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Monday, July 28, 2014

Skepticism and Belief

What was one of the biggest misunderstandings about Christianity you had to overcome before you could believe? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1555).

Sometimes there is a disconnect between words and deeds.  Also there can be disconnects between beliefs and words and deeds.  If someone says they believe the airplane is safe but refuses to fly in it out of fear, we can conclude the undergirding belief is wanting--is less than totally absolute.  Christians as a general rule say that they are striving for perfection but have not achieved it.  Therefore, if one observes an assertion of belief from a Christian and yet finds contradictory behavior, it need not be a failure of belief but a lack of perfection.  That is, all Christians who admit imperfection and show patches of unchristian behavior are not necessarily hypocritical so much as human--their reach exceeds their grasp.  In this sense the belief of all Christians is merely wanting in perfection which in turn allows for learning--for we learn from mistakes and press on towards the goal before us.

However, a much more important matter may be at issue.  Perceptual difficulties are  increased in matters of ethical complexity.  An obvious example is telling the truth--something all Christians strive to do.  But with very little effort we can think of a zillion cases when truth telling would be harmful rather than helpful.  In these cases one substratum of Christianity is trumped by deeper substrata--giving the appearance of hypocrisy or flagging belief when in fact neither is true.

Therefore, one should be skeptical of cynical conclusions regarding the solidity of belief.  For what seems most hypocritical may be most affirmative of core beliefs.


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