Sunday 19 September 2010 – for Chris
This post was the first of two originally written to address the views of Chris, the “Anti-Supernaturalist”, whom I bumped into while doing street evangelism with my church. We had a LONG argument and I wrote this article to address his views. He then actually came to church the following week, and I wrote the second “For Chris” article
Mark 4 v 35 -41 – The wind and the sea obey Jesus
35.On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”
36. Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.
37. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat in to the boat, so that it was already filling.
38. But He was on a stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
39. Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.
40. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful, how is it that you have no faith?”
41. And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
My church went out to have a special event yesterday, with music and dancing, to share the message of Jesus Christ with anyone who wanted to listen. I got into a conversation with a certain guy, Chris. He was not a Christian, and he had philosophical arguments against Christianity – he called himself an “anti-supernaturalist” (rather than just a regular “atheist”).
I must admit that I could not really engage with his argument at all, and I guess I must admit to myself that I have never really been able to engage with the arguments of people who don’t believe in the existence of God. For me, it is and has always been, utterly self-evident that there must be a God, that there must be a supreme Creator, and to argue with people about the possibility of complex life arising from a big bang is always only an exercise in frustration.
Anyway, this Chris wanted me to reason philosophically about my faith. To me, this in some ways completely misses the point. I’m not saying that faith is in any way illogical; I’ve never understood why atheists consider themselves to have the monopoly on “reason” – for me the most reasonable and rational conclusion about life is that God is right at the centre of it. When atheists start talking about “reason” or “a rational explanation” (“there must be a rational explanation….”), it seems to me that what they are really looking for is any explanation, no matter how tenuous, that somehow manages to cut God out of the picture.
So, I explained to Chris that yes, I had seen a miracle, yes there was a woman that had been on crutches for years that had been miraculously healed at a meeting I had gone to, out came this rational explanation thing. (“It’s because she wanted it so badly…..When you whip a crowd into a religious frenzy, things start to happen.” Maybe, but I’m sure many of our pastors wish “things happened” at a greater regularity than they do at present, and more diseases, paralyses etc are healed, even if only by the power of religious frenzy).
Or how about the child that was killed in a hit and run accident, when the church had been convened for a trip to the seaside? That was the end of our church trip to Brighton, but thankfully not the end of his life. We prayed and prayed and thankfully he was brought back, and is still alive today (more than 20 years later). Many of my FB friends will have been there all those years ago. But no….(“Was he certified dead?” No, but I’m guessing people do die in Africa….now and then…) somehow, these rational explanations always seem to be most urgently invoked in the aftermath of Christian gatherings, meetings when a “rational” bystander might most objectively conclude that yes, indeed, clearly there is a God, and clearly this is His power at work.
But anyway, the reason why arguing philosophically about my faith ultimately misses the point, is because for me my faith is not an intellectual understanding in my head, that I argue through every so often in my own mind to get clear. I’ve heard this so many times that to me myself it has become a cliche, but I personally have never had any real problem with cliches – the fact is that my faith is ultimately about a real relationship with a real person. I believe that Jesus is real, it is not about maintaining the most precise philosophy (although naturally, I will try!) – rather it is about engaging with Him as a person. Also, His power is real, and I am totally unashamed to say that I believe that His power is readily available for us right here in this day and age.
If you are a Christian, then today I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to seek this power, to pursue it for yourself, to dare to believe that God is still capable of pouring it out on us as He poured it out on the early church.
If you are not a Christian, then I invite you to seek the real God for yourself. This is not about winning an argument, or presenting an argument with the most forceful points or lucid analogies. I believe that God is only worth following/obeying if He truly exists, and if you try it out and you see it is not true, then it does not matter who presents what arguments in His favour. However, I believe that you owe it to the dignity of your life and human existence generally to find out if there really is a loving, all-powerful Creator who created us in His image to have a loving relationship with Him and with one another, or whether we really are, ultimately, pointless accidents of nature in a pointless universe, which I suggest to you is the “rational” conclusion of an atheistic viewpoint. (BTW, no offence at all intended to my lovely atheist friends whom I truly adore – but you know I could never agree with you on this!)
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