The rest of what I said: on religion & facts

There wasn’t room for everything that I said in that interview the Washington Examiner did with me. So as not to waste anything, I’ll post the outtakes here:

1. A recent Pew study found that atheists and agnostics scored higher on a religion quiz than did people of faith. How important are facts to faith? And/or can God thrive when his followers lack an understanding of the facts?

Some people think religion is just a matter of what goes on in their heads. They make up something that works for them, they think, selecting from the great cosmic smorgasbord to construct a kind of spirituality that makes them feel better. Though Christians are guilty of this too, Christianity does not work like that. It teaches that God became Man, that Jesus is literally God in the flesh. And that somehow when He was executed by torture He bore the sins of the world, taking our punishment and letting His goodness count as ours. And that He rose again, physically, from the dead.

The whole Christian faith rests on facts. We can theorize, we can intellectualize, we can debate abstractions. But what if these things really happened, as historical objective facts? Then the theoretical discussions don’t really matter.

One of my pet peeves in theology is the way many Christians approach the problem of evil, how a good God could allow all of these bad things to happen. That’s a profound question. But the answers given often assume that God is some abstract deity looking down on the world from above. But Christianity teaches that God came into this world of suffering, that He Himself not only suffered but took the world’s evil into Himself, and that He redeemed it!

Not that this answers all of the questions, but it certainly complicates the issue and underscores the difference between the Christian God and God as most people conceive Him.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • bunnycatch3r

    The whole Christian faith rests on facts.

    And these “facts” rests on faith.
    Fact: the 66 books of the protestant canon is the inerrant word of God.
    No, that’s just something some Christians believe to be true.
    Fact: Jesus is God.
    No, that’s just dogma. Again, there’s nothing “objective” or even factual about this assertion. It’s just a simple matter of make-believe faith.
    Fact: The Book of Mormon is a sacred text translated by an angel to Joseph Smith. Presumably none of you are Mormon therefore, this “objective fact” cannot be true.

    Every fundamentalist religion has “objective” facts. Christian fundamentalism is no different.

  • bunnycatch3r

    The whole Christian faith rests on facts.

    And these “facts” rests on faith.
    Fact: the 66 books of the protestant canon is the inerrant word of God.
    No, that’s just something some Christians believe to be true.
    Fact: Jesus is God.
    No, that’s just dogma. Again, there’s nothing “objective” or even factual about this assertion. It’s just a simple matter of make-believe faith.
    Fact: The Book of Mormon is a sacred text translated by an angel to Joseph Smith. Presumably none of you are Mormon therefore, this “objective fact” cannot be true.

    Every fundamentalist religion has “objective” facts. Christian fundamentalism is no different.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I would have liked to have seen the questions on that religion survey.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I would have liked to have seen the questions on that religion survey.

  • http://www.spaceagelutheran.blogspot.com/ SAL

    #1 There’s more evidence that Jesus is God than that Socrates was an actual historical figure. That’s a reasonable amount of evidence to draw conclusions from.

  • http://www.spaceagelutheran.blogspot.com/ SAL

    #1 There’s more evidence that Jesus is God than that Socrates was an actual historical figure. That’s a reasonable amount of evidence to draw conclusions from.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @SAL
    Evidence that Jesus is God? Go on….

  • bunnycatch3r

    @SAL
    Evidence that Jesus is God? Go on….

  • MikeD

    for bunnycatch3r: Just curious, have you received a Trinitarian baptism?

  • MikeD

    for bunnycatch3r: Just curious, have you received a Trinitarian baptism?

  • Dennis Peskey

    for bunnycatch3r – What do you make of the Christian assertion that “Christ is risen; He is risen indeed!” Do you know any other “god” or person who has made this claim, historically and factually?
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    for bunnycatch3r – What do you make of the Christian assertion that “Christ is risen; He is risen indeed!” Do you know any other “god” or person who has made this claim, historically and factually?
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Bunnycatch3r, Christians believe that God became flesh and that Jesus is God. He is the one we worship. He is the one whom we think God is like. We believe that God is no abstraction, but that He is tangible, that He came historically and concretely. That if you had a time machine, you could go back and see Him and touch Him. We believe that He died by torture on a Cross. We believe that He rose physically, in His body, from the dead.

    Can that be proven to your satisfaction? Maybe not. Ideas can be proven or disproven, perhaps. But the Christian God is not just an idea. To say that this is “just a dogma” as a way to dismiss the very concept is not very fair. You can say that of anything. OK, the dogma is that Jesus is God. The question remains, “is he?” Even if you don’t think he is–and feel free to say why you don’t think so–this is what Christians believe. Though, as I am complaining, many Christians act as if God were merely transcendent, rather than also incarnate.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Bunnycatch3r, Christians believe that God became flesh and that Jesus is God. He is the one we worship. He is the one whom we think God is like. We believe that God is no abstraction, but that He is tangible, that He came historically and concretely. That if you had a time machine, you could go back and see Him and touch Him. We believe that He died by torture on a Cross. We believe that He rose physically, in His body, from the dead.

    Can that be proven to your satisfaction? Maybe not. Ideas can be proven or disproven, perhaps. But the Christian God is not just an idea. To say that this is “just a dogma” as a way to dismiss the very concept is not very fair. You can say that of anything. OK, the dogma is that Jesus is God. The question remains, “is he?” Even if you don’t think he is–and feel free to say why you don’t think so–this is what Christians believe. Though, as I am complaining, many Christians act as if God were merely transcendent, rather than also incarnate.

  • Porcell

    Bunnycatch3r When C.S. Lewis, a rigorous literary scholar and one time religious skeptic, looked into the question of whether Christ was an incarnate and resurrected God, he found the biblical evidence compelling. Lewis, also, wrote that given the authority Jesus claimed, he was either an incarnate God or some sort of a mad man. Given the wisdom and sense of what He said, He was obviously not a madman.

  • Porcell

    Bunnycatch3r When C.S. Lewis, a rigorous literary scholar and one time religious skeptic, looked into the question of whether Christ was an incarnate and resurrected God, he found the biblical evidence compelling. Lewis, also, wrote that given the authority Jesus claimed, he was either an incarnate God or some sort of a mad man. Given the wisdom and sense of what He said, He was obviously not a madman.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Dennis Peskey
    There dozens of them.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Dennis Peskey
    There dozens of them.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Porcell
    Thank you for referring me to C.S. Lewis. I’m sorry to say that I have not read him. I will at your recomendation.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Porcell
    Thank you for referring me to C.S. Lewis. I’m sorry to say that I have not read him. I will at your recomendation.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Mike D
    I was baptized in the Catholic church as well as the Lutheran church.
    My parents had a disagreement.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Mike D
    I was baptized in the Catholic church as well as the Lutheran church.
    My parents had a disagreement.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Gene Veith

    I appreciate your patience in going over that with me. I should have spent more time with your intent.
    I also apologize for derailing the topic. I’ve raised all of these questions before and there is no reason to do so again.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Gene Veith

    I appreciate your patience in going over that with me. I should have spent more time with your intent.
    I also apologize for derailing the topic. I’ve raised all of these questions before and there is no reason to do so again.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    We really cannot lump the story of Jesus in with the mythical figures. There is archeological and historical evidence proving the historical existence of Jesus. There is no evidence for the myriad of other characters whose stories involve death and resurrection. Some such as story Mithras the information is based in the interpretation of art, a highly speculative pursuit even on the best of days. And to be honest, I am not surprised at the myriad of myths involving death and resurrection. It is not like God hid what He was going to do, and if there is one thing you can’t accuse Satan of it is being original.

    Christianity is where faith and fact intersect.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    We really cannot lump the story of Jesus in with the mythical figures. There is archeological and historical evidence proving the historical existence of Jesus. There is no evidence for the myriad of other characters whose stories involve death and resurrection. Some such as story Mithras the information is based in the interpretation of art, a highly speculative pursuit even on the best of days. And to be honest, I am not surprised at the myriad of myths involving death and resurrection. It is not like God hid what He was going to do, and if there is one thing you can’t accuse Satan of it is being original.

    Christianity is where faith and fact intersect.


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