Monday, March 5, 2018
Is God credible?
What is laughable to me in the great debates over whether Genesis 1 & 2 are credible or not is that the biggest of the incredible claims of Scripture is not how things were brought into being but that God, bigger than everything, took up residence in the womb of a Virgin. If you find that credible, then creation is not such a big pill to swallow. Yet even here it is not credibility that leads us to faith but faith that trusts the Word of the Lord (in spite of eyes, reason, and experience to the contrary).
We like to think that we are cautiously suspicious and yet we find the fake news of the internet credible only because it reflects back to us our own prejudices, conclusions, and judgments. The truth is we are gullible and weak. We presume to know in our own moment in time more than all those who went before us. Perhaps it is because we have the internet or because we have mastered some more technology. Perhaps it is simply the arrogance of sin infecting the mind as well as the heart. In any case, credibility is not a criteria involved in faith. Those who find a big bang credible will not surrender their judgment to the Word of God. . . except the Holy Spirit call them.
How foolish of us to pick and choose what we believe and then to pick and choose what we will present to the world -- all in the hopes that people will not dismiss us or our faith as childish or weak or foolish! But that is exactly what the world will do -- except the Holy Spirit transform the heart and mind. There is less chance a person will come to faith if we present a watered down version of the Gospel than there is if we present the whole truth of God. For if we shy away from the truth, we are confirming their suspicions that the whole thing is a lie and God does not exist. Read the book of Acts and see how it begins -- with the whole strange account of Jesus Christ! This is the Gospel that opened the door to Gentiles and created faith in the enemy Saul and traveled up and down the coast of the Mediterranean adding to the Kingdom of God. That Gospel was just as incredible then as it is now. We do no one any service by trying to make the Gospel more believable. We do better by presenting the whole truth of God's Word as a people confident in their faith by the power of the Holy Spirit and that same Holy Spirit will surely do in the ears of the hearers what He has done in our ears.
Now in Missouri there is a bit of a, say, kerfuffle, over the issue of evolution. Science is drawing a line in the sand and insists that the big bang is the only credible explanation. Those who may be sympathetic to science and its judgments from the record or who are hesitant to appear anti-intellectual think that the best chance for the Gospel is to make a somewhat uneasy peace with science. I cannot believe we will gain any traction in this debate either by dismissing science or by accommodating evolution in our reading of the Scriptures. Science is what it is -- a best guess at origins and meanings from the view of the things around us (including the archeological record). It is a best guess, no more and no less. It requires recalculation from time to time as facts and judgments change.
The Word of God is not a guess nor does it manifest truth derived from observation. It is the revelation of God, His own self-disclosure. As such it does not so much concern itself with telling us what we want to know as it does what we must know in order to be saved. That said, it does not shy away from things nearly everyone would deem less than credible. Creation is not the biggest of these things over which we wring our hands in incredulity. The heart and core of the Gospel is the most incredible thing man has every encountered. John 3:16. I choose not to spend my time trying to reconcile the Word of the Lord with the scientific judgment of the moment. I believe that when it finally all comes to an end and we face the mystery of God's presence face to face, what we will find is not a collaborative truth but the ultimate and eternal truth of Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come.
So do not denigrate the scientist for the best guess he can make from the things he observes and reasons. Instead speak the Word of God. Address him (or her) with the Word that is efficacious and has the power to deliver to the stubborn heart and the skeptical mind the confidence that Christ is all. And do not disappoint the faith and the faithful as well as the scientist by diluting the witness of Scripture in a vain attempt to make it less scandalous. Speak the Word faithfully, deliver the whole truth of God's Word, and let the Spirit do what He has promised to do. . . whether you see the outcome or not. Faith is not the fruit of observation or the conclusion of a lifetime of experience or the aha! moment when it all clicks. No, indeed, faith is the work of the Spirit working through the means of grace. We we begin to recapture this, we will spend less time trying to reconcile the irreconcilable and speaking more boldly and confidently the Word that brings faith to the hearer.