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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Foundational Faith

Picking up from last week’s article, “Curiouser and Curiouser,” I would like to continue to develop this approach of belief that we refer to as faith.

After Alice fell headlong down the rabbit hole into what was Wonderland, she experienced a vast assortment of strange and peculiar encounters causing her no end of confusion and consternation. Trying to make sense of it all, she was reported to have exclaimed that all of this nonsense was, “curiouser and curiouser.”

The question from last week that I would like to address is, “Is there a God?” Some will want what is referred to as empirical proof – that is, proof that is provable, reproducible, and therefore irrefutable. This may work well enough in science labs with beakers, Petri dishes, microscopes, and Bunsen burners, but such items are of little use in “proving” the existence of God. If God were so easily proven, it would have been done long ago. And, I would suggest, such “proof” would more likely fail to prove his existence, for God is not reduced to such simplicity.

Consider this: The Bible (the holy scriptures of both those of the Jewish and Christian faiths – in whole or in part) was written so as to record God’s interaction with mankind. The Bible makes no attempt to prove God’s existence. Instead, his existence is assumed from the very first verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God . . .”

One particularly poignant argument for you and me to consider about God’s existence is found in Romans chapter one. Some of you at this point may be sensing that I am appearing to contradict myself by suggesting the Bible is offering proof of God’s existence. This is where an understanding of the book of Romans is essential. Paul, the author of Romans, was writing to the newly-established church in Rome. The congregation was predominantly Gentile, that is, Romans who had been converted to Christianity. The mindset of the Roman people of that time was quite different than the Jewish manner of thinking. Romans were more like Sergeant Joe Friday from the old 1950’s TV show, Dragnet. When questioning a person about a crime he would cut to the chase by saying, “Just the facts, ma’am.” In fact, Romans was written almost like a transcription from a court case. The prosecutor would present his argument with rebuttal coming back from the defense attorney.

So it makes sense then, that the main problem that exists between God and man is sin. It presents itself in a lot of ways, but most frequently in the act of rebellion. We don’t want God to tell us what we can and can’t do. Even when we know we’re making serious mistakes, we pursue this path of error with a willfulness that is chilling. That’s where the argument for the existence of God is found in chapter one of Romans. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be made known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

We are without excuse because God has made everything in such a way as to cause us to be in awe – wondering at the incredible creative abilities of God. In the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, we are told that, “God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Because God is who he says he is as reported in the Bible, he is under no obligation to present himself in the way man may expect or demand. But because God wants man to know him personally, faith becomes the determiner. “Blessed are they who seek him with all their heart.” And “Those who seek me find me.”

The best way to prove the existence of God is to seek him. The wise men sure did on that long-ago Christmas two thousand years ago. And, wonder of wonders, they found him! So can you.

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