Ice Cream and Apologetics
by Pastor Sam Schuldheisz
I like ice cream. Rocky Road happens to be one of my favorite flavors, but really, anything with walnuts, almonds or peanuts will do. On the other hand, I realize that someone else may really love sorbets or fruit-flavored ice creams or, strange as it may sound to me, not like English walnuts on everything. There are even people who don’t like ice cream. And that’s perfectly fine in the ice cream shop where everything is a subjective matter of taste. There is no right or wrong. The person who has a peanut allergy is not churned into an ice cream heretic because they can’t have peanuts on their peanut buster parfait. And the double dark chocolate lover is not intolerant when it comes to excluding fruit from their sweet cones of delight.
I like ice cream. I also enjoy Christian apologetics. And I think both are gifts of God. But what does my love of ice cream and apologetics have in common? Absolutely nothing at all. And that’s the point. World religions are not like the myriads of flavors of ice cream out there. And Christianity is not a “have it your way” religion. The idea that religious truth is relative is simply another form of American idolatry: “your truth” is good for you and I have “my truth” and no one is right or wrong. That’s patently false, not to mention self refuting.
Subjective preference and taste have little to do with whether or not a religious claim is true or false. In fact, the one thing that all world religions have in common is their mutual incompatibility. It’s not up for a taste-test; it’s simply a matter of logic. All of the world’s religions could be false; that’s possible. But to claim that the world’s religions are all true, or even a matter of subjective preference, is a logical impossibility. And until the world understands this (don’t hold your breath) it will never understand why Christians cannot worship with false gods and false religions.
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Now, when it comes to the Christian Gospel – that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself – it’s possible that this claim too is false, along with all the other world religions. But Christianity and Judaism, or Christianity and Islam, or Christianity and Mormonism cannot all be true at the same time. Christianity is not simply one flavor out of many.
That’s why, when Christians participate in public events of any kind in any context, simply speaking the Gospel isn’t the only thing that needs to be said. By standing in the buffet line we give the impression that Christianity is simply one flavor out of many. While we should work hard to remove any scandal and offense in our public lives, the one that we cannot remove – indeed that we must proclaim – is the scandal of the cross. We preach Christ Crucified. And no other world religion does. We must do both, tear down the false temples and build the positive case for Christianity.
Christians must differentiate themselves from the world and the world’s religious chaos that surrounds us. What separates Christianity from every other world religion are facts, eyewitness testimony. Christianity is open to investigation and is grounded entirely on historical, objective events that if proven untrue, toss it in the trash on your way out the door. If Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain. But Christ is raised from the dead; the central message of Christianity is a matter of historical fact and investigation…
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