Monday, August 19, 2013

What's Your Problem?- Part 6: Christianity

Over the past five weeks we have been looking at man from the perspective of different worldviews. The focus has been on man's problem and the proposed solutions to the problem (the introduction post can be found here). Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism all offer what they believe to be the problem of man, and each provide an antidote. We saw that some fail on the idea of what the problem is, while others fail based on the solution prescribed. Last week we looked at the problem that Judaism posits for man. The problem seems correct, but the solution provided did not seem viable. This week we will conclude the series by looking at Christianity and its claims about man's problem and solution.

What's Your Problem?
Christianity states that the original state of man is moral perfection. A state in which man can have a relationship with a morally perfect Being- God. The problem proposed by Christianity is that man is morally corrupted- this is sin (the source of pride and unholiness), which separates man from God. Christianity points to its holy Scriptures to obtain this doctrine, and to history of man's behaviors and actions as evidence that man is, in fact, morally corrupt.

The goal is for man to reestablish his relationship with God. Like in Judaism (which Christianity claims to fulfill), Christianity states that a holy God requires that beings in a personal relationship with Him be holy also. Last week I demonstrated that the biblical text support the idea that man's heart is in a default position of unholiness that man cannot get away from on his own. Some evidence in the real world for this lies most vividly in the last couple centuries. The immorality that led to the second World War alone is evidence that the heart is not in a default state of moral perfection.

Can Man Even Fix The Problem?
Christianity not only holds that man has a problem, but that man cannot fix the problem. This is one of the many things that sets Christianity apart from all other worldviews. Yet, Christianity takes it even further- it takes not just a certain point of one's life to the end of the life to assess the average level of submission or holiness, but it takes the entire lifespan. All the other worldviews posit that man can accomplish the goal by the absence of one of these two problems.

The Solution
In order for man to be reconciled to God and be holy, is to use another route...a route that is capable of being holy as God is holy. But this route must also be capable of representing man to God; otherwise, it is not a valid route for man to use. I'm talking about the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation- God taking on a human nature along with His divine nature. A "God-man". Jesus Christ is this God-man. He is fully God and fully man. In virtue of his being fully God, He is holy. In virtue of his humanity, He can represent humanity.

In Jeremiah, God stated that He would judge based upon a man's actions. Jesus Christ took that punishment. The punishment has been paid by a holy man. The problem of humanity reflects what we see in reality and the problem has a solution. This sacrifice of Jesus Christ is offered freely to anyone who is willing to recognize their problem, and the Solution. If we do not recognize the correct problem, we can't recognize the correct solution.

If we want to be reconciled to God (solve our problem), we must recognize that we are sinners and pursue the correct solution to the problem. We should not try to work out our own reconciliation by acting "morally", we can't; it is not a possible solution to the problem. We should not try to reach Moksha or realize Nirvana, those are both bad solutions to different problems that are not the real problem. We, as individuals, need to stop avoiding who we really are. One of my favorite, yet trite, phrases is, "Admission is the first step to recovery". Like with all other problems in life, we can live in denial, but that won't fix the problem. We can rationalize away the problem, but it is still there...unrecognized and unresolved. Like all problems, this one won't "just go away", in fact, it will come back up...when it is too late.

God has given us plenty of reasons to believe that we are sinners, that He wants us back in an eternal, loving relationship with Him, and that He provided a Way for us to do so. He has also provided us enough reasons for us to feel that our rejection of Him is justified. We have an authentic choice. We are and will be held responsible for that choice- based on whether we choose to confront the problem and accept the Solution, or not. When we make the choice to accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sin, it is retroactive and perpetual. We do not have to worry about a God changing his mind about us or us not having enough time to ask God's forgiveness for our sins before we are no longer holy.

Christianity offers a problem that is in full keeping with what we see in reality. It provides a solution to that problem that does not fail logically or pragmatically. Then why is it so hard to accept? As Jeremiah stated, the heart of man is desperately wicked- it does not like God; it does not want to be around Him; it does not want to have anything to do with Him. If we recognize either the real problem or the real Solution, we come face-to-face with who we really are and who God really is, and we do not like it- we reject God based on a feeling.

In everyday life, we do not get kudos for accepting the solution to a problem if we rejected the solution or if we denied the problem even existed in the first place. Why should we expect God to grant us a relationship with Him if we either (both) deny the problem or (and) reject the Solution?

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