Evading Jesus

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The British agnostic/philosopher Bertrand Russell was once asked what he would say to God if he discovered the Creator did, in fact, exist. His reply was: “I’d say, why didn’t you give me enough evidence to believe?”  

Although he described himself as an agnostic in his later years, Russell nonetheless assailed God and religion during his lifetime writing, “I am as firmly convinced that religions do harm as I am that they are untrue.” His texts often ran contrary to his agnostic label, with him perhaps coming to grips at some point with what Karl Marx said: “An agnostic is just a gutless atheist.”

When I first read Russell’s short work, Why I am not a Christian, I was surprised to see a man of his intellect use such rudimentary and flimsy arguments against God. His manner of attack was to pile weaker contentions on top of already weak arguments that he hoped to somehow mold into a firm foundation, which would then let him comfortably exhale believing he had won his battle against God.

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But Russell’s text is instead a classic case of evasion tactics used to escape and avoid something you don’t want to be true. And when it comes to evading Jesus, there are all sorts of methods people employ.

Playing dodgeball with Christianity

Nobody describes how atheists evade Jesus better than Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor — an atheist himself — in his book, A Secular Age. Taylor defines the process as the subtraction theory, which he says atheists go through when they ‘subtract’ from their thinking any supposed superstition, ignorance, authoritarianism, or something else they believe to be irrelevant or non-material to critical thinking.

Taylor admits that the problem with the subtraction theory is it treats non-religious thought as the only legitimate starting point of adult discussion vs. seeing it as it is: one explanation for life among many.  And, moreover, because it cannot prove its position, it is a faith-based belief system just like the religions it dismisses.

This is one reason it’s foolish for unbelievers to say, “As an atheist, I believe we are not alone in the universe. I believe there are other life forms out there,” and then dismiss the Bible because it says exactly the same thing.

Unfortunately, cynically-oriented unbelievers, most times won’t acknowledge such revelations, but instead, they will launch into red herring onslaughts designed to give them any reason whatsoever to evade the big issue with Jesus. Paul described a person like this as having a “morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth” (1 Tim. 6:4-5).

But the fact is, they know what they’re trying to avoid. Even no-fan-of-religion Aldous Huxley admitted: “Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don't know because we don't want to know. It is our will that decides how and upon what subjects we shall use our intelligence.”

There are many other ways people evade Christ. Those concerned with financial materialism stiff-arm Jesus with the same excuse as the man Luke tells us about who was more concerned about his ancestral inheritance than with Christ’s call: “And He [Jesus] said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father” (Luke 9:59).

Religionists, like the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day, disqualify Him because He doesn’t fit within their biased, man-made, presuppositional mold.

Whatever the excuse, the awful thing about playing evasion games with Jesus is they amount to eternal Russian roulette with a round in every chamber. Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Peter declares in Acts: “Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:22-23).

In other words, ducking Jesus now will be hazardous to your eternal health later.

C. S. Lewis, in his essay, Man or Rabbit, says this: “The man who remains an unbeliever for such reasons is not in a state of honest error. He is in a state of dishonest error, and that dishonesty will spread through all his thoughts and actions: a certain shiftiness, a vague worry in the background, a blunting of his whole mental edge, will result. He has lost his intellectual virginity … To evade the Son of Man, to look the other way, to pretend you haven't noticed, to become suddenly absorbed in something on the other side of the street, to leave the receiver off the telephone because it might be He who was ringing up, to leave unopened certain letters in strange handwriting because they might be from Him — this is a different matter. You may not be certain yet whether you ought to be a Christian; but you do know you ought to be a Man, not an ostrich, hiding its head in the sand.”

Simply put — eternity is an awfully long time to be wrong, especially when you know deep down now that you’re staring His truth in the face. 

Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.

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