Sunday, March 10, 2013

I Suck as an Apologist: The Problem with Easy Faith

Faith is very easy for me. I don't know why this is and it is actually very ironic since I am a skeptic in most things. In issues related to science, education, technology, speech therapy, etc. my stance is usually "prove it to me." However, in matters of my Christian faith, the cheesy and over-used slogan "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it" rings pretty true. Even before I made a conscious decision to make Jesus the Lord of my life in sixth grade, I regularly prayed, read my Bible, and believed it with a childlike faith.

As I got older, faith was still easy for me. I wouldn't say I had blind faith. I do question things. At times, I have doubts about God. However, they are fleeting and usually pretty easily resolved for me. I don't understand the whole Bible. While I do believe that it is the holy, inerrant, and inspired word of God, there are some things in it that confuse me. As a general rule, I think the Bible proves the Bible and it is an incredibly consistent book, but there are some things occasionally that throw me for a loop, like Pilate's role in the sentencing of Jesus. For the most part though I get that the Old Testament is all about Jesus (foreshadowing, if you will) and that all of the law of the OT was done away with when Jesus entered the scene. Even though there are plenty of Christians who believe that some parts of the OT are parables, such as Eden and Noah's Ark, I actually believe quite literally in those. I can buy it. It works for me. And the parts I don't understand...I am comfortable with the mystery. God's ways are not man's ways and I am completely fine with knowing there are parts of my spiritual journey, the character and nature of God, and the content of the Bible that I don't and can't understand. To me that's what faith is. It is believing...anyway. Believing in spite of doubts.

Apologetics (Merriam-Webster) 
1: systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine)2: a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity 

So how does this fit into being a terrible apologist? It is hard for me to provide a good objective defense of or support for my faith because I just have it. I didn't have to wrestle intellectual doubts to arrive at the feet of Jesus. I just believed and came. I do understand how people can have doubts and want proof. Really, I can. In fact, I think my "easy faith" is an outlier, not the norm. But because faith comes easily (not cheaply) to me, I don't have any good theological, philosophical, or other types of defense or proof. I believe and I know. As a Christian with over 30 years of intimate experience with Jesus, much of my faith comes from the journey. I can tell you my story. I can tell you of times I have experienced the power of God and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I can describe how Jesus has empowered me to do things that I am incapable of doing on my own. I can share miracles that I have seen or experienced--not parting water kinds of miracles, but more personal and intimate, never the less as powerful. Just like I can't prove to you my love for my husband, other than the outward evidence that we have been married 22+ years, but I can share the story and the journey. The same goes for my faith. Therefore, I am not a good apologist. But if you want to be an innocent, wide-eyed believer, I totally "get" you and I'll cheer you on. If you have doubts and want validation, I can be an empathetic listener and affirm your doubts (and remind you that it is okay to have them).  However, if you need proof, talk to Robert. He's got the degrees in it :-)

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