The “Ugly Sweater” of Faith

on September 14, 2020
Featured in Calvin Smith

Why are you wearing that old thing?

I would guess that many a married man has heard a similar query coming from their wife at some point in their marriage. A typical response might be “Because it’s my favorite sweater!” “It’s comfortable.” “It looks great!”

But her raised eyebrow followed by a slow eye roll likely caused you to take a quick stroll to the mirror, where perhaps the self-justification continued. “Well what’s wrong with it? I mean, it’s a little old but there’s still a lot of life left in it, don’t you think?” Her shoulder shrug and pursed lips as she walked away seemed like her way of signaling that she disagreed, but was content to leave you in your delusion if it made you happy.

And after she left, and upon closer scrutiny, you just might have to admit there are some real problems here. The color is faded, it’s saggy and doesn’t flow right. The elbows are worn through, matching the couple of moth holes eating through the back, while several picks have caused some loosening in several places. And as you try to make a sharp tug on the hem to snap off a loose thread, you trigger the release of entire rows of stitching, that continues to pile up as you pull even more. And eventually, you watch it all . . . slowly . . . unravel . . . 

Fading Faith

In the same way, many Christians in the West are watching the unravelling of their faith played out before their eyes. They can still see some of the familiar images and influence of the Christian era their culture once embraced interwoven into the fabric of society, but it no longer seems bright, tight, and cohesive. More and more it looks like a patchwork Frankenstein, stitched together with foreign, unmatched, and gaudy material that was never meant to come together.

According to all major studies, the majority (70%) of young people born in Christian homes think Christianity just isn’t the “right fit” for those brought up in this modern, naturalistic mindset, and they abandon the faith of their parents. And for those outside the church and who perhaps never saw it in its “heyday,” many have a hard time figuring out why anyone would ever have bought it in the first place!

Over the last couple of generations, Christianity has become more and more uncomfortable for those who wear it in the West. Because the church did not pay close attention to the stress the culture placed on it at a foundational level (specifically in its attack on the creation account in Genesis as not being real history), the entire worldview is being pulled apart at the seams. And because all Christian doctrines (directly or indirectly) are found in Genesis 1–11, those in the church who do not stand on that foundation are being “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14 ESV). The Christian faith has become like an “ugly sweater” that believers know and love and are comfortable in, but to those looking at it from the outside, it looks worn and outdated, a hand-me-down from a bygone era.

A Tapestry in Time

To those not understanding how the foundations of the faith were washed away, consider the following. The cross of Christ does not stand alone in history: it is embedded in time at a fixed point that extends backwards to the beginning of creation where God announced its completion as all “very good” and forward in time to where we are today, awaiting the restoration of all things to be made very good once again. And in between creation and the cross was the most devastating event that has ever occurred on this planet—the fall of man.

The Fall

Adam’s rebellion against God caused the just condemnation of the entire creation Adam had been given dominion over, which resulted in the need for the “last Adam,” Jesus Christ, to willingly die on a cross to pay the penalty for sin and allow for new life in Christ to be possible.

The “wages of sin” that Christ paid for was death, both spiritual and physical. Those in Christ are saved from spiritual death and await their adoption as sons and daughters in a new incorruptible form in the new heavens and new earth, where their bodies will no longer be susceptible to physical death.

The Weak Point

However, when the church compromised on topics relating to the age of the earth in the early 1800s (and accepted the naturalistic interpretations of the earth supposedly being millions of years old vs. the biblical calculation of approximately 6,000 years old), it cut the thread of Scripture that extended from the fall back to creation. By attempting to insert a patch of “deep time” onto the six days of creation, it inserted an undefined period when the deposition of fossil-bearing rock layers supposedly accumulated, which secularists declare are the scientific proof of long ages.

Instead of taking the time to stitch this together once again by rejecting what the world was offering as an authority over God’s Word, the church largely ignored the problem as a mild blemish, hardly worth addressing. But the problem is that all of God’s Word is interconnected, interwoven, and dependent upon itself to make cohesive sense.

For example, if the fossil record, with all of its recorded death and suffering, occurred millions of years prior to Adam sinning, then God must have used death to create! Therefore, it couldn’t have been Adam’s sin that allowed death and suffering into the creation. What then was Jesus to save us from? How could a Christian answer why there was so much pain and suffering in the world if God was good and yet used diseases like cancer to “create”? If the restoration was supposed to be like it was in the beginning, and the beginning contained death and suffering, how will the restoration be any different than it is today? How could you determine which parts of the Bible are true?

A New Look for Today

Many Christians need to do an extreme makeover in the way they approach their beliefs about God’s Word. Creation isn’t simply an accessory to the gospel. The doctrines of creation, the fall, and redemption stand in an absolute historical continuum that fall apart when we play games with Genesis.

Ask yourself, are you tired of being perceived as outdated and irrelevant or largely ignored? Do you have trouble answering these “fashionable” questions and objections of the day against the authority of God’s Word: What about dinosaurs? Noah’s Ark/flood are impossible! How do you explain carbon dating? What about the fossils? Can you explain ape-men skulls? What about the races of people?

This Is Not a Side Issue

For many believers, these nitpicky questions are just side issues, like minor imperfections in their favorite cardigan. But for a thinking person evaluating the truth of Scripture, a lack of good answers in these scientific areas could be like a bad first impression. Would we think Bible heroes like Moses, Paul, Augustine, Calvin, Aquinas, and great Christian scientists like Pascal, Copernicus, Galileo, or even Bible skeptics like Darwin, Marx, or Freud considered the question of origins a “side issue”? Does Jesus?!

Believers need to get out of their comfort zone and learn how to better share their faith and give a defense for what the Bible teaches,* or their worldview will continue to be perceived as tired and outdated by the culture that has seen Christians compromise for decades now. Remember, regardless of what your favorite speaker, Pastor, or Bible professor might espouse, the Bible isn’t a patchwork of half-truths cobbled together from primitive cultures that didn’t understand “science.” It is the revealed Word of the master designer, Jesus Christ, and you can trust it from the very first verse!

*For those wanting to learn how to utilize the fantastic apologetics (faith defending) resources in conjunction with some dynamic evangelism training, consider taking advantage of our brand-new Gospel Reset Evangelism Curriculum that will equip you to normalize sharing the gospel with family and friends!

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