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Clueless Craig

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. Matthew 13:19

What's Craig's problem? What's going wrong here?

There is a credibility gap that prevents Craig from ever coming to terms with the gospel. The precise excuse or reason varies from person to person: it is what Tim Keller would call a "defeater belief."

Craig may have an intellectual understanding of the gospel. He may know his bible inside out. He may be a fool who embraces his ignorance. He may be sympathetic towards "faith" or strongly antagonistic. But whatever else is going on, he has a barrier to belief that prevents any sort of progress.

Such beliefs abound in modern society - "religion is the enemy of progress", "religion is the enemy of reason," "religion is the source of human conflict," "religion is irrelevant," "religion is repressive," "it doesn't matter what you believe," "religion is a crutch." Often mingling truth with untruth, they are dangerous and seductive lies.

For Craig to understand the gospel the barrier must be shown to be untrue. This is not a merely intellectual exercise: the issue is spiritual. The source of lies is the devil himself (Jn 8:44); any response that does not involve prayer and reliance on the spirit of God, the spirit of truth, is doomed. We need to pray for revelation; for Craig's eyes to be opened to the truth.


The pharisees - "blind guides" - were blinded by tradition and a false understanding of what pleases God.

Herod was a hedonist. He listened to the preaching of John the Baptist and was impressed by it, but was unable to turn his back on his immoral lifestyle. He believed that his route to happiness was compromised by the gospel.

To ponder

  • Do I assume that I will never be Craig? Or do I earnestly pray that God will confront the lies that I believe and live by and replace them with truth? Do I ask people to pray that for me?
  • Do I give up to easily when someone simply can't or won't see the relevance of the gospel? Or do I recognise this as a symptom of the devil's activity and respond appropriately?

Convinced or committed?

Newbigin's characterisation of the fundamental difference between "fundamentalist" and "liberal" conceptions of spiritual truth and certainty set me thinking. (Essentially that liberals tend to be mired in subjectivism and the personal impact of belief and overlook the 'out there' reality that belief corresponds to, while fundamentalists tend focus almost exclusively on the 'out there' reality, with less thought of 'owning' the truth).

One result seems to be that the children of fundamentalists grow up more convinced of the truth of the gospel than committed to it. Unfortunately truth that was known but not loved was the basis for the most obnoxious manifestation of religious barbarism the world ever saw: it was the position of the pharisees who colluded to crucify Jesus.

What's the difference? Being convinced in your mind doesn't impact the heart or behaviour. Everyone knows, intellectually speaking, they're going to die - but almost everyone lives as though they're immortal.

Or to illustrate it another way, in Prison Break Season 1, both Michael Scofield and Paul Kellerman were certain of Lincoln Burrows' innocence. But Scofield was also committed.

In a world that has rejected truth, only those who love truth will have the courage and drive needed to speak it graciously or live it hopefully.