I read a lot of blogs, some by Christians, some by atheists, a lot by doubters who sit in various chairs. I understand their doubts. I understand when believers abandon their faith. I love talking to honest skeptics who ask honest questions. Honest questions are some of the most lovely speech I know. Sometimes they wonder why I believe when it seems to them there are so many reasons not to. Why stick with the Calvinism I inherited from my father?
Not Subject to our inquiry without his initiative
Some in my tradition get bashful about divine election. The longer I live and do ministry the more I believe it.
I just read Ryan Bell’s 6 month check-in. I’ve enjoyed following his journey. I’ve learned a lot.
I understand the “no evidence” argument. Any being the likes of which Christianity claims its god is will not be subject to our exploration. Scientists tell us that there are many species yet undiscovered on this small blue globe and we imagine that a being the likes of which could create all this could be rustled up by shaking a few trees? It doesn’t seem reasonable.
If God wants to enter into our story he will do it when, how, where and to whom he chooses.
People protest “but the evidence is inconsistent, conflicted, frustratingly resistant to our getting our mitts around it.” Yep, that’s what I would expect.
He picks and chooses for reasons I don’t understand
It’s fashionable to reduce religious belief to sociology. The more Christians and ex-Christians I meet (as I get older the rolodex grows) the less I’m convinced its just sociology.
People come to faith in the strangest ways, and sometimes in the most normal ways.
Where they go in faith is equally mysterious sometimes or utterly banal.
As I gain experience I get better at listening to people and talking to them. It’s a skill to develop. People tell me the most amazing things.
The best I can tell God does what he wants. Sometimes it kind of makes sense. Sometimes it makes no sense.
I think the hardest thing about providence for us to swallow is that we’re not in charge. Really hard, painful things happen but I’m not ready to surrender too much ground to the devil. Why God administers history as he does I have no clue but the longer I live the more I suspect he does and for his own reasons. Sometimes I can even trust that they are good ones.
What Alternative Do I Have?
I love the place in John 6 where Jesus says a cannibalistic word to the followers looking for a handout and a lot of people just give up on him.
That’s a verse for triumphalistic Christians to ponder. The canonical account of Jesus shows many folks looking the son of God straight in the face and walking away. Maybe they wanted to get back with now deceased John the Baptist. Maybe they wanted to look for a different rabbi. Maybe they just decided to get less religious, more militant or more superstitious. Who knows, but they had the son of God before their eyes and they decided to try something else. That should give any pastor who’s had folks walk away a bit of comfort.
Then Jesus asks his disciples who stayed if they want to leave too. Peter responds with a profession of faith, speaking for the rest, but we also know Peter will abandon that before a servant girl.
Honest, wonderful skeptics will sometimes ask me “don’t problems and inconsistencies with faith and the Bible cause you to doubt?”
I usually tell them that given all that I’ve read, seen and studied in the Bible I’ve probably got a longer list of questions than they’ve got.
So why do I stick with it?
Because it’s beautiful. There are moments when I see God empty himself for the undeserving and I just want more of it. I want to participate in it. I want to see the poor loved, cherished, not because someone can get anything out of them but because God has made them his beloved.
My Hope in the Resurrection
I also don’t find a compelling alternative to the age of decay. Thin visions of heaven pale in comparison to the renewal of heaven and earth and the opportunity for the children of Adam and Eve to finally garden to the delight of all. I want to see humanity develop and explore the limitless glory of God poured out in creation.
Belief like everything else is a gift
We complain that the world is unfair, and it is. We suspect that God is unfair, and if he is then we have bigger problems than the injustice of this life, problems we cannot resolves.
I see so often that our estimations are poor and our judgments are corrupt. I believe that somehow through this dark path God will create a glory that we could not have joined him in without it. I cannot explain it, I can only believe in it.
So I will stick with my election, providential, perseverance of the saints Calvinism. I see no better way, and the longer I stick with it the more I believe it, even when I fuss.