It’s Tuesday! Time to discuss Evolving in Monkey Town. Today’s excerpt comes from Chapter 7, “When Believers Ask”:
When I was a little girl, if someone asked me why I was a Christian, I said it was because Jesus lived in my heart. In high school, I said it was because I accepted the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross for my sins. My sophomore year of college, during a short-lived Reformed phase, I said it was because of the irresistible grace of God. But after watching Zarmina’s execution on TV, I decided that the most truthful answer to that question was this: I was a Christian because I was born in the United States of America in the year 1981 to Peter and Robin Held. Arminians call it free will; Calvinists call it predestination. I call it “the cosmic lottery.”
It doesn’t take an expert in anthropology to figure out that the most important factor in determining the nature of one’s existence, including one’s religion, is the place and time in which one is born, a factor completely out of one’s control. I happened to be born in the United States of America in the twentieth century to Christian parents whose religion I embraced. Had I lived in this very spot in the Appalachian mountains just two thousand years earlier, I know for a fact I would not have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, mainly because I would have never heard of the guy. Or let’s say I got the century right but the location wrong. There’s little doubt in my mind that if I had grown up in a modern Muslim household in say, Afghanistan or Turkey, I would have faithfully honored the teachings of my parents and followed Islam like everyone else. We don’t choose our worldviews; they are chosen for us.
This part of the book was largely inspired by Adah Price, a character in Barbara Kingsolver's excellent novel, The Poisonwood Bible. Adah puts it this way:
According to my Baptist Sunday-school teacher, a child is denied entrance to heaven merely for being born in the Congo rather than, say, north Georgia, where she could attend church regularly. This was the sticking point in my own little lame march to salvation: admission to heaven is gained by luck of the draw.
At age five I raised my good left hand in Sunday school and used a month’s ration of words to point out this problem to Miss Betty Nagy. Getting born within earshot of a preacher, I reasoned, is entirely up to chance. Would Our Lord be such a hit-or-miss kind of Savior as that? Would he really condemn some children to eternal suffering just for the accident of a heathen birth?…Miss Betty sent me to the corner for the rest of the hour to pray for my own soul while kneeling on grains of uncooked rice. When I finally got up with sharp grains imbedded in my knees I found, to my surprise, that I no longer believed in God.
So how would you respond if someone asked why you are a Christian?
Can you relate to these concerns about the “cosmic lottery”? Is one's faith determined by luck of the draw?
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