Writing to two postmodern Christians II –

It would seem that in my effort to avoid giving offense I have communicated nothing. I suppose that is somewhat fitting, as it is not my message I presume to preach. So, I can only be expected to muck it up most of the time.

So, what am I trying to say? –

Only what I believe to be real.

So, what is that exactly? –

Firstly, God. If not Him, than nothing.

That is, perhaps, abstract at best and obvious at worst –

Although, have you ever considered the humble position of a child? They know hardly anything. Yet, they know it so well. I would submit that they are aware of this position. This status is enjoyed as a kind of romantic curiosity. We then, as learned adults, often come along and say something to them like:

“You think you know everything but you really don’t understand anything.”

I would argue that the opposite is closer to the truth. In fact, I would go further and say that the above is a more proper description of most adults in the world.

You see, children are born into a world of absolutes. Everything is black and white, right and wrong. It is a world populated with clear distinctions. Theirs is a worldview characterized by utter dependence. Rightfully so, as the child is utterly dependant on its parents and, in a more philosophical sense, all things external. As no one can give birth to ones self. Rather, we come to realize that we were something a victim in the whole affair.

So, the child knows that it is a victim of circumstance right from the very beginning. Whereas, we wise adults spend our whole intellectual development trying to convince ourselves of the opposite. We rebel against the slightest suggestion that we are dependant in anyway on anything or anyone.

It is incredible because the child’s innate understanding of things (hardly well thought out and devoid of any pretense) is very much the way things are. That is, they understand that there are things to know (that can be known) and also, I think, that they know hardly any of them. This makes them quite curious. They do not, and mark it well, throw up their little hands in despair and say: “Even if absolutes do exist, I can never know them absolutely!”

No, they go on about the happy business of discovery – knowing, all the while, that there is more to be uncovered.

The point of all this? –

We are called to have faith like a child.

What if faith had a revelatory function? –

This function could be described like this:

Faith is the means by which God reveals that which is (reality) to whom he wills.

A child looks at the world with wonder, not because reality is ultimately uncertain. Understand this, not entirely. Rather, he views the world with wonder (a curious child-like faith) because it is almost too certain. That is, there are seemingly endless things to know and they can seemingly be known endlessly.

There is always a positive and a negative way to view anything. I would argue that most people today view romanticism in terms of the negative to the tragic exclusion of the positive. A Christian Theistic view of the romantic – we could call it: Christian mysticism – is rooted, as is all else, in the very person of God. More particularly, it is rooted in his being incomprehensible.

So, in order to view romanticism correctly, one must have a correct view of the incomprehensibility of God. This is a doctrine that arises from God being infinite. Consequently, it is not so much that he cannot be known. In fact, God is that which is most knowable, simply because there is more to know about him than anything else. Just because we will never know him fully, does not mean that we cannot know him truly.

In this way, God is the very essence of inexhaustible certainty. I believe that this is the proper basis for romanticism – or the intangibles in life (i.e., beauty, love, that feeling you get when a cool breeze hits you on a warm summer day, etc.). This is certainty we come to through experience. We all experience the world around us, insofar as we have been born into it. So, consequently, we all have experienced certainty.

Having seen so much, we all make a choice. It is a decision. We all have to answer the question:

How do I account for such certainty?

Or

How do I explain reality?

The child knows that it is not his place to write his story, but rather, to live it. Isn’t it strange that, as adults, we often come to reject this most obvious state of things? The very state of ourselves in our world. We attempt to support everything in and of ourselves. The tragic result, however, is that we lose the very possibility of supporting anything. When all we need do is enjoy what has been given us, we all too often feel the need to claim responsibility for it. So, through our sense of entitlement, we reject the very gift of life.

I believe all this to be consistent with Christian Scripture:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”

– Romans 1:16-23

Note, particularly, verse twenty:

“…his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

This is a picture of certainty. We are only condemned on the basis of what we know and never what we do not. Certainty is only possible if rooted in some authority. The only authority large enough is that of God himself. God has revealed himself. As a result, we can have real certainty. We can have real knowledge.

All that to say,

To deny certainty is to deny God.

To suggest that certainty can only come through a human institution is to do the same.

These two sentiments are, very much, the basis for my agreeing and disagreeing with various things that have been expressed here. I trust that I have not assumed too much in these disagreements. If so, I am sorry and quite thankful.

It is at a total loss that we come to know Him, the greatest of gains.

At a total loss,

C. W.


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