At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Monday, March 28, 2016

If I Might Interrupt (a.k.a. Easter and Atheism)

I know, this wrecks the whole flow of my top ten reasons to check out The Broken Cross, but it's something I felt I couldn't pass up. I do have a post in pocket to smooth out and put on the blog, but for now, something else.

Easter is behind us, although in all fairness Christians should live every day like it's Resurrection Sunday and not go around looking like they got baptized in vinegar. But I re-read contrasting essays this past week from back issues of The Wall Street Journal that I found thought-provoking. Granted they are from 2011, so keep that in mind.

First, actor and comedian Ricky Gervais (if you haven't watched him send poor Karl Pilkington around the world in An Idiot Abroad yet, I have to question what you are watching on Netflix) wrote an essay entitled A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais: Why I Am a Good Christian. I've supplied the link so you can go read it need to reproduce it here. Gervais, a dedicated atheist, is a patron of the British Humanist Association, which seeks to promote a secular worldview, seek secular governmental principles, and raise awareness of human rights issues.

Then, atheist-turned-Christian-apologist Lee Strobel gave his counter-proposal in the WSJ called How Easter Killed My Faith in Atheism. If you are familiar with Strobel's work in The Case For Christ, there's a lot of condensed ground he goes over here. Strobel, a former investigative journalist, knows how to ask the tough questions.

Before you get into both essays (note how I assume you will read them), please know they come with caveats:

--Gervais begins his defense of his worldview by showing how he sticks to the Ten Commandments better than most Christians. I find it interesting how he begins and ends with law and sees know need for divine grace, but he is coming at it from an atheistic standpoint. My concern is that Gervais tends to have a very surfacy view of what the Commandments mean or how thorough they are; then again, the same complaint can be hurled at many evangelicals. As someone who has taught Ethics for the majority of his career in education, I know Gervais is missing a lot when he ticks off a 10 for 10 score in keeping the Decalogue faster than the rich young ruler who stood before Jesus.

--On Strobel's work, keep in mind he is rushing through a number of these points and you wish he'd get into more detail like he does in his books. Also, he makes reference to matters within Scripture itself to show what is recorded in defense of Christ's resurrection. That's within bounds; naturally, I'm betraying my point of view as a biblicist. However, what do you do with someone who does not accept the Biblical revelation as authoritative or accurate or necessary? You have to find some common ground for argumentation with those who do not accept Holy Scripture as a true metanarrative. (It's the reason why there are limitations in our postmodern world of today with C.S. Lewis' "Liar, Lunatic, Lord" argument that the Oxford Don didn't face in the 1950s)

That being said, read both essays. They are not as substantive on issues of faith and reason as, say, a two-hour debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig at Notre Dame, but in the midst of a rushed Monday, they'll do. And commit to having gracious conversations of this nature with those around you.

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