Because of the nature of my story—raised Christian, wandered from the church, and then found my way back—I am always fascinated by the journeys of others; whether they are to Christ or from him. So naturally when I heard about the Ear Biscuits Podcast with Rhett and Link I was eager to hear their story.
But I need to be honest here. My initial thought was that I would listen to these podcasts take copious notes of each and every objection or argument, and then skillfully refute each one. I was kind of wanting to be that guy. However, I resisted the urge to pass judgement before I fully digested what these two social media icons had to say and the impact it would make among their many fans from every religious ideology.
So after 6 hours in the car, and more than four hours of listening, listening again, I wrote down some thoughts, but not the way I had originally intended. I also imagine I’ll do multiple posts on the subject, because there is just far too much to unpack in one post.
First things first
What I want to do—after having listened—is to take a step back and talk about what I think we as devout believers, disciple-makers, apologists, pastors, parents, etc. ought to learn from their journey. I also don’t want to be dismissive. Instead, take their comments as they presented them—as a genuine experience and pursuit of truth. But to be clear, I believe their conclusions miss the mark. Nonetheless, the conversation they started is an important one. It’s a conversation the church cannot afford to ignore and a conversation families cannot pretend doesn’t exist.
My Initial Take-a-ways. Here they are in short form.
The importance of pursuing truth
The importance of intellectual discussion
The importance of doubt
The importance of family in the discipleship process
There is just too much to think about to confine all my thoughts into one post. So I am going to break this into a post for each take-a-way. Because I think all of these are worth considering, thinking over, digesting, and seeking a real change in posture, rather than just consuming more content for the sake of interest.
So here we go: Pursing Truth
A central claim of Christianity is that it possesses absolute truth. After all Jesus is the Truth. So anytime a person denies Jesus they are in fact denying truth. Seems simple enough. We might then conclude that Rhett and Link’s deconstruction of their faith is nothing more than exchanging truth for a lie. On the surface, that is absolutely correct. But it is still a pursuit of truth. It’s something we all want. We want to know what is true. But like any gift, the gift of holding the truth—is that it’s easy to take it for granted. And it’s easy to misunderstand why another can’t see it.
The one thing I kept hearing in both conversations was this notion that truth in the church was something assumed rather than taught. If Christianity is Truth, then we ought not fear the pursuit of it. Instead it’s a pursuit that we should embrace and celebrate; because in the end, it will lead us to Jesus—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I could hear their angst, their desire to know, and in some ways their hope that the conclusions they were drawing were actually wrong. While I might argue that their selected evidence and subsequent conclusions are a little short sighted and reveal a certain level of unwillingness to faithfully follow the evidence where it leads, I sincerely appreciate their desire to find what is true.
This conversation of truth is not only critical, its also tricky. What Rhett and Link seemed to do—at least to me—was to deny the existence of absolute truth in Jesus for the uncertainty of truth as the most virtuous display of humanity. Because our world has so many different cultures, contexts, and religions, truth is just a social construct created differently by each culture, therefore explaining reality very differently, and there- fore allowing for multiple versions of truth. In other words, truth is something that ought to exist internally for each person, rather than a universal standard that stands independent of opinions and emotions.
In both podcasts, Rhett and Link asserted that there just wasn’t enough evidence pointing to Christianity as a true and coherent worldview. Because they couldn’t know with any degree of certainty, it must not be true. Yet continued to establish a new worldview based on the same moral tenants as well as an almost zen like comfort of embracing uncertainty. This is what happens when we try to create truth internally.
This is why truth is so critical in the lives of our youth. Don’t take what God has revealed in Scripture and through Jesus for granted. But teach the truth of the gospel as the best explanation for how we understand the real world, completely independent of us. It was never meant to be easy or convenient, just true.
Here is how I said it in my last book, The Truth Is...
The Christian worldview suggests that through the Divine revelation of God in Jesus Christ, we have come to a knowledge of the truth. In other words, because of God, we can know. We can know the origin of the universe, the purpose of humanity, and the reasons for pain in our world and the solution. Christians call this truth. This truth is based on an objective standard known as God—a truth revealed by faith and strengthened by reason. We know Christianity to be true primarily by the self-authenticating witness of God’s Spirit. We show Christianity is true by presenting good arguments for its central claims. Therefore to be effective in doing apologetics, we must present rational and persuasive arguments for the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God.Steven Kozak, The Truth Is, p102