When I’ve had an opportunity to speak with anyone, Christian or not, and get their feedback on their overall perception of religion and faith, I receive an answer which eludes to an outdated perception of reality. They usually talk about science, and how the utilization of empirical data to answer life’s questions is a more solid approach to who and what we are, and why we’re here. Whereas I agree with the utilization for science, as a matter of answering those questions which elude us in nature, it’s not the whole scope of human understanding. Really, as deep as science goes, there is an intellectual quality to understanding which if applied properly, affirms our discoveries in science. Take for instance the fact of evolution, it exists, and has shown humans to drastically change in a rapid amount of time, considering the average span of a species on Earth. Evolutionary science has also shown us something else, but which is neither explainable or conceivable without one consideration of intellectual submission and acceptance of faith. Within the history of the World, and within the history of all species, why are humans the only species to have evolved so quickly, and within our own evolution why are humans so advanced in comparison to species which are considered prehistoric (e.g. alligators).
Our appreciation of science is warranted, it explains so much, which previous generations could only ever speculate and when no answer could be surmised, attributed to God (also not untrue, in keeping with the context of all life and matter included). And, so, when we have conversations and such things as to be relevant to the supernatural, are brought to the forefront, many people are skeptical at the notion of something or someone which defies the very nature we are bound to live by. We aspire to know something or someone who is unfettered by the everyday restrictions of life, say a famous person who is adulated and wealthy, to increase the comfort in this life. Though every person must prescribe to the reality which is nature, or at least this is a foundational understanding when discussing the perceived whimsical notions of God. Though, in one quick swipe of the intellect, we can poke a massive hole in the theory of using science to explain all, such as an explanation for moral intellect, or beauty. When an argument for moral subjective nature comes into the conversation, we quickly realize without an objective point of reference our morals become points of subjective linear time markers. They mark the periods with which we attained a new level of understanding, or we degenerated our thoughts because of perceptibility and potential gullibility in action. There is more opportunity to create a morality out of emotive perception than to recognize an objective mountain which doesn’t move to suit our needs. Now, this thought should be outdated at this point! As the race of humans continues to age we’re too far along to think a matter of hubris is something we would never suffer from, because it sounds too much like something from an ancient time, and outdated time.
So, what about faith is outdated? Is it the notion of a being which has an omnipotence over us and creates us as a need to feel loved? I’ve heard a lot of reasons people think it would be crazy to believe in God, Christopher Hitchens was quoted as referencing God as a “flying spaghetti monster in the sky”. Hitchens very notion of an omnipotent God, who watches us, was one of incredulity and suspended belief because of poor grasp of scripture and a misguided perception history based in assumption and supposition from which he drew his conclusions. His larger context did come as a matter of a belief in science, and science’s ability to answer questions which were once believing to be unanswerable concepts of faith. He took an epidermal approach to something which the depths are still unknown even now, and concluded based on his light understanding of a topic too complicated to create a simplistic ideology of the outdated, there was nothing to know but us. We are all gods, and we control our fate, which is only hindered by technology and man’s ability to comprehend. To say the least, this was a summation of his arguments, but in truth an argument made of straw, and altogether an argument which presumably could be crafted by a first-year philosophy major. Ok, back to my original point, science can only give us, an answer to what is, but it is our intellect which ultimately derives a solution to the unthinkable the unsolvable.
If we apply the same contextual understanding of science, but more of a philosophical hunt for clues, we find in the pages of scripture and in the words of those since Christ hung on the cross, a treasure trove of signs pointing to truly modern and vibrant concept. We see people, who already live difficult lives, lives where if work isn’t being done, no one eats. Lives where one wrong decision to follow the wrong person means death by association. A time when kings, had first born children hunted down and killed, and yet in the words of the Gospels we find people flocking to the Divine Christ and giving up everything they know. People who somehow, in their own time, had truth revealed to them, by the Holy Spirit, and truly walked towards the light. In this, we see Christ raised from the dead, we see sickness healed, and truth revealed over and again. The fathers of the Church, all but one died as martyrs for Christ, and in this time the word spread like wildfire. How outdated is a concept of truth, does truth become outdated, or is it a matter of expectation and boredom? Kreeft, in “Jesus Shock” analyzes the experience of faith and compares it to a modern-day form of entertainment, and his comparison is correctly presented, people are bored with the liturgy. Primarily, they are bored, because they don’t fully understand what they are experiencing. Men, fathers, husbands, this is on us to be teachers to our children and to proselytize to the world, the good news.
How do we combat the boredom we’ve all faced at one point or another? The answer to this question, is the keystone to a realization of just how modern the truth Jesus has revealed to all of us. Truth is never outdated, it is just what it is, truth just takes a matter of faith to realize its implication within our lives. When Jesus, asks his disciples, “who do you say I am?” (Matt 16:15), it wasn’t because he was on some search for self, but he wanted his disciples to reach into the silence of their hearts and listen and have the truth revealed, and Peter’s answer was simple and profound, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”, a truth which was revealed by God. How is this boring? When mixed with the works, and the wisdom, and further the love, this was the truth. In argument over the believability of these statements, some have claimed these were made up and can’t be believed. Though, if we search our hearts and really think this argument through completely we find a couple of non-sequiturs, the first being, if it were made up then why four gospels and not twelve? Another question which comes to mind, is why the variability within the context of all four gospels? Why not have them be the same, if there was no ethereal context whatsoever, how could they possibly presume the context of any argument today, let alone what you are reading now? The argument for the truth within the context of the writings, adds no mystery, except a question of the ludicrous attempts at dissuasion within the scripture. The only part of a desire to disprove the existence of God, and subsequently worship at the altar of modern atheism, is the outdated argument tactic of non-existence.
Here is where the modern Church is needed so desperately, to remember our faith isn’t about excitement in the framework of entertainment, but in the intense love which is poured out unto us as a matter of grace. We must remember, the bread which is transformed into the body, is the body of Christ we consume, and although I can’t reach into a deep theology, I know this should be a transformative experience for each one of us. We hold the very body of Christ in our hands, and there is nothing boring about this experience whatsoever. For any person who is unsure about the believability of this happening within the mass, I would remind everyone, God, is, and as this applies, anything is possible. Within John 6:53, we are given the context of eating the flesh of Jesus when he says to the disciples, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”. The disciples knew what this meant, and continued this function of love, which is still practiced at every mass today. It wasn’t until Martin Luther interpreted the scriptures different (nearly 1,500 years later) did the concept of symbolism take shape. I would rather listen and follow the workings of those who walked with Jesus or those who followed the disciples of Jesus than of anyone who lived a millennium and a half removed from the first century and take any realization without first testing it against what the disciples interpreted and practiced.
Now, as any Catholic should tell you, this is exciting, we are in the tangible presence of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, when we consume the body and blood. Which further gets back to the original point, how is understanding the very presence of God, outdated? Outdated is seemingly an extension of boredom within our culture today, but there is truly nothing boring about being in the presence of God, we’ve diminished God’s pungent presence within our lives, and in doing so we’ve decided we don’t need Him. However, if you look around you’ll see everyone is searching for something in this life, except those who’ve found God, their search is over, and their journey is on developing a true love for God, and desiring a closer relationship with their creator.
Another more perilous aspect of the outdated mentality is arrogance, and we all assume this shade of sin at one time or another, but we don’t have to, if we remember, God is there with us at every second, His love isn’t one of condemnation. God’s love is one which cleanses us from the muck and through fire purifies us. Men, can we be strong enough to admit our failings, and yet be strong enough to push past those failures to be the examples our families need, and our spouses so desperately want? Can we truly humble ourselves and love unabashedly, even at risk of failure or risk of exposing our vulnerabilities? The answer, is yes, let go and give everything you have, to God, don’t hold anything back, don’t fail at being truly honest with how you feel in prayer, ask for help, ask for forgiveness, pray for those around you and be truly charitable.
Faith isn’t outdated, only the arguments against faith have become antiquated and empty. And if anyone is ever interested in reading true arguments against the faith, St. Thomas Aquinas, “Summa Theologica” raises the best. Nothing anyone brings today, carries the argument equivalent to his objections, and then subsequent refutations. If we are brave enough to face the criticism brought about by non-believers, we’ll see nothing about Christianity is outdated. In truth, most detractors are novice when it comes to their knowledge of faith and Christianity in general, they usually attack the negatives (something they can identify with as can everyone) which were purported by those who were corrupted by evil, rather than a focus on those who are truly in love with God and wish to express it with every action and thought possible.
My goal as a father to my kids is to remember, I’m not trying to make faith an emotive function, although true faith should shake the very ground we walk on. Instead, I’m trying to teach my kids the comprehension of truth as it exists, objectively. I’m trying to have them understand a foundational work of truth which they will always be able to build their faith upon, and hopefully their questions and answer will far surpass my own. I hope they aspire to be a family of saints, God willing, and in their journeys of life, they find the deepest love possible. Within their journey, I want them to find relevance in their daily lives where God is always at the forefront, and a matter of modernity never is placed in context to how they perceive God. We risk this, when we attempt to make faith a matter of fun rather than a matter of truth. Don’t sugar coat the truth from your kids, tell them what they need to know, you’ll be surprised how wonderful their minds work, and how often they will come to you with deep questions of faith and practice.
Our families are second only to our focus of God, but our families in the greater context of society are the foundation for every society, and within our efforts, much like all the fathers out there, we must be willing to sacrifice our children’s need for fun and lovingly serve them truth at every turn. As husbands, our wives need us the be the reflection of God’s truth in all we do, love your wives unabashedly, hold them, let them know just how much they mean to you. It’s not a matter of passion, but more a matter of true unconditional love, and the need to be one for the entire family. I hope the best for everyone, and I pray our families become stronger in the bonds of Christ, and we remember, God is never outdated, only an outdated perception of truth is to blame. May God bless you and your family!!!
God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!