Friday, October 7, 2011

The Movie "Courageous" and Religion

The movie "Courageous" just came out last Friday.  I had heard much about it through previews and interviews online and on some TV shows.  I even got some mail with some information about it, as I am a local pastor.  Last Sunday, a man in my church shared with me that he had seen it and encouraged me to watch it as well.  My mom and sister in Oklahoma went to see it and had great reports too.  I was going to see the movie anyway, so last night (Thursday) I took Sondra to the movie theater to see this new film.

The acting and the film-making aspects are quite good.  It was not top notch as Hollywood's blockbuster hits are concerned, but this movie was done extremely well.  In the past, Christian-based movied were terrible in the areas of acting and film sequence and dialogue.  This had a good script, and the movie was very entertaining as well as sobering in its content.  I won't tell the story, but the film dealt with issues of life and death, God's sovereignty, ethics and integrity, and (most importantly) the issue of faith.  It had you laughing at life, crying in the emotional scenes and then thoughtful in the challenge to a deeper faith.

After watching the movie, I was reminded of the "faith" issue as I read a friend's blog about Pascal's Wager.  This friend does not hold to the Christian faith, and rejects the the notion that we can have "evidence" to prove our religious beliefs.  The blog set my mind in motion about theology and logic and rational thinking.  In the theology of Pascal's Wager, there is a logic that Blaise Pascal wrote about in his famous book Pensees.  Pascal was a French philosopher and mathematician in the 1600s who formulated the suggestion that everyone should live as though they had faith, which would dismiss any irrational passions and would therefore lead them to genuine faith.  He specifically was talking about a faith in Jesus Christ.

Here is the logic:

1.  Either God is, or He is not.
2.  We are living life.  Because life is like a game, we can know that either heads or tails will turn up.
3.  According to rational reasoning and intellect, neither of these propositions can be defended.
4.  You have to make a choice, a wager, on what you will follow.  There are no other options than these two.
5.  The result of the wager (betting on your eternity) is to find that by gain (trusting there is a God), you gain all.  If you lose (because there is a God that you have not followed), you lose all.
6.  Therefore, you must wager without hesitation that God is.  If there is a God, you win.  You gain an eternity of joy.  If you lose (in the sense that there is no God), you have lost nothing because you have had the benefit of living with joyful purpose.

Trusting God, you cannot lose.  Even thinking in the rational mode, this makes sense.

If you wager on God's existence, and He win.
If you wager on God's existence, and He is do not lose.
     This is a win-win.  You cannot lose.

If you wager there is no God, and He lose.
If you wager there is no God, and He is do not lose. 
     This is a 50-50 chance of losing, by betting against God.  Is one willing to bet an eternity on this choice?

In my friend's blog, he quoted a former missionary who has turned from faith in God.  This former missionary looks at Pascal with disdain, saying that Christians need irrefutable evidence to follow the teachings of the faith.  The logic of this non-believer concludes that the ideas of heaven and hell are mere mechanisms to keep believers enslaved to the religious system.  How odd.  The atheist position keeps one enslaved to a life that is meaningless for eternity.  I am not willing to make that wager against my God who has given me irrefutable evidence of His love and grace.

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