I started physical therapy for my new hip the other day and began a dialogue with the PT about spirituality. One portion of out talk reminded me of one of my long-time favorite authors and articles…The late Christian author and philosopher Francis Schaeffer wrote a book entitled, He Is There and He Is Not Silent. There is an appendix in the book that addresses the issue of faith and whether or not we have the capacity to interact with God. I thought I’d pass it on…
Schaeffer would say that the Christian faith is not a blind faith at all – but an invitation to interact with a loving and compassionate God – who is alive and more available than we could ever imagine.
He says, “One must analyze the word faith and see that it can mean two completely opposite things.
Suppose we are climbing in the Alps and are very high on the bare rock, and suddenly the fog shuts down. The guide turns to us and says that the ice is forming and that there is no hope; before morning we will all freeze to death here on the shoulder of the mountain. Simply to keep warm the guide keeps us moving in the dense fog further out on the shoulder until none of us have any idea where we are. After an hour or so, someone says to the guide, ‘Suppose I dropped and hit a ledge ten feet down in the fog. What would happen then?’ The guide would say that you might make it until morning and thus live. So, with absolutely no knowledge or any reason to support his action, one of the group hangs and drops into the fog. This would be one kind of faith, a leap of faith [or what has been called “blind faith”].
Suppose however, after we have worked out on the shoulder in the midst of the fog and the growing ice on the rock, we had stopped and heard a voice which said, ‘You cannot see me, but I know exactly where you are from your voices. I am on another ridge. I have lived in these mountains, man and boy, for over sixty years and I know every foot of them. I assure you that ten feet below you there is a ledge. If you hang and drop, you can make it through the night and I will get you in the morning.’
I would not hang and drop at once, but I would ask questions to try and ascertain if the man knew what he was talking about and if he was not my enemy. In the Alps, for example, I would ask him his name. If the name he gave me was the name of a family from that part of the mountains, it would count a great deal to me. In the Swiss Alps there are certain family names that indicate mountain families of that area. In my desperate situation, even though time was running out, I would ask him what to me would be adequate and sufficient questions, and when I became convinced by his answers, then I would hang and drop.
This is faith, but obviously it has no relationship to the other use of the word. As a matter of fact, if one of these is called faith, the other should not be designated by the same word. The historic Christian faith is not a leap of faith [or blind faith] …because He is not silent, and I am invited to ask the adequate and sufficient questions, not only in regard to details, but also in regard to the existence of the universe and its complexity and in regard to the existence of man. I am invited to ask adequate questions and sufficient questions and then believe Him and bow before Him metaphysically in knowing that I exist because He made man, and bow before Him morally as needing His provision for me in the substitutionary, propitiatory death of Christ.
So, how do we hear from God? If you’ve been around MPVCC this year, no doubt you’ve heard me (and others) teach on this a lot! I’ve also blogged fairly regularly on the subject. Here is a link to one of those blogs – you can also type “listen” into the blog’s search engine…