t need Christianity to believe in God. I can just believe in him independent of an inspired Word from God.”

       People have the ability to choose to be deists, to believe that a god just created the world and then left it alone to see what might happen with it. The problem with this kind of thinking is, how does a person define God then? If we don’t have a word from God, then how do we know anything about him? How do we know what is good, right, and true? We could just look at nature, I guess, and observe from nature that which can be seen from the eyes. But we cannot derive conclusions about how we should behave as humans just by looking at nature. Just believing in God independent of his Word allows a person to create whatever beliefs he or she wants to about living, and not really follow the true God. It puts the individual in control, rather than putting God in control through his inspired Word. Just as the Apostle Paul told people in Athens: “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth… he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:23, 24, 26, 27, ESV).

       Rules can be good, right? You should believe that rules can be good. No one would argue that people driving on the road shouldn’t stop at a red traffic light. If you don’t stop at the red light, you run the danger of running into someone, right? The light turns red for a reason. There has to be rules in order for their to be order in society. And no one argues that these rules are bad, at least, most of them. And most of us support them. So, if we are willing to support and obey simple rules like stopping at a red light on the roadway, then why aren’t people willing to obey rules God as outlined in the Bible? God put the rules in the Bible for the good of humans, not to harm them or to be a killjoy. As a matter of fact, God likes it when we are happy and enjoying life. But in order to really enjoy life, one has to, or should follow certain rules. These rules bring truly fulfilling life. And through Christ, God gives people a way to chose to obey what he says is good, right, and true.

5) People just believe in Christianity because they were brought up to believe it. It is what their society has taught them.

       This argument may be true for some people. But really, a lot of people believe in Christianity because that’s what they have chosen in their lives to believe. It’s what I chose to believe when I was a junior in high school. Personally, I don’t just believe in Christianity because I went to church when I was young. I believe in Christianity because in view of all the options available to us, I believe it makes the most logical sense and it definitely has power behind it. The Apostle Paul noted in Romans 1:16, 17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (ESV). Behind the Gospel is definitely both power and righteousness. I saw, in my own life, how God changed me from a person wanting to do everything my way to a person wanting to be pleasing and obedient to him. This not because I have to obey God, but interestingly enough, because I love him and want to obey him.

       Often times people believe in God because their eyes are opened in a moments time and they accept the truth of the Gospel. Paul noted of Christians: “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:6, 7, ESV). God opens people’s eyes to see the truth behind what he is telling them. Now, some people see the truth, but then they quickly forget it or chose not to believe it because they are afraid that following Jesus will affect their life experience. They are afraid they will somehow lose out on something, or multiple things, by accepting Jesus. This is the lie that Satan tells some people. And it’s sad because, personally, I have no regret to choosing to follow Jesus some 15 years ago. Christ has given me true life, a way to live that is full of peace, comfort, and security in this life. I mean these are essentials in life that people want and desire, right? I believe that apart from Christ, it is truly impossible to have these things to their fullest extent. Without Christ, there is no ‘real’ life, no ‘real’ living. Christ gives people the meaning of life.

       Now, some people think that because American society is mostly Christian, that that is why a lot of people believe in Christianity. They think that, say, if perhaps another religion was dominant here in America, that people would just believe in that religion instead. In other words, they say we are just offspring of our circumstances and backgrounds. And, this argument, in a way, is partly true. It certainly is true that some folks just identify with their sect of Christianity because that’s what they were brought up in. They stick with whats comfortable and familiar. They may believe and practice the Bible or they may not. And many people have believed in Jesus in the church they were brought up in. But just as there are many who stay with their upbringing, there are many who don’t (myself included). Many have visited new churches and have believed at those churches, and as a result, they stay in those churches. So, many don’t just believe because they were brought up in this or that church, or because many others in society do. They believe because their lives were changed, and they have a new life in Christ. And they want to stay at the church where this life-transformation took place. We all know many people who don’t believe or practice Christianity even though they were brought up in a church and live here in America. They obviously didn’t stick with their upbringing and follow the majority in society. Perhaps your one of those people today.

Conclusion

       In closing today, there are many people out there who were brought up in a church, but as they got older, they decided not to follow Jesus. If you’re one of those people today, maybe you saw those around you not practicing what they said they believed, and this put a bad taste in your mouth in regard to Christianity. Maybe you knew people who were severely legalistic and strict in the way they conducted their lives, and this turned you off from the faith. Well, I want to tell you today that Jesus was not legalistic, and is not legalistic. And there are a lot of Christians who are not legalistic. Even if you were brought up in a negative and unfair way, I want to tell you today that you can still believe in Jesus. You don’t have to believe or do things the way your mother or father did, but you can follow Jesus the way he says to follow him.

       Indeed, it’s never too late for anyone to come to know Jesus, no matter where you are in your life. Anyone can come to know him, from anyplace and at any time. You don’t have to be good to come into relationship with him. Many people believe you have to be good enough but that’s not true. As a matter of fact, Jesus understands today that you have failings, that you haven’t lived up to his standard. That’s why he came into the world to begin with—so that he could die on the cross and provide people with a way out from the wrongs they’ve done. God doesn’t want to have to judge anyone for offenses they’ve done in their lives. He doesn’t want to have to send anyone to Hell. Jesus died and rose again to life so that anyone who accepts his death on the cross for them can have a payment, free of charge, from God for their sin. Anyone who is willing to acknowledge they haven’t lived up to God’s standard, and wants to change, can accept this free gift from God and be counted in. When we give our lives to Jesus, we don’t lose. We win.

       If you would like to believe in Jesus today the wrongs you’ve done in your life, and have a new life in him, free to live, then please follow my lead in this prayer:

       God, today I realize that I am separated from you. But I don’t want to be any longer. I do acknowledge that I’ve done many things wrong in my life, and I have tried to live life my own way. Today, though, I want to turn from doing life my way and accept your free gift of real life. I do believe that Jesus came to the earth and died on the cross from my sins. I believe he rose from the dead and is now is with you, God, in Heaven, Please change me God, and make me to have real life and a fulfilling life. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton