Friday, August 6, 2010

Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.
Oh, what a foretaste of Glory Divine
!
Not far from the home of my youth was an old graveyard which I visited occasionally, checking out old headstones, some of which were of historical interest, or had interesting inscriptions. I remember one epitaph in particular: They died in certain expectation of a glorious resurrection.

It’s interesting, I thought-- here lies a couple who had no doubt that when they died, they would continue to live in another form, presumably altered and improved, of course.

In my mind there was something oddly biblical about that rural area: sheaves of wheat, barns full of hay, fields of cows, century-old white clapboard churches, but 19th century reality couldn’t have been much different from our own time. People got sick, people died, people were killed in wars. There were good times and bad. Were they so devoid of intellectual curiosity that they could avoid any doubt that things would work out pretty much as their religion indicated?

Oh, to have that same kind of certain assurance in this day and age!

But even in biblical times eyewitnesses to the miracles described in the four gospels still doubted. They were there when Jesus reportedly fed four thousand people. They saw him heal people. Some saw him walk on water. Three of them saw the “transfiguration.” Yet when the chips were down, they scattered like scared rabbits. And when he appeared to them after he “came back,” one who wasn’t there refused to believe it, until he himself had seen him in person, the original “Doubting Thomas.”

To me, Doubting Thomas’s position seems perfectly sensible. Let’s have a little honest rational skepticism going here. That’s why the position of atheism, as opposed to agnosticism, seems to be more of an emotional, rather than an intellectual argument. Based on solely scientific and deductive reasoning, agnosticism seems to be the only purely logical world view. Things of the spirit can only be perceived “through a glass darkly,” as Paul theorized.

There’s no logical way to prove or disprove the existence of God. Belief always requires a leap of faith. We just can’t know one way or the other.

I am a Christian because of a series of personal “slaps upside the head,” that left me, like Thomas, saying, “My Lord and my God!” I admit to a certain paranormal, and for lack of a better world, emotional undertone in my reasoning.

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Atheism requires a certain emotional edge in my opinion. In a way atheists are pushing their own conclusions on others in a manner oddly similar to the “Jesus Saves” crowd. The determination of the atheist, whether it’s a college boy trying to shock his peers, or a well-known writer touting a book or article, seems to me to be a cri de coeur, “Prove that I’m wrong. Show me that I’m wrong. Please! Please!”

1 comment:

Suze said...

I sure do understand what you mean. A lot of Christians don't want to verbalize what you did in your post, but it's true. We don't really KNOW for sure, but the Spirit within us witnesses to us of the truth of the Gospel. Bottom line? When we breathe our last, then we'll know for sure - until then, it's faith only that we can have and no proof other than personal, subjective experiences.