Day 73: The comfort of rules

Day 73: Luke 11:33-54

According to atheism, there is no meaning, truth or purpose beyond what you decide. Therefore there is no right or wrong beyond what is agreed between consenting parties. Until the tyranny of atheistic groupthink sets in when atheism takes power in a society, therefore, atheism purports to stand for freedom. It appeals to all those who prefer to live outside rules.

In that sense, the opposite of atheism (or at least organised atheism) isn’t Christianity, it’s theistic false religion, which appeals to the opposite kind of person: the rule-keeper. There is great comfort for many people in clear boundaries and unbending performance standards. Comfort that is so ingrained, so instinctive, that people prefer to stick to those standards even when they are driven to despair by them.

False religion thrives, in fact, by treating people as recalcitrant donkeys. By driving them forward with a stick whilst dangling in front of them a carrot that is perpetually out of reach (v.46 & 52). It says, “Do this, this, this and this…and DON’T do that, that, that or that…and MAYBE God will like you.  And keep listening to me, because I will keep you informed of everything God does and doesn’t like, which may change without notice”.

Meanwhile, Christianity says that there is a God, who has rules we fell far short of before we even knew they existed, and which we have continued to flout ever since. So we’re doomed to eternity without God, and have zero chance to dig ourselves out of that hole. But God sent someone to be a substitute for us; first by obeying all the rules that we disobeyed (so we could take credit for his righteousness); then by being punished as if he disobeyed all the rules like we do.

It denies atheism, asserting an objective reality and objective morality.

It denies theism, asserting complete reliance on the grace of God.

It frees us for a life of service in safety, with a desire to obey the one who saved us, and a total confidence that he will never change his mind about us. We are driven to obey through respect and love, and need neither the anarch of moral democracy, nor the slavery of following man-made rules with nothing good at the end.

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