Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Accountability of the Christian Individual

In spite of my written pursuits, I seldom read. In fact, it was one of the reasons I dropped out of university. I had coasted through high school by sitting in a classroom, seldom missing any lessons, listening to all the data the teachers dictated, and very simply regurgigating that information onto a test paper a few weeks later. Exams would require study and reflection, but it was minimal. I was blessed with a strong memory, and that is all that was required of me. University, on the other hand, was about independant study. At five courses a semester, that was five professors assigning hundreds of pages to be read every week. In other words, effort. It didn't gibe with me, and my stubborn refusal to comply led me down a path that saw me tossing white towels left and right. Perhaps I had the ability to succeed, but I certainly lacked the drive.

Since dropping out, I've probably read about 0.5 books a year. That's no exaggeration. The Pickwick Papers and A Christmas Carol. My devotion to those was based purely on respect for Dickens as a storyteller, and I think I even spent three months or so reading the former. The latter I try to finish every December, as it's one of the few Christmas traditions I can keep afloat of my own volition. It doesn't rely on circumstance or the commitment of others.

How strange a thing, then, for me to visit some Christians friends during the weekend of 27 October 2007, during which I accepted their offer to borrow three books. Listed in the sequence I will complete them, the first was Josh McDowell's More Than A Carpenter. I read that in less than a day, though it was large type and not that long. What it did do was honestly investigate evidence that supports my belief that Jesus Christ was none other than the Son of God and the path to salvation. While I already held true to that, it was very nice to complement it with rational thinking and credible evidence. In essence, it strengthened my existing faith.

I've presently read a third of Lee Strobel's Case For a Creator, and it dutifully complements my belief that God's creations, where they haven't been tampered with, are incapable of lying to us. That is: science and faith are not adversaries, but that an honest approach to both coalesces into a very natural entity. Because of Strobel's practical approach, however, what I've read to this point has really given the benefit of the doubt to scientific evidence, in spite of the shortcomings that can exist with such presupposition that nature could reveal everything there is to know about God. The book seems to be leaning toward the fact that pure, honest science provides compelling evidential support that God's hand has guided everything in the physical realm--again, before it was bastardized by pre-conceived agendas or backward thinking. What I find most compelling, is a very logical habit that I once embodied, which is, very simply, that giving oneself to God requires us to surrender the free will we all value so highly. I sure did. Here's an excerpt (please don't sue):

"[For] a two-year period in my life, I was very attracted to Nietzsche's version of existentialism. Nietzsche had a different objection than the ones we've been talking about. He asked, Why should God rule and I serve? This resonated with me. Why should a condition of my happiness be submission to the will of God? I sensed I couldn't be happy without Him; I knew my bad lifestyle only brought misery. So I ended up literally shaking my fist at God in a wheat field in Washington State."

These are the words of Stephen C. Meyer, PHD. I would transcribe his extensive credentials, but it would be better for you to read them all yourself. Even if your approach is spiteful, it would shock you to know how thoroughly he's investigated many scientific fields, always walking away with a stronger belief than ever that our world was designed intelligently. Beyond that, he was literally led to God through science. My approach was a little more biased.

I discovered God during a momentary exchange with a child, whose inability to exhibit cynicism proved to me that souls do indeed exist. I will tell that story in greater detail later, but the point is that I have seen God's work through humanity. You might not consider that as very compelling proof, and that's why I would encourage you to read the abovementioned books.

What I will say now is that I understand why even the faithful might be motivated to lead double lives: one for God and one for themselves. It's easy to believe in life beyond what our eyes tell us. I fell into that quite haphazardly, but I don't think the capacity for kindness and compassion was borne of swirling chemicals. There are those who would argue that societal conventions are based on combined efforts and that empathy is merely a symptom that results. We can't go around killing each other randomly because there's more to be gained in helping one another as the situation warrants. That's unacceptable to me because it's anti-nature. Virtually every other species on the planet vies for dominance over itself. We compete with each other for vain pursuits, but, for the most part, we support each other in complementary manners. There's more to be said on this, as I mentioned above, but I have no real motivation to update this blog but for when God guides me to the computer. I would rather be reading now, but my will is no longer my own. If I have indeed given myself to God, I take pleasure in it. As it's been articulated to me many times, what we give to God gets returned in spades. If someday He permits me into His kingdom, in spite of my failures, the life I will receive then will eclipse the one I've handed him on this meagre planet. That is a deal only a fool could reject. I almost did.

If you take one thing away from this post, let it be that I have a very fresh and relevent understanding of how hard it is to let go of oneself. I still wouldn't undo it, though.


Blogger Slave Morality said...

Glad to to see those books getting some more use. Strobel's in particular left me with a lot of names whose work I want read separately as soon as I get through his.

Great post!


3/11/07 09:19  

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