Have I got your attention?
Recently I've been reading the book, "How The West Really Lost God," by Mary Eberstadt. The book makes a strong case for the Western decline of Christianity being tightly related to the decline of the traditional family. However, one quote caught my attention. It is a summary statement of the position atheists have about Christianity. It is that, "Christianity is rooted in fear and superstition. Its purpose is to serve as a giant pacifier against the hunger pains of mortality."
I'd like to address this statement's four assumptions and show why from scripture and common sense that these are false assumptions. That they are assumptions is clear since none of them are predicated upon either doctrinal or historic facts about the faith.
From Fear To Hope
Is Christianity rooted in fear and superstition? On the contrary, Christianity takes us from fear to hope. It is not Christianity that is predicated on fear. Rather, it is a life without God that usually is founded in fear. The person without God fears what the future may hold, especially when it comes to death. This is because the atheist has no hope beyond death, thus, fear is natural. But the message of Jesus takes us from fear to a hopeful assurance. John said, "Perfect love casts out fear." Fear is the enemy of life. Jesus gives us reason not only not to fear, but to live courageously. This is the story of the saints of old, who, committing themselves unreservedly to the gospel, faced violent persecution and even death holding firm to their profession of faith, often with relentless joy. Christianity isn't based on fear, it frees from fear.
From Superstition To Fact
Is Christianity a form of superstition? Not at all. In fact, Christianity takes us from superstition to fact. Consider what other religions offer. A world where good and bad spirits must be appeased. A world of meaningless rituals that must be performed for good luck or blessing. A belief in karma, what goes around comes around. A spirit world of magic. Holy relics. Luck. And none of it based on any kind of historical reality.
The gospel is different. The story of the gospel is predicated on historical events recorded by eyewitnesses and careful investigation. No story of the Bible has ever been historically falsified. No discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. The apostle Paul summed it up perfectly when at trial he said the gospel was based on "True and rational words." Christianity is based on witnessed history. That's not superstition by any definition. Superstition is to throw salt over you shoulder for good luck. Christianity is to trust God as you move into your future while he, the personal Living God, interacts with you.
From A Giant Pacifier To A Sharp Sword
Christianity is sometimes portrayed as a crutch, or for the poorly educated, or for those who can't handle life. But none of that is true. Christianity is for all. And it takes us from a giant pacifier to a sharp sword. A sword of truth. But also a sword of violence. But not in the way you may think.
Think of all the scriptures which call for sacrifice, denial of your personal rights, willingness to die, etc. We are not called to take up the sword, but to lay our lives down by it. "Take up your cross and follow me," Jesus said. How does the critical invective of a pacifier apply to this? It doesn't. The call to follow Christ isn't the call to cower or relax or join a group to have your fears and desires babied. In the words of German pastor and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."
From Mortality To A Present Help
Finally, Christianity takes us from mortality to a present help. Perhaps you are thinking that Jesus takes us from morality to immortality. That is true, but it is in our present life that we must live out the principles of our faith long before we enter into Heaven. While the Christian no longer has to fear death, there is still a long life on earth ahead of that day. For some, like our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and North Africa, that means untold suffering and brutality for walking with Jesus. For others it means other challenges. But regardless of who we are or where we are, Jesus promised to be with us through the Holy Spirit to do more than endure our troubles, but to live faithfully through them. If Christianity was just a guarantee of Heaven, then why not accept Jesus and kill ourselves to enter our reward? But it doesn't work that way. It never has. Jesus said, "I am with you, to the end of the age."
If your perception of Christianity is that it, "Is rooted in fear and superstition. Its purpose is to serve as a giant pacifier against the hunger pains of mortality," then I hope what is written here will give you a new perspective. Don't give too much attention to anti-Christian propaganda and catch phrases that tickle the emotions but prove nothing. Faith in Jesus involves so much more.