Many a parent cringes when their son or daughter goes off to college, knowing that their faith may be ridiculed and even reviled by an increasingly militant atheism. It seems like militancy is on the march, not just among “militant Muslim terrorists” and “Russian imperialists” but “militant culturalists” intolerant of any Christians who do not endorse their non-beliefs and unbiblical behaviors.
Today’s atheists/agnostics are marching along a path well trodden by Karl Marx, the patron “saint” of atheistic/humanistic communism who described religion as the opium of the people, Friedrich Nietsche who proclaimed “God is dead” and inspired people like Adolph Hitler to free themselves from Judeo-Christian moral restraints, Sigmund Freud who argued that belief in God is a neurosis/fantasy, and agnostic Clarence Darrow who cross-examined an aged William Jennings Bryan as he made fun of his “Olde Time Religion” during the infamous monkey, or Scopes, trial.
Today’s militant opponents of religious faith all are writing and speaking overtime to advance their “faith” in a Dead-End Life. How do we respond fervently and effectively to their arguments for the sake not only of our students studying amidst an often moral wasteland with a pervasive prejudice against Biblical Christianity but also on behalf of believers who stands in a funeral home or cemetery with a doubt or two about the reality of life after death?
My congregation and I spent a few Wednesday evenings “exploring” Eight Reasons to Believe in Life After Death. In trying to be comprehensive, we examined those reasons that are powerful and persuasive as well as those that were more questionable and debatable. Each and every reason to believe is always subject to a person’s “willingness” to believe.
The first reason is a “yearning for life after death.” Joseph Addison expressed it well in these words:
“It must be so – Plato, thou reason’st well –
“Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
“This longing after immortality?”
Victor Hugo, who authored Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, envisioned “Immortal Symphonies”:
“Winter is on my head (I can relate to this) but eternal spring is in my heart. The nearer I approach the end, the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the world to come. For half a century I have been writing my thoughts in prose and verse; but I feel that I have not said one-thousandth part of what is in me.
“When I have gone down to the grave I shall have ended my day’s work; but another day will begin the next morning. Life closes in the twilight but opens with the dawn.
“Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft reminds us how we have a “homing instinct” or “home detector” which “doesn’t ring for earth.” He explains,
“[T]hat’s why nearly every society in history except our own instinctively believes in life after death … Earth just doesn’t smell like home. However good a road it is, however good a motel it is, however good a training camp it is, it is not home. Heaven is … We fit there, we are fully human there.”
Having carried an alien card during my first years in America, I know what it is to feel a little “out of place.” We all feel a little like aliens on earth because no matter how much we achieve or acquire, no matter how much we do or how far we go, we will never find true fulfillment “within” this life. We can’t and won’t get even partial satisfaction unless we become a “supernaturalized” citizen of a different world, receiving a passport from Christ to that which we instinctively yearn for!
I love how Peter Kreeft pointed to what stumped Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychoanalysis. Freud was confounded by his dissatisfaction with life. He asked: “Why aren’t we happy?” And then replied: “I don’t know.”
The answer is found in his own Jewish Scriptures, which he had rejected, Ecclesiastes 3:11: “God has … set eternity in the hearts of men.” He has!