If you’ve ever attempted to build a house of cards, you know just how fragile they are. A slight twitch of the finger, or simply breathing too hard, and suddenly your house is a flat pile of cards. There’s rarely ever a situation where you bump a card and only that one piece of the house is affected. One mistake, and they all collapse together.
Too often people seem to think that this is how Christianity works. People both inside and outside the church see faith as this fragile house, where if any minor piece falls, suddenly the whole house collapses. But if this is true, it has very serious implications. I think there are three areas this mentality can impact that we may want to rethink.
Dealing with Doubt
Let’s be honest, we all have doubts. We’ve all had questions about Christianity that we maybe haven’t found an entirely satisfactory answer too. If someone tells me they don’t have doubts, my reaction is not to believe that this is a person with such an amazing faith that they have overcome every obstacle. My reaction is that they are either not engaged enough to be asking tough questions, or they are putting on a confident face because they worry that their religion is a house of cards. People are afraid that if they doubt even a small component of the Bible or Christianity, it can knock down and kill the beliefs that they hold dearly. The typical solution is to try to ignore those doubts and “just have faith.”
Christianity as a worldview has a lot of depth. It can give insights into every part of our world and lives. But not every facet of the religion is equal. The details all hinge on a few foundational truths. Foundations like, truth exists and we can know it, God exists and created the universe, and that God became human in Jesus of Nazareth and died for our salvation. Other points are important, like how we should live by the law, what is our earthly heritage, or what can we know about this physical world, but they ultimately come after those basic foundations. If there is something bothering you, don’t ignore it. Dive into it and try to find an answer. And if you can’t, ask yourself this question. What does this change? If I’m wrong about this specific issue, does it change the notion that God created the universe and that Jesus saved me? If not, then your house is still standing.
This is one of the larger topics that I see this problem applied to. Say for a moment that a skeptic shows you two things in the Bible that contradict each other. Maybe you’ve had someone show you two passages, but it’s not difficult to resolve. But what if, hypothetically, a genuine, unreconcilable contradiction was found. This might cause us to have to reevaluate certain theological points like the inerrancy of scripture. But what then? Does a single minor contradiction then show that truth is unknowable, God does not exist, and Jesus never saved us? That’s many a step too far. Some might say it opens the door to that, but it’s still a slippery slope of ridiculous proportion. Once again, don’t be afraid of doubts, or a contradiction. Investigate it, try to resolve it, but ultimately it can’t do nearly as much to Christianity as people seem to think. We could still make a strong case for the essentials of Christianity if we lost every Bible on the planet right now.
Similar to contradictions, I see a lot of this on various moments in the Old Testament. People seem to think that if the Earth wasn’t created in seven 24-hour days or if the flood wasn’t global, it proves Christianity false. Really all this could potentially prove, is that the Bible is either unclear, or at worst errant. These are important issues that should be discussed, but none of them directly harm the foundations of Christianity. Your house is still standing even in the worst case scenario here.
There are two main reasons I am invested in this issue. The first, as we’ve already been going through at length, is that I think it relieves a burden that many Christians have when struggling with doubts It helps us compartmentalize a bit and realize we don’t need to be as afraid or defensive of every minor issue. But the other reason is that I think this can be very important when trying to bring others into Christianity. Whether it’s preaching the gospel or arguing evidence with apologetics, our goal in evangelism is to bring people to Jesus. That is our prime directive. In doing so, we don’t want to draw out a long list of required doctrines on baptism, the nature of Hell, and sexual ethics. Those are all important, but they must come after Jesus. This is part of why many apologists, when arguing with skeptics, don’t talk about inerrancy of scripture. Unless you’re using a presuppositional approach, it’s mostly in in-house discussion for Christians. Why saddle a skeptic with extra baggage that they’re not ready for? Keep it modest, focus on Jesus, worry about the details after that.
A house of cards has no foundation, and is built in such a way that it all crumbles at once. Christianity stands on a strong foundation that can be examined evidentially, historically, scientifically, and personally. If you ever encounter this mentality, always return to that question: what does this change? And if it doesn’t change those foundations, than your house is still standing.
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