You Don’t Have to Believe if You Don’t Want

With the power of digital publishing given to everyday people, new groups are emerging online, some even noted as social movements. One group tagged as “exvangelicals” have blogged and tweeted and vlogged and podcated their journey of leaving their evangelical Christian faith.

When the comedy duo, Rhett and Link, recently talked about their journey of spiritual deconstruction on their podcast, it drew attention from their fans and stirred up some chatter, even from The Gospel Coalition.

I believe in freedom of religion, so for Rhett & Link to share about their spiritual experiences, I think that’s much better than the many people who don’t reveal their spiritual convictions. Sure, people can be private about their spirituality, that’s also a freedom of religion.

I’m of the opinion that for all the freedoms we have in America, plenty of people talk about politics, all over the news and everywhere, and then people flaunting their freedom of expressions that push the limits of decency. But, yet, we don’t see that same kind of freedom for spirituality in everyday life, for whatever reasons. What’s up with that?

4 of the dealbreaker questions for Rhett

Rhett said, “These are just a few of the questions I’d always avoided,” describing the season of life when he tried to avoid doubts that might jeopardize his Christian faith—

  • “If I don’t have to believe that God ordered his chosen people to slaughter men, women and children by the thousands, then why would I?”
  • “If I don’t wanna believe that every religious experience of any person who is not a Christian is ultimately illegitimate, then why would I?”
  • “If I don’t have to believe that anyone who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus, i.e. the majority of people who have ever lived are going to spend eternity being literally tortured in a fire, experiencing never-ending pain and suffering, then why, no pun intended, in the hell would I believe that?”
  • “And if I can somehow accept the idea that hell exists because of God’s holiness, why would I believe in a God who would choose to create that particular world where people have no choice whether or not they’re going to be born but then once they are born, if they don’t adopt the correct understanding of God, he will punish them forever. Why believe in that God if I don’t have to?”

But here’s the thing, there are Christians who don’t believe these things. Arriving at a different answer about these 4 things, in particular, does not definitively mean you have to leave the Christian faith. (Sure, these are tough questions with no easy answers, and that can stir up doubts. But they don’t have to be avoided, except by those who prefer a simpler non-intellectually-robust faith.)

There is a very wide range of beliefs among the religion known as Christianity. Some Christians are more careful in delineating who is “in” and who is “out” based on their system of beliefs and doctrines. Some veer very loosely into the ecumenical and interfaith categories.

I jotted down a few other thoughts over at @Medium—

An Open Letter to Rhett of Rhett & Link: my knee-jerk reactions in response to their open-heart surgery.

But What Do I Think?

I think Rhett & Link are sincere guys trying to be honest and making a living at what they love to do. They’re getting nicely rewarded for that in the mean time, with an estimated net worth of $25 million in March 2020.

But money does something to people, according to the Bible that they don’t believe, so who knows how much that is affecting their perspective about ultimate realities of the metaphysics.

When things are good, people don’t have to answer the big questions of life and our existential reality. Some choose to. Many don’t.

What I heard in both Rhett’s and Link’s story was how they couldn’t be certain about what the Bible said or what Christianity taught. That’s true, there is no certainty about spiritual things, because they can’t be measured or confirmed by mere naturalistic scientific methods.

Even for people in the very time when Jesus Christ lived, people disagreed about who he was and what he taught and whether he resurrected. That’s the crux of the matter.

What do you want to believe about Jesus?

This is where each person’s cognitive biases kick in, whether their belief is heavily biased on personal experience, peer pressure, family loyalty, or whatever. Confirmation bias takes the data and evidence that all of us have, and makes a case to support what we want to believe.

Skeptics love to doubt and they’re more comfortable with uncertainty. Believers love to believe some of them can’t live with uncertainty. Some comes to believe after a diligent search for truth; some come to lose their faith after a diligent search.

It’s been my experience and observation that more people than not, don’t make the vigorous effort to ground their spirituality with intellectual considerations.

I do profess a faith and have beliefs that mostly fit within what is traditionally known as evangelical Christianity, in the theological sense, not the political sense. What I believe to be more important, and on this I agree with Rhett & Link, is how someone lives their life today is more important than what one might believe about the after life.