Ashamed of Ridicule
I recently read a letter from the early church leader (referred to as a church ‘father’) Augustine of Hippo and he spoke to our situation today. He wrote:
The resurrection of Christ Himself upon the third day would not be believed by us, if the Christian faith was afraid to encounter Pagan ridicule. (Letter 102 to Jerome).
Surely Augustine was right. A little ‘pagan ridicule’ should not send us running away from faith in the resurrection of our savior. Of course we look at the Bible’s testimony about the resurrection and we see evidences that show the trustworthiness of the testimony (e.g. the sealed, soldier guarded tomb was empty, no cover-up concerning women as early witnesses, the eyewitness encounters of diverse people with Jesus risen, Jesus eating food, appearing to 500 at one time, etc.). But the resurrection is still something that must be believed in, because the resurrection is a miracle. And of course, miracles are always ridiculed.
After the Nye-Ham debate over evolution and creation there has been more than a little pagan ridicule coming out. But what is more alarming is the fear of the ridicule that Christians have. I know of Christians who are expressing shame at being associated with a ‘young earth creation’ position. They are joining with the pagans in ridiculing it.
At issue is not really the question of the age of the earth. It is, as Albert Mohler said, more of a question of worldview. But more than that, it is also a question of how Christians relate to peer pressure. Because even if a Christian adopts a sophisticated, accommodating view towards scientific theories about our origins, they are still faced with the miracle of the creation of Adam and Eve. If Adam is merely a useful, non-historical myth as some Christians are advocating, then Jesus is a liar (see Matthew 19:4-6), and his redemption of sinners as the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) is based on a narrative with no more authority than a Superman comic book.
The question that Christians are faced with now, as in Augustine’s day (he was responding to skepticism about events in the book of Jonah), is whether they will trust God and his word or not. If they won’t trust God they must trust their own reason (as Mohler points out) and faith in Christ is ruled out at the start. When Christians ridicule other Christians for having the presupposition of believing God and his word, they are undercutting the basis of their own faith.
Peer pressure is not just a problem for teens. It is the fear of ridicule that makes cowards. Many make arrogant claims to seek to know all the answers before believing. As Augustine pointed out:
For there are innumerable questions the solution of which is not to be demanded before we believe lest life be finished by us in unbelief.
Yes, life is short and bare reason cannot explain sympathy, mercy, empathy or love. God has revealed himself in miraculous ways and we are summoned to believe with the prayer, “help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). When Christians give in to the peer pressure and join in the ridicule they merely show the arrogance of their cowardice. Instead we are called to, “go to [Jesus] outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured” (Hebrews 13:13).