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Does It Matter What We Believe?

By Mike Mccauley on
Mike Mccauley
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Jul 05 in Musings
In a word- yes. Our beliefs matter because the way we choose to live will be based on something. Everyone’s life is based on something. It might be as simple as the desire to be happy, or the compulsion to satisfy certain appetites. Decisions made to support those goals will cause life to go in a particular direction.  Someone else may make choices based on a complicated philosophical or religious belief system, and their life will take a different path. But everyone bases their life on something.

Most of the contemporary studies of American life are negative in terms of Christian beliefs. People know less about Jesus and scripture, and exist with watered down versions of orthodox theology that are easier to fit in with current trends. Young people are walking away from their faith, or church or both. We’ve all seen the statistics.  Maybe we should be less dogmatic. Does it matter what we believe?  In a word- yes.
On Sunday I quoted a famous paragraph from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity about Jesus’ self-identification. “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.
We hear many stories of people who indeed believe Jesus was a good man or a moral example or an enlightened rabbi, despite Jesus’ own claims to the contrary. Does it matter what we believe?  In a word- yes. I am unwilling to turn my life over to a teacher, no matter how good.  I will not worship a human being, no matter how enlightened.
Last December, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote a column entitled “Am I a Christian, Pastor Timothy Keller?”  It was a short dialogue with Keller, the founder of the Redeemer Presbyterian Churches in New York City. Note that the question in the title of the article was raised by the author’s initiative, not Keller’s.  Kristof started out by saying that he admired Jesus and his message- but was very skeptical about the virgin birth, the resurrection, the miracles and many other orthodox beliefs. “Are these essential beliefs, or can I mix and match?”  Keller’s reply began with “A religion can’t be whatever we desire it to be.”  Later in the article, Kristof returned to the resurrection topic: “Must it really be taken literally?” And Keller replied “Jesus’ teaching was not the main point of his mission. He came to save people through his death for sin and his resurrection. So his important ethical teaching only makes sense when you don’t separate it from these historic doctrines.”
Does it matter what we believe?  In a word- yes.
                See you soon,
                            Pastor Dan      

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