One More Thing About Function

While we are on the subject of function (see last blog), one problem that we as Christians sometimes encounter is when people with whom we are sharing the Gospel have a functional understanding of religion. Some people think that religion is merely what religion does. They might say that religion gives them a sense of peace or gives them something bigger than themselves to which they can be committed or that it gives cohesion or meaning to their lives. When we come to them and tell them that Christianity is the only true religion (if I may be allowed to use the term ‘religion’ in this context) it is not so much that they would disagree with us. Rather, they will not even understand what we mean in saying that our religion is true. To them, the categories of ‘true’ and ‘false’ do not even apply to religion. They are thinking that their religion performs these functions in their lives and that any religion that “does it for you” is “true for you” in some sense of the term. It would sound the same if someone made the claim that their own hobby was the only true hobby. What could a “true hobby” even be? A hobby is what a hobby does. Thus, our attempts to share the Gospel fall on deaf ears. Jesus said that the seed that falls on the hard ground is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom “and does not understand it” and the wicked one comes and snatches that which was sown in the heart. We first have to make sure that our hearers understand that Christianity is making truth claims about reality. These claims are either true or false. Unless and until our hearers understand that when sharing the Good New about Jesus Christ, we mean to be heard as making truth claims about the way the world really is, they will never be in a position to make a decision as to whether or not they believe. And, after all, it is believing the Gospel that gives eternal life.

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5 comments on “One More Thing About Function

  1. Keith says:

    Hi Richard, I’m enjoying these posts.

    Also, did you receive my recent email?

  2. I double checked and couldn’t find any. Which address did you use? Try sending them to richard@richardghowe.com.

  3. Scott says:

    Interesting. I remember years ago a music team from a Christian college came to our church to perform. Between songs the members would take turns sharing their testimonies. I recall one particular member of that group who said something that caught my attention. He said something to the effect that even if Christianity wasn’t true, the Christian life is still the best life one could possibly live. Even though I was only in high school at the time, his comment did not sit well with me.

  4. Keith says:

    Richard, sorry to keep using your blog this way, but I’d like to verify that you received the book review I emailed you about a week ago. Did you finally get it?

  5. Yes I did. It is a great review. Sorry I didn’t acknowledge it. I have only glanced at the book. I was somewhat disappointed at an exchange I heard off the internet between McGrath and Dawkins. McGrath seemed too conciliatory at times. He seemed unable or unwilling to engage in the level of polemic that Dawkins deserves and is so often wide open to. McGrath is the scholar and gentleman that Dawkins seems unable to be. Candor, intelligence, and good will (to quote Bill Bennett) are always lacking in Dawkins’ rants.

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