“Faith” versus Faith

Friends….I will be writing intermittently over the next few weeks.  I need to spend time in study and contemplation so that my perspective is fresh and in-tune with what He desires for me to share.  

Today we end our time with Dr. Schaeffer in his masterpiece work of ‘Trilogy’.  He ends with:

“Faith” versus Faith

One must analyze the word faith and see that it can mean two completely opposite things.

Suppose we ae climbing in the Alps and are very high on the bare rock, and suddenly a heavy fog rolls down upon us and we cannot see beyond three feet in front of us.  The guide turns to us and says that the temperature is dropping and 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 slowing in the dense fog further out on the shoulder area until none of us have any idea of direction or where we are.  After an hour or so, someone says to the guide, “Suppose I drop down of the side of this ledge into the fog and hope that I can land on a path or another ledge that is more protected from the cold and fog?  What would happen then?”  The guide would say that you might make it until the 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.

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 we 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 60 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 would ask questions to try to 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 would be running out, I would ask him what to me would be the 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 in the post-Kierkegaardian sense 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 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.

Truly Wonderful

Friends…beginning to come to the end of Trilogy – The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, and He is There and He is Not Silent… Dr. Francis Schaeffer.

I so appreciate Dr. Schaeffer’s extraordinary ability to provide word and phrase concepts to help us better frame our understanding of the cause, source and reason for existence.   

His way of presenting truth and reality in his own deep and rich way, was, at times, a tad challenging and complex to grasp the fullness of his points, but I learned that if we worked at it, wrestled with it a bit, truly contemplated it, we could capture the essence of his intention.  For example:  The infinite non-created Personal God created the finite Personal creature.  It was not that impersonal nothing through time and chance created something.  The infinite personal God creates you and me in His image…in His ‘likeness’….and gives us the ability to communicate with not only each other in a verbalized way, although not an exhaustive way, so that we can truly know each other…and He/God also gives us His written communication in the form of the Bible in a historic and propositional communication, although it is not exhaustive, but sufficient that it creates the knowledge to tell us who He is, who I am, why I am here, and knowledge that I can ‘know’ He is truly there.    

Amazing to me…and so truly wonderful because I know that I know that He is there and I do know Him.  And ‘that’ is the most important knowledge to me of all things that I truly know.  He is there, and I can truly know Him, and to know that the infinite God truly knows little ole me.     

 

The Quest To Know

Because man revolted against God and tried to stand autonomous, the result, the great alienation, is in the area of man’s separation from God.  Meaning, separation from God is separation from truth and knowledge of existence.  When that separation happened, then everything else went too.  Man became lost to who he is and why he is here.  He is divided from other men in the area of knowing and he is divided from himself.  This separation carries over into the very basic area of ‘knowing’ and our desire to truly know who we are, to know the meaning to life and existence.  We search for common categories between the internal fantasy and the external world in an attempt to reconcile and make sense of what we see and feel in the reality around us.  But, if we have no universals and absolutes in truth to provide the answers to the questions, all we can do is to continue to search or remain in the realm of not being certain about the why and who of our existence.  And that is what we increasingly see in today’s modern era of thinking…we see and hear people screaming…“Who am I?”  This is not just some psychological thing, as we usually think of psychological.  It is basically the need and reality of man’s innate need and desire to ‘know’.  We were created to ‘know’.  We thus are on a lifelong quest and search to ‘know’ who we are and why we are here.   

The real space-time ‘Fall’ of man resulted in our continuing attempt to be autonomous and such autonomy is what robs us of embracing the reality that is there.  We have nothing to be sure of when our imagination soars beyond the stars if there is nothing in our frame of knowledge and reference to guarantee a distinction between reality and fantasy as to reason, cause, source, meaning, and purpose as to the absolutes of being.  But if we listen to the answers found in the Bible, which is truly the word of God, the confusion is ended, the alienation is healed.  This is the heart of the problem of knowing, and it is not solved until our knowledge fits under the apex of the infinite-personal, triune God who is there and who is not silent.  When it does, and only when it does, there simply is no problem in the area of ‘knowing.’  We can know that we are His and He is ours…eternally know.  What can be better than that?   

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent  

Truly Love

Jesus said:  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. (John 13:35) 

If we are true followers of Christ, then we have a mandate to truly love others.  Truly loving is about acceptance and recognition of another person being created in the image of God.  Such realization makes all others have special significance no matter their situation or plight in life.   

The Christian has a true starting place to love others, a place to start.  And that is; ‘I know who you are’.  You are made in the image of God. Even with a non-Christian, the Christian has some way to begin:  to go from the façade of the outward to the reality of the inward, because no matter what a man says he is, we know who he really is.  He is made in the image of God; that’s who he is.  And we know that down there somewhere – no matter how wooden he is on the outside, or how much he has died on the outside, or even if he believes he is only a machine – we know that beyond that façade there is the person who is a verbalizer and who loves and wants to be loved.  And no matter how often he says he is amoral, in reality he has moral motions.  We know this because he has been made in the image of God.  Hence even a non-Christian, the Chrisitan has a way to start, from the outside to the inside, the Christian is to love and love and love his fellow man ‘so that’ he is demonstrating and sharing the reality of the love of God ‘so that’ his fellow man might see the light and source of that love and come to personally know and possess the love of God of which he was made to know and possess.   

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent  

Objective Reality

In epistemology (the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion) we know that ‘things’ are there because God made them to be there.  The things we see are not an extension of his essence, they are not a dream of God, as much Eastern thinking says things are.  They are really there.  They have a true objective reality, and we are not surprised to find that there is a correlation between the observer and the observed because God made them to go together.  They are made by the same God in the same frame of reference.  God made them together, the subject and the object, and the knower and the known, and He made them in the same frame of reference.  The Christian does not have a problem with epistemology.  And every man lives as though it is true, regardless of what he says in his theories.  The Christian is not surprised that the tree is there, and he is not surprised that he cannot walk through it, because he knows the tree is really there.   

Now everybody has to face this truth, whether it is a very intellectual man who might fight the Christian view, or whether it is the very simple one who lives as though the Christian view is true simply because he acts that way without asking any questions.  To both of these the Christian says, what do you expect?  Naturally this is the way it is, because the reasonable God made both the subject and the object.  He makes the subject and He makes the object, and He gives us the Bible to give us knowledge we need about the universe and life and existence.   

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent  

Being Certain

The Christian position begins with a certainty, right from the very start, that there is an external world that is there, created by God as an objective reality.  He is not like the man who has nowhere to begin, who is not sure that there is anything there.  The dilemma of positivism (a philosophical system that holds that every rationally justifiable assertion can be scientifically verified or is capable of logical or mathematical proof, and that therefore rejects metaphysics and theism) is that, within its own system, it must start without any knowledge that there is anything there.  The Christian is not in this position.  He knows it is going to be there because God has made it there.  The reason why the East never produced a science of its own is that Eastern thinking has never had certainty of the objective existence of reality.  Without the certainty of an external world there is not subject for scientific study, no basis for experiment or deduction.  But the Christian, being sure of the reality of the external world, has a basis for true knowledge.  Even though we must acknowledge that we live in a fallen world that is now abnormal, yet the Christian is not caught in the dilemma of living life without being certain of the most important reality of existence…that there is a God who is truly there and we can know Him.  

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent 

Becoming His Child

Our adoption as children is only through Jesus Christ.  (Thoughts continued from yesterday’s post)

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1:5 (NLT) said    God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 

What does it mean when he says that our adoption into his everlasting family of joy is through Jesus Christ? It means we had to be died for in order that our sins might be forgiven, and that the justice of God might be satisfied, and that his wrath might be removed, and we might, therefore, be dealt with mercifully and welcomed into his family. Had he not died for us rebels, there would have been no adoption into his holy family. But through Christ he was able, with justice and mercy, to gather sinners, repentant into his divine family. That has implications, two of which I’ll mention. 

Not all people are the children of God. At least if you’re going to use that language, “all humans are children of God,” you are speaking in a very loose language that does not relate to a person’s salvation. It’s not helpful, in fact, to talk about all humans being children of God. I’m not going to say it’s wrong. I just want us to define it properly — like creatures, okay? 

We’re all creatures of God and in that sense, if you want to use children that way, which Paul does in Acts 17, and which is why I’m not dumping on it any more than to say it’s ambiguous. But if you want to use “children of God” in a fully biblical sense, you have to talk about through Jesus Christ, meaning through faith in Jesus Christ and what he did. Those who believe are welcomed through Jesus Christ into God’s family (Romans 3:25). That’s the first implication of saying adoption is through Jesus Christ. 

Here’s a second one. God did not adopt cute little orphans; he adopted enemies. He set his face to go to the most rebellious part of the kingdom, the most mean-spirited, rebellious, in-your-face kids on planet earth and he said, “Those are going to be mine, and I’m going to give my Son to make them mine.” 

So, when we are thinking of God’s adoption of us, let’s not have any warm little fuzzy feeling of, “Oh, he just picked out the cutest me.” You were not cute. You were in rebellion against him. You were displeasing to him. His wrath was abiding on you in his justice. You deserved everlasting punishment. But since God is not only justice and not only wrath, but also mercy and also love, he found a way by which the most dirty, displeasing, rebellious, unattractive kids would be his through Jesus Christ. 

Therefore, we love the gospel. We love the cross. We love the blood of Jesus because we know we don’t deserve this adoption. from him. Adoption is from him and through him because of Jesus Christ. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent / and, an article written by John Piper, desiringGod.org 

We Are Different

Man is different from ‘other’ created things, in that man is made in the image of God and other things are not.  God gifted man with personality and spirit.  Thus man’s unique position among all things created.  Being created in the image of God is a unique and wonderful/glorious position and status in the order of all things created.  Being stamped in this image has purposed and demonstrated intention and desire on God’s part.  It is ‘so that’ man can know and be known by his creator. It is purposed for ‘relationship’.  And in this elevated status among all things created, man has a reasonable responsibility to live in harmony with the other creatures and wonders of God’s creation.  Even though man is created in the image of God and other things are not, yet nevertheless he is as much a creature as the other things.  They and he are equally created.  At this level, they are equal, on the level of creaturehood.  It follows, therefore, that though we are separated from other created things by our God given ‘endowment’ (the image of God endowment – personality/spirit –for purpose and intention to know and be known) nevertheless we are fellow creatures in a common world because God made it that way. 

(As a side note:  Because we are fellow creatures, we are to treat the tree, the animal, and the air properly.  This is the Christian basis for ecologic responsibility.) 

It is important and vital for us to say that the reason the Bible says that God created us was ‘so that’ we could become His children, become a part of His eternal family and eternal plan.  And ‘that’ objective, that goal, is the purpose and reason for why God created us in His image.  ‘So that’ we can come to know Him and have an eternal relationship with Him.  And the way to become a child of God, the way to be adopted into God’s eternal family only comes through the person of Jesus Christ.   We will talk about this most important piece tomorrow.  😊 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent 

Why We Act As We Do

The true darkness and sadness for modern man who does not believe in the God who is there is that he cannot have any certainty of the relationship of the subject and the object of what he sees, feels, and knows about the reality of his existence.  But the Christian position starts from another set of presuppositions altogether, that there is a reason for a correlation between the subject and the object.  This is the experience of all men.  If it were some mystical, religious thing that somebody offers as a leap completely out of reality and with no way to test it objectively, it would indeed be just one more piece of pie in the sky.  But it does not matter how thoroughly a man in his philosophy holds a concept of unrelatedness and meaningless to life and existence; in reality he lives as though there is a correlation between subject and object (existence, life, cause and effect).   

The fact is that if we are going to live in this world at all, we must live in it acting on a correlation of ourselves and the reality of what we see, feel, and know, even if we have a philosophy that says there is no correlation.  There is no other way to live in this world.  Even the person who holds theoretically the most consistent concept of believing that there is no relationship between our being and existence, lives in this world on the basis of his experience that there is a correlation between being and existence and cause and effect.  He not only lives that way, he has to live that way.  There is no other way to live in this world.  That is the way the world is made.  So just as men love even if they say love does not exist, and all men have moral motions, even though the say moral motions do not exist, so all men act as though there is a correlation between the external and the internal world, even if they have no basis for that correlation.  What we are saying is that the Christian view is exactly in line with the experience of every man.  But no other system except the Judeo-Christian one – that which is given in the Old and New Testaments together – tells us why there is a subject-object correlation.  Everybody does act on it, everybody must act on it, but no other system tells you why there is a correlation between the subject and object.  In other words, all men constantly and consistently act as though Christianity is true.   

No matter what a man says he believes, actually –every moment of his life – he is acting as though Christianity were true, and it is only the Christian system that tells him why he can, must, and does act the way he does.   

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent 

The Known and the Knower

(Continuing from yesterday)    So God made the universe, He made man to live in that universe, and He gives us the Bible, the verbalized, propositional, factual revelation, to tell us what we need to know.  In the bible He not only tells us about morals, which makes possible real morals instead of merely sociological averages, but He gives us comprehension and conscious ability to correlate our knowledge.  The same reasonable God made both things, — namely the things that can be known and how we can know them, the subject and the object – and he put them together.  So it is not surprising if there is a correlation between these things.   

If modern science could be born on the basis of there being a reasonable God, which makes it possible to find out the order of the universe by reason, should we be taken by surprise that the knower who is to know and the object which is to be known should have a correlation?  It is exactly what we should expect.  Because we have a reasonable God who made them in the first place, there is a reasonable correlation between the subject and the object. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent