Over the past few decades, I’ve realized that much of the thinking of irreligious society has been incorporated into the lives of church people. For example, more than one person in Bible-believing churches have told me about the ghosts in their homes. Ghosts? OK — I enjoy a ghost story as much as the next guy, but I also enjoy stories about Santa Claus. That doesn’t mean I believe there’s a guy in a red suit being dragged through the sky on a sled by flying reindeer. And I don’t believe in ghosts.
My perspective on ghosts is not a denial of the supernatural. I believe in the supernatural. I’ve experienced supernatural events. So how can I say I don’t believe in ghosts? Because the God I believe in tells me what happens when we die — and haunting the living isn’t part of the program.
“The God I believe in…” Is that one of the goofiest things we could ever say or what? Yet whenever you hear someone say something that is in opposition to the teaching of Scripture, that’s what they are saying. They are saying that their version of god is different than the Bible’s version of God. And, make no mistake about it, they are saying that the god they believe in is superior to the God of the Bible. Wow — Is that arrogance or folly? Maybe both.
You don’t pick and choose what God says or does. He’s a person, distinct from you and me. We can’t tell him who he is any more than we can tell gravity how to behave. The podcast attached to this post emphasizes this important concept. And it demonstrates that the place we go for a clear understanding of God has to be the Bible. And when the god I believe in contradicts the God of the Bible, the God of the Bible wins.
Even though I am not a real Lord of the Ringsfan (There’s just too much data there), I love this thought from Tim Keller:
Jesus spoke of his return to earth as the palingenesis. “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things (Greek palingenesis), the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne.” This was a radically new concept. Jesus insisted that his return will be purged of all decay and brokenness. All will be healed and all might-have-beens will be.
Just after the climax of the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee discovers that his friend Gandalf was not dead (as he thought) but alive. He cries, “I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself! Is everything sad going to come untrue?” The answer of Christianity to that question is – yes. Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.
Embracing the Christian doctrines of the incarnation and Cross brings profound consolation in the face of suffering. The doctrine of the resurrection can instill us with a powerful hope. It promises that we will get the life we most longed for, but it will be an infinitely more glorious world than if there had never been the need for bravery, endurance, sacrifice, or salvation.”
Dostoevsky put it perfectly when he wrote:
“I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, for all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”
More succinctly, C. S. Lewis wrote:
“They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”
~Tim Keller in The Reason for God, p. 33
“The 20th century gave rise to one of the greatest and most distressing paradoxes of human history: that the greatest intolerance and violence of that century were practiced by those who believed that religion caused intolerance and violence.”
~Alister McGrath in The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World p. 230.