As I mentioned in the review, I like that Keller came right out and admitted that there's no proof for God. Can faith in God be reasonable in some ways? Sure. But the reasons and evidence hardly pile up to the line of inevitability. It's certainly possible that God doesn't exist, and even the term "faith" implies uncertainty and maybe even some doubt. That's okay.
This concession can be so powerful in forming healthy relationships with agnostics and atheists. I sometimes meet church members who feel that their faith is so sure, so unshakably correct and true, that anyone who doesn't agree just isn't paying attention to the obvious. There is much I admire in that kind of stalwart faith, and while I see the need for those types of followers in the kingdom, I am not one of them. My faith, at its deepest level, shrugs its shoulders and says, "You know what? I might be wrong about all of this."
This doesn't work for everybody. Some may think that this type of faith is too timid, too laced with apathy about solid answers, and too open to the possibility of dissolving altogether. Perhaps they're right... I honestly don't know, but I honestly stay true to where I am and for now I confess that my answers to every single big question (does God exist, why am I here, where do socks go when they disappear from the laundry) is, "I don't know". But even if I don't know, I believe in answers to these questions, and then I live accordingly.
One of my favorite Old Testament passages is when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are facing the fiery furnace, their punishment for refusing to worship a statue of King Nebuchadnezzar. Instead they said they only worshipped God. Before throwing them into the fire, the king gave them one last chance to bow to his image. This was their answer in Daniel 3:16:
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
I hear them saying, "You know what? We could be wrong about this. We could totally burn up into nothingness in ten seconds. But we're sticking with our hearts and our faith. We can't prove we're right. But we go on anyway."
I admire that so much. That's the spirit of doubting Thomas in the New Testament, a guy who gets way too bad a reputation sometimes. Sure, he doubted some of Jesus' decisions and he doubted the resurrection, but he kept on anyway! When Jesus told his followers he would go to see his friend Lazarus, Thomas thought it was a bad plan. This would mean going right back to the people who had earlier tried to kill Jesus. It was dangerous, possibly silly, and there was no evidence Jesus nor his followers would survive. Jesus stood his ground and said he was going. Thomas answered (John 11:16):
"Let us also go, that we may die with him."
What a doubter! He knew there was no guarantee that he would survive, but he went away, because he believed in what Jesus was doing. I love that.
Some of my Christian friends did not grow up in Christian families -- they came to their own faith later in life and from different angles. But each of them came to faith in ways more mysterious than obvious, through feelings as much as logic. Some of them read this blog. For many of them, when I ask about their "conversion" story, it goes something like this: one day I didn't believe, the next day I did.
This gives me courage, because in the end, to answer the title of this post, I believe because I believe. I have no proof that I'm right. I confess my Christian upbringing was a major factor, and in other circumstances I'd be something other than Christian. I confess that there are social pressures to me keeping a Christian label.
I don't use science or archeology to prop up the bible as infallible truth. I don't claim any particular grasp of spiritual wisdom that is better than any other faith, denomination or church member. And yet I believe.
I may not believe the exact same things you do. In fact, we almost assuredly don't agree on many things. This often makes things a little prickly for me at church, as it's hard to find the line between healthy diversity and breaking from the faith. What things can I disagree on openly and still be considered a "brother"? It's under the surface of my mind most Sundays I go to our church.
-- I agree with some of Lee Strobel's conclusions in the "Case for Christ" series of books, but I find his methods faulty and his arguments weak.
-- I believe that the rule of consequences is built into the universe, but I'm highly doubtful of the traditional view of hell.
-- I believe that Jesus is my absolute biggest spiritual influence, yet I doubt some of the Trinitarian doctrines that are supposedly essential to my Christian status.
-- I believe that what we do in this life matters, but I don't fret about my "special purpose" and instead have been focused on living naturally, meeting each day ready for whatever it brings.
-- I believe that the golden rule encompasses the very essence of the most important parts of Christianity, but I admit that other religions have equal, and sometimes superior, focus on that same essence.
And I believe.