2016) Fundamentalists (part two of two)

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          (…continued)  There are many Christians who are reluctant to believe in even those fundamentals of the faith.  Sure, everyone can still celebrate Christmas, agreeing that Jesus was a great man and his birth is worth celebrating, and we can celebrate Easter because the kids have fun with the Easter bunny and colored eggs.  But, many will say, we must move beyond believing in the virgin birth and the resurrection from the dead and all that sort of thing.  We know more about science these days than in those days, and so we know better.

            Well, Albert Einstein knew a bit about science, and here is what he once said:  “There are two ways to see the universe.  One, is to see nothing as a miracle, and the other is to see everything as a miracle.”  I admit, Einstein’s religious beliefs are difficult to pin down.  He did not attend church or a synagogue, and he did not hold to any specific religion.  But in many statements Einstein did acknowledge an appreciation for an intelligent Creator of some kind behind what he saw as the incredible complexity and design of the universe.  He and I would have very different beliefs about who God is, but to see everything as a miracle is to see the hand of God in everything— including in every single birth.   (NOTE:  This may not be an accurate quote from Einstein.  It cannot be found in his writings, but appears in a later article which may be paraphrasing something Einstein said in an interview.  I use it because it is similar to some other things Einstein definitely did say about the mystery behind the mechanics of the universe.)

            The Creed says that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.  Admittedly, that is not how we’ve ever seen it happen; but really, is that any more miraculous than the usual way?  Just because we hear about babies being born all the time in the normal way, does that make the common, everyday conception and birth of a child any less wonderful, any less incredible, or any less miraculous?  No one can prove that Jesus was born of a virgin.  But the miracle of any life and any birth proves to me the existence of God.  And once I believe in God, I can easily believe that he can create a life any way he wants to.  Now, the uniqueness of Jesus does not end with his conception and birth.  But if someone gets hung up here at the very beginning, they are really going to have a hard time with the rest of the story; and especially with that part where Jesus says he is the Son of God, Savior of the world.

            Campus pastor William Willimon worked with college students who are at the stage in their lives when many of them are questioning everything.  Willimon describes one young man, typical of many, who came to him quite distressed, saying he was afraid he was ‘losing his faith.’  The young man said, “I have problems with the virgin birth of Jesus.  Do I have to believe in the miraculous birth of Jesus in order to be a Christian?”

           The campus pastor replied (paraphrase), “Well, in one sense, no.  Everyone’s faith is inadequate or incomplete in one way or another, and if we look to him, God’s grace is big enough to cover all of our sins and shortcomings, whether it is in the area of morality or doctrine.  However, if you are having trouble believing in the virgin birth, I am a little worried about you.  Because if you are going to let a little thing like that trip you up, you are going to have all sorts of trouble when we get to the real heart of the story.  I mean if you keep coming to church here, you are going to hear about all sorts of things; like God creating this whole universe out of absolutely nothing.  And, you are going to hear that God is the ruler of this world, and not kings and presidents and dictators.  And, you are even going to hear about people rising from the dead.  Not only that, but you are going to hear that this whole world is going to end someday, and that God is preparing another place to live, and in that place there is not going to be any death at all, but everyone there will live forever.  We are starting you out with something fairly simple when we tell you about the virgin birth, and if that’s too much for you, you are going to have a hard time with believing in a God who can do anything and everything any time he wants to.  Think about it this way,” the pastor concluded, “ask yourself just how small and weak and powerless God would have to be in order for you to be able to believe in Him?”

            The campus pastor was right.  The main question is whether or not you believe in God.  And if you believe in God, then all the rest is easy to believe in.  And, if you don’t believe in God, well, then you have the even bigger problem of trying to explain how everything got here all by itself.  The brilliant English journalist G. K. Chesterton was at first an atheist, and then he became a Christian.  As a Christian, he was not at all intimidated by his still unbelieving friends, but would say to them: “It is absurd for you to laugh at me for believing that God made everything out of nothing; but then go on pretend that it is more reasonable to believe that nothing could just turn itself into everything.”  Either the hand of God is in everything, or, — what is?  Either way we will be up against questions we cannot answer and things we cannot understand. 

          Whatever your beliefs are, if you trace them back far enough, you will get to all sorts of presuppositions (or, fundamentals!) that you cannot prove, but have chosen to accept on faith (whether or not you realize or are willing to admit it).

            In that way, we are all ‘fundamentalists.’


I Corinthians 15:1-8  — Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.


Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

–Mark 9:24