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Is Christianity the Best Deal in the Universe?

So says Ann Coulter, paraphrasing an accusation made against Brit Hume when he suggested that Tiger Woods should become a Christian:

With Christianity, your sins are forgiven, the slate is wiped clean and your eternal life is guaranteed through nothing you did yourself, even though you don’t deserve it. It’s the best deal in the universe.

Now in fairness I must point out that this is the final paragraph of a substantial post and that two paragraphs earlier Coulter points out that Christianity is also the hardest religion in the world.

But before I try to answer the question I asked in the title, let me point out that I have no problem with Brit Hume in his opinion show. By being a Christian myself, I make the obvious statement that in some way I prefer that religion over others. When I give specific testimony of what Christianity has done in my own life, I can certainly be heard as saying that other religions might not have done the same thing.

I think it’s silly that we expect people not to express their opinions about religion in a political show on television. We allow opinions, some of them offensive, about almost anything else. I would point out to my fellow believers, however, that when we allow opinions about religion, that must include the opponents of religion. I regularly encounter Christians who are incensed that someone would say nasty things about their faith in the media. Blasphemy laws are becoming popular in some quarters.

But just as I find it quite acceptable for Brit Hume to suggest that Tiger Woods change his religion (though as a Christian I don’t find it all that profitable), I also find it acceptable for atheists to suggest that my faith is silly or counterproductive. That doesn’t mean I agree with them in any way. I just believe it is right and proper that their viewpoint should be expressed.

Having said all of that off topic, the problem I have here is with the reference to Christianity as a “deal.” I find Ann Coulter’s style pretty much useless. She’s trying to make this interesting and humorous, or at least that’s what I guess, but she fails miserably. All she does is make it seem wrong.

Christianity is not a deal in which one utters some words and gets off for all that one has done. That’s an excessively simplistic reading of the situation. Following Jesus is a surrender of oneself, after which one may find oneself nonetheless facing the consequences of those actions. Of course, I hear risk conflating eternal salvation and forgiveness by God with one’s current life. But I think if one reads more than the few verses that Coulter has quoted, there is a good deal in Christian theology that conflates those ideas.

One doesn’t accept Christ and get off free or even easy. One accepts Christ and has one’s life taken over. One invites redemption, change, recreation. Everything is new.

Now if I didn’t so dislike the word “deal,” I might describe this as a good deal. But I think it is no more a “deal” that it is my thirst being quenched when I drink water a “deal” with the universe. It’s a gift, not a deal. Where we get off course is when we think the gift, which Coulter describes as a deal in her final paragraph, ever comes without the hard part, which she describes two paragraphs before.

I’m not going to compare Christianity to Buddhism or any other faith. I have never found much value in comparison and contrast, especially by someone like me, who has practiced one but not the other. What I will say is that what Christianity demands of me is redemption, and it would demand the same of Tiger Woods.

Having God’s forgiveness in the midst of all that is life-changing, indeed critical, in my view. But it still leaves the hard work of my forgiveness of myself, my gaining forgiveness from others, reconciliation, and recreation.

It’s not a deal. Its’ a gift. And inside the gift package is some very hard work.

PS: I find the title of her post–“If you can find a better deal, take it”–even less compatible with Christianity.

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  1. A great deal about Ms. Coulter often seems incompatible with Christianity. I never know how to react to things like this. Is it “be glad because the gospel is proclaimed” no matter how it is proclaimed? Or is it beware of false teachings?

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