faith, atheists, debate, reason and mystery

Encountering the mystery of God on Mount Sinai

“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” – Psalm 90

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” – Romans 8:26

DEBATE: One of the things I appreciate most about faith is my inability to wrap it up neatly in a logical package. I’ve long been a subscriber to the idea that, “The moment I can explain God I have necessarily reduced (or confined) God to the limitations of my personal intellectual framework.”

Or “What is there to worship about a God who is small enough for me to easily understand?”

Of course I contribute to the problem every time I use words such as “small.” If God is beyond measurement then God is not “big” either.

This is one of the reasons I’ve never been attracted to debate or argument about faith. A debate typically tips one way or the other based on the skill or the intellectual capacity of the participants, not the merits of the idea(s) in question.

If I can win an argument about God with an atheist or agnostic, then all I have demonstrated is my own skill. Likewise if I lose. God remains God, regardless, and my task is to live the truth of the Gospel of Love.

The absolute best way to make a compelling argument about faith is to live in such a way that the Christ-life is self-evident. 

Stock image from Internet

SENSELESS: Yesterday evening, as part of our ongoing “The Jesus I Never Knew” study, my men’s group watched a video segment featuring a “debate” between a fundamentalist preacher and an atheist. OMG (Oh My Goodness)! What a pointless exercise!

I wanted to tell both of them the same thing: “Just listen. Listen to what the other person is saying. How can you possibly hope to share anything of value if you’re not willing to at least understand where the other person is coming from?”

There are no clever tricks, or word games, or logical sequences of argument that can say anything of substance when it comes to communicating the love of God. There is just this, from Jesus:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. – Matthew 22:37-39

My prayer is that this ongoing conversation about “The Life-Charged Life” will help all of us to demonstrate life-charged faith in the way that we live.

We are God’s best hope, God’s action plan. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” That’s how Paul put it in his letter to the Colossians:

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Peace – DEREK

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