Explaining Dostoyevski, maybe.
Way back, I and Jane -- a wonderful friend who was a much more committed Christian than I was at the time -- spent a year commuting three hours a day to the high school where we taught. That gave us plenty of time to talk. So we talked a lot about God and the Bible and how to apply them to our lives.
The Church at Perelandra College is a reader-supported publication. So . . .
One day Jane surprised me with: "You should be a preacher."
I said "Huh?"
She said, "Because you're so good at making complicated stuff easier to understand."
In case she was right, today I'm going to try at last to clarify my agreement with Feodor Dostoyevski's puzzling comment, “If someone proved to me that Christ is outside the truth and that in reality the truth was outside of Christ, then I should prefer to remain with Christ rather than with the truth.”
Suppose the story of Christ is proven to be fictional rather than factual. Then I will maintain that each of us humans bases our world view on a story -- either one given to us or one we make up out of all we have been given.
In either case, we get to choose which story.
Here's a good one:
In the Hebrew Scriptures, aka the Old Testament, our world is a treacherous place because humans are by nature selfish, and selfishness invites all sorts of meanness and cruelty. Now, along comes a human who, by word and example, teaches us how we can make ourselves less selfish and our world less treacherous. Because all evil is founded in selfishness, as is the preponderance of our misery.
From experience, I can attest that our miseries are most severe while we are self-concerned and least severe while our attention is turned toward the good of others. Since this psychological truth is the foundation of Christ's entire message, not only has his story offered me a value system that can make me less miserable (i.e. happier), but it has also given me an example to follow. Asking ourselves "what would Jesus do" might be a cliche but it's still a smart practice to follow.
Also, with Christ's death and resurrection, I am offered at least a mighty compelling metaphor for the emotional benefit of hope, of never under any circumstances giving up or allowing despair to rule me.
So, there you go. Simple and clear, I hope.
A warning: those who choose to base their world view on the Christ story -- and, in evangelical lingo, accept Christ -- are asking for trouble. It will cost them their lives, in one way or another. I mean, that's how the story goes.
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