faith and logic :: a short open letter to my guitar playing atheist friend who thinks i’m indoctrinating my kids with a bunch of malarkey

July 9, 2010

You can’t argue someone into – or out of – belief.

I could end this post right there.

But I’ll add this much…  I embrace these Biblical principles of faith that live in tension with each other:

1) We need to think.  Logic and reason and thorough examination of our faith claims is a necessary part of belief.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)  “God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)  Faith that goes unexamined is weak.  God doesn’t condemn our questions.  He doesn’t even condemn our anger and frustration about the lack of answers.  Truth is truth.  Therefore logic and science and reason will always ultimately lead to what is true.  And the Bible encourages us to engage Him with our MIND.  However…

(2)  Faith in God means being OK without the answers.  You atheists are blind to spiritual truth.  That’s not meant to be condescending or accusatory or derogatory in any way.  But I Corinthians says “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  In other words, the Bible will be silly to you.  Right?  My arguments and apologetics will never convince the skeptic, because my ultimate proof text is the Bible.  Foolish?  I don’t think so – I just can’t prove it.  But the Holy Spirit, alive in the Word, can penetrate the heart in a way my logic never will.  This is the passage God used to pierce me…

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy – so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”  (I Timothy 1:15-16)

(3) When we can’t prove it, God asks us to trust.  There comes a point in every difficult discussion about the mysterious and probing parts of life where NO ONE KNOWS the answer.  At that point atheists and theists part ways.  One side chooses to believe that while we don’t know, God knows.  The other side chooses to believe that while we don’t know, there is no god, therefore we either let it remain unknown or we put our faith in some man-crafted theory.  But those theories only carry reason so far.  And then either the probing questions stop and the puzzle simply remains unsolvable, or the mystery must give way to sheer belief.  In something.

I choose to take the road of logic until the pavement ends and the ruts in the dirt become no longer visible… and then I choose the path marked “Because God…”

Jesus Himself told us that we can’t think our way into his family.  We can’t explain away every problem.  He did the work, and it challenges our logic, and it is bigger than our understanding.  We just believe it.  “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  (Luke 18:17)

So, atheist friend of mine, thanks for wrecking my day (in a good way) and sirring up my brain again.  I will not abandon my faith when I run into the unexplainable any more than I expect you to hear my stories of God and abandon your problems with religion – or with God.  Maybe more than anything, this has been an exercise in clarity for me.  I really do believe that we must think, that some of faith stresses our logic, and that where the logic and reason and science ends there will always still remain mystery.

And if you choose to engage that mystery, you’ll need faith.  In something.

Next time we’re in the same place, let’s grab a tasty beverage and talk about it face to face.  Or faith to faith.  On me.

 

     

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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

5 responses to faith and logic :: a short open letter to my guitar playing atheist friend who thinks i’m indoctrinating my kids with a bunch of malarkey

  1. I love how you started this post: “You can’t argue someone into – or out of – belief.”

    You’re right; you could’ve ended just there (but I’m glad you didn’t).

    Well said, brother.

  2. I was in a van recently with 8 people. One of them shared a riddle; a sort of mystery to be logically solved. One person got it. Most of the others said it was unsolvable with no logical or reasonable answer. One person said there probably was a correct answer, but they just weren’t smart enough to figure it out. God is both logical and reasonable. His mysteries have logical and reasonable solutions (His logic/reason) but we’re just not smart enough to figure it out. That’s my take anyway. Romans 11:33-36.

    • While I think God has given us brains capable of great reason and logic, and I DO think we should live with an intelligent faith (I can feel my atheist friends cringing even now), I’m very comfortable with, “I don’t know…”

      God is God. I am not.

      Thanks Paul. 🙂

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