Tag Archives: Faith

I Want to See Jesus – Part 1

If we are honest with ourselves, it is a complaint that is often on our hearts: Jesus, if you exist, let me see you.  We are creatures of the senses.  We salivate with delight at the smell of fresh turkey roasting in the oven.  Our being wants to burst with solemnity when we hear a beautiful piece of music.  To be simply touched by someone we love stirs in us a veritable cornucopia of emotions, sentiments, thoughts, desires, etc.  The first sip and scent of a full bodied St Bernardus Abt 12 will sometimes immediately give us a foretaste of heavenly realities with the faint voice of angelic chanting in the background.  The senses are essential to being human, and we are right to emphasize their importance in our lives.

Yet they seem to be a hindrance to our life of faith.  The Father is invisible.  Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the Father.  The Spirit is among us, but we do not see Him either.  The angels themselves, too, are invisible since they are without bodies.  All that we are told is real cannot be apprehended through our senses.  Thus we believe faith is in some great unknown, we believe it is present to us, but we have never truly experienced it, we simply trust that this invisible and insensible reality is there and attempt to act on the probability that this reality actually exists.  In the end, we customarily see that faith is in something unobservable and thus, thanks to the Kantian overtones of our contemporary world, irrational.  Our hearts cry out to see God, but, deep down, we find Him to be absent, unobservable, and thus unreal.  The desire to see, experience, hear, and encounter God seems to run up against our day to day experience and life.  And we are more apt to trust our senses than some pie in the sky idea like God.  So we go to Church, we say devotions, but, in the end, we don’t truly believe in the reality of God.  Many of us, in the end, are practical atheists.

Yet, there is hope!  If God is real, if we have a desire to see this reality, and, finally, if God created us, then it must mean that if He is real, there must be a way to see Him, for, if our understanding of God is true, then He the desire to see him must be given to us by Him to be truly fulfilled in our lives.  How, then, do we overcome this modern view of faith as something in the invisible and, therefore, unreal?  How is it that God is able to be seen and experienced if He is non-corporeal?  The contemporary demand to see God is one that screams forth from the depths of our being, and thus must be answered in a convincing manner.

The first element that must be proposed – for it is the total basis for everything else we are to say on the matter – is the reality of God’s interaction with the world.  When one studies the Old Testament, especially the Pentateuch, one is able to observe the sensible way God manifests Himself to the people of Israel.  He is manifested through a pillar of fire, the wind, lightning and thunder, booming trumpets, etc.  Even the word for God’s glory – kabod – has a sense that God is sensible: His glory has weight, measure, dimension, visibleness.  The glory of God, the manifestness of God, the visibleness and sensibleness of God culminates when He sends His Son into the world.  Jesus Christ is the Image and Face of the Father.  He who sees Jesus sees the Father.  We have seen His glory (cf: Jn 1:14).  The first letter of John makes this abundantly clear: what we have seen, what we have touched, what we have witnessed, etc.  There is an emphasis that God has manifested Himself fully to us in the Person of His Son, and that we know this through our sensible encounter with Him.  In fact, all of Scripture is a witness to the historical fact that God has manifested Himself through the created realm and that, in fact, the created realm is made for God for when God comes, He does no act of violence over the world, but instead is the One in whom the whole natural realm is fulfilled.  In short: creation is good and God uses it to encounter us, for we are creatures with soul and body and thus, in order to know the truth of things, we must observe it through the sensibleness of our bodies.

“This is all well and good, but that is in the past.  My question still remains: how do I see God now?  Why doesn’t He manifest Himself like He once did?  Jesus may have been visible to his disciples, but if He exists, why doesn’t He make Himself present to us now?”  Thus sayeth the objector.  And it is a strong objection, one we all struggle to give an answer to, because, as we stated at the beginning, a part of us finds such a point to not only be valid, but true.

Having heard the objection and seeing the persuasiveness about it, it is time to begin (and we will continue to investigate this in a future post) our understanding of what faith is.  In order for faith to be in something real and is the response of one’s whole being to a Person Who is real and alive in our lives, we must first shake off the Kantian lens by which we approach the world, for God can only be encountered when we first and foremost understand the sacramental structure of reality, a structure that, when we apply our minds to daily experience, we see to be true and correct.

The first act of developing a new optics, a new vision of the world, is to ask yourself the question: what happens when I see a thing.  If I were to ask any contemporary person “what is a tree”, they would almost instinctively say that a tree is a wooded structure with leaves, bark, that grows vertically, etc.  They would not be entirely wrong in such a description, for these are all aspects of a tree.  But a tree need not be growing, it need not have leaves, etc.  A descriptive view of the tree is insufficient.  Furthermore, each aspect does not account for the totality of the tree itself.  The tree is not its wood – despite the fact that woodiness is so very essential to a tree being a tree.  Nor is the tree its branches, its leaves, its height, depth, weight, etc.  When it comes down to it, we discover that descriptive definitions are good and true, but they are insufficient for accounting for the total reality of the thing.  A tree is more than its branches, leaves, weight, height, etc.  In the end, the sum is always greater than the total of its parts.  Our experience affirms this and, when given sufficient thought, we know this to be true as well: the totality of the thing we call “tree” is greater than all its aspects combined.

The next question then arises: how do we define the nature of a thing?  If it is not descriptive, then what means do we have for defining the nature of a tree when we are so asked to define it?  This we shall answer in our next post in the following day or two.  You may think me crazy for asking such blatantly philosophical questions; what has Athens to do with Jerusalem anyways?  But these are very important for answering that desire of our heart to see Jesus.  The method to my madness is simple: if God has taken on our humanity, He has also taken on the totality of creation to dwell in the infinite exchange of love that is Trinitarian life.  Thus, in order to ascend to the heights of God’s life, we must start from the bottom wrung of the latter of divine ascent.  We must ask these fundamental questions because it is only by answering them that we will see not only that the created realm is made for God Himself, but that the Catholic vision of things will open us up to really see God, to taste, touch, and hear Him.  But this is only possible if we understand the fundamental way we relate to the world and that all things, ultimately, are signs and that we see the world in a mediated way.  All this is important and, when properly unpacked, can help us answer the desirous cry of our heart: “I want to see Jesus!”.

in Christ

-Harrison

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Against the Idea that “Faith is that which has no evidence”

This is one of the questions for my Theology of Revelation Final Exam.  I am sharing it in full below, though I do use some ‘bigger terms’ than I normally do in my posts, for which I apologize.  However, I think the essence of my answer is well within the tradition of the Church: evidence is much more than scientific (as we understand that term today).  So I have attached the question and answer in full below.

Question 1: Recently, I read a newspaper article where faith was described as that for which there is no evidence, or for that where the evidence is found wanting.  Would you agree with this?  If yes, then why; if not, then why not?

I do not agree with this statement at all, though I understand where it comes from.  I will argue for why I do not agree with this statement as follows.  First, I will analyze the concept of evidence to note that there is in fact evidence for faith.  Secondly, I will respond with what faith actually is in both its objective and subjective forms.

The statement that faith is in something in which there is no evidence or where evidence is found wanting is fundamentally flawed because it presumes a positivistic view of evidence.  The person of faith, according to the statement, is one who cannot find the evidence of God in the visible.  God is not sensible or tangible and therefore it is not possible to give a scientific (in the positivistic sense of the term) account for God.  This in itself is false, for it presumes that God cannot be known through the tangible, which we will discuss in a moment.

However, evidence does not and, in fact, cannot be reduced to the phenomenal, it cannot be reduced to mere positivism for the positivistic worldview is wanting in its ability to explain reality.  Everything in reality is greater than the parts, while the positivistic worldview looks at the world only in parts, often to the neglect of the whole.  For example, take water.  Water is the result of the combination of hydrogen and oxygen and when the reality of water comes to existence, hydrogen and oxygen do not cease to exist, but they find a new identity in the reality of water.  Water, then, gains an element of mystery by virtue of synthesis.  Water cannot be described simply in its parts, it is now more than its parts.  There is now an infinite complexity that can no longer be reduced to the parts: the sum, in the end, is indeed greater than the parts, but the parts do not cease to exist or be overwhelmed by the new reality.

What does the above criticism of positivism have to do with the concept of faith and evidence?  If we apply the concept of synthesis to a much larger and more complex level, we see that, by virtue of the synthesis of the human person, the person contains within them an infinity that nothing in the world can satisfy.  Though we cannot go into great detail here, what we can say is that is infinity looks to be matched by infinity, and so the human person tends outwards and upwards in his action to find something to fulfill his desire for the infinite.  This desire for the infinite is in man, and scientifically observable if, by science, we understand that it proves the necessity of a thing by eliminating all possible obstacles to that thing’s necessity.  If we look at our action, if we look at our conscious mind with humility, we will observe this infinite tendency that dwells from within.  We will eliminate all obstacles that would argue the contrary, and we would discover that deep in the depths of our being is a mystery which we are contingent upon for existence.  This mystery is the transcendent God present to our being, allowing us to exist, giving us life, and is the source behind the spontaneity of our will.  In other words, if we look deep and hard enough, we will see, though not in a positivistic way, that there is a mystery deep in our being that is not us, nor are we it, but that we are united to through action.[1]  Within the life of the subject, then, we can discover that there is a source to our life that is also our end.  It is knowable, but we cannot completely comprehend it.  The positivistic worldview wants to be able to grasp and comprehend, but it never completely grasps reality, it only gets a snippet of a thing and is never able to look at the thing as it is in all its unity.  Knowledge can never be complete of anything.  If this is the case with the realm of nature and the observable – in the sensory sense – then it is even more true when it comes to the realm of God.  Though we can know that God exists, that He is necessary for me to be, I am unable to completely grasp Who He is.  In humility, we allow the objective element of God to reign in our lives, we submit to His presence knowing that we need Him to fulfill our destiny, our desire.  But we do not grasp the totality of the mystery, though we know it’s there.  Just as I can know that I see the screen I am looking at – though I cannot grasp the infinitude of it – so it is with God: I know I see Him, experience Him, encounter Him, I do not have a complete grasp of Him.  Positivism demands the ability to grasp the totality of a particular, but never can.  Faith acknowledges that a reality is real, it acknowledges the evidence of the reality of God, but does not claim to know God in His totality for to know God in His totality, God would not be God.

Before going onto what faith is, we must address one more element of the issue of evidence.  Evidence – again, in the positivistic sense – presumes the thing to be all there is.  In short, the positivistic view of evidence denies mediation.  It presumes that the universal cannot be revealed in the particular, that the objective cannot be revealed in the subjective, that the supernatural cannot participate in the natural.  The tangible, the sensible, the particular: all of this is totally distinct and apart from the invisible, the objective, the universal.  In short: the positivistic view negates the possibility of the supernatural acting in concert with the natural.  Yet we know from experience that the sensible we experience always points to something more.  Due to the infinite depth of each particular thing, we see in our experience more than just water, for example.  We see fluidity, liquid, clarity, rhythm, etc in water.  Thus the particular of water points to something more than just itself: it mediates a greater reality than it is and points to a dependence deeper than itself.  Thus, evidence of God can be seen in the natural realm as well: the beauty of nature, the truth of faith, the holiness of a Christian, the unity of the Church: these are all mediating realities which, through their participation in the life of God, point to Him in their particularity.  Evidence of God is sensible, positivism simply cannot stand the scandal of mediation.

What we have just engaged above is both cursory and lacking many necessary nuances.  Evidence for faith does exist, it simply means moving away from a positivistic view of reality since such a view does not stand the test of reality anyways.  What must be embraced, because it is the reality of our experience, is the sacramental world view.

What, then, in view of the above discussion thus far, is faith?  Faith has two dimensions: the objective and the subjective which come together in the person through the Church from Christ.  In the realm of the objective, faith is a gift in that the Person of Jesus gives Himself totally to the Church and, through the Church, to each individual.  The subjective response is one of openness, receptivity, and indifference.  Jesus is the object of our faith and faith is the living out our existence in the His existence, allowing ourselves to unfold in His love through the practice of Christian life.  Faith, in the realm of the subject, is only true when it is lived in Christian love, when that openness to the existence of Christ in the life of the subject.  In fact, the ‘proof’ of faith is not in an intellectual assertion, but is in the living the reality of the encounter of Jesus in the daily walk of life.  Faith is affirmed only when one delves into the mystery they experience in the depths of their soul, when they abandon themselves to the mystery of God in their action.  This action then becomes reflected in their mind: action is the lab in which faith is encountered and affirmed.  Pascal’s wager is not about an intellectual assent, but of a lived abandonment to God and, in that lived abandonment, one discovers that God is real, that He exists, and that they wish to throw their life at Him.  Faith is not a lacking of evidence, but the encounter with an evidence that is so real that it is mysterious, so visible that it is hidden, so beautiful that we are blinded, so true that we are silenced, so good that we are enamoured.

Thus, in a way, there is a splinter of truth to the statement that faith is in that which lacks evidence.  There is a certain abandonment to the unknown, the ungraspable.  It is to delve into the depths of the ocean of mystery and to not know where one is going, but to only go on ahead for it is that movement that we look back and see in our active life of faith the evidence of God in our lives.  We cannot see God until we first respond to His love with the abandonment of our self to Him in the lived life of active faith.  Thus, it has an element of the unkown, but the uknown is known.  We enter into the known unkown and, as we go deeper within the mystery, we come to know the unknown more as the unknowable, but we are comfortable with that because we know Who it is and that to grasp Him is to make Him into an idol and not the living God Who permeates our lives, sustains us, and is encounterable each moment of the day.


[1] Most of this comes from Maurice Blondel.  Please refer to his book L’Action for a more complete account.

 

In Christ

-Harrison

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Daily Roundup – December 5, 2011

I may be quite silent this week due to the last push of papers and seminary commitments.  I only have a couple articles to share today and  I doubt I will be posting much at all this week, just so you know :).

Over at the Catholic Thing there is an article on Belief, Knowledge, and Certainty.  The article compares the problem of atheists to conflate knowledge and faith.  It is a good article and, I hope, makes you want to read Ratzinger’s “Introduction to Christianity“.  The section he is referring to is the first 50 or so pages of the book and offer a great reflection on the meaning of belief and how one must take a fundamental stand in the world: the God question is unavoidable.

For those interested on the issue of divorced and remarried Catholics and the problem of reception of communion, Sandro Magister has an overview of the Pope’s opinion on the matter here.

Sandro Magister also has a post about the first year of Cardinal Ouellet and what is expected of Bishops.  It is excellent and I think we are seeing a trend to ensure that Bishops can be public witnesses to the faith as it is increasingly in the need, especially in the West.

Here is an interesting development in the Archdiocese of Boston and parish mergers.  I think, in fact, that it’s a great solution because it seems like it will create places for priests to live together in community again, something that is sorely lost, as well as pool resources of parishes and cut costs substantially.

A friend of mine has a new blog that is full of great little quotes.  Short, pithy, and wonderful quotes for reflection.

And that is all for today.

in Christ

-Harrison

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Faith in Jesus is Very, Very Rare

In today’s Daily Round Up, I mention the life and sanctity of Fr. Alfred Delp, SJ.  In particular, I linked to the following article by a British Jesuit and his encounter with Fr. Delp.  When I read the article, I must say, I was deeply moved by it, and it prompted me to begin reflecting on our devotion to Jesus Christ.

In particular, Fr. Holman challenges us to ask: our we being the prophetic witness to Jesus Christ in our world?  In relation to this question, he quotes Ruth Burrows, OCD, who says that “faith in Jesus is very, very rare”.

The question that immediately comes to mind is a personal one: “do I have faith in Jesus?”  Hearing the words of Ruth Burrows, hearing the prophetic story of Fr. Delp, one can’t help but be sobered and say: “I do, but I need more.”  Why is that the answer?  Because I would not be challenged by those words or that life if I did not have a conviction that Christ is Lord of my life and of history.  When I hear them, I think “Yes, I want a greater intimacy with the Lord.”  What is faith but the firm conviction that the Lord is present in one’s life and loves you.  But faith can grow insofar as we open ourselves to receive the grace of His Person in our heart. Thus, when Ruth Burrows speaks of faith in Jesus, she is talking about the faith which Fr. Delp walked by: the assured presence of the Lord in our lives, the knowledge of a Person that is guaranteed by an intimate heart-to-heart.

And if that is the faith we are speaking about – the faith of Fr. Delp, then yes, faith in Jesus is very, very rare.  The question we must then ask ourselves: does such a faith need to be rare?  I think not.  Why, then, is such a faith so rare?  I think there are two reasons which we can give.

The first reason is that we do not see the rare faith.  We don’t see it either because we do not have the eyes to see it, or that these people are, simply, rare.  In terms of not having the eyes to see, that will be the focus of the next point.  The rarity, then, is a scandal to the world.  “Where is your Lord?  If He is so real, why are there so few of you who really live according to the pattern of His life?”  The world, despite its blindness, sees one thing clear: to be a Christian means to be Christ-like, it means to be Christ to the world.  Their accusation, in the end, is a cry for help: they too want to encounter the Lord, but the Lord is not presented to them.  We cover Him with the filth of our egocentrism, our politics, our points-of-view, our selfishness, our greed, our complaints, our gossip, our inability to recognize Jesus in others, in our unwillingness to help the poor, the helpless, the downtrodden.  How can the Lord shine through us when we are in the way?  It is simple: He can’t, and He doesn’t.  He doesn’t because He respects our freedom, and every time we sin, we choose to put ourselves in front of Him.  So, the world sees us, not Him.  The saint, the rare Christian, the true Christian is the one in whom we see the Lord and, seeing the Lord in Him, we see that person in their fullness.  It is the great paradox of Christian life: the more we allow Jesus to shine through us, the more we put ourselves to the side, the more we are ourselves and that our true selves are seen.  But that is where the struggle arises.

In this struggle, there is a drama.  A friend of mine recently said to me that they don’t understand how there can’t be drama for the Lord, how people do not accept the drama of holiness.  My friend is dead on.  To the world, most Christians are an apologetic against Christianity.  But the saint is the apologetic for Christianity.  And how is it that we can become the saints that the world demands of Christianity?  As I have said: by becoming Christ to the world.  But how does this happen?  It means entering the drama of holiness.  In us there is a conflict of a million competing desires.  What we do is choose Christ, and choose the will of His Father in each action we do.  Thus we ‘habituate’ ourselves according to the life of holiness.  And the greatest action the Christian can do is pray.  To pray is to be with the Lord.  It means not just talking, not just saying the breviary, nor just saying the rosary, nor just reading the Scriptures, nor just going to Mass.  Those things are important, to be sure.  But it means having a heart-to-heart with the Lord.  It means both speaking and listening.  We cannot become the saints God wants us to be if we do not sit back and listen to His desire for us.  It means shutting up and listening.  If we do not listen to Jesus, we will not become the Saint His love calls us to be.  Prayer is the encounter of love and love both speaks and listens.  We tend to speak, we do not make an effort in listening.

By prayer, our desires become manifest to us, and we begin to see with greater clarity what the Lord asks us to act on and what we ought not to act on.  Thus we begin doing fasting and asceticism: giving up things that turn us away from the Lord and take on that which brings us closer to Him.  Thus we start to live the Christian life.  Thus we start loving others.  We speak to the homeless, help them with what they need.  We visit the sick and the imprisoned: we love others because, by loving them, we will see the Lord in them.  In the encounter with others, we encounter Jesus: the encounter is a revelation of His love to us.  We become the radical saints God calls us to be.

The second point is that the rare sanctity is in the world, but some do not have the eyes to see it or accept it.  I am thinking of those who harden their lives with sin by consciously turning away from God.  I do not mean the drug addict, the drunkard, the prostitute: they tend to not do their activities as a conscious act against the Lord.  I am speaking of the one who denies God and their denial is lived out in their actions, or the one who refuses to allow God the slightest sliver of openness.  They become so engrossed in themselves and their reality that they cannot see beyond their own ego.  With those, we can only do two things.  We continue to love them, and we pray, fast, and do penance for them.  Even if we do not know them, we do this.  With the Lord as our source, these actions receive a graced existence and are effective in the lives of those closed to God.   We may never know the effects.  But we know it works.

If we wish to really follow the Lord, we must ask ourselves, right now, each day: “Do I have faith in Jesus?”  If I do, it better start showing in my life.  If I need to grow – and we all need to grow in our faith – then I need to begin doing greater actions of love towards Him and others, to listening to Him more.  We become the saints we are called to be not by radical actions and poverty, but radical love in each circumstance of our life.  Faith in Jesus indeed is rare, but it need not be.

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The Gnosticism of the Atheists

I invite you to watch this first:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/video/2011/oct/24/richard-dawkins-video-interview

 

The Dawkins interview begins at 1:50.  The funny thing, everything he describes religion to be can be attributed to atheism, demonstrating it to be just as religious as any religion.

But that is not the point of this post (though I find it funny that he says he never said that religion is pernicious, though he thinks it is…the illogicality of his arguments are not worth the time here.  Though his criticisms of the business element of religion in America is, I think, spot on).

The audio interview (which is 30 minutes long) is here where he made is famous statement:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/audio/2011/oct/24/john-harris-national-conversations-podcast-richard-dawkins

My point is the comment he makes about the fact that Jesus would have been an atheist.  Here is the excerpt:

“I wrote an article called ‘Atheists for Jesus,’ I think it was… Somebody gave me a t-shirt: ‘Atheists for Jesus.’ Well, the point was that Jesus was a great moral teacher and I was suggesting that somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist if he had known what we know today.”

It is this comment that I have a beef with, but not the fact that it has anything to do with Jesus.  Silly remarks like that are not worth anyone’s time and are non-offensive to me.  The interesting comment, rather, is the idea that Jesus was “too intelligent” to be a theist.  In other words: only smart people are atheists, anyone who believes in God is stupid, irrational, and not part of the special “intelligentsia”.

When I heard this, the first thought that popped into my mind was the ever-ancient (and therefore ever-present!) heresy of Gnosticism.  What is Gnosticism?  Gnosticism is, in a certain sense, a difficult heresy to pin down.  A common overarching feature of many Gnostic movements, however, was the concept of a secret knowledge.  If you were one of the select few to have access to that secret knowledge, then you would be among the “saved” and “enlightened ones”.  In short, many atheists (though not all) fall into this category: if you were just smart enough, you would be an atheist too.  In short, only smart people are “the saved” of the world according to the new atheists, while the rest of us are still “ignorant and in our sin” of theism.  I don’t have much more to say about it, except for the utter arrogance of such a position.  It also demonstrates how evolution is no longer simply a science for them, but a way of life with the Origin of Species as their bible.  I am not contra evolution as a science, but I am contra evolution as a philosophy.  In short, they are the dominant ones, the ones who have the surest hope of salvation.  And what is their salvation?  The enlightened position of knowing the truth.  That is all.  There is nothing more afterwards, no immortality.  In fact, there is no meaning, no purpose and, therefore, no rationality and reasonableness to the world.  Their salvation is nihilism, though most refuse to admit this aspect because the dreadedness of nihilism is too much for most people to bear, save people like Nietzsche.

My point is simply that the arrogance of some atheists as enlightened and smarter than all the rest who are not enlightened because they aren’t smart enough is really just a logical conclusion of evolution as a philosophy (NOT a science: I am not arguing against the scientific merits of evolution, and need to state that again to ensure no one misunderstands me).  It is they who are the new breed of humans, the next stage in the evolutionary ladder, and we are the ones who will eventually be kicked off and into the past to be forgotten.  It is arrogant in so many ways, and most of all because it has no basis in reality. Man is religious by nature and looks for religious expression.  The New Atheists are no different: their’s is a religion with no god or gods, yet it is a religion in every way many other religions are religion: it is a submission of self to a system of beliefs that require faith in something ultimately and purely unproveable by reason alone.  You cannot argue for the non-existence of God: it is logically impossible.  Dawkins is one to equate God with faeries, goblins, unicorns, etc.  However, this is a non-starter and really quite silly since the concept of God – just as a concept, not necessarily as a reality – is of a totally other order than faeries and unicorns.  The fact that he equates the concepts of God and faeries demonstrates his inability to think subtly and logically about logically different things.  So, as I was saying, it is logically impossible to argue the non-existence of God and, I would say, it requires just as much belief, if not more, to believe in the non-existence of God than His existence.  (And note, I used the term belief there, not faith, for they are different things, something for another post).  The atheists are religious and their religion is gnostic atheism.  They will shout and scream and tell everyone to be enlightened like they are, but one day their light will dim and will be a blip on the screen of history, while faith in God manifested in Christ Jesus will reign on in the world.

On a final note, I want to take one more point to task against Dawkins and the New Atheists.  Many of them – and Dawkins does in the interview – mistake religion to be a moral enterprise.  They think that religion is only about morality, that people become or stay religious because of its moral principles.  I have heard many people say that they appreciate Christianity for that reason, but nothing more.  However – and I can only speak for Christianity here and am about to be hyperbolic to prove a point – Christianity has nothing to do with morality.  Obviously, morality is a part of the Christian life, but people do not become Christians to be moral people.  That is, actually, quite a boring reason and will ultimately not hold up.  People become Christians because they believe that Jesus is Who He says He is.  Moral actions follow, but they are not the raison d’etre of Christianity.  They are secondary (and important) and not primary.  Thus when he talks about morality and religion, he misunderstands Christianity at the very least and other religions as well I am quite sure.  It plays into a common misconception of religion, and it is partly the fault of people who used religion to promote their own moral values.  Moral values are important and essential, but they are not the basis of religious life.  This is why I must admit frustration when people say “I’m a good person, isn’t that enough?”  It is not enough because it is not what religion and especially what Christianity is about in the first place.  It is about falling in love with Jesus Christ and encountering and loving Him in others.  Jesus doesn’t care if you are a good person (though, obviously, he does to an extent): He cares about you loving His Father and serving Him in others because we are made for Him.

I also think, as a sidenote, that he completely misunderstands faith.  I have not had a chance to read it, but I recommend Avery Dulles’ book “The Assurance of Things Hoped For: A Theology of Faith” where he demonstrates the Christian concept of faith as being very different from the atheistic perspective of Christian Faith.

http://www.amazon.ca/Assurance-Things-Hoped-Theology-Christian/dp/0195109732/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1319906605&sr=8-3

 

in Christ

-Harrison

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