Tag Archives: philosophy

Holy

Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!

Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.

Holy, holy, holy!  Merciful and mighty,

God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

 

Holy, holy, holy!  All the saints adore thee,

casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;

cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,

which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

 

Holy, holy, holy!  Though the darkness hide thee,

though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,

only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,

perfect in power, in love and purity.

 

Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!

All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea.

Holy, holy, holy!  Merciful and mighty,

God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

 

-A hymn by Reginald Heber, 1826. Too often, we forget God’s holiness.

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Cocaine

At first I thought he was alive.

His swollen, bloodshot eyes looked sad.

The photograph was taken at a strange angle, looking up toward the nose, so that a line of white powder could be seen plastered to the inside of his nostril. The point of the picture was to show all us students that the man had died while snorting cocaine, but the only thing I could think was, “I don’t understand this.”

Cocaine causes hypertension, lethal cardiac arrhythmias, heart attacks, seizures, renal failure. One picture our professor showed us was of a brain covered in thick, partly gelatinous blood. Normally the brain is clean and grayish-white post-mortem, but this person had died of massive intra-cranial bleeding caused by a cocaine-induced spike in blood pressure that ripped through one of his arteries.

The lecture was about chemical injury to the human body, but the fact that a chemical had damaged this man’s body seemed so far from the root of the problem as to be almost comical.

The world is broken.

Things are not right here, and this is not where we’re meant to be.

Why I believe, though I’m not certain of God or his existence

Uncertainty is difficult to accept, and I’m uncertain of two enormous things. First, I cannot, with absolute and complete certainty, tell you God exists, or that I’ve seen him logically proven. Second, I’m uncertain of God’s thoughts and plans. God tells us hard things. Take up my cross and follow him? Lose my life and it will be saved?

The definition of “certain” is this: “known or proved to be true; indisputable” (from Merriam-Webster’s 11th ed. Collegiate Dictionary). I’ll admit to you that I’m not 100 % certain of anything. Everything can be doubted, and to a certain extent, everything should be doubted. How do you know you’re awake right now, rather than dreaming or in a coma?

I’m not certain God exists, but I am convinced he exists. With some thought and reading, I’ve decided that it’s exceedingly more likely that God does exist than that he doesn’t exist. So let’s say I’m 80% certain. What do I do with the other 20% of uncertainty?

This is why faith is essential to being a disciple of Jesus. Faith is not a blind acceptance of an unsupported fact. Faith is a wise and necessary assumption that something likely to be true is true. If God does exist, then this fact is terribly important, and I need to do something about it. Because so much hangs on God’s existence, we can’t afford to waver back and forth for very long. We need to decide. By faith, I’ve decided God exists, but my faith isn’t without reason.

My second uncertainty came after I decided God exists. This second uncertainty centers on the challenging commands in the Bible. Love my enemies? Rejoice when I’m persecuted? I still don’t understand these extreme acts of self-denial. I also don’t know how I can ever do them. I’m a selfish, broken person, and I’m not sure how God will use me even if I can take up my cross and follow him.

But this is where I need to continue having faith. I need to have faith that God is wise, that he will give me the ability to deny myself and follow him, and that at the end of time, he’ll make everything right again.

Faith is necessary both to believe in Jesus and to follow him. I find it hard to accept uncertainty, and I sometimes doubt the most fundamental aspects of my beliefs. But these doubts motivate me to think harder about what I believe, and by faith I can set my doubts aside and press forward. Without accepting uncertainty, I would never accomplish anything for the kingdom of heaven. We need to be convinced of God before we can take action, and we need faith to be convinced.