The Limits of Accidental ChristianityWednesday, April 22, 2015
I spent last weekend in Wisconsin with pastor (and Packer's Chaplain) Troy Murphy and his family of believers at Green Bay Community Church. They hosted an "Accidental Faith" Seminar on Saturday and we talked about the case for truth, the case for God's existence and the case for the Resurrection. I was very impressed with the number of people who came out on a beautiful, warm, pre-Spring day in Wisconsin. Troy has done an amazing job raising up a group of disciples who want to be intentional. They get it. They want to be more than accidental Christians. I often use that expression to describe what I see around the country. Here's what I mean:
Imagine that you and I are sitting in my family room. The television is turned off; it’s 5:20pm. I lean over and ask, “What channel is the weather report on?”
“I don’t really know,” you respond.
“Well, give me a channel number’” I insist.
“OK, channel 7,” you reply, shrugging your shoulders.
I turn on the television and switch over to channel 7. Lo and behold, the weather report is being broadcast at that very moment on the channel 7 nightly news. “Good call,” I proclaim as you grin with satisfaction. You made a proclamation about where the weather forecast was being aired and your claim about the truth was accurate. You were right. But you were only accidentally correct. You made that proclamation without any evidence to support your claim; you simply took a stab at it and happened to be correct. This doesn’t in any way diminish the “rightness” of your proclamation, but you came to it “by accident.”
There are lots of us who are Christians in a very similar way. We have trusted in Jesus for our salvation; acknowledging He paid the price for our sin on the cross. We recognize He is God. We accept the essential orthodox teachings of classic Christianity. But if you asked us why we believe these things to be true, many of us would have little to offer. We just happened to guess the right "channel". We’re accidental Christians. We happen to hold to the truth of Christianity in the same way you guessed the right channel for the weather report.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter, I suppose, how you happened to turn to channel 7. I guess the important thing is simply that the weather report was playing on the channel you happened to pick. But if someone was listening to our conversation, do you think they would trust you to tell them when the next weather report was going to broadcast? I think they would know you only found the first report accidentally. You had no evidence to support your selection, so there’s little reason to expect you will get it right the next time around. Accidental Christians are saved just like those of us who have taken the time to study the evidence and understand the solid reasons why we believe Christianity is true. But accidental Christians aren't likely to be trusted by those who are watching or listening to our conversations. Accidental Christianity has a hard time competing in the marketplace of ideas, especially when alternate worldviews are being argued evidentially.
Troy Murphy and Green Bay Community Church understand this. That's why so many of them turned out last Saturday to move from accidental Christianity to evidential Christianity. As Christians, we happen to possess the truth. We don't have to be accidental Christians. It’s time to prepare ourselves so we can demonstrate our faith is well placed, reasonable and evidential.