Has anyone ever told you that your faith is a “crutch?” Perhaps they’ve said that belief in God is a crutch for weak people who don’t have the strength to take responsibility for their own lives.
This idea that Christian faith is a psychological crutch for needy people is a popular one.
These skeptics say that God is merely a psychological projection: he doesn’t actually exist in any factual sense, but exists only in the minds of his followers, who have created God out of their own need – a need for a father figure or a need to give significance to their existence.
The most famous proponent of this view was Sigmund Freud who theorized that your view of God springs from your view of your father.
Is Christianity true or is it just a fanciful myth or mental projection? Does Christianity stand up to scrutiny or are we all simply implicit in a universal God delusion? How do we know that certain hard doctrines, like the doctrine that Jesus is going to return to judge the world, are true?
Fake news websites deliberately publish hoaxes and propaganda, using social media. Fake news websites seek to mislead readers for financial or other gain. Is the truth about Jesus fake news that Christians believe to make them feel better?
The Apostle Peter in his second letter in the New Testament said: “definitely not!” He wrote that the truth about Jesus is reliable and genuine (2 Peter 1:16-12) and sufficient for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
Why did Peter feel it necessary to say this?
There were false teachers, as there always are, who distorted the truth about Jesus and denied some key Christian teachings, especially the truth that Jesus is going to return to judge the world. They said that the truth about Jesus and the judgement to come was a cleverly invented myth.
Peter assured Christians of the reliability and genuineness of the truth about Jesus in 2 ways.
1. The witness of the Apostles in the New Testament
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18)
Christianity is not legend or a myth; the Apostle Peter heard and interacted with Jesus. He was an authentic eyewitness, particularly of Jesus’ transfiguration (cf. Matthew 17:1-8). The truth about Jesus is reliable, accurate and true. In fact, the entire New Testament was written by eyewitnesses and those who spoke to eyewitnesses.
The truth about Jesus, is not a myth, story or a psychological projection; rather it comes from reliable witnesses – who wrote down what they saw and heard.
One sceptic of Christianity recently wrote:
A myth can as likely be true as be false. It doesn’t really matter if it’s not true. The power of myth transcends its factual status.
For example, what is Christmas about? Straightforwardly, it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The significance of the myth is obvious: it recounts the birth of the Saviour of humanity.
But we know Christmas is a made-up story. Humans are not born of virgins. Miracles, such as Jesus’ spontaneously curing the blind, do not occur. Death is final. Above all, Jesus was not the son of God, for there are no gods.
The birth of Jesus is a picture of the birth, or rebirth, of the world itself.
Peter would have said, “No, that’s mistaken. I saw Jesus and I heard God the Father validate Jesus as the Son of God.”
2. The Witness of the Prophets in the Old Testament
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:19-21)
In v19 Peter wrote that Christians have the “prophetic word” and it’s now “more fully confirmed”. The “prophetic word” or the “word of the prophets” is a reference to the Old Testament. Peter referred to the prophetic word as “Scripture” in v20.
Remember that Christians at the time did not have the New Testament. The books and letters that make up the New Testament were busy being written. The point is that since the coming of Jesus, which the Old Testament promised, the Old Testament is now “more fully confirmed”.
Why is the Old Testament so reliable?
The authors of the Old Testament books did not make up stories or myths or offer their own opinions. They (v21) spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
“They were carried along” implies that the inspiration of Scripture was invisibly directed by the Holy Spirit, though without overriding the personalities of the human authors. Thus, Scripture is fully the Word of God, even though it is recorded in the words of human beings.
How do we know that the truth about Jesus is genuine and reliable – not myth, fake news or a psychological projection? We have the witness of the prophets in the Old Testament pointing us to Jesus and the witness of the Apostles in the New Testament.
It does matter
Just Jinger, the South African band, had a big hit with the song, “What he means”. The lyrics go like this:
Peace, love, more tolerance
faith, hope trust in the same god in whose
name we die for, take an innocent life for
that’s not what he means
and it doesn’t matter what book you read.
I agree that we should never take an innocent life, especially not in the name of God who created life. However, I would suggest that it matters enormously what book you read.
The Bible is not like other religious books; it’s God’s message to us. The Bible is a collection of 66 books, all focusing on Jesus. 39 books in the Old Testament preparing us for Jesus and 27 books in New Testament telling us of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus; and how we should live in the light of these realities.
The Bible was written in 3 languages by over 40 human authors during a span of 1500 years with one consistent, unified message centering on Jesus, God’s King – who will return to judge.
Sigmund Freud had massive issues; but his main problem was that he rejected God’s King and God’s book.
Whatever your understanding or view of Christianity is, I challenge you to read through the New Testament in 2017, one chapter at a time, and ask God to give you understanding of His book, so that you may know His King better.