The Three Levels of Christianity

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Isn’t believing in God enough?

Well, it would be if God were simply a philosophical construct, but if God is someone you have relationship with then you need to make sure who it is you’re connecting with! And as I explain in my faith story, if God is really God then you can’t just ignore him!

So, there are two issues with this question:

  1. Which God is the one you say you believe in? There are many versions of God in human thought, so when you say you ‘believe in God’ you need to be specific. Do you mean Allah as revealed by the prophet Muhammad; one of the Hindu gods; or God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as revealed in the Bible? And once you’ve determined whether that God really does exist, then you need to work out how you respond.

  • What does that God expect of you? To say you believe in something implies you act on that belief. For example, if you believe it’s going to rain but then don’t take an umbrella your belief is merely a thought bubble. If you believe that vaccinations protect you from deadly diseases, but don’t get your children vaccinated then I’d question if you actually believed. So, the question that remains is: what does the God you believe in expect of you? If you think the answer is ‘nothing’ then I’d think you’ve not done your research. Or you simply believe in the god of your imagination who serves at your command. Clearly that’s not God, just wishful thinking!

The God of the Bible as revealed by Jesus very clearly expects more than your intellectual assent. He calls you to: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29   In another passage, Jesus says to a young man: “Come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21. The response required is to be in relationship with Jesus and do as he commands.

I believe Jesus was simply a good man!

This is a common position, but an untenable one. That is, if you believe Jesus was a good man, then you must believe the things he said.

The problem is the things he said are outrageous!

He commanded people to follow him (Matthew 19.21); he told people he had the right to revise the religious law of the day (Mark 2.23-3.5); he told people he’d existed for many hundreds of years (John 8.58) and he insisted that he would die and rise again (Mark 8.31).

Oh, and he made this most outrageous claim: Jesus answered: Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? John 14:9-10

If these things are not true, then Jesus is with the most convincing liar or he really does believe these things and so is totally crazy. Whichever you choose, you can’t then say he’s a ‘good man’.

If these things are true, then you must respond because he’s claiming to be much more than a ‘good man’. He’s asking for your total allegiance, he’s telling you that he loves you and came to ‘give his life as a ransom for you’ (Mark 10.45)

I believe in the good teachings of Jesus!

My first question is: ‘which ones are those?’ Have you read all of his teachings? And, if you believe in some teachings of Jesus then how do you decide which ones you don’t believe in.

If the answer is ‘I believe in the teachings I think are right’ then you actually only believe in a figment of your imagination. That Jesus is someone who agrees with you at every point and doesn’t demand anything of you. Clearly, this is not the Jesus of the Bible, nor even a good friend. A good friend will challenge your thinking when needed because they love you. This fictional Jesus doesn’t even do that.

Can I suggest you read the biographies of Jesus before you make a decision about his teachings and ask yourself ‘what does he actually claim?’.