I have many doubts that are difficult to reconcile.
Yet you remain a Christian. Is there any particular Christian belief that grounds your belief system more than others, even in the midst of your doubt? (For example, in my own case, as I detailed in Why I am a Christian, is the belief that everything must have an ultimate reason.)
The teachings of Jesus, not any particular Christian belief. I find a huge negative correlation between professions of belief and following the simple teachings of Jesus.
Now, a question for you.
Since it’s quite easy to pick a scientific field that fulfills those teachings (biomedical), why would you ignore that when choosing to spend a hefty chunk of your life doing science that doesn’t–or at least that causes you to ask,
Do you mean all of the teachings of Jesus? Or a subset of them (that you refer to as “simple”? It’s odd to me that you don’t want to profess belief. Yet Jesus teaches:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die."
It seems that Jesus wants us to believe in Him. Following Jesus means believing in Him.
- Throughout middle and high school, I was pretty bad at biology and chemistry - in fact, I stopped taking any classes in that after 10th grade. Physics was the only science that I was any good at. Even then, in high school I was quite an average physics student.
- I don’t think that only work which directly and immediately benefits humanity (or the church) glorifies God. We serve God according to our gifts and calling. You can serve God by being a cancer researcher, a medical missionary, a social worker, a mechanic, a pure mathematician, or even if you are disabled and bedridden and can’t do any sort of economically productive work.
The simplest are the most important:
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
— Matthew 22:35-40
But there’s nothing there about professing belief to other people.
There is Matthew 6:6, though:
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
What’s your point? I wrote nothing of the sort. Are you trying to attribute that position to me?
I’m merely addressing your question:
So you do believe in Jesus but you don’t want to state so publicly?
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Note in the Romans passage the separation of confessing and believing, which seems to suggest that publicly confessing faith is a component of salvation, not merely secretly believing it.
I’m asking other people’s opinions of what it means to do science for the glory of God. I have my own understanding of what that means, of course. In either case your own question is quite odd and I didn’t know how else to answer it.
I observe a very negative correlation between the volume of such professions and following the most important commandments. Don’t you?
Depends on person to person. There are lots of hypocrites, but there are also many who are lukewarm Christians. Jesus commands us to profess our faith publicly regardless. Even more, he commands us to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). Also, right before Matthew 10:32-33, which I quoted above, we have this:
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”
I think, at most what your observations suggest is that we shouldn’t be strident and annoying when we confess our faith. As Scripture says,
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
1 Peter 3:15
That sounds like it was added later by those aiming to gain followers for a church. Why would any omnipotent and omniscient being care so much about professions of faith?
Plenty of contradictions there, wouldn’t you agree?
How do you judge whether a passage of Scripture is authentically the teachings of Jesus or added later?
Where is the contradiction? You can defend your faith gently and respectfully. In fact that’s the kind of dialogue we’re hoping for here.
Between shouting it from the rooftops and being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks.
Indeed. However, explicitly requesting responses and then marking one as spam because it disagrees with your position doesn’t strike me as that kind of dialog.
No contradiction at all. You shout it from the rooftops (i.e. evangelize), and if someone asks you, you also tell them!
Addressing a question I missed:
Because we live in community with other human beings, both inside the church and outside of it. It’s not just our vertical relationship with God that matters, but also with other humans. We’re supposed to be true about ourselves to others. How can one avoid professing faith if one is a follower of Christ, having been made into a new creation in Him (2 Cor. 5:17)? It would be like hiding our true identity.
Secondly, it makes sense that Christ gave us the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Without it neither you nor I would be Christians and know of the teachings of Christ. The followers of Jesus were overjoyed when they witnessed Him resurrected and had the Holy Spirit come upon them. They could not contain this reason for the hope within themselves alone.
Of course, professing faith doesn’t necessarily mean obnoxiously bringing it up at every single opportunity such that people are turned off to it. But at the very least it could mean being bold to talk about it when someone asks, not hiding that you are a Christian, and engaging in activities that support evangelization.
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