Is Christianity Relevant?
BY ALEX FLANAGAN
“God is dead, and we have killed him.” That is what the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche concluded in his seminal parable entitled The Madman. Although this simple yet profound statement was written well over one hundred years ago, it seems that the ideology behind it has never been more popular than it is today. In our modern secular culture, is Biblical Christianity still relevant, or is it just a relic of the unenlightened past?
As long as mankind has existed, there have been certain questions asked that have never gone out of style. They are timeless and inescapable – a given of the human experience. I like to call them life’s big questions. Here are a few:
- Where did I come from?
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
- How should I live my life?
- Why do people do bad things?
- Why is there so much pain and suffering in the world?
- What happens when I die?
- Is there any hope?
Any worldview, if it is to be seriously considered, should be able to give satisfactory answers to these fundamental, existential questions. And the answers, taken together, must be logically coherent and empirically consistent. In other words, the answers cannot be self-contradictory, and they must correspond to reality. The question is: can Biblical Christianity give existentially satisfactory answers that are both coherent and consistent?
According to the Biblical narrative, God made man in His own image and likeness. Man’s created purpose was “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever”, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism so beautifully puts it. However, because true love is impossible apart from free will, God gave man a choice. He could either submit to God and glorify Him, or he could rebel against God and glorify himself. Tragically, he chose the latter. And in doing so, he separated himself from God and plunged the world into unimaginable pain and suffering.
Because true love is impossible apart from free will, God gave man a choice.
But that was not the end. God did not abandon His creation. As a wise Father deals with a wayward son whom He loves, so God dealt with man. He sternly confronted man’s sin, but He also gave him hope. God promised to send Someone who would heal man’s broken heart and restore all creation to its original perfection. From that time, faithful men looked diligently for the coming of the One whom God had promised – the One who would make all things right: “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (Malachi 4:2).
“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:3-4). At just the right time, according to God’s perfect plan, Jesus Christ, the very eternal Son of God, humbled himself and became a man – our substitute. He perfectly obeyed God and glorified Him; He suffered and died on the cross for our sins; He defeated death and hell by rising again; He ascended into Heaven and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Now all who believe in Him experience the first fruits of personal restoration. But one day, He will return as a conquering King and will completely fulfill God’s promise to heal our broken hearts and to restore all creation to its original perfection. This is the eternal hope of the Christian.
So, is Christianity relevant? The answer, I believe, is a resounding yes. Not only does the Christian message satisfy the needs of our innermost being, but it also describes the way the world is and why.
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