Saturday, 16 June 2012

Believing Unreasonable Things

There seems to be a contradiction at the heart of fundamentalism, or at least of many fundamentalists.
When it is suggested that maybe Jonah was not literally swallowed by a fish, or that the sun didn’t actually stand still for Joshua, or that Lazarus was not literally raised from death after being buried for four days, the cry goes up about arrogant ‘liberal’, ‘rationalist’ scholars trusting in their own reason rather than the word of God.
But when preachers suggest that following Jesus may mean giving up our financial security, opting out of the consumer society, dispensing with nuclear weapons, or creating a society that makes caring for the poor a greater priority than economic growth, it is usually the conservative Bible-believers who accuse them of being hopeless unrealistic and irrational. Who’s trusting in reason now?
It’s easy to say you believe in impossible things that happened thousands of years ago. There’s no evidence either way, and it really doesn’t make that much difference. Surely the real challenge to hearing God’s word in the Bible is to believe some of its ‘impossible’ assertions  that have a practical effect on the way we behave now.
Surely the real meaning of the question ‘Do you believe in the Resurrection?’ is not what you think about the empty tomb or the appearances, or whether it was a physical event or a spiritual experience. Its real meaning is: ‘Are you prepared to live dangerously in the cause of Jesus, knowing that whatever happens life will prevail over death?’