Blinded me with Science?
August 28, 2016
It is the glory of God to conceal things…..
The Christian church in the United States is in the midst of a pretty strong decline: 10% in the last 15 years, or something like that. The Pew Research Center has done a rather extensive survey among those who say they have no religious affiliation. A full 78% of those who classify themselves as having no religious affiliation say that the they were raised as a member of a church, but broke away as they got older. Of that group of people who were raised a religious household, but have since left, 49% did so because they say they “no longer believe.” Asked why they no longer believe, Some mention “science”, others reference “common sense” , “logic” or “lack of evidence to believe. ”
So if there’s one common thread among those who once believed in God but now no longer believe, it is the understanding that faith is the result of empirical evidence gathered during ones life. If the preponderance of evidence seems to suggest there is a God, you can believe. But if you do not perceive enough evidence, you can then conclude that there is no God. You’ve given him a fair chance…you’ve done your due diligence. Your mind, your logical mind has completely reasoned it out. That, of course is based on the idea that faith is an assemblage’ of evidence.
As it turns out, scripture says something completely different about faith. It says that faith is the “assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things NOT seen.” (hebrews 11:1) And there’s a whole chapter in scripture (Hebrews 11) devoted to the teaching that faith has nothing to do with the gathering of evidence, and everything to do with taking God at his Word.
And besides all that, according to the text, much of what God is and what he’s about is hidden from our eyes. “It is the glory of God to conceal things.” the text says. So if you base your faith on the evidence for a God who has told us that he conceals things; including himself, well your going to have some trouble in faith.
So why is God hidden? In order to understand why he is hidden from our view we have to go back to Eden. The first hiding in the Bible was not God’s. On the contrary, he was there in the open speaking the world into existence with word. God was right there, visible, approachable. The first hiding recorded in scripture was Adam and Eves’s hiding on the day they sinned. God was holy, they were sinful. They now trembled at his presence and couldn’t look at him any more. With there sin came sweat, pain, death and all of troubles that besiege man.
At this point, God could have destroyed the world utterly and start all over again. The world he created was fundamentally changed and a shadow of what it once was, the people he made to be in fellowship with him could now not tolerate his presence. He could have abandoned the world…. but he didn’t. He went under cover so that he might fix the broken relationship with humanity. He is still very active, only now he is hidden.
When you follow the story of scripture; starting with the promise spoken in the garden that one day the seed of the woman would arise to defeat the devil, then progressing through Abraham that his seed would be a blessing to the world. All of the old testament is really story of God preparing to enter our world through the birth of his Son so that we might be redeemed. But Jesus did not appear in all of his glory, on the contrary, he was hidden with the flesh of his humanity. Little blips of the Divine would spill out as he did miracles, but for the most part his divinity was hidden. He had come to live among us. To bear away our sins and to restore us to our Creator. He would do that by suffering a real death on a real cross. And the atonement he made was for us and became our way back to God.
So God, though he is mostly hidden, still has made himself very available to us in Christ. Throughout all of history God has been making this clear…. this is what you need…. this is where you must go to this one who died to take away your sins. Philip, the Disciple once said “Show us the Father!” And Jesus said, “Philp, he who has seen me has seen the Father.” He also said “No one comes to the Father except by Me.” He also said “I am the Door.”
Notice how the Christian Faith, in it’s true form, centers on Jesus. There’s no looking around for evidence for whether or not God exists. What actually happens when we have faith in Christ is we begin to have forgiveness of our sins, the sin that caused the break between us and God Being so forgiven, our sinful hearts are no longer hostile toward God, as sinful hearts are by nature. Being so forgiven our heads and and our hearts are cleared and we begin to want walk with God. We hear his voice speaking to us in his word… we speak back to him in our prayers. As faith grows, we see more and more and are more convinced of the reality of God. Instead of seeing our faith as a cold assemblage’ of evidence we come to understand that faith is about the restored relationship with God that we have in Chirst.
Paul writes to the Corinthians: “The world did not know God through wisdom (one could say “through science or philosophy or the preponderance of evidence for all that is the wisdom of the world)” “the world did not God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what what we preach to save those who believe. Jews demand miracles, Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified.” The Jews and the greeks were just like the people in our day….thinking they could apprehend God through through the use of their minds. But it’s not about evidence its about the promises that are included with the one who died for us. He is the Gospel which we have heard and which we believe and in that Good news we have hope and Joy and peace that cannot be taken away from us.
Those who try to base their faith on evidence are sadly setting themselves up for failure. Every day their benighted eyes will see more and more marks against God. Like that terrible earthquake in Italy for example. “Why would God let that happen!” They say “Where is God in that?”. Or when the healing doesn’t come or when the marriage falls apart or when the children go astray or if there comes an illness that won’t heal. “Where is God in all that!” Is he in any of that?
Yes, that’s exactly where he is. Our God is the God of the Cross. Our God is the one who shared our griefs and our sorrows. He meets us in our suffering. It is he who said “he who would come after me must take up his cross and follow.” He never promised us perfection. What suffering we endure should not to be taken as evidence that God is not real…but rather as an opportunity to see how real he actually is. The greatest time of growth in faith often comes in time of suffering.
Jesus is called the author and perfecter of our faith. Think about how he expressed his faith in in his last two days. He went to Gethsemane. He prayed that his father would find some other way to save humanity besides his suffering. He prayed it three times. Each time God said no. At that point Jesus did not say like so many in our day, “well the evidence is in, since he did not answer my prayer in the manner in which I wanted, my father has ceased to exist.” No, he continued to trust his father and obediently went the way of the cross. It even came to a point when it seemed that God was not there for him. Jesus being the sin bearer for humanity would experience the ultimate consequence for our sin…separation from the love of God which is really what hell is about. It happened at that point when he called out: “MY God, why have you forsaken me?” He was feeling the absence of God in all of it’s horrible fullness. At that point he did not say as so many in our day do, “Well the evidence suggests that God doesn’t love me and doesn’t have my best interests at heart…therefore I conclude that he doesn’t really exist.” He actually still said: “MY God.” The relationship remained even in the depth of suffering. That’s clear with the last thing he said to God “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” He died trusting that his Father would do right be him. And he did. He most assuredly did. The scripture was fulfilled and Jesus rose from the grave and was crowned Lord of all. Real faith sees past what we would count as evidence against God and trusts in God’s ultimate goodness.
Those poor folks that the Pew research has discovered, those folks who believe that faith is is based on logic and the preponderance of evidence actually and are now losing it, had false faith. Frankly I think it’s good that they’ve seen this collapse, because they didn’t really have faith in the first place. Real faith begins in Christ and Only Christ. They built their house on sand. But that doesn’t mean they can’t build again. I pray they are given opportunity to explore a faith which centers on Christ and begin again.