I’ll take my Chances#3. “Christ or Con-artist?

I’ll take my Chances#3. “Christ or Con-artist?

Travel to a tourist town and you might happen upon The Shell Game. There you will witness a con that goes back as far as ancient Greece. The confidence trickster artfully engages his ‘mark’ in a supposed game of: ‘Which shell is the object under?’ Unbeknownst to the poor victim, the object is removed and restored at the conjurer’s will. The ‘mark’ is speedily set-up by a cheering crowd and several “wins;” then the fraudulent street magician strikes. Only three things are needed to bring an unsuspecting soul down: The con-artist, his friends, and the heightened anticipation of the ‘mark’.

There are some very high-profile religions who employ similar tactics when seeking converts. How many cult leaders have been found to be nothing but Bible totting con-artists? Though some do have paid fellow conspirators, tragically, it has been their adoring crowds who have been used to draw in other unsuspecting souls to their number.

I was standing in the living room of an atheist years ago. He had joined the church to get what he wanted, and then quit to take up position as a ‘cynical critic.’ He said, “You know this church is a con, don’t you?” Naturally, I disagreed, and gave him a brief defence of my convictions. “What do you do?” he asked dismissively. When I told him I was a preacher, he turned, looked at me as if I had just admitted to being a conman, and said, “Well, you should know then!”

Men like this are a dime-a-dozen. They are no different to the street con-artist and the cult leader. Loaded with their mind games and supported by their fellow-disbelievers, they draw people in to get what they want. If confronted, they blame the naivety of their ‘marks’ and claim they are trying to save people from the real conmen—the churches.

If my atheist acquaintance is correct, it is better that we all go about our business as if there were no God. As Paul said, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1Cor.15:19).

Jesus was no con-artist. He is what he proved Himself to be: Christ crucified, buried and raised to life—Saviour of the world.

John Staiger


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