Monday, January 23, 2023

Anonymous Asks (233)

“Is Christianity wish fulfillment?”

The idea that the Christian faith is a form of confirmation bias or a pleasing fantasy concocted by people who simply can’t cope with the hard realities of life has been floating around in one form or another for thousands of years. The old catchphrase “pie in the sky” was a flippant dismissal of the sort of person who puts all his stock in the belief in life after death rather than embracing a philosophy of “Eat and drink for tomorrow we die” like sensible, realistic people do.

To that I reply, “Say what???”

If a biblical Christian faith were really the drivel preached by men like Joel Osteen, I can readily see why weak-minded, desperate people might embrace it. The prosperity gospel tells you God has created you to be a victor, not a victim; that you can “say goodbye to failure”; that God’s plan for you in this life is full of “big breaks, big opportunities and big ideas”. Who wouldn’t jump at that if it were on offer? You can have your pie now, and you don’t even have to wait for the sky. There are certainly people who take the name of Christ because of the teaching of people like Osteen, but what such men are offering the public is not the message of the Christian gospel.

A Biblical Faith

Instead, here’s what Jesus and his apostles offer the believer:

What sort of drooling moron wishes for that?

Faith Meets Reality

In his book Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis writes of his own conversion experience:

“You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

Lewis had only a very limited understanding of the real benefits of knowing Christ when he “gave in, and admitted that God was God”, but he did so not because he was looking to have his fondest wishes fulfilled, but rather, against all of his fondest wishes. He came to Christ because the truth compelled him to look at the world as it really is, not as he wished it to be, and to face the fact that Christianity paints a more accurate picture of reality than any other worldview.

Lewis’s experience was much like my own. We both found out later that a relationship with Jesus Christ offers joy, contentment and fulfilment beyond anything we could have imagined.

But was that why we became Christians? Not at all.

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