Sunday, October 13, 2013

A reason to believe

A Christian brother posted this observation on his blog,

We have loads of apologetics books, websites and speakers out there, many of whom try to prove that the Bible is the Word of God. Calvin says this is essentially a waste of time: ‘But it is foolish to attempt to prove to infidels that the Scripture is the Word of God. This it cannot be known to be, except by faith.’

This short post provoked a comment,

As usual, I disagree with Calvin. Honest doubts deserve intelligent answers. Not everyone is looking for an excuse not to believe; some are actually looking for a reason to believe.

And then, my take on it…

Now, I don’t deal in ‘agree or disagree’ but I have experienced Calvin’s observation, and it is true. I also think I understand what the commentator is saying. But if I have an honest doubt, it is this:
I am not sure there is such a thing as ‘honest doubt,’ at least when it comes to matters pertaining to God.

In my case I never dared call my lack of faith ‘honest doubt’ because I knew it was an amalgam of laziness and prejudice. The world we are all born into encourages diligence when it comes to earthly things, and sloth when it comes to heavenly. It also presents us with the most unfavorable opinion of divine things at almost every turn, so much so that we are little aware of how prejudiced we are. We call this taking the easy way out ‘having an open mind,’ but as with all drastic inversions, the claim is so forceful that we’d feel ashamed to challenge it, so we just go along.

I also have an honest doubt that most people are looking for a reason to believe. In my limited experience of sixty-three years, thirty-nine of them as a follower of Jesus, I would say that it seems much more plausible that most people are looking for reasons not to believe. Down to this very day, people I talk to at my job who claim they have been terrorized by ‘church’ and disgusted by ‘Christians’ never tire of telling me why they can’t or won’t believe in God.

I always think back to a dialog I read once, where after his death an unbeliever faces Jesus who asks him, ‘What kept you from believing in Me?’ The recently reposed says, ‘It really wasn’t my fault. All those Christians behaved so badly, and their church was just a club where they could play games and feel superior.’ And Jesus replies, ‘So that’s what has kept you out of heaven?’

That dialog always brings to mind the saying of brother Giles of Assisi, ‘To lose heaven is not to lose a shoe string.’

I have a saying of my own. ‘God is looking not for a reason to condemn us, but for a reason to save us.’

By that, what I think I mean to say is, God isn’t a cosmic policeman watching our every move so He can cast us into the outer darkness at our slightest slip up. Instead, He is a loving gardener who goes back to look carefully and persistently (and very patiently) at His little patch of earth to see if any of the seeds He’s planted have come up yet. He is looking diligently for our souls, no matter how small they are, so that He can pour His love over us lavishly, tending us carefully in the hope that He will have children with whom He can share the splendor of His Divine Nature.

If that isn’t a reason to believe, I don’t know what is.

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