Basic Christianity, Part Two: Introduction
Having settled the rules, let's move on to a discussion of why an understanding of Christianity is important. As I mentioned at the outset, I hope to answer the question "Why should I bother learning about Christianity?"
As a person working in the computer industry, I am often told about wonderful new pieces of hardware of software. A friend may have bought a new Palm Pilot and tries to convince me it is a tool I just should not be without. Or he may have discovered a new Web design program that he is excited about. The questions I will always ask is "what will it do for me and why would I want to spend my money on this?" Spending money without legitimate rationale is wasteful!
As I am not going to spend my money frivolously, so I expect you will not want to spend your time reading these articles and learning about Christianity without good reason. Therefore, I have laid out several reasons why I believe an understanding of Christianity is important. The first three are dependent on Christianity being correct in its teachings while the others are more general in nature.
If Christianity is correct, there are eternal consequences. As nearly everyone knows, Christianity, along with most other religions, teaches that there is more to life than this life. This life is really only a dress-rehearsal for the real show. Life is full of choices, decisions and possibilities. But eternity, which we will all face once this life is over, has only two possibilities - heaven or hell. If Christianity is true, your entrance into heaven or hell depends on this life.
Heaven is the fullness of God's presence. Everything humans were created to enjoy, love and care for will be in heaven. Heaven is a place of perfection where there will be no sadness, no mourning, no bloodshed and no fighting. There will be perfect communion between people and perfect communion between God and people.
Hell, on the other hand, is the absence of God's presence. Everything humans enjoy, love and care for in this world will be absent in heaven. God showers both Christians and those who are not Christians with blessings in this world, but in the next those who do not believe in Him will have to endure for eternity without His blessings.
Christianity claims to have the key to avoiding an eternity of separation from God. Put simply, if Christianity is true, your eternal destination depends on being a Christian.
A knowledge of Christianity is necessary to be a Christian. That statement is something of a truism. But if Christianity is correct and your eternal destination depends on being a Christian, you will first need to learn about it. You need to know about Christianity before you can commit to it.
Being A Christian can improve your life. If the teachings of Christianity are correct, it follows that being a Christian can improve your life. Since God created the world and created humans, He provides insight into how humans can best live while on earth.
Consider the following analogy. If I find an invention that I have never seen before and am unsure how it works, how would I best go about finding out what it does? First, I would ask the person who made it. He is the expert on the invention and is the most qualified person to tell me how best to use it. Second, I would look for a user's manual and study that. According to Christianity, God is our creator and the Bible is His manual. It follows that the best way to learn about ourselves and our purpose in life is to study what our "Inventor" has told us.
A knowledge of Christianity helps you understand the world. In the last two thousand years, wars have been fought by Christians and in the name of the Christian God. Wars have been fought against Christians in the names of other gods, and tragically, even in the name of the Christian God. Much of history can only be understood within the framework of some knowledge of Christianity. Much of the strife in the world today such as that in Ireland or in Serbia can only be understood within the context of Christianity. Further, most Western countries as well as countries founded by Western nations are founded on Christian principles. By understanding Christianity, you are taking a step towards a deeper understanding of our world.
A knowledge of Christianity helps you understand people. There are over a billion people in the world today who call themselves Christians. Some consider themselves Christians because of their nationality while others because of the family they were born into or a faith they acquired later in life. Understanding Christianity will help you understand people who consider themselves Christians and discern who fits the definition of Christian we are using in this study.
The Bible is a book of wisdom. Even those people who dislike Christianity have to admit that the Bible, which contains the teachings of Christianity, is a book of wisdom. Contained within the Bible are many principles that can provide help with life. It is wise to have an understanding of it.
Christianity helps us understand other religions. Many of the world's religions are based in Christian roots or are closely related to Christianity. For example, an understanding of the early days of Christianity teaches us much about the Jewish faith. Similarly, we can understand much about the roots of Islam when we understand the Bible.
These are but a few of the reasons to have an understanding of what Christianity is really about. I am certain that there are many other reasons. Perhaps a friend or a spouse has become a Christian and you are interested in understanding that person better. Perhaps that person has asked you to read this study. No matter your reasoning, I trust you will find this series enlightening.
In our next articles we will examine who God is and how He has revealed Himself to us.