Humans do not function as merely and simply biological machinery. All our history and experience from all the history we have any clue about declare that we have ever held to the Cosmos being an awesome and awe-full place which shouts that it was and is created by an operative will according to a design. The will and design are demonstrated by what is, what is in evidence, in actual existence all around us, inside and out, in all things and everywhere all the time. And it all points to Something higher and greater than we – in fact, Someone much more than Something.
Once upon a time, Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Vulture, and Mrs. Crow met around a grizzly bear’s carcass. The bear had simply died of old age. Mrs. Eagle ate her fill and set aside some large portions at her feet to take back to her nest for her young. Then Mrs. Vulture did the same, and finally Mrs. Crow had her turn. At last, all were satisfied.
Trust-faith is always a personal affair, a decision made by individuals based on particular reasons that make a convincing case to the decider. Such is conviction. Assurance is a strong confidence that our conviction and trust is well-founded, having weighed the evidence from different perspectives, including the possibility that we may just be wrong in our conclusion, but that that is quite unlikely. Hope is what flows from this combination for hope looks to the future with new eyes, new understanding, new possibilities and vistas founded on trust-faith, and the conviction and assurance that ground it and give it depth.
There is great mystery in our self-awareness. It is inseparable from our knowledge of the very real existence of both good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice, selfishness and selflessness—all side by side in each of us, all vying for pre-eminence in our thinking, feeling, and acting.
Tertullian’s point was that relying on forms of wisdom which exclude the Creator as the final source of truth maroon the seeker in the empty desert of forever chasing new propositions, forever seeking another savant with the next level of understanding, and forever discovering yet another dead-end road with no food for the empty heart and soul. A very fair-minded man, Tertullian criticized Christian deviants as vehemently as he took apart the nonsense the secularists of his day spouted against Jesus and his followers.
The West is in moral, spiritual, and a deepening social and cultural crisis. As the world’s global cultural engine over the last two hundred years, it has dragged the whole world into the maelstrom of its Mr. Toad Wild Ride which shows no end in sight.
Theists, atheists, agnostics, polytheists, Deists, monists, pantheists – it matters not. We are bred to believe, not just to exist. We are made and formed to trust that there is meaning behind the blind-seeming, ineluctable powers and forces enveloping us in the time-space continuum, or the quantum-chance continuum if you prefer.
I suspect that most of us right now would be pretty uncomfortable in a powerful manifestation of God’s presence. The evidence of history (unless you a priori rule out the possibility that there is a God who can and does act in history, and so disqualify a priori any sources that describe how He has acted in history, and therefore still can if He were to so chose) is that when God or even a messenger from God shows up, just about everyone is overwhelmed. In the words of some who testify to such experiences, they tend to grovel or tremble or try to hide or fall on the knees or faces in awe and fear – yes fear! As Isaiah said when he ‘saw the LORD’ – “Woe to me, for I am a man of unclean lips.” Paraphrased, he was saying “I am dirty with sin through and through.”
We are probably the vainest culture that has ever existed. All our public figures are primarily concerned with their images in order to gain or maintain or increase their following and popularity. They and their parties employ professional ‘handlers’, ‘spin-doctors’, and image-makers to make sure they always ‘appear to best advantage’ as they announce anything and everything in just the right setting with just the right wording and approving audience. In any contest of optics versus substance we know always know which will win out.
But the practical side is also crystalline: “Give us today our daily bread” – a request that we receive what we need (not want, lust after, crave to get) materially in the here and now. This is for two purposes – first so that we can carry on with the business of bringing God’s Kingdom into this age for as long as we are here, and second so that we can meet the needs of others who do not have enough and so show them the real love of their Creator.