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Read here about one of the world’s leading underwater archaeologists, Robert Ballard’s search for Noah’s flood.
Michael Frost gives his answer, which resonates with my own experience.
One of the world’s leading Christian scholars answers the question,
As a scholar how do you handle the fact that many of the historical narratives in the Old Testament lack evidence and sourcing outside the Bible?
More from N.T. Wright on this topic can be read in this lecture transcript.
In the book he makes a good case that, despite what we hear about Christians or what we see on the news Christianity as a whole has been, is, and will continue to be a tremendous cause of good in the world. I agree with his overall assessment. Christianity has historically been the leading generator of charities that help the poor, it has built hospitals and universities (Yale, Harvard, etc.), created some of the most profound art in history, etc. etc. etc. This is great news, both for Christians and everyone else. Or is it?
Wright begins chapter 7 of his book by quoting this guy, Richard Beck who is Professor and Department Chair of Psychology at Abilene Christian University. Beck happens to disagree with Wright on a few things, primarily regarding the seeming disconnect by what Christians (especially Evangelicals) say about themselves and what they actually do.
Beck is quoted as saying,
“Christianity” has essentially become a mechanism for allowing millions of people to replace being a decent human being with something else, an endorsed “spiritual” substitute.
In our consumer-driven society a high market value is not placed on self-reflection, but before we get too far into this conversation I’d like us to take a minute to be honest with ourselves. How much of our confusion about Christianity comes from our own reluctance to find the answers to the questions that we say we want answered?
In his book, Confessions Augustine (A.D. 397) wrote:
“In my youth I had prayed to you [i.e. God] for chastity and said, “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.” I was afraid that you would answer my prayer at once and cure me too soon of the disease of lust, which I wanted satisfied, not quelled. I had wandered on along the road of vice in sacrilegious superstition . . . not because I thought that it was right, but because I preferred it to the Christian belief, which I did not explore as I ought but opposed out of malice.”*
Augustine claimed to be searching for truth, but, as he confesses he was motivated out of anger at the ‘religion’ of his mother, and really didn’t want to be bothered with the truth just yet.
Does any of this sound remotely familiar (remember, we’re being honest)?
How often do we, in our search for truth and clarity hope to not yet find the answers we seek? How many times to we find solace in our search and forget (or deliberately neglect) to take a long, hard look at the answers as they come? How often do we experience a sense of solidarity with other searchers that don’t really want to be found, but can claim if called to the mat that “we were searching?”
Do we really want the answers, or are we simply wandering in circles because we’re afraid of what those answers might be? Are we so angry at the hypocrisy of our parents or our teachers or our pastors/churches that we will sacrifice the truth itself for the search?
Are we too often like the character in the Gillian Welch song, Look At Miss Ohio, saying, “I wanna do right, but not right now?”
I, for one have long been guilty of Augustine’s folly. It seems to me that, especially in the artistic world it’s cool to search for truth as long as we don’t actually find it. Here’s to real truth-seeking and non hypocritical prayers.