All in the Mind (5)

18 02 2008

Two people. They don’t look alike, but we expect that. But look at their minds, what is going on inside their heads – utterly different!  Now that, you may think, is not surprising, but actually when it comes to the evidence for the Christian Faith, you might change your mind. Here is person ‘A’ who is challenged to think about all the evidence. Edith Schaeffer’s book, L’Abri, tells the story of the Schaeffer family back in the middle of the last century who felt called to go as missionaries to Europe, who ended up in Switzerland, of Francis Schaeffer, a pastor, who felt he had to completely rethink his beliefs but came through to the utter conviction that God is here and that if He is and had called them He would provide for them. There follow times of relying utterly on God to send the needed finances. There also follows a unique ministry for the time, helping students think through their various disciplines in the light of the evidence, also to be severely thought through. Person ‘A’ is a person who rigorously thinks through the evidence and comes to a strong faith based on the evidence.
  
Then we find person ‘B’ who cynically derides the evidence, doesn’t think it through, refuses to consider it with an open mind and maintains a hostile stance against Christianity and remains in blissful ignorance of truth, because they refuse to face it. True to Orwell’s ‘1984’ they distort and indeed reverse the truth and accuse Christian Faith of being mindless delusion which holding a mindless contempt of the Faith. They read the Bible but read with a closed mind that has already arrived at its conclusions. They are blind to the wonder of what is there and by selective use of verses standing alone they paint an utterly distorted picture of a ‘reverse-image’ God.
    
There are two things here that help convince me of the existence of spiritual realities. The first is this ‘wilful refusal’ to systematically consider the evidence with an open mind. I have an elderly friend who, many years ago now, came from an unbelieving background but started asking questions that he thought were unanswerable. As he now testifies, he ‘painted himself into a corner’ where he realised there was no escape. He would either face the truth and be transformed or live a life of hypocrisy knowing he had turned away from the truth and live a lie. Wonderfully he opted for the former and we now have the further evidence of a gloriously transformed life. This ‘wilful refusal’ is self-centred driven and what the Bible refers to as ‘sin’ and it is obvious in all of us in greater or lesser measure.
     
The second thing that convinces me of spiritual realities is the blindness that person ‘B’ and those like him exhibit. It may be a refusal to believe from the start, but it produces an inability to ‘see’. For the atheist this is totally frustrating for they are certain they are right and the Christian is wrong. Faced with a genuine miracle they will look for every answer possible other than it was a work of God. It becomes terribly important to them that it is not God. They refuse to examine the central evidence and focus on the misdoings on religious humanity, failing to see that an individual’s struggles to understand are often far short of the truth displayed in the evidence.
   
Belief comes, at the end of the day, not by examining the evidence – that so often follows later, although for a few it is the way, as I’ve indicated above. But no, belief comes to most as a desire to really know truth, to really find God (who IS there) – and then comes the confirming evidence on which to build faith. Jesus came bringing many ‘signs’ but the hard hearted were the ones who refused to acknowledge them – they knew better!
    

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