How can you disagree with me?
I don’t have an answer but today I am going to try to show a false concern when it comes to Christianity at least. As Christians we are expected to share what we believe and hope that others will also believe. One of the driving forces is a belief that people simply have not heard the truth. How can they believe if they have not heard?
My point today is that the problem is not ignorance as much as rejection. I am rereading a science fiction novel written by Poul Anderson. I was surprised by some pretty clear statements made by him about what Christians believe. We sometimes fall for the red herring in the question of how can God send people to Hell who have never heard of Jesus. Actually they have. They understand. They reject.
The novel by Poul Anderson was from twenty years ago. I remember that I enjoyed him in my youth and thought I would reach for the magic again. As I was reading I came across the following dialogue.
“‘On the other hand, the Roman Church in modern times has taken pains to investigate alleged miracles, establish their empirical authenticity. As Saint Paul did in the beginning’I would not have been surprised to find this in a story written by a Christian but based on my reading of Anderson I don’t believe he makes that claim. In the story he proceeds to attack all religions. He is an equal opportunity attacker. I quit reading because the story was being lost in his enthusiasm in making an anti-religion rant. But if you read what he wrote, it shows a clear understanding of basic Christianity.
“‘First Corinthians,’ Dick said. ‘By now I have the passage memorized. He realized that the Resurrection is the central fact of Christianity. If you can believe that a corpse rose from its tomb, walked and talked, ate and drank and lived for forty days, why, then you can swallow anything, ancient prophecy, virgin birth, wedding at Cana, instant cures of leprosy - those are mere detail. The Resurrection is what matters. “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” Paul went to considerable trouble to find eyewitnesses; he names them and lists the reasons for trusting them.’”, p. 41
He goes even further a few lines down,
“Dick smiled. ‘I suppose. You must know better than I how much science is taken on faith. How many crucial experiments have you carried out yourself?’So we have a popular, successful author who expresses clearly the basic foundation of Christianity and an awareness that science if also based on faith. It does not make a believer out of him.
“‘Uh-huh. Or how many theoretical developments have I tracked the math of, step by step? Precious few.’”
So, if you are a believer, relax. Even when people know what we consider the truth it does not make them believe in Jesus. They have other beliefs.
Keep in mind that some people like liver and onions. Some people like anchovies on their pizza. You don’t need to agree or understand, just acknowledge and be able to sit at the same table with courtesy.
Anderson, Poul. Dialogue with Darkness. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1985.
homo unius libri