Friday, 8 October 2010

Impossible things before breakfast?

'Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."' (Alice in Wonderland)

There are plenty of people who believe that Christians are in the company of the queen here: just suspend all critical thought, abandon all reason, summon all your gullibility and...believe!  It is something that many Christians have, sadly, gone along with, that faith means you believe something in the absence of evidence, or even against evidence.  I would like to point out that this is most definitely not what the Bible means when it talks about faith.  When the Bible talks about faith it is talking about active trust in something that you have good reason to believe to be true.  Listen to what John says in John 20 v 30-31 - he says "...these are written that ye might believe..."  In that very chapter Thomas said he needed more evidence before he would believe in Christ's resurrection, thus showing us that faith isn't against, or in absence of, evidence.  We speak about faith in this way all the time - a husband has faith in his wife, a child has faith in his parents, a patient has faith in the surgeon, etc.  No one would say this faith is unreasonable or irrational, would they?  It is faith that is based on good evidence and real experience.  So it is in the message of the Gospel - people are called to put their faith in Christ, and this appeal is made on the basis of the good evidence for the reliability of the message of the Gospel and the reality of who Christ is and what He has done, and it's also made on the basis on real experience people have - how the Gospel offers to meet the deepest felt needs people have, and how it actually works it the lives of real people! 

Furthermore, when the Bible talks about faith it isn't presenting it as opposed to facts or reason, it's faith as opposed to works (Ephesians 2 v 8-9; Romans 3 v 28; 4 v 4-6; Galatians 2 v 16).  In the Bible faith is trusting the Lord to do what we can't do, i.e. to save us from the penalty and power of sin.

I must say, as I listen to atheists it becomes increasingly clear who is exercising blind faith.  It is the atheist who says that the universe popped into existence out of nothing by nothing, while the Christian (and logic) says that something cannot create itself - it requires a Creator, every effect has a cause, whatever begins to exist requires something or someone to account for that.  No one can accuse the Christian of blind faith here - we aren't the ones saying literally everything came from literally nothing!  It's the atheist who is conjuring up this magic act.

It's the atheist who says the amazing fine tuning of the universe is just a fluke - unguided and unguarded luck.  In the face of such precision in the universe the Christian certainly isn't switching his brain off to conclude that God fine-tuned it.  You may not believe it, but it seems to me that if you don't then you are the one making the leap of faith, not me.

It's the atheist who looks at the information in the DNA, the complexity of the cell, and sees no intelligence bringing it about.  The Christian is not positing anything ridiculous, like square circles or someone being older than their mother, when they say that these things point to a Creator.

It's the atheist who looks at Scripture (or, to be honest, probably doesn't look too much at Scripture) and says that passages such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 were just random ramblings of ancient mystics which just happened to receive amazing fulfilment in the Lord Jesus, at the exact time stipulated (Daniel 9 v 26).  This is certainly evidence that what Peter said was true, "Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1 v 21).  It seems that the atheist has some explaining to do!

It's the atheist who has yet to give any adequate explanation for what happened on that Sunday morning at the tomb of the Lord.  They need to give a reason for the empty tomb, the claims of the disciples that they saw, handled and ate with the risen Christ, the rapid rise of Christianity in Jerusalem, the conversion of Saul and James, and the relinquishing of Jewish ceremonial laws.  They have yet to come up with anything sensible, never mind credible or adequate.  The explanation that "God raised Him from the dead" fits all the facts.

It's the atheist who has to account for the dramatic, life-long life-changing power of the Gospel of Christ in the lives of millions of people all across the world.  People in the gutter of sin have been lifted, people in the grip of sin have been liberated, not by a course of treatment or a dose of religion, but by turning to the living Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.  This is powerful, personal proof of the fact that Christ is living and atheism is dead.

In conclusion, it's the atheist who believes in things popping into existence out of nothing; it's the atheist who believes something can create itself; it's the atheist who believes in design without a designer; it's the atheist who believes writers of Scripture just managed to get lucky in their prophecies; it's the atheist who believes that the disciples were deceived or deceivers regarding Christ's resurrection and that multitudes of people were convinced by this deception when the tomb was within easy walking distance; it's the atheist who believes that the real experience of salvation and the reality of God in people's lives is just a delusion.

That is blind faith!  That is a leap of faith that I can't take.  In fact, it seems the atheist, like the queen Alice spoke to, is well practiced in believing impossible things.  It confirms something that Scripture declares, people don't reject the Gospel because of their mind, they reject it because of their will.  The Gospel is true, Christ is Lord and Saviour - bow the knee to Him in repentance, call upon Him for mercy, it's the only reasonable step to take.