I think it is entirely possible to "study" your faith to death, until it no longer possesses that intangible element, faith. If you find that you must turn every rock and examine the charcoal scratching of every cynic from history, you will very likely come to the conclusion that no particular answers are there to be found. Faith or a personal relationship with God will become as fanciful as believing in Middle Earth and the wonderful Hobbits.
Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
I am not trying to be dismissive of those who are students of history and ancient biblical times, nor am I trying to shake hell-fire in your face to bring you to your "senses". It’s just that history is filled with people, singularly driven to dispel the deity of Christ and of God for that matter. I was particularly struck by the lengths the late Peter Jennings went to, trying to spare humanity from all of this silliness.
I am not particularly attached or embedded to a particular flavor of Christianity, or denomination. I was born into the Methodist church, grew up in an Evangelical Free church, married a Catholic, attended an ELCA Lutheran church with my family for several years, and now we more often than not, attend a Catholic church.
I find the battle over creationism vs. evolution to be pointless. I happen to believe that if there is a God, he would certainly be capable of creating whatever he wants, however he wants, and as quickly as he wants; therefore, I believe he did. But then, I also find no problem accepting some of the notions about adaptive evolution, where species weed themselves according to the needs found in coping with their environment. There really is no reason both cannot be true. I just will not take mankind back to some primordial puddle. It takes far more faith to believe in a never ending string of miraculous coincidences, in my humble opinion.
I am pro-life and very much against abortion. Not because I find a verse in the scriptures that says, thou shalt not pluck the arms and legs off of tiny children until they are dead and easily extractible, but because I cannot fathom the logic of doing so. I’m not saying that I think God does not care… just that my abortion views are held regardless of my faith or of the edicts of any church doctrine.
I am a fan of the sciences. Those were my best subjects, likely due to my level of interest. Yet I find it entirely possible to sit on a rock outcropping, observe the effects of Mother Nature on the landscape and still wonder at the God who started it all. There is no conflict in my mind, whatsoever.
For those who are compelled to disprove Christ, or the existence of God, I don’t really know what to say. Many will pontificate about dastardly deeds done in the name of the church throughout history as a good reason to turn mankind from these old, outdated fantasies. All I can say to that is that mankind has never needed the church to justify barbaric treatment of his neighbors. Nero, toward the end of his pathetic life, used Christians dipped in tar as torches to light his garden. Nero didn’t believe in the church, and still he decided that there was high public relations value in feeding Christians to large cats as his subjects watched.
People seem naturally drawn to spirituality. There are myriad options out there, some old, some new, some simply bizarre. There also seems to be a distinct impulse to push Christianity aside. For those who believe in the spiritual world; that there is an unseen battle between good and evil, such impulses would seem to align with the dark side, the evil that wants nothing less than to keep God and man apart.
For Christians, the main battle has already been won as Christ paid our penalty for us on the Cross. All that is required, as he said, is to believe in his name. He was all about faith, and counseled his disciples repeatedly on the subject. It was a central theme then, and it remains especially so today.
Again, from John 20…
27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
As Jesus granted Thomas’s wish, to see the wounds of the Cross, he prepared the context for those of us, who would come later. Our own natural doubts nip at our faith, as we must look far back to another time. Do you suppose Jesus knew what he was doing, as he left us that final message? Considering all the machinations flying around today, it is funny just how straightforward and un-coded the words of Jesus really are.
Copyright ©2006, Phil Harris