Pastor's Blog

To say “I know” requires the confidence of almost overwhelming evidence.  To say “I believe” indicates some missing evidence.  Maybe even a lot of missing evidence.  Faith is a form of knowing that has both confidence and uncertainty in its makeup.

The evangelicals that I have been associated with over the years focused on faith’s confidence component.  Knowing what God says about everything and possessing a faith that was certain about everything was important.  My wrestling with atheism convinced me that that pursuit is misguided.  It pushed my idea of faith to build more on faith’s other component:  uncertainty.

We are small creatures in a vast and complex universe.  We take so much pride in what we know (or think we know) and often fail to be humbled by the immensity of our ignorance.  The most educated of us know nothing.  We are children.  No, we are infants.  If that.

I don’t see the Bible as a treasury of the intricacies of God’s immense mind.  I see it more as a coloring book.  Not because God isn’t complex, but because we are not, and He is.  Everything must be made simple for children.  And I’ve accepted that whether we acknowledge it or not, that’s what we are.  I know that’s what I am.

I don’t have to know all the details about how the world was created and I don’t have to prove all the findings of science to be fallacious. 
I don’t have to know all the details about the outworking of the end times. 
I don’t have to know how the afterlife works. 
I don’t have to know what every passage in the Bible means. 
I don’t have to be able to solve every philosophical riddle or every social problem. 
I don’t have to have answers to every objection to Christianity.
I still have questions and objections to quite a few things myself.

I no longer believe that faith need be an impregnable fortress, every point proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Mine isn’t.  I liken my faith to a single thread of spider’s silk -- sturdy enough to bear the weight it must bear, but fragile and delicate, swaying without breaking when the wind blows.

I know so little and am uncertain about so many things.  I have faith’s certainty about a few crucial things.  Chief among them is this:  Around AD 30 a group of Jewish men claim to have seen a crucified and completely dead Jesus a few days later fully alive and well.  They touched him.  They ate and drank with him.  They listened to his voice.  They were certain of it.  They were willing to die insisting on it.

My atheist friends pointed out that many people are willing to die for religious values or philosophical ideals.  Agreed.  But the first followers of Jesus did not go to their deaths for religious ideals.  They seem, in fact, to have differed with each other on religious questions.  They agreed on the certainty of an event that occurred in history:  Jesus was crucified, died, and rose from the dead.  They insisted that happened and that they were witnesses of it. 

If the claim is false, why make it?  Worse, if you know the claim to be false, who in their right mind would continue asserting it when threatened with imprisonment, torture, or death?  Were they all insane?

If the claim is true, is it not worthy of serious consideration?  If this happened in our world – what does it mean?  Surely, it must have some significance.

And that is what I came back to.  When I have doubts and unresolved questions, when I can’t make sense of things, this is what I always come back to.  That is my spider’s silk.  Or to use Jesus’ imagery -- my tiny mustard seed.  And that is enough.

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