Peaking through the Letterbox (Worldview 12)
I confess, I used to play knock the door and run away. We also used to play "Pizza"; a game where you opened the letter box, shouted 'pizza' and ran "like the dickens". We saw a lot of hallways playing that game.
If you are going to criticise and judge Christianity, I invite you. It will hold up to all scrutiny. But don’t judge it from the outside. Don’t stand outside the door, peeking through the letterbox, imagining what’s in there and judging.
Come on in. Get a feel of the place. Fill your lungs with it. Come on into the kitchen and try the fresh baked bread. Sit by the fire and enjoy the crackling while you shimmy deep into an armchair. Here’s the master key, it opens every door, there are no hidden rooms. Do you want me to come around with you or would you like to explore yourself? Whatever way you’ll have it; there is nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed off. Check under the beds if you like, check under the mattress and pillows too. No, the master bedroom isn’t out of bounds. That cupboard does open, look, just jiggle the key a little bit, like this, there you go. Check the taps. Investigate the bins and see if we’ve hidden anything away quickly before you came. Head down into the basement and up into the attic, here’s a torch. Turn up again tomorrow if you like, no need to call for an appointment, we dont need to “prepare” for your arrival.
What am I saying? In order to properly criticise Christianity you need to step inside the whole framework of the Christian worldview. It’s no good judging one aspect of it without understanding the big picture of the whole. That isn’t to say you need to understand every detail of Christianity, but it does mean you need to understand the framework of it.
Critiscise the concept of hell. You’re free to do so. But you can do it intelligently or...otherwise. To judge it intelligently is to understand what the Christian worldview teaches about what it means that God is righteous, pure, just, good and holy. It is to understand what it means that humans are fallen and rebellious. It is to understand what sin and evil is within the biblical framework. It is to understand the gospel message. Judge the idea of a good God and suffering. But do it intelligently. Understand what the biblical worldview says about creation and human stewardship, understand what it means by the rebellion and fall of humanity. To criticise one part without understanding the whole only serves to highlight that you haven't understood.
The no-god worldview holder that I respect is the one who has really done their homework. The one who has honestly come in, put on white gloves and taken a good look around and rubbed their fingers along the top of the door and checked in the top shelf of the cupboard. The one who didn’t just borrow their arguments from a 5 minute YouTube Video or a rant from Stephen Fry or Ricky Gervais or a collection of memes from a Facebook group. The one who doesn’t say “I haven’t investigated Christianity with much depth, but I hate it” and who, when invited to come in and is handed the master key, stubbornly walks away describing the interior they have never seen.
What that suggests to me, is that you don’t want to look around, you dont want to understand, you’d rather remain in the dark. Have it your way, I’d rather you came in and looked around, but I’m not going to drag you in kicking and screaming - the neighbours would notice. If you want to walk away, so be it, but it isn't intelligent to ridicule what you haven't understood.
So come in and welcome, take off your coat, we’ll look after it for you, promise. Keep your shoes on if you like, we don’t mind if you get mud on the carpet. Stay as long as you like, the kettle is boiling. If you decide you’d like to move in, there’s plenty of room. How much a month? Way above your means, believe me, way above mine too. But the Landlord is generous and has offered to pay for any and all who will come.
Come in and look around and leave. Come in and look around and stay. But please don’t do us the dishonour of standing at the doorway, peeking through the letter box and pretending you had a good look around and hated the place.
To illustrate my point in a different way - the Christian Worldview is like a recipe. I know you don’t like licking raw egg white - I don’t either. And I’m not asking you to. The egg white is going to go in and mix with the rest of the ingredients and sit in the oven for an hour. No one wants to eat a tablespoon of dry flour. Criticising Christianity without understanding the whole framework is like trying one ingredient of a recipe without understanding what the whole thing actually makes and how it all goes together.
Alan Campbell is from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He came to Christ as a young adult and trained for ministry at Bethesda Free Church, Sunderland. Alan ministered in Bethesda as the Associate Pastor until 2019 and now ministers at Union Chapel, Bath. From time to time he teaches at North Cotes (NTM/Ethnos 360) College and The Theological College of North Staffordshire. Alan travels across the UK, Ireland, Europe and the States speaking at universities and equipping churches and campus ministries to share the gospel in a post-modern context. He is passionate about helping the believer to root their identity more and more into the person and work of Jesus Christ. Alan is married to Victoria.