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Critics around but faith abounds

 

By Rev. Steve Curry

This month, I am looking back at questions students asked me when I was a youth leader. Several questions I received were about how to respond to criticism from those who claimed to be atheists.

The criticisms tended to fall into two categories. The first category had to do with bad behavior. In any group or organization, there are individuals who behave badly. Their words and actions are contrary to the message the group was formed to promote. Christ came into the world out of God’s great love for us.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:17.)

In recent years, Westboro Baptist Church, for example, has gained notoriety by protesting the funerals of our fallen military and preaching a message of the hate of God. Though their message is heresy, they present themselves as defenders of true Christianity. Critics of Christianity point to examples like Westboro and accuse all Christians of bigotry, arrogance, and hypocrisy.

What I would tell the youth is to look around them at the good, decent, honest men and women of God who surrounded them then and there. What did they see? They saw members of the church who gave money to support missions, volunteered their time to serve others, and who showed them love and support as they grew in their faith.

Critics will always be able to find bad examples somewhere, but what do they see in you here and now? If you are the faithful, loving example of Christ standing in front of them, why should they let the stories of someone they have never seen determine their opinion? To paraphrase an old joke: Who are you going to believe, the Internet or your own lying eyes?

The second category most of the youth seemed to be concerned about was the critics suggesting belief in God was backwards, silly, or somewhat dim-witted. The criticism was usually framed in terms of science verses religion.

God is the author of all truth. Whenever we discover truth we discover something about God. This is why St. Thomas Aquinas and others established the modern university. The more we learn about creation, the more we learn about the Creator. Education and research are forms of worship. Our intellect is included in the command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). Even the great Albert Einstein was a devout Jew who described his research as his search for God.

The modern scientific method was actually invented by the church. Scientific inquiry is supposed to be a process. It is a means to search for truth. A true search must be open to all possibilities, including the possibility of the existence of God. To exclude an option is rationalizing your opinion, not searching for truth.

Be confident in your faith. Bear witness to the love of God in your life.

 
 
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