Christianity as Ultimate Concern

In my First Year Seminar class “Faith, Doubt, and Reason,” I shared the thought experiment “What Would It Take To Make You Lose Your Faith?” That’s something I shared here on the blog previously, and because of the scenario it has come up in connection in recent discussions of religion and science fiction in general, or Doctor Who in particular.

If you are a Christian, and in traveling through time or space in a TARDIS you discovered that some key Christian doctrine or historical claim is false, would that lead you to change your beliefs? Or would it lead to something that could be called a complete loss of faith?

If the latter, does that suggest that your faith is not in the ultimate, in God, but rather in Christianity? Does it suggest that Christianity rather than God is your ultimate concern?

  • Jakeithus

    This is an interesting question.

    I think it’s tough to talk about having faith in God as something that can be divorced from some other concerns. The whole thing seems too abstract and lacking in definition.

    Saying one has “Faith in God” just seems to be somewhat meaningless in and of itself. A better description is saying one has Faith in God as revealed in the person and life of Jesus Christ, and witnessed to by the Apostles and the Christian Church. Personally I don’t think that means that Christianity is replacing God as the ultimate concern.

  • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

    The idea that one should have any faith or belief that is immune to all possible challenge, is anathema. That would be a good reason to reject such a faith, I’d say. It stops being a concern in any meaningful way, it abandons any desire to even have a referent, and is merely axiom for axiom’s sake.

  • thesauros

    the only Christian doctrine that would cause me to not just lose but reject my “faith” is if it was somehow proven that Jesus did not rise from the dead. That however will never happen so . . .

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      If Jesus rose bodily from the dead, we would not have so many different stories on when, how, where and to whom he appeared.
      If Jesus rose bodily from the dead, he would have made a spectacle of himself alive all over Jerusalem, not to (allegedly!) only a few followers.
      Arrested again and killed? Why not another resurrection!
      Again arrested and killed? And still another very public resurrection.
      That would have convinced many people, Jews and Gentiles with many writings about it all over the empire.
      Then everybody would have listen to what the thrice resurrected Jesus would have to say (with some writing his words!) and there would have been massive conversion to Christianity.
      Instead, in the gospels, we have some botched up private messed up short reappearances after his only one (alleged) resurrection (and gMark, the first written gospel, did not have any of those originally).
      Cordially, Bernard

    • Paul D.

      To be honest, I don’t think most Christians even have a coherent conception of what Jesus rising from the dead means. Because they don’t seem to think Jesus is actually alive, walking around Palestine or flying through outer space. They think he’s up in Heaven or off in some spiritual dimension… just like all the other Christians who are *dead*. Even within a Christian framework, just how does Jesus differ from other dead people?

      And that’s ignoring the obvious fact that the resurrection stories in the Bible are mutually contradictory, and thus cannot all be true.

      • arcseconds

        While I agree that’s what Christians think about Jesus’s state now, in the Gospels he’s portrayed as having a physical body that can be touched, even to the point of putting one’s hand in the wounds.

        He does seem to be able to disappear and appear, or at least walk through walls, which might suggest incorporeality, but then again, there are X-men who do these things :-)

  • guest

    I’m an atheist. If I went back in time and saw Jesus heal a blind man, I might still think it was a trick. There are ‘healers’ nowadays who fake their miracles. You’d need to make sure the blind man wasn’t an accomplice of Jesus’s, that he really was fully blind and didn’t just have something in his eye or suffer from psychological blindness, which could be cured by placebo. The same with Jesus- if I just saw him ‘rise from the dead’ I wouldn’t instantly become a Christian. There are ways of faking a deathlike state. He could have just been in a coma. I’m not a doctor, so I wouldn’t be able to tell for certain he had really been dead. The whole ‘rising bodily into Heaven’ would be harder for me to explain (wires?) so something like that would probably convert me.
    I think I could believe in god without believe in Christianity, if I could go back to when the universe was formed and see a god making it (although how, exactly, my eyes could see before the creation of light, I don’t know).

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    I do not think we need a TARDIS to discover that some key Christian doctrines or historical claims are false. Just looking at the NT will do.
    And yes that should cause a Christian to lose his/her beliefs in Christianity. But keep his faith on God, the ultimate concern? A God based on what? Cannot be on Christianity anymore.
    Cordially, Bernard

    • Paul D.

      If a pure monotheism is what we’re after, then we should be pursuing Islam rather than Christianity.

  • neo

    I’m well aware of questions of Jesus historicity.

    Who in the OT did not exist, and who in the OT did exist? did Moses King David Solomon exist? Abraham Isaac Jacob? Ester Daniel Jeremiah Isiah?

    • Paul D.

      Jeremiah and Isaiah were probably real people. That’s about it from your list. :)

      • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

        David perhaps. No evidence that he had anything to do with the biblical character, but the Tell Dan Stele is quite likely “House of David”

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