“Everybody knows that Christianity is stupid.” The social elite love to snicker, “We’ve moved on, we’re smarter than that. Everybody knows that there is no ‘truth,’ only culturally contextualized value-systems. How could anyone believe such nonsense.”
But they have us all wrong. Christians do not believe in truth. As if “belief” were a passing preference. No, we believe in the old sense, the honorable sense. When we say, “I believe,” we mean something like, “I concede to the truth, I can do no otherwise.” It’s the kind of belief you have when, after a long discussion with your friend, you finally recognize your error—the light bulb goes on—and you say, “AAAH! I see!”
This kind of belief fuels conviction, not retreat. Consider the contrast: not so long ago if you said, “I believe in equal rights for all,” you meant that you recognized the real dignity of all human beings. It meant that you accepted the fact that you had a duty to respect and protect them. This belief, when mixed with courage, compelled people like William Wilberforce to fight against the slave trade. But now, when someone says, “I believe in everybody’s right to choose for himself,” they mean that they don’t believe in anything. They mean that they don’t recognize any moral facts. It is a retreat from giving “offense”—that most shameful of all modern sins. #icanteven #outrage.
This kind of belief fuels conviction, not retreat.
No true Christian (dis)believes like that. We accept the facts as they stand. Rocks are solid. Roses smell sweet. Lovers should lay down their lives for their beloveds. These things are as plain as the nose on your face. They are indubitable. Not, mind you, that some 7th-grade-level cynic cannot doubt them, but rather, that he may not doubt them. He may not doubt them just as he may not live without breathing. The universe itself requires it, just like your mother required you to say “please.” Doubt all you like, but rocks still hurt when we are stoned, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, lovers who refuse to sacrifice are not lovers, and you will never get dessert without saying “please.”
Simply put, truth is plain, and it demands our assent. We can doubt it, if we so choose, but whatever would we do that for? I rather like getting dessert. Accepting plain facts is just the sensible everyday kind of thinking we must do in order to keep on living.
If the Christian appears odd for accepting moral facts in addition to physical ones, then it’s only because everyone else is too afraid of giving offense to tell the emperor that he really isn’t wearing any clothes. The crowd may choose to ignore facts, they may say that we are insane for not seeing the Emperor’s beautiful clothes. But sanity is not determined by majority vote (a fact that has been generally accepted until very recently). Saying that our faith is nonsense does not make it so. Facts are facts, after all, and the Christian is the most sane of all because he believes that the emperor is naked. His belief does not take any faith other than plain, run-of-the-mill trust in his own senses. It is insane to deny the facts right in front of your face. But what’s really insane, what takes mountains of faith, is to deny the existence of factuality.
Simply put, truth . . . demands our assent.
And yet there are mountains of people with such monstrous faith. How else can we explain the complete absurdity of calling a baby “a baby” when the mother wants it, but only a “fetus” when she might not? How else can we unfailingly plug our vacuums into outlets and never once try to plug them into lamp cords, but become utterly confused when we try to match two people up for a marriage?
The only explanation is a kind of insanity. The kind where we are fully aware that we are telling ourselves a lie, while being willfully unaware that we are believing it. A sane man accepts things as they really are, and then acts accordingly, he trusts truth. And that is the real meaning of our Christian statement of faith: “I believe (that is ‘I trust’) in God the Father Almighty and in Jesus Christ His only Son….” With these words we do not assert our opinion about God’s existence, but commit our lives into His hands. Because the plain fact of His almighty and all-loving existence leaves us no sensible alternative.