faith questions

I’m sitting in an interview at the Union Gospel Mission with a guy named Paul.  I have to be  interviewed to help the homeless.  Paul asks me why I believe what I believe.  I say, “The short answer is ‘faith.'”  But, I tell him, I feel the Spirit of Christ living within me.

I feel forgiven.  Paul lets me know a Buddhist or a Hindu or a Muslim or an atheist doesn’t care much about my feelings.  He asks me if I think truth is relative.  “No,” I say.  I’m thinking of Ravi Zacharias, and how he said when you’re told that truth is relative, to ask the other person if that’s a true statement.  It sounds better when he says it.  So instead, I mention the alliterative argument of C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, that Christ was either a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord.  I say that no one could make the claims about himself as Christ did unless he were crazy, flat-out lying, or… telling the truth.  I happen to believe Jesus, based on the Old Testament prophecies, I tell Paul.  That’s actually one of the best arguments I’ve ever come by.

But lest Paul think I need some Scripture references:  “I just keep thinking of the place in the Bible where Jesus says, ‘No man comes to the Father except by me.'”  That should explain why there can’t be any number of rivers (or religions) that flow to the one sea (God).

But Paul doesn’t like any of my answers, and I feel very small.  No one told me I had to be a theologian to help the homeless.  I’ve grown tired of nit-picking over the details of eternal security.  I wanted to just let all of that go, and live a life of simple faith — one that still believes everything Jesus said, but not one that reads more into it than what I see at face-value.

Then another blogger writes: “God doesn’t let people go to hell because they misspelled the name of Christ. God doesn’t let people go to hell because they were mis-informed. God doesn’t let people go to hell to ‘burn for eternity’ because their notion of God looked more like Mohammed, Buddha, or Kwan Yin.”  And I want to yell and scream and ask how he could be so deluded.

And then I remember I don’t have much of an argument either.

Paul says I need a logical defense of my faith.  He draws me a picture of man and God — God at the top of the paper, man at the bottom.  He says every human is born and dies; there are no exceptions (well, unless you count Elijah and Enoch).  For all our good efforts, we cannot reach God.  I remember the time I visited a mosque and I saw the men praying to a God who gave them no assurance of salvation.  They just had to keep doing good… and hope they would make it (maybe crossing their fingers was more like it).  Paul tells me that Jesus was a human not born in the natural way.  Being fully God and fully man, he lived perfectly and then died to take care of our incessant sin problem.  No other religion’s “guy” could do that for humans.

And I nod because that’s good enough for me.  Paul must think it’s good enough logic for everyone.

But I know it’s not.  It’s not good enough for my blogging friend Matches.  And I wonder if I can ever find a purely logical argument that will answer everyone’s questions.  Isn’t logic of such a nature that I should be able to plug it in like a formula?  Push a button — voila.  Or can I only pray that God will convince everybody of the parts of the story that will always sound illogical?  Am I deluded to expect God to reveal his own intricacies to those who don’t know him as the father of Christ Jesus?  Or if I genuinely believe Jesus is the best good news ever, won’t I naturally do everything in my brain and heart and will and physical power to learn and spread the news with complete clarity?

I want to blame somebody for my lack of defense.  “Well, I didn’t grow up with a particularly theological background.”  “My parents never made me learn it.”  But it’s not their faith.  It’s mine.  And somehow that intangible thing called faith has to come out through the tangible things — words and actions and human skin.

    • micey
    • May 29th, 2008

    Just remember that the Lord is the One who saves… don’t be too hard on yourself because He uses us just the way He wants to and you can explain till you are blue in the face and some people will just never get it. I took an awesome class on evangelism and the pastor taught us that there are actually about 7 encounters a person has of hearing the Gospel to finally “getting it” . So if you are one of seven you have done your part, so to speak. You have followed the great commission and that is the most important thing 🙂 this is a great post!

    • clbeyer
    • May 29th, 2008

    micey, your perspective is really encouraging for me. Thanks!

  1. I don’t think you’re going to find a perfectly logical argument, as that would reduce God and faith to mathematics (which is a fine subject in itself, but logic is just a part of God’s creation). In fact, I like your simple answer quite a bit. I think Hebrews 11:1 backs you up: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    That argument doesn’t do much good with those logic seekers, but I think 1 Cor 2:14 makes that clear as well: But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

  2. So, is there a Union Gospel Mission in Dallas, also?

    I know there is one here in Ft.Worth, I’ve been there several times and know one of the managers, and somebody that used to preach there.

    Just curious.

  3. I think I know how you feel, Carrie. I’m kind of a theological lightweight sometimes, too. It frustrates me when I don’t have the “right” answer for people, or worded correctly, or whatever. Isn’t it enough just to believe? That’s hard enough as it is. Are we putting our faith in how well we articulate our position, or in this God person Jesus?

    • clbeyer
    • May 30th, 2008

    Dan: Thanks for those Bible references. I would like to commit them to memory sometime.

    Timothy: Yes, there is a UGM in Dallas. But speaking of the one in Fort Worth, have you read _Same Kind of Different as Me_? It’s a great book that tells about a homeless man whose life was changed through a couple that volunteered at the Fort Worth mission.

    manhattandoula: Huhhhh.

  4. Carrie, I thought of you last night! Go check out my blog and let me know if you’ve heard of this company?

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