I first wrote this as a comment to Ed Babinski in an exchange on Randal Rauser’s blog post The Joy of Hell. (I’ve corrected the typos here.) Ed thinks that the fact that Christians splinter and disagree is reason to discredit the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Once upon a time there taught at a university north of the United States a Professor Jason. This erudite man arose quietly, and received tenure at an early age. His students loved him. He was kind and gentle in approach, taking a personal interest in each student. His teaching, however, was hard. He was so smart, hardly anyone understood him – even those who sought to be his peers and vied for the devotion of his students. The students themselves found most of the things he said over their heads. Yet they loved coming to class and learning what they could. Some studied more than others. Even the ones who studied hard, however, would often misunderstand one of his statements, sending them off on as many tangents are there were students. Arguments would ensue about the prof’s meaning, yet they found no other professor to compare to him, and so they kept coming to sit at his feet.
Semester by semester, word about Professor Jason spread as more and more students were signing up for his classes. Matriculating freshman Eddie heard the buzz…but dismissed it all as delusional talk by misguided students. He pointed to the fact that the students didn’t agree about all that Professor Jason was teaching as proof positive that there was no Professor Jason nor was there even a hall in which Professor Jason lectured. When presented with the course syllabus, he seemed even more overwhelmed than the students because it appeared to him to be filled with confusing and contradictory expressions. Professor Jason’s students appealed to Eddie that the professor himself was able to tie everything together, but Eddie insisted that the syllabus was untrustworthy and that there was no professor Jason. He vowed to fight them with a petition drive. Eddie’s petition was to get all of Professor Jason’s students diagnosed as delusional. Everyone knew that one day Eddie would come face to face with Professor Jason and be smitten by the teacher’s presence, but in the interim Eddie madly dashed from one part of campus to the other seeking signatures for his petition. The students for the most part, in spite of their disagreements, continued loving Professor Jason…and Eddie. While they didn’t understand everything their professor taught them, they did know that his nature and his number one rule was to love.