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Is it rational to be a Christian?

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Is it rational to be a Christian?

Are Christians irrational or, even worse, do they really believe what they know is not true?

That’s what some are saying, including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. They also believe that Christianity is not only wrong and dangerous but irrational and baseless. Perhaps you have heard them in debates or read some of their books. Either way, they are making quite a splash.

But since popularity does not equal truth, the question is: Are they correct?

The answer to that question depends a great deal on how you define “Christian.” If someone is not a Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc, does that mean he or she is a “Christian?” If you are born in Western Europe or North America, are you a “Christian?” If you were baptized as a baby in a church, does that make you a “Christian?” Does believing in God make you a “Christian?” What, exactly, is a Christian?

It might be helpful to note that the Bible says the term “Christian” was first used as an insult against those who followed Jesus Christ (the book of Acts, chapter 11, verse 26). Being a Christian at that time meant certain suffering, and possibly death (First Peter chapter 4, verse 16). The word “Christian” means “little Christ,” and those who used it were belittling people who claimed to follow Jesus.

So, for the purpose of this article, I am going to use the following definition of Christian: “a follower of Jesus Christ.” In this definition nobody can be a de facto Christian by virtue of their birth, baptism, nationality, church membership, church attendance or general lifestyle. There must be a conscious choice involved. And that choice assumes (a) we know where Jesus is going and (b) we agree to abide by the teachings He gave as we travel along.

Back to the question: Is becoming a Christian rational?

Recently in my reading, I ran across the stories of two interesting individuals who will challenge us to think carefully about our answer. The first person is Antony Flew. Antony Flew is a philosopher and was, for many years, a staunch and outspoken atheist. But recently he said he has converted to the idea that God does exist. While not a follower of Jesus Christ, he is a “deist” (someone who believes there is a God who started all this but then left it alone).

The second person is Anne Rice. She is a famous writer who is perhaps best known for her “Vampire Chronicles.” She was also an outspoken atheist and married to an outspoken atheist. But in recent years, she has converted back to the faith that she claims she lost at university. More specifically, she has come back to Jesus Christ. In fact, she has published a novel on the life of Jesus Christ entitled: “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.”

I mention these individuals for three reasons. First, they had nothing to gain by these announcements. In fact, you could argue they had much to lose. Second, they don’t make me look better by naming them. Neither one is a member of my denomination or attends any churches that I’ve attended. In other words, I can’t claim them as being on “my side.”

But, most of all, I mention them because of what brought them to change from atheism to deism and theism: reason. As Anne Rice put it, she began to doubt the truthfulness and historicity of the arguments she had been making for all those years. So, she did something really radical: she investigated! She dug as far down as she could for herself. She put her belief to the test and examined the evidence without a predetermined bias. Her conclusion: Christianity is more reasonable than the alternatives.

In an interview, Anne Rice commented, “We all want something transcendent, beautiful, special, and spiritual. My life has been a quest for … the thing that’s really important.” We all want that. But how can we know what it is?

May I suggest you do something radical: think! Don’t swallow anyone’s Kool-Aid (including mine!) without checking the ingredients first. Specifically, may I encourage you to do some research into whether Jesus Christ could have been who He claimed: the Son of God. Does it make sense? Does it fit with the evidence? Google some articles, dig through a library, watch some debates on YouTube – whatever it takes!

Another year has started and it would be a shame to waste it. Take time to find out what’s “really important.” When you find it, give yourself to it whole-heartedly. When you think about it, is there a more reasonable way to live?


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Rev Jim Beerley

Monaco Christian Fellowship Perspective
by Pastor Jim Beerley