For many people who struggle with the issues of faith and religion, this Christian certainty is dangerous arrogance. To them, it is arrogant because we claim to have come to know the one and only truth. To their mind, it is dangerous because such certainty leads to religious fanaticism and provokes such atrocities as 9/11 in New York, 7/7 in London and the recent mass killings in Oslo.
The rival claims of different religions are considered to be arguments about personal viewpoints and have nothing to do with reality. Today, the notion of truth itself is being challenged. For many people, reality does not mean something absolute or true in itself. Rather, it is a matter of personal interpretation. Absolute truth does not exist. This lies behind much post modern thinking today and it leads to some bizarre conclusions. Not even the certainties of modern science are safe.
Richard Dawkins, the champion of fundamentalist atheism and upholder of the sanctity of modern science once asked an anthropologist the following:
Suppose there is a tribe… who believe that the moon is an old calabash tossed into the sky, hanging only just out of reach above the treetops. Do you really claim that our scientific truth – that the moon is about a quarter of a million miles away and a quarter of the diameter of the Earth – is no more true than the tribe’s calabash? “Yes,” the anthropologist said, “we are just brought up in a culture that sees the world in a scientific way. They are brought up to see the world in another way. Neither way is more true than the other.”[i]
With this kind of thinking, it is no wonder that the gospel is not being taken seriously. There is no interest in truth. Just perception. But the message of the gospel is not a mere matter of private opinion. It is based on the historic appearance of Christ in this world. It appeals to the facts of history which validate the claims of Christ. The death and resurrection of Jesus is one of the best-attested facts of ancient history. The gospel was not invented or merely imagined by early Christians. Faith in Christ was born as a result of Christ’s resurrection which was clearly attested by many witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Nothing else explains the courage and passion of the Early Church who, against all odds, turned the world upside down through their message.
[i] Dawkins, R.R., River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life, London: Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1995, p. 31. Quoted by Patrick West, The Poverty of Multiculturalism, Civitas, p.23