It is fashionable to think that all religions are pretty much the same. They teach people to be good and spiritual and make the world a better place right?
There are basically four types of religion: 1. Paganism 2. Moralism 3. Spirituality 4. Improvement.
The first teaches, “Make sacrifices to the gods and goddesses and they will keep you safe.”
The second teachers, “Obey the rules and regulations and God will be happy and not punish you.”
The third teaches, “Forget about the problems of this life. Learn to be more spiritual. Meditate and rise above it.”
The fourth teaches, “Be good and work hard to make the world a better place.”
Many folks think that Christianity is basically a combination of all four. Different Christians emphasize different ones of the four, but all four are sort of bundled together into the popular form of Christianity which is, “Pray, obey the rules, make the world a better place and God will look after you.”
This is not Christianity. This is a perversion of Christianity.
Instead Christianity is based on a simple, historical fact that cannot be refuted. It is called the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Over here the philosopher Peter Kreeft takes apart the various arguments against the resurrection of Christ.
Christianity says, “Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that changes everything. Jesus Christ is still alive and active in the world through his church. If you believe and trust in this astounding truth, then you are called to participate in this event through faith and baptism. Through faith and baptism you enter into Jesus Christ and he enters into you. You enter into his church and become part of his body.Your primary mission is not to attempt to please God by giving him stuff. It is not to obey all the rules and regulations to try to please him. It is not to pray more, be spiritual and so rise above this world’s problems. It is not to be a good boy or girl and try to make the world a better place.
Christians might do all those things, but that is not the core of their faith. It is the result of their faith. They do those things as the musician plays music or the athlete plays his sport. They do those things because they are talented and it gives them joy. So the Christian does these good things because he has been filled with the Spirit of the risen Jesus Christ and he does those things with joy because he wants to.
Now critics will say, “Yeah, sure. Not the Christians I know. They’re a bunch of failed hypocrites.” Of course, and the good ones will admit as much.
However, whenever I hear cynics complain about the failed Christians I want to ask, “Why don’t you try for once to focus on the ones who are NOT a failure? I can take you to my parish and introduce you to a whole army of them. They are ordinary people who worship God, feed the poor, support the needy, love their kids, are faithful in their marriages, are kind and generous to their neighbor and forgive people who have harmed them.”
In fact, in my experience, there are for more ordinary, hard working, happy Christians who are at least moderately successful than the hypocrites we hear so much about.
The fact of the matter is that the resurrection of Jesus Christ has brought humanity into a new dimension of reality. Christians are not essentially a bunch of neurotic do gooders who are trying to please their Almighty Daddy.
They are human beings who have been (and are in the process of being) transformed by the most amazing power to have entered human history.
The power that brought Jesus Christ back from the dead on that dark morning just over two thousand years ago.
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