Why his yoke is easy and his burden is light
has posted this comment in the now eight-day long discussion at Mangan’s:
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A couple of commenters here have said that is it “difficult to live according to the Gospel.” Here’s why this view is mistaken.
I presume that a major reason atheists hate Christianity is that they hate the idea of God having moral authority over them, and therefore condemning them. Since everybody (not just the atheist) is aware that he fails to live fully in accord with whatever moral system he acknowledges, the atheist has an incentive to declare morality mere convention, or the result of a mindless evolutionary process, or nothing but practical rules for obtaining a result we (ultimately arbitrarily) declare to be good. That way, the penalty for failing to be morally perfect is less drastic.
But the solution to the problem of sin (that’s the correct name for failing to be morally perfect) is not denial that it’s sin. The solution is forgiveness, a forgiveness that can only be obtained by faith in Jesus Christ. And that forgiveness, not all of the moral rules, is the Gospel.
That’s the reason I stand up for Christianity: Everyone needs the forgiveness that is available only in Christ. Christians are often accused of arrogance, but the accusation is absurd: If I had good reason to believe that you had a deadly disease, and that I knew the only cure, would it be “arrogant” for me to urge you to take the cure? I might be mistaken, but certainly not arrogant.
The atheist has his excuses, of course. The main two would be “Christians disagree all over the place, so who knows what the real message of Christ was,” and “I know there’s no God, so it’s all a fable.”
About the disagreement: People naturally disagree about everything, so disagreement proves nothing. Members of your belief system also disagree all over the place, but you still hold to your beliefs.
And about the alleged unclarity of Christianity: That’s because the spirit of the age is to tell people what they want to hear, rather than the true message of Christ and the Apostles. As a result, vast numbers of Christian leaders are making it up as they go along. This does not, of course, prove the alleged incoherence of Christianity. Your doctrine is also given unclearly and with convolution, but you still hold to it.
And about the alleged falsehood of theism in general and of Christianity in particular. Arguing for and against God is a vast enterprise. Most of the good work was done in the past, when the intellectual leaders of Western Civilization were not as trivial and vacuous as they are now, and every one of the objections voiced here has been answered decisively. Unless you are a scholar of Christian apologetics, you are only displaying your ignorance when you act as if a few allusions are sufficient to vindicate your unbelief.
So if you’re an atheist, let me just ask you this: Are you sure you’re right? After all, you’re not omniscient. How do you know that your arguments really prove what you think they do? The subject is vast and subtle, and a lot is at stake. You’d better be as sure as humanly possible.
The spirit of what Mr. Roebuck is saying is captured perfectly in the Prayer of Humble Access in the Book of Common Prayer, which is recited immediately before the taking of Communion:
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
Ben W. writes:
“Everyone needs the forgiveness that is available only in Christ.”
I’d like to express my gratitude to Mr. Roebuck for expressing the one essential truth that will stand when all is said and done. At the end of the day, when life has ended here on earth and all the kingdoms of this world will have passed away (including the U.S.), one thing and only one thing will stand. The mercy of God towards us in giving us life eternal through Jesus Christ.
These days conservatives talk about everything except the one person who has given us life and through whom the West has developed—Jesus Christ. It takes courage to mention his name in intellectual discourse, and Mr. Roebuck has shown it. After all, there is no other name given under heaven and earth … and Mr. Roebuck has uttered it. Thank you, sir.
The Prayer of Humble Access is my favorite prayer in the Book of Common Prayer. It was for me as a seven year old cathedral chorister the doorway to my first comprehension of my ultimate relation to God. “We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table.” (the “so much” was in the 1928 BCP of my youth) This always brought home to me the utter transcendence of God, and my relative wormhood. In those early days of my singing career, I still had a visceral memory of what it had been like to sit as a baby under a gigantic kitchen table, impossibly high.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 24, 2009 05:44 PM | Send
Then, the words with which even my immense omniscient parents begged to be allowed to join in the feast at that high table made me think of how it felt when they would pick my tiny infant body up off the floor and settle me in their laps, and give me food, and welcome me to their godlike fellowship. What an honor that always was! So when even they begged to be allowed to sit at God’s kitchen table, I began to think how big God must really be.
I do so hope the Prayer of Humble Access is allowed to perdure in the future Anglican Rite of the Catholic Church.