Friday, June 09, 2017

Some Thoughts About Certainty and Rationalism

20170609_120908 (960x1280)The writer of Hebrews tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. It would seem to me that this runs counter to our desire to find certainty about God. Bottom line is that there is no way that we can prove that God exists or what he says is true, but on the other hand we cannot disprove what God says or what is true.. Certainly, we can show that it is rational or probable to believe in God. That should be the job of apologetics. But we cannot prove him in a rational  or scientific sense. Actually, I think there's no need to even do that. We all have tacit knowledge of God that resides deep within who we are as people. I think it's part of being created in the image of God. It can be denied because it's very subjective. But I think deep down we all know it's there. This is where, I think, that the spirit connects the gospel to us.

I've been thinking about this a lot as I've taken a deep dive into the wisdom literature pool in the Bible. It's extremely significant that, in the book of Job, God never answers any of Job's questions. He basically tells Job that you have neither the rational capability, nor the experience, to apprehend God rationally. He basically tells Job to recognize his superiority, submit and worship him, which is what we are created to do anyway. The 20th century was the decade of modernism and the 20th century Church, whether fundamentalist or liberal, basically thinks (present tense here because many churches still think in a 20th century way even though we are 17 years into the 21st century) in a modernistic way. Even though we acknowledge the supernatural we don't really see it as a day-to-day reality in our life. We still view the universe in a closed mechanistic way, even though even "Science" now shows us that the universe is not closed. We see this in the Gospel of John as Jesus portrays himself as The Stairway to Heaven, the one who unites Heaven and Earth, the natural and the supernatural. This is how we should view reality.

A good example of this is the doctrine of the Trinity. We give lip service to our belief in the Trinity through doctrinal statements, but we really don't think about it too much. In fact, there are some who would say that it's not an important doctrine. Yet the early church fathers saw it as the pivotal doctrine of the faith. Our relationship with God is to be patterned after the relationship within the Trinity. The fact that we can't rationally understand the Trinity doesn't mean we can't worship God as the three in one and join through the Spirit into that relationship. It's what Jesus prayed for us in John 17.

So the bottom line for me is to live in a world that joins the natural and supernatural, even though I don't understand it nor can I comprehend it through my five senses. As important as it is to think and use the brain God gave us, I don’t want a “brain-only Christianity. I want to interpret scripture in its supernatural context. After all, we believe in a God who produces children through virgins and raises dead bodies to life in space and time. Why shouldn't we believe in him for healing and other miracles? Why do we have a hard time accepting that there is a spiritual world all around us? Why do we overlook weird and unexplainable passages in the Bible? Anyway just some thoughts; and don't forget that unless we live by faith it's impossible to please God.

Thinking out loud here and haven't come to full conclusions. If you want to discuss this I'd be happy to discuss it on my Facebook page.

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