Who’s Narrow Now?

I had an epiphany this morning as I was thinking about my conversation at the atheist site. It came in two parts. The first half was that atheists really have little imagination. Realize that I know I am making broad, sweeping generalities, and individuals differ, but those who take atheistic beliefs to their logical conclusion leave themselves no room for imagination.

One person the other day made a scoffing comment about Jesus walking on water, for instance. In her view, it is absurd to think that anyone could supersede the laws of nature. It’s something you can’t explain by science, so it didn’t happen.

No wonder so many commenters to the Christian fantasy article in the Washington Post remarked about fantasy in the Bible. They cannot imagine miracles actually happening, so they deny that they did, and think the writers of Scripture made it all up.

The real issue, I think, is that they cannot imagine an all knowing God who is greater than Man.

In the discussion yesterday, the one especially strident commenter made it clear that any argument that says “we don’t understand all of what God does” is meaningless. Would that seem meaningless to her if she could imagine a being greater than herself who does things that seem contradictory to her but are completely true because He can make it so?

Essentially she assailed the “mystery” of God. Of course, since that’s not a term I like, I wanted to agree with her. 😉 But I couldn’t. The truth is, God is Other than we are. He transcends us. But if you can’t imagine any one or any thing being greater than man, the idea of God just doesn’t compute.

So that led to the second half of my epiphany: I realized I had bought into the idea that Christians have a narrow, unimaginative view of the world. We are riveted on truth, so that means we lock out error. Narrow. Clearly defined.

EXCEPT, God is not narrow, nor is He clearly defined. He is greater, far greater, than our finite ability to analyze and categorize Him. Unless He had revealed Himself, we really would have no way of knowing Him. It would be like an ant running into our foot and coming to the realization that a human was standing in his path. That would never happen. The ant doesn’t have the ability, the experience, the perception, the understanding to make any such conclusion.

Yep, an epiphany. When we come to know God through His Son Jesus, it opens up our horizons. We see and know far beyond what we could before. Ours is not the narrow view.

Published in: on December 6, 2007 at 2:29 pm  Comments (10)  
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10 Comments

  1. So, basically, your argument for xianity boils down to it being imagined? Works for me.

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  2. Oh, Mike. And you are descended from an amoeba? I could say that works for me, too, but it doesn’t. At which point did the amoeba decide to speak with clever insults?

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  3. “The real issue, I think, is that they cannot imagine an all knowing God who is greater than Man.”

    When I was atheist, it was a combination of choices and reasons for putting away all I had learned of God because I didn’t believe bad stuff could be good and couldn’t figure out why I had to be “punished” as I saw it, I didn’t feel I deserved the life I had and believed with all of my heart that if God was real, He’d choose to give me a life that was easy and nice and always peaceful.

    It boils down to pride. I knew better than some “imaginary” being who wasn’t at all dependable, in my opinion. One who watched me be abused physically, sexually, emotionally, and didn’t intercede to help.

    Then, in a bigger way than I could ever have possibly fathomed, I learned He was there the whole time and didn’t like what happened but taught me that it was for a purpose.

    From my experience, I wanted to believe that something bigger than me existed, that I was here for a purpose and that all of my pain was for anything other than just to suffer. But I got mad and basically told God to fuck off, I could do it better than He could. That’s pride and immaturity. But, there are some of us who learn the hard way.

    Every time I argued with a Christian, I hoped someone would come up with something that wasn’t idiotically stupid. On the beach, drinking a beer with my friend Ed, arguing over God’s existence, I said, “If there is a God, He’ll prove it to me.”

    God didn’t reach down and crack me on the head and say, “Here I am you idiot,” He took His sweet time and eventually I’ll get around to writing my memoir…

    After 15 years of not seeing one another, I got an email from Ed saying his dad died and he was back in our hometown and wondered how I was because he had to pass by my old house to get to his dad’s place to clean it out. I was then leading women’s ministry at our SBC church and told him, “I’m great, but I’m not the girl you knew on the beach” and told him about God–not knowing that he was leading Collegiate ministries in Wyoming for, you guessed it, the SBC. That’s when he told me he’d been praying for me non-stop since that night at the beach. Every time he’d go home for a visit and pass my old house, he’d pray. Every time he talked with a college student like me, he’d pray for me. For 15 years.

    Not that my story proves God’s love to anyone, but the fact of the matter is that deep down, I don’t care if it is a sweeping statement, deep down in that place that no one else knows about, everyone wants to be loved and wants to have a purpose for being here. I didn’t know having someone pray for me for all those years would mean so much, but it is the single most humbling experience I have yet to live through. Even though I had accepted Christ without that knowledge, what I saw was a guy named Ed who showed me a little of God’s character.

    Rather than argue or try to convince someone why I believe in Jesus, I’ve taken up Ed’s stance, I just love them and pray for them and trust God for the rest.

    I can’t explain everything about God, but what I can do is love people for who they are no matter what they believe.

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  4. Oh, Mike. And you are descended from an amoeba? I could say that works for me, too, but it doesn’t. At which point did the amoeba decide to speak with clever insults?

    I don’t know; at what point did you decide that?

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  5. What I mean, Mike, is that atheism doesn’t answer the simplest of questions about the basics of human “character”. And the simplest examples of seeing, for example, the effects of wind but not being able to see the wind itself or beyond the stars. To have feelings ranging from anger to joy cannot be documented as transferring from amoeba to human. And to go back “millions” of years and produce “facts”? Huh-uh. Those are as imaginary as it gets.

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  6. Becky,
    Thanks for another wonderful post! What a joy to come here every day. I’m still praying for you as you work through all of this. What a sweet testimony!

    Kim

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  7. Mike, your original comment actually illustrates my point perfectly. For an atheist, there are only two options: what is true and what is made up, the latter being that which is anything I can’t verify physically.

    For a Christian, truth goes beyond the physical.

    Don’t get me wrong—there’s plenty of physical evidence for God, but atheists typically dismiss much of that because they cannot think beyond their own limited scope. It’s like: I’ve never seen anyone raised from the dead, so it can’t happen. Never mind that there was a crowd of people who witnessed a man come out of a tomb at Jesus’s command. Those eyewitness accounts aren’t valid for an atheist because they came from the Bible.

    The way I used the word, imagination, by the way, was not to mean making something up that does not exist but to mean the ability of the mind to be resourceful, to think beyond my own personal experience based on what I learn from someone else.

    Becky

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  8. Michelle, thank you so much for writing your experience in more depth.

    I’ve said for as long as I’ve understood something about spiritual gifts that I don’t have the gift of evangelism. Some people do. Paul did. He could talk about becoming all things to people in order to save many.

    I have to tell you, though, I feel liberated by this idea that I don’t have to save someone. It’s absolutely fine to be friends, discuss ideas, tell my story. And pray. Wow! How great that you had a friend who would do that for you for 15 years! That is awesome! (Sorry for all the !!!! This really is an amazing thing. What a great example!)

    And speaking of prayer, Kim, I appreciate your comment so much and your prayer even more!

    Becky

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  9. Becky, I’m not saying I know better than anyone, but sometimes I feel like the church, in their zeal to “win souls” for Christ–they forget that the love is more important than the words.

    Sure, we’re called to spread the gospel. But where does it say that the only way to spread it is by running our mouths? Jesus didn’t run around saying, “I AM Savior, believe in me or go to hell.” No, rather, he showed people love, many time not telling them who he was.

    So yes, it is liberating to realize it is not up to us to save people. It never was up to us. And I don’t think the gift of evangelism means what we’ve made it to be. Jesus told us to love others as we love ourselves. In my life, the people who I’ve met personally who wanted to “evangelize” did not love people, they loved the idea and thrill of saying they “led someone to the Lord” that phrase in and of itself (to me) is prideful and conceited. Knocking on doors and going down Romans Road isn’t the evangelism Jesus had in mind. If it was, I think maybe he would have lived that example.

    Anyway, that’s just my opinion and how I see things. 😉

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  10. Michelle,

    I wish the church was uniformly concerned about fulfilling the great commission. I happen to be in a great local body that is making a difference in our community and beyond, through tutoring programs, prison ministries, food banks, and on and on.

    If more people saw the church acting like a light set on a hill, then I suspect they would be drawn away from the dark.

    I have no doubt some people have a knack for sharing Christ. They know how to approach people in an unthreatening way and can preach to total strangers. I’ve read stories that are amazing.

    That’s what I’ve recognized is SO NOT ME. And it doesn’t have to be. But neither does that mean I therefore have nothing to offer to non-Christians. That’s the position I was coming from.

    Becky

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