I often ask people of other faiths, “What would be a problem for your belief system?” It is a question that gets to the heart of the matter quickly. For many people, there is nothing that could assail their faith; for many more, they have not even thought of their faith in that way. I ask this question because many will try to assail my faith when nothing would change their minds’ about their own. This seems a bit disingenuous to me.
I once had a friend recommend the movie The Body, with Antonio Banderas. In the movie, a tomb (with a body) in Israel is found that is possibly the burial place of Jesus of Nazareth. The Roman Catholic church dispatches a priest (Banderas) to ascertain if indeed the tomb is that of Jesus. A struggle ensues between Palestinians and the Israeli government to try gain the Vatican’s support; each side wants to use the dead body of Jesus as tool to black mail the largest religious body in the world in order to gain a political advantage.
The film hits on an important point. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then all stripes of Christianity are meaningless. It doesn’t matter if the religion works for you or not, it doesn’t matter if you want it to be true, the whole thing is a fraud.
The “what would be a problem” question is an epistemological one. It shows how an individual gains and uses the knowledge he/she has. I have found that with all religious groups, and especially Mormons, it is important to nail them down to something. I must confess I am frustrated at the lengths to which I see Mormons go in order to bail out their church. It seems as though nothing – not the Book of Abraham, Adam-God, polygamy, historical problems, doctrinal inconsistencies, etc. would be a problem for Mormons. I have seen the arguments presented to defend Mormonism and if they were applied consistently – no prophet, book, or religion could be demonstrated to be untrue.
Faith must me anchored in reality or else it is not true. Merely using the word “religion” does not mean one should use an entirely different lens for understanding truth. If historical sources can demonstrate that the Jewish holocaust did indeed take place then they can demonstrate that Jesus of Nazareth claimed deity (contra the claim of Islam).
So what would be a problem for me as a Protestant? If someone could show me from the Bible and church history/tradition, that Jesus did set up a church who’s authority solely rested in its institutional structure and that God granted absolution solely through the hierarchy of this structure, then that would be a problem. Indeed, any “priesthood” in the primitive, Christian church would be a problem.
Having a faith grounded in truth means that one is open to the possibility that his/her faith is untrue. The object of our faith matters as much as the faith itself. Wanting something to be true does not make it so. A faith without truth is not true faith. What would be a problem for your faith?