Broken People, Broken World
A good friend of mine is the youth pastor at a church in Knoxville, Tennessee. The last time I talked to him I was giving him some flak, and he suggested that I watch some of his sermons. I watched the only sermon of his which appears to be available, and I have a conflict with his central theme. The sermon is about the bad news of Christianity. To quote him, “You are broken, and you live in a broken world.” To see this sermon for yourself, go to the video link below. I’d recommend skipping to 37:00 unless you need a cure for your insomnia.
Is this true? Are we broken people in a broken world? Broken means having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order. (Google) The Christian Bible teaches that God created a perfect world, but humans came along and screwed it up. But God is so loving that he sent his only son, who is also himself, to die temporarily so that we could get back on the straight and narrow and eventually get back to perfection.
Being broken and needing to be fixed is at the center of some of the strange things that Christians do, such as Ken Ham’s insistence on Creationism. Ken says that if the creation account is wrong, then there was never a fall, and so there is nothing to be redeemed and no reason for Jesus to have been on earth. Since he is convinced that Jesus came to redeem us all, then he has find a way to make that fall happen. From the need to show how we are broken flows his Creationism models of the universe.
The evidence, however, is that the world was never in a perfect state from which we fell due to the actions of humans. The world was not cursed and broken because of us, but rather we are a new addition to the world. The universe has been around for a long time. Even in our little corner, things have been proceeding just fine without us for a very long time. We are recent arrivals, apes whose brains have grown complicated enough that they have become self-aware. There was never a perfect world that was broken. Rather we are just the latest round in a continuing arms race for resources.
So I take issue with the idea that we are broken people in a broken world. There was no ideal world from which we are fallen. Instead we humans with our evolved brains can imagine an ideal world where we would like to be. Christianity has it backwards. They think of us as broken and needing someone to save us. Instead, it is up to us to decide where we want we want the world to be, and to take the actions needed to get us there.