14 May 2021
The columnist Giles Coren has written the following in The Times: “I don’t see the big deal with Edwin Poots, the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist MP, being a creationist.” He goes on: “Is there a scale of what is considered reasonable to believe about God and what is absurd? Like, ‘Sure, we believe he sent his son to save us and that we all go to heaven when we die, but this Poots guy thinks he brought forth the land from the waters! What a nutter!’ I’m sorry, but I see nothing dafter there than the faith professed by Theresa May, Tony Blair or Joe Biden.”
There is a lot there that I could take issue with! Are all Christians ‘creationists’, believing not only that God made the world but that he did it in six days of twenty-four hours each? Do Christians believe that “we all go to heaven when we die,” or only those who believe in Jesus? Is what Edwin Poots believes the same as the faith professed by Theresa May, Tony Blair or Joe Biden? I don’t know. I’m not going to dwell on any of that. I want instead to focus on two things he is right about.
He is right that the Christian faith comes as a package. It is no more strange to believe that God created the world, even in six literal days, than it is to believe that God sent his son to save us so that we can go to heaven when we die. Christians believe these things, not because we consider them reasonable, but because we have come to believe that God has revealed them to be true. He has revealed himself ultimately in his Son Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, and also in his written word, the Bible, where we find the Word made flesh.
Now, if God made everything, it is not unreasonable for him also to reveal himself to the creatures he has made, especially if he wants a relationship with us. Nor is it unreasonable for him to save them, rather than to abandon them to an eternity without him. But we cannot work these things out simply by looking at our world. We need to have them revealed to us.
Mr Coren is also right to say that such faith looks absurd to outsiders. There may have been a time when it seemed reasonable, but those days have gone. In fact, many would go further and suggest that Christianity is not only crazy, but dangerous. It is no longer enough to mock it, it should be feared; not merely tolerated, but resisted. And Christians need to get used to that.
Lord, thank you for revealing yourself to us. We would know nothing of you if you had not. Help us to believe what you have revealed – all of it – especially when others think it is absurd. Amen.
Chris Hobbs, Senior Minister