“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13)
Question: How to know the salt of a religion has lost its savor?
Answer: Religiously themed amusement parks that seem to be more about preserving pet dogmas (or boosting the ego of a charismatic personality who built them) than the actual Gospel preached by Jesus and lived out by the early church.
Encounters of the wrong kind send the wrong message.
An article on televangelist Jim Bakker’s abandoned ‘Christian’ amusement park prompted my reflection above. However, my mind soon went to another attraction now available to consumer Christianity, that being Ken Ham’s latest creation enterprise in Kentucky, the Ark Encounter.
Anyhow, other than the name reminding me of the Turkey Hill Experience (an actual attraction located in Columbia, PA) I’ve encountered some other thoughts about the 100 million dollar project: I’m not sure this edifice Ham boasts may be “one of the greatest Christian evangelistic outreaches of our day” will live up to the hype.
This tourist trap of mammoth proportions might end up more like Bakker’s now derelict ‘evangelical’ pleasure mecca. It actually seems more like a dead end of fundamentalist dogma than it does a truly faithful living witness of Christian love.
And, at 40 dollars a pop to enter, it is evident that our modern expressions of grace are not cheap—we might have already encountered a bit of a messaging problem.
Finding answers in Jesus, not Genesis.
Yes, the Ark Encounter and other expressions of faith, like charitable giving, are not necessarily mutually exclusive. But I see only one of the two endorsed by Jesus as an outreach and it is not the Genesis themed recreational Biblical tourism kingdom of Ham.
Perhaps, instead of creating hundred million dollar gimmicks, that may be as likely to win as many converts outside of blood relatives as Noah’s original did, we should be focusing our kingdom building efforts elsewhere? Could we do more to provide substantive help to those around us in need?
The problem with the modern ‘scientific’ attempts to bolster Biblical claims is that they often aren’t all that scientific nor do they well reflect the faith of Scriptural example. The Gospel of Jesus never needed to evolve or be adapted for our time. No, our time needs to adapted to actual life of spiritual reality that was once found in the early church:
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” (Acts 4:32-35)
The truth of our faith is the truth that we live. That is our strongest argument and apologetic. Jesus never said we should try to prove the historical accuracy of Biblical narratives as a means to covert others to faith or convince ourselves. Jesus said to live we he taught and then the Spirit would reveal itself in and through us.
There is no need of an edifice built of wood as an evangelical tool to share true faith. What there is need of is a body of believers who acts in unison as the hands and feet of Jesus. A church that literally feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, shelters the homeless, meets the practical needs of their own communities and leads in genuine love:
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. […] The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:15-21)
The truth of our love for God (expressed in our obedience to love other people as Christ commanded) will reveal the truth of God to us and the world. It is really that simple.
Either Jesus is the answer or He is not.
I recall my own hope based in apologetics and my taught mistrust of mainstream science. I remember my own hopeful glances over at the secular neighbors, who attended an Evolution versus Creationism debate with my family, and at the time not realizing then that my own confirmation bias shaded glasses were as blinding as theirs.
It was a well-meaning yet misguided effort. My trying to prove Christianity through study of history and using theories (often more flimsy and unscientific than the ones they mocked) only left me thirsty for truth. My religious indoctrination actually caused me to doubt. The deeper I got into the available evidence the less I believed anything.
It was only through an encounter with Jesus that I realized the error in my ways. It was when I stopped resting in my own knowledge and started to live more obediently to the simple unadulterated teachings of Jesus. It has been a transformative spiritual experience that cannot be duplicated through intellectual, artificial or forced means.
If you want to encourage faith be faithful.
Save what you would spend on Ark Encounter, find someone in your own community with a need (perhaps a single mother or elderly person) and fill it—that will do more for the faith of your family than feeding Ham’s Answers in Genesis empire.
If you wish to encourage your children in faith, show them how to be salt and meet the needs of their neighbors in Christian love. That is the obedience to the law of Christ that will show them real truth and bolster your own faith.
If you have not encountered any real needs around you, then I pray you have an encounter with the Spirit of God and your eyes opened.
Don’t be yesterday’s news, be today’s salt.