Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Christianity

In the light of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, I decided to dedicate this post to My Christianity. So here it is.


Let me tell you about my life.

I grew up in a Christian home, attended a Christian school, and was enveloped in the Christian bubble that resides within a little piece of Grandville, Michigan.

Obviously as a kid I blindly followed the Christian faith. I had no abstract thoughts, no one back then did. But everything was good. Adulthood was something completely dis attached with our reality. We took joy in knowing there was truth in the mystery and that someday it was ours to explore. But in the meantime, let's build a fort out of blankets using chairs and an old pool table.

Middle school was much of the same with a different setting. Instead of forts it was girls and funny enough, swearing. It was cool, or we thought. Though I think we still unconsciously carried it with us into high school.

High school is really where everything started to happen. I became preoccupied with becoming popular. And let's all face it; we all want to be popular. It's how we attain popularity that defines us as healthy or harmful. For me, it was whatever got me there. Drinking, smoking, partying, youth group, intellect...whatever it took for that connection with others. I admit that within the mist that is high school I wove back and fourth from my faith. Some days I got it, some days I didn't.

Lately I've been probing and dissecting my faith. What is it? Where did it come from?

Up until recently it felt anything but my own.

Many people and especially my peers will say that Christianity arose out of a cause, not reason. A cause of fear and humanity's desire for purpose and explanation. I will admit, that I too used to fear what would become of me. But now I'm less concerned with me and more with what will become of everything else.

I wrote this piece to give out the reasons and philosophy behind my faith. There are no causes here. If you wish to debate with me, please do so with reason and not cause. It is extremely frustrating to hold a conversation with material as fragile as this and have your opponent reply with, "Well I think people believe because there this way and that." I'd rather discuss scientific aspects and logic, not prejudice or why you think hell is there just to torment people into faith. With that said, here it is.

I think C.S. Lewis and St. Augustine capture the essence of my faith best with these two quotes:

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun is risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis

"Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand." St. Augustine

I often have late nights pondering in my bed; thinking about life. Everyone at one point or another has gone deep into thought when the rest of the world is asleep. I have recently been tracing my thoughts and they all keep coming back to a God. Not necessarily Jesus or the Christian God, but a God in all aspects.

The universe exists on certain rules and principles. If I jump, I come back down. If I jump on another planet on the other side of the universe, I come back down (that is unless the atmosphere is not oxygen-based and interacts with some part of our body and lifts us off the ground. Or a lack of gravity). But either way, there are rules which the universe follows. There is nothing that just steps outside the boundaries of the universe and defies it's rules 'just because'. Math, for example, always comes out with the same answer. 2+2 always equals 4, no matter where you are in the universe. Or music is another good example. We as humans did not decide that the 4-5-1 chord progression sounds good in a major key. We can of course come up with progressions and toy around with it, but it's ultimately not human conception. It just simply is.

So now that we understand that there are aspects of the universe that simply 'are', we can explore other realms. Let's take a look into morals:

A lot of people will say that morals are the result of millions or years of evolution. That they came about by generations of helping each other which in turn "up-ed" survival. But let's go deeper then that. What are morals? What are feelings? Everything in life that we do is reinforced by either 'good' or 'bad' feelings. Even a narcissist, does what he/she does for the sake of a 'good' feeling. So there is this constant battle of positive and negative feelings, this I think in undeniable. Once we know this, we know that there are not people out there who implore bad feelings. No on searches for bad feelings. Someone who murders someone is not doing so for a bad feeling, they are doing it for the rush or whatever pleasure it satisfies. A 'rush' or 'satisfaction' is not a bad thing, it's the means that get you this that can be determined as good or bad. So any feeling or attitude is compared to this universal rule of good or bad. It has to be compared to something.

So where are we? We know that everyone strives for these good feelings over bad feelings. So there is this constant battle of good vs. bad that transcends the universe. I think the most obvious example of this is humans.

Animals are dumb. They serve only to feed and reproduce. But we cannot look at the house to learn about the builder, we have to look at the builder himself. When the Bible says we are created in his image, I believe that this struggle of good vs. bad is most obviously the part of this transcendental being that lies within ourselves. We don't see a dog or cow struggle with giving up his food for another or laying down his life for the rest of their species.

It's difficult for me to articulate this idea of a being that transcends our universe. I would suggest reading the first few chapters of Mere Christianity to anyone that is intrigued by this idea. I assure you, there is reason and C.S. Lewis is a much better writer then I.

So after acknowledging that there is some being, not necessarily did I come to believe in Christianity. One aspect that troubled me and is most frequently brought up by non-Christians is the concept of Jesus. Why in the world does one man, especially if he is God, have to die to save everyone? It sounds like some fairy-tale or barbaric movie.

Well let's go back to how the universe operates. God built everything to work in such a way according to the principles he decided on. So, sin (bad feelings) are a apart of the universe. In order to make money in stocks, we have to put money in. In order to fix a broken object, we have to put something else in it's place. Jesus was not of sin - not of this world. So in order to repay the universe and ultimately himself, he had to die for all of us. Now why Jesus? Because we can't replace a broken windshield with another broken windshield. It had to be perfect and unbroken...clean.

But a lot of people will say, "well that's no big deal! It's Jesus!" He can do anything. Well, this is a pointless statement. That's like saying it's easier for someone on the boat to throw the life support then someone in the water.

I hope this isn't too scattered and cluttered. I'm writing this just because today felt like a good day to write.


There is also something that I want to add, to clarify my point on good vs. evil (or however you wish to define it). There are no BAD or strictly evil things of this world. God was perfect so how could he create something of horror? Well he didn't. It's us humans that create evil. We all strive for positive feelings, it's how we get there that define them as good or evil. Hitler didn't start the holocaust because he wanted to be depressed and dehumanized, but rather to achieve his sense of pride and accomplishment. Pride and accomplishment are not always attached to some evil.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Derek, for this personal and very thoughtful posting.