Addressing Christian Agnosticism


Your first impression might be that I’ve made a mistake in my title because there’s a contradiction in terms. How can Christians be agnostic?

I wish the problem were nothing more than a slip of the tongue, but sadly I think agnosticism is creeping into the Church. More and more frequently I hear people who claim to love Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, who believe the Bible to be God’s Word, turn around and say incongruous things that come from postmodern thought.

I’ve already addressed, in several posts (here, here, and here), one of the issues that lead to agnostic thought—that God is mystery (as opposed to transcendent).

Another issue is the idea that we humans, being so fallible and so restricted by our limited experience can’t begin to get God right. We can know some things, such as Christ dying on the cross for our sins, but we’re bound to get a lot wrong.

As proof for this position, those holding it often point to denominationalism and the split between Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants.

I tend to think this view stems from good motives. One charge against Christians has been a prideful, know-it-all attitude. This we-don’t-know-everything position seems initially to be a more humble approach. The problem is, a well-intended position can still be completely wrong.

Mind you, I’m not saying we should revert to a prideful stance. The fact is, however, taking a we-don’t-know/we-can’t-know” position still puts Man in the forefront. It may sound humble, but it’s still all about us.

The truth is far different.

Since the Fall, knowing God has never been about what Man can or cannot know.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you so that He does not hear (Is. 59:1-2).

In other words, unless God intervened and removed our sin, we would have no way of knowing Him beyond what we could see in creation. Since He did intervene, however, we’ve had a game-change.

Even in the Old Testament, before Christ, God said to His chosen people

“But let him who boasts, boast of this, that understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord (Jer. 9:24 – emphasis added).

When Jesus came, He made it abundantly clear that He was here to make known the Father.

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14:7-9).

Paul confirmed this numerous times, none more clearly than the simple statement in Colossians 1:15 – “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” [Emphasis mine.]

If we know Christ, then, we know God.

What’s more, we not only know Christ if we are His, but Scripture says we have His mind.

For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart. (I Cor. 2:16, Amplified Bible, emphasis mine)

Have I yet mentioned the Holy Spirit? He who lives in every believer:

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16:13)

Part of the Holy Spirit’s work was also to inspire Scripture. Consequently we know that its revelation is true. Hence, everything it says about God is true.

The problems that those advocating for agnosticism point to are a reflection of us not believing the revelation that is before us. Some dismiss portions of the Bible, while others say they believe it but twist it to their own purposes (Harold Camping comes to mind as an example). Others take a particular passage and interpret the rest of Scripture in light of that truth, rather than taking all of Scripture and interpreting particular passages in light of the totality. Still others chose one over another of truths that seem contradictory.

What we need is the faith of Abraham who believed God even when His command seemed to contradict His promise.

Seriously, agnosticism falls away if we take God at His word. What don’t we know about Him that we need to know?

And yet God, like any other person (but more so) has a depth we will never plumb fully.

So what am I saying? Can we or can’t we know God? We can, absolutely. James says, when we draw near, He in turn draws near to us. But in knowing Him, we discover there is more to know.

If we sit on the sidelines, however, saying how impossible it is to know God, if we succumb to the agnosticism of the age, we will end up like the Pharisees—staring Jesus in the face and not recognizing Him.

This article was originally posted here in August 2011 under the same title. It is one of a group of posts that are part of the Less-Than-3-Stars club. 😉

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Pride Is The Fall


For years money received a bad rap in America. A particular verse in the Bible (I Timothy 6:10a) was misquoted to say “Money is the root of all evil.”

In fact the verse actually says in the New American Version, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (Emphasis mine.)

Perhaps money taking the blame for all evil, explains why pride seems to have skated off our radar screen. I won’t say it’s received a free pass. After all, the adage Pride goes before a fall has become a cliche in America.

That line also stems from Scripture—Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (KJV). Apparently somewhere along the line, the verse morphed into that shortened version.

The heart of the statement remains true to the original, though I wonder that we haven’t taken the point to it’s logical conclusion. If pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall, then didn’t pride and a haughty spirit go before The Fall?

Or was Pride more accurately The Fall itself?

Before Man sinned, Satan rebelled against God, and Scripture clearly shows that the pride of his heart was the real issue:

“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.‘ ”
– Isa 14:12-14 (Emphasis mine).

Is it any wonder, then, that when Satan approached Eve, one of the things he said to her was

“You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
– Gen 3:4b-5 (Emphasis mine).

Eve took Satan’s words into consideration. She saw that the fruit was tasty, attractive, and desirable to make her wise. Whole-heartedly, it would seem, she bought into Satan’s shtick. His desire became hers.

Adam fared no better. He openly chose to side with Eve against God, basically saying he knew what he needed more than God did.

Eve, he understood, would die, just as God said. Then what would happen to Adam? He’d return to that pre-helpmate state, and he didn’t want to do that. He must not have believed that God could, or would, fix things. So Adam had to take on that role. He had to stave off separation from Eve.

In short, he played God.

Isn’t that the definition of pride? From a heart that wants to be God, we act as if we are God. We put ourselves—our wants, our wishes, our well-being—above all else.

We rarely hear the old Pride goes before a fall adage any more. We apparently no longer believe that pride is such a bad thing. In fact, the real problem we face, society says, is not loving ourselves enough, not believing in ourselves enough, not taking enough “me time,” not pampering ourselves, not drawing from the power within.

I think we’re missing it. Pride doesn’t just come before a fall; it is The Fall itself. The hunger in our hearts to be God, forever separates us from He who actually is God.

But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. In other words, God has the answer even for pride.

Published in: on October 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm  Comments (1)  
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Embracing Climate Change


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The Topic. Climate change? What does that have to do with fiction or a Christian worldview? A lot, I think, at least when it comes to the latter.

Climate change, many in the media say, is a direct cause of man’s misuse of the environment, and if we but change our habits we can preserve the earth for future generations.

Christians often counter with skepticism. For one thing “climate change” used to be called “global warming,” but since the science isn’t there to support the theory that the earth is heating up, the term has changed.

Also, the cause of any perceived change can’t actually be traced to human practices (manufacturing, use of fossil fuels, etc.) since there are too many other factors and no way to run an experiment isolating one potential cause over the others. In other words, there is no real way to use the scientific method to determine the truth or error of the hypothesis.

So in view of this shaky science, why am I suggesting we should embrace global warming?

I believe liberals unintentionally are reporting what the Bible said nearly two thousand years ago, namely that Man is to blame for the decay of our environment. The difference is that liberal environmentalists claim this decay started with man’s use of fossil fuels whereas the Bible says the decay started when Man first sinned.

For one thing, God told Adam he would have to earn his food by the sweat of his brow. Perhaps this was only because of Adam’s change of address—from #1 Place, Garden, to Some Where, Out There.

But other changes occurred. The animals, once friendly with each other and with Man, no longer were. The land mass which was at one time together, divided. A catastrophic flood covered the earth. Devastating plagues decimated the Nile basin.

In fact, the Bible records numerous droughts and resulting famines. Major rivers the Bible mentions have all but dried up; some have vanished. According to Hillary Mayell of the National Geographic News, “8,000 to 10,000 years ago, what is now desert was probably lush savannah and grasslands. Today the Sahara is hot and arid, the land sandy, rainfall minimal, and vegetation sparse.”

A study in 2008 at Lake Yoa in Chad bears this out:

[The study] found evidence for a slow decline in tropical plants, followed by the gradual loss of savanna-type grasslands, and then the eventual spread of desert species.

Pollen samples revealed, for example, that the decrease in tropical trees accelerated after 4,800 years ago, while desert plants took root between 3,900 and 3,100 years ago.
– James Owens, “Once Lush Sahara Dried Up Over Millennia, Study Says,” National Geographic News.

Zoom forward to more recent times. Scientists have noted that for years the Sahara Desert, larger than the size of the US, has been encroaching on bordering savanna. In the decade between 1980 and 1990, the southern boundary moved south over 80 miles.

Of course, one scientist has now reported that in the last twenty years images reveal “extensive regreening” of the semiarid savanna in the south due to global warming.

The transition may be occurring because hotter air has more capacity to hold moisture, which in turn creates more rain, said Martin Claussen of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany
– James Owen, “Sahara Desert Greening Due to Climate Change?” National Geographic News.

I can’t help but wonder just how warm the air has to become for it to hold moisture. Weren’t the hundred-plus-degree days previous to “global warming” enough to hold moisture? But I’m getting sidetracked.

Why should we embrace climate change? Because the idea that the earth isn’t what it once was is completely consistent with what the Bible says:

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
– Rom 8:20-22 (emphasis mine)

In addition, taking care of our environment is completely consistent with God’s direction to Adam in the beginning.

Why, then, should we not embrace what the Bible says? The liberal media may have the facts wrong and certainly have the wrong idea that Man can fix a broken earth, but their conclusions and Scripture lead to the same place: Man is at fault for the mess we’re in, and Man should act responsibly to care for our world.

Why would we fight those conclusions?

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 4:43 pm  Comments (18)  
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