The Problem Of …

​The hard bit for me is in two parts. First is knowing that it takes more work to believe that any facet of existence isn’t explainable naturally, even at least in theory, than to own that it is with the confidence that increases every day because of the rigors and methods of science. Second is knowing that if God is ineffable, nothing said of God can be known to be about God. The end result is that the fact of God existing or not really doesn’t matter.

Honestly, most people “wrestle with faith” in a way that’s absurd to me. Most think that what they believe matters only if there is a God, and so they have to believe there’s a God. These should be careful, because at least as it concerns Christianity, the only things reliant on God’s existence are purely selfish; such as taking salvation as being about Heaven or Hell. As Richard Rohr reminds, you’d think that if Heaven or Hell were part of the early Christian story line, John or Paul would have mentioned it at least once, since Johannine and Pauline literature are the only two modes of theological narrative in the New Testament. But of course, neither do. But as far as trying to believe things are true simply by choice, that’s literally impossible without some gross psychology in play or where we can’t tell the truth one way or the other; such as benefit of the doubt. Frankly, either you have the impression of volition in reality, or you don’t. This constitutes “belief”, epistemically speaking, but no one can choose to have that disposition or any other.

Just by virtue of some Christians’ admission that epistemic faith is required for Christianity, we admit there is no genuine basis for Christian belief. That’s not to say there are no justifiable reasons to think certain Christian beliefs are true, but it is to say that the Christian must either admit that the existence of God isn’t something we can know in epistemic terms, or they must admit that belief in God has a basis other than mere desire and that belief, faith, “pistis” is about what we do, not what we think; trust, hope, love, cherish, drawn toward, committed to.

Ultimately, I can reason things out acceptably such that any reasonable person would agree that there’s no proving or disproving deity; to others or to one’s self.

What then is left is obvious, which is that all that matters about God-talk is that it is deeply relevant to humanity, to you as you hear and see and do what you believe God would want you to do. And surely, given my two unrecoverable problems, it is clear that the existence of God isn’t at all what makes God-talk matter at all.

My personal narrative of God, then, is about being human. I am drawn to the goodness I find in the world. Everything about my existing doesn’t matter to me without that experience. And so of course, “God is goodness” is an axiomatic certainty; meaning that when I use the word “God”, “goodness” is what I mean. When I talk about the divinity of Jesus, I mean that Jesus is the embodiment of goodness. When I say I’m a Christian, I mean that Christ atones. By “atone”, I simply mean that through the life of Christ and through the things said of him, I understand clearly what goodness is, and too, what divinity is. When I say that salvation is because of God’s grace, through faith, I mean that I’m “drawn, persuaded” to “God’s active presence in the world”, which is goodness. Atonement takes place when I participate in that goodness by doing the good. The experience of atonement is “sanctification”, or “theosis”, because the experience of doing good is utterly transformative.

That’s all “natural theology” and is classically what Christianity claims as its own; though admittedly, I take these things as “real” and most take as “literal”, which are views miles apart. However, the entire Christan narrative I laid out are merely substitute terms for matters of fact in human life. And to that end, I don’t think I find objections sharing this with non believers because the only possible objection is that my particular terms are unnecessary in order to address or talk about those human facts of the matter.

“In our times, an authentic faith in God only seems to be possible in the context of a praxis of liberation and of solidarity with the needy. It is in that praxis that the idea develops that God reveals himself as the mystery and the very heart of humanity’s striving for liberation, wholeness and soundness. The concept of that mystery, which is at first concealed in the praxis of liberation and of making whole, is only made explicit in the naming of that concept in the statement made in faith that God is the liberator, the promoter of what is good and the opponent of what is evil …”

(Edward Schillebeeckx, ‘Jesus: An Experiment In Christology’, pg. 23.)

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