Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Hypothetical Faith-Based Brain Teaser

Brittian Bullock over at Sensual Jesus has asked a hypothetical question:

Imagine that God speaks to you—we’re not talking about general revelation here,
this is specific divine interruption. He lets you know that he desires to
give you a Gift, but because of “free will” it will need to be one of your own
choosing. Having said that you’re given two options:

1.) You
can spend the rest of your life being absolutely certain about God, there will
be no questions of faith or doubt. There will be an abiding sense of God’s
presence and smile in all your ways…but everyone you meet will instantly begin
to doubt the certainty of their own faith. They may or may not ever recover from
that crisis.

2). through you many of the wrongs in the world
will be righted, justice and mercy and grace will be exhibited, the blind will
see, the deaf will hear and the lame will walk…but you will cease to believe in
God at all. You will even forget this conservation between yourself and the Most
High…it will have been all in your imagination.

Which do you choose and why?

This has manifest into a great discussion you might want to check out and join in. Here's my initial response:

Yes these questions are unfair, but alas, so is life and even more-so
faith. However, I don’t believe that these hypothetical ponderings are all that
obscure. There are many times in the Bible that what God does or does not do
seems unfair to us. Jesus+cross still= unfair, no matter what your
interpretation of that is.

When speaking of such celestial matters, I don’t think #1 would be
advisable at all. As a matter of fact (and yes your assumed outcome is biased,
although I tend to agree), I think that choosing the first option would be
downright catastrophic. I think the only way to have certainty is to “see the
face of God”. Last time I checked, that was still considered taboo. I think that
there’s a reason for that (literally or metaphorically).

I say catastrophic both to the world/people around you as well as to
self. I have a feeling that it would be catastrophic to self because you would
find that there is no certainty in God. Only depth, creativity, and mystery. I
know we speak more of the Holy Spirit in this language than we do God, but I
think the Trinity is still an acceptable doctrine all-around. I think we would
find that God is like the wind, not static, always in motion. There is no
grasping the wind. The spirit goes where it is needed and is always changing
form to make differing impacts. Just think, a wind can be a gentle breeze in the
summer, a bitter chill in the winter, a tornado or hurricane, or so light its
only evidence is a slight movement in the leaves.

One might would get so lost in this depth and wonder that is God and
would lose all sense of self. The world would vanish from the conscience, as
well as all relationships. Like Peter Pan in Hook, Peter would forget that his
life actually existed.

This would be catastrophic to the world because, lost in another
reality, that is one less person doing the kingdom’s work on earth. It would be
one less person fighting against injustice, greed, war, death…. it would be one
less person giving hope to all of those that once knew him or her.
as we know it is an illusion. To me, it’s what the tree of Knowledge represents.
Nothing good can come from it, and everything horrible comes flooding out with
one bite into that enticing fruit.

the interesting thing to me about these questions is that Christ never
calls anyone to number one, but calls everyone to number two. Perhaps he didn’t
word it quite like that (and I know people will quote some guard dog scriptures
of classical discernment at me), but when Christ called us into faith…into
belief, that seems to be, by very definition, non-certainty. I mean he even left
without properly outlining and blueprinting what he meant by “Church”. He left
his followers in a lot of confusion over that (which I argue we still haven’t
figured that one out). But I’m sure he had his reasons. Perhaps it is something
about questions and uncertainty fueling faith and action; pursuit and passion.
But I guess I can’t be certain on that. I’ll just take it on faith.

Feel free to jump over there and join in on the discussion. There are some really good thoughts up there!


  1. Justin,
    I thought your response was great. Thanks for taking the time to post on it. The statement you made about being "lost in God's Face" was brilliant actually. There was a time that I would have wanted to simply be "wasted on God"...however, I'm not so sure if that's what HE WANTS, lol.

    Ah is food for thought and stretching of the mind and heart.

    Right now I'm working on another "perverted parable" (thanks Bill) called The Parable of the Prodigal God.


  2. Brittian,
    thanks to you as well for your kind words. I think it is a good thing to ponder. I'm like you, there was a time where my answer would have been different, but 10 years ago I realized that the kind of Christianity I was a part of was neither fulfilling nor Biblical (as my understanding of Biblical Christianity matured in college). When I went from the proof-texting of my upbringing to a holistic reading I began to see that action was missing, and the that "action" meant more than handing out tracks and pointing out all of the "sinners".

    I am one who sincerely believes that no matter where someone falls on the spectrum of belilefs, they must continually expose their faith to new thoughts and ideas in oreder to "own" their faith. It all goes back to an "owned faith" verses an "inherited faith" for me and critical thinking seems to be the bridge between the two.

    thanks again man,
    and your last line as well as your questions themselves made me think of a post I did earlier this year:
    called a "Postmodern Prodigal"

    peace bro,