Volume 13, Issue 1: Flotsam
Nathan D. Wilson
Josh, this is for you. But while you will find yourself addressed directly here, others will as well. You are not alone in your failed faith. You are not alone in your intellectual flight from God. Professing Christians have always been plagued with the duality of mind that you now incarnate. Some who read this will perhaps see their friends and family members. And perhaps, as you do, they will see themselves.
Faith is inevitable. You have acknowledged this as true. Being creatures, as we are, we must always found ourselves epistemologically on something bigger than ourselves or, as in your case, we can find ourselves founded in something exactly our own size. No bigger, no smaller. Cogito ergo sum.
Man at birth is presented with a problem. He is born sinful and depraved and far from perfection, and something huge and threatening looms above him. This threat is fact. There is no opting out of its shadow. This is the problem of God. It is a fairly straight-forward problem. When one is created by God, there is a terrible relationship to be dealt with. There is a terrible Being to be dealt with, a terrible justice to be meted out. There is only one possible neutrality with regard to God. There is only one position that can save a man from so terrible a threat as his Creator. This safety can only be found in nonexistence. Avoid birth, avoid conception, and God has been successfully avoided, but find yourself existing, and you find yourself with a Creator - a Creator who not only speaks beauty into existence, but also destroys the foul.
You, Josh, have dealt with your terror in a typical way. You have run from it. You hide from God. You clothe yourself and hide in the garden. You turn your back to Ninevah and take passage on a ship. You found your faith in reason.
When you were born, God entered and filled your screen. You as a man had to deal with Him in order to move and breathe. You had to deal with Him in order to think and act. God is the greatest of all destroyers; there is no running from Him. A man needs protection from his worst enemy. A sinful man therefore needs protection from his Creator. We are either placed in God for protection from God, or we run to find a champion who will protect us from Him. You have turned to your own mind and to the nonexistent mind of reason itself. This is a terribly small stone to throw at such a breaking wave.
You believe that it was not always so. You have told me that you had genuine faith in God before reason's assault took hold of your trust. This does not appear to me to have been the case. From the very beginning of your belief in God as a child, you found yourself suckling at the rancid breast of rationalism. You believed in God because you believed in proofs for Him. You were not familiar with them, but you did not doubt their existence, believing God stood on something firm, something logical and believable. As you grew in your mind, you examined your priestly proofs and found them wanting. Oddly enough, you know we agree on this. There are no valid, deductive syllogisms with God as conclusion. So, you turned and ran.
But you didn't really. You think that you fell away. I think that you finally looked down and discovered where you had always been standing. From the beginning your god was on his knees in front of another. From the beginning of your so-called faith you placed the ark of the covenant at the feet of Dagon, at the feet of Descartes. Reason was trustworthy, and you thought that it could assure you of God's existence apart from faith. When you found your beliefs were foggy and vague, founded falsely in rationalism, did you leave your rationalism or your Christianity? You never turned your back on God, your back had always been turned. You found what you assumed was your uncovered worshipping face was actually the back of your head. You were convinced there was something behind you, and that you were worshipping it, but you were always kneeling in another direction, your hands and eyes adoring another god entirely.
Even now, your love for this god of yours is so great that you will not leave it. You have admitted to me the lies it has told you. You have admitted your rationalism is irrational. You have admitted faith is inevitable. But you insist on placing it in the faithless. You are like the beaten wife who will not leave her husband. You cannot leave your god because you worship yourself.
You still have a great desire for God. You claim to want to be able to fall on your knees before Him. But your master won't let you. You worship a jealous god. You sing praises to a god that will allow nothing before it without homage, and you would bring the Lord and Savior of the world. He who spoke you and all else into existence, this is the One you bring into the courtroom of your reason. You would drag Christ down from the right hand of the Father and have Him kneel in your mind. Then you would be happy. But this can never happen. Dagon fell. Will your mind stand?
An angel of light, the morning star, stood with the Lord and offered Him all the kingdoms of the world if only the Christ would kneel before him, but Christ despised his offer. Will the Lord kneel to you when you offer Him the vast expanse of yourself, your many intellectual kingdoms? God will never bow to your reason. All such idols topple. When Jonahs run, God sends a great fish. You will be swallowed; you may not be spat out. God is not mocked, but your mind will be.