Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Comforting words...

About a month ago, after coming to the realization that my faith was quickly disappearing, my wife and I talked and I realized I should bring it to the attention of the pastor of the church we are currently attending. So, we called and schedule a time for them to come over and hang out after church one Sunday. We had a great talk, and the pastor followed up with me via email later in the week.

I thought I'd post our email exchange. I found his love and compassion to be very apparent in his approach with me. Good stuff here! For those still left scratching their heads trying to grasp my doubt in God at the moment... please feel free to read our email conversation shared here. It may be insightful.

Read on, read on...Before our meeting together, I wrote my pastor this:

"Hey there Mr. Pastor!

Just touchin’ base with you… we are on for this Sunday after church for grub and hangin’ out at my house, yeah? We are lookin’ forward to it!

Life finds me in a very, um…. NEW and interesting place right now. I’m sure at some point, our conversation on Sunday will venture in to spiritual things, and so I thought I’d share with you via email a little bit so that you can be brought up to date a little bit on whats going on with me. Following is an excerpt from an email I wrote to my dad in September of this year. This is not a quick, knee jerk, emotional email … nor as it designed to defend where I’m at… it does, however, give a general feel for what exists in the depths of my heart.

Just yesterday, I was talking with my pops and he reminded me that this leg of my life’s journey began quite a while ago… even BEFORE the church stuff hit the fan. He reminded me of the fact that about one year to any public turmoil started at NH, I put out a voicemail to each of the elders asking the question, “What is the basis for your faith? When all around you fails, your intellect has no answer, and the bible’s promises seem contradictory or too distant to cling to… what keeps your faith doing?”

One year later, it all hit the fan… my faith was shaken, I hit the books (Bible primarily, assisted by commentaries and essays and such), found unanswerable questions… and the peace that comes through faith has eluded me since. My faith is… no more. Destroyed by what I’m calling disillusionment and an inability to reconcile my intellectual challenges with what is taught by both the Bible and quite separately, the church. Though, I have not lost hope that it will return… for now … my faith is as gone as gone can be.

So, without further delay… here is what I wrote to my pops in September of this year. :

see: "A Written Confession"

Much love Mr. Pastor!… hope to see you Sunday! (ps. Don’t feel the obligation to reply to the email as we will talk soon, but if you are so inclined, know that I do in fact check my email about 1 million times per day, weekends included.)

I sent the email off, we got together after church, and talked. It was a good talk.... heart to heart sharing. He expressed his love for us and his confidence that God would see me through this time. Later, he wrote this:
Hey Miroslav,

When my wife and I got home from your house the other day she mentioned that it seemed like I was not taking your dark journey seriously enough. In her opinion it seemed like I was downplaying the seriousness of your searching and just saying, "O, never mind, everything will be o.k., you're just being silly." That was certainly not my intent. I was intending to say that I have complete confidence in eternal God who made the heavens and the earth, who understands the mysteries of our universe. I know that He is able to reach out to you, even if you are not able to find Him. Please don't interpret my confidence in God to be apathy to you. That said, I would like to begin an email conversation with you regarding your search. Please get the ball rolling by answering this question: "What would God have to do to convince you that He is worth serving with your time, money and talents (ie: giving your life to Him and dying to self) once again?"

Mr. Pastor
I wrote him back soon after with this (nice and wordy, just how I like it):

Mr. Pastor,

Rest assured that I did not find your response to my quandry to be lacking compassion. I know you well enough to know you love me and care for me. I think I understand pretty well what your hope is for my situation... That God is bigger than me and can answer me and meet me in my desperation.

I LOVE the idea of an ongoing dialogue about this stuff. Though I have to warn you that I enjoy writing, debate, and theology... so don't be surprised to find that my emails tend to get a bit um... lengthy. hehe. Also, I will be writing totally off the cuff with not much proof-reading for content, so let me state ahead of time that these are just my immediate thoughts and I may from time to time overstate or understate any given thought or opinion. Fair enough?

SO...on to it then.

"What would God have to do to convince you that He is worth serving with your time, money and talents (ie: giving your life to Him and dying to self) once again?"

Where to start in answering this question? It has been posed to me before (or a variation at least) by both my dad and friends. I want to be clear that I DO want to serve God again, ... but only once I know that who or what I'm serving actually exists and that I'm not acting out of habit, social pressure, or grabbing hold of a faith just for faith's sake.

I don't quite recall my answer to my dad and my friends back when they asked it, but I will say that upon reading it here in the email, the first thought that comes to my head is to say this: nothing. God does not have to do ANYTHING to convince me of anything he doesn't want to. Right? I mean, that point is just to say that he is not obliged to perform or prove himself to me or any of his creations for that matter.

And not only does he have no obligation to convince me, but I would go as far as to say that if he wants to convince me, its not me who gets to determine HOW that convincing will occur, nor can I really pretend that I know how it all works.

I guess what I'm trying to say by those statements is that the God of the Bible does not seem to be bound by any rules or formulas as to how He reveals Himself to us people. To some he appears in person (Abraham, Job, Doubting Thomas, Disciples, Paul, etc.), others he performs miracles for to demonstrate his love (Israel, various healing acts, etc.), others simply hear about him and believe (Roman centurion, woman who touched his garment), and still others seem to just get a vague story and find a saving faith (I'm thinking of Matthew 13 here, or the repentant criminal that hung next to Jesus who confessed last minute). One of the messages that appears pretty clear to me in Matthew 13 is that Jesus doesn't make too much of an effort to spell things out to people... and why? because, he says:"The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them." A pretty deep thought if you really think about it.

Apparently, by the stories told in the Bible, his level of "performance" or demonstration is not what causes faith (now I'm thinking of the story of Jesus explaining why he won't raise others from the dead, because even if they were raised from the dead a bunch of times, they still would not believe).

The second angle I would take on this question is that I don't think it applies to my situation very much. Several people that I've spoke to have tried to paraphrase my heart's troubles by saying, "Ok... so you are mad at God?" or "Hmm... so you have been let down a lot and are turning your back on God?" or "So you don't understand God and so you are telling him he has to prove himself to you." .... NO NO NO. All I'm saying is this: I DO NOT KNOW MUCH OF ANYTHING FOR CERTAIN and I can't pretend that I do. That inner faith and confidence that is in all ways completely intangible, unexplainable, and even referred to as "foolishness" in the Bible (at least by unbelievers) ... it is gone. I did not choose to push it down or abandon my faith. Its like ... hmmm., the best way to try to get across what it feels like on my end is this. Just as a new believer will tell you ten times over that what he/she has received was not of themselves and was freely given to them fully apart from their doing and that they don't understand it at all, thats what this feels like.... just the reverse. Make sense?

It is for the same reason, I don't think that a debate with a non-believer as to why they are wrong and Christ is right ever yields much. Its not whats missing. They don't need their mind to be convinced, or God to prove himself, they need faith to be given to them. Isn't that what the Bible teaches? Isn't that why Christ himself gave no answer to those who put him on the cross?

So, to sum it up, I think I've avoided answering your question entirely because I don't think it applies to either myself or the God of the Bible. Not meaning to be a jerk here... and not trying to be elusive. Thats just my honest thoughts on the question. I don't think that my lack of faith can be pinned down to a list of demands that I'm going to issue to God. If he exists and I'm his creation, I don't have the right to be issuing demands. If he exists and is the God of the Bible, he doesn't seem to work that way anyways. If he did, the raped little girls of the world would not continue to be abused, and the children dying in Africa would have food in their mouths... for surely they cry to God to show himself in such ways....

ping... pong.... ball is in your court. :)

Miroslav


Mr. Pastor wrote back a while later...

Miroslav,

O.K. So that was way too long to wait for a response from me I know. But life has been a little too busy for some weeks now. Yet, here I am and I am honored once again to be part of this conversation and part of your journey. I love you brother. But you know that.

I just received news that one my good friends died of a heart attack. He was 36 years old, just married a year or so ago and has a newborn daughter. Wow. That puts life in perspective. I feel fortunate that we can even have a discussion about anything.

Now to your repy. I get it. Wrong question. But it was the obvious place to start.
Let's try again. But I really connect with your illustration that you've experienced saving faith in reverse. That's chilling.

Maybe you will be able to re-discover your faith if we begin with your first love. Instead of starting with what's broken and moving towards how to fix it, let's try were you ever truly in a place of faith? Did you ever understand and believe in the God of the Bible in more than an intellectual way? So, describe your greatest moments of connection and certainty.

Mr. Pastor

Hmmm... Good idea I figured. So I wrote him back:

Mr. Pastor,

No apologies necessary! REALLY! And of course I know you love me.

My deepest condolences to a lost friend. I agree that such tragedy places our struggles and frustrations in life in a whole new light.

On with the new question:

Maybe you will be able to re-discover your faith if we begin with your first love. - GREAT THOUGHT!

Instead of starting with what's broken and moving towards how to fix it, let's try were you ever truly in a place of faith? Did you ever understand and believe in the God of the Bible in more than an intellectual way? - yes, yes, and YES. I trusted Christ in every area of my life in a very real and tangible way (though obviously I was not perfect in applying my faith at all times)... I also encouraged others follow and trust in Him as well, citing my own testimony, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit as evidence to His reality. I viewed EVERY life event as one small part in the greater story of God... I believed in heaven, hell, original sin, Christ's attoning blood, salvation through faith alone, and the singular Truth of Christ, that is to say that there are no other gods but He alone. (I'm writing believed here as if I totally DO NOT believe any of it now, but please don't take it to be such a strong negative stance).

So, describe your greatest moments of connection and certainty. - eek. This could be a long email! Hmmm... for sake of ease, lets start with what I've already written about on my blog. Here are my greatest spiritual moments in immediate memory and the blog-link to see what I've written about each already. Of course, my current writing challenges what I previously described as GOD WORKING IN MY LIFE... since now I'm in a state of disbelief, but I assure you there was no doubt in my mind at the time:

1) Worship experience - from childhood to present day is the most reliable way for me to connect with God. (best "first love" one on one experience with God and me alone. First , but not only, experience of the Holy Spirit, confirmation of God's presence and reality, and the loving/abba side of God)

2) My confession of a life-long porn addiction and reversal of lifestyle. (best experience in confession and repentance)

3) My part in leading an Agonia class through very tough marriages (this was my best experience in walking others through TRUE pain and hurt and applying Biblical principles to find forgiveness and peace... Also revealed to me the limits to human reasoning of justice, and the depth of heartache and evil in the world).

Good start?

And the most recent email response from him is here, which I thought was a great summary and temporary conclusion to our conversation.

Miroslav,

Your blog is great. Long, but great. I haven't read everything on there, but looked through it all.

So, back to the issue at hand...

I'm linear. I like to think in lines of progression. Since we started over, I asked if you had ever experienced faith. Your answer was a resounding YES. You have very real and tangible memories of saving faith. God has, in the past, allowed you to taste of His goodness and the reality of His resurrection power that is able to change lives and transform relationships. Amen? So, I have no doubt that you have entered into an eternal relationship with Him. He has promised to be your loving heavenly father and you have in turn promised to be His obedient child.

If all this is true, and I believe that we have established that it is, then your problem is not that you have lost your relationship, but your fellowship. Let me explain. Your relationship is something that can never change. God is just as much your Father now as He was five years ago. Let me illustrate what I mean.

When I lived away from home, I had a relationship with my family. My mom lived in the city still and we did not see each other or even talk on the phone for months at a time. During these times I felt the distance in our relationship, but I was just as much my mother's son and she was just as much my mom as when I was in her presence. Our fellowship was broken by distance. Our relationship was unchanged.

If I had decided that I never wanted to return home and see my mom again, our fellowship would suffer and we would lose a lot of our feelings for each other, but she would still be my mom and I her son. If you never had a relationship with God, that would be your greatest need. But you are His and He is able to keep you safe from sin for eternity.

You are in the same relationship that you were before in regards to your Heavenly Father. He is still your Father and you are still His son. What you are experiencing is a break in Fellowship. Something is stopping you from experiencing communication and communion like you once had. So, from here we need to answer the question, "What would stop you from experiencing the feelings that you once felt?"

There are a few possibilities:

1. God may have chosen to remove His blessing from you so that you might demonstrate belief despite circumstances as He did with Job.

2. You may have experienced a great hurt in your life that has caused you to doubt.

3. Satan may have tricked you into thinking that your faith was based on feelings and not on facts.

No matter the reason that you are suffering now, God is still the maker of the World, the Savior from your sins and the One who alone can open your eyes to understand this journey.

I suggest that you don't demand to understand this dark time, but rather choose to obey God in the midst of it. If you do, you will come to know God on a deeper level than you ever could have without the doubt.

"Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen." Hebrews 11:1

"Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him." Hebrews 11:6

In His Grip,

Mr. Pastor

23 Comments:

Blogger David Porta said...

"Your problem is not that you have lost your relationship, but your fellowship."

Excellent!

"I suggest that you don't demand to understand this dark time, but rather choose to obey God in the midst of it. If you do, you will come to know God on a deeper level than you ever could have without the doubt."

Excellent!

This comes to mind.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The Cost of Discipleship.

Why did the disciples come when Jesus said, "Follow me"?

Because of authority.
Jesus had it.
Has it.

Why did the disciples follow Jesus? Not because he was pretty. Not because it was to their advantage. Not for riches, nor power. Not for love.

Authority.
"Follow me."
They followed.

He spoke with His authority. It was His bidding. They followed.

The rich young man, who obeyed the Law, went away.

In John 10, to "not believe," appears to be a head thing. But, then, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."

Pastor says, "Choose to obey God."

Jesus says, "Follow me."

Matthew 4:19-20
"Come, FOLLOW ME," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.

Mark 1:17-18
"Come, FOLLOW ME," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 8:21-23
Another disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."

But Jesus told him, "FOLLOW ME, and let the dead bury their own dead."

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.

Luke 9:59
He said to another man, "FOLLOW ME." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."

Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

Matthew 9:9
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "FOLLOW ME," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Matthew 10:37-39
"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and FOLLOW ME is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Luke 14:26-27
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and FOLLOW ME cannot be my disciple."

Matthew 16:23-25
Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and FOLLOW ME. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."

Mark 8:33-35
But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and FOLLOW ME. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."

Luke 9:22-24
And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and FOLLOW ME. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

Matthew 19:20-22
"All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"

Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, FOLLOW ME."

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Mark 10:20-22
"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."

Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, FOLLOW ME."

At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Luke 18:21-23
"All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, FOLLOW ME."

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.

Mark 2:14
As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. "FOLLOW ME," Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

Luke 5:27-28
After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "FOLLOW ME," Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

John 1:43-45
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "FOLLOW ME."

Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

John 10:25-30
Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they FOLLOW ME. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."

John 12:24-26
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must FOLLOW ME; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

John 21:18-22
Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "FOLLOW ME!"

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"

Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must FOLLOW ME."

Thursday, December 01, 2005 3:43:00 AM  
Anonymous AUNTIE LAMB said...

You go, Mr. Pastor! Yeah, Miro, I keep thinking that if you've lost the faith, you wouldn't be bothering with the scriptures any more because they'd be invalid without faith. (Now I'm not a debater, so be easy on me!)

Thursday, December 01, 2005 3:41:00 PM  
Blogger Heather Ann said...

Your pastor sounds like a nice dude. Unfortunately, when I lost faith (or when it left me), no amount of pretending or playing along or acting as if it were true was going to make me feel that way. It was gone, and I knew it. To have acted otherwise would have made me feel like a fraud.

You can choose to obey Jesus in action, but not in spirit, because your spirit isn't playing that game anymore. And isn't Jesus all about the heart? Mr. "you've heard not to murder, but I say not to hate" Jesus is interested in what's inside, and what used to be inside has jumped ship.

I wish I could tell you that it can come back, but that hasn't been my experience. I can't decide to have faith anymore than I can choose to sincerely believe that the night sky is white.

I know you're scrambling to hold onto it, and that's why you're reading the Scriptures and talking to pastors and reading Christian books and discussing it with your wife and blogging it out. I scrambled just as hard, and I just wanted to say that either way, you'll be alright. If you get it back, great, and if not, life on this side can be great too.

P.S. Sometimes it's not Satan who deludes people.

Thursday, December 01, 2005 4:07:00 PM  
Blogger Miroslav said...

D Porta,

Thanks for your input!
You wrote:
"Pastor says, "Choose to obey God."
Jesus says, "Follow me.""
I'll take that not as a knock to my pastor, but as an encouragement to address Christ's call.

Auntie Lamb,

I haven't written off the GoodBook just yet. ;)
I'm just in the I-don't-know-stage.

Heather Ann,

Yeah, the pastor IS a good man and a good friend. His love for me shows through in his writing don't you think?

You suggested that acting contrary to your beliefs make you a fraud. A strong statement (which I myself have said recently!) I wonder if thats always true. Gonna start a new entry about it, please chime in more there if you feel like it!

You mention the inability to believe that the night sky is white. Ain't that so true? You just can't "muster up" belief, which is why, more and more... I see that the Evangelical call for a "decision for Christ" does not sit well with what I see in reality, or in Scipture. (yes, still using capitals on such things. :D)

I agree I've scrambled to hold on to my faith. At least, I agree that I did for a long time. I *think* I've progressed more in to embracing the reality that my faith is gone... but maybe not. I don't pray like I used to (with the exception of the occasional cry to the heavens, "God, if you are there... what the heck are you doing? Please help me out here."), I don't worship (instead I am stuck analyzing what the heck the worship songs MEAN in light of Scipture and reality), can't take communion (in light of my state of disbelief), and my world views are less and less shaped by the Christian faith (though many stay the same, their SOURCE is different). Yes, life has definately morphed into a new thing as of late.

My situation is probably different than yours (though I don't suggest your process was easy or painless)in that I simply do not have the luxury of being able to fully embrace my new I-don't-know'edness without very real consequences that I am not comfortable with (and I don't think I ever will be). My wife (who is my closest friend and a true companion) still has a strong faith, my father is still a pastor, ALL of my friends are believers, and ALL of my relatives are believers. I've got two kids that I will likely raise up learning about the God I am not so sure about. And my wife and I must figure out how to walk through all the issues of life while on very different pages with our faith which is something new to us. I'm in quite an odd situation, really. Thankfully, my wife and I are strong lovers of one another and very dedicated to our marriage and children. We will figure out how to overcome this new challenge I'm sure. :D

I will say one thing. With very few exceptions, my bold statements and questions have been met with s surprising level of comfort and compassion. I have really enjoyed discovering that most of the people around me really love me, in a deep deep way. There have been some rough discussions here and there, but even those were rooted in love... and I don't feel like I've lost any friends in this season of life (at least not yet!).

I wonder if the reason that my doubts in the faith are so graciously tolerated is that they have not really lead to any drastic lifestyle changes. Its not like I'm going out and getting drunk and hanging out at strip clubs or something. I still play by all the same "rules" as before. I have to imagine that the apparent peacefulness of it all would change if my lack of faith and adjusted worldviews lead me to do or say anything that is particularly bad in the eyes of those who still have faith. I know that in the past I wouldn't let my friends off the hook easily if I saw them getting off the "straight-'n'-narrow."

Thursday, December 01, 2005 9:08:00 PM  
Blogger The Daileys said...

Hebrews 10:19-39

Keep up your dialogue with your pastor and keep seeking. We all have to deal with fighting our own pride once in a while that tells us that we have no "proof" that God even exists. Sometimes the intellect needs to give way to what our heart KNOWS and trust that we can never know it all or have it all proven to us. It isn't all about you. Yes, Jesus would have taken on human form and died on that cross if it were just for you, but it was for all humanity.

You have already seen that you have to give up your old ways, but perhaps you haven't tasted enough of the freedom that comes form living the way Jesus intended. There will be pain and frustration when we focus on our circumstances, but I cannot imagine a more peaceful and safe place than to be held in the palm of God's hand while the storm rages around me.

I'm sure you have had others give you the verses from Jeremiah 29:11-14, but you might go and just spend a few days really thinking about it. It sounds like you are really looking and God has always kept His promises in His time, not ours.

Friday, December 02, 2005 9:57:00 PM  
Blogger Jack H said...

See here
http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=19936712&postID=113533637819726083&isPopup=true

young man!

J

Saturday, December 24, 2005 5:03:00 PM  
Blogger Jack H said...

Long posting, so I'll handle it in bullet points.

You asked the NH elders (I'm guessing New Harvest?) “What is the basis for your faith? When all around you fails, your intellect has no answer, and the bible’s promises seem contradictory or too distant to cling to… what keeps your faith doing?” Judas walked with Jesus, and didn't believe. Moses and the prophets could have appeared and preached, and some wouldn't believe. The stones could have cried out, and the dead did rise, and unbelief. So it's not ever about specifics. What is the basis for faith? Not the success or failure of "all round you" -- not "intellect" -- not promises "contradictory" or harmonious, "distant" or near. Faith is a relgious word, and I don't care much for it. I've said somewhere in Forgotten Prophets, that a better word is trust. It's not what do you have faith in. It's who do you trust. Well, Miroslav? Who do you trust?

Re faith destroyed "by what I’m calling disillusionment and an inability to reconcile my intellectual challenges with what is taught by both the Bible and quite separately, the church." First, disillusionment is a good thing -- you'd rather be decieved? If you're disillusioned, it should be with yourself, not with others, and certainly not with the Bible. If with the Bible, talk to me -- you "found unanswerable questions"? -- what? Second, it isn't the *Bible* your "intellect" needs to be reconciled with. The word is *ego*. Third, how could any conflict with some church cause disillusionment with God? Haven't you been paying attention your whole life? *People* are the pigs the prodigal son slept among -- so what if they're Christian? Christians are not better, just saved. But if you're so much better then them... (I kid, and you hear my meaning.)

...

Saturday, December 24, 2005 9:23:00 PM  
Blogger Jack H said...

...

RE Mr. Pastor's confidence in God toward you, even from here in the heart of darkness I agree. As should be clear to any who've read my blog(s), I have a son. I won't go into specifics, but several years ago he wanted to do something shameful. He had it all worked out, and because he trusts me, he talked to me about it. And what I said, over the phone, was "Son, I know you're not going to do this." "Yeah, Dad, I am." "No. And here's how I know. You would not dishonor me. You would not bring shame to me." And it was true. I not only had his trust, I earned it. I have his respect, because I deserve it. And he wass faithful to how I raised him, because I was faithful to him.

Mr. Pastor believes that you have the same relationship with God, that my son has with me. He knows you better than I do, so his opinion counts for something.

...

Saturday, December 24, 2005 9:36:00 PM  
Blogger Jack H said...

...

I'll just skip over all that "What would God have do to" crap. Jesus Christ.

I know a boy who needs a smack across the head. "God does not have to do ANYTHING to convince me..." Now, "liar" is such a harsh word...

God isn't "bound by any rules or formulas as to how He reveals Himself..." Yeah, there should be an approved method. Maybe a blog. Because people and circumstances are always exactly the same. And there's not much depth to this God character.

"NO NO NO." Yeah, that's the game. *Look at me, over here in the corner...and I don't want your old attention, any old way.* Or maybe I'm being unkind. Perhaps your light and reasonable-sounding tone hides a deepest distress. Again, when my son was a very little boy, and in a mood, I did comfort him. But it was up to him to give up the mood. Sometimes he wanted to hold onto it for a while. That was okay. I'd say, "Well, I see you're pretty upset right now. You know how much I love you. And when you're ready, you let me know, and I'l give you a great big hug." And he did, and I did.

"...they need faith to be given to them." I don't know what unbelievers need. What I needed was to humble myself.

"Isn't that why Christ himself gave no answer to those who put him on the cross?" No. Pearls before swine. Give faith to pigs, and they're still pigs. The demons believe, and tremble. (James 2:19 -- have you even *read* this book?)

Mr. P really connects "with your illustration that you've experienced saving faith in reverse. That's chilling." No, that's Matthew 13:5-6, 9.

And on it goes.

Cut to the chase. Where are you now. If you're still stuck in November, or last year, or whenever -- I've got books to read. I'm more than just an entertainer, or an audience -- if you're being challenged enough to come to conclusions, or moved enough to make a change, then here I am. But I really do try to never argue. Of the making of arguments, there is no end. And I've heard enough people unwind their lectures at me, that I'm not interested in hearing any more well-rehearsed lists about opinions about God. I've got opinions of my own, that I'm busy rehearsing.

So?


J

Saturday, December 24, 2005 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger Jack H said...

But I'm writing for two reasons.

1) Ah. You're a pastor's kid. That explains so much.

2) You sound like the guy who says, "No, I'm not gay. I'm just expirimenting. I'm just curious." Christianity is a marriage, mate, and the bonds are called faith. No faith, no marriage. Mr. P wrote soothingly about how you really must be saved, because God is faithful. Mr. P knows you and I do not. But I do have a certain critical capacity, a certain analytical facility, and it sounds like you're God's grandchild. Time to get real, lad. Don't capitalize Scripture if it's not true. That's the kind of hypocracy we all hate. All except you, maybe. Yeah, it's lukewarm.

The word, my friend, is unfaithful. You got the patter down just right. You really rolled it out for Mr. P -- a list of wonderful experiences. Really, impressive. I have nothing like it. When I used to go to church, before rage immobilized me, I was around these alien and godly people who were really the *good* kind of sold-out. I respected them. In school, I was in the smart-kid classes, and there were two types: fast, and studious. I respected the studious kids -- they earned it. My point is that I've never had the lingo down. I got saved when I was 32. And despite any emotion or conviction or passion or certainty or mastery of jargon, if ... no, since you don't have faith, you are not and never were saved. Period.

That's the danger of being a pastor's kid -- they end up thinking they've always been saved, when it's only that they've always been around saved people. I can be wrong -- my crystal ball sometimes gets murky. But the word is faithless, and that's crystal clear. Mighty big of you, to concider raising your children in an incorrect religion, though. I'm sure the God you don't believe in would be grateful, if he existed. What, you think I'm being sarcastic? I can think of something worse.

All this talk about love. I'm tempted to be vulgar. LOVE DOES NOT FAIL. If it fails, it wasn't love. Don't say you love something, unless you'll die for it. I love my son. Jesus loves me. Get it? These soft-bellied, gutless christians with their meaningless droolings about love. Love bleeds. But, oh, babies are hungry in the world, so that means Jesus is a liar or a fool. Who could argue with that? Not me.

What's the difference between a whore and a wife? Money? No. Love? No. Commitment -- or, shall I say, faithfulness.

I'm done.

---------

I guess I'll be posting a revised version of this on FP. Might do somebody else some good.


J

Sunday, December 25, 2005 1:11:00 AM  
Blogger Miroslav said...

Jack H,
Would prefer if you can consolidate your comments in to one entry as much as possible ... helps my comments format a bit. And please lay off the “son”, “boy”, and “lad” comments when you are using them to patronize me. Thanks! Oh, and before I forget to say it… Thank you for your input... good stuff here!

I started this response with the intention of addressing every question/issue that you brought up in yours, but MAN, you got a lot in there. If I skip anything, its not for any particular reason other than sheer VOLUME.

Re: Faith vs Trust - You don’t like the word faith? Ok, I can appreciate that. Lets use trust. The question I asked the NH elders may well have been, "On what basis do you trust Christ when you doubt your beliefs?" ... You ask me who I trust and ask me to cut to the chase; so here is the answer: At the moment, not Jesus. That is because I cannot say that I currently believe His claims to be true. Stealing a line from another one of your comments... the mountain is no longer a mountain (though it most certainly was one at one point [more on that later] and I hope that one day it may become one once again!). Yes, I HOPE that my belief returns… an odd thing really. But its true. I like being able to trust Christ a lot more than not. On what basis does one place their trust in something/someone? Belief. And what happens to the trust when the belief vanishes? You are lookin’ at it. If you were to absolutely push me to say who/what I trust in, I'd tell you that I trust that I have the freedom and duty to say "I don't know" when I don't.

RE: Disillusionment. Remember, I'm calling it that from this side of the fence because at the moment it appears that I've awakened from a belief that is not true. I agree that becoming disillusioned due to other Christians actions would be silly That would demonstrate a horrible misunderstanding of the Scriptures or its promises. I can appreciate your tongue-in-cheek challenge to me if I were pointing at all-those-horrible-people-who-claim-they-are-Christians without addressing my own double mindedness and failures. Any accusation I make against the Church, I make against myself. I AM THE CHURCH (or was, I suppose, when I believed). I can separate the God of the Bible from the Church, thank you very much. :p In an effort to clarify, let me say that I suppose I feel disillusioned by Jesus Christ. I have, until recently, trusted in Him completely (to the best of my ability that is) and believed His claims to be the Christ. Now… I’m not so sure.

RE: Unanswerable Questions. … Free Will and God’s Sovereignty. Also, a God defined by love who allows horrible calamity… who knowingly creates vessels for dishonor. I’m no longer content to play the role of clay with no voice to the potter. My definitions of love apparently do not line up with His. Call that ego if you will. If He IS, than this quandary really *IS* about ego. I am nothing more than clay trying to play the role of potter. But apart from an underlying faith/belief/trust, to concede my core convictions on a basic practical understanding of love, is not acceptable. Should my belief return (belief in the claims of Christ)… than so too will my TRUST which will once again allow me to be content with the potter’s answers.

RE: Mr. Pastor’s opinion of me and my relationship with God. At first you honor his opinion, while later (two comments down) you state that you have reached your “critical capacity, a certain analytical facility.” You then sound off as to why it appears to you that I have been nothing more than a “grandchild” of God this whole time. I wonder, since you know so little of me, if you might be willing to place a bit more credence in the words of those that do. I have not simply “walked with Jesus” as Judas did. I served Him and worshipped Him and trusted Him with my all. All that I was … was His. (Don’t take this to mean that I claim to have been some super-christian who never lost my cool or sinned or lied or anything like that… I’m simply trying to distinguish between what I possessed: very real and genuine faith, oops… trust, in Christ, and the type of knowledge without faith that you are referring to with your mentioning of Judas, Satan, and demonic beings.) You state later in your post-comment post on your blog that “he is not Christian. If not, then never was.” Oh come on. Puke. I don’t think the love, faith, life, the Bible is quite so cut and dry as you are trying to make it out to be. What about Hezakiah? Was Israel’s abandonment of God evidence that they never trusted in Him at all? How about Matthew 14?! Could it not be that Christ IS God and I am nothing more than Peter, a man who’s faith has been shaken by all around him while striving to know Him more? Sheesh. But, I’m geting ahead of myself here. ;D

RE: God’s need to do something: You and I agree on the fact that God’s action is not what breeds faith/trust. In your first paragraph of your first comment under this post, you make that very statement. And that’s all I was trying to say in my response to Mr. Pastor. Because I know the Bible makes it clear that even such an awesome display of power by God will (such as ressurection) will not make all to believe… I cannot reasonablly approach God on that sort of basis. I’m sure you would agree, the type of faith demanded of us in the Bible (or trust as we are calling it here) is never really simply the product of miracles performed. If it were, than the Pharisees and ALL the multitudes would have become followers of Christ. For that reason, I do not intend to tell God, “If you only would do such-and-such miracle, THEN I would believe you…” Instead, when I do cry out to the heavens and ask Jesus for help… I ask him to restore to me the faith (belief) that was once the bedrock of my very life. For once the belief return, so too will my trust. If you think that last statement is BS, and that I am somehow demanding something else from the Almighty, then go ahead and call me a liar. I’ve got no problem with harsh words if they are the most accurate reflection of your heart/mind.

RE: God being bound by rules/formulas: I wasn’t trying to say this was a bad thing. Was only citing it as the reason why I can’t demand a specific way in which my belief will be restored (and ultimately my trust/faith).

RE: Your little boy’s mood: Perhaps this is most near to what could be happening in my heart. I can’t *identify* the mood as anything more than a lack of belief (which I don’t know how to “give up”)… but maybe there is more to it. I’m definitely open to the idea. I don’t claim it to be a “phase.” That *WOULD BE* weak. That type of claim gives an acknowledgement to the underlying Truth. Its an easy, political way out. Now… I may discover 2 days (or 5 years, or in eternity) from now that I was wrong… and I will realize then that this WAS in fact a phase… but that’s not what it feels like now.

RE: James: Who is this? A friend of yours? Is 219 the first three in his phone number? ;) I do not currently *believe* the story. I guess I’m worse than the demons, eh?

RE: PK-in-a-box: You wrote, “I can be wrong -- my crystal ball sometimes gets murky.” Yeah. Lets leave it at that. Your summary of PK’s may or may not be an accurate sterotype. But it doesn’t fit this cat. My faith WAS real and it was MINE. Believe it. (or not… )

RE: TwooWuv: You wrote, “LOVE DOES NOT FAIL. If it fails, it wasn't love.” You have never failed your son? Impressive. Come on. Don’t make me puke. Or is it love only if you apologize in time… before you die that is. Is life really so black and white?

RE: Whore vs Wife: And what of the woman who’s husband left for work one day and never returned? Never wrote, never called. She tries to find him. Tries all the old spots, all the family, all the friends… but can’t find him. 5days, 4weeks, 8months, 10years later. Nothing. She moves on. She remarries. Did she never love her husband to begin with? Of course. Life is crazy that way. … So too is the God of the Bible. (crazy unpredictable, not crazy lala)

Life and Love are difficult and mysterious. So too are belief, trust, and faith.

Read my poems yet? Nothing special in terms of quality, but an insight in to my heart for sure. You can get to ‘em by the right hand column. May give you a tad more insight in to what has gone on inside of me.

RE: Entertainment / Argument / Conclusions: Cutting to the chase is what you want. Have patience … I’m doing my best. I’ve never traveled down this here path before! …No, I didn’t invite you here for entertainment or argument. I am not stuck in November or last year (for at that time I was clinging to Christ!). No, this is a whole new bag. You ask if I’m being challenged enough to make conclusions. I’m not sure what to make of that. I mean, the only conclusion I can make as of right now is “I don’t know.” I just don’t. Am I “moved enough to make a change?” Well, obviously not yet or I would have. After digging and digging and digging in to my heart and soul for months on end trying to figure out what in the heck happened to my belief… I finally arrived at the determination that either God has removed it from me for a time for some inexplicable reason OR He doesn’t exist and I’m just coming around to realize it.

Sick of hearing, “I don’t know” from me? Read this SHORT entry I made a while back on the subject.

Jack, If you don’t have time for me and this drama, that’s cool. Don’t feel obligated to stick around. I won’t be offended. The beauty of the internet, no? I do enjoy what you have to say on these subjects though. I appreciate your logic, thoughts, and writing style.

*gosh, after re-reading this whole post and subsequent comments, I have to agree with what you wrote on your blog, "rambling" "disjointed" "irratic". But. Oh well. : )*

*oh, and you never answered this question on your blog, "What is the basis of faith?". You also stated that faith cannot be lost. Can you give me some thological stances you take so I can put you in a nice tidy box in my mind? :) Calvanist?*

Sunday, December 25, 2005 7:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miroslav sed
"After digging and digging and digging in to my heart and soul for months on end trying to figure out what in the heck happened to my belief… I finally arrived at the determination that either God has removed it from me for a time for some inexplicable reason OR He doesn’t exist and I’m just coming around to realize it."
Possibility of a third choice? Only you can answer this, we can only speculate/wonder from our uninfomed viewpoint of outsiders.
Could it be that what you saw as a close walk of faith with God was in reality a faith in something else? Like faith in church, awesome friends, community, or even religion? We know that these things were harshly ripped out of your life recently, possibly leaving you to see what was left behind...
Jack, who doesn't know you, may have more courage to ask you this than those who love you and feel you could be hurt by such questions.

Sunday, December 25, 2005 9:02:00 PM  
Blogger Miroslav said...

Anonymous,
This is not the first time that this question has been posed to me. I just searched through all the comments b/c I could swear that the suggestion came via a comment on this blog... but I came up empty handed. Maybe it was via email. I have a pretty good idea who it was that wrote it though so if this is you... you are caught! Also, let me say that I prefer painful difficult questions and conversations that are real rathar than fluffy BS, feelgood chitchat. So although I will TOTALLY respect your anonymity, please feel free to let me know your identity if you so desire (either by blog or in person).
Anyhow... to address what you wrote... I never like to rule out third-options! If what you suggest is true... wow. In that case I must have been VERY confused. Jack H doesn't like the word Faith and so he suggests the word Trust. I *DID* trust Jesus with my life. Every area. Hopes, dreams, children, wife, work, sex, everything. I didn't trust my friends when I confessed my porn use. I trusted Christ and His promises after a weekend spent pondering the claims of God's faithfulness and power. I didn't trust the Church when I prayed tearful tears to God with my wife over our friend too far away for hands to reach who was determined to kill herself. I didn't trust religion when I told my homosexual friend, a believer in Christ, that I had to believe (based on what the Bible tells us) that Jesus could help him conquer his sexual 'challenges'...heck, if God can part the Red Seas... aren't we told we can be, what is the term... overcomers?
So anyhow, I was putting my trust ENTIRELY in Christ. I lived for Him.

You wrote, "Only you can answer..." - Well, maybe. Can a man even know his OWN heart completely? I know I've been surprised on more than one occasion with what pops up from that crazy place.

I do appreciate your input.

Sunday, December 25, 2005 9:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Papa to 3 soaring arrows said...

This is big daddy speaking loud and clear (o.k. maybe not so loud as the kids are with gma). I left the anonymous post (albeit Mama did the typing). As she was reading the post I just wanted to throw out a third option that wasn't mentioned. Take it for what it's worth. Again, only you know the relationship you had with Christ before the "big split".

Thanks for the wonderful Christmas time.

Sunday, December 25, 2005 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger Miroslav said...

hehe. I knew it was one of you crazies. :D

Sheesh. And I thought we were friends.

Love ya man. Merry Christmas to you guys!

Sunday, December 25, 2005 10:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Jack H said...

Mama -- weeping, or whining. It's a matter of perspective ... or rather emphasis. In my bid to seem humble, I'll pretend I don't have an opinion. [Oh, McGoo, you've done it again.] But I do have an opinion, and it's this: [there followed many words of analyses, omitted.]

Re "concolidating" -- well, pardon me all to hell.

I don't think I used "boy" ... well, "a boy who needs a smack..." If you feel patronized, I've been misread. A common phenomenon. (How would you feel about "bucko"?) I wouldn't mock a blind man.

Now that I'm done (for the moment) being defensive :-)...

Glad to hear you don't trust Jesus. There's not really much more I can say. I don't expect anyone to have *studied* my sundry postings, but I've said a fair bit about such issues, and don't wish to repeat myself.

You've "trusted in Him completely (to the best of my ability that is) and believed His claims to be the Christ. Now… I’m not so sure." No, you are sure. *Who do you trust?* "Not Jesus" -- forget all this "at the moment noise." *I'm only committing adultary at the moment.*

The paragraph "RE: Mr. Pastor’s opinion of me and ..." I think a careful reading of what I've said will resolve any apparant inconsistancy. I'm a careful guy. I sense some irritation, here. I bring a different perspective, and there will be no apology forthcoming for that. If I'm wrong, you've only been a little annoyed. If I'm right, the consequenses are more grave. So I dare be annoying. You use your past walk as evidence. That walk brought you to unfaithfulness. There's no debate in my mind, puke or not. "I know my sheep..."

Comparing your denial to that of Peter is dishonest, or at best muddy. I'm not going to explain it.

"I don’t claim it to be a “phase.” That *WOULD BE* weak." Compare with: "at the moment."

"My faith WAS real and it was MINE." But you lost it, because God cannot hold onto his own. Poor, stupid, weak, feckless god.

"love does not fail" ... what does the word "fail" mean, here? Don't make me call you "lad."

The whore/wife analogy was meant to be concidered from the man's perspective.

"Have patience … I’m doing my best." Yeah, the ego is a tough serpent.

Yeah, God can remove his blessing. For a time. Those who would not be patronized, remain faithful. Curse God and die? No. Though He slay me, yet shall I love Him.

"rambling" "disjointed" "irratic" -- a rhetorical device, meant to disarm the hostile reader. Didn't work, I guess. :-)

"never answered this question on your blog, 'What is the basis of faith?'" I didn't answer it, because, as I say, it's not about specifics. But I did answer it.

"You also stated that faith cannot be lost." This is not a new teaching. You haven't done your homework. I should quote scripture to someone who doesn't trust scripture?

Oh, I love Calvin. Funniest comic strip ever.


J

Monday, December 26, 2005 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Miroslav said...

Jack H,
I've posted your comments here for those that can't navigate easily to your blog. If you want to have a private email conversation, we can certainly do that. I'm at miroslavsmusings[A T]gmail[D O T]com.

Only a couple of things I'd like to respond to:

1) I'm not 'annoyed' at your writing. I'll tell if you I am. Promise.

2) I wasn't comparing my situation to that of Peter's denial. I was referring to his DOUBT when walking on the water. Perhaps you knew that and were calling THAT incident denial for some reason?? Either way, I am not comparing me to Peter any more than I am Israel... my point was to show you that there are clear examples in the Bible where true faith doubts in mind and even fails in deed. Neither of those things prove the faith to have never existed.

3) You seem quite content to lay the burden of my lost faith at my shoulders. I just can't understand this coming from a Reformed Thinker (which is the tidy box I've put you in, btw). My other Reformed Thinker came with the same approach. I know that the Bible teaches of an incorruptable seed... but isn't it at least *possible* that even this period of faithlessness is of God's sovereign ordination?

Much luv to ya.

Monday, December 26, 2005 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger Jack H said...

Greetings -- no private correspondance meant ... I stated my reason for the link at FP.

Not annoyed? I'm losing my touch. (tee hee).

I took your Peter reference to be his famous thrice denial. Your context seemed to suit it, perfectly. (Didn't bother to look up Mt 14 ... still haven't. I don't have the thing memorized chapter and verse, ya know. Do you think less of me? Again, tee hee.)

Here's the thing. I use harsh-seeming, extreme examples, for a reason. Peter's denial was from human failing -- fear and confusion. It wasn't a concidered opinion after a long journey of doubt. Your words have hardened into a flat denial -- "I've lost my faith." That's the pretty way of saying it. The ugly way is, "God is a liar, and there is no God, anyway." But you didn't have this instance of Peter's doubt in mind -- rather, walking on water.

Well. If you're comparing having some doubt about walking on water after having just walked on water, with what you're doing -- well, in logic this is called the equivocal fallacy. All the two have in common, is the word doubt, which has different meanings. And doubt is not denial. If you're using words with less rigor than I would expect, there's ample oportunity to correct such usage. Doubt is not denial, and you've been clear that the issue is denial. "I've lost my faith."

There is never going to be someone who does not doubt, and fail. To point this out is to say the sun can set. Denial, however, is to say the sun will never rise again.

What is the unforgivable sin? That's the only doubt/failure/denial we need concern ourselves with, here. Everything else is obfuscation.

I'm not a "Reformed Thinker." I haven't smelled tulips for years, but I seem to recall there's something I disagreed with. I've been clear that salvation cannot be lost -- Jesus knows his sheep. So as I see it, you're either a lost sheep that he'll come find, or else you were not his sheep -- let's say goat, rather than wolf. My opinion, based on your very clear words of denial, is "goat". But lost sheep is fine, with me. I'm not the one whose adamant, here.

Someone calling himself Victor has commented on my blog, alluding to my "anger." Indeed. I am quite content to lay the burden of my anger on my shoulders. It's not God's problem, it's mine. You seem unwilling to take a similar responsiblity. I might be very harsh with such an attitude, if I felt I had authority in your life. It's the way a father raises a child -- to be responsible, and to take responsibility. But I am nothing to you but some guy -- and communication is hard enough, with being harsh. Instead, I commend you to your conscience.

I've used the analogy of adultery. Repent of it, and it is forgiven -- everybody's favorite example: the woman taken in adultary. Forgiven, because repentant. This forgiveness does not extend to you, currently, because you are unrepentant. You might even say you're not an adulterer, because you were not the "bride" of a false christ. If so, then I repeat, "if not, never was."

I suppose it is possible that God ordains unfaithfulness. I suppose it's possible. I suppose. Like, the way a wife might be ordained to harlotry. "Honey, go out and be a whore, for a while." But I prefer to assign responsiblity for harlotry not on the righteous, patient, loving husband, but on the unfaithful wife. (No slam at women, here.) Maybe I'm wrong, and God is a pimp.

[BTW, this is another reason why I would have posted this at my site -- perhaps you don't want these rather graphic examples in your comments.]

Pardon this unproofed missive -- no speller, me.

M, I am a deeply flawed man, and I hold myself up as no sort of an example. I have been given a few gifts, and I try to use them as a blessing to others. We speak/write to each other, as if we were friends, but we're not. We're friendly. There is some number of people around you, who DO know you, and genuinely care about you, and who are doing their best a Christians to aid you through this, um, "phase." I've used images like "slobbery" and "gutless." I'm certainly wrong in this. They know how important all this is. But regardless of approach -- my thunderings or their lamentations and pleas -- to be unfaithful is a vile thing. To be unfaithful to Jesus is more vile. But to repent is beautiful, and inspires many jubilations.

But enough.

J

Thursday, December 29, 2005 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger Miroslav said...

Jack H,
Good stuff there.

I agree Peter's thrice denial would be a horrible comparison.

I also understand what an equivocal fallacy is. I disagree that is what is going on here with my reference to Peter walking on water (which is Matthew 14, btw). Why do I think you are off? I disagree with your definitions of doubt vs denial.

Google says:
DOUBT - the state of being unsure of something
DENIAL - the act of asserting that something alleged is not true

I am UNSURE of Christ's claim. I don't KNOW them to be True. *You* are taking an incorrect step in logic in assuming that my doubt automatically moves me to assert that His claims are/were not True. I have not taken that step. You refer to my statement of, "I've lost my faith" to be evidence that I'm CLEAR that the issue at hand is denial. No. You've got me wrong on that one. I DOUBT. Nothing more, nothing less.

Peter wasn't turning around to those left on the boat saying, "Jesus is a fraud! Row away ... row away!!" No... he pleaded with God, looked at the water, and began to sank. He *had* walked on water, and yet, here he was with very real and very serious doubt. Enough to cause him to sink.

Imagine for a moment that this small moment in time that we call a year, or six months or whatever time frame it is that I've "lost" my faith... couldn't that be the equivalent of the moment in time when Peter lost faith... when he doubted? I would argue so. But you've made it clear to me that me (from a position of doubt) to argue from the Scriptures makes me a Pharisee so... I guess I'm not sure what to say. ;)


RE: God the pimp. I wouldn't say that. But I can leave room for the possibility that He is doing something really odd that I can't figure out. Maybe that odd thing has to do with him removing himself from our relationship to let me squirm a bit so that I can gain insight and sympathy with non-believers. Maybe its to show the darkness in my own heart. Maybe its to show me how helpless and *hopeless* we humans are without Him. But all that said... that is not what I *believe* is going on here. I don't know that to be the case. ...

Perhaps all of this is just a case of me too clearly vocalizing the issues of my heart.

Like you, I am a man who writes with purpose. Its not a rare occurance for me to come across as harsh or too direct with people in conversation. I don't intend to, it just happens. If I don't want to go out to dinner, I'll say so. If I'm not feeling like having company, I'll let them know. From what you've said, I imagine you are the same way. :)

One of the problems with being this type of direct communicator is that other will tend to run with my words, adding more to what I say because that is what they have to do with everybody else. Everybody else says they want to go for dinner, but you have to read between the lines to figure it out. So here you have me saying I don't want to go out... and they think, "Wow. If he SAID that straight up like that... I wonder what he is REALLY thinking." Well, all I was thinking was... I didn't want to go for dinner. Hoping this is making sense.

Anyhow, perhaps my clear statements of doubt is being a bit read in to by you to be evidence of something else, something more going on ... what you are calling denial. Just a thought.

Only 32 more comments to go and we will have a new winner for most comments to a post on my blog! Sweet.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Jack H said...

Well, first off, thanks for the helpful clarification regarding Mt 14 -- here I was, all thinking that this walking on water stuff happened toward the end of the book – like maybe Mt 94 or something. Regarding doubt/equivocal fallacy, we’ll mark it down as a difference of opinion and pass without comment

But seriously, folks.... I’ve waded through “Comforting Words” again, to see if there’s been some misunderstanding. Two problems.

First, we have: “My 100%-sold-out faith has died. It really has.” Putting verbiage aside, we have “My faith has died. It really has.” We have: “My faith is… no more. Destroyed…” Regarding who you trust: “At the moment, not Jesus. That is because I cannot say that I currently believe His claims to be true.” I don’t know of any other moment that currently exists, than right now. So, ‘Now, I don’t trust Jesus.’ So: ‘I don’t trust Jesus.’ We have: “I feel disillusioned by Jesus Christ. I have […] believed His claims to be the Christ. Now … I’m not so sure.” So: ‘I’m disillusioned by Jesus. He claims to be Christ, but I’m not sure he’s not somehow wrong.’ We have: “what happens […when] belief vanishes? You are lookin’ at it.” So, you are the image of the absence of belief – a belief vacuum. We have, “I AM THE CHURCH (or was, I suppose, when I believed).” So, ‘I am not the Church.’

Fair? So, is this man saved? Well, “(I'm writing ‘believed’ here as if I totally DO NOT believe any of it now, but please don't take it to be such a strong negative stance).” So, if covering your bases by carefully refraining from a blaring denial, is the same as faith, this man is saved. Again, “I’m not trying to say I deny that Christ is God. I just don’t know.” If not knowing is the same as saving faith, then this man is saved. And if really dead, destroyed faith -- if not trusting in disillusioning Jesus – if being the image of doubt and not being the Church – if these are qualities of salvation, then this man is saved. Otherwise….

Second: Alas, being me, I look at these words, and I opt for “otherwise.” But I’ve used the word “denial.” There is no denial here. No overt denial. You doubt Jesus is honest, but that’s not a denial of his honesty. You’re careful to say that. And you affirm that you suppose you are not the Church, but that’s an affirmation that you’re not saved – it’s not a denial. Clearly I am wrong, then. You have not actually denied Christ with words. That your heart has denied the Holy Spirit is a mere and inadmissible technicality, also unstated with words. And on this carefully preserved device of rhetoric, you may hang your future.

There’s nothing at all lukewarm about the crafty I mean careful couching of your language. Nothing at all goat-like, here. I admire such integrity – it’s so honest about its doubt. Never mind all that double-mind stuff that James harps about. [Note of explanation: “James” is the putative author of the so-called “Book of James” in the Christian New Testament. For more, consult Google.]

:-)

So is it that maybe God “is doing something really odd that I can't figure out”? Like maybe “removing himself from our relationship”? Because God is a puppet master. Oh! I get it – you’re a victim! You have a disease! And it’s God’s fault. If only he would give you faith again – God, the faith pusher. So if God’s delivery boy the HS knocks with some faith, and I’m not too busy with something else, I’ll maybe answer and get myself a fix.

Mate, I hold nearly everything in a loose grip. There’s just about only one thing that I cling to as if my life depended on it. I’m clear about where I stand – I mean every word of The Trial of God. But I don’t cling to this horrid, frightful world. I don’t know if you do or not, but your faith – I should say faithlessness – is informed by this world, as mine is not. I see the responsibility of this universe as resting upon man. You’d blame God, and excuse your unbelief for this. Is there anything I’m saying here that you’ve not said yourself? I can quote you, you know. Point being, I see a lack of responsibility-taking, here. Very, very clearly.

I looked at your Uriah piece. Disagree entirely. Surprised? But it’s a case in point. I won’t elaborate, since it should be clear. (Hint: responsibility.) You finish with, “Pity me.” I can’t hear your tone, so I don’t know in what sense to take this. Light and airy? Sincere? Desperate? I don’t know. What I know is that compassion must act. I’ve been destroyed, by acting on my compassion. But that’s an old story, with the best example hanging on a cross. If you want pity, consider that. I, for one, will not have compassion for someone who refuses to accept compassion. Go figure. That was the point of my tidy homily about my little boy’s moods.

I referred to Job, and said tremble, in something I wrote to you. I may not have been understood. There are Davids and there are Uriahs. Why did that tower fall? – consider the very clear answer to that question, Miroslav, and tremble.

Here endeth the lesson for the day.

:-)


J

Friday, December 30, 2005 4:26:00 AM  
Blogger Miroslav said...

Jack H,

Re: "qualities of salvation" - Ok. You've got my faith situation summarized fairly well here. No need for quotes. :) But what to make of a man who claims faith but also freely states, with equal volume, that his acts do not follow suit? What say James of that man?

Re: Denying the HolySpirit - You are making the same mistake as before. Miroslav DOES doubt it ALL. He denies it none. There *IS* a difference.

Re: Responsibility - Yup. You do have me pegged on this one. Never before have I shirked the alleged responsibility of my faith/actions (or lack thereof) on to God Himself. This thing I'm going through is quite something weird. I wonder what Peter thought in the midst of his denying Christ. Think about it, was it even *possible* for him to NOT deny Christ? (alluding to much greater issues than what we already have on the plate here, so feel free to ignore this part).

Which leads me to my 'Uriah piece.' You are too kind really. Hehe... that was not too much of a piece. Maybe a piece of .... Anyhow, just to clarify it just ramblings off the top of my head, not a whole lot more than that. Not trying to make an argument on the point or anything. Its really an 'inside joke' that my dad and I share that I decided to let others in on...

Friday, December 30, 2005 8:10:00 AM  
Blogger Jack H said...

Greetings M

Keeping it brief.

Re the hypothetical man – surely not an allusion to myself – who claims faith but acts otherwise. Why, he is a hypocrite and a fool, of course. Don’t quite see the relevance in this context, though. What’s that you say? It IS meant as a reference to myself? How could such a thing be? My actions are impeccable. Oh, you’re referring to some emotional state? There’s only one such state we need concern ourselves with in this discussion, and that’s the state of grace. In this, I am content.

Re “denying” the HS, consider again the equivocal fallacy. You are denying entrance, not existence.

Re Peter’s denial, no need to “wonder” what he felt. We are told. He wept, bitterly. It was certainly possible for Peter to NOT deny Christ. Witness his death – I should say, martyrdom.

Re Uriah: yeah, I got the context. And we all enjoy idle speculations, sometimes. Especially when there’s nothing else important to think about.

Pax

J

Friday, December 30, 2005 6:08:00 PM  
Blogger Miroslav said...

hypocrite and fool? Too gentle no? Read James?

;)

Friday, December 30, 2005 8:25:00 PM  

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