The Chair and the Desk, 4/11/16

From the chair:

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

-1 Corinthians 1:18

If you have the luxury of time to think, you may often encounter doubt about Christian faith. I know I do. It’s not that I consider the Gospel unreasonable–I find it reasonable, and, in fact, supported by strong evidence–it’s that plenty of smart, impressive people have found Christian faith unconvincing over the last two millennia. Sometimes that intimidates me.

I find it reassuring when smart (and, honestly, “impressive”) Christians show their awareness of–and address–these causes for doubt. G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, Tim Keller’s The Reason for God, these have all encouraged me over the years.

However, my deepest encouragement comes from Scripture itself. I am always heartened to hear that 1 Corinthians knows full well that smart, impressive people will call the Gospel foolish. Sure, it’s “folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” In the face of such plurality, the real test is not whether everyone will find anything convincing, because there is nothing that everyone believes. We don’t have a perfect test. Instead, we have a voice, crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord.” There is no reason to preclude the possibility that God really is the one who has sent this messenger, and if God really is the one who has sent this messenger, then we have every reason to hope in his glorious future.

From the desk:

“We may have thought that ‘to be a Christian’ along with other existential possibilities that Kierkegaard has poetically presented, demands inward action on our part. But in the end, the faith demanded to be a Christian is not what it appears to be, it is not something of our own doing. Only those ‘kept alive in a state of death’ are ‘ripe for Eternity,’ only they—and this is the dos incomprehensible of all human paradoxes—are prepared to be saved by God’s grace.”

-Richard Bernstein, Praxis and Action, p.122

This quote fascinates me because Bernstein is not writing as a Christian theologian. In fact, it would surprise me if he knows just how “biblical” his language sounds; perhaps it comes to him through Kierkegaard. I suspect that this project from Kierkegaard has something to do with the 1 Corinthians passage, above. I suspect that 1 Corinthians 1 and 15 (“if Christ has not been raised, we are of all people most to be pitied”) and other passages have something to do with this Kierkegaardian project. I’m not sure, but I just checked out a bunch of books, I have one paper left to write, and I aim to find out.

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.


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