Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Plantinga on the life of faith

Outside my study window at home there is a kind of ravine with lots of beautiful trees in it and birds flying around and the like. Those things I think are used by God to sort of help us see his presence, and the like. God sometimes also comes to people–for example Jonathan Edwards, seems often to have a very vivid appreciation of a very vivid sort of personal relationship with God. And people often talk about a personal relationship with God. I think for many people,  though, there isn't a whole lot of that. It isn't that you just sort of do anything like perceive God–maybe under some relatively rare circumstances–but during much of one's life, it seems to me, you sort of coast on a kind of momentum. You've got this strong inclination to believe in God, which is much stronger on some occasions than it is on others for many people, including myself. But there are these dry periods that many Christian saints have talked about. Periods when the heavens are as brass and when it seems God isn't present. And this shows up in the Psalms, "God, why are you so far from me?" and the like. It seems to me there's a kind of persistence that a believer in God needs, a kind of living on past capital, so to speak.

The experience of reading the Bible is for me crucial. I mean, reading the Bible–maybe not every part, but many parts–is a powerful impetus to belief in God, to renew belief in God, and the like. And also going to church and listening to sermons. Sometimes sermons work in the wrong direction…but I think such things as regular Bible reading, regular prayer, regular church attendance, regular talking if you can with other Christians and the like. J. Walls & T. Dougherty, eds. Two Dozen (or so) Arguments for God (Oxford 2018), 458-59.

1 comment:

  1. Steve has written on Plantinga's testimony on times when he has felt God's nearness in special ways. I forgot which blog it is, but I've got a link to excerpts from that Spiritual Autobiography of Plantinga HERE.

    I'm also reminded of these quotes from C.S. Lewis:

    Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity chapter 11
    [A larger excerpt of that discussion on faith by Lewis can be found HERE].

    "That is why daily praying and religious reading and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed." —C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity book III chapter 11

    "...the trouble is that relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done..."- C. S. Lewis to "Mrs. Lockley", The Letters of C.S. Lewis page 395

    "A man can't be always defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it."- C.S. Lewis
    Reflections on the Psalms, page 7

    There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God Himself…as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist! There have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ. Man! Ye see it in smaller matters. Did ye never know a lover of books that with all his first editions and signed copies had lost the power to read them? Or an organiser of charities that had lost all love for the poor? It is the subtlest of all the snares.- C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

    All that about the other Ransom was nonsense. He was quite aware of the danger of madness, and applied himself vigorously to his devotions and his toilet. Not that madness mattered much. Perhaps he was mad already, and not really on Malacandra but safe in bed in an English asylum. - C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet, chapter 9