Sunday, July 08, 2007

Credo ut Intelligam: a brief explanation

Evidence - it’s the basis of Modern thought. Before believing anything it must first be seen, heard, tasted, touched, smelled, and fully experienced…and then again, just to prove it wasn’t a fluke. Provability is necessary before anything can be accepted as truth, and if it can’t be proven, it is obviously and undeniably impossible and untrue.

Though we technically live in an era that has been deemed “Postmodern” (which translated means “I believe whatever I want, and you believe whatever you want, and everyone’s happy”) the concept of provability has not dissipated. Rather, it is a timeless idea, existing long before the Modern era and one that will continue long after Postpostpostmodernism has become something in the history books.

This idea, which has transcended the boundaries of epochs and eras, has wrapped it’s fingers around Christian doctrine and students of the Bible and has continued to tighten its grip.

We acknowledge God is big, but even so, He couldn’t create the world in six literal days. We say He’s all-powerful, but He couldn't have really made it so that “all the high mountains under the entire heavens” were flooded like it says in Genesis. In fact, the whole Old Testament is filled with fictitious stories that are to teach us character lessons, not history lessons. On top of that, science has begun to raise doubts as to the viability of the New Testament as well...and somehow we're okay with that.

But God is not provable, and to say that He is shows that I don’t believe in Him…at least not the “Him” that He claims to be (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 11:33-36).

So here we are, standing in the midst of innumerable concepts of Christ, perceptions of the cross and the gospel, and the believers who believe only what they see. We live in a world where understanding precedes belief.

St. Anselm, Bishop of Canterbury, stood among the same lack of faith in the “Him” that God claims to be, and he responded in this way:

Nor do I seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand (credo ut intelligam). For this too I believe, that unless I first believe, I shall not understand.

“Belief” is not belief when it’s been proven – it’s acknowledgement.

My desire is not to be a “believer” who believes only what makes sense to me. If that were true I would believe very little. I don’t know how God created the whole world in six days, but I have no doubt that He could and did. I don’t know why God wiped out everything in one flood, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He could and did. And beyond all else, it makes no sense that one who was proven to be dead is now alive and is sitting in heaven until the day He comes for His Bride, but my heart rejoices in the fact that I don’t have a useless faith (1 Cor. 15:14, 17)

I’m not a genius - I don’t understand - but I desire to have a faith that is constantly seeking understanding.

Because you have seen me you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
~John 20:29