Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sucking nectar...

But you cannot go on “explaining away” for ever; you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on “seeing through” things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too?...a wholly transparent would is an invisible world. To “see through” all things is the same as not to see.” -C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man.

I've been preaching/teaching a series of messages on answering doubts concerning the core issues of the Christian faith. In that process I have been having some really good conversations with honest seekers and intelligent but under equipped believers. These endeavors often have included painfully myopic, rusted Christians who don't want to search the scriptures to see if these things be so, but to defend their "ideas" about what scripture says. It's rare to find those who have spent time truly excavating their beliefs out of the rock of scripture and a broad quarry of Christian traditions, perspectives and biblical scholarship. I am sorry folks but "I feel this to be true" isn't solid ground for most skeptics or honest doubters to crawl up and stand on.

"Let us get clearer views of what we believe. . . . Many are spiritual gipsies. They camp behind any hedge, but they abide nowhere, their theology consists of a few sticks and bits of canvas. It is easily upset, but then it is as easily set up. Well may they sing,—"We've no abiding city here"!. They prefer the chase after truth to truth itself; it is clear that such a chase has not much of reality in it, for the man is pleased that his prey should perpetually escape him. In olden times, the prophet was a seer; but, nowadays, a prophet is one who is too cultured to see anything. A man who protests that he has too much light to be sure that he sees anything is the favorite of certain intellectual hearers. David said, "I believed, therefore have I spoken;" but he was peculiar: our "thoughtful men" now speak because they doubt, and not because they believe."
-Charles Spurgeon

The challenge I find is to root all this biblically required study (2 Timothy 2:15, II Tim. 3:15-17, I Timothy 6:20,21) in a deeply devotionally rich soil of spiritually vibrant experience with God. Speaking from living. Producing nourishing fruit for intelligent consumption that is grown out of a healthy spiritual life. A day to day life that is nourished by the animating and revelatory presence of the Holy Spirit; not withered and juiceless fruit that has already had its nectar sucked out and penned into books and articles by someone else. I don't want to hold a lifeless skull in my pastoral hands but a word of life that through the Holy Spirit, opens peoples minds to understand who Christ is and what He has done. This is a holy tension.

But so long as we know God only in the way of men - by contentious learning, by arguing and dispute -- we see nothing but the shadow of Him; and in that shadow we meet many dark appearances, little certainty and much conjecture. But when we know him with the eyes of holiness and the intention of gracious experience, with a quiet spirit and the peace of enjoyment, then we shall hear what we never heard, and see what our eyes never saw." -Jeremy Taylor


Anonymous said...

This is such an insightful post.
I may not have thought so a year of two ago, but I realize so much of what I believe in Christianity, is not from personal study, but a kind of osmosis from years of sermons and Christian radio. I have studied out certain doctines that were especially meaningful to me; the divinity of Christ for example, but till late, I have been lazy, and when once you debate someone with an opposing opinion, and if you have not studied it out, you will not be equal to the task.

Mel said...

Pastor Eric,

These are my favorites of your posts... The meaty ones that give our spiritual appetites to much to chew on. :)

I have to say, your dad is one of "those who have spent time truly excavating their beliefs out of the rock of scripture and a broad quarry of Christian traditions, perspectives and biblical scholarship."

I asked him to send me some more information regarding the topic of eternal punishing, and he sent me enough to keep me fed for two weeks!

I've read your post several times and will continue to read it and enjoy exploring the deep thoughts it inspires.

Bless you!