Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Isn't there more?
For the last several months, the book, Letters from a Skeptic has been sitting around at my in-law's home. Every time we’re over there I read a couple of the letters. The book documents a conversation between Dr. Gregory Boyd (a professor of Christian apologetics at Bethel University) and his father, Edward Boyd. The younger Dr. Boyd is trying to convince his father (the skeptic) to become a Christian. Of course in the end, Dr. Boyd's father becomes a Christian (it wouldn't have been much of a book otherwise, I guess - or least it wouldn't have been a book that evangelical Christians would have bought).

Part of me wants to critique this book for what it is not. It is not a lot of things – but it is an apologist's best "Case for Christ" (to borrow the title of another book that annoys me). The book does address a lot of the tough questions like, "why is there suffering in the world?" I don't even necessarily disagree with some of the answers that Dr. Boyd provides. I just wonder about his method (though it is hardly unique to him). I don't think it would be a mischaracterization to say that he is trying to win believers through an assault of (seemingly) overwhelming evidence. In the face of such evidence, atheists would have no choice but to believe.

But as I was reading this last night, I just wondered, "Is this all there is? Isn't there more?" Is the sum of our faith just a collection of data? So now his father believes the Bible is inspired, Muslims are probably going to hell, and the world can be a pretty crappy place for a lot of people and this all-powerful God doesn't seem to care. So what? What's next? How is his father a changed person? How is this assault of evidence allowing God to work in him?

Obviously my problem is that I don't agree that belief is our end-game as Christians. We are called to a relationship with God and in that relationship we work towards transformation (personal, social and institutional). The focus on the truth of particular scriptural or doctrinal claims takes us away from God. I also think that the need for establishing the truth of these claims has a lot more to do with our own insecurities and fears than on any need of God to have us believe them.



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