This is the story of a tattoo.
There was a book published in 2004 by Norman Geisler titled “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.” In that title alone, Geisler captured the spirit of an entire generation of Christians: Christianity is the logical conclusion of any rational person. A posture that, in my opinion and in my experience, has easily led to stale arrogance.
In 1843 Soren Kierkegaard (SK) published a book as well. It was called Fear & Trembling and it looked at the story of The Binding of Isaac from Genesis 22. My faith has been shaped in so many ways by that book and the people who have read it with me.
In it, SK notes that faith is not reasonable. In fact, once we make faith reasonable it comes undone, because no faith is needed to believe in the reasonable. In the Christian faith, we do not follow a reasonable set of doctrine and dogma, but an unreasonable and passionate Person. SK embarrassingly reminds us that the God we follow asked Abraham to slaughter his only son, the son that God himself promised to Abraham. As SK says in yet another book, “Christianity has become a worldview. Thus, before I get involved I must first justify it. Good night to Christianity! Now doubt has surely conquered. And this doubt can never be halted by reasons…No, doubt can only be halted by imitation.”
But the story of myself and so many people I meet is this: They leave the comforts of their conservative enclaves and are convinced (some would say “deceived”) of the reality of evolution, the historical limitations of the Scriptures, the humanity of the homosexual, the ubiquitous reality of death, famine, war, and disease, and that, horror of horrors, truth is not always absolute.*
We are crushed when we find out that the world is not as “reasonable” as once told.
And yet, the world we had created for ourselves needed a God who is reasonable. And so, we cannot live in these two worlds at the same time. One has to go. Either we stop believing in God or we stop believing in the world (that is, we pretend the world is otherwise and make sure we once again surround ourselves with people who think like we do lest we get “deceived” again).
In Fear & Trembling, Kierkegaard gave me a third option. I can admit that I have put God in a box, shackled by my fear of uncertainty, my worship of certainty, and my need to control God by reducing him to a set of beliefs and behaviors. I can then follow a dangerous God. A God, I admit, I do not always like and rarely understand.
This is what Abraham does when he does not hit the snooze button the morning he is to sacrifice his son to God, as I would have done. No, he not only obeys, he obeys with fervor. After he is told what he must do, “Abraham Rose Early in the Morning” (Gen. 22:3).
*n.b.: I have no problems with anyone who holds to any position on these issues. It is not the position we hold to that disappoints me, it is the iron fist with which we hold them, willing to label any as heretics if they dare touch my sacred cow(s)(herd).