If this is the best God can do, I’m not impressed.
If I were an unbeliever here in the West, I would find little reason to become a Christian. In fact, even as a believer I find woefully few objective reasons to associate myself with Christianity. Oh, sure, there are the doctrinal arguments for faith along the lines of the Liar, Lunatic, or Lord? variety, as well as the related arguments that the Bible is the trustworthy Word of God; but that’s just insider chatter, self-assuring punctilious pontification. As far as the rogue world is concerned, it’s so much religious bullshit.
And why should they buy our bumper sticker truths? American Christians look, talk, and act just like everybody else. We have our big houses, late-model SUVs, HDTVs, Cuisinarts, political parties, and we ignore inconvenient truths and neighbors just like the poor damned sinners who are destined for charcoal. It appears that the only difference between us and them is merely technical. Why would they want to saddle themselves with a sticky religious veneer?
In his brief little book Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism, Paul Boghossian, a professor of philosophy at New York University, discusses the terms under which somebody might abandon their own way of looking at the world (epistemic system) for somebody else’s. When two different worldviews collide, how is it determined which is the better? Boghossian writes:
For this encounter to have the desired effect, this alternative epistemic system would clearly have to be a real-life epistemic system, with a proven track record, not just some theoretical possibility. Its actual achievements would have to be impressive enough to make us legitimately doubt the correctness of our own system.
According to Boghossian, in order for a world view to win over somebody, it must have three qualities:
1. It shows itself in real life (it’s not just theoretical)
2. It has a proven track record
3. Its actual achievements are indisputably impressive
If these are valid, we don’t have to look much farther to discover why the West is now in a post-Christian age. I’ll be blunt (and nationalistic). American Christianity is mostly religious theory. American Christians have no intention of actually living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We like the Story’s comfort, but not its implications. As a result, there is no proven track record of the Christian world view within our contemporary culture. Our track record proves mostly nationalistic, political, and personal self-interest, the evidence of which is so pervasive we don’t recognize it (and can’t afford to). The actual achievements of American Christianity within Western culture are increasingly historical. On the whole, our current performance is disturbingly unimpressive.
I cannot blame the unbeliever for his unbelief. From a scriptural perspective, he is justified in rejecting the version of Christianity on display. There are few compelling reasons for the unbeliever to buy into the American Gospel at this point. Perhaps the unbeliever’s justified rejection is American Christianity’s hope of reformation. Unbelievers know that nobody is saved by a set of creedal propositions. Now that’s something Christians should buy into.