Monday, April 11, 2011

Folks, let's collaborate.

So one of my friends broke up with his girlfriend. I was asking him about it, and was really shocked by his philosophy about it: he wasn't getting what he wanted out of it, so he broke it off. It was too much work. And this was so shocking to me because what I've always been taught it 1) relationships are hard work, and 2) relationships are about self-sacrifice. When I articulated this to him, he responded with his essential philosophy: that you have to take care of yourself before you can help other people. That there is no such thing as true sacrifice. That relationships are utilitarian, ways for you to use people to fix your problems.

We went deep in this conversation, talking about depression and suicide and drugs. And I got a chance to ask him, why does he believe in God but not the God I know? He told me about the God he knew, a lonely guy sitting in a bar, watching a hockey game, wishing someone would talk to him. Because the only times people converse with him at all is to thank him profusely or ask him for something. And the God my friend sees is just a being like us, with flaws and imperfections, who is lonely and wants someone to ask him how he is. My friend says that because we're made in the image of God and we're obviously flawed, God must have his share of imperfections, too.

We talked about Jesus a little bit, my friend saying how Jesus was a pretty good teacher, but it's far too narrow to say He's the only way. And when I explained that it couldn't be both ways, that someone who teaches narrow things must either be right or wrong, it didn't matter. We talked about the cross, and my friend said Jesus died to teach us about sacrifice, to show us that if he had to die, he would. [Because that's what love is . . .] We ran the gamut of absolute truth and philosophical consistency, but none of it seems matter, because this is a little more personal. Not intellectual understanding but heart understanding. How do we fix ourselves?

The lonely and flawed God in the bar has nothing to do with Jesus, a prophet who was brutally killed to teach us to live a sacrificial life. The God in the bar is lonely because he has no friends, because we see him as perfect when he's not. And my friend left for his class, leaving our conversation with a to be continued . . .

So, apologetics question of the day: how would you respond?


Michael said...

Your beliefs are not somehow more valid because they are "heart understanding".

And something isn't true just because it feels true, or it seems real. If you care honestly about the truth you have to get beyond simply not caring about philosophical consistency and be in earnest. Was Christ a great teacher or not? How could he sacrifice himself if real sacrifice isn't possible? and if he wasn't God is he sacrificing himself or just dying for nothing? Have enough earnestness to take your own ideas seriously and consider their truth.

Hayley said...

Conviction is an assurance that is BOTH rational and emotional. My friend is a pretty rational guy, but I think it's necessary to speak to both.

I was wondering less about the inconsistencies of his arguments [which he is aware of], and more about how to address this idea of a God who is flawed because we are made in his image and we are obviously flawed.

He says that he grew up in Catholicism, but it didn't work for him, so he considers himself a Christian Buddhist. [I told him there's no Christianity in a belief that denies Christ, as he does.] I find these Buddhists are a lot less concerned with absolutes than I am.

Thanks for your insight.

Nicole said...

This is so tough because as a culture, we are taught not the concept of sin that resides in all of us but that all evil is a result of the social constructs around us. Ergo, we often become self-centered, believing we are victims of some sort of cosmic plot. I think were I in that same situation, I would have done and said exactly as you did. Making the case for the hard truths [eg if Jesus said he was the only way, either he was telling the truth or he was lying] with care and compassion for my friend.

I take such comfort in God's promise that His word does not return void. That when I share His truth, sometimes it falls on good soil. Anyway, not much in the way of insight. Just some thoughts from a fellow wonder-er.

Hayley said...

Oh Nicole, yes! I take such comfort in that, too! There is such power in the very name of Jesus, there is hope of an eternal sort of quality. [How could we even carry on without it?]

Though it is one of the simplest truths of our faith, one I find even to be obvious, it is so challenging to convince others that evil is a result of OURSELVES. Responsibility is such a foreign concept.