Are Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson Spiritually Homeless?
Some instructive parallels exist between our physical and spiritual homes.
Everyone Needs a Home
The first parallel resides in our need for a home. Homelessness comprises less than healthy human existence. It’s okay to backpack through Europe in the quest to find oneself, but that pursuit ultimately needs to lead back to establishing a home.
Human wellness also requires a spiritual home. Without one, people have no guide for finding a purpose, making moral choices, or framing decisions regarding relationships. What major should I take or job should I pursue? Just as those living in tent cities on Los Angeles streets, the spiritually homeless fail to achieve meaningful lives.
The quest for a spiritual home leads most people to embrace a world religion or secular religion such as materialism. Yes, materialism is a religion, a belief system requiring substantial faith.
Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson have expressed dissatisfaction with their Christian home, which prompts us to wonder where they plan to live. To my knowledge, neither has identified a new residence. It appears, rather, that they plan to backpack in the spiritual wilderness while trying to find themselves. However, sooner or later they will need to find a spiritual home or end up in a spiritual tent city.
No Perfect Homes Exist
Actually, perfect homes do exist, but we tend not to recognize them as such. My wife, Connie, and I prayed for God’s direction before purchasing our current home. Though in many ways it seems perfect, we wish certain factors might be different, for example, poor drainage on one side of the house, that leaves it muddy when it rains.
I am convinced our home is perfect, with God having positive purposes even for its unappreciated aspects. Perhaps the Lord wants me to get the exercise required to construct a French drain. Or maybe God left that little thorn in our side to remind us that this world is not our final destination.
Marty Sampson catalogued concerns about his Christian home by challenging:
How many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place, all ‘coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it. Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet — they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people.
It comes as no surprise that we fail to view our Christian home as perfect. Isaiah 55:9 asserts, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (ESV) We can expect that the designer of the galaxies and the DNA molecule would see things differently than we do. It is safe to assume that his perspective is right. This dissonance, however, can cause us to struggle.
We Need Only to Find the Best Home
The house hunter does not insist on the perfect home but seeks the best one. A few hours viewing the House and Garden channel reveals that every home will have perceived flaws and therefore every home buyer must settle for less than his ideal. Insisting on the perfect home will leave him homeless.
Likewise, if we will only settle for what we perceive to be the perfect spiritual home, which answers all our questions, we will surely end up in a spiritual tent city.
When I was a sophomore in college I experienced doubts similar to those expressed by Marty Sampson. Finally it dawned on me that I did not need to answer all the questions related to a Christian worldview (which I could not do then nor can I now). I only needed to identify the best worldview, one that answered more questions than any alternative. Using this criterion, I concluded that Christianity offers more answers by far than any contender.
Where to Look
Certainly Marty Sampson and Joshua Harris cannot believe that Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam provide more answers than Christianity. Materialism comprises the alternative of choice in the Western world. However, even as a college sophomore I realized that all the time plus chance in the world, even helped by natural selection, could not begin to produce a human eye or brain.
Research since has discovered the vast complexities of the human cell and the resulting impossibility of its construction by natural means. Discovery Institute’s new seven minute video series, Science Uprising, exposes the fallacies of materialism and the need for an intelligent designer.
Two millennia ago, Peter identified the problem with abandoning his Christian home in observing, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life….” (John 6:68 ESV) I would ask Harris and Sampson, if you don’t like the answers provided by Christianity, where are you going to find better ones?
Maybe they need time to do some spiritual backpacking, but if they do not want to end up in a spiritual tent city, they need to recognize that Christianity provides more answers by far than any alternative and come back home.
Paul Brownback graduated from West Point, earned a Master of Divinity from Talbot Theological Seminary, a Master of Human Relations from University of Oklahoma, and a PhD from New York University. He has served as a pastor, counselor, and Bible college president. He authored books including The Danger of Self-Love, published by Moody Press, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win, and How to Succeed As CEO of Your Life. He writes articles on scriptural, social, and political issues for his blog, restoringourhumanity.com. He is married to Connie and has two grown children.