Talking to a friend the other night, it occurred to me that there are basically two big questions that I’ve wrestled with for years in regards to Christianity. One is, “What is the core of Christianity?” or “What are the essential elements without which you don’t have Christianity?” The second question is, “What is the “good news”, really?” I know that to many if not most Christians, these questions have obvious answers—it’s clear cut and black and white. But I always seem to be digging deeper, trying to make sure I really have a solid and correct understanding of things.
I think I’ve wrestled with the question of the good news, because it often hasn’t felt like good news to me. As I’ve looked into it, I have found that indeed it is pretty simple and straight forward: opportunity for reconciliation with God. Now there are some problems. For one, in order for it to be good news, one has to believe in a God who is active in the world. And really, in reading the new testament, you really almost need to believe in the Jewish God in order for the good news to be good news. So, it would be a problem if you are trying to convince an atheist (or even a deist) that the bible contains good news. I mean, it’s like saying, “Great news, Santa Clause is on his way to deliver us all gifts!” to someone who doesn’t believe in a real Santa Clause. It’s not good news because the person doesn’t expect to actually receive any gifts since he/she doesn’t believe in the existence of the giver. On the other side, what if one who does believe is told that they are going to receive gifts, but those gifts never come? Might that not put the existence of the giver into question? This is where I feel I’m at sometimes. Now in reality, the problem may simply be the expectation that one has been led to believe, but it can be difficult to tell the difference.
Perhaps I’ll write more about the other question at some point; probably, but who knows when?