Wednesday, May 15, 2013

For what it is worth

A few months ago I was in an argument with some folks about the place of emotions in deciding what is true - Wrote the following in response (Making some progress on my book on apologetics) - - Religions Experience and Truth - It is my contention that our subjective experiences should play little or no part in helping us to determine what we think is true. It is the mind that God has ordained as the tool for understanding. It would be hard to exaggerate how much feelings and emotions add to the richness of our lives. We experience the beauty of the world with our emotions, not with our minds. But it is a misuse of them to try to make them the organ of understanding. It is to be expected that anyone who holds any kind of a religion will interpret their experiences in light of their world view. This would be true of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. These experiences are not any kind of evidence for the truth of a particular world view. A persons convictions should be based on external evidence that can be evaluated and not on personal experience. It is not reasonable for a Christian or anyone else to think that their personal experience are some kind of evidence for the truth of their convictions. Any one who thinks that their personal experiences are a kind of evidence for their beliefs is building their faith on a foundation of sand. It is a kind of idolatry to assume our experiences are the voice of God. Mother Teresa apparently lost a good deal of her faith when she quit having the kind of experiences she had before going to Calcutta. This probably would not have happened if her faith was founded on her belief in the essential accuracy of the New Testament writers. This is why is it critical that we teach apologetics. What we have to offer the world is information about the God who became man, and that this man died for our sins, rose from the dead and has promised to never leave us or forsake us and to some day take us Home. This is a message of unspeakable comfort, joy and hope. Note on Mother Teresa Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who has been put on the “fast track” to sainthood, was so tormented by doubts about her faith that she felt “a hypocrite,” it has emerged from a book of her letters to friends and confessors. Shortly after beginning her work in the slums of Calcutta, she wrote: “Where is my faith? Even deep down there is nothing but emptiness and darkness. If there be a God — please forgive me.”In letters eight years later she was still expressing “such deep longing for God,” adding that she felt “repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal.” Her smile to the world from her familiar weather-beaten face was a “mask” or a “cloak,” she said. “What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true.” Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 and was beatified in record time only six years later, felt abandoned by God from the very start of the work that made her a global figure, in her sandals and blue and white sari. The doubts persisted until her death. “I am told God lives in me — and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul,” she wrote at one point. “I want God with all the power of my soul — and yet between us there is terrible separation.” On another occasion she wrote: “I feel just that terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me, of God not being God, of God not really existing.” Shortly before she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she wrote that: “Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear. The tongue moves but does not speak.” (I confess that even in my darkest moments laying practically unmovable for two months in the hospital, concerned about the future for my wife and I, overflowing with confusion and sadness about the future, I never had any experiences remotely like the ones expressed by Mother Teresa. I never got the lease bit angry at God or questioned why this happened to me. I never felt Christ's presence any nearer or farther than at any other time in my life. It is not that I have a great faith but that I had a strong conviction built on Christ and His promises so clearly stated in the N.T.)


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