Placebo Effect

I heard a great sermon by Tim Keller this past weekend as I was driving to Lake Texoma to do some fishing with a few buddies. The message was titled "Who is this Jesus?" and was originally preached on May 1, 1994. 

One of the things Keller addressed that I think is important has to do with the way we prove the validity of Jesus. He says that our defense validity of the Christian faith must demonstrate that it is both "intellectually credible and existentially satisfying." That is, it has to be True and it has to be relevant.

Modern society has a tendency to look at the second half - the relevant piece - before we examine the rational piece. For many of us, the sole proof we offer that Jesus is real comes from our experience: "Jesus changed my life." Pastors work hard to make sure their churches are full of people who live visibly different lives because "the most powerful evidence of the proof of Christianity is men and women whose lives are changed by the Gospel." I've preached that. 

Here's the problem: The Placebo Effect. 

If I'm dying of a terrible disease and take some "medicine" that I sincerely believe will make me better, some of my symptoms will go away. I will feel better, even if the "medicine" I take is not medicine designed to treat my disease at all. I change externally, leading others (and myself) to believe I am better even though the medicine has had no lasting effect at all. 

Every religion - even the most bizarre religion you can dream up - has adherents who can say "My life has meaning, I have true joy and peace that I never experienced before. It works for me." 

The thing that sets Christianity apart is not just that it works, it is that Christianity is True. It is intellectually credible and it changes lives because it is True. We have to point to both. 


Mark Hancock said...

I like this. Valid and reliable.

Grace and Peace,


Jason said...

Good stuff. I can't wait to see/hear Tim at this year's Leadership Summit!

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine put me onto Tim Keller this weekend, and I listened to this sermon. Really beautiful. Love it. Our Lord is real. He walked the earth. He both was and is, and warms my heart. Amazing stuff.