Confounding the Faith-Muggers

When I in my early teens, I procured a copy of the then newly published Don't Check Your Brains At the Door: A Book of Christian Evidences by Josh McDowell and proceed to devour it. (Note: As I haven't seen a copy of it for over 15 years, I'm relying on my possibly faulty memory of what it said.) The book was interesting and powerful and had a profound influence on me.  Unfortunately, the word "profound" should probably be suffixed with an "ly" and followed by the word bad.

As I remember, it was full of pseudo-intellectual responses to give all those people who were attacking my Christian faith. Evidences for the resurrection and stuff like that.  As a sheltered homeschooled girl, the only heathens I knew were my Catholic relatives. If the irony of that is lost on you,  well, it was lost on me for a long time too. And my chain-smoking Italian Catholic grandmother just wanted to teach me how eat spaghetti properly (twirled around the tines of a  fork, no spoon assistance allowed) and how to shuffle cards and deal properly--should I ever find myself suddenly at a casino in Las Vegas. Far from desiring to attack my faith, she was quite desirous to avoid the topic altogether.

But upon reading that book and encountering similar viewpoints around me, I became certain that the world was teeming with dangerous faith-muggers. You know, people that hide under your car in a dark parking lot and grab your ankles at midnight demanding that you justify your faith in an inerrant Scripture and provide evidence for the resurrection or else face a fate worse than death--become Bart Ehrman. I felt that I must be ready to defend the faith! Onward Christian soldiers!  Stop the onslaught of liberalism!  Rah rah rah!

So there I was all geared up to fight for the gospel, but to my deep disappointment, no one stepped forward to attack my faith.  Well, not quite no one.  There was one person who began to relentlessly attack my faith, but that person was Dawkins book bearing faith-mugger that I had been all ready to bonk with my Bible.  That person was me, closely accompanied by myself, and I.

Certainly, there were many factors at work, but one primary one was that I began to doubt how I knew what I knew. Those who know these things, know that knowing about how one knows about how one knows what one knows is a branch of philosophy called epistemology. Yes, it sounds like a drunken bloke shouting, "Hey, 'e pissed on me ology!" But it was and is a serious issue for me that sent me wading through various Camus novel and other sorts of existential literature (well, forget that for now).

With all due respect to Mr. McDowell and his ilk, I did not and never have believed in the resurrection because I am such an intellectual hipster and have all these great proofs for why an unprovable and  unbelievable event is provable and believable. No, I believed because my parents taught me it was true and because it felt true to me. Sure, that's a weak argument for Christianity, but dang nabits, that's the truth. And I have a growing conviction that the truth is kind of important.

Jesus said, "They will know you are Christians by your love."  I'd like of like to think that what Jesus said could be pretty relevant. If I ever do have the honor of being attacked by a faith mugger in the future, I'm going to look at him and say, "You know what. You're absolutely right. The Bible is full of errors. Isn't it great? Why don't we take a look at them together over a cup of French pressed Sumatra?"  (Of course, if the guy insists on drinking instant coffee, the deal is totally off.)

The only thing I want to prove is that I know how to love. So far, I'm not doing to well on that one either. But it is a goal that is worthy of a lifetime of effort. Besides, now that I read my Bible on a laptop, I'm worried about what might happen to my data if I hit someone with it.


  1. Amazing post, Hannah. As you know, I struggle with the idea of faith. Last year, though, I attended Easter mass with my parents (for their benefit). In the middle of the sermon about Jesus rising from the dead (yadda yadda), it suddenly hit me that everyone around me in that church simply believed that a man rose from the dead. They weren't trying to rationalize something that is, according to our scientific knowledge, impossible. They just chose to believe that the impossible had occurred and THAT -- the impossible act -- was proof enough for them that a.) there was a God and b.) that God looked out for his children on earth and sent a reminder about the meaning of religion: LOVE. It's not about the ceremonies or the fasting or even the prayers and sermons. It's certainly not about creating factions of "us against them". God's message to us was LOVE.

    All these thoughts hit me at once...and then my *rational* brain smacked me in the face and said "yeah, but where's the proof that a guy actually died and then rose from the dead? What a ridiculous notion! These people are small-minded and weak to blindly accept the words in a book written 2,000 years ago!"

    I still struggle, but last year's Easter Mass experience still lives in me and I go back to it every now and then to recapture that simple feeling of "acceptance". It sure did feel good to lay down the baggage for a few brief moments and just surrender.

  2. Bigrun10K, I'll have to write more about this later. It's worthy of a whole post or series. These days, I'm reading a book called "Saving Jesus from the Church" by Robin R. Myers. You'd love it. He argues that a literal belief in the resurrection is unnecessary to faith and even harmful to it.

    Personally, I have never had a problem with the resurrection because (taken literally or not) it is a positive event. What I have more of a problem with is understanding the atonement elements of Christ's death. That is, why would a just God require an innocent person to die? That seems cruel and sadistic.

    Not that I'm trying to complicate your faith even more! If you have time, read the book. Myers is a fantastic writer. Almost every page burst with fantastic quotes. When I get back from Beijing next week, I'll post them.

    Oh, and I know what you mean about that feeling of acceptance.