The rational genius of Christianity


I have zero interest in converting anyone to Christianity, be it “my” version of the faith or otherwise. Why would I? As long as your beliefs don’t in any way contribute to the oppression of others (such as, oh, gosh, I dunno—gay people or women), then what you believe is nobody’s business but yours.

Business I do accept as mine, though, is defending the sheer, clear, tight-as-a-frog’s-butt rationality of what I believe. As a logical construct, core Christianity has always been as solid as a Roman arch. It is simply not vulnerable to the accusations of being intellectually untenable. And I must admit that I find exasperating the constantly proffered assumption that it is.

If it’s true that God exists (and the chances are exactly even on that either way; so choosing to vote that there is a God hardly represents a failure of reasoning), then the traditional, old-school, Gospel-based story of Jesus Christ is perfect. It works. It makes sense.

It’s just … genius, to say the least.

God made and sustains us and the world in which we live; God gave us free will; an inevitable consequence of free will is guilt (because being free to make so many choices means that we necessarily make a lot of bad, wrong, and selfish choices, for which—what with our being imbued with a conscience, and all—we are then bound to feel guilty); guilt and shame are the first and most enduring cause of human suffering; God yearns to relieve our suffering; God’s love for us also prohibits his violating our free will; God simply appearing to all people simultaneously and announcing that he/she is real and that Everything Is Going To Be Okay would eradicate human free will (since free will is grounded in the unknown open-endedness of life); God needs a way to at once preserve our free will and demonstrate in the strongest possible way that he/she is real and that Everything Is Going To Be Okay (which is to say that we are all fully and absolutely forgiven for our sins—meaning that we no longer have to feel guilty about them); God incarnates him/herself as Jesus Christ; since Jesus Christ is mortal, anyone has grounds for choosing to believe that he was not, in fact, divine; human free will is minimally, and only temporarily, compromised.

And voila. Perfection.

To boil it down to its absolute essence:

God → us → free will → guilt/shame → suffering  → Jesus → Jesus on the cross → forgiveness  →  reconciliation → peace. (And, for an extra-special bonus, the Holy Spirit!)

Two thousand years later, and here we are. A lot of people believe that Jesus Christ was God made mortal who came to first prove that he was God (raise people from the dead much?) and to then, in about the most dramatically unforgettable way possible, absolve us of our sins. And a lot of people don’t believe that.

Which of course is cool. We all have the right to believe what we want.

But say what you will about the core story of Christianity, you can’t say it doesn’t make sense. If you start with the reality of God, then the story of Jesus Christ follows, as inevitably and naturally as can be. The basic, unadorned, unembellished story of Christianity is so perfect that I personally don’t see how anyone could have simply made it up.

Sure, much of what people have done with Christianity is ridiculous and disastrous. But that’s just people screwing up. Given the inevitably negative byproducts of free will, that’s only natural.

I don’t like a lot of what Christianity has become, and feel compelled to do my best to help bring it back to what I believe it was meant to be. And just because I don’t put a lot of energy into selling the core of what Christianity is doesn’t mean that I don’t recommend the Christian way. I most certainly and unreservedly do. But I also understand and respect why anyone who thinks that believing in Christianity would in any way limit their free will or compromise their identity would flee from it like a rabbit from a lion.

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