Posted by: Calmseas (Mike) | November 12, 2007

The truth as fiction?

Is it better to believe a lie, or to have no beliefs at all?

I had a camp counselor once who hedged his bets concerning where he was headed when he finally quit this Earth. I remember him saying that if he is right about the need to accept Christ as savior, then he would have won the bet and is on his way to heaven after death. But if he is wrong, then it is no great loss at all. So why should he not believe? After all there is nothing to lose, and a whole lot to gain.

This counselor didn’t want to take the chance that he would reject Christianity and find out latter that it was all true, and that he was damned. So he embraced Christianity as his insurance policy “just in case” it is all true.

Should we approach Christianity as an insurance policy? And what if, in the end, it is all a lie? Are we then worse off having gone through life believing it rather than rejecting it? Have we missed out on something because we believed in Christianity, yet it turned out to be a lie?

I think these questions have great weight for an unbeliever, questions about which many “seekers” have undoubtedly struggled long and hard. But for an unbeliever, the question at the essence is really about how he should approach living in this life, not so much about his fate in the next life. The unbeliever is really asking whether he should take a chance and enjoy the “good” life; or whether he should turn from the pleasures of this world, and cloister himself in a place removed far from the world and its corrupting influences, to place himself in line to reap eternal rewards later—even if it turns out later that it was all a lie.

For those who have stepped over the threshold and have become Christians, however, these questions are seen in quite a different light. Romans 8:16 tells the Christian that “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” If this verse is correct, then Christians have the Spirit of God to minister to their soul and to testify to the truth. And Christians will indeed tell you that the Spirit of God is very real in their lives. For the Christian, weighing this life against eternity is no longer about hedging bets, or about choosing between hedonism, on the one hand, and a bleak-earthly-existence-for-a-heavenly-reward-later, on the other hand. That question has become moot, for the Christian now “knows” the truth. Christ himself said this, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Christian truth when applied fully to one’s life does indeed set one free: free from concern about the future, and free from concern about one’s fate; free from the question posed at the beginning of this essay. For those who truly come to Christ and accept the power of His life-changing love, the question has little if any significance. It becomes, rather, one of those ethereal questions, irrelevant to anything more than intellectual discourse.

For the Christian, the question is not at all about “the good life” versus “no life at all,” as the non-Christian and the seeker might understand it. That question has been neutered by the saving power of Christ. Rather, the meaning itself of “the good life” has changed, transformed from its old definition to an entirely new one. The personal relationship with Christ compels the Christian to live a life that is Christ like—to live what has become for him the true “good life.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” For now we are “free,” as Christ tells us, of the old encumbrance of choosing between pleasure-now-equals-damnation-later and stark-existence-now-equals-heavenly-bliss later. We are free to live a truly “good” life, in Christ.

So, is it better to believe a lie, or have no beliefs at all? What was the question again?



  1. Interesting approach to believe, that of your camp counselor. I hope that he finally understood that God is a real force, that Jesus indeed truly loves him and holds him, and that he could have that sense of peace within himself, because of the reality of God. We all doubt. I don’t think that is a sin, just our human way. But God keeps on reminding us of Himself, in all His amazing and myriad of ways. No, not better to believe a lie, but to grapple with your beliefs, and allow God to work.

  2. Thank you for the response. I agree. And it is also good to know that at least someone has read this blog–I was beginning to wonder.

  3. I’ve always thought it’s better to believe in something that gives your life meaning and brings you peace, whether it’s Christianity or not. The happiest people I’ve known have all had some kind of “belief” system, even if it was the belief that we are a happy accident of evolution and there is nothing after death.

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