During a conversation with a Christian, I was reminded of a most excellent verse from the Bible:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
In other words, the Christian gospel is purposely designed by its god to appear delusional to non-believers. When Christians wonder why everyone else scoffs at their beliefs, they need only recall this verse. The confusion is intentional.
I got to admit, this is a brilliant rejoinder to those who dismiss your message as crazy. “You don’t understand what we’re saying? That’s the way it should be!” For a long time, the looniness was touted as a point in the faith’s favor. As early Christian apologist Tertullian put it, “I believe because it’s absurd. It’s certain because it’s impossible.”
But then came the Age of Reason, and suddenly, being absurd wasn’t so great. Ever since, Christianity has been forced to justify itself on rational and empiricist grounds. Tract after apologetic tract has strived to demonstrate that the Christian faith is grounded in reason, science, and actual history. As one of the more notable latest products of that endless stream, William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith, states “…it will be apologetics which, by making the gospel a credible option for seeking people, gives them, as it were, the intellectual permission to believe.”
Unfortunately, “intellectual permission to believe” is precisely not what the Christian gospel is supposed to offer. According to the apostle Paul, the message is unintellectual, unreasonable, irrational, i.e., foolishness. That is its virtue, a sign to the growing believer that the “power of God” is at play.
But Christians can’t have it both ways. Either their message is absurd, or it’s reasonable (unsurprisingly, Craig never mentions 1 Cor. 1:18 in his book). If it’s reasonable, then Paul is wrong. If Paul is wrong on this, what else is Paul wrong about? Christians can’t argue their gospel is reasonable without fatally wounding their theology. But if they argue it’s absurd, then welcome to the club of bizarre beliefs, of which this world is littered. Christianity becomes no better than Scientology. Such is Christianity’s conundrum, but it’s a bed of it’s own making.