The pantheon of gods that my culture offers is quite an overwhelming experience. I grew up in a Christian family in India and had the unique advantage of seeing Jesus through the prism of other religions and deities. When you grow up with many options, critical thinking along with disagreeing and debating other world-views comes very naturally.
In my process of elimination and critical thinking through all of the options that were available, I found the Bible and Jesus very fascinating and compelling. Even so, I had to deconstruct before I could reconstruct my faith.
It’s a very healthy process.
We have 4 daughters ages 12, 14, 16, and 18, and they have always gone to public school. My daughters are independent thinkers and we have intentionally shaped them to be so. This Lent we are taking them through the “what if we are wrong” process, helping them to relook at their Christian faith. There is room at the table for mysteries and questions because they are an important part of the process. We highly value the presence of critical and honest thinking when it comes to our faith.
Yes, I have watched the whole 1:44 of the YouTube video of Rhett and Link on the deconstruction of their faith. They had my attention the whole time, as I was very inquisitive. I respect their journey and don’t think they are being dishonest with what is happening in their head.
This response is an appeal to their followers.
Consider these thoughts as you may be deconstructing your faith.
Jesus did not die for the Bible Belt of America…
Being on staff with CRU, I am sure they have traveled and have had some exposure to world religions. However, Rhett and Link’s spiritual journeys seem to be limited to the Bible Belt, which automatically constricts their reasoning. It is intellectual suicide to begin your critical thinking with the premise that the Bible was written to a 21st century Bible Belt Christian. You will be lessening and distorting the revelation by doing so.
You have to look at Jesus in light of other options.
Despite my upbringing in a Christian home, I was surrounded by Hindus and Muslims. As well as English and Hindi, I learned to speak the language of Muslims, Urdu, because my best friends were Muslim. It wasn’t until the age of 21 that I saw the truth of the gospel of Jesus and decided to follow him. I moved to America in 1999 and married a woman from the Bible Belt, where we settled. Therefore, I am very familiar with the Bible Belt culture that Rhett and Link grew up in, but I’m also very familiar with other world-views.
Deconstructing one’s faith is only a fair argument if we deconstruct every world-view (including atheism) and allow each to pass through the same scrutiny, letting the truth emerge as a result.
Global Christian belief
According to the 2017 census we have 7.5 billion people alive on planet earth and 2.1 billion of them subscribe to the Christian world-view. A majority of the growth is happening in non-Christian countries; in other words, places where it is illegal to proselytize or believe in Jesus. This is a crucial observation as they are not becoming “rice Christians,” meaning they convert only for the bowl of rice promised at the end of the sermon. With these conversions, they are risking the very lives of their family because they believe Jesus to be the truth. So, we are left with two options.
If a Hindu or Muslim that has converted to Christianity is willing to die for the sake of their new faith, it means he or she is either a lunatic or a critical thinker, going through a deep process of deductive reasoning.
You may say other radical word-views are dying for their faith too. When you put them next to the Christian world-view the martyrdom looks the same, but they are not. It is very different from Islamic extremists taking their life for the sake of Allah. This is leaving the Islamic or Hindu world-view to follow Christ. The paramount difference here is, the force that Christians are driven by is love. It’s a massive difference.
One does not arrive at following Christ emotionally without considering the consequences, especially if it’s putting the lives of one’s family in danger.
If you are deconstructing as Rhett and Link have, to assume that these people have not thought through their faith intellectually is quite debasing.
Napoleon Bonaparte, a European emperor from the early 1800s, conquered most of Europe through violence and forceful acts. Toward the end of his life Napoleon said, “Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men will die for Him.” The reason I find this very profound is a human of this caliber had no need to make any comment regarding Christianity, yet he saw the relentless pursuit of the followers of Jesus and could not deny the authenticity in the person of Jesus.
Apostle Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus, went to India just for the sake of telling people about Jesus. He was beheaded for spreading this message. From a glance it looks like a normal Christian story, but we have to look at this story through the cultural lens of India. Anti-Hindu messages don’t survive easily in the Indian culture. The counter-cultural message that Thomas brought to India of a faith in the One True God in a land of 350 million gods should not have stood the test of time. Yet today, a Christian movement has emerged in India 2000 years after Thomas gave his life for this message in India. As well, since Christianity came to India, Indian Christians have gone through hell to keep their faith.
It is not cultural or family protocol for Indian Christians to follow through with their faith. Rather Indian Christians come to their belief through reason and contemplation.
We live in a world of fake news and it is very natural for us to question any news or any document, rightfully so. Sometimes we have the same response towards the gospels. The difference here is the gospels were not written like the news of today. The phrase that we commonly hear in the news reports of today is “sources say”. This is totally contrary to the first century Christians. “Eye witness” was the golden standard. The information was either written by or cross checked by one or more eyewitnesses before it went on the circuit. Of course, Luke wrote his own account and was not an eyewitness; however, he got his data from several apostles who were eyewitnesses and wrote his account by diligent comparison of data gathered from these apostles, similarly to how a biography is written today.
The Quran and Jesus
The Quran was written 600 years after Jesus, and it affirms many accounts of the life of Christ, and reveres him as a holy prophet. The point of disagreement between Christianity and Islam is the death, burial, and the resurrection of Christ. The Quran even affirms the second coming of Jesus. Traditionally there are 5 pillars of Islam; however, lately some of the Muslim communities have added a 6th pillar called the Jihad. I believe this is paramount because the 6-pillars Muslim community has always been against the Christian world-view. In recent years we have watched the brutal beheadings of Christians on Muslim soil. Thus, it begs the question, if they are so against the Christian world-view, why do they place Jesus on the seat of a prophet or give him the weight of the second coming? Why are Muslims converting to Christianity by hoards every day? It is worth the pausing and pondering.
Rhett and Link discuss Christian authors talking about sharing Jesus to the person next to them on a flight and how ridiculous it is. Let me explain this for those born after the cell phone came into our world. The reason they always used the airplane as an example of sharing their faith is because that was the YouTube and blogs of their generation. In other words, that was where they met people. Now, we meet people via the internet on a daily basis.
So any blog or YouTube is just the same as their “airplane”.
On a lighter note, this is not a crisis of Christian world-view. This way of thinking has been around and will be around. And it shall pass…