Logical Illogic and Illogical Logic

–Daniel S. Ferguson

Before we get started, check this out:

This two-year-old segment from The Daily Show almost perfectly satirizes a core problem with Christian churches that caused a lot of people to leave: our warped sense of logic.

In this segment, one of the two pastors (Benek, the guy in the suit), with a completely straight face, says the following:

“Robots will choose to be Christians.”

That may sound absurd (largely because it is), but it’s rooted in a central assumption that many people (myself included, along with a whole host of people who left church) find exceptionally troubling. Benek’s idea that autonomous, intelligent robots would choose to be Christian is based on the idea that Christianity is logical.

His syllogism is one I’ve heard countless times: God is an omniscient entity; perfect knowledge must mean perfect logic; therefore, the faith God has created for His creatures must also be perfectly logical; therefore, if a being were perfectly logical, it would choose the faith God created naturally.

That’s where Benek’s robots come in.

For as long as I can remember, apologetics has been a prominent feature in many Christian churches. There’s always at least one small group that covers it. There’s usually book studies from Tim Keller, Lee Strobel, or the like, whose books fly off the shelves. It seems very important for Christians to sit in groups and figure out how to logically defend their faith.

That in itself isn’t a bad idea. The problem is that the Christian faith isn’t logical. Not by a thousand miles.

The Bible itself claims Christianity to be logical nonsense.

Seriously. It does. I’m not kidding.

“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18, NIV).

Notice it doesn’t say the Gospel is the logic of God. It says it’s the power of God. The passage goes on:

“Since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21, NIV).

According to the Bible, God intentionally chose to create a faith construct for us that was illogical, not logical. It’s based on faith, not wisdom. It’s rooted in trust and not sight; truth and not fact. This passage straight up says that the world at its highest point of wisdom doesn’t know God. Rather, it’s precisely by believing the foolishly absurd Gospel of Christ that we are saved.

That’s part of what ticks me and others off so much when Christianity starts talking about other religions. I hear Christians say things all the time like “Scientology is so dumb; can you believe they believe crazy stuff like that?” To which I answer…

“Christianity: the belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie, who was his own father, can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so that he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.”

I wish I had written that definition. I really wish I knew who did. It’s actually Biblically solid, and it’s wonderfully absurd. I’m sure the writer meant it disparagingly, but it’s dead-on accurate.

I completely embrace this definition’s absurdity. What its writer doesn’t realize is that by pointing out Christianity’s foolishness, he actually reinforces its power.

And what we Christians often don’t realize is that attempting to prove Christianity logically actually weakens it.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a logical construct for our faith. I’m a strong proponent of a reasoned faith, just not a faith of reason. We should do things because they make sense, based on the fundamental premises of the faith. But we have to admit, even embrace, that those fundamental premises are utter foolishness.

Churches have lost so many people because of this problem. They tried to force Christianity to make sense, but it doesn’t. It’s not supposed to. We so often wrap our brains around in knots trying to force the faith to conform to logic. It won’t. What we believe is madness.

And that’s the whole point. To madly pursue the God who madly loves us.

The most effective apologetic is your own story.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen Christians try to convince non-Christians of the veracity of their faith by trying to prove it logically. It never works. What’s so painful about watching it happen is that they have already jumped the first hurdle: they got the non-believer to listen in the first place.

The problem is that they try to use logical arguments from there, when really, truly, what would actually bring that non-believer closer to the faith isn’t an argument at all. It’s a relationship.

So instead of studying up on apologetic theories so that you can defend your faith to the naysayers, try this: just tell your own story. Instead of quoting Lewis’s chapter on the Law of Human Nature and citing the wobbly archaeological facts that you think prove the historicity of Biblical events, just talk about what Jesus has done in your own life.

Talk about what Jesus means to you. Talk about Christ defeating your sin and how you walk freely and lightly now in him. Talk about the comforting of the Spirit and what that’s meant for you in real life. Talk about your joyful anticipation for Heaven and how that’s changed what you do here on earth. Talk about all the crazy things you do because of this crazy thing you believe. Tell your own story.

Then listen to theirs.

I promise you’ll get a lot further that way.

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